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Vermillion - Chapter 21.3

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Chapter 21.3

They descended the stairs. Aileen carried Lily on her back since her legs were unsteady from being confined for so long. Lily gasped in surprise at the men groaning on the floor especially Borris, who remained unconscious on his stomach. Aileen ignored it and left straight out the door.

’’So, which way is home?’’

Currently, they were somewhere near the middle of the old town. She believed it would be best to get to the main street, so following her memories from before the sun set, she moved toward the center of the district.

However, before they even walked for one minute, Aileen said, ’’What's that...?’’

Straight ahead were a large number of swaying lights. They could hear the sound of metal chaffing metal and many footsteps running toward them.

The people running were a group of guards carrying lanterns.

’’Ah! Aileen!!’’

And then from behind them, the face that popped out suddenly was

’’ Kei?!’’ Aileen shouted, almost letting Lily slip off accidentally.

He came out fully equipped with all of his quivers, giving him an appearance similar to that of a hedgehog. His face was flushed and under his leather helmet his bangs stuck to his forehead from the sweat of running around.

Having not yet grasped the situation, Kei rushed straight to her. ’’Are you hurt anywhere?!’’

Aileen shook her head, taken aback. ’’I-I'm fine.’’

’’It looks like it's already over... I guess I was too slow.’’

He saw Lily on her back and breathed a sigh of relief as he exhaustedly put his hands on his knees. From behind him shouted a familiar voice, ’’Lily!! Lily!!’’

’’Dad!!’’ With eyes wide open Lily jumped off of Aileen's back and ran toward the voice.

Montand staggered as he ran out from behind the guards.

’’Lily!! You're fine?!’’

’’Dad!! Daaad!!’’

Lily dove into his arms. They sank to the ground in the middle of the street and both began to cry.

’’I'm so glad! I'm so glad that you were safe! Oh... Lily!’’

’’Dad! I was so scared!’’

Kei and Aileen watched the two with gentle expressions.

’’Umm. Well, er...’’ A voice interjected from the side. It was one of the guards, an older man with a splendid black beard. ’’Ah, you're the one from that time!’’ He pointed at Aileen. He was the inspection officer during the incident with her Hi-Potion back at the gate.

The man removed his helmet and scratched his head with an embarrassed expression, ’’Sorry, but could you explain what happened?’’

’’Sure... Well, it's exactly as it looks.’’ Kei shrugged slightly and pointed at Lily and Montand. ’’Aileen successfully rescued that child.’’

’’Uh, well, I get that much, but...’’ He looked even more embarrassed, but looked at Aileen suspiciously. ’’I heard that a skilled magic fighter was on their way for the rescue, but it was her...?’’

’’Yeah, that's right. She's the magic fighter... Aileen, where did they end up confining her?’’

’’Not even a minute down this road, in some warehouse thing. There were eight men inside, but I left them all alive... Borris was there too.’’ She added the last part in a low voice.

’’What...?’’ Kei knit his brow and his face turned serious.

The black bearded man looked confused, and while still somewhat doubtful, decided not to pursue it and shouted at his subordinates, ’’Hey, you all! The kidnappers' den is close!’’

’’Wait a sec, what are you doing here, Kei?’’

Kei smiled as if to mock himself, ’’Well... After you left I linked up with the guards and persuaded Montand to come... I thought we could back you up. Although, it looks like we were too slow...’’

’’Well, there's that too. But how did you know to come here?’’ She tilted her head with an awkward expression.

Kei looked away.

Behind him, lanterns shone against the dark sky. Aileen thought she saw a girl in an angel's raiment smiling bewitchingly.

’’W-whaat?’’ Her jaw dropped. ’’You used an emerald...? That's such a waste!’’

’’It's fine! What's it matter....’’ He had a sour expression, but turned serious and looked at Aileen, ’’We can buy a jewel or two whenever we want! But...’’

But... he thought. His gaze wavered, and his mouth hung open without him saying anything. He looked away again. ’’Well, um, at any rate... Sorry we're late.’’ Kei lowered his head.

Aileen blinked at his unexpected action. After a short while her expression changed as if to say, there's no helping it, and she lightly pushed his head. ’’Don't worry about it... I'm just happy that you came. Also...’’

She remembered that what she said to him before she left seemed to hurt him. However, would bringing it up again and apologizing cause it to be an issue again?

Right now

She said nothing, put her hand on his shoulder, and gave him a smile. ’’Although it really is just that you came, heh! I appreciate the thought, but to be honest, you didn't do jack shit!’’

’’Ugh... I can't argue with the truth...!’’ He looked vexed as Aileen laughed.

’’What's with all this stuff anyway? Plan on waging a war? There's no way you'd ever use this many arrows!’’

’’You never know what might come in handy! Leave me alone!’’

’’I thought you couldn't use a bow in urban combat~.’’

’’I planned on shooting through walls if it came to it!’’

With the guards in a circle around them the two pestered each other noisily. Next to them the parent and child couple cried.

The black bearded man looked up at the moon as he replaced his hat and sighed. ’’I want to go home soon...’’

†††

Afterwards, the guards arrested Borris and the other abductors.

After they examined the inside of the building, they found various narcotics and illegal goods. It turned out to be a large-scale drug cartel's den.

Borris seemed to be an underling in their organization.

They arrested more members of the organization after thoroughly investigating, and Borris included, were mostly sentenced to decapitation. The others were all forced into slavery, working until death in either the mines or processing waste in the northern section of Satyna.

The only useful information that they managed to get from the members was that there was a manager;a thin man named Tristan. Even if they searched within the city, it was highly likely that he had already left.

From the past events, Montand and his family were exhausted mentally and physically.

Particularly Lily, who temporarily stopped attending cram school and was recovering from the shock at home. Montand also took a short break from his work.

’’We are spending time together as a family,’’ Montand said earnestly, forcing a smile as he returned the silver that Kei lent him. He gripped Aileen's hand and said, ’’Really, thank you so much.’’ The amount of times he bowed his head to her was impressive.

Kei and Aileen stayed in Satyna for another three days after the incident.

They wanted to find a job as escorts as well as wait for Connor to finish Mikazuki's hide.

For better or worse, because of the incident they primarily Aileen were able to gain some fame and reputation.

The magic fighter that gallantly invaded the kidnappers' den and admirably rescued a child. For that person to be a beautiful young girl as well, there was no way that people wouldn't talk about it. The tales of her heroism became so popular that rather than their previous day of searching for escorting jobs, shopkeepers came to them with escort requests.

The largest one of them all was Montand's client, the Cornwell company. Apparently, the suspected cause of the kidnapping was that Juli, Cornwell's son, kept Lily at the mansion until late. He seemed to be tormented by his feeling of guilt. Juli was so grateful for Aileen saving Lily that he made his way to their inn to deliver a large amount of money as a reward personally.

The reward came from his own pocket money, but even then, the sum was equivalent to a few gold coins. Kei and Aileen were both surprised and wanted to accept the money, but honestly, walking around with so many coins would be a pain.

The boy was clever;he understood that magic cost a catalyst such an emerald or jewel, and so with the approximate gold coin that he had left, bought them new ones the next day. The jewels and labradorite[1] were of such a fine quality that Aileen wouldn't have to worry about her usage, and Kei could use his 『Manifest』 again, after having run out of emeralds. Kei did suggest one or two jewels, but he got them faster than expected.

Juli also wanted to arrange for Lily to have a bodyguard to bring her to and from cram school once she returned. The idea he proposed was for Aileen to be the bodyguard. If the guard was a man, then Lily might feel scared, and on top of Aileen's good looks and abilities, she was already close to Lily. While it was another eye-popping addition to the reward, neither Kei nor Aileen intended to stay in Satyna and regretfully turned him down.

With the prospect of Aileen being Lily's bodyguard gone, Juli looked awfully disappointed. However, he was aware that Kei and Aileen would be heading to Urvan and began to speak of work. There was a caravan of merchants that needed escorts traveling north to Urvan via the highway. They'd received treatment that they couldn't have imagined a few days ago on top of a great reward. Kei would never have imagined they would receive such treatment from a boy that they had no interaction with until this point.

The good you do for others is good you do yourself, huh.

The morning of their departure. That saying was something that he couldn't help but think of as they stood in front of the northern gates.

The merchants that they were going to guard were finishing their final check of their luggage. Kei and Aileen were all ready to go. Kei rode Sasuke while Aileen rode one of the plains people's horses, recently named Suzuka. They sold the other two horses through the Cornwell company.

’’Onee-chan... You're leaving?’’

’’Yeah, sorry. I have to go to Urvan no matter what.’’ Aileen looked apologetic.

Aileen and Lily said their goodbyes next to Kei. Lily hung her head. She didn't ask Aileen not to go. She didn't cry. She knew it would be selfish. All she did was silently hang her head.

’’I know. I'll give you this.’’ Aileen nimbly jumped off of Suzuka and squatted down to Lily's level.

’’What's this...?’’

’’It's a charm.’’

The thing she put in Lily's hand was a rose quartz gem hanging on a chain.

’’I made it last night. I put a spell on it, as long as the sun is set, you can call me just once. If anything dangerous happens again and you call me, I'll come save you right away.’’

Although, she said Lily could call her, she couldn't teleport to her. It would use『Manifest』so that they could talk for a short time. It was believable enough for a child that the charm could send a shadow over a long distance.

Nonetheless, Aileen's words had a magical effect on Lily. She grasped it preciously with the sparkle back in her eyes. ’’Thank you, onee-chan...’’ She did her best to put on the bravest smile she could and expressed her thanks, but tears soon welled up in her eyes and her smile crumbled. ’’Onee-chaaan...’’

’’There, there...’’ Aileen held the crying Lily to her chest as she softly stroked her head.

Kei watched silently from his horse.

’’Kei-san...’’

Kiska and Montand came up to Kei's side, careful not to bother Aileen and Lily.

’’Hey there.’’

Kei moved to dismount, as it would be rude to stay up there, but Montand stopped him. ’’Kei-san. I can't thank you enough for helping us.’’

’’I didn't do anything... It was all Aileen.’’ Kei smiled awkwardly as they both bowed to him. His smile wasn't exactly forced, but you couldn't call it natural either.

’’We've already said our thanks to her many times. Of course, it's not a matter of the number of times...’’

Kiska held a basket out to Kei while Montand flailed his arms in a panic and tried to correct what he said.

’’They're sandwiches. I apologize that this is all it is, but I hope that you and Aileen will enjoy them for lunch today.’’

’’Oh, thank you... what about the basket?’’

’’Keep it, of course.’’

’’Thanks.’’ Kei smiled with his reply as he fastened the basket to Sasuke's saddle.

Montand recovered himself in that time and took out a medium sized quiver. ’’I'm sorry if this seems simple, but... I've made a few more long arrows. I hope you find a use for them.

’’Oh, this is... I already have a bunch of arrows, but... is this okay?’’

’’Of course it is.’’ Montand nodded deeply.

Kei seriously had a lot of arrows. He purchased most of them from Montand, but the problem was their volume. He had four quivers counting the one on his back, the ones on either side of Sasuke's saddle, and the one on Sasuke's back. Three of them were quite large to boot.

’’I'll gladly take them. But there's still a lot of space in the quivers I have, could I just take the arrows?’’

’’Yes, certainly, certainly.’’

Kei took the arrows from him and put them into the quiver on his back. He felt that these were somehow made even more carefully than the others.

’’Alright. It's about time that we head off!’’ The head of the caravan shouted from the front.

The merchants boarded their wagons and the escorts straightened up in their saddles.

It was time to leave.

’’It's time.’’

’’Yes... Take care.’’

’’Truly, thank you so much.’’

Montand and Kiska bowed to Kei and Aileen and gave them their thanks one last time.

Kei removed his gaze from them and looked up at the sky absentmindedly.

The sound of wooden wheels turning began and the wagons slowly started to move forward.

Kei lightly kicked Sasuke's flanks and he, too, moved forward.

’’Onee-chan! See you again!!’’

’’Take care!! I'll definitely come see you again!!’’ Aileen shouted and waved back at them from next to Kei.

It had been approximately ten days since they were brought to this world.

Just why were they brought here?

Kei and Aileen began their trip to solve that mystery.

Their destination, north. The center of the Ri'leir region.

The fortress city, Urvan.



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