|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1276 words|
Raum was a metropolis surrounded by forest. The forest around was so deep, in fact, that deviated one step from the highway and you would find yourself in the middle of it.
Dark trees that blocked the light could easily deprive one of their sense of orientation. And while bigger monsters were regularly hunted by Adventurers, that did not mean that the dangerous animals disappeared with them.
In other words, it was no place for the weak, ordinary people to set foot in.
That said, Cloud and Michelle were already several steps away from such ordinary people. They advanced familiarly through the forest and detected the monsters without fail.
“…Ah, there’s a snake there.”
“Leave it to me!”
Cloud accurately grasped the location of the snake that was lurking in the grass and issued directions. It wasn’t a particularly dangerous creature that had poison, but its meat was edible. Hunting it wouldn’t yield much meat, but you would lose nothing by doing it either.
Michelle nocked an arrow into her hunting bow with fluid movements and loosed it along with finishing her sentence.
While she was prepared in advance, her swift action was still a feat worthy of praise. Because these two always accompanied Nicole on her spartan sessions, they already had an ability far surpassing that of an average Adventurer.
As they continued their easygoing yet steady hunt, the day eventually approached noon. Having hunted three wild birds, one snake, and two rabbits, the duo was on their way home with beaming smiles on their faces.
However, Cloud discovered something strange midway.
“Oh, uh, look… There are carriage wheel tracks here.”
Indeed, the place Cloud pointed at had traces of hooves and wheel tracks. Two sets, in fact. Not just that, there were several footsteps accompanying it. They were no scouts, however, so they couldn’t tell exactly how many of them there were.
That said, at the very least, they understood that two carriages had passed there.
“I don’t think it’s anything strange. We are near the capital, so carriages often come and go here, right?”
“But Michelle, we are inside the forest.”
Cloud objected to Michelle’s optimistic claim. The place where they found the tracks was slightly, but still away from the highway. Normal travelers would never choose to travel on a barely maintained path like this when there was an alternative readily available.
Moreover, looking at the condition of the tracks, it hadn’t been long since they had passed.
“Mmhh? What are you trying to say?”
“That something is going on here.”
Saying that, Cloud started following the trails as he made his way through the grass. Michelle realized what he was up to and asked.
“Wait, what are you planning!”
“It’s definitely suspicious that someone snuck in here with carriages. They are definitely doing something shady. If we report it to the gate guards, maybe they will pay us some reward.”
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To him, who lived a poverty life, these tracks looked like a signpost to getting rich. Fellows that secretly came to a place like these were definitely up to no good. That said, they couldn’t report them based on suspicion alone.
Being a Half-Demon, Cloud’s words did not hold much weight, so there was a good chance his report would be ignored. If he inspected who, where, and what were they doing before reporting it, it would increase the chances of getting a cash bonus.
That cash would become precious reserve funds to aid him in taking off as an Adventurer.
“That’s dangerous. Let’s at least wait until Nicole comes back…”
“She won’t be back at least until noon, right? These people won’t wait for that long.”
“That’s true, but…”
Having experience with fighting a kidnapper, Michelle wasn’t as optimistic as Cloud. Michelle was usually the one acting easygoing, while Cloud was more conserved, but their positions were reversed now.
Perhaps this was a failure on Cloud’s part, having gotten overconfident due to quickly growing strong. Even Michelle, having obtained a powerful weapon, became a little too optimistic and thought everything would “just work out” somehow.
Before long, the two arrived at a clearing in the forest where the two carriages were parked. One of them was not particularly different in structure from that of an average traveling carriage. it had a canopy on the luggage carrier to defend from rain.
The second, on the other hand, was clearly different from that.
Its carrier was firm and made of iron, and even caged. It didn’t have a canopy for the roof either, but instead a similarly metallic one. Inside the cage was… A young child.
It was a girl even younger than the two, having her limbs in shackles. She was dirty and only had a single tattered rag on her. On top of that, she looked quite weakened.
“So horrible… We have to save her.”
“…Could… Could they be slave traders?”
“You know about them, Cloud?”
“This is my first time seeing them. But they are banned by law, so I heard they carried their trades outside of the towns.”
“That means, that girl…”
“Yeah. She will be sold as a slave at this rate.”
The two consulted with hushed voices from behind the grass. Near the carriages, five men were taking a rest in their respective ways. As expected, even Michelle couldn’t shoot down five of them at the same time. Both of them were aware of that.
“Let’s go back. It’s enough that we learned that they are slave traders. If we report it to the guards, they’ll come and capture them.”
“We can’t have that now, can we?”
Suddenly, a carefree voice came from behind them. Someone had managed to sneak up on the two, who could even detect the presence of snakes.
Hearing his listless, and somewhat calm voice, the two immediately turned around, shooting an arrow and swinging a sword at the same time.
“Wow, these two have some skill, huh?”
But the man behind them easily avoided their attacks. The sound of their battle reached the ears of other men, however.
“What’s going on there!”
“We’ve got rats. A little too big, though.”
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The man answered their questioning yells. As he held two swords limply in each hand, it made his arms look strangely long. However, Cloud had no composure to question that part.
“Michelle, go! Quick, back to the city…!”
“I’ll hold on somehow! We are close to town so you should be able to make it!”
He immediately made a judgment to let Michelle escape. He set up his wooden shield and face the man. However, the other five were also on their way to him.
At this rate, both of them would be caught. If both of them made their escape, they would surely be caught. The enemy even had horses, after all. The only option was for one of them to stay and keep them busy.
Realizing all that, Cloud told Michelle to run. Michelle also reached the same conclusion as him. For that very reason, she hesitated on running away.
“Just run already! We have no time to be arguing!”
“Got it… Don’t die, you hear!”
Saying that, Cloud rushed towards the men.
They were too many in number. If he just waited, they could’ve followed after Michelle. Instead, he chose to engage with them from his side to keep their attention on him.
“Heh, quite a smart judgment you made there.”
The man with two swords commented in admiration.
Thus, Michelle turned around and ran towards the city, hearing his mutter behind her.
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