Rei, blown into the stables by Elk’s attack, sighed as he brushed off the dust and straw off his robe before heading over to Set, who tilted his head.
「Set, I need you to do a favour for me.」
What? Set seemed to ask. Rei quickly explained the situation to Set.
Elk’s wife and son, Min and Rhodes, had been taken hostage. And, they were used to threaten Elk to try to kill Rei. The number of enemies seemed to be small and only one of them had come to Gilm to watch Elk and stop him from betraying them. And, that person was probably watching Elk from somewhere nearby.
「Magic items like farsight crystals were very expensive and there were ways to block them if you notice it. Given that, the watcher is probably observing with his own eyes and not with some kind of magic item. So Set, find and capture the watcher. I want you to take him alive if you can, but he tries to escape, you can kill him. Can I leave it to you?」
Set nodded, saying leave it to me.
Swiftly stroking his head, Rei swung his Death Scythe towards the back wall of the stables.
The wall was cut without a sound and a hole just the right size for Set to leave was opened up.
「Okay, I’m going to head out of the stables and start fighting Elk again. That will get the attention of the observer, so you have to get out during that gap.」
When he saw Set nod, Rei took a short and deep breath. And……started running towards Elk through the hole in the stables he had been knocked through.
The other horses and tamed animals which were in the stables during this series of events were surprised and making a lot of noise, but probably because they had become accustomed to Set, none of them tried to run away.
Rei jumped out of the stables with a loud cry to attract the watcher’s attention.
Elk also have a loud shout, holding the Axe of the Thunder God to intercept Rei.
「Come on! Let’s play this game!」
In response, Rei swung his Death Scythe in a swift attack.
Elk was simply inferior in pure strength and weapon weight. There was no way to withstand that attack, which had increased power with the addition of the run up, and was blasted away like a pinball. Nevertheless, he didn’t roll along the ground but corrected his posture and stood back up before sliding along the ground. Elk gave a sharp look towards Rei.
Fortunately, there hadn’t been any buildings, trees or rocks in the direction he had been blasted towards. If there had been, Elk would have been severely hurt if not fatally injured.
「Tch, this stupid strength. You’ve got to do something about this.」
Being chased, Elk frowned as he muttered as he parried the blade of the Death Scythe that was swung again as he stamped his feet on the ground.
「Huh, what are you talking about? If your watcher finds out you’re faking it, you’re the one in trouble, not me.」
Rei replied as their weapons clashed closely. Inverting the blade and handle of the Death Scythe, Rei used it as a lever and flicked it up towards Elk.
Elk sensed the stones flying towards his chin and tried to block the Death Scythe with the handle of the Axe of the Thunder God……
Unable to compete with Rei’s strength, his axe was able to block the stones, but he was still launched 3m into the air.
Elk was desperate to right himself in the air, but Rei didn’t give him that time. Elk was blown away like a pinball again by the attack of the Death Scythe, which was swung horizontally. Still, he did manage to block the attack with the Axe of the Thunder God.
Elk stuck his feet into the ground to kill the impact as he used his hand that wasn’t holding his axe to balance himself. He managed to recover his balance without falling to the ground.
Elk suddenly felt killing intent and once again thrust the Axe of the Thunder God to his size to block the attack of the Death Scythe, which collided with a high pitched metallic sound.
「Hey, aren’t you overdoing it? Just now, if it hadn’t been me, that person would have been split in two!?」
「That’s because it’s you. Also, I’ve never had a straight fight with someone as famous as you in this city. I’ll take this opportunity to experience your fighting skills, which are said to be one of the best in Gilm.」
「Hey, hey, hey, hey, this isn’t the time to do this.」
As they were locked in close combat, Elk struck out with his knee. Avoiding that, Rei kicked out towards Elk’s ankle. In addition to that, the two of them struck out with their unarmed hands as they continued to fight at close distance.
Even though they were fighting each other in such a fight, they continued to talk as if they were just complaining to each other.
「In any case, as long as you’re still being watched, you have to fight seriously to some extent. In that case, it would be better for you to think of this as a rather thorough combat train……ning!」
Scraping the ground with the handle of the Death Scythe, Rei shot out what could be called frozen dirt, made by the wet ground freezing over at night, towards Elk’s face.
Although he could turn his face away to avoid it, naturally, that would leave an opportunity……
「Tch, as if I’ll let you do that!」
Elk listened for the sound of the Death Scythe being swung and used his reflexive instinct to bring the Axe of the Thunder God to the side of his head. However……the next moment, Elk felt an attack so light that it couldn’t be considered an attack from Rei. The sound of collision with the Axe of the Thunder God was very light.
The attack he received at his head was light, but that was only a feint. At the light contact between the Axe of the Thunder God and the handle of the Death Scythe, Elk frowned his eyebrows, but the next moment, he tried to defend his lower body with his weapon. He was struck by a strong attack from the side and was blown away sideways.
A man……a man who was built with a hefty amount of muscle was blown away. For those who saw that, it seemed like a dream or something. Of course, it wasn’t a happy dream, but a nightmare.
「Geh, geha, geha……huh, huh……」
Elk was blown away, scraping the ground as it happened, but this was as expected of a rank A adventurer. Smashing the Axe of the Thunder God into the ground, he killed his momentum and stopped on the spot.
「Hou, can you still fight? As expected of you, should I say.」
「……It doesn’t feel good being told that by you. My ribs were almost completely destroyed.」
「Hmm, you jumped backwards to kill the impact, but……huh?」
Rei was talking to Elk, who was holding his left side, when he suddenly turned to look towards the darkness of the night.
It might have also caught his attention. Elk followed Rei’s gaze. At the same time, the spectators watching the fight also followed Rei’s gaze.
「It looks like you managed to do it.」
It was Set and not a person who answered his voice. From the dark sky, with little sound, a pair of wings flapped as Set landed into the garden area of the inn where Rei and Elk were. However, what was different from usual was that Set’s left and right foreclaws were holding what seemed to be a person clothed in black.
Elk murmured when he saw the man in black that Set was holding onto.
「Is this the watcher you were talking about?」
Elk looked at the face of the man placed on the ground by Set and gave a small nod in silence.
「Ah, there’s no mistake. When I entered the city, he came with me and told me not to do anything strange. The guards should have a record of that.」
Rei nodded at Elk’s words before searching the man’s clothes.
「Hey, what are you doing? Don’t tell me you have that kind of hobby?」
「I don’t. If he has some magic item for communication, even if we caught him, wouldn’t it still be dangerous?」
Elk held his breath when he thought about the possibility. And, as he stared at the man’s face……before long, Elk grasped his Axe of the Thunder God tightly.
His hand was grabbed and stopped by Rei.
「Why! This guy……those guys! They took Rhodes hostage to capture Min, and then they used both of them as hostages and ordered me to kill you! Why would you protect such a guy!」
「I’m not trying to protect him.」
Contrary to Elk, who was furious, Rei’s gaze was cool. No, it might have been better to describe them as cold than cool.
As Elk looked into Rei’s eyes, he involuntarily took a few steps back.
Quite literally, Rei felt nothing about the man in black. It was clear that he treated the man just like a stone on the roadside.
「Wait here for a moment.」
Leaving Elk, who held his breath after Rei looked at him, Rei went towards the inn and called out to the people in his room.
「Hey! I’m sorry, but please call the guards!」
「I’ve already called them! But, what happened to Elk-san!」
The man who responded was the one who had tried to hold Rei down earlier. He seemed to be quite sturdy and didn’t look like he had taken any injuries after being kicked away by Rei.
His voice held genuine worry about Elk but no apology for holding Rei down.
For the man, Elk may have held more weight than Rei, but even so, Rei couldn’t hold down his slight unhappiness.
「It seems he was being threatened by that guy. Thanks for calling the guards.」
After saying that, Rei turned away from the man, who seemed to want to hear more, before going back to Elk.
Elk was glaring at the man in black. Set sat next to him, ready to stop Elk at any time if he tried to do anything. Rubbing Set’s head, Rei called out to Elk.
「It looks like the guards have already been called.」
「……That’s good, but I can’t understand why you would hand him over.」
「You killing him in anger while he’s unconscious or passing him to the knights through the guards and will get as much information as we can out of him. ……Which one would be more painful?」
Elk reacted with a twitch at Rei’s words.
Maybe he didn’t expect Rei to say that, he turned to look at Rei with wide eyes.
Feeling Elk’s eyes, Rei spoke with a smile that didn’t have a care in the world.
「And, it’s not hard to guess where this guy is from.」
Elk turned his eyes to Rei, showing that he wouldn’t let Rei just stop there. His eyes weren’t as surprised as before but emitted a sharp light like a bird of prey that had found its target.
「Where is he from?」
「Do you know what you’re going to do once you know?」
「I have decided. ……I will make them regret touching Min and Rhodes.」
「Unfortunately, it will be difficult. No matter how strong you are, if you attacked a nation, you would still be caught and dealt with.」
「A nation? You don’t mean……」
Rei’s words made Elk frown. Elk had been living in Gilm for a long time. And he knew about the various incidents that had happened in the city in the past year. It hadn’t be publicised by the knights or guards that another nation had been pulling the strings behind the scenes, but it was still impossible to hide it from everyone. In particular, the Axe of the Thunder God was an A rank party. Naturally, they wouldn’t take the collection of information lightly.
It was mainly Min that was in charge of information collection and Elk would usually just hear about it later. However, in the several stories he had heard, he knew about the enemy that had been plotting against Gilm multiple times.
「The Bestir Empire.」
The Dusk Wheat’s garden was wrapped in darkness. Elk’s abhorrent murmurs were only heard by Rei and Set.