|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 863 words|
The moment I heard Michelle’s story, I immediately broke into a run. Yes, it was obvious if I just thought about it.
Back when Letina was kidnapped, I annihilated the kidnappers. However, I haven’t dealt with the slave merchants that were supposed to meet up with them outside the city.
Even when Matisse was kidnapped, the kidnappers mentioned something about selling her to the slave merchants. No matter how you looked at it, it was obvious that the root of the problem was still there. And Michelle and Cloud stumbled on them.
“One of them even had to remain behind to let the other escape…!”
That was the same thing I did in my past. I still believed that my judgment back then was not a mistake. If I was presented with the same choices, my decision would be unchanged.
That said, I also understood the grief that my decision had brought upon others. I could not forget the pain it brought to Cortina and Finia.
“If you die… You are really getting expelled, you hear, Cloud!”
If he died here, Michelle would end up going through the same pain. I could not allow that to happen.
Behind my back, I could hear Finia’s yell.
“Agh! This is why I said to keep it a secret from her!”
Their quarrel was probably about the way I would react. Finia knew that I would rush out without hesitation the moment I heard it. She probably judged that it was best to leave it to the authorities’ hands.
But Michelle, the one actually involved in it, thought differently. Because there was no time to lose, she tried to rely on the people she trusted the most—Cortina or me.
Cortina was busy with work and not present. And Maxwell was not even in the kingdom. So it was natural that she clung to me when she saw me.
“W-Wait for me, Nicole. I’m coming as well!”
Michelle chased after me, leaving Finia behind. Her speed was unbelievably fast for a 10-year-old kid. Still, she was no match for me. My explosive power had no equal among my generation.
I arrived at the eastern gate that was nearest and waited for her. While I did that, I explained the situation to one of the familiar gate guards.
We were quite famous due to constantly coming in and out during the weekends. It was natural that we would stand out after hunting large games that one would find unthinkable for children. Not to mention, I was Lyell’s daughter, while also having Cortina and Maxwell backing me up.
Since it was me telling them all this, they would not doubt it at all.
When he heard the Cloud remained behind, the guard’s expression changed and he rushed to gather his comrades.
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Were I a normal kid, my duty would be done at this step. But Cloud could die at any moment. There was no time to wait until they formed a squad.
“I… I finally cau-”
She finally arrived while gasping hard. Usually, I would have cheered her up, but there was no time for that now.
“Sorry, but please lead the way, Michelle.”
She was clearly having a tough time, but she readily nodded and rushed ahead. As much as I’d wished to let her rest, only she knew the path.
“This way, let’s go!”
Urged by her, I followed her into the forest. From time to time, I broke big branches and left marks behind us. Michelle was guiding our way there, but the guards that would follow us had no way to know where to go.
For that reason, I left marks for them to follow.
When would they come to the rescue was still unknown, however.
They had to gather people, equip weapons, report to the superior, and receive permission. When it came to the army, it tended to be slow in all kinds of ways. Their slowness could prove to be fatal in this case.
Michelle suddenly pointed towards the ground.
There were several footsteps and the wheel tracks there. The deeper tracks probably belonged to the caged carriage, given how heavy it should be. There were also two sets of hoof marks leading that carriage, being proof that a big, two-horse carriage had passed here.
“…I see. Definitely suspicious.”
“Right? Cloud is fighting up ahead, let’s go and save him!”
Michelle said so and rushed ahead. However… I couldn’t hear the sound of swords.
Was it because we were still too far, or was it because it was already over?
Cloud wasn’t strong. Definitely not strong enough to win against five adult opponents. Which meant, this could only mean…
“No, it’s too soon to decide that!”
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I shook my head and followed after Michelle.
After a while, she suddenly stopped. And then, she put a hand on her mouth, holding down a scream with all she had.
Seeing her reaction, I directed my gaze further ahead. The forest suddenly stopped there, turning into an open field.
There stood several men, and Cloud, his right arm bleeding…nay, entirely gone, as he lay limply on the ground.
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