Fran and the Dark Knight traded blow for blow. They repeatedly smashed their blades against each other and sent sparks flying throughout the slave traders’ hideout. The clash of blade on blade rang throughout the building, but Silence prevented even the slightest bit of sound from leaking outside.
The duel was being dragged out. Neither Fran nor the dark knight could really gain an edge on the other. The status quo was nothing but a standstill – which only made sense. Both parties were swordsmen that had awakened to the divine arts, after all.
Alright, I guess I’d better make him drop his sword.
I used Vibrating Impact and Thunder Blade right as I came into contact with his blade. As expected, the sudden shock made the man’s hands go numb; he couldn’t help but drop his sword.
But he didn’t give up.
He immediately raised his shield and began to chant a spell.
Not that it mattered. We were completely immune to dark, so the arrow phased out before it hit us.
The man let out a shout as he flinched in surprise, and created an opening far too obvious for Fran to miss. She immediately turned her blade and smashed his legs with its flat. She then pointed my blade at the back of the man’s neck as he fell onto one knee.
And that was that. The man had lost, and so, he looked up at Fran with a face full of frustration.
「A man who sees no reason to give his name to the likes of you.」
You know, he’s pretty energetic for a middle aged man. Oh well, either way, it’s time to rough him up a bit so we can get some info out of him.
Heh. Looks like he’s pretty spooked. I was about to get the interrogation going, but the children came up from the basement just as I was about to suggest cutting off one of his arms. All seven peeked in from the stairwell, with the two noble-like twins at the forefront.
Well, I guess it only made sense. We’d left them in the basement, so they probably started feeling anxious. Thankfully, the battle had already come to an end.
「Stay back. Not safe.」
They fearfully stopped in their tracks as Fran warned them. The male twin’s face, however, suddenly twisted as he caught sight of the dark knight.
「My Prince! I see that you are unscathed!」
Wait what? That kid was a prince? The fuck?
「You came to save us…?」
「Princess! I am glad that you too are well!」
Huh? Wait, so he wasn’t one of the slave traders? Errr, I guess we should heal him up then or something.
Ten minutes passed by in the blink of an eye as we got up to pace.
We healed the knight and had him explain what was going on.
「Really a prince and princess?」
「Veritably. The prince and princess that stand before you are members of the Fyrias Kingdom’s royal family. They are sixth and seventh in line for the throne respectively.」
「And you? Guard?」
「Came to help because royal family was kidnapped?」
「I-It is as you say.」
Apparently what happened was that the prince and princess sneaked out and got themselves abducted. Naturally, the guards hadn’t any knowledge of it — until they realized they couldn’t locate them, that is. I actually kinda pitied the knight It seemed like he was probably going to end up taking all the blame.
「How despicable those accused criminals were! They even went as far as to put something like that around the highness’ necks!」
Yeah… it does seem pretty bad for members of the royal family to be stuck with slave collars around their necks. In fact, the knight might not be able to keep his head on his shoulders for much longer given the current circumstances.
「I never would have suspected that they the traders would attempt to enslave children of such a tender age… Young lady, I must offer you my gratitude. I would not have been able to retrieve the prince or princess with such ease if not for your noble actions.」
「Only did it for myself.」
「Even so, my gratitude remains unchanged, for it was you that rescued my lieges. I would, however, like for you to answer but a single query. Whatever happened to the traders? I see not even their corpses.」
「By what means? There numbered far more than just a few.」
「What exactly… No, please do not mind the question any longer. It is but rude to inquire the details of another’s skills.」
「I am more than willing to believe your words given that I have witnessed your abilities.」
I was pretty grateful he acted the way he did. He ignored Fran’s age in respect of her strength and treated her as an equal.
This was a stark contrast from how he treated all the slaves we just freed as well… children. To the knight, the other children were people he was obligated to protect.
『We should probably get out of here soon. There should still be a few more slave traders, and they might be coming back soon.』
『It’d be a pain in the ass if we ran into them on our way out, so let’s get rid of all their collars while we’re at it.』
Fran easily removed all the children’s slave collars by overwriting the enslavement spell with a blank contract of her own, much like I did to her when we just met.
Every single last person in the room, Salrut included, looked at Fran with expressions of shock on their faces. Evidently, they weren’t expecting the collars to come off nearly as easily as they did. The shock took a while to sink in, but once it did, their expressions began to change into those of joy.
Made sense though. Their fates were about take a cruel a turn as possible. They were about to become slaves, targets of abuse. But now, they were free. Their collars were gone, and they were no longer at risk of being sold off as merchandise.
「How impressive. To think that you would even be well versed in the art of contract magic!」
「Once again, I thank you.」
Salrut paused for a moment before continuing.
「I wish not to say this as one who has received nothing but your assistance, however, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it would be better for you not to reveal your ability to use contract magic in any other sort of public setting.」
「Contract magic is rare, and contract magic powerful enough to undo a slave contract can only be said to be all the more scarce. The only individuals that could possibly possess such high level contract magic would be none other than summoners and slave traders.」
Ah, I get it. If you’ve got high level contract magic, then people would probably assume you were associated with the slavery business. Slaver merchants were disliked by the general public, even if they weren’t the underground kind that went about kidnapping people.
「My understanding is that you are a summoner, but that interpretation may not be one shared by all.」
Salrut’s gaze shifted over to Urushi. He was currently sprawled on all fours in his more dog-like form. He was in his normal form just a few minutes ago, but we had him shrink because the kids were getting scared of him. Salrut’s interpretation of the situation was most likely that Fran was a summoner that just so happened to know how to use a sword.
「Should leave soon.」
「An excellent point to make.」
「In that case, why don’t we seek shelter at the hotel we’ve rented? We shall leave everything that comes after to you, Salrut.」
「Yes, my prince!」
It seemed that the prince was offering to have everyone stay at the hotel he had reserved. It was a pretty good idea. Any hotel with royalty in it was pretty much bound to have good security. Thinking about it, the reason we couldn’t find any decent inns was probably because of the sudden influx of people like the prince here. They all had guards and maids and stuff, so they’d needed to book more rooms than the average person.
Fran, Urushi and Salrut guarded the children as they made their way over to the inn.
I figured the twins would be all cocky and pretentious, but it turned out that they were decent people despite being royalty. They weren’t anything like the shit-brained nobles I was expecting them to be. They went out of their way to make sure that the other children were doing okay even though they were all commoners. They also made sure to take the lead as we walked towards the inn in order to abate the other children’s fears. Though they were both just kids, they were still performing their royal duties to the best of their abilities.
Though I guess they do still have a few childlike aspects, seeing how they snuck out without telling anyone and whatnot. That said, they spent the rest of the trip in relative silence, so I assumed they were most likely reflecting on their actions.
A bit of time passed, and we eventually arrived in front of a super luxurious looking inn. A single glance told me that it was the kind that typically only served the nobility. In fact, just seeing it made me feel like apologizing to the prince and his party. Yeap, it is definitely not their fault we weren’t able to find a place to stay. I mean, I know we were trying to look for something a bit higher end, but this? This was way out of scope.
The children were all staring wide eyed in surprise as well.
The hotel’s gatekeeper stared at us with a suspicious look on his face, but, he didn’t bother saying anything and ended up letting us through.
「What are you standing there for? Come in.」
「Feel free to enjoy your stay.」
The prince and princess encouraged the other children to accompany them inside. After a bit of persuasion, they obliged and timidly followed the twins to the entrance.
「Well if it isn’t the prince. Welcome back to our humble lodging.」
We were greeted by the inn’s staff despite the fact that it was already really late into the night. On second thought though, I guess we should’ve expected it. We’re travelling with royalty, after all.
「And who would these children happen to be?」
「Simply put, a few things happened. Could you please prepare them rooms alongside hot water? I believe they will need baths.」
「Naturally, I will pay for their accommodations. You should be able to fulfill this request of mine, correct?」
「We apologize for any inconvenience that may cause. We are fully aware of how unreasonable our request may appear.」
「I doubt this will lead to any sort of complication. We’ll get everything ready immediately.」
Huh, you know, I don’t know what I should’ve expected. He really was a prince. He was able to deal with the inn’s staff without much issue despite the fact that they were adults and he wasn’t. The princess, on the other hand, had acted and apologized in a more modest, understanding manner. Having the two work together like that kind of made it seem like they were applying some form of the carrot and stick principle.
「Whatever is this fuss about?」
「Good evening Serid. I’ve just returned.」
「Ah, if it isn’t the prince. I was quite concerned over your safety.」
「Thank you. I apologize for the trouble. Unfortunately, I failed to navigate the city’s streets and lost my way.」
「You lost your way, you say?」
「Indeed. I was only just able to return because Salrut had managed to discover my location.」
Naturally, the prince didn’t make even the slightest mention of getting caught and collared by slave traders.
「I see. And who exactly are these children? Did you perhaps choose to purchase yourself a group of slaves?」
「That would be incorrect. There are mere helpers, so to speak. They assisted me in navigating the city’s streets.」
「I see. In that case, your business with them should be over, should it not? You lot, leave this place immediately once you receive your payment.」
The man speaking to us looked like your typical, stuck up, piece of shit noble. He glared at us and the children in nothing but scorn.
「Serid! They are guests here, shut your mouth immediately.」
「What!? Prince, I shan’t accept that. Whatever are you thinking? Associating with these filthy peas-」
「Serid. I told you to be quiet. These children are my benefactors.」
Hah! Serves you right you piece of shit chamberlain! The twins are on our side, bitch!
Serid made one more hateful glare before turning around and leaving.
「Sorry about that. He’s pretty capable, but he lacks the ability to be flexible at times like these.」
The children didn’t really seem to mind all that much either. Most nobles were like that, so they were used to it.
「What are your plans? You are more than free to stay the night if you wish.」
Salrut turned towards us with a generous offer.
『Sounds pretty good to me. I mean, it’s more than just a step up from a shabby little place that doesn’t even have a bath.』
「Nn. Will be in your care.」
「Splendid! I shall have a room prepared for you immediately after I inform the prince of this joyous matter.」
And so, we ended up spending a night at a super high class inn, all thanks to the prince.