She and Her Determination
Metallic sounds reverberate incessantly.
On the way back from Ms. Delris’s home, we were suddenly attacked by a group of assassins.
Without the time to be astonished by thrown knives I was protected by Freed, just like that the battle with an unclear reason began.
While protecting me behind his back, Freed is intently cutting down the enemies without any hesitation.
Around him many men in dark clothes have fallen. Even now he avoids the assassins’ blows and calmly mows down the enemies.
Raising a muffled voice, another one collapsed onto the ground. How many people has he killed already. The area is filled with the chocking stench of blood. He immediately repels knives that are once in while thrown from somewhere, his strength doesn’t lose to the rumors. Even surrounded by so many people I’m not one bit anxious. At first I worried about what would happen, but now I feel relieved.
“Lidi, are you okay? Don’t you feel disgusted?”
As expected, his breath as he called out to me wasn’t even disturbed.
I nodded to Freed who looked back while still holding his sword at ready.
If I can’t do anything, at least I don’t want to disturb his fight.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me”
“I’m being careful, but Lidi too, don’t leave my back. It’s the safest place”
“Yup. It’s alright. I’m properly behind you”
All I can do now is obey his instructions to make it easy for him to fight.
Seeing me nod once again with a firm face, his face looked apologetic.
“Sorry. It seems the aim is me after all. If I knew this would happen, we would’ve returned right away”
After all the Crown Prince must be aimed at by various enemies. Going by his tone it seems like he’s used to it, I think it’s not the first time. But it’s not like he’s at fault. As I silently shook my head, Freed smiled a little and faced the front again.
As soon as he did, he parried a knife that flew at him. At that timing another man raised his blade. The fight rages on with no end in sight, I have no choice but to hold my breath and be quiet. Really, how many people has it been…
“It’d be easy if I could just use magic…”
Freed felled another enemy, and swung his sword to clear away the clotted blood.
The words he grumbled reminded me that I’d heard he fights using magic with his sword.
“You can’t… use magic?”
As I worried that I’m getting in the way of fighting, Freed keenly surveyed the surroundings and answered. Seems there aren’t any enemies around.
“It seems there’s somebody among the enemy who has a magical tool that absorbs magic and magical arts. From the start each time I’ve tried invoking magic it felt like the magical power was sucked up. I think I could use it if I forced myself, however since I don’t know what magical tool they are using, it’s safer to avoid it”
“I can’t afford to do flashy things in town. Besides, I won’t lose even if I only use the sword”
It’s Freed who’s just been freely showing godlike power. Even with the restriction that magic can’t be used, there doesn’t seem to be any particular problem. Nevertheless, they didn’t skimp on investigating Freed. That’s why they had the magical tool prepared.
Freed brought down yet another enemy.
He’s at a disadvantage fighting alone against many, moreover while protecting me. He definitely wants to kill them with one blow. There’s not an ounce of mercy in Freed’s sword.
Blood splashed in front of me. Even with such a scene taking place before my eyes, I’ve said nothing, I’ve just gritted my teeth and patiently endured.
He’s fighting to protect me.
I can’t feel scared. I can’t raise a scream.
There’s only one thing I want now. For it to finish safely so he doesn’t get injured. That’s all.
I might be a considerably cruel woman to think so. Because I don’t care about men who collapse, losing their lives.
“Yup, it’s mostly finished”
Before I’d noticed the surroundings became still as death. The incessant sounds of metal striking metal that have continued until a while ago have quieted down. The fight suddenly broke out in the middle of the town, yet no residents came out. Probably they stayed in their homes not wanting to get involved. I think it’s a correct choice to not get pointlessly involved.
Freed breathed out with relief. As expected, even without being told I understand it’s not a relief that there are no more enemies, but that he managed to perfectly protect me.
Even so Freed readied his sword once again.
I was perplexed as I couldn’t understand why he took such an action.
“… Haven’t you finished?”
“I’ve finished the thugs for the most part… But there was the guy who threw the knives at the start. I haven’t dealt with him yet. Besides, it may not look like this, but there are multiple presences left. Lidi too, don’t lose focus”
Of course, I was aware of the single person throwing knives at superb timing. I nodded with a firm face that I too sensed his existence.
While I frantically searched all around with a feeling of tension, two men came out in front of us. Their whole bodies are covered in dark clothes. They don’t seem to be the knife user. Probably both are magicians. One of them is holding a vase under his arm, the other is muttering something behind him. A large magic formation is faintly floating over his head.
Seeing that, Freed’s complexion suddenly changed.
“That’s bad… They intend to use a flame art in the middle of the town. Moreover, it’s a magical art with a considerably wide area of effect… I guess the small fry until now have been buying time for him to complete the magical art”
Perhaps having comprehended the formula of the floating magic formation, Freed clicked his tongue, seemingly flustered.
My gaze alternated between Freed and the man who floated the magic formation.
“… Didn’t you say magical arts are unusable?”
“There’s another person holding the vase. It’s that. That vase is sucking magical power from the direction of its mouth. It doesn’t affect the magician behind him. Probably he’s been pointing it this way all this time from distance…”
“Why did they expressly show up”
“They definitely want to kill me. Naturally, the closer it is, the stronger the effect of the magical tool is, and it’s easier to correct its direction in emergency. If he’s in front of the magician like this, there’s no chance he’ll accidentally suck up his magical power”
“The magician’s ability isn’t high. It seems it took him quite some time to finish that art, it wouldn’t take me or Will so long. But, the problem isn’t his ability. That magical art isn’t something that should be invoked in town”
Just hearing that it’s a fire magical art I sensed the danger.
“What will Freed do?”
When I inquired him as to how he’ll deal with that magical art, Freed’s expression clouded a little. I intuitively knew the method he intends to use won’t be very good,
“… I don’t really want to do it. But that magic formation is a high-ranking fire magical art that will turn the area within hundred meters into a sea of fire. Avoiding or repelling it means harming the citizens in vicinity, so that the effect doesn’t spread like this, I’ll suppress the magical art. Afterwards, before the next magical art is invoked I’ll bring them down, I wonder if that will work”
“How in the world will you suppress it…?”
When I asked so with an unpleasant premonition, Freed remained silent.
I felt like it answered everything.
“Freed? Tell me”
“… Lidi, get away from me. As far as possible… It’s alright. I have a fairly high aptitude for fire magical arts. Even if by any chance I mess up, I won’t die”
He didn’t directly say what he’ll do. Still, I somehow sensed what he’s trying to do. I understood.
Ultimately what he’s saying is he’ll receive the magical art alone on purpose, so that it doesn’t spread and damage the surroundings, that kind of thing.
Reflexively I screamed.
“Sorry. But it’s the only way. I can’t use magic or magical arts. The magic formation over there is almost complete, there’s no time to stop it. If it’s poorly stopped, there’s a risk of spontaneous discharge. And there are houses of citizens around. I can’t let unnecessary harm befall the citizens… This is also my duty as royalty”
I opened my eyes wide as Freed clearly declared that. There’s no speck of hesitation in his eyes. No matter what I say it’ll be useless, I understood that by the strong glint of determination in them.
“Lidi, step back”
“I beg you. I’d hate if Lidi got hurt”
At those words that allowed no refusal, as if overwhelmed I took several steps back. When he confirmed it, just like that he turned about towards the magician.
His back conveys his determination.
I can only look at that back without saying anything.
When he said it’s the royal duty, I had no choice but to back down. It’s frustrating that I can’t do anything.
… Is there something, anything I can do for him.
From the start I can’t use magic or magical arts. I’ve never even touched a sword either. If I’m on his side, I’ll only be a hindrance. I know that much.
But, I hate only being protected.
Even though he’s fighting, even though I know he’ll get hurt, I hate not being able to do anything but to look at his back. I also want to help him.
I saw the magician in front of me fire the completed magical art. A big fireball came from the magic formation dyed deep crimson. Freed took a step ahead in response. There’s no hesitation or agitation in his figure, in order to stop the flame art alone, he silently readied the flat part of his sword. His figure stood out in front of the blazing flames.
I saw the magician who fired the art sneer at it.
I clenched my first.
No, no, no…!
Only that word went round and round in my head.
He’s trying to receive that magical art alone. There’s no way he’ll get out unhurt. No matter how strong he is, no matter how skillfully he proceeds, there’s no way the injury he’ll receive will be light.
I can’t let that happen.
How can I help him. How can I reduce his burden.
Unable to escape I just frantically exercised my brain, when suddenly Ms. Delris’s words crossed my mind like a revelation.
Finally, I remembered. What I can do.
What only I can do.
That’s it. Didn’t Ms. Delris say it. I have a power to neutralize magical power. That’s why I can’t use magic properly.
Now that I at last recalled the magic that I’d carelessly forgotten for a long time, I thought of using it. Since I can neutralize magical power, thinking about it normally I should be able to extinguish the flames. It’s worth trying.
How did she explain the neutralization magic invocation method…
I desperately thought back on the conversation with Ms. Delris.
Certainly, she said there was ‘touch’ and ‘intention’.
Recalling that I nodded.
It’s the first time I’ll be activating it with my own intention, but there’s no time to waver.
In practice I invoked it for Cain, besides I believe in Ms. Delris. If she says I can invoke it that way, I can do it.
Then there’s nothing to worry about.
Neither incantation nor the construction of a magic formation are necessary.
I can invoke it with only my determination. I can protect Freed.
With my back to him, I stood in front of Freed who was about to receive the magical art.
Before my eyes was a large mass of flames made with magical arts. I felt its heat, but as it headed here, I fixed my eyes at it without looking away.
Scary, I won’t say that no matter what. I don’t consider failure. I have no reason to stay still if I can save both of us with this action.
As I suddenly stood before him, Freed’s awfully flustered heartbreaking scream resounded.
“What are you doing!! I told you to step back!!”
I looked back at Freed who grabbed my shoulder and tried to thrust me away, and staring in his eyes said.
“I’ll explain later. That’s why trust me now”
“Lidi! What are you saying!?”
There’s no time anymore. I’ll explain to Freed later.
With all my strength I shook off Freed’s hand that was trying to push me away, and thrust my hand towards the enormous fireball approaching before my eyes.
The scorching heat gets nearer.
I nearly moved backwards from the flames by instinct, but I cheered myself on. Escaping is out of question.
I’ve decided to do it. I’ll protect Freed.
You are unnecessary!
I shouted with such a feeling.
The next moment――――.
As if responding to my feelings, the fireball dispersed and vanished――――.
The color illustration corresponding to this chapter.