Indigo, a peddler who sold goods in various Ponsonian settlements, realized he made a huge mistake. He regretted his actions. His wife—also his partner in peddling—even told him it was dangerous. But he believed it would be all right. And now they were in deep trouble.
「Don’t move. If you try anything funny, you’re dead.」
A dagger was pointed at his throat. Although rusty, it would be enough to kill Indigo.
Indigo lived his life peddling outside of town. He was confident in his abilities, but not against nine people.
They were in the plains by the main road, but he never expected bandits to show up. Indigo had been using this road for ten years and not once had he encountered bandits. They just happened to leave town a little later than usual, so they had to make camp. Then they were attacked.
On the opposite side of the bonfire, Indigo’s wife—who was five years younger than him—wailed as the bandits pinned her down. It was she who said camping out was dangerous. And now the men were gagging and undressing her.
「I said don’t move!」
The dagger pierced into Indigo’s arm and he cried.
「We gave you our money and goods, everything! You said you’ll spare our lives!」
「We will. Only your lives, though.」
The man flashed a nasty grin. Indigo loathed them. His beloved wife was about to get defiled by these filthy men.
I’m sorry! This is all my fault for valuing time too much! I didn’t even think of the danger!
Indigo clenched his teeth in frustration. Should he strike back even if it meant certain death? Or should he just stay quiet, glad that they’d be spared? What do I do?
His wife shrieked, and he quickly glanced at her. The man mounting her fell forward. At first he thought the bandit lunged at his wife, but the way he fell was like a puppet that had its strings cut.
「Hey, what’s wrong?」
One man pinned his wife’s arms and another one, her legs. Both men saw blood—illuminated by the bonfire, it looked blackish—dripping from their companion’s forehead who suddenly stopped moving.
Then they collapsed the same way.
「We’re under attack! Keep your eyes open!」the bandit pointing a dagger at Indigo shouted, glaring at the peddler who held his bleeding arm.
「You bastard! So you had friends, eh?!」
The bandit swung the dagger towards the unarmed peddler, but the blade never reached Indigo. With a clang, the dagger flew into the distance.
The bandit realized something hit his dagger. But that was all. A blow came to the back of his head, and he lost consciousness.
「Are you okay?!」
Freed from her restraints, Indigo’s wife came running to him and embraced him tight. In the meantime, the rest of the bandits went silent and motionless.
「Wh-What happened?!」Indigo asked.
「Look! Over there!」
His wife pointed at a figure slowly walking towards them. Too slender for a grown man, they were either a young boy or a lady. Indigo couldn’t tell as a hood was pulled over their head, and they wore a silver mask that covered all but their mouth.
「I’m glad you’re alright. Or not completely all right, I guess. You’re injured.」
It was the voice of a boy.
「Th-This is nothing. An ointment should be enough for it. So, who are you?」
「It doesn’t matter who I am. Anyway, are these guys just ordinary bandits?」
「Do bandits show up here often?」
「Not at all! I’ve been a peddler for a long time, and this is the first time I encountered bandits.」
「Hmm…」The silver-masked boy kicked the bandits’ heads lightly. No reaction.
「A-Are they dead?」Indigo’s wife asked.
Indigo stopped his wife from asking too many questions. It would do them no good to agitate this boy.
「I don’t think so. Or maybe they are, but I can’t really look after them.」the boy said as if it was of no concern to him.「Anyway, as for the reward for saving you… or not really a reward.」
「O-Of course! Y-You may take the money over there.」
「I don’t need the money. I think you need it more than me anyway. They destroyed your goods.」
Their wagon horse was killed during the bandits’ attack. A heavy loss. How much would a new horse even cost?
「That… is true.」
Indigo nodded as he gestured his wife to hide behind him. The boy didn’t need money. Which meant he didn’t want the goods either. Indigo peddled daily necessities like salt and sundries—things that settlements in the mountains couldn’t get. So he thought his young and lovely wife was in danger.
「Ah, you don’t have to worry about your wife. I won’t do anything to her.」the boy said in a friendly tone.
Indigo was caught off-guard.「Oh, okay… What do you want, then?」
「I just helped you because you were in trouble. Is there something wrong with that?」
「I’m a businessman. I don’t trust work without compensation.」
The boy smiled.「All right. I’ll just take a reward equivalent to the amount of work I did.」
Indigo gulped. This boy was strong enough to quickly suppress the bandits. He didn’t need money, either. Plus there had to be some reason he was hiding his face. What would someone like that ask of Indigo?
「Give me information. Everything you know.」the masked boy said.
Hikaru heaved a long sigh.
「I can finally take a breather.」
He waited all night to enter the town of Satin Elka, the capital of Margrave Grugschilt’s domain. Although inferior to the royal capital, it was much bigger and more prosperous than Pond.
A line formed outside of town. Apparently the strict identification check took quite some time. Normally, Hikaru would just use his Stealth to sneak inside, but he patiently waited in line because of what Indigo said.
「They’re keeping records of everyone who enters town using guild cards. The inns check people’s cards as well. So anyone who has no entry record to town will get busted.」
He was able to use the information he got right away.
「The good you do for others is good you do yourself, I guess. I’m glad I helped them out.」
Hikaru threw himself onto the bed. It was mere coincidence that he ran into Indigo. He was simply going with a caravan that moved even at night when he found the couple being attacked by bandits. The caravan turned a blind eye, just glad that they weren’t the victims. Only Hikaru got down and dashed to their rescue.
The couple probably tied the bandits up to some trees and reported them to Satin Elka’s guards. The bounty for capturing bandits should be enough to get them a new horse.
「All right, then. I got a lot of things to think about. This town that’s on high alert, and the overall kingdom…」
Hikaru stared at his guild card. An item that displayed a soul’s records, and can’t be reproduced. Only its owner can use it. And from it, a person receives the blessings of the gods through job classes.
「I just wanted to land a punch on the king’s face and then go back…」
Hikaru tapped the “job class” field on his card. New ones had appeared.