Important note before reading. The word I had previously translated as "mana" has now been changed to "magic power" because of an explanation that occurs later on in the story. Chapter 2 has been edited appropriately.
If one walks along the complex streets, turns around the corner and enters the back alleys, they could find the red-light district.
Along the way, the guards were in a fluster, but the red-light district was the same as always.
The red-light district was not far away from the marketplace and the plebeian district.
At that place, as the sun began to set, women selling away their virginity and men buying them became a commonplace sight.
Sweet talking and price haggling could be heard here and there while walking along the street.
The public order in the red-light district seemed bad but in reality was decent.
Reason being that the customers also included nobles.
Most establishments were high-quality brothels operating under permission from the country.
Among those were a small section of illegal brothels which, under a tacit understanding, were all located close to the slum district.
Rio stepped into the area.
Compared to the legal red-light district, the area had considerably less people and not a single person could be seen outside attracting customers.
Rio cut across that place at a quick pace.
It was not a very pleasant place.
Within less than a minute, Rio arrived at the slum district.
Thereupon Rio encountered a troublesome scene.
There were four men wearing rough, light leather armour with cheap one-handed swords hanging by their waists.
Causing a ruckus for some reason, the men had the appearance of a group of rogues.
Among the men, two of them each carried a sack.
One of the two sacks thrashed around greatly, as if something living was inside.
“What...is this!? Where am I? Who are you? Release me! Do you think you will get away so easily for this behavior? Father will not forgive you!”
As Rio was wondering what was going on after seeing the struggling sack and the men, a voice that belonged to a very young girl could be heard from inside the sack.
“Tch, she woke up. Such a pain in the arse! Quit strugglin’ dammit!”
The man carrying the sack shouted with a loud voice.
Thus, as if it withered up, the thrashing of the sack quieted down.
“You idiot! Keep it down!”
“Y, yes. Sorry aniki.”
The man who was called ‘aniki’ also shouted in a loud voice, but the man who was berated meekly apologized.
Among them, it seems the man being referred to as ‘aniki’ was the leader.
“Keh, reckoned it strange to get ten gold for some simple courier job, but just as I thought, seems it ain’t any decent package.”
The man called ‘aniki’ grimaced as he clicked his tongue before gazing at the sack containing the girl with an annoyed expression.
“Hehe, either way, ten gold is just too good. With that much, all of us could spend several months just drinkin’ and bangin’.”
The men all showed smiles dyed in lust.
The leader also flashed a similar smile.
In this country, a plebeian family could live for two months on a single gold coin if spent economically.
Incidentally, the coin exchange rate is 10 small copper coins for 1 large copper coin, 10 large copper coins for 1 small silver coin, 10 small silver coins for 1 large silver coin, 10 large silver coins for 1 gold coin, and 25 gold coins for 1 magic gold coin.
“In any case, wonder what kinda fella’s inside? From the size and weight, it’s prob’ some brat girl.”
Seemingly unable to restrain his curiosity, the man carrying the sack asked the leader.
“Prob’ some noble or merchant girl. ...Hey, open it up and see.”
It seemed the leader also held some interest and ordered the sack open with a vulgar smile.
“Hmph, the guy didn’t say nothin’ bout’ not opening the sack. Shouldn’t be any problem just taking a quick look at the brat’s face. Almost at the spot anyway.”
The leader snorted at the subordinate’s inquiry.
“You keep watch for any people passing by. Though I doubt that’s any worry all the way out here.”
The leader ordered to one of his men not carrying a sack, who then replied “Lemme see her face too,” before starting to keep watch of the area.
However, from Rio’s perspective, the person wasn’t properly keeping watch at all.
After checking that there weren’t any people around, the man carrying the sack roughly dropped it to the ground.
With a soft sound, the girl inside the sack let out a scream.
“Hehe, would’ve loved to have some fun with the fella in here if she’s old enough.”
Smiling after hearing the girl’s scream, the man impatiently untied the hemp cord keeping the sack shut.
After about ten seconds, the man completely untied the rope.
And thus, upon seeing the girl inside, the men let out voices of admiration.
The girl who appeared was a kid about the same age as Rio.
With sparkling violet blonde hair, light blue eyes and a slightly unyielding expression, she was a beautiful girl with an appearance like that of an angel.
From her looks and the dress she was wearing, she exuded a high-class atmosphere.
From her appearance, Rio instantly came to the conclusion that the girl was most likely a noble.
There was no mistake that the supposed noble’s daughter was in the middle of being kidnapped.
However, why were a bunch of worthless rogues given the role of delivering her?
Was the security of noble mansions really bad enough to let someone get kidnapped by these kinds of thugs?
“Ah, gave the order ‘cause I wasn’t able to hold back no more. Seems we got involved in some pretty dangerous case.”
The leader had an annoyed expression as he scratched his head.
Finding out that a noble had been kidnapped, he finally realized how grave the matter was.
“Well, no helpin’ it now that we’ve brought ‘er all the way here. Won’t get the rest of the reward money ‘til we bring ‘er to the agreed spot either. Let’s hurry up and move. Close it up again.”
Unfortunately for the girl, the man didn’t put a stop to the crime.
The girl glared harshly at the man.
“Well, that’s the case. Be quiet and get back into the sack, ‘kay?”
“No! <Flame Shot> ….gaha!”
As the girl held out her hand chanting something, magic power slowly began emitting from her palm.
But before that magic power could manifest itself as magic, the leader kicked her away.
Seeing the girl getting kicked towards him, Rio fell into shock.
At the same time, his interest was pulled towards the magic the girl tried to cast.
The girl had attempted to utilize the same light Rio used to enhance his body and physical abilities using a method unknown to him
Before the girl’s hand, some kind of geometric pattern-like figure was about to appear.
“Tch, let my guard down since I reckoned her a brat, but turns out she can use magic, eh. As expected of a noble’s daughter. That was close.”
The unfamiliar term “magic” reached Rio’s ears.
Seeing the girl bent over in pain clutching her stomach, one of the men spoke.
“Uhm, she ain’t dead, right?”
“Should be alright. Groaning, after all.”
“They might not give us the money if they find out she’s injured…”
“Ah? ….Ah, well, when the time comes, right?”
At the leader’s arrogant attitude, the men put on insincere smiles while worrying.
As the group of thugs was having its indecent conversation...
(What should I do…)
While holding back the impatience in his heart, Rio questioned to himself.
The girl wouldn’t die just from that kick.
But was it alright to just abandon her?
Hypothetically, what would happen if he jumped in to save the girl?
It’s easy to tell that things wouldn’t turn out well.
There were four enemies. Judging from their presence, Rio estimated that their ability wasn’t much.
Still, he would definitely be no match for them.
What’s more, all of them carried weapons.
While he was unarmed.
The enemy would probably take Rio’s life without hesitation.
Even if he had seriously trained in ancient martial arts in his previous life, Rio has never killed a person before.
In other words, the armed enemies would come at him all at once with every intent to kill while Rio would have to fight unarmed.
Furthermore, if he ends up getting cut by those cheap swords, there was a very high chance of succumbing to illness from even the slightest scratch.
Those who don’t hesitate to kill are comparatively strong.
Rio remembered those words from his grandfather who was his master.
The matter would come to an end on its own if he just kept watching.
She probably won’t have a pleasant fate, but the girl will just get taken away and that will be the end.
Rio had heard rumours of illegal brothels in the area that deal in little girls and gather up a rather sadistic bunch.
The girl just might be being taken to that kind of place.
But it had nothing to do with him.
Watching her off here would leave a bad taste in his mouth, but there’s no need to risk his precious life for a complete stranger.
But was that really alright?
As Rio was thinking that, coincidentally, purely by chance, the girl and Rio’s eyes met.
The girl’s face was warped with fear and anger while Rio suddenly felt like running away.
Just then, the sack another man was carrying began to move about.
Because of the sudden movement, along with his mind being on the girl who had fallen over, the man ended up dropping the sack.
The sack fell to the ground, accompanied by a damp sound, as if there was something soft yet heavy inside.
At the same time, from inside the sack, the voice of another girl likely around the same age as the girl that was kicked could be heard.
“Tch, hope she ain’t hurt. Hey.”
With an annoyed voice, the leader ordered the man who had carried the sack.
The ordered man opened the sack with a bitter smile.
A moment’s opening. If he was going to do it, now was the time.
Rio instantly clad his whole body in magic power, and with a speed unfitting for a child’s body, shot out like a bullet.
While being shocked at the never before experienced acceleration and the burden brought with it, the enhanced body did not feel like that of a child’s at all.
In order to quickly end the fight, Rio began suppressing the enemy.
The leader, who noticed Rio’s advance a moment sooner, attempted to pull out his sword.
But at that moment, Rio preceded him by diving into his chest and flicking away the sword.
He then immediately took his arm, pulling as if dislocating his joints, and threw him.
It was a moment that splendidly displayed the techniques fostered in his previous life that he had never used in live combat before.
Rio’s brute strength enhanced with magic allowed him to throw a large man almost twice as big as himself.
The man who didn’t know how to cushion the fall collided with the ground, letting out a dull sound.
(I can do this!)
Rio continued on moving his body.
He hammered a jump kick into the abdomen of the still stunned man beside him, and made use of the force and his body weight to drive his opponent into the ground.
After making sure the man was unconscious, Rio prepared to take on the other enemies.
“This damn brat!”
Seemingly in a rage from their allies being taken out, the two remaining men came at Rio at once.
If the girls were taken as hostages, Rio would have no chance of winning.
The more people you have, the more options you can choose from.
Rio feared that.
However, the men were drowned in their emotions and forgot to choose the best option possible.
A widely swung 50 cm long one-handed sword came slicing towards Rio’s shoulder.
Dodging half a step to the side, Rio faced the man’s chin and shot a sharp palm strike at it.
That cleanly decided it and took the man’s consciousness.
The last man swung his sword in a panic.
The sword was unable to hit Rio.
Dodging the crude sword swings and easily diving into the man’s chest, Rio twisted the man’s arm, forcibly disarming him, then throwing him, knocking out the man.
He did it.
He ended up doing it.
His body moved before he realized it.
Going as far as risking his life, saving a girl who had absolutely no connection to him.
He didn’t even move around that much and yet his breathing wouldn’t calm down.
His body was hot and his heartbeat was so loud it reverberated throughout his entire body.
Loud to the point of wanting to scream to shut it up.
Judging by the force he felt from his blows, he shouldn’t have killed them.
He didn’t have any clear killing intent either.
But several bones should have been broken or internal organs damaged.
Would they be able to survive in this world with that amount of damage?
It wouldn’t be strange if those injuries became fatal and they died.
Images of defeat appeared in his mind one after another.
Rio began to feel guilt at the fact that he might’ve dealt them potentially fatal wounds.
What was he doing without being prepared to kill a person?
He calmly did something that might lead to murder.
It couldn’t be helped.
They’re certainly not dead.
That’s why he didn’t kill anyone.
As rationalizations came to mind one after another, he began to feel disgusted with himself.
There’s no helping with what’s been done.
At the very least he should have saved completely innocent girls.
As his face warped with complex emotions, he suddenly remembered about the girls and just then felt their gazes.
There were two girls whose appearances closely resembled each other.
It seemed the girl who was still in the sack moved over to the girl that was kicked.
Their hair was a violet blonde colour, and with facial features closely resembling that of each other, Rio judged they were probably sisters.
Incidentally, the girl who woke up first, started struggling, and came out of her sack was probably the older sister while the girl who got out of her sack afterward was probably the younger sister.
With his breath still rough, Rio timidly called out to the two.
Thereupon, the girl who was probably the older sister gave Rio a sharp glare.
She should be around the same age as me yet she’s letting out an unbelievable presence.
Is what Rio absentmindedly thought.
Floating before her hand, clutching the area where she was kicked, was a glowing geometric pattern.
(Is that...also magic?)
“Kah, gah, save us, faster!”
“O-onee-sama. You just started casting <heal>. Don’t strain…”
Not listening to her little sister’s words of restraint, the older sister came over to Rio and slapped him.
A dry sound resounded throughout the area.
He had no clue what was going on with this sudden turn of events.
Why was the girl before him mad?
Why was he who had saved her hit?
Amidst the confusion, he slowly began to feel the pain on his cheek.
“You were watching us from afar the whole time right? In that case, rescue us sooner!”
Once more, another slap came towards Rio’s cheek.
This time he reflexively grabbed her arm first and defended against it.
Thereupon the girl’s lovely face was warped with frustration, then she slapped with her other hand.
He began to feel anger towards the hysterically violent girl for her unreasonable actions, but he couldn’t imprudently injure her.
“Release me! Dirty! Stinky!”
“O-onee-sama, he rescued us, so you shouldn’t get that angry, okay?”
The younger sister rebuked the rioting older sister.
It seemed that girl also thought Rio was smelly as it showed on her face.
Seeing that, he received a big shock.
That being said, at the younger sister’s words, the older sister finally faced Rio and stopped being violent.
Even if he knew the other party was a young girl, treating him unreasonably from the very beginning caused rage to begin boiling inside Rio.
Even more so because he was in such turmoil.
He involuntarily ended up glaring at the older sister from under his ruffled bangs.
“U-uhm, thank you very much for rescuing us.”
Perhaps having sensed Rio had become ill-humoured, the younger sister came over to Rio and lowered her head.
“No, it’s alright.”
Unable to ignore the girl who properly thanked him, although saying little, he replied.
Somewhat sulkily moving his gaze away from the girls.
“What is with that behavior?”
Seems like the older sister couldn’t stand Rio’s behavior.
Fearing the atmosphere becoming dangerous again, the younger sister rebuked the older sister.
“Humph, in accordance with Flora, I’ll forgive you.”
It seemed the younger sister’s name was Flora.
Flora was relieved to see her older sister calm down, only for the older sister to immediately pour oil onto the fire once more.
“Beggar, guide us to the noble district. Also, those men...let’s see. Take two of them along with us.”
Rio was dumbfounded at the smooth, commanding tone of voice.
“You hurled them around. You can do at least that much, right!?”
Seemingly not liking Rio’s behavior, the girl pressed on with her tone becoming somewhat hysteric.
Probably because she had just been released from her panic and her mind was still upset, she was in a state of irritation. However, Rio didn’t have the leeway to realize that.
“I-is that how you ask people for favors?”
From the standpoint of the girls, it was a necessary request and Rio understood that.
However, due to the over-the-head order, he felt rebellious.
He wanted to have her sympathize with him a little.
“U-uhm, excuse me! I also ask of you. Uhm, I’ll definitely request father to reward you!”
Rio’s current impression of nobles was the worst.
Thanks to Flora, it just barely didn’t fall any lower.
These two girls surely lived their lives without a single discomfort.
Anything they desired was given to them.
Their cuteness was so dazzling compared to his shabby self, his self as Haruto aside, his self as Rio couldn’t look directly at Flora.
Rio reluctantly agreed.
“Thank you very much!”
Rio immediately got to work.
Tearing up the sacks the girls were stuffed in, Rio bound the men.
He took all their weapons and items of monetary value.
It was a bit unwieldy to carry, but in his current situation, even the smallest bit of money was needed.
Since earlier he’d been acting criminal-like, but now decided to go all out.
He had no clue what happens to the possessions of criminals according to this country’s laws, but he figured there was no problem taking anything worth money for himself.
“Humph, how greedy…”
Said the older sister, apparently called Kristina, while looking down on him.
He felt some displeasure, but he had already built up some resistance, so he pretended not to hear and continued working.
After the work was done, Rio’s group passed through the red-light district and headed to the marketplace.
Along the way, the adults in the red-light district showed their curiosity and stared at them, but sensing it was something troublesome, not a single person called out to them.
Arriving at the marketplace, Rio’s group encountered guards who immediately found and took Kristina and Flora into custody.