|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1616 words|
Following Mateus who disappeared behind the street corner, Cortina rushed into the back alley. At the same time, she saw a silhouette ahead turning a corner and heading deeper into the alley. It was obvious who it was based on his characteristic long arms and twin swords hanging from his waist.
Cortina was well aware of the dangers of pursuing a skilled assassin on her own. Still, as she had gotten the staff member involved in this, she had no other choice but to pursue him. Her pride as a Hero didn’t allow that, and more importantly, she did not want to do anything that she would feel ashamed of in front of Reid.
They turned corners a few times as she was being lured away, and finally, they ended up in a place completely separated from the main street. And there, Mateus awaited her.
“Why hello there, miss Hero. You seem to be quite lively there, eh?”
“So let me make sure just in case, you are that Mateus I have heard about, right?”
“Indeed. You really do have great discerning skills, hmm?”
The way he ended his sentences in a questioning tone rubbed Cortina the wrong way. But she had to put that aside for now.
“Where is the boy?”
“Hmm, if you come with me, I can tell you maybe?”
“I am not about to get sweet-talked by some playboy.”
Cortina took out her combat staff and prepared for battle. It was a tool that could be used both for magic assistance and for staff combat. Seeing her conduct, Mateus shrugged his shoulders in an exaggerated manner.
“Okay, okay. I haven’t abducted him or anything, you know? This is actually something I merely bought from him after he stained it during his snack, you see?”
“Are you serious!?”
“You gave that kid some reward, right? He went and bought baked potatoes with that money. The red stains in this are just ketchup. He should be taking a little rest in the park right about now after one of our young got in his way.”
“…So I was lured here that easily, huh.”
“I would say, you were entrapped here that easily, I suppose?”
Matching Mateus’ words, Cortina felt another presence behind her. They wore dirty clothes and a visibly worn-out pelt. They had swords hanging on the right side. Overall, they looked like slightly battered Adventurers. They had relatively light armors on them that would not look unnatural even if you passed by them on the street. However, with those two showing up at such timing, it was easy to guess that it wasn’t a mere coincidence. Both the path ahead and behind were blocked now, cutting her way of escape.
“So you came fully prepared, huh? But I didn’t come here so half-heartedly either.”
“Oh? But yes, you are right that we came fully prepared. My job is to drive away the people pursuing my Master. I expected you to find that magic circle and pursue us. Besides, regardless of your determination, I don’t believe I can possibly lose, you know?”
“So you’re saying you left that magic circle there purposely? If you didn’t want to be pursued, why didn’t you just erase it?”
“Oh, are you going to ignore the difference in abilities? Well, it would be a bother to keep moving secretly like that. I hate such bothersome jobs, you know?”
The two behind started to slowly close the distance. This alley that was sandwiched between houses had no other exit.
“If we catch you, the Six Heroes would lose their leadership. Besides, you are the easiest to catch among them. Right?”
“I wonder about that. I can be more than my appearance suggests, you know?”
Cortina was certainly the weakest among the Six Heroes, and her life had been targetted like this many a time. However, each of those times she had managed to struggle her way out with various means.
“Besides, since I know that kid is fine, there’s no longer a need to keep dealing with a boorish man like you.”
“Oh dear, calling me boorish is a bit. I hate violence, so I would be happy if you surrender. And actually, you’ve been talking to me quite readily all this time, weren’t you?”
“Surrender, huh? That’s quite generous of you… But too bad. As Reid would say, “Not in a million years”!
Using her former comrade’s words, Cortina instantly turned heel. And then she dashed towards the two behind her. The two seemed to have expected her to act this way and weren’t flustered by this development.
They calmly pulled their swords and prepared to meet her.
However, just before Cortina reached the two, she thrust her staff into the ground and flung herself into the air. She used the thrust point and threw her body in the air similar to pole vaulting.
That said, doing that with a staff that didn’t even reach two meters wasn’t enough to give her enough altitude. However, she made up for that by kicking the wall of the narrow corridor to jump higher, and leaped over the two man’s heads.
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Seeing Cortina’s completely unexpected actions, the two men yelled in shock. Meanwhile, Cortina did not kill her momentum but instead used it to roll even farther away from the two.
And then she used that same momentum to stand back up and proceeded to run.
“What are you two doing?”
The two apologized to Mateus who was looking at them with an exasperated expression. That said, they didn’t just stand still, but quickly responded to the situation and began their pursuit.
Looking at them quickly fix their composure and start chasing, you could tell that they were experienced to a degree.
Cortina, being a cat beastman, excelled in physical abilities. She was confident she would not lose in this tag when she was already ahead of them.
If she rushed back where she came from and managed to reach the main street, they would not be able to make any big moves against her.
Just that she turned a corner with those thoughts, she stopped in place.
On the road where there was nothing before, there was now a pile of wooden boxes. There were too many of them scattered about, so climbing over them would take too much effort. That said, trying to clear the way and breakthrough would take even longer. Regardless of the means, they were both fatal for someone in flight.
It was possible to leap over them with a staff like before, but the staff in question was left behind when she leaped over the men.
Whether she tried to climb over or move them, it would take too much time. And as expected, the two men didn’t take a long time to catch up with her.
“Hold it there!”
“Making work difficult for us!”
The men were rushing over while throwing jeers towards her. Cortina was completely empty-handed there. She had no means of resisting them—or so it seemed.
Just as the man tried to vulnerably approach her to take her out, she picked up a box and slammed it at him.
The man that had let his guard down thinking she had no weapons wasn’t able to avoid that attack. That said, he wasn’t so stupid to take it head-on, either. He quickly used his sword to defend, thus he avoided taking too much damage.
As the wooden box met the iron sword, it got crushed to bits, but it also broke the man’s posture. Cortina quickly approached the man and drove the underside of her fist to his neck. It was the so-called hammer blow.
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This was a technique that was easiest to put power into while also having a low risk of injuring your hand in the process. It was a vital blow, enough for Cortina, a physically weaker female, to knock out a man. And since it landed on the neck, which was a weak point, he had no chances of recovering from it.
Thus, he momentarily lost consciousness and started slowly collapsing on the spot. The other man who was a step slow to react to her sudden counterattack immediately moved to cut her down.
Cortina intentionally slipped under the falling man and used him as a shield to block his attack. Seeing that, the man tried to stop his slash, but he failed to kill his momentum completely and it landed on his comrade.
It took him everything just to shift the blade enough to avoid serious injury. Now pinned under the other man, Cortina grabbed a broken piece of the scattered wooden boxes.
The broken board had a sharpened tip and it could be used as a spear. While still collapsed on the ground, Cortina swung her arm with all she had and drive the fragment in the other man’s ankle.
If they were outside of the city, this would have been defended by his greaves. However, they were inside the city now, so wearing too much armor would’ve made him stand out too much.
As such, he was now in normal leather shoes, so this attack managed to seriously injure his instep.
The bone of an instep was actually very thin. It also had little muscle. It was quite possible to break it even with something like a broken wood fragment.
That sharp pain caused him to roll over and fall on the ground.
Having overpowered both men, Cortina finally crawled out from under the man.
At that point, the third man, Mateus, who walked without hurry, had finally caught up to her.
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