|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1506 words|
Please note that we’ll be switching to Cortina’s POV midway.
After running around in the forest for some time and making sure that no one was following me, I finally stopped my legs. I hid Mikey behind the trees and camouflaged him with leaves and branches until he was well hidden.
I had to take care of the footprints too. As such, I called the Carbuncle and told it to keep watch over him.
“I’ll go erase our footsteps, so I’m leaving Mikey to you.”
I already knew that the Carbuncle understood my speech. I couldn’t read its expression, but apparently it understood that it was the reason for this mess, it ruffled its eyebrows in determination… Or so it seemed to me anyway.
I took a branch in place of a broom and left the place to erase our footsteps.
Cortina was on my mind all this time. It’s only been a few minutes since, but that was plenty enough for losing your life. Not to mention, even if you didn’t look at her in a favorable light, she was still an exceptionally beautiful young girl. Well, her age didn’t exactly qualify her as ‘young’, though.
The waves of regret surged forward, making me blame myself for running away. I wonder, did she feel the same way back then, when she had no choice but to leave me behind and run? If so, what a fool I have been for doing something like that.
But still, I couldn’t just leave Mikey and the Carbuncle to that place. In that sense, Cortina’s judgment wasn’t wrong. But now…
“Their safety should be guaranteed for now, right?”
I shook off the pursuers. I even erased the footsteps so they shouldn’t be able to track them for the time being. In other words, I have a good enough excuse to join the fight now.
That said, doing that as I am now would only lead to more problems. For me to be of use in battle, I have to use my thread manipulation. But Cortina would immediately realize I am Reid if she saw that. Then, what do I do?
At that moment, my eyes settled on the middle finger of my left hand.
The moment Nicole started running, Cortina immediately began to chant. These men held not even a fragment of good intention. In the first place, it was quite possible that they would try to muzzle her since she saw their scheme to get rich quick.
Not to mention the existence of the Carbuncle. They had more than enough reasons for harming Cortina’s group.
“Crimson Three, Ultramarine One, Gold three—High Enchant!”
She used body strengthening packed with more power than normal. Given that members of the cat race excelled in physical ability by default, casting this magic on them would make defeating even an amateur a tedious task.
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Her primary goal was to buy enough time for Nicole to make good her escape. Strengthening herself from the start served to succeed in that task.
The men rushed at her the moment her magic activated. But she already expected those actions, so she dodged them by jumping sideways without losing her composure. Next, she did a forward roll and slipped through their arms, safely coming out of the exchange for the time being.
“Hey, hold it for a second. I don’t really plan to get in your way of making a little bit of extra money, you know?”
After fixing her posture, she tried to initiate a conversation to stall for some more time.
“Shut up! I don’t want you ruining our well-kept secret!”
“What he said! And there’s also that Carbuncle… If we sell the Dragon Ball on its forehead, we wouldn’t even need to do something like this again.”
“But Carbuncles are protected beasts. There’s no merchant that would buy something like that from you in Raum.”
Even the Queen Blossom’s seeds were refused by a major company like Horton. A Carbuncle’s Dragon Ball was a major contraband on the same level as the Unicorn’s horn. There were too many risks involved when it came to dealing with it.
She gave them such warning while at the same time starting to chant in a low tone. Low enough for them to not hear. The magic circle started forming in the blind spot behind her.
“If there are no eye-witnesses, we could just pass it off as imported goods!”
“Hey, Geuse! Go after the kid! We’ll deal with this thot!”
“Like I’d let you, Firebolt!”
Cortina expected things to go that way, so she fired off the magic she chanted in advance. The firebolt hit the man that turned his back on her and was about to chase after Nicole, restraining him in place.
“Ghh, it burns!”
However, given her insufficient set-up, she failed to put enough magic power into it. Such beginner-level magic wasn’t able to deal sufficient damage. It would’ve been a proper attack had she Maxwell’s level of magic power… or Maria’s chanting speed.
The surprise attack drove the men into a rage and they charged forward in loud voices. This time, from three directions at once. She quickly took a step back and avoided the attacks by taking some distance. As they repeated this exchange for some time, Cortina started to gradually lose her escape path.
No matter how agile the cat tribe was, there was a limit to what one could do when it was three against one. Much less when it came to a small field like this. It would be one thing if they were inside the actual forest, but here, they held the locational advantage.
She wondered whether to make a run for the forest and chase after Nicole, but she instantly dismissed that idea.
Nicole still had the body of a frail young girl. She wasn’t expected to have covered that much ground in such a short time. Given that, she had no choice but to keep stalling for time here.
Besides, entering the forest would just obstruct her vision. If one of the men decided to suddenly go after Nicole, there was a good chance she would fail to notice it.
“Good grief… It just keeps getting worse!”
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She purposely yelled to rouse herself up. Still, she had managed to overcome similar difficulties countless times before.
What did they have that she didn’t? After pondering on that, she tore a big part off the chest area of her clothes. And with that, her breasts—which weren’t exactly plump but still well-shaped—spilled out in a grand display.
“Hah! What, are you resorting to seduction now?”
“Fine with me, I’ll have my fill after I beat you up!”
“Like that would have any effect at this point!”
The men laughed vulgarly. Cortina, however, disregarded them completely and slowly moved towards the cave entrance. The men seemed to have misunderstood her action as her trying to escape inside and tried to go around and cut in.
But before that happened, Cortina managed to successfully jump inside the cave.
“You ain’t running anywhere!”
“Let’s go after her! The one who catches her first gets to have the first turn!”
They jeered full of lust. Ripping her chest off served to be plenty effective against them. Annoying and provoking them proved to be worthwhile. She could hear three voices from behind, suggesting that she succeeded in luring all of them inside.
Revealing her chest was to make herself a more appealing bait, as well as to make it seem like she was being cornered to the point where she had to resort to seduction. Arousing them like that robbed them of rational thought.
This cave had gas inside. If she managed to lure them deeper, they would probably faint from the poisoning. She herself had a scarf with Purify effect. She had nowhere to run now, but her situation should have been favorable. Or so she thought, but when she turned around… She was instantly discouraged.
Because those men also had purifying masks on them.
She cursed without thinking. Now that she thought back, those guys went to inspect the hot spring where a Dragon took a bath. There was no way they wouldn’t have prepared measures against gas.
She had no place to run inside. It’s my total defeat… She thought in regret. But that didn’t mean she was ready to give up. Instead, she started working her head to come up with another plan.
The ruins of a cave-in where they discovered Mikey seemed like something that could be of use. She reinforced that wall with her magic. If she undid it, it would collapse once again, and at the very least, could lock those men inside.
Just as she decided on her plan and looked behind one more time before acting…
The backmost man gave an abrupt scream and collapsed. And from behind him, appeared a slender figure of a man.