That evening, when the sun was setting, Ria was running through the village.
「Oh, Ria-chan. Where are you going?」
「Erm……The open field! I had forgotten something!」
Being called out to by the Karim couple that was coming back from working in the fields, Ria conscientiously came to a stop and answered.
The thing she forgot, was the basket she used to put their bentos in.
Having a red ribbon on it, it was Ria’s favorite thing that she received on her thirteenth birthday.
After having gone along with Teg’s sword practice like usual, she noticed that she carelessly forgot it, and thinking that she should get it before it got dark, she was hurriedly running back.
「Is that so. Be careful so that you don’t fall down!」
「Yes, thank you very much!」
Waving her hand at the Karim couple with a smile, Ria once again started running.
「Oh, Ria! My skill with the sword’s really gone up! Keep me company in my training tomorrow!」
「Sorry, Noll! I promised to be with Teg tomorrow!」
「Then the day after tomorrow! How about the day after tomorrow!」
「Ahaha, that should be fine!」
Waving her hand at the blacksmith’s son, Noll, who was making a fist pump, Ria started running again.
She didn’t know what was so good about being watched by her who didn’t know anything about the sword, but according to Teg, people could improve by being watched……or so it seems.
She didn’t know why they wanted to be watched by her, but by some chance, it might be because they were turned down by the other kids. In that case, she was able to agree with how Noll looked so happy earlier.
While thinking that sort of thing, Ria ran.
Looking up at the large setting sun, she thought “today was also a good day……”.
When she arrived at the open field that was dyed red, she immediately found the basket.
「Thank goodness. Ehehe, I can have a peace of mind with this.」
She approached the basket, picked it up, and checked to see that there wasn’t any dirt on it.
She turned it upside down, and turned it around──
Satisfied with the fact that the basket was still clean, Ria turned around and was about to head back.
At that moment──
Hearing a sound from behind her, Ria stopped her feet.
There was a forest at the back of the open field.
The ones who would come out from that sort of place were either Mul the woodcutter or Yorg the hunter.
Thinking that, Ria turned around with a smile.
「Yo, ojou-chan. You look like you’re having fun.」
The one who said that, was a man she didn’t know.
He was bigger than Mul the woodcutter, who was the largest person in the village, and had a body covered in muscles.
Looking more like a bear than the Village Chief who was said to have a “face like a bear……”, his face had a scraggly beard.
Wearing cloth clothes and leather armor, he had a sword hanging on his waist.
「Erm……Are you a travelling person?」
「Nn? Yeah. Ojou-chan, are ya a kid of that village?」
Thinking “so he really was a travelling vagrant”, Ria was convinced.
It wasn’t rare for vagrants like that to come to villages seeking trouble that could become a variety of jobs.
However, there weren’t even any stray dogs around this pioneer village, and was peace itself.
That is why in cases where travelling vagrants would come by, it was a custom to show them appreciation in the village and then send them off.
According to the Village Chief, by doing that, the vagrants who received that favor would return that favor somewhere else.
And then that someone who received that favor from that vagrant would also return that favor somewhere.
By doing that, the favor would circulate, and peace would be born.
It was for that reason that Al was being made welcome in the village right now.
Ria judged that the man before her was also that sort of vagrant, and called out to him.
「Erm……If you are searching for a place to stay, I could introduce you to the Village Chief.」
After the man said that and sank into silence, he started making a scrutinising stare at Ria.
A rude gaze that went from top to bottom.
Seeing that gaze that seemed to be licking her, Ria felt the thing known as a chill for the first time in her life.
It was a defensive instinct.
In accordance with that instinct that continuously sent herself a warning, Ria backed away.
Run to the village──while having that impulse welling up from inside of her, Ria turned her back to the man and tried to kick the ground into a run.
「Oi, oi, hold on there.」
Her arm was grabbed by the man’s thick hand.
She tripped over herself as she tried to run from suddenly being grabbed, and she ended up nearly falling.
However, the man’s hand that grabbed Ria’s arm didn’t allow her to fall down completely, and pulled Ria towards him.
「If ya start running like that, you’ll get hurt.」
When Ria timidly turned around, there were several men that appeared one after another from the forest.
「She did that it ‘cause ya got an evil face, right?」
「Ya ain’t wrong.」
Reflexively, Ria let out a breath that went *hii*.
They were men who had the same outfit as the man that was grabbing Ria’s arm. And also, all of them had turned the same eyes towards Ria.
「Wh, what is going on……」
「Nnー? It ain’t anythin’ ya need ta worry about. All we’re doin’ is helpin’ everyone in the village, includin’ you, ojou-chan, with movin’.」
Naturally, there were no such plans.
She didn’t understand the meaning of that.
Seeing Ria infected with fear, the man who grabbed her arm smirked.
「Ou, it’s a real good place, ya know? After all, it’s the place the God of Life is at.」
「Well, we’re goin’ ta have various fun before that though!」
It meant they were going to kill them.
”Scary”, that is what Ria’s mind continued to scream.
And then, that fearful heart lead Ria to extend her hand to her waist.
In that dark open field where the sun had already set and was only lit by moonlight, the man who grabbed Ria’s arm didn’t notice that small glitter that was drawn out from the belt on her waist.
「Come on, come over here!」
The dagger made with Holy Silver let magical power pass through it very easily.
Ria’s desperate feelings awakened a faint amount of magical power that was kept within Ria.
I don’t want to die──Desiring only that, Ria’s mind poured magical power into the dagger.
The dagger that Ria frantically swung had magical power dwell within it and emitted a faint brilliance.
And then, it slightly cut the man’s hand that was grabbing her arm.
Receiving that unexpected counterattack, the man let go of Ria’s arm due to the pain.
Having had his head filled with nothing but low-life thoughts, the man was unable to even understand what had just happened.
Lunging at that opening made from confusion, Ria started running.
「Y, you shitty brat!」
But, she did have the legs of a child after all.
She was immediately caught up to by the man, and having her back cut with a single stroke of the sword that the man had swung in anger, Ria collapsed down onto the ground.
The dagger tumbled down out from Ria’s hand due to the impact of falling, and her basket was trampled by the man.
「So it was a Holy Silver dagger……Why’d a brat like this have that?」
After the man made an annoyed look at the dagger that had tumbled off far away, he stomped on Ria’s back as she used all of her strength to move her arms and run away.
Even though I was thinkin’ of killin’ her after havin’ a bit of fun, what a disaster……While the man was thinking such a selfish thing, he looked down at Ria.
「Even though I would’ve gently killed ya if ya just stayed quiet. Blame yerself fer gettin’ cocky.」
「That’s about you, isn’t it?」
Reacting to the voice that he heard from the front, the man removed his eyes from Ria who was below him and raised his head up.
And then, that was the last of the man’s movements.
In between the man’s eyebrows, the Holy Silver dagger that Ria dropped had deeply pierced into him.
Putting a kick into the man that looked like he was going to fall backward, the man was blown away.
「Just when I go on a nightly walk for no real reason, I find a heap of garbage gathered up attacking a girl. What the hell is this. Huh, oi.」
The owner of that voice, was Al.
Looking down at Ria who was still collapsed, Al clicked his tongue in vexation.
If he had just arrived even a bit sooner, he could have saved her before things turned out like this.
No……If he hadn’t given her the dagger, it wouldn’t have gone this far, would it?
「……Ria, I’ll take you to the village right away. So hang in there a bit longer.」
「That’s right, keep hold on your consciousness just like that!」
Although he said that, with her back cut like that, the possibility of saving Ria was low.
Al couldn’t use magic that could heal wounds, nor was there anyone among his guard that could do so either.
In a pioneer village like this, there probably wasn’t single person that could even use magic.
Even so, Al was unable to give up like this.
By some miraculous chance, there might be someone in the village that could use wound healing magic.
Holding Ria in his arms, Al dodged.
「O……oi, hey! Did ya think we’d let cha go!」
「……Like I said. Isn’t that about you all?」
At the same time as Al’s words, men in black attire appeared from behind him.
Accompanying Al as guards, they were spies under the royal family’s direct supervision.
Drawing black painted daggers, the spies surrounded the men that attacked Ria.
「Take all of them out. After that, let’s see……leave only one alive.」
Together with Al’s command, the spies started moving, and while hearing the screams of the men being raised before long at his back, Al started running.
Clinging onto a faint possibility, using all of his strength.
「Don’t speak. We’ll be at the village right away. I will definitely save you.」
Ria remembered the dream she saw at that time.
The dream where an amazing hero appeared when the evil feudal lord that she had never seen was laughing with a *guhaha* and killed him with a sword.
She hadn’t told anyone about it, but there was a continuation to that dream.
The knight saved and was holding Ria, who had been kidnapped by the evil feudal lord.
That’s right, just like how Al was holding Ria──right here, at this moment.
That’s why, it was alright.
This was the same as the dream from that time.
That’s why, look, at the moon that’s this big in the night sky.
That’s why, Al-san.
Please don’t cry like that.
It’s because……I am alright.
However, she could no longer put that into words.
Extending a trembling hand, she gently wiped Al’s tears.
That, was Ria’s last memory.
That day, the men captured by the spies in the open field were identified as a private army hired by the feudal lord.
It seemed that he intended on attacking Ria’s village and make a display of them to the other pioneer villages saying 「If you don’t pay the money and petition for a village name, pioneer villages will get attacked by bandits and end up like this」.
However, that feudal lord’s schemes were exposed by the hand of the St. Altlis Kingdom’s First Prince Alford without leaving behind a single one, and even the investigator that was conspiring with the feudal lord was caught.
Furthermore, from the feudal lord’s apprehension, it was exposed that the case of St. Altlis Kingdom Eastern Pioneer Village 1058 wasn’t special, and was an evil custom circulated among a portion of the nobles.
Before long, the legend of Alford who was called the Fierce King had started from this St. Altlis Kingdom Eastern Pioneer Village 1058.
However, it was said that whenever his achievements were praised, he would always say this.
I couldn’t even save a single young girl.
Even though she was my first love.
Unable to save such an important person……A guy of that level, that is the man I am.
The curtain of Ria’s tale came to a close with this.
And then, the curtain of the tale of the young lady who was once Ria had opened.
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