“Hey, Albert. I got a little something to talk about with you. You mind?” Renya called out when Albert was all by himself.
Compared to his title as a hero, Albert was being pushed around so much that it couldn’t be called anything except him being put mostly in charge of odd jobs, as far as Renya could see. Albert had finally managed to take a break between jobs, but as soon as he saw Renya, he immediately straightened himself out again.
“Oh, Margrave-dono. Thanks for your hard work. Do you have some business with me?” Albert asked.
It was a polite manner to deal with Renya, but in Renya’s eyes Albert was so exhausted it was noticeable just from his outward appearance. Stamina-wise, and attire-wise.
Even though it looked like the katana hanging at his waist – apparently even called a hero exclusive item – hadn’t been maintained very much, it didn’t seem like it had lost its brilliance, but his casual wear had become worn-out. His boots and the leather tekkou on both of his hands were covered in dirt and dust, an appearance that could describe most of his armour after apparently not being cleaned properly. Although his hair had been neatly combed down, it looked somewhat greasy, and above all, stubbles had started to grow around the outline of his fairly good-looking face.
No matter how one looked at this, it seemed as though he had spent all his time working so hard he hadn’t had the chance to clean his body, let alone pay attention to his clothes.
Renya observed Albert closely, just to see that, on top of everything else, Albert’s casual dress and his boots didn’t match.
Due to Renya not talking business even after Albert called out to him, Albert scratched his cheek as if stumped, “Umm…Margrave-dono?”
“Ah? Aah, sorry. I ended up brooding over something. Let me see…” Renya, who was about to broach his topic with Albert, faltered for an instant.
Now that I consider it, I’ve noticed several times that Albert is treated like a single, common soldier, despite his position as hero, and moreover, it looks like Albert himself isn’t unhappy with that treatment either.
To Renya it appeared as if Albert accepted his treatment because he was taking social status as absolute measure, but in this situation it raised the question of whether Albert would move as Renya expected him to in case he talked with Albert about the matter at hand.
Renya pondered about it for just a moment, and immediately deemed such a possibility to be low.
Renya currently wanted to discuss returning to Klinge through the beastmen’s or elves’ territory so that it wouldn’t be reported to the Witenagemot. Renya got a headache just thinking about how to handle that group, which was such a major pain in the ass to deal with even when nothing was happening, now that its chairman’s son died on the battlefield just how much more of a pain would they become.
It didn’t take Renya long to conclude that he should let any reports vanish and run away, seeing as he was, more or less, going to keep cooperating with them by continuing to provide relief anyway.
What turned into a problem at this point was Albert’s existence.
In Renya’s eyes, heroes and demon kings are relatively inconsequential. Rather, the problem was how to make absolutely sure to get a supply of fish-related resources, which were seriously lacking in comparison to the meat resources that had been filling the warehouses and his inventory, was of utmost importance, but in order to be able to focus on this problem, the situation had to stabilize first.
In order to stabilize the situation Renya needed time. Time he didn’t have since he also had to lead a war. For the sake of stopping the war, it was necessary to make the demon king vanish completely from this world once and for all.
Renya pondered whether he might be able to handle that by himself, but no matter whom he tried to ask or what books he read, it was only the heroes that could oppose the demon king. He thought that he wouldn’t know how true that statement was unless he actually tried to have a look himself, but as far as he could judge from this generation’s heroes, he couldn’t believe the heroes were the strongest beings on this world at all.
If the heroes weren’t the strongest in the world, there should be beings stronger than them. It shouldn’t be all that odd even if the demon king was to be defeated by one of them, but he couldn’t find such stories no matter how hard he looked.
From here on out it’s a guess, but I wonder whether the beings referred to as demon kings and heroes are maybe special, only allowing the heroes to affect the demon king’s existence and life, Renya pondered. In that case, it makes me want to keep all of the heroes at hand.
If you consider that the heroes don’t exist with the sole purpose of defeating the demon king, but are also tasked with saving the people suffering from monsters, monopolizing the heroes wouldn’t be a very nice thing to do, Renya believed, however, since all of them will be assembled and thrown against the demon king army at some point anyway, I don’t think it really matters if I speed up that process a bit.
Even if Renya were powerless against the demon king, he might be able to deal with everything else beside the demon king. In other words, he thought that he might be capable of playing the role of the heroes’ vanguard in order to allow them to reach the demon king at the very least.
I haven’t the slightest intention to boast about it, but so far I haven’t met anyone in this world who could be a vanguard better than me.
“Margrave-dono?” Albert asked, puzzled.
Renya realized that his thoughts had veered off quite a bit.
In short, since Renya wanted to place the four heroes under his command, he’d like Albert to accompany them to Klinge, but even if he were to honestly voice out his intentions, he felt that for some reason Albert wouldn’t comply.
What would be the best course of action in this case?
“Umm, Margrave-dono?” Albert probed once more.
“Yeah, sorry…you know, Albert…what’s that?” Renya suddenly pointed somewhere after beckoning Albert over.
Since their location was inside the city, there was no way for it to be something that unusual. Albert walked up next to Renya, following his beckoning while wondering just what Renya wanted him to see.
Renya seized Albert’s shoulder, abruptly pulling it towards himself, and delivered a pointed strike at Albert’s nape.
“Gah!? M-Margrave-dono!?” Albert screamed in surprise.
“Huh? It was too shallow?” Renya muttered.
Renya went easy on Albert, believing that Albert wouldn’t be able to recover after losing his head if Renya hit him for real, but it looked as though his adjustment didn’t turn out that well. Albert tried to get away from Renya while holding the struck area due to the pain.
Renya, who grasped Albert in such a way that he couldn’t escape, drove his knee into Albert’s solar plexus while pulling both of Albert’s shoulders towards him, and settled into a Guillotine choke by twining his arms around Albert’s neck from the front, who had folded while groaning heavily.
Albert, who had his throat constricted on top of losing his breath due to the impact on his solar plexus, showed small signs of resistance, but once Renya suddenly put some more strength into his hold, his body lost all its strength on the spot, relaxing in Renya’s grasp.
Renya thought that Albert, going by his character, likely wasn’t skillfully enough to pretend that he had been defeated so as to lower his opponents guard, but even so he checked that Albert had properly fainted for caution’s sake and then retrieved a rope out of his inventory while continuously monitoring Albert’s condition. He bound the legs of the limp Albert, placed his hands against his back and firmly bound those as well, made him bite a gag, blindfolded him, and finally stuffed cotton into his ears.
Afterwards he wrapped up Albert’s entire body in cloth and loosely tied it into a bundle with a string so as to make it easier to transport, resulting in Renya accomplishing a full Albert package.
“Pheeew…” Renya breathed out in satisfaction after having finished his job.
The time Renya needed for all this to happen was just a couple minutes. Since it would naturally become troublesome if the other dragonoids heard talks about going to a human country, Renya had called out to Albert after he chose a deserted spot, resulting in zero witnesses of what had just occurred.
One could call it a truly speedy and adept criminal technique of abduction. Renya easily shouldered the bundle, which had been packaged properly, ran up the wall of a nearby building after lightly kicking off the ground, and started to move along the roofs, thinking that it would be bad if someone saw what he was shouldering.
“Just what the hell are those guys thinking!?”
The information about the hero’s kidnapping reached the dragonoid soldiers faster than Renya had expected. Renya thought that they would react slower than usual since they had lost their commander in battle, but for some reason the dragonoid soldiers’ reaction was abnormally fast.
They immediately gathered their guards at the building with the transfer gate inside the city, and laid out a firm guard protocol so as to not allow a single ant in or out. Moreover, they sent out quite a large number of soldiers in order to secure Renya’s friends wherever they might be.
However, that didn’t bring about any notable results.
They didn’t even find Emil, Grün, and Croire. They did manage to discover Kurz and the two priestesses, but the soldiers ended up scurrying away just from the threat that Kurz would let the black mist out of his hands, not even cladding himself in his armor.
Lepard and Kaede were on the verge of being arrested after having been spotted, but being hit by Lepard’s counterattack after he snapped because to the dragonoid soldiers’ way of handling Kaede was anything but courteous, the soldiers were annihilated.
Rona was arrested for a moment, but she complained about wanting to go back to her room to put on new clothes after being taken away. She asked her guards to wait outside since she was going to change her clothes inside the room, and entered while only carrying her change of clothes. Although it was unclear to the soldiers where she had hidden it, she used some kind of tool to blow up the entire building from inside the room and managed to escape.
Only Shion after seemingly noticing that something had happened from the soldiers’ expressions, drew her sword, and plunged into battle, no questions asked. She deceived the dragonoid soldiers, who at first underestimated her as a human swordswoman, thinking that they would be able to capture her easily, with her calm appearance and quickly chopped them up, beating any soldier she happened to meet.
With this the dragonoid army failed to catch any of Renya’s party, but Renya and the others had no choice but to go through the transfer gate in order to escape from this continent and go to their own continent. The army’s judgment of gaining control of that place first could be more or less called admirable. But, going by Renya’s group’s strength, it was easy to predict that breaking through the dragonoid army surrounding the transfer gate and recapturing the gate would pose no problem for them.
Based on that, the soldiers who were on guard duty considered destroying the transfer gate in the worst case scenario if it meant not letting Renya’s group get away.
“You still haven’t found them!? We have a reasonable number of people on this! It shouldn’t be that difficult to find them!”
The idea that they’ll likely be able to find them because of their large numbers even though they hadn’t been able to find the two elves and Emil was a line of thinking that could only be called naive. But as they had to cope with a continuous chain of problems such as being pitted against the demon’s army, having their brethren annihilated in battle, losing their commander, and having their hero kidnapped, it might be heartless to condemn them after having been thrown into such confusion.
As if to spur on their confusion, something suddenly happened above their heads. Someone had launched something into the air above the city. When the soldiers noticed it, several shots had already been launched. As the soldiers watched attentively, wondering just what had happened, those flying objects suddenly exploded, unleashing a thunderous roar and a blinding flash once they had reached the sky right above the city.
Seemingly having been launched quite high into the air, only sound and light reached the city. The shock from the explosion didn’t cause the city’s buildings to tremble, but if that shock had hit the city directly, it would have likely been difficult for the city, which had been thoroughly trampled down by monsters once, to keep its shape. Explosions of such extent occurred in succession.
“What the hell is going on!? Is it an enemy attack!?”
“We don’t know!”
“Tighten the city’s guard! Leave only a few soldiers at the transfer gate, and dispatch the rest to defend the city!”
“Is that alright? If we do something like that, those humans will easily…”
“Having the city attacked and stolen once more will cause more damage than allowing those guys to escape! Hurry!”
There was also the possibility that the explosions in the sky were a diversion created by Renya’s group’s, but the soldiers feared the possibility that the demon’s invasion army might attack the city once again much more than allowing Renya and the others to escape.
Them still leaving several soldiers at the transfer gate was because they estimated that they could likely use the possibility of Renya’s group forcing their way through for some kind of deal later on.
They believed that the conditions would probably be completely different between Renya’s group passing through while the gate was completely defenseless, and Renya’s group passing through while causing some trouble because of the few soldiers left behind.
However, their expectations easily went amiss.
The chaos induced by the explosions settled down as time passed, but Renya’s group didn’t show up around the transfer gate. That didn’t change even after night came and the next day started.
“Well, it would have been nice if we could have used the transfer gate in the city.” Renya muttered to himself while enjoying the pleasant wind which was suppressed to a level of making his forelocks flutter.
“I was sure that they would gain control of the transfer gate first. Even if it would have been easy to break through, it seemed that matters afterwards would become troublesome.”
“Is it just me who feels like matters became totally troublesome the moment you kidnapped their hero?” Shion said while closely clinging to Renya’s back, but Renya ignored her deliberately.
Rather than that, Croire’s gaze, who was sitting even further back, was scary. Croire, who sat down in a somewhat separate place, glared at Renya and Shion with a glazed look as if she was going to kill them if things took a turn for the worse while grinding her teeth so strongly that it was audible albeit faintly.
Grün, who sat cross-legged next to her, stroke Croire’s head in order to soothe her while smiling bitterly, but there wasn’t even the slightest indication of her mood improving.
<I’d like you to pardon me from starting a scene of carnage on my back…>
The one muttering that serious comment was a dragon whose deep crimson scales glittered under the sunlight. The one flying parallel next to her, was a dragon with vividly emerald scales. Kurz, Lepard, and the three priestesses sat on that dragon’s back.
For some reason Emil was sitting cross-legged on top of the crimson dragon’s head. On the other hand, Rona sat around the tail’s root in the opposite direction of the flight’s direction while trying to straddle the tail, seemingly keeping watch of the rear.
“For that reason we didn’t forcibly use the city’s transfer gate, but are instead going to return home by using the cave’s transfer gate which we used when coming here.”
<Was such a large-scaled spell necessary to gloss over our arrival and departure?>
Since he kept the telepathic channel open, it was easy for Renya to talk to Rubydra. He had her bring along Emedra while at it too, but the arrival and departure of two dragons would have stood out too much.
Given that the dragonoids wouldn’t have any way to pursue them even if they found out about it, calling it inconsequential either way might have been fine, but not seeing it as amusing if even the cave’s transfer gate was to be blocked because of that, Renya caused an explosion, which would cover the city’s sky, with sorcery just for the sake of concealing the two dragons.
Since Renya didn’t have the intention of influencing the city, he had several shots of the spell detonate at a height and level of fire power that wouldn’t cause any damage to the city after Emil had calculated it. You could say, he depended on Emil in times of trouble.
Renya was confident that he would have unquestionably caused extensive damage to the city if he had adjusted the spell himself.
<We are pretty much…in the upper ranks even among dragons, but…being called as mounts at your beck and call, that is…troublesome, or rather…we have a position to keep…>
It wasn’t as if Renya didn’t understand what Emedra wanted to complain about.
As long as the situation permitted it, he respected sticking to pride and such, but if he were to show that respect here, the one troubled would be Renya himself.
“Well, look, I’m just borrowing your help once.” Renya soothed Emedra.
<Really? That’s a promise, right?>
For some reason Emedra strangely jumped at Renya’s words which he voiced out while thinking that this might be a good compromise. Renya faltered a bit, wondering whether he might have said something bad, but having obtained that promise from him, Emedra didn’t say anything further.
Still, this promise might result in him being burdened with some kind of troublesome matter again in the future.
While feeling Shion’s soft presence clinging to his back with a strangely happy expression, and Croire’s presence, which seemed to be accompanied by a physical pressure due to the blood thirst she had quietly incorporated into her gaze, Renya looked towards the front, and focused on thinking about how to gather information on places that supplied marine products once he returned to Klinge.