「…I did hear it from the young miss, but to think he was really someone that skilled.」
The man who had been fighting with Rei just a little ago gave a small mutter as he removed his full-face helmet that covered his face.
His face revealed a man in his late thirties. From there, he forcefully removed his smashed up and cracked full plate mail. Finally, his muscle-covered body appeared within, trained to the point that it seemed to be bursting from the chain mail.
「Not to mention that Griffon and his absurd level of magic power. To think such an outstanding individual was laying low in a remote region like this. No, I suppose it’s precisely because this is a remote region…huh?」
After completely removing his full plate mail and lightening up, the man took up his halberd – his long-time favourite weapon – in hand and left the mansion while erasing his presence.
「Young miss’ eye for judging people isn’t bad. Does that mean that even the Duke will have to make his move? However… I don’t think a person like Margrave Rowlocks would leave someone this powerful alone. If someone with such combat ability joins the neutral faction, even the Duke won’t find it amusing…but with the Bestir Empire’s shadow being present, he can’t exactly lose himself in the power struggle.」
The man muttered.
If Margrave Daska Rowlocks, the feudal lord of this city, was here, the man’s identity would’ve been quickly revealed. Or if it were the nobles who have been stationed in this city, then they would’ve probably been left wide-eyed no matter if they were from Neutral, Royal or the Nobles Faction.
And the reason for that was that this man was Philma de Giel. Someone who stood at the top of the knight order controlled by Duke Kerebel, a central figure in the Nobles Faction.
In the first place, why was someone like him here – in a place where he shouldn’t have been by all rights? To answer that question, it was because Duke Kerebel had heard about Rei from his daughter Elena. An adventurer whose power was endless, followed by a Griffon – an A ranked monster – and the holder of an unbelievable amount of magic power. Holding the possibility of even attaining the S rank one day. Hearing all that, Duke Kerebel thought that if there was someone that strong hiding there, he wanted to try to get his hands on him no matter what it took. And with such thoughts, he gave an order to Philma who had just returned back after ending the pursuit of Viscount Sails’ household. It was to head towards Gilm and confirm the ability of the adventurer called Rei.
Properly speaking, this wasn’t a job a knight captain like him had to expressly do. But various factors added up and it was decided that Philma would be the one to go.
It was punishment for being unable to carry out the pursuit of Viscount Sails’ family successfully… That was the first reason.
Naturally, Duke Kekebel didn’t actually believe that the entirety of Viscount Sails’ household, that fled to Bestir Empire, could’ve been slain with just a single pursuit. So in the end, he merely used that as a pretext, and by doing that, he was able to entrust this mission to the knight captain who couldn’t be easily moved in normal conditions.
The second was a more straightforward reason – it was because Philma was the only person whom Duke Kerebel trusted even more than Elena, the General Princess. Of course, it wasn’t like there were no people who could see through abilities and aptitudes of others. However, most of those were tied by various obligations, and their abilities aside, he couldn’t trust them in other aspects.
Therefore, Philma was dispatched towards Gilm, partly for him to take a well-deserved rest. And so he entered the city while hiding his identity, and through his collaborator’s connections, he learned that his target was hostile against Azoth Firm. He then ascertained with his own body whether the information Duke Kerebel provided him about Rei’s battle ability was true or not.
「Still, I never thought that his ability would be at least equal to mine. No, he’s certainly stronger than me, considering the fact that he was clearly holding back, huh? …In this case, perhaps young lady deserves praise for seeing through the ability of someone like that. Well, Duke Kerebel wouldn’t be so calm about it though.」
Although he looked strict, to the end, he just took that attitude for the public eyes. Recalling the face of his lord who loved his daughter dearly, Philma revealed a wry smile. The expression his daughter had on her face when she talked about Rei’s personality and ability didn’t look anything like the one the General Princess would have. If anything, it looked more like the one a maiden would have when talking about their beloved.
Elena had single-mindedly followed the military path until now without knowing anything about love. Remembering her appearance had brought a faint smile to his face.
But he quickly shook his head a bit and thought back about his fight with Rei while directing his eyes towards the halberd that was his long-lasting partner.
「What’s more, it wasn’t just his ability. His Scythe seems to be quite a high-level magic item too. After all, it was actually able to exchange blows head on with this Dragon Fang, the work of that legendary alchemist Esta Nord……No, to even surpass it.」
Indeed. The halberd Philma carried was a Magic Item that Esta Nord–renowned as one of the followers of Zepairu and the greatest alchemist of the era of sorcery–had created. It had an effect of consuming the owner’s magic power and raising the attack power accordingly. It was a simple enough effect, but its trustworthiness was high. But Rei had sent out series of intense attacks that were practically on par…no, even stronger than his magically strengthened blows, one after another without breaking a sweat.
And so, Philma disappeared through the night city, taking two reports to his lord. The good news that he proved Elena’s judgment of him to be true, and the fact that Margrave Rowlocks had an eye on Rei, making his recruitment to their faction extremely difficult.
While raising a voice of anguish, the man with a spear – the remaining member of the C Rank party Snow Field Wolves – was blown away and lost his consciousness from the shock as he hit the ground.
「It was more difficult than I imagined.」
Rei muttered as he glanced at the fainted trio.
To start with, they barely matched with Freon and Brazos. And with Rei included, it was evident that they stood no chance. However, the Snow Field Wolves members didn’t even lend an ear to Brazos’ suggestion to surrender. Finally, As Rei joined in, they weren’t able to overturn the scales of power, but they continued fighting without change until they all lost consciousness.
「When talking about adventurers hired by Azoth Firm, I thought they’d mostly be some good-for-nothing fellows… but these three sure had some backbone. Though from what I heard about them at the Guild, they didn’t give me the impression of being such strong-willed fellows.」
Freon muttered while fixing her disordered breathing, and Brazos also nodded as if in complete agreement.
「That’s true. But it hasn’t been that long since their party ranked up. But well… being in such situation, they probably feared about rumours spreading about them surrendering to the enemy right away.」
「I see. Well, if they were gossiped as a party that surrendered to the enemy right after their rank up, they would be taken advantage of in future requests and be looked down by other adventurers, huh.」
The swordsman fainted after getting hit in the torso by the Brazos’ Earthshaker Hammer. A spearman was taken out with a blow to his neck by Freon. The other was taken out by Rei’s attack using the handle of the Death Scythe. The unluckiest of them was, as expected, or rather, naturally, the spearman who got knocked out by Rei. The spear user who fainted under Freon’s attack didn’t even suffer any broken bones, and his equipment didn’t suffer the damage either. The swordsman did have a few fractured ribs, but his leather armour was made from monster hide and was therefore flexible, meaning that he didn’t suffer much either. Compared to them, the spearman who tasted Rei’s blow had his spear snapped in two after using it as a shield in the moment to block the Death Scythe’s handle. Without even managing to slow its momentum, the attack also broke his right hand and also smashed his metal armor along with his ribs. He was unmistakably the one who suffered the most, in both medical and financial senses.
「…Hmm? What’s wrong?」
Freon who was gazing at the fainted trio suddenly noticed Murt who was glaring at them and Galahat who had a bitter smile on his face.
Murt glared at her he after he realised that he was also included in Freon’s last remark about the adventurers hired by Azoth Firm being ‘nothing but good-for-nothing fellows’. Galahat revealed a self-deprecating smile for not stopping his brother’s deeds until now, even if he held respect for him. But even after seeing that, Freon didn’t understand the reason behind their behaviour.
「No, it’s nothing. It’s indeed true that the adventurers employed by Azoth Firm are mostly good-for-nothing people, including me.」
After Galahat said so, Freon finally understood why Murt looked so angry. She looked the other way while scratching her cheek, revealing a dodgy smile.
(Just what is she doing.)
Rei sighed in his mind as he observed their exchange, and then looked around while shouldering his Death Scythe. Tenda who was the first to attack was now lying unconscious with his ribs broken, and the Snow Field Wolves shared the same fate. Also…
Rei directed his sight towards the middle-aged female mage and the archer who was still pinned down and immobilised by Set, the only people that were still conscious among the opponents.
And after meeting his gaze, the female mage turned completely frightened and just crawled backwards, unable to put power into her legs to stand up.
(…This one is no good. She’s in no state to talk.)
Rei muttered deep down, but it was something that couldn’t be helped. Although he had yet to fully master it due to practical issues, Rei’s magic power was enormous, to say the least, boasting of both amount and density that surpassed even that of Zepairu who was called a Majin. For that reason, those with the ability to sense magic power or those who could see it like Runo, had been scared many times by the amount of magic power Rei held. And it was the same for that female mage Rei was looking at now, who was frantically retreating with both hands. But her misfortune was the fact that she acted hostile towards Rei. Just what would happen to her if she was hit by magic that utilised the outrageous magic power she could feel coming from Rei. She who felt the difference between their ability as a mage in the literal sense of the word had lost her fighting spirit through and through.
「…She’s in that state, so it comes down to having to ask you instead.」
Rei directed his gaze towards the archer that was pinned down by Set’s right forefoot.
However, the archer simply looked at Rei with a sharp look without uttering a single word.
「Haah. Now that we defeated you people who were supposed to be the trump cards of Azoth Firm, you already understand that you have no chance of winning left, right? In that case, I think it’s better for you to cooperate with Galahat right away.」
「What is left of the remaining forces on your side? Do you know whether Bolton is still planning something? How deeply are Azoth Firm’s staff involved in this matter?」
He asked questions one after another, but the archer replied with silence to all of them.
「…I don’t like this sort of thing, but it can’t be helped. Set.」
Set responded with a small cry to Rei’s indication and put strength to the forefoot that was pressing down on the Archer’s back.
The Archer felt his spine giving off creaking sounds inside from the force pressing down on his back, but still, not a word had spilled from the man’s mouth. Rather, he didn’t even leak a voice of anguish.
「Rei, it’s no use. This guy has the eyes that say he takes pride in his work. He wouldn’t do anything that would put his employer at a disadvantage so easily.」
Freon muttered with a sigh while looking at the exchange between Rei and the silent archer.
Hearing that, Rei looked towards Brazos and Galahat, but they also shook their heads in silence, implying that getting the information out of him would be impossible.
「…With the increase of the rank, people like that also increase in number, huh?」
Muttering that, he directed his gaze towards the fainted Tenda’s direction.
(Though the same goes for battle maniacs like that guy. Although I said ‘people like that’, It’s not strictly in a good sense. If I had to say, I suppose it’s better expressed as coming down to the individual?)
Averting his gaze from Tenda, he looked towards Galahat.
「So, what should we do about him? Since he’s not being cooperative here, I don’t want to leave him like this and get attacked from behind later.」
「That’s true. …I’ll ask just once more then. You have no intention of cooperating with me, right?」
The archer returned silence to Galahat’s question as well.
He stared back towards the gaze directed at him….and finally, Galahat sighed and opened his mouth.
「Rei, please knock him out. When I take over the Azoth Firm that person would be someone I can trust. I don’t want to damage our relationship here.」
Heaving a sigh, Rei hand-chopped the archer in the back of the neck, knocking him out in the process.
「With this, it seems like the adventurers on brother’s side have been mostly wiped out. There might be some left, but there shouldn’t be more than few.」
Nodding to Galahat’s words, Rei and others left the dance hall to head towards the office where Bolton was supposed to be waiting.
「…Brother, it’s about time we put an end to this foolishness.」
Galahat muttered as he was about to follow after Rei and others, and those words strangely resounded throughout the dance hall where no one was conscious anymore.