‘Gosh, Andal, that dumbass… Really…’
He should have teleported Riley and Nainiae to a place that was easy for them to find the way.
Instead, Andal placed them in a spot that was difficult for them to figure out the way. Riley resented Andal a hundred times inside, sighed and opened the carriage door.
“Dark mage? What’s that about?”
When Riley made his way down from the carriage in frustration, one of the Lightning Boulder mercenaries, who had the arrow aimed at Nainiae, aimed the arrow toward Riley and asked,
“Young master, are you on the same side with the dark mage?”
“…Don’t aim your arrow at me.”
Noticing the arrow aimed at himself, Riley, displeased, furrowed his brows. He then looked at her with a gaze containing deadly aura.
Noticing that Riley’s relaxed atmosphere unique to him has changed to deadly mood all of sudden, the archer petrified with a pale face.
It felt like invisible hands grabbed tightly on to the neck and the heart. It felt like they were getting in the way of breathing.
“We need to know what’s going on too? Being accused as the dark mage out of the blue? We are the one who are finding all this ridiculous.”
Riley slowly closed one of his eyes and relaxed his deadly aura as he mumbled.
The Lightning Boulder’s archer, who was holding the breath hard, breathed out heavily.
“J-Just now, that… Did you do that, young master?”
Likewise, Reitri, who was also exposed to Riley’s deadly aura, was also focusing on calming his breathing with a pale look on his face.
“Just answer my question.”
Looking annoyed, Riley crumpled his face.
Horai, who was completely terrified, went into Reitri’s arms and started to shake.
“That is… The magic that Ms. Nainiae used… It was black color, wasn’t it?”
“What about the black color?”
“It’s black colored. Black color… It is a unique treat that all dark mages have.”
Having heard Reitri’s explanation, Riley looked at Nainiae with a confused face. Nainiae shook her head to say that this was not true.
“Is anyone and everyone with black colored magic a dark mage then?”
After seeing Nainiae shaking her head, Riley turned his head toward Reitri and asked.
Reitri had his mouth open, but he was not able to answer.
“This is her innate color, so what is she supposed to do?”
“Young master, it is not due to my innate treat, it is due to experiment…”
“The fact that you are not a dark mage is still the same, isn’t that right? That’s that!”
Riley yelled at Nainiae as if he was trying to tell her to stop talking. Riley looked at Basilisk and asked.
“Tell me. Why is she a dark mage? Besides the fact that her magic is black colored, what else do you have?”
Hearing Riley yelling at him, Basilisk was not able to answer.
He turned his head again and looked at Nainiae.
It seemed she was embarrassed about her horrid looking hand. She hid her right hand behind her back, bit her lips, and didn’t know what to do.
“Can you take responsibility for your claim? I can put my title, Iphelleta, a House of count, on the line for my claim. What will you put on the line for yours?”
To the people of Reitri’s merchant company…
To the three members of the Lightning Boulder mercenary group…
Riley asked while mentioning his family’s name.
Nobody was able to answer right away.
After looking around the people who were in silence, Riley shrugged his shoulder and continued.
“I don’t know about Rainfield, but in Solia, if you are found guilty of insulting a nobility, the minimum sentence is a life of imprisonment. Did you know that?”
Riley’s atmosphere started to get deadly again.
“I was going to relax because this is my vacation. You runts don’t know your places…”
His relaxed tone of speech has left the scene somehow without trace. Riley, with his eyes narrowed, paused for a moment and opened his mouth again as if he was mumbling.
“If you still think she is a dark mage… All right. That’s fine.”
Right in front of everyone to see, Riley was glaring at Horai. With an annoyed look on his face, Riley scratched the back of his head and mumbled,
“We will just act like who we were accused of. Like a dark mage would… We will just kill all witnesses and get going.”
Having heard Riley’s suggestion, the people flinched their shoulders.
“Isn’t that what you all want?”
Riley asked in a leisurely attitude, and Reitri got up while shaking his head left and right.
He answered as the representative of the group.
“I also…hope Ms. Nainiae is not a dark mage.”
Looking at his uncle working up the courage and getting up to respond, Horai tried to stop Reitri as he pulled on Reitri’s sleeve.
It seemed he was worried something terrible might happen to Reitri. Horai’s eyes were filled with tears.
“Horai. I think… Instead of sitting idly like this, I think it is only right that you should apologize first?”
“You may be just a child, and you may have grown up in a place without any nobilities. However… Young Master Riley is someone who is clearly above us.”
Horai, who was led to get up by Reitri’s hand, started to shake his shoulders.
It was because he never saw his uncle so angry.
“Even if Young Master Riley is not a nobility, the way you treat a guest is… You were very wrong. Seriously wrong.”
“Hurry and apologize to Young Master Riley.”
Reitri added because he knew begging for mercy wasn’t going to be enough.
He looked at Horai with a cold gaze.
“U-Uncle… But… Still…”
Reitri’s palm moved, and Horai’s head was quickly turned.
The sound of flesh making an impact could be heard loudly.
“Hurry. Tell him that you are sorry.”
“Uu… Uu… Ah….”
Reitri slapped Horai for the sake of discipline.
He was urging Horai to quickly apologize to Riley.
“Ah, that is…”
The atmosphere turned cold in a blink of an eye. The one who could not adjust to it the most was none other than Nainiae.
“E-Excuse me. Before it swells up, an ointment…”
Toward Horai, who was crying because he was slapped by his uncle, Nainiae came in hurry. She injected mana into her leather bracelet and opened the dimensional space.
“Ointment… Ointment should be here somewhere.”
With a concerned look on her face, Nainiae brought out an ointment from the dimensional space. She was about to touch Horai’s swelled up cheek. It was at that moment.
“Just for a moment. I’ll apply this for y-…”
“…Get your hand off me!!”
Horai, who was tightly holding on to his tears, swung his right arm in a big motion and swept away Nainiae’s arm.
The problem was that the arm, which was swung aimlessly, crossed Nainiae’s face… To be precise, it crossed the part where she was wearing a mask.
Nainiae’s mask was undone. Horai found Nainiae’s scars below the mask and shook his shoulders.
With her injury revealed, Nainiae panicked. Using a simple telekinesis magic, she retrieved the mask from the ground and placed it back on her face.
“I’m sorry. You must have been…shocked.”
Nainiae, who was concerned Horai might be scared of her because of her scars, carefully extended her hand.
On her left hand, which had all five fingers intact, had some of the ointment that she brought out from the dimensional space.
“You don’t feel it now, but… It might hurt later, so you must apply this now.”
Nainiae gently applied the ointment to Horai’s cheek.
Looking satisfied, she took steps back.
“That… That is…”
Horai, with his face blushing out of embarrassment, carefully touched his cheek that had ointment applied by Nainiae. He looked at Reitri once and then Riley once.
“That is… That…”
Soon, Horai started to shed tears that were filling his eyes. His tears fell like chicken shit. He bit his lips tightly and…
Following Horai’s tearful apology, Reitri also lowered his head and apologized to Riley.
“Please forgive us for our rudeness, Young Master Riley.”
Reitri raised his head slightly and gave a look to Basilisk and everyone in the Lightning Boulder mercenary group.
It seemed they understood. They lowered their weapons and apologized to Riley and Nainiae.
“I’m sorry. It’s just… Can we please hear your side of the story?”
* * *
Having heard Nainiae’s story, there was a boy who started to jerk tears like a certain ‘butler’ from the Iphelleta mansion.
“I-I see… So that’s what happened to you! At the Solia’s Magic Tower! That son of a bitch Astroa… Ugh!”
It was the commander of Lightning Boulter mercenary group, Basilisk.
“How could… How could they! Ugh!!”
The story about how she participated in Magic Tower’s experiment for her mother’s sake, the story about horrible experiments where she would have been better if she died, being abandoned by the Magic Tower as a disposable product after the experiment, being thrown away at the sewer, learning from the Solia’s Holy Temple that she had a very limited life span left…
“Is there anything I can do for you? Do you have any wish? If it is something our mercenary group can help you with, I will definitely… Kuhup!!”
Having heard Nainiae’s story, Basilisk was pouring out tears. Nainiae brought out a handkerchief from the dimensional space and gave it to Basilisk.
“H-Here. Please use this.”
As Basilisk blew his nose into the handkerchief, Riley, who was sitting next to Nainiae, crumpled his face to the max.
It was because that was his personal favorite. It was also because Basilisk’s behavior was strikingly similar to someone.
‘I came here to avoid Ian, but oh my…’
Riley judged that it would be impossible to have a conversation with Basilisk at the moment considering that he was jerking tears. Riley turned his head away.
“So, has your suspicion been cleared?”
“If our commander is sure of it… We have no reason to be suspicious anymore.”
Rorona and Isen, two of the Lightning Boulder’s members, nodded in response to Riley’s question.
Riley was thinking they would still be doubting Nainiae, but to the contrary, they nodded in agreement so easily. That was actually making Riley feel suspicious toward their behavior. With his eyes narrowed, Riley asked,
“How could you be so certain?”
“It’s because our commander is a great judge of character. He had never been wrong. Although it is an ability that’s limited by a few conditions.”
When Riley asked back, Rorona of the mercenary group puffed out the chest and started to explain about the commander.
“Yes, actually, the commander is human…”
By Isen calling her name, Rorona, the archer of the mercenary group, turned the subject as she showed the palm of her hand.
“Ugh, anyway… Should I say it is…something like his instinct? There is a thing like that. There is no need for further doubts.”
Rorona opted for a wishy-washy explanation and clicked her tongue as she looked at Basilisk jerking tears as he firmly held both of Nainiae’s hands.
“What about the dark mage near Rainfield? What is that about?”
It seemed like they weren’t going to tell Riley about the subject that Rorona brought up about Basilisk. So, Riley moved on to the next subject and asked about the dark mage.
“It is as the rumors say. An infamous dark mage that had been spreading terror for a long time is now active near Rainfield. It is a pretty well known news. I’m sure it reached Solia too… You didn’t hear about it?”
Having heard Isen’s question, Riley tilted his head side to side.
“Um… I feel like I have heard of it.”
Riley rolled his head. He asked Isen to tell about it in more detail.
“About that dark mage. Are there people that actually saw the mage or were hurt from the encounter?”
“Yes, there were.”
Isen responded with a darkened face.
Rorona also added with a darkened face,
“Our former commander is one of the victims.”
They must be talking about the late father of Basilisk.
“There are many other victims besides our commander. The number is probably growing as we speak. I have a wanted poster… Would you like to see it?”
Riley extended his hand.
Isen brought out a piece of rolled paper and gave it to Riley.
“What the hell?”
Having checked the content, Riley furrowed his brows.
The figure in the poster had a black hood on top of the head. It was difficult to confirm the face.
“Characteristics: Uses black colored magic. Animates corpses... What the hell?”
“It is a little fuzzy in the details.”
Riley returned the poster to Isen. He realized the situation was seriously tangled up. Riley scratched his head.
“God damn it. This means there is no guarantee that an incident like this would not happen again.”
Riley was agonizing about Nainiae’s black-colored magic. Looking at him, Isen said,
“That dark mage had not been caught for ten years. I think it was fortunate that Ms. Nainiae was in Solia all this time.”
“Actually, we…have also been hunting that dark mage. We have been active in Ansyrium, but there was an opportunity, so we came to Rainfield with the merchant group.”
Rorona added as she fiddled with her fingers that she had locked with both hands together. Riley turned his head and looked at Reitri’s merchant group which was getting ready to travel.
“They are also selected by our commander using his sense of judgment. You probably felt it too when he apologized to you first… His roots are strong and true. He will become successful.”
Isen complimented Reitri. Hearing this, Riley, who was staring at Reitri with a blank look, rolled his eyes and peeked a smile.
It was because Reitri smiled gently and bowed with head first.
“In that case, this characteristic? What is this about? It talks about reviving the dead? What does it mean?”
“It means exactly that. That dark mage has an ability to animate a dead body by force.”
“Ability to force a dead body to move?”
“Excuse me. Please wait for a bit, young master… Did you hear that just now?”
Sound of the ground shaking could be heard.
Isen raised his ears and focused on his hearing.
Rorona, the archer, seemed like she felt the sound well before him. She was already looking at the direction of the sound with a serious face.
“What? You mean like a zombie?”
Riley didn’t give a damn.
Although the sound of the ground shaking could be heard, Riley was only concerned about the dark mage’s ability.
“Why is an ogre here!”
Noticing an ogre approaching with ground-shaking steps, Rorona and Isen were not able to answer Riley’s question. Instead, they picked up their weapons.
It seemed the ogre found its food.
Drolling, the ogre was charging toward where Reitri merchant group’s carriages were gathered.
“Kuk. As I thought, is this the one paired with the other one earlier?”
Basilisk, who was jerking tears from eyes and nose from hearing Nainiae’s story, immediately picked up his spear and got up.
“It’s an ogre!”
“Don’t panic! First, get the carriages out of the way!”
Although the people of the merchant group were hurriedly moving the carriages, Riley still only tilted his head side to side with a quizzical expression on his face.
“Wait, commander! That ogre… He is in a bit of an odd condition?”
“It looks like his arm and head are loose…”
Rorona, who narrowed her eyes as she looked at the ogre charging toward the group, noticed the ogre’s eyes were ‘pitch black.’ She mumbled,
It seemed there wasn’t going to be time to explain in detail about what she noticed.
The ogre was already near everyone, enough to cast its shadow to the people.
“Y-Young master! Hey! Young master! Get up! The ogre… The ogre is coming?!”
Basilisk was breaking in cold sweat as he wielded his spear. Noticing Riley still sitting on the ground and thinking hard about something, Basilisk shouted at Riley,
Ogre roared again with its fist raised up.
Having heard it, Riley scrunched up his face.
“Gosh damn it… That’s loud you bastard!!”
Riley moved his hand toward his sword that was sitting next to him. He swung his arm in what appeared to be an aimless motion.
The ogre, which was charging toward the group with a loud roar, suddenly fell on its knees and raised dust clouds.
Not just Basilisk and the mercenaries, but the people of the merchant group were blinking their eyes in disbelief.
“Just now…what happened?”
The ogre’s head was, literally in a blink of an eye, gone without any trace.
“So, what did you say? Force a dead body to move?”
To people standing around dumbfoundedly, Riley asked again as if he didn’t quite understand it.