Elia’s rescuers continued through the tunnels until eventually the sound of hooves galloping about reached their ears.
“This sound...” [Michelle]
“Can’t see them yet, but that’s definitely them, right?” [Oslo]
The spike armor armadillos ran side-by-side through the tunnel as it curved to the right.
With the sounds echoing in the cave, the other side must’ve surely heard them as well, so Shiva told everyone to ready for battle.
As the curve ended and the path once again turned straight, two rows of escorts and a carriage came to view. There was a good distance between them, so Rheinbach ordered his armadillos to hurry.
The enemy wore a cloth over their nose and mouth, and had a shield on each of their backs. The two carriages weren’t alone. They were being escorted by a group of horsemen, who after seeing Elia’s rescuer approaching, ran up to inform the carriage to hurry. As the carriage hurried, the horsemen fell back to fight Elia’s rescuers.
“11 horsemen! They’re coming!!” [Shiva]
” ‘Fire Arrow’ — !!” [Enemy]
As the groups neared each other, the enemy simultaneously casted a volley of fireballs, which the group blocked, responding in kind with offensive magic. But the enemy was surprisingly well trained, and with 6 horsemen in front, they would switch with the five behind, alternating between defense and offense. Like this the enemy steadily blocked the path while defending against the rescue group.
“They’re surprisingly well trained, but unfortunately for them... Rheinbach-chan!” [Reimiri]
“I know!” [Rheinbach]
” ‘Shadow Needle’ ” [Remiri]
As the two groups neared each other, Remiri chanted.
“What!?” [Horseman 1]
“Impossible!?” [Horseman 2]
“AhHHH! Aaaahhh—” [Horseman 3, 4, 5]
Two of the horsemen running in front coughed out blood as they fell from their horse. Rheinbach’s armadillos dodged them, but the enemy horsemen weren’t as fortunate, as three of them ended up either crashing onto the horses or tripping on the riders.
“It’s the Witch of Deathly Shadow! We’re too close! Get away –*Cough!” [Horseman 6]
The horseman tried to give out orders, but it was too late, and a shadow needle was already lodged into his throat.
“I never liked that name... How long has it been since I was last called that? 70 years?” [Remiri]
The last thing the horseman saw was a black needle coming out of his own armor as it buried itself into his throat. When he looked around him before he lost the last of his consciousness, he saw his comrades dying in the same way.
Slipping through the onslaught of spells, the rescue group broke through the horsemen to approach the two carriages. But just when they right at the two carriages’ heels—
The magic power emanating from the enemy side made the members and the armadillos stiffen.
Anyone could feel how dangerous that vast amount of magic power was. The source of it was a lamp-like object that was hanging from an eccentric-looking man’s neck, wrapped around him by a chain. As soon as Remiri saw the man’s lips move, she yelled.
“Block it!! ‘Shadow Wall’!” [Remiri]
Immediately after, a shadow wrapped itself around the entire rescue group as a blizzard blew in the tunnel.
As the two armadillos stopped, hail rained against them from the summoned blizzard, but the wall of shadow protected them. The blizzard lasted less than a minute, taking all the ice with it as it ceased, but while the group managed to endure it thanks to Remiri, she came out spent.
“I’m fine! That spell just now was a bit strong, but you don’t have to worry about me. Focus on directing the kids.” [Remiri]
Remiri drank a potion to recover her magic power while Barrack spoke.
“Hey, one of the carriages is stopping.” [Barrack]
“They’re 300 meters ahead of us. They have 12 guards with them, one of which is that magician from before. It’s been moving unsteadily for awhile now, there are probably people inside!” [Oslo]
“If the kidnapped children are inside that carriage, then are they trying to provoke us? Either way, they don’t look like they have any intention of running.” [Nell]
The group that stopped ahead seemed to have no intention of running away. It was curious whether it was because they wished to avoid having their men trip on each other like they did awhile ago, but even the mage that casted that blizzard just now went down the carriage and started encouraging the other bandits.
“The enemy looks like they’re itching for a fight too, but we a battle on land suits us just fine!” [Shiva]
“Yeah!” [Oslo’s party]
Barrack along with two others and Shiva-san went down the armadillos with their best weapons as they approached the enemy. Not long after the sound of battle echoed in the tunnel.
Meanwhile, inside the dark carriage, the chains binding the victims rustled. They knew that help had come, but...
“Damn it! I can’t get it off!” [Male Adventurer 1]
“No way it’s going to go off just by hitting it, dumbass!” [Male Adventurer 2]
“Can the two of you shut up?” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“What’s your problem? Can’t you tell from that magic just now!?” [Male Adventurer 1]
“Of course, but that’s all the more reason why it’ll be harder to run now. At the very least, you should keep your voices down.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“Tch, then why don’t you do something?” [Male Adventurer 2]
“The carriage has stopped, and it’s probably a mess outside right now. If we let a chance like this go, who knows when we’ll get another? Besides there’s a chance the rescue squad might lose.” [Male Adventurer 1]
“...You think you can actually run from people like that just by removing those cuffs?” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Tch... Then what do you think we should do!?” [Male Adventurer 2]
A pair of male adventurers against a pair of female adventurers. It wasn’t the time for it, but the two groups couldn’t help but argue. It didn’t help that the two men were shaking in fear because of their lack of experience and the magic from awhile ago.
“Umm... Can I say something?” [Elia]
While the two pairs of adventurers were arguing pointlessly, Elia, who was sitting between the two female adventurers, suddenly spoke.
“The one who came to save us is none other than Shiva Gardak-sama. I heard his voice just now, so I’m sure it’s him.” [Elia]
“The former knight commander?” [Male Adventurer 1]
“No way... Wait, actually, there was that rumor going around saying he was in Teressa.” [Male Adventurer 2]
“It’s not a rumor, it’s true. Which is why he must’ve heard about us from somewhere, and came to rescue us. The former royal court magician also seems to be with him...” [Elia]
“The former royal court magician...” [Male Adventurer 1]
“Yes, so I don’t think they’ll easily lose. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” [Elia]
“H-huh...” [Male Adventurer 2]
“We’re really actually going to be rescued?” [Male Adventurer 1]
The two male adventurers finally calmed down after Elia brought up Shiva’s and Remiri’s titles.
“Pathetic! I can’t believe a younger girl is actually more composed than a pair of fully grown men!” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Marol...” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I’ll think of something.” [Marol]
Although Marol’s words were harsh, the two men didn’t say anything in retort.
“But seriously... what are we going to do? We can’t break these cuffs with brute force.” [Marol]
“If we could just use magic...” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“These cuffs are a kind of magic tool, huh.” [Elia]
“Yep, which is why you can’t use magic with them on. Try casting a spell, you’ll find it’s not possible.” [Marol]
Marol curtly replied when Elia asked. When Elia tried to use her spell just as she suggested...
“What is it?” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“This thing is certainly obstructing the flow of magic, but... I can still wring out a little.” [Elia]
“!!” [Everyone Else]
All eyes gathered on Elia when she said that, and for a moment everything went quiet, but not long after, everyone started talking in hushed voices.
“Young lady, could it be that your cuffs are broken?” [Male Adventurer 2]
“Who cares? What matters is that she’s free to use magic.” [Marol]
“Elia-chan, what kind of magic can you use?” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“I can only wring out a little bit of magic power, so nothing more than an elementary fire or ice spell.” [Elia]
Everyone dropped their shoulders when they heard that, but Elia thought of a good idea. A magic she can use even with a little bit of magic power. When she told everyone about it, they were incredulous, but with no other option, they decided to try it.
“Let’s check what’s going on outside first. There’s a chance they might detect even that little bit of magic power.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
No one voiced any complaints against the female adventurer’s words. Everyone went quiet and sharpened their ears.
What they heard were the sound of jeers and the cries of people dying. The fierceness of the battle could be felt even through that simple wall that separated them.
“If we go now— Wait.” [Marol]
But then the sounds suddenly went silent. Everyone was on tenterhooks as they wondered what was going on, when—
“Persistent, aren’t we?” [Shiva]
“I could say the same for you, former knight commander... I can’t believe you can actually fight that well at that age. I know our men are a bit tired, but...” [???]
“Your goal...” [Shiva]
For a brief moment, people started talking outside, but then someone suddenly cried out in a loud voice, and then the battle resumed.
“Looks like they were just taking a breather...” [Marol]
“To think that an S Rank really came...” [Male Adventurer 2]
“It’s alright now, Elia-chan. Let’s do it.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
As Elia prayed for her magic not to be detected, she struck out her hand and casted a spell.
The spell she casted was none other than the spell she casted ceaselessly to the point of being sick of it during her training with Ryouma. Just like in her training, she emitted weak fire magic power, which she focused onto the chains connecting her cuffs, slowly but surely raising the temperature.
“What’s the matter?” [Marol]
“Can you not use your magic after all?” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“...It’s working, but the magic power is so little, it’s going to take some time.” [Elia]
Calming herself, Elia mustered more magic power than the tool could ever hope of stopping. Only a little bit came out in the end, but she focused that small bit of magic power into a single point, and gradually, the temperature rose. The heat emanating from the spell along with the fatigue of concentrating made Elia sweat.
“You don’t have to push— Is that...” [Marol]
Marol was about to tell her not to push herself, but then Elia’s magic finally bore fruit.
“Just a little bit more...” [Elia]
As the chains went red from the heat, the magic tool’s effect on Elia began to wane. Elia stopped for a moment, then casted Heat again, but this time, with less magic power than before. As time passed, the chains began to soften, until finally, the chains fell to the ground. Fire looked like it was about to spread, but a swift cast of ice magic settled that problem easily.
“Anyway, I guess we can call this a success.” [Elia]
Although she had some trouble at first, in the end, Elia managed to take her first step in preparing for their eventual escape.
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