Hikaru sprinted through the back alleys. He tried activating his Mana Detection once more, but the amount of information was too much, it made him dizzy. He might be able to endure it with proper training, but there was no time for that right now.
Lavia was at a place with plenty of horses, forced into a carriage. When Hikaru glanced at the ground a while ago, he saw a button from Lavia’s coat.
Rose Knight Paradise. A book that Lavia and Catherine read and recommended to him. While it was targeted mostly for women, the story had plenty of twists which made for an interesting read.
A noble’s daughter eloped with her lover and was later captured by pursuers sent by her family. A button from her clothes fell right then. Her lover, a knight, noticed the button and realized his love had been kidnapped.
If Lavia dropped the button on purpose, it most likely meant that she was “kidnapped by pursuers from home” — in other words, from Ponsonia.
I didn’t expect them to follow her all the way here.
They probably realized it was her when they saw the fire spell Lavia cast. The King of Ponsonia should be aware that she could use such powerful magic. So her pursuers used that as their lead.
The carriage station was coming to sight. And then one of the carriages left in a hurry. Is that it? Hikaru thought as he activated his Mana Detection.
Sharp pain ran through his head and he let out a low grunt. He felt light-headed. But he saw it clearly. Lavia was in that carriage. With his Stealth active, Hikaru dashed towards the accelerating vehicle. He would not be able to catch up.
Hikaru opened his Soul Board.
Sitting on the driver’s seat, the short man turned around.
「L-L-Leaving him behind w-w-was not my idea, okay?!」
The woman with him simply frowned without a word.
Lavia, lying inside the carriage, listened to their conversation, though she couldn’t see as they put a bag over her head. Her hands and legs were bound by what seemed to be magic items. The woman sat close by, watching her every move.
This is completely different from when I was transported to the capital from Pond.
Back then, bone-headed adventurers were in charge of transport, so Hikaru was able to rescue her with his Stealth. But it would be difficult to employ the same method right now. The inside of the carriage was dim; a tarp most likely covered the whole vehicle. Hikaru’s Stealth would be meaningless if he opened the tarp and the kidnappers noticed it suddenly got bright. Before that, did Hikaru even notice her message?
I’m sure he did.
Lavia had faith. She had no way of knowing when he’d be back after killing the dragon, but she believed Hikaru would come after her. He would notice the message she left.
Her only worry was Paula. Guild personnel seemed to be looking for her. It’d be great if the worst-case scenario was she would be taken into custody. But that didn’t ease Lavia’s worry.
「W-W-We’re out of town.」the man said.
The woman ignored him.
「A-Are you sure about this? H-He might come for us next…」
「Shut up already! Keep your eyes on the front!」
Her ear-piercing voice startled not just the man, but Lavia as well. Silence fell. Lavia could hear the sounds of other carriages passing by.
「I said shut up!」
The man was hesitating to say something, fueling the woman’s irritation.
「Just spit it out!」she shouted.
「Th-Th-The carriage got heavier!」
Lavia felt the woman move, and it got bright. She must’ve opened the curtains.
「What do you mean?」
「The horse’s steps are heavier…」
「P-Please, no yelling!」
「It’s probably just the road being bad since we got out of town.」
「N-No! Th-Th-That’s not it!」
「Yes, it is!」
「We’re heavier by about a person’s weight!」
Then out of the blue, the horse cried and reared wildly.
「We’re under attack!」
The horse’s ears were crushed. For a split second, the woman saw something thrown from up above.
The woman stood on the driver’s seat and watched the top of the carriage warily, but no one was there. Once again, the horse cried. Its front legs were broken. The animal sank to the ground and the carriage stopped.
「I-I don’t know! I-I didn’t see! 」
Thick bushes grew on both sides of the road.
Someone’s hiding there, the woman thought. But who? No one knows we’re in Borderzard. What do they want anyway? We were careful. We didn’t do anything that would warrant an attack. Forestia’s counterintelligence? They should know that the King won’t just sit around and do nothing if they attack us.
The woman thought about it for just a short moment, but that short moment turned into a huge loss.
Why aren’t they attacking? Oh, crap!
Quickly, she lifted the tarp behind her. Their target, the Count’s daughter, was gone. On the opposite side, the cover was slightly opened.
After stopping the horse, Hikaru used his Life Detection to check if there was anyone else inside the carriage besides Lavia. Life Detection 1 and Detection Expansion 3 had a range of a hundred meters, which didn’t put much strain on his brain.
He then immediately entered the carriage through the back, carried Lavia, and escaped. With Group Obfuscation on, they moved to the bushes. He then removed the bag from Lavia’s head.
「I’m sorry I’m late.」
「It’s okay. I knew you’d come.」Lavia smiled, full of confidence, and Hikaru was taken aback.
「Oh, man. I didn’t know you believed in me that much.」
「My trust for you is infinite.」
「I’ll do my best to not let you down, then.」
「Anyway, how’s Paula?」
It was just like her to ask about someone’s safety rather than how he got here.
Lavia exhaled in relief.
「You stay here and keep your Stealth on. I’ll get the keys to your cuffs.」
Hikaru left her behind. It seemed the culprits already realized that Lavia was gone. Both of them already escaped into the bushes. They probably thought it was better to hide in the bushes where the enemy was, rather than stay out in the open.
He couldn’t detect the woman with his Life Detection, which meant she had one or more points on Life Obfuscation. Since he knew where the man was, he started walking towards him instead. Then he winced, feeling sharp pain.
My legs… Must be the recoil.
Hikaru poured three points on Power Burst to chase the carriage. Though it seemed his body couldn’t support it just yet.
Age: 15 Rank: 42
……【Detection Expansion】3 (MAX)
The highest Power Burst he’d seen so far was Selye’s four points. He concluded that anything higher than that should be enough for him to catch up. The reason he didn’t increase his Strength was because Power Burst—which was useful against surprise attacks—fit his fighting style more.
While Strength was important in throwing stones, he might be using the revolver more often in the future. He’d done simulations before, so it didn’t take long for him to decide. In fact, he caught up to the carriage at an incredible speed. Although it came for a price—the pain in his legs.
There you are.
The man moved carefully, each step silent. Hikaru spotted his back. I’d love to learn how to do that.
Hikaru called out to him, and the man quickly turned around in surprise, but on his face was a twisted smile.
The man threw a ping-pong-sized ball that ignited in the air and produced a blaze. It wasn’t magic. Judging from the smell, he used some sort of powder.
But Hikaru was no longer there.
This time the voice came from the opposite direction, and the man turned around. The boy moved and he didn’t even notice.
「Wh-Wh-Who are you?! 」
A boy donning a cloak stood before him, hood covering his eyes. On his face was a silver mask.
「Who am I? Let’s see… How should I introduce myself… I know. Call me Silver Face.」
That was the first time Hikaru named his masked persona. This name would soon cause an uproar throughout the world.
「I-I see… Then, die!」
The man once again tried to throw the same ball he did earlier.
I know that’s a feint.
The real attack would come from the woman behind Hikaru. He hurled a stone at the man’s nose, turned around, and went straight for the woman.
Her eyes widened. The ball that the man was about to throw, exploded, burning his arm. The woman, with a dagger in each hand, lunged at Hikaru, but he disappeared.
Hikaru had learned a lot from his Short Sword lessons. Movements that would’ve taken years to study, he was able to master because of his Stealth God class. Even a small feint’s effect was multiplied a couple of times.
Such was the tremendous power provided by a two-character job class. But of course, the woman had no way of knowing that.
A voice came from behind. Impossible! she thought as she quickly turned around and brandished her dagger. But no one was there. The next second, she felt a blow to the back of her head and she fainted.
「Phew. That went well, I think.」
Hikaru was holding a wakizashi with the scabbard still on. He used it to knock the woman out cold. One wrong move, and he would’ve killed her with the Assassination buff, but it worked out fine. He got better at adjusting his strength after countless mock battles with the Jarazack students.
The man who blew himself up was gone, however.
Hikaru noticed a burnt piece of cloth at the spot where the man was. He made it look like his hand was burning, but in truth it was just the cloth. Then he escaped while Hikaru engaged the woman.
「He looked slow-witted. Turned out he’s the most dangerous. Was everything just an act?」
Fortunately, Hikaru found the keys to Lavia’s cuffs in the woman’s pockets. He then tied the female assailant to a nearby tree. I’ll inform the authorities later.
Hikaru immediately removed Lavia’s cuffs.「Are you hurt?」
「I’m fine. Thanks, Hikaru. I always knew you were my hero.」
Lavia clung to his left arm, which made it harder to walk. But he thought she might be feeling uneasy so he let her be.
They made their way back to Borderzard.