「Ah! Welcome back!」
Hikaru spotted Paula in Borderzard’s Adventurers Guild. All four members of the Four Stars of the East were behind her, and behind them were a few guild staff and town guards.
Paula ran towards him and took his hand. She noticed Lavia behind him.
「I’m so glad you’re all right.」she said, teary-eyed.
「Sorry to interrupt your heartwarming reunion, but I have a lot questions that need answers.」Selyse said.
「Didn’t Paula already tell you everything? My partner was kidnapped, so I knocked out the culprit. And as you can see, I got my partner back. By the way, his friend is passed out by road. You should go arrest them later.」
「So you’re saying you were the victim and you did nothing wrong.」
「That doesn’t make sense!」a guard, who looked to be a commanding officer, raised his voice. 「The man you knocked out claims he’s a soldier from Ponsonia. We’ve confirmed his identity as well. He says no kidnapping happened.」
「Don’t you think a soldier from Ponsonia crossing the border to get here is the bigger problem?」
「He said he strayed away from his squad while training and got lost.」
Ridiculous, Hikaru thought. This man clearly knows that the guy is lying, but he doesn’t want to provoke Ponsonia. Yet he doesn’t want the kingdom’s fury directed at Forestia. So to compromise, he’s insisting that this is all the Adventurers Guild’s doing and Forestia has nothing to do with it.
Hikaru was about to refute the claim when Selyse spoke.
「Sir, there are plenty of questionable points in that man’s claim. You can’t trust him. Anyway, I believe the guild has the right to talk to this boy first.」
「It’s likely possible that he and the girl behind him contributed most in driving the monsters back.」
The Adventurers Guild’s lobby went silent, and then noisy all of a sudden.
「What? That’s impossible.」
「If that kid did the most work, then I’d be a hero.」
「Wait, isn’t that the girl who cast that huge fire spell?」
「Then what did the boy do?」
「How should I know?」
Okay, this is getting troublesome.
Hikaru became more and more wary of Selyse. She changed the flow of the conversation so that people would watch him. So he had no way to escape. Quite devious, as it looked like she was praising him at first.
Okay, if you wanna play, I have a few tricks up my own sleeve as well.
The commanding officer didn’t seem to believe Selyse.
「So you’re saying this boy and girl did more than us guards and the adventurers?」
「Now that’s just plain ridiculous. Report arrived a while ago about a giant monster. Shouldn’t the Four Stars of the East be out there instead of taking it easy here?」
「I believe the monster won’t pose a problem.」
「Haha. That’s a rank B adventurer for you. You’re still calm even though a giant dragon, capable of destroying a whole castle, is headed this way.」
「That’s not what I mean. The dragon has been dealt with.」
「What? The report arrived just a while ago.」
「I’m guessing the scouts ran away as soon as they saw it. It was killed afterwards.」
「I’ve been trying to tell you. By this boy right he—」
Selyse looked to find that the boy and two girls were gone.
「We should be fine here.」
Hikaru deactivated his Group Obfuscation in a back alley. To put it simply, they escaped right under their noses. He couldn’t stay there for a second longer. It also seemed they couldn’t stay in town long.
「A-Are you sure about this, Hikaru-sama?! Actually I’m surprised they didn’t notice us! 」
「Who cares about them? If they want to talk to Ponsonia, they should do it themselves.」
「He’s right. Anway, Paula-san.」Lavia took her hand.「I’m sorry I dragged you into my problems. Are you okay? Did they hurt you? 」
「I’m fine. Hikaru-sama came to my rescue right away. I’m more worried about you.」
「I’m also fine. Hikaru caught up to me quickly.」
「That’s Hikaru-sama for you!」
「I know, right? Isn’t he amazing?」
Why are they talking about me now? Lavia was younger than Paula by three years, but they looked to be of the same age. In fact, Paula appeared to be the younger one with the way she acted.
「What are we going to do now, Hikaru?」
「Let’s see. You two should head back to Scholarzard first.」
「You have something to do?」
Hikaru wiped the dust off Lavia’s clothes that she got when the assailant kicked her.
「Look what they did to you. It wouldn’t hurt to pay their employer back for what they did.」
「You know you’re talking about the King, right?」
「What?! H-His Majesty?! Wh-What are you talking about?!」
「Yeah. I want to give the King a good clobbering.」
「Are you serious?!」
Lavia sighed in exasperation, while Paula was panicking.
「I was wondering. Did you let one of those two escape on purpose?」
「Why do you think so?」
「You could’ve taken them down without them noticing. But you called out to them.」
Hikaru almost burst into laughter. She really is smart. And perceptive. Like Lavia said, he called out to the man hiding in the bushes, when he could’ve just knocked him out unawares.
He had a reason for doing so. If he called out to the man, he could draw out the woman who was hiding with her Life Obfuscation. Hikaru could’ve detected her with Mana Detection, but he didn’t want to put strain on his brain any more than he already did. If the woman ran, he would’ve just let her go. In the end, things went the opposite of what he planned: he knocked the woman out cold, and the man escaped.
「That guy should’ve gone back to report to his employer. He’ll tell the King that they got beaten. And that’s where I come in. I’ll inflict more mental damage this way, don’t you agree? If I showed up out of nowhere, the King will just get confused.」
「You really do have a twisted personality.」
「I’m just that mad. They laid a hand on my Lavia, after all.」
「Oh, you.」Lavia flushed a bit, holding Hikaru’s hand with just her fingertip and swinging it, clearly embarrassed.
「I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m extremely jealous of your relationship!」Paula yelled.
They arrived at a coach station and the girls got into a carriage. Lavia activated her Stealth, while Paula wore a cloak with Stealth effects. Hikaru handed the stone he took from the dragon. It was only a burden for him anyway.
He assumed that the Four Stars of the East, who worked primarily in Ponsonia, wouldn’t follow them as far as Scholarzard. As for the guards, he might need to talk to Queen Marquedo.
The carriage left before any more pursuers could arrive. It was great timing. Hikaru saw the vehicle off as it left town.
「All right. Time to teach someone a lesson so they don’t lay a finger on Lavia ever again.」Hikaru grinned.
「Oh, so that girl’s name is Lavia.」
It was Sarah. Hikaru didn’t notice her get close. Her three friends stood idly by in the distance.
「Can you come with us for a bit?」she asked.
Hikaru reached for the wakizashi hanging on his waist.
「It’s fine. We’re not handing you over to the guards, nor are we telling the guild. How about it?」
「I can’t trust you.」
「I wish you would. Selyse said you might agree on these terms.」she said with a smile.
Selyse again. Hikaru shot the woman a glance, and she waved her hand, smiling.
「If you don’t come with us, we’ll tell the guards and the guild about you. And that girl, Lavia, will—」
「Lay so much as a finger on her and you will regret it.」
Sarah’s expression quickly changed, and she took a few steps back. Then she wore the same smile once more.
「You sure are scary. You’re oozing with bloodlust. Better hide it. 」
「Okay, I get it. Just calm down. But we were chasing after Lavia D. Morgstad too, you know. So you’re the one who took her out of Ponsonia, huh?」
She guessed right based on very few leads. Hikaru might’ve underestimated the Four Stars of the East a bit.
「We came here after an emergency summons. When we got here, we were surprised to see a powerful fire Mage. And her name is apparently Lavia. You’re here as well, the boy I saw in the outskirts of Pond. It all makes sense if we assume you helped her escape and then ran away to Forestia. Oh, but for the record, we’re no longer after her. We’re busy with other things too. I hope you’ll tell us the truth. We didn’t stop the carriage they were on from leaving, did we? You should trust us a little.」
「What do you wanna know?」
Sarah heaved a sigh of relief.
「Let’s talk somewhere else. My friends have questions for you. Oh, and Selica wants to ask you about Japan or whatnot.」