It was inside the forest.
A man under a pitch-black cape with a hood quickly turned his head and stared at what appeared to be just an empty space.
“What’s this? There is a dead one here?”
The man that mumbled raised his right hand, and he started to exude dark power from it.
“Who is it that died? Let’s see…”
The man stood there for a long while and looked at his right hand. He eventually cringed and mumbled,
“It’s a dead ogre? Geez. You ungrateful fool… I just revived you!”
The man under the hood clicked his tongue. He lowered his right arm and started to walk again.
“It’s hard to come across a dead ogre. I wonder how it died?”
As if it was a complete mystery to him, the man, who was walking, crossed his arms as he held his chin with his hand. He tilted his head toward the side and said,
“I don’t get it. I really don’t. Do you have any idea?”
The man with a quizzical expression slowly directed his gaze toward the ‘corpse’ that was walking next to him.
Its face was pale, and its eyes were pitch-black as if someone had poured ink in them.
The corpse did not respond.
With its mouth wide open, it only followed the man under the hooded cape.
“It’s a waste. No matter how I think about it, it’s such a shame! Instead of letting it roam around, perhaps I should have had it tag along with me? Should I have?!”
The man crumpled his face. He wiggled his fingers in bizarre pattern as he turned his head.
“You insolent fool! I’m asking you! Should I have had it tag along with me?”
The man was asking to the corpse.
Despite the scolding, the corpse didn’t give any response.
“That’s right! As I thought, I should have had it tag along with me, right?”
Although there was no response from the corpse, the man nodded as if he heard it. He mumbled alone.
“Uuuuu! It’s a shame! What a waste! I’m too far away to go retrieve it...”
The man under the hooded cape suddenly swung his hand, the one exuding dark power, and struck the neck of the corpse that was following him on the right.
“There is no answer to this. There isn’t one!”
The corpse’s head fell.
“No… There is…an answer.”
The man bent all ten fingers on his hands in all sorts of bizarre angles. He suddenly stopped it and said,
“I just need to do as much as I have lost!”
The man vacantly lifted his head, and suddenly, a sudden flash of light flashed in the sky, followed by thunder.
“That’s right. An ogre!”
A rain drop fell on the head of the corpse that the man had cut off, and the man started to laugh with all of his facial muscles wiggling like a madman.
* * *
“So, this is it?”
The three members of the Lightning Boulder mercenary group were glancing and trying to get a read on Riley’s mood.
“Yes, that’s right.”
It was because they knew that the headless ogre that was lying on the ground in front of their eyes was Riley’s work. They knew Riley was the one that chopped off its head in a single strike.
That wasn’t all.
Although they were standing right next to Riley, they were having a hard time properly assessing his blade’s speed or power. It was an obvious choice that they would be cautious to not spoil Riley’s mood.
“I felt like I saw this runt a while ago.”
Riley kicked the ogre’s head, and black blood poured out of its neck.
This feels like taking a dump and not cleaning up the behind.
Riley was cringing as if he was looking at something filthy. He turned his body away as if he completely lost interest.
Although he only called her name, as if she understood, Nainiae took a step forward and put forth her left hand.
With a sound of flame burning up, a black flame bloomed on her left hand.
“Everyone, please step back for a moment.”
In order to cremate the ogre that died twice, Nainiae had the people, who were watching, to move back and swung the hand that held the flame.
Horai, who was watching while shaking, said ‘huk!’
It was because the flame, which was the size of a palm when it was floating on top of Nainiae’s hand, grew in size in an instant when it touched the ogre’s corpse.
“As I expected, Big Sis mage…”
“Excuse me, Ms. Nainiae. How far have you reached in your magic?”
Reitri, who was throwing his gaze at a blade that Nainiae had on her waist, carefully asked.
“I’m at Six Circles.”
Nainiae responded as if it was nothing. With the ogre’s dead body fully cremated, she shook her left hand and extinguished the remaining flame.
“Ah… I was surprised when I learned that the story about Astroa was true, but… To think you are at Six Circles…”
‘No matter how I look at her, she appears to be under 20 years old, yet she is at Six Circles?’
Basilisk shook his head as if he was sick of all this.
Nainiae was a Six Circles mage and he just called for a duel against that Six Circles mage. Even in his second thought, Basilisk found all of these to be ridiculous nonsense.
“Excuse me…Ms. Nainiae?”
“From now on, how about you let it be a little obvious for others…”
Basilisk advised and suggested Nainiae to boast her height as a Six Circles mage.
“I’m not sure.”
Nainiae, who thought about it hard for a moment, continued in a leisurely manner and said,
“I should know my place. My young master is keeping quiet. It would not be the right thing to do if I boasted about it, don’t you think?”
Nainiae shrugged her shoulders and asked back.
Basilisk stood there with a blank look on his face.
Around that moment, Reitri’s shouting could be heard. Reitri said,
“We will slowly start heading out!”
“Shall we get going?”
She started to walk toward the carriage first.
“…Everyone is ready, right? We are heading out now!”
The carriages were heading toward Rainfield again after a small commotion.
Inside a carriage, Basilisk was pouting. He looked like someone who was holding his pee. He carefully asked Nainiae who was driving her carriage.
“Excuse me. I am sorry.”
Nainiae turned her head to the side and looked at Basilisk.
As if she was asking what he was sorry about, she had question in her eyes.
“I feel like I should apologize to you again. About before, that…the accusation I made…how I ran my mouth.”
Basilisk was scratching his cheek as if he was ashamed and embarrassed.
Nainiae realized what he was trying to tell her. She relaxed the look on her face and smiled.
“It is all right. I was also able to clear some misunderstanding thanks to you, Commander.”
Having heard her response, Basilisk sighed in relief and acknowledged Riley and Nainiae.
“I see. So, the mercenary hero thinks a man like the young master is…”
“…someone to be proud of.”
Noticing that Basilisk blurred the end of his sentence, Nainiae opened her mouth.
Having said that, Nainiae still had a pretty smile on her face.
She was reminiscing about the days she spent in the mansion.
“Mr. Ian…has a strong pride about the fact that he is serving Young Master Riley. I even wonder if that is the strength that gives him the power to live.”
Just in case Basilisk was wondering about Ian, Nainiae talked about him. She then turned her head, looked to the front with confidence and said,
“I am also a maid who serves Young Master Riley. I’m sure my pride in our young master is not second to Ian’s.”
Nainiae was driving the carriage as she continued, but she felt a drop of water from the sky. She gave a vacant stare to the sky and raised her hand to feel the rain drops.
“Huh? It’s about to fall?”
Noticing Nainiae, Basilisk looked up the sky and murmured,
“This means we will be arriving at Rainfield soon.”
The city of endless rain.
As if the sky was trying to tell them that they are almost at Rainfield, the rate and intensity of raindrops started to grow.
* * *
It was pouring rain.
The sound of rain was filling the ears with its cool sound. Nainiae brought out an umbrella from the dimensional storage and came down from the driver’s seat.
“This place is….”
Perhaps it was due to the myst, but the scenery could be described perfectly by the word, ‘mysterious.’
The feel of the buildings and street signs were completely different from what she used to see in Solia. Nainiae had her gaze taken by the sight. She vacantly looked around the place for a moment. Having regained her senses, she started to walk.
She walked toward the front of the carriage and knocked on the door. She carefully entered inside and shook Riley who was asleep.
“Young master, we are here. We are at Rainfield.”
He couldn’t quite open his eyes properly because he just woke up. He rubbed his eyes, heard the sound of rain coming from outside, and immediately smiled.
“Wow… It feels cool already.”
Looking at the scenery outside the window, Riley coughed out words of excitement, got off the carriage immediately, and got under the umbrella besides Nainiae.
“Should I cast a Barrier?”
“No, it is fine. It’s more like it to use an umbrella where it rains.”
Nainiae, who suddenly got to stand tightly next to Riley under an umbrella, shriveled her shoulder.
‘He will get wet like this.’
With a smile on his face, Riley was watching the scenery of Rainfield. Nainiae was concerned Riley’s shoulders might get wet, so she moved the umbrella toward Riley and pursed her mouth.
“What about the other guys?”
“If you are talking about Reitri’s merchant company and Lightning Boulder mercenary group, we went our separate ways as soon as we arrived at Rainfield. He said he need to move quickly.”
“Is that so? Well, he is not here for a vacation, so…”
Riley was going to ask Reitri about good restaurants serving delicious foods or good hotels to stay at since Reitri, a merchant, probably came here more often than Riley. Disappointed that he missed the opportunity, Riley clicked his tongue.
“Ah, and he told me to give you this.”
Nainiae opened the dimensional storage and brought out a small piece of paper. She showed the paper to Riley and said,
“He said he will be staying in Rainfield for about a month. He said he will most likely stay in the hotel written on the paper, and also that we can come by anytime if we have any business with them.”
Watching Riley narrowing his eyes, Nainiae added,
“…He said he will treat you for a big one.”
Riley smiled widely with satisfaction. He leaned the umbrella toward Nainiae and asked,
“Let’s see… We are here now, and the carriage is parked too. Let’s set a destination right away then? Where shall we go first?”
“Pardon? What do you mean…”
Her shoulder was getting wet from the rain, but now the umbrella was there again to cover her shoulder. Noticing this, Nainiae tumbled and opened her mouth.
“Let’s see… It’s dinner time, so…”
As soon as Riley said it, someone’s stomach was signaling that it requires sustenance.
“…We should go eat dinner.”
On their way to Rainfield, even when Riley was eating that sandwich, Nainiae was just watching from the back. Now, with her stomach growling, Nainiae dropped her head.
“…Please pardon me.”
With an empty stomach, she had a duel against Basilisk, incinerated the ogre’s corpse, the one that the dark mage probably had a hand in, and she had been looking after Riley all this time.
Even though she did all that, her stomach didn’t make a noise until now. It meant she was either ill or not human.
Riley messed up Nainiae’s head with his palm and smiled widely as he asked,
“This is your reward. Is there anything in particular that you would like to eat?”
Nainiae, who was blushing, hesitated for a while, wondering if it would be really all right to ask. She eventually answered in a small voice,
“A warm fish soup…”
Riley stroke Nainiae’s head, smiled widely and asked again,
“What? Onion pancake?”
“Onion pancake! Onion pancake and liquors are perfect for a rainy weather. You know some stuff.”
Nainiae had a question mark floating above her head.
Riley took the umbrella from Nainiae and wrapped his arm around Nainiae’s shoulder.
It seemed Nainiae was surprised by Riley putting his arm around her shoulder in a natural motion. Nainiae flinched her shoulder. She mumbled inwardly that she can’t beat Riley and said,
Nainiae actually didn’t know what kind of food Riley was talking about, but she smiled and answered that she would like them as well.