After saying his parting words to Satsuki and leaving Galwark kingdom, Rio went toward the territory of earl Clair, Celia’s family, along with Aisia and Celia but………
「EEH, YOU BECAME A HONORARY KNIGHT！ ？ 」
After leaving the royal capital of Galwark kingdom, in the middle of their way toward earl Claire territory via air travel, Rio reported to Celia that he became a honorary knight of Galwark kingdom .
Rio told the situation along the way but, maybe because the story was too unexpected, Celia was startled .
On the other hand, Aisia who flying right beside them isn’t showing any reaction .
「Yes, how do you think about such a development」
Rio was unintentionally letting out a smile in seeing the difference between their reaction .
「Even if you say development, it’s not a position that comes with such development right！ When, when did that happen？ 」
On top of flying without hindrance, Celia who can’t fly is being carried by Rio but, she suddenly brought her face even closer to Rio .
「Just a few days ago, at the final day of the evening party」
Rio is replying calmly to Celia who is already in a astonished state and lost majority of her composure .
「A~h……… . . 」
Celia’s face suddenly turned slightly red when she noticed that their face is so close to each other .
After letting out a slightly shrill voice, she takes some appropriate distance .
「I-I can say that it’s not an easy matter to become a honorary knight but……… . . What happened？ 」
「There was a raid during the evening party . Though it seems their aim was the royalties, we managed to repel them by working together with the knights in the venue」
Rio quickly explained the detail of why he received the title of honorary knight .
「A raid during the evening party………… That’s dangerous right . But, that might be just the right reward for you since you saved the life of royalties of several kingdoms . Moreover, it’s supposed to be a position that shouldn’t be easily given to a foreigner and yet…… . 」
Celia’s circuit is running on full power while she put her hand on her lips .
Rio is shrugging his shoulders as he consented to her opinion . Since he is aware of how hard to achieve those titles for a foreigner like him . The honorary knight title isn’t something that a king can readily give to someone .
Certainly one can’t say that it’s strange to giving it to Rio as long as they think of his achievement but, he can’t help but wonder about what is the aim for giving such a title when it comes to an expert of trickery like Francois .
Though it’s not like it’ll cause any harm to him for the time being . For the sake of Satsuki aside, Rio will act as freely as he wants to since he has no intention to actively save that kingdom anyway .
And just at that time, groups of buildings at a far away place that seems to be the capital of earl Claire territory came to sight .
Aisia is calling to Rio almost at the same time .
「I know . Sensei, let’s land here for the time being」
Responding to Aisia, Rio is landing into the forest below while carrying Celia . Aisia also followed after them .
「What’s the matter？ 」
Celia asked that question after they land inside the forest .
「A flying object is approaching the city . We landed since things will become dangerous when they noticed that we’re flying」
「Was that a magic ship？ 」
「No, maybe some kind of living being . Though I think it’s not a demon……… . 」
「Fu~hn, I see」
Celia is showing a truly interested expression . When she hears that it is not a demon, it seems she feels that the situation isn’t as dire as she expected .
「Let’s run from this point . We should be able to arrive immediately till the city」
「That’s okay but, I don’t think that I will be able to follow after your speed」
Celia is what you call as a non-atlethic person .
From the fact that she learns many type of magic as Almighty Wizard[All-Purpose Magician], though she can strengthen her physical ability with magic, she can’t keep up with inhuman movements from someone like Rio and Aisia .
Rather, her brain is unable to keep up with her strengthened body .
Physical ability isn’t something better as long as it becomes stronger . One needs motion sense to control the movement around the strengthened physical abilities .
Celia was naturally overwhelmingly lacking in those aspects . So making her to run inside of rugged terrain like a forest with bad footing is out of question .
「I’ll run while carrying sensei then . Though it’ll be more unstable than flying in the air, please bear with it」
「P-Please take care of me then」
Celia is nodding while clinging even closer to Rio .
There’s a tinge of red on her face .
Before even half-of-an hour passed since then, Rio’s finally arrived in their destination .
The capital of earl Claire territory, Creia―― it’s location is in the eastern part of Bertram kingdom, it’s a region where the main highway leads to Galwark kingdom .
And also the first time Rio came to visit .
The population is 50000 people, it’s size is definitely up to the center of the territory and also the important trading point between east side and west side .
「That is, the airborne chivalric order of Bertram kingdom . What are they doing in this place?」
After coming even closer right beside the city by running on the highway, Celia said those words as she looked at the sky . By the way the princess carry state from before was cancelled just before they entered the highway .
The one who was wandering around the skies of the city was the airborne knights of Bertram kingdom who were riding on their griffon .
Griffon who is called as a heavenly lion is famous as one of the rulers of the sky, as long as the dragon kins are not included, along with their extremely high intelligence .
It has a wild disposition and although it lives mainly in the mountain region, it became a vehicle beast for those who tamed them in one part of the region, and because it’s upper body resembling a bird of prey, it’s 「Kyuaa」-like cry became its main feature .
By the way, the name of the mercenary team led by Lucius, Rio’s revenge target, is Griffon .
「Certainly, it’s strange . What could be happened for them to go as far as dispatching the airborne chivalric order of tiger cub」
Rio was pondering about what happened while gazing at the sky .
「Uhm, what shall we do？ 」
Celia is asking timidly while looking at the distant city .
「We have no choice but to enter the city right . Let’s wander inside of the city to find out what just happened」
Celia nodded with much enthusiasm . As expected, she is also worrying about what happened inside the city .
「Aisia, can you transform into your spirit form and wait inside my body？ Just an insurance for when the situation turns for the worst」
After giving a short reply, Aisia suddenly vanished and merged with Rio .
「Shall we go then」
The two of them then went toward the city .
And then, they are currently in a certain plaza outside the city rampart .
Celia surveyed the city from behind the hood that hides her face .
「It’s not too lively here right . Or rather……… . . 」
「It seems that there’s not that many………… . unemployed or immigrants here right . Moreover, despite being outside of the rampart, the patrolling soldiers are passing by once in a while」
Because the area outside of the rampart is usually exmpted from tax, it’s usually prospering with people and many stalls lining up during peaceful time no matter which city .
But, no matter how much they’re looking for it, there’s only a few carts lining on the road and even fewer people buying goods .
Maybe because they lost the house where they live in, they see many families gathering together at the edge of the plaza .
「But, the ones who are patrolling aren’t just the soldiers of this territory . considerable amount of the soldiers of the national force seems to mix amongst the local soldiers . What just happened here……… . . 」
Celia’s complexion paled,maybe because she is shaken by the transformation of her hometown .
In a normal situation, since one can act with a certain degree of freedom outside of the rampart, powerful people are also absent outside .
And yet, they spotted soldiers in here and there armed to the teeth . From the fact that they wore two different emblems, it seems it really goes as Celia says, the soldiers of the national army mixed amongst the local soldiers .
Though the autonomy of the territory are given to the local lord, the defense of the territory is a combination between the local soldiers and the national soldiers .
But, those two basically don’t come out at the same time in normal situations . Since the king’s army is watching the local lord’s army, defense of the checking station, or fort that built along the highway .
Therefore, the defense of the local area is the full responsibility of the local army, outside of war time, the king’s army basically will take “No-Intervention” attitude .
The current situation inside the city was a bit different .
「I never heard any rumor about war, as for the soldiers, I think they were looking for something or maybe being vigilant to something――」
Rio glanced at Celia as he said so .
Though it’ll give another hint that the target they’re looking for might be in these vicinity, she is currently the missing daughter of earl Claire .
But, 3 months has passed since Celia’s disappearance from the capital .
When it comes to that, it makes no sense at all if they are really mobilizing such great amount of soldiers only to look for her .
In that case, they are looking for someone else .
There’s another possibility that they were being vigilant about unknown things too .
「In any case, we might be under suspicion if we are reported wearing the hood . Though it’s not like I’m overly worried about such things, maybe we should just show our face here」
After changing their hair color with a magic tool, the possibility of being noticed while showing their face is at minimum . It might be within acceptable range .
「You’re right, let’s not wear our hood」
Celia finally removed her hood after a slight hestitation . Thereupon, her hair color which turned from silver to gold appeared from inside .
「Cecilia, I think it’s better for you to not appear near the earl mansion」
No matter how much she misses her house, she is currently in the state of dissapeared . She cannot afford to go back to her family mansion .
In spite of spending majority of her time in the royal capital, he is expecting that many people can recognize Celia’s face in her hometown . Especially the rich people who live in the rampart, there’s a high possibility of the vassals who serve her house or the people who know about Celia is strolling around . Though it’s hard to notice her at glance, the risk is rising even further inside than outside of the rampart .
That’s why, on the way toward this place, they’re trying to find the means to meet with Celia’s father again .
Next is practically whether they can sneak in or not, Rio just made a preliminary preparation .
「Will you take a rest since we have chosen to go outside of the rampart for a brief rest？ Since I’m going to gather information about the situation inside of the rampart in the meantime」
「Yeah . But, can we stroll outside the rampart for a while longer？ I want to see the condition of the people who live in this city」
Celia is asking so while looking up at Rio’s face with a please expression .
It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know the living condition of the people who live outside of the rampart .
「I don’t mind you know . But, please stay close to me」
「Naturally！ Thank you, Haruto」
After Rio accepted her request, Celia is smiling happily at him .
「Well then, is there some place that you wish to see？ 」
「Uhm, I almost never go out of the rampart but, I want to stroll around for the time being…… . . 」
「In that case, we will be circling around outside the rampart huh . Let’s go」
Thus, the two of them were strolling outside of the rampart .
And then, almost half of an hour passed since then .
Rio’s looking at the living condition of the people who live outside of the rampart .
And then, the things they noticed after circling around was the fact that the homeless people were more than they expected .
When they go even a bit deeper into the slum, they discovered emaciated people leaning on the wall already on the verge of blacking out .
Probing like line of sight sent a few times toward Celia whose eye’s are wandering around as if to survey the surrounding people .
In exchange for Celia who doesn’t notice such gazes, Rio is looking at them with cold eyes .
Thereupon, along with the effect of the sword that is glittering on his waist, those people instantly turned away their line of sight .
But, at that time a boy who is sitting on the ground suddenly standing up . His age is around 10 years old .
Though Rio is aware of that boy’s movement, he decided to leave him alone for the time being .
When the boy is sneaking into the blindspot of Rio and Celia, he rushed with a half-run and then bumped into Celia .
After falling down with a unnatural position and then standing up again with unsteady gait, the boy is quickly bowing his head to her .
「Ah, it’s okay . Are you alright？ 」
Though the one who bumped into her was the boy, Celia kindly asked the boy’s condition .
「Yes . Well then」
The boy gave a brief reply and about to left from there, but――
Rio is grasping tightly on that boy hand .
「Cecilia, please check your wallet」
He said so to Celia .
Though she wore an expression as if there’s a huge question mark on top of her head, Celia’s still following what Rio asked her .
Celia instantly noticed that she lost her wallet .
「Can you return the thing that you stole from her」
Rio is saying those words to the boy with a chilling voice .
「EH? W-What are you talking about？ 」
The boy is feigning his ignorance while saying those words in a high-pitched tone .
「You’re carrying the wallet in your other hand」
Rio is heaving a sigh and then pulling the boy toward him . And then quickly snatched back the fine quality leather wallet from that boy’s hand .
The boy caught red-handed . He can’t make any excuse, in a normal situation that is, and yet .
「R-RETURN IT BACK！ THAT IS MINE！ 」
The boy is shouting in a frantic voice while desperately trying to reclaim the wallet from Rio .
But, his hand is quickly seized by Rio who then twisted it to the back .
The boy’s face is warped due to the pain .
Though she almost call him 『Rio』 in a moment of panic, Celia instantly changed it to 『Haruto』 .
But, Rio isn’t responding to her call, he released the boy after pushing him lightly from the back .
The boy who lost his balance is tumbling on the ground .
「I’ll overlook your action as long as you leave immediately」
Rio is saying those bone chilling words while releasing his killing intent .
Basically, the officials can’t do anything in the case of pickpocket which happened outside of the rampart .
It’s one own responsibilities to keep themself safe, including delivering the punishment .
For example, if the one who caught the boy pickpocketing is those rough adventurers, the boy might be beaten till the adventurer feel satisfied .
Therefore, Rio who released that boy with just a warning―― Which can also be counted as the boy’s luck―― Is the way to show his kindness .
But, Celia gasped for a moment in hearing those words coming out from Rio who rarely shows his emotion . .
Thereupon, the boy who grasped the difference between their abilities also trembled in fear .
The boy then looked around the place where he fallen to .
Though there was a few adults who sit quietly here, they’re suddenly turning their line of sight from the boy .
Though they seem like this boy’s guardian or comrade, they abandoned him .
The boy is standing in a crawling-like manner and then left that place with a unsteady gait .
His figure was extremely miserable .
Rio is seizing Celia’s hand and then started to walk very quickly .
When their hand separated a while later, Celia who is seemingly worried about him is calling him from the back .
Somehow she feels suffocated and can’t help but call to Rio .
Rio stopped his gait and then turned around with a troubled expression .
「I-It’s about the things that just happened………」
「I’m sorry . That is maybe a mistake that I did as a person . But, I have no choice but to do that at that place」
Certainly if he were to give charity to that boy right there, the surrounding people will definitely flock around them .
Celia also understands about that, but――
「………… . Couldn’t we do something for him？ 」
Celia couldn’t help but to think―― about the aftertaste of the mischief .
「Cecilia is kind」
Even back when he was in the royal academy, Celia is the only one who was gentle toward an orphan like Rio . That is also the reason why she keeps worrying about the incident just now .
「That’s not true」
Celia is denying Rio with a unpleasant tone .
Celia heaved a sigh at her own powerless self―― the current her is unable to even safe a troubled person which is her duty as a noble .
「A right conduct doesn’t always come with the right result . If we give the wallet only to the boy, the people in the surrounding will definitely surround us in one go」
Penniless people have no choice but to do that .
As long as there’s someone who will safe them, they’ll swarm that place .
If the saviour is moody, those people will shout things like unfair or get angry for no reason .
They have no such things as consideration or discretion .
They just want to be saved, it’s akin to instinct for them .
All the more if they are swarming the other party . They won’t complain as long as they get the result, and they’ll complain if the result isn’t up to their expectation . There’ll be no end to them if Rio and Celia is to deal with each of them .
Therefore Rio showed such harsh attitude toward them . He only did what he needed to do .
The result was something that is unpleasant for Celia .
Celia kept her silent .
（Well, not everything will go as I wish）
When Rio is heaving a sigh and,
「Let’s head towards our inn then」
He proposed so .
「Yeah . I’m sorry . For saying such strange things………」
「Not at all」
Rio resumed his gait to find an inn after shaking his head lightly to the still weary Celia .
After that they were booking a double room in the comparatively better inn amongst the inns outside of the rampart and then, Rio sneaked into the city to gather information .
But, he couldn’t get any noteworthy information . After confirming the information about the defense of the mansion and the building in the vicinity, Rio decided to return to the inn to meet Celia .
「The defense of the mansion is quite strict . And it seems that they aren’t just using the territory army, even the national soldiers is mixing amongst the defense . Though the situation of the city is obviously strange, shall we infiltrate as we planned before？ Naturally, we have to set the time if we choose to infiltrate」
Rio asked that question after he inspected the mansion and then returned to the inn where Celia staying at .
「…………… If infiltration is possible…………… I want to try it . But, there’s no need to force yourself if the risk of being discovered is high . I mean, even the spirit arts which will make you transparent isn’t completely safe right？ 」
Celia is replying with a reserved tone . Based on the situation of the city that they saw up till now, it’s natural for her to feel uneasy about what just happened in the city .
By the way, the optical camouflage spirit arts is weak against outside interference .
When strong wind is blowing, strong air resistance that is caused when he runs at high speed, and the tremor in the air which is caused by collision between something and the air .
Therefore, in such situation where he touches something, or go through a crowded area, the use of that spirit art is extremely restricted .
「Certainly . Though it’s not so difficult if they just sneaking into the garden by making their body transparent, the matter of entering the mansion is several times higher in difficulty . Since the main entrance is heavily guarded, there’s no gap in their defense」
If the one they’re going to infiltrate is a big castle, it’ll be easier to find the gap in their defense .
But, the level of the noble mansion is small, it’s hard to find a gap in their defense .
As for Rio, as long as there’s windows he will try to infiltrate the mansion from there but, in spite of opening the windows, they have to undo the spirit art .
Moreover, since there’ll be fire kindled around the mansion, it’ll definitely be unpleasant if the residence saw a floating person .
「I see……… . . 」
「Well, they won’t be able to find us even if by some off-chance they found us, as long as we secure our escape route, there’s a worth in trying to sneaking in」
Rio added one information after another while giving light ideas to Celia who showed a cloudy expression .
If for example the other side found out about their identity, they need to prepare a suitable alibi for when they’re examined .
But, it means that they can act in a more bold manner if not for such a restriction .
「………… . . If it’s not so difficult to enter the garden, there’s a route for infiltration . There’s a hidden passage under the garden which leads toward the mansion . Only the people of the mansion know about its existence」
「That…… . . Is it okay to let me know about such a secret？ 」
Rio asked timidly to Celia who explained about the hidden passage to him .
「Maybe I shouldn’t do that…………… But, it’s okay since it’s Rio . I trust you . You won’t tell anyone about it right」
Celia is saying so while smiling at him . She showed a warm smile as she told Rio about the fact that she really trusts him .
Rio felt slightly embarassed .
And then, late at night when even the plants fell asleep .
Rio is bringing along Celia to infiltrate into the mansion of earl Claire . The rented inn that they used for a short break before is vacated so that no one can trace them .
They’re on top of a small hill .
The patrolling soldiers were walking around at every corner, he feels that even an ordinary master won’t be able to infiltrate into the garden .
But, for Rio who can fly with spirit arts, it is not that difficult to enter the garden which is left open under the cover of the night .
The problem is that they might meet some people who have keen magic perception, or it’s protected by a magic barrier .
But, both of those cases were the extreme case, even if they were discovered by off chance, no need to be afraid of being caught as long as they fly in the air in the case they were discovered .
No pain no gain . The risk is still within acceptable areas .
Though currently Rio is strolling around in the back yard by using optical camouflage spirit arts, no one in the mansion noticed him .
The guards in the backyard isn’t as many as the guards at the front gate, Rio is chasing after Celia who became his guide .
「Here is the place」
Even if they can hide their figure with optical camouflage spirit arts, it can’t hide their voice, thus Celia is speaking with a low voice .
「I’m sure that it is around here………」
Celia is touching the stone pavement on the ground after they come to the water fountain at the edge of the garden,
The spraying water is causing ripple in the air when it touched the optical camouflage membrane .
（This is bad）
After confirming that no one is around, Rio released the optical camouflage immediately .
「Found it . HEAVE-HO！ 」
It seems Celia found the entrance to the secret passage .
After fiddling the ground with both of her hand, she then pulled the ground like when one’s using a sliding door .
But, the powerless Celia have not enough power to move that stone door,
When a slight gap is revealed, Rio is coming to help her and then opened the sliding entrance in one go . Thereupon, the stairs that led to the underground appear .
「T-Thank you…………… . 」
「It’s nothing, we should enter quickly before we are discovered」
The two of them descended down the stairs that led to underground .
While Rio is going back to shut the entrance, Celia lit the magic tool for lightening which is furnished along the wall .
When the underground passage became brighter, those two then continued to descend .
They’re leaving to an open space after walking for a while .
There’s a staircase which led above in front of them, Rio was looking carefully at the room and found that there’s doors on both of their sides .
「This place is………」
「Just right under the mansion . You can even use this place as an emergency living place you know . Well, no one is here for the time being…… . . 」
When Rio and Celia have such a conversation, the door on their side suddenly flung open .
The one who appeared from that door was a beautiful girl with a sharp expression .
The elegant and beautiful girl with her long and straight purple colored hair along with her deep purple eyes is bringing about a different feeling than just beautiful or lovely . She’s around the same age as Rio .
The girl is wearing a lovely noble attire with purple color as it’s base and pure white poncho from above .
The girl eyes opened wide when she noticed that Rio-tachi is standing in the passage .
Rio is stepping forward to hide the figure of Celia behind him as if to protect her .
When the girl is shouting that name, a different girl appeared from inside the door . Her age might be around the midst of her twenties . She’s wearing a knight attire with a slender and polished sword hanging on her hip .
When the female knight is looking at Rio,
「Who are you people？ 」
She put herself on guard with a sharp expression on her face .