For some reason my posts for when I was on holiday all missed their scheduled release timings. Sorry guys! Here are the chapters!
Chapter 13: The Hero Ruti is alone
Since we made a little detour, it was close to noon when we arrived at the market.
Lit and I were sweating from the heat as we gathered and bought ingredients.
“Red~ I’m done on my side.”
I divided the shopping tasks for the two of us by handing her a memo. The market merchants didn’t seem to have any drive because of the heat as they didn’t call out to attract customers and they had all retreated to the back of their shops in the shade while holding a hand fan. It was great because thanks to that, we didn’t get stopped and we didn’t waste any money but I still smiled wryly at the lazy atmosphere within the market which completely suited Zoltan’s style.
It seemed like Lit also had the same thoughts and given how she seldom used the market, she laughed as she found it interesting.
“In my hometown, the market felt noisy even during summer. It became a standard phrase to say ‘I experience this every day so summer fatigue won’t phase me’.”
“My hometown was in the countryside so we didn’t even have a market. We brought whatever we made at home and bartered.”
“So Red’s hometown was like that. But didn’t Red join the Knights when you were about eight years old?”
“Well yeah. So I was only in my hometown for a short childhood.”
That’s why I couldn’t say that I had anybody I was particularly close with in my hometown. I wonder if even Ruti had forgotten about me but … in the past, Ruti was always the first to welcome me back at the entrance of the village whenever I returned home several times a year.
“Sigh, even though she took to me so much back then.”
She was probably getting along well with Ares now.
She haven’t noticed at all that her brother was gone.
” … That’s hard to believe though.”
“I can’t imagine that Ruti opening her heart to anybody else apart from Red.”
“Yeah, I do not know anyone more frightening than her.”
I thought she was joking but Lit’s expression was serious.
“Facing off against Ruti in the arena was the first time I understood the saying of having goosebumps. Compared to any type of demon, I find the Ruti then the most terrifying … That’s why I couldn’t believe it when I saw Red, or I should say your former name, Gideon spoil Ruti.”
“Hah~ well, her facial expression was a little hard to understand though.”
“I can’t imagine Ares pampering that Ruti.”
That was quite an evaluation but Lit was seriously having doubts.
She made me feel a little anxious …
“Nevertheless, Ruti is far stronger than I am. I have no idea how the Hero Party is faring right now but they have apparently defeated the Wind Four Heavenly King so I guess they are doing well.”
” … That’s right! We’re in Zoltan after all so there’s no point worrying about it.”
Lit exclaimed as though to banish her thoughts and took my arm.
“Let’s go home.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
Since we have already distanced ourselves from the battle that would determine the fate of the world, we now lived in a separate world from the heroes.
A person from the Hero Party, Danan who possesses the Divine Protection of the Martial Artist, exclaimed in anger.
“It’s about time you give it a rest Ares! How many times have this been!”
“We can always just return to buy it if we run out of it.”
Ares, with the Divine Protection of the Sage, stated without seeming to care about Danan’s anger burst. However, his lips trembled slightly, indicating that he took offense as a Sage from being scolded like a child by the uneducated Danan.
Currently, the Hero Party was in the Bloodsand Desert aiming for the weapons left by the previous Demon Lord.
The current aim was to snatch them before the current Demon Lord army and disrupt their plans.
However, it was now the third time they ran out of water and food and had to return to the settlement. Even though they had no idea where the weapons laid, since Red, or Gideon, left the party, the number of times their supplies ran out partway through the journey had clearly risen.
“Going back and forth countless times in the same area, how many days do you think have we spent in this desert! It was also you who failed in the negotiation with the desert residents to get their cooperation!”
“It’s the legendary weapons you know? There’s no way they can be found so easily. As for the negotiations, I did my best but the desert people in this land are pseudo-thieves that do not even obey the king in this land. If you have any complaints then you can go ahead and give it a go.”
Ares shrug his shoulders. That attitude incensed Danan even more.
“Even though you were the one who said you could replace Gideon for supplies procurement and negotiations! What do you have to say about that!”
“Unlike Gideon, I don’t have the leisure to only focus on the chores.”
Ares believed that Danan was being angry with trivial matters like usual.
However, after he saw Danan’s expression turn serious, danger signals ran through Ares’s mind. But he was way too late.
“That’s it, I will go look for Gideon. We will never progress at this rate.”
“Just wait a minute. We will be heading to the secret establishment of the current Demon Lord after this you know!? We will be troubled if you break off from the party now!”
“We will be annihilated at this rate. I only joined the party because I thought that it was the shortest path to defeat the Demon Lord. If it is no longer the shortest path, there is no longer any meaning in remaining here.”
Danan was serious. At the very least, that was how it appeared to Ares.
He sought for help and looked towards the seated Crusader Theodora but she had her arms folded and eyes closed to indicate that she didn’t want to be involved. The Assassin Tise who joined to replace Gideon had loyalty towards Ares for his invitation but would not be useful in this situation.
“Chasing Gideon out was an irreparable act Ares. You were too hasty.”
“How many times do I have to say it, I did not chase him out, he brought it up himself.”
A cynical smile showed on Danan’s scarred face.
At that moment,
“Danan, are you going to search for brother?”
It was a cold voice that could freeze even Danan’s cynical smile.
“He-hero-sama. That …”
Danan, with his whole body wrapped in thick muscular armor, shrank his body back in fear in front of a single girl. It was close to the phenomenon where herbivores fall into panic and their bodily functions seem to come to a stop under the stare of a large predator that they have completely no chance of winning against.
The Hero Ruti. The girl with silver armor wrapped around her small body and the demon-conquering holy sword on her waist expressionlessly stared up at Danan who had a large build.
However, God had decided that she was the strongest person. She was the Hero granted supernatural powers in order to save the world.
Even if Danan was a Martial Artist who could cut steel with his fingers, his instinct told him that he could never win against the Hero.
Danan swallowed audibly.
“Th-the party will face total annihilation if Ares continues to manage the party. We need your brother Gideon. Even Hero-sama …”
“N-no, that …”
He can’t do it. Danan bent his knee and it took his all just to stop himself from escaping from her gaze. It continued to wear away at the spirit of a man who survived through hundreds of live-and-death battles.
Although the silence only lasted for a little while, to Danan, it felt dozens of times longer.
“I’ll allow it. Go ahead.”
“Danan, you shall go search for Gideon. We will continue our journey.”
After saying that, Ruti returned to her own personal tent.
Although they claimed that she could use a personal tent because she was the party leader, the actual reason was that even Ares could not endure spending time with Ruti in a confined space.
Other than when she was adventuring, Ruti basically acted solo. Just one single person, only Gideon was the exception.
“Wa-wait a moment Ruti!”
Ares hurriedly chased after her.
Danan exhaled deeply and sat directly in front of Theodore who still had her eyes closed.
“And so, what will you do?”
“I have no choice but to go.”
When Theodore asked, Danan replied with his shoulders slumped.
“Even though I am aware that I am the cornerstone for attacks in this party.”
“Well of course Hero-sama is special. I don’t believe Hero-sama even had a period when she was weak.”
“Everybody would have a time when they were weak when their Divine Protection level was low … but I am of the same opinion. Although Ares-dono might know more since he has been in the party since the early days.”
Perhaps he finally calmed down as Danan’s tone returned to his usual arrogant tone. While stroking the scar on his cheek, Danan asked in a quiet voice.
“Do you think it is true that Ares killed Gideon because he was a nuisance?”
“It’s certain that Ares plans to get married with Hero-sama. That guy’s house is a fallen duke house so reviving his house is likely to be his long-cherished wish. The world-saving Hero and the Sage couple would definitely garner huge support. It won’t be impossible to build a duchy … we can’t deny what Yarandorara said right?”
When Gideon left, there was another companion in the Hero Party.
Yarandorara was a female High Elf with the Divine Protection 『Tree Singer 』which could control plants.
A week after Gideon left, she vehemently accused Ares for killing Gideon. For a whole week, she utilized the plants to gather information but there were no signs of Gideon leaving the town.
That was because Red performed measures having known about Yarandorara’s ability but she didn’t know that.
Ares broke his promise with Gideon and claimed that Gideon ran away on his own but Yarandorara didn’t believe him and left the party.
Even though her ability to control plants would not be able to display its full power in the desert, the search would have been a lot more comfortable if Yarandorara was around.
Danan didn’t believe that Ares would actually kill Gideon but … he suddenly thought about it since he was about to set off to look for Gideon.
If Gideon was murdered, Danan’s journey would never end.
“Gideon-dono is an astute person in combat. I was impressed that he could fight to that extent just by relying on common skills.”
“It was the same for me too. Gideon was a respectable tactician.”
“Didn’t you often blame him for blunders during combat in the past?”
Danan was startled and his body shivered. The arrogant giant dropped his shoulders in shame.
“I have this kind of personality after all … I won’t calm down unless I blame failure as failure … But I swear on my Divine Protection, I never once thought that Gideon was unnecessary in the party, let alone a hindrance.”
“Then you should have conveyed that properly.”
” … Then does that mean you feel that Gideon left of his own will?”
Danan snapped the branch he had in his hands in two and tossed them into the bonfire.
“Gideon-dono is a man recognized by Danan-dono, a contemporary expert in martial arts, and me, an assistant instructor in Church Knight Spear art. Regardless of how excellent Ares-dono is as a caster, he could never overturn a swordsman that two representative warriors respect.”
Theodore words also sounded like she intended those words for herself too. Danan understood that fact as well.
Gideon should be alive. He was a companion they trusted their back to and surmounted life-and-death struggles together. If they were alive, Gideon should be alive too.
There’s no way he would pass away alone before them.
“Tch, if that’s the case then I should have went to look for Gideon earlier. Then I wouldn’t have to go through such a tiresome desert.”
“That’s right, if Danan-dono talked to me earlier, I would have went to search too.”
The two of them matched gazes and smiled.