25 – Fluffy White Fox Rescue Operation
「Way over that way.」
「Now, that way.」
We repeatedly teleport towards whichever direction Ur points out.
She cut herself off.
Mika, Eleanor, and I could feel it too.
We try to get as close as possible with Wind Magic, but then I realize.
「A cave, huh…? I can sense it coming from below.」
I can sense the White Fox below.」
Brushing the ground with one hand, Eleanor uses her other hand to stroke her chin.
「There are a substantial number of soldiers.」
Well then, just like last time, please wait here, Eleanor.
I’ll leave Ur with yo-」
Ur clings tightly to my leg.
I can’t take you with me from here on, ok?」
「I want to see.」
「I asked you to help me.」
「Yeah, you did.」
「So… I want to see it through to the end.」
『I like your resolve, kid.
There are many people who give orders or make requests without knowing the gravity of taking a life.
Ur understands despite being so young.
Perhaps not in theory, but as a feeling.
She understands that what she is asking for is more than just rescuing a sacred beast, it involves eliminating the enemy, and she is willing to accept that as the client.
I completely agree with the notion that this is not something a child should see but…
These people underground belong to the group that destroyed Ur’s village after all.
It’s easy to say I won’t show her because it’s grotesque, but she has already seen even more ghastly scenes.
If she says she wants to see it through, I want to consider her feelings.
「I am opposed to this.」
She herself has experienced almost being a sacrifice, and she is also pained to know that I was made to fight at the age of five.
There’s no way she would agree to bring young Ur to a battlefield, right?
This, too, is understandable.
Both of them are convincing.
It’s hard to choose which to go with.
「Urgh… Do not look at me with those eyes.
It will not work.
After all, the act of killing is not something to be seen by the eyes of a child.」
「Without me there, White Fox might think Rain is an enemy.」
Th-that may well be a possibility.」
「Kuh… Until now, her eyes had been so hollow, it hurt, but now she is begging with a gaze filled with such emotion…gah! I suppose there is no problem if we were to enter after Sir Rain has secured the area.」
Protecting Ur until we reach where the sacred beast is held isn’t hard, but Eleanor’s opinion is that she doesn’t want her to see certain things on our way there.
「I get how you feel.
You’re a good kid.
I’ll go and rescue White Fox and bring it here, so just wait, okay?」
Ur stopped fighting back.
Perhaps because she reached the conclusion that she’d just be in the way.
She’s a smart kid, so it’s possible she thought about that.
「Alright then, I’ll be right back.」
Just like that, I walked straight towards the entrance like an idiot.
Obviously, I was spotted by the guards on watch.
They were large demons in the shape of humanoid wolves.
When they saw me, they turned to look at each other and crude smiles spread across their faces.
Then they dashed towards me to attack, almost like they were competing on who’d get to me first.
I guess rather than be suspicious, they were happy that prey had found its way to them?
If they had confirmed my race, they probably would have thought it strange that a human was here.
『This totally saves us the trouble of asking them to surrender.』
I pass by them, cutting their heads off with Mika.
「I really hope not all of them are like these two.」
My hopes would be dashed.
I know that they are an army who would threaten a sacred beast with hostages, and then slaughter said hostages but…
I guess I should have seen this reaction coming.
Much like that time I went to wipe out that Orc group, it was a massacre.
I used Mika to cut them and made arrows out of Wind Magic.
「Can you even make a sacred beast fight for you?」
『Not unless they form a contract with it.
『It’s about how they slaughtered the people in Ur’s village.
Just like how they captured it, you’d think it’d be better to keep the villagers alive if they want it to obey.
At the very least, keep some of them alive.』
「…Despite how effective taking hostages was, it is odd that they would throw all that away.」
It’s not like they needed to tell the villagers the truth.
It’s possible that the lackeys who did the deed weren’t told about the true goal of it all.』
「Sacred beasts and spirits are…kinda like beings of highly pure mana that gained a will of their own, right?」
Back in a time when people still genuinely respected nature, a pool of mana picked up on the hearts or prayers of people who believed in a holy being and made it real.』
The reason behind that happening is no different from how a Rift is formed.
You could say that what Mika mentioned is a rare occurrence in recent times.
Does that mean that the people of the present don’t have enough desire to manifest a sacred beast?
「If bad demons capture it and if it doesn’t follow orders…」
『They’ll probably abuse its mana.』
「They’re all the same.」
『We better rescue it fast or things will get dangerous.』
Since Ur can sense its existence, it probably hasn’t been terminated yet.
Our hopes are tied.
Eventually, I arrived at a large room.
I defeated the sorcerer who blasted spells at me without a word and approached my target.
It was a large, white-coated, fox that had a large collar on and was chained.
『…Who are you?』
This collar seals away the white fox’s power and even steals its strength.
The stolen white fox’s power flows to the gem set into the collar, huh?
Since you can’t use someone else’s mana without their permission, it takes a lot of effort to make use of another’s mana.
You can either absorb the mana and make it your own, make the other party offer it to you, or transfer the mana into some object in order to make it belong to no one.
They used the latter method.
「Who? …I’m a friend of Ur’s.」
The white fox was shocked.
『Ur… That little one yet lives?』
That voice sounded weak, but there was some joy in it.
As far as I know, she’s the only survivor of that village.
She asked me to save you.」
『…You who have made that wish come true, who are you? Not your relation to Ur, but your standing.』
That question again, huh?
I’m a freeloader in the Demon King Army.」
The white fox utters that in a dignified voice tinged with bewilderment.
「Yeah, a freeloader.」
『Wh-what manner of position is that?』
「My job is to eat whenever, play whenever, and sleep whenever I want.」
An intensely long silence follows suit.
『…What a strange role that the world has produced while I spent ages in a single village.』
「I was surprised when I heard about it the first time too.」
『Hey, isn’t it time we brought it back? Ur’s waiting.』
Said an impatient Mika.
I guess she’s right.
I remove the collar and hand over the gemstone to the white fox.
『…Twas impossible for me to remove that collar, so I had given up trying.
Your blade… Is it not a holy sword?』
「Before we get to that, here.
This has all of your mana, right?」
The white fox was confused, but it took the gem into its mouth and skilfully crushed it.
『You have my thanks, Rain the freeloader.
Such kindness must be repai-』
I don’t need a reward.
Just come and meet Ur for me.」
I touch the white fox and teleport us to the mouth of the cave.
Before I could say anything, Ur came jumping in.
In a loud voice I’ve never heard her shout, with quick movements I’ve never seen before, Ur jumps at the white fox.
Eleanor approached as well, with a smile.
『…You truly do live.』
「Yeah…! Rain saved me.」
『Is that so…』
Ur buried her face in the white fox’s fluffy fur and rubbed her face against it.
I have been told that you are the only survivor.』
Ur didn’t say anything, but the way her body stiffened up was answer enough.
『You sought to save me, despite my failure as the village guardian.
Ur, o kind-hearted child.
If you would allow me, I shall protect you this time.』
Ur raised her face.
「Will we be together?」
If it pleases you.』
She did not give a reply.
Her wide smile was all that was needed.
And just like that, yet another group of baddies was eliminated.
We rescued a fluffy white fox.
And we gave Ur her smile back.
『Rain the freeloader.
If you ever require my aid, just say the word.
I shall do all in my power to be of use.』
Then the white fox said that.
Anyway, case closed.
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