A man clad in black mutters as he examines the faces of each of the rope-bound children, one by one.
“……Hm. Now then, is this it?”
The one who answered was another man, dressed entirely in black.
“They don’t have any particularly outstanding talents, but this should be enough for the harvest.”
For convenience, let’s call the former Black-Garb A, and the latter Black-Garb B.
The two of them wore masks to hide their lower faces and their bodies were covered in black overcoats.
Their eyes were sharp and each movement was deft; one could easily infer that they had undergone some form of special training.
Black-Garb A & B were inside a gloomy cave.
Light shone in from the entrance, but the interior, where the children were imprisoned, was quite dark.
“Well then, should we move out soon……?”
“I suppose so. It’s one thing if there are children of value here but it can’t be helped if there aren’t any.”
“……I only heard rumours of one person.”
Black-Garb B asked in response.
“Yeah. 《Baby Scarlet》――apparently there’s a baby coined as thus.”
“Are you saying a baby possesses a title?”
“Who knows, I don’t know the details, but…… at any rate, he fought at Ranzrack Fortress and brought down the leader of <Black Wolf Fang>, Goleth of the throwing spear, by himself or something.”
Black B raises his eyebrows in question.
“A baby did……huh?”
“It’s pure rumour. However, I did hear it from the survivors of <Black Wolf Fang> so it doesn’t necessarily seem like a joke.”
“……It’s such a groundless rumour that I feel more inclined to believe it…”
“If a baby proficient in magic exists, he might have been able to make one attack against the mercenaries at least.
Still, defeating that Goleth is probably too exaggerated of a rumour.”
“That baby, how old is he?”
“He has yet to reach one year of age.”
“Apparently he’s the fourth son of the fortress’s defence leader, Viscount Chrebl.
However, the aforementioned child should only have been born at the beginning of this year.
In other words, he isn’t even a year old yet.”
“You’re not confusing him with one of the older children, are you?”
“Viscount Chrebl had 3 children with his former wife, but every one of them is already of age. Even the third son is 16. There shouldn’t be any mistake.”
By the way, the age of adulthood in this world is 15 years old.
“……He’s too young.”
“Indeed. Hypothetically, even if he had the aptitude for magic, his body wouldn’t be able to handle it at that age.
This is why it doesn’t make sense.
Consequently, I’ve decided to verify the target with my own eyes this time.”
“……Hold on, it does indeed seem ridiculous but……”
“I understand your feelings, but events that appear to be nothing but absurd do occur in the 『Underground』of this world from time to time.
Even when Goleth first appeared, everyone said that it was ridiculous.
……Well, anyway, we’re vacating this place.
It would be utterly pitiful if we were discovered now.”
“Iz’zat so? The manipulation of information in the villages is flawless.
Those ignorant villagers should be under the impression that the faeries are all to blame for the disappearing children.
How stupid…… When there’s no way beings such as faeries even exist.”
“The lord governing those villages isn’t an idiot.
I’m talking about the Viscount Chrebl who drove away the <Black Wolf Fang> at Ranzrack.
Moreover, faeries do exist. I’ve seen them before when I was little.
Although I haven’t seen them at all recently.”
“So they can’t be seen by evildoers? How is that…..”
Black B says doubtfully and stands up.
And then he turns to the shoulder of his comrade standing guard at the cave entrance and calls out.
“――Hey, we’re going.
Help us with the preparations.
……Oi, what happened?”
At Black-Garb B’s voice, the watchman’s shoulder shook.
――No, the man’s shoulder slanted, shaking violently――and just like that, the man collapsed in the entrance.
Imbedded in his forehead was a dimly shining, crystal-like, card-shaped object.
Black-clad A astutely questioned the identity of the stranger.
However, we had no reason to answer.
The ones lurking at the cave entrance, Julia-kaasan and I, fired 《Flame lance》 with a cross-like trajectory from either side of the entrance.
We held back a bit because of the children there, but there was enough force to render the black-clad duo helpless.
My 《Flame lance》 was aimed at Black-Garb B, while Mum’s 《Flame lance》 knocked down Black-Garb A.
Casting a backward glance at Julia-kaasan who was efficiently tying up the black-clad men, I head in the direction of the children.
“――We’re rescuing you now.”
Using the Separation Barrier shard as a knife, I cut through the ropes binding the children.
One, two, three….. So there’s a total of seven people.
Boyce-kun from Riverette Village should likely be among them, but now that I think of it, I don’t know Boyce-kun’s characteristics.
Judging from the black-clad guys’ conversation, the other children have probably been abducted from the other neighbouring villages, with Riverette Village being the exception.
It’s understandable, but everyone appears frightened.
“Understood. You want me to calm them with my song, right?”
Melby, who was invisible, showed herself to the children.
Some of children looked at Melby in surprise but the others had vacant eyes and didn’t react.
“La la la……♪”
While Melby was soothing the children with her song,
“Edgar-kun, can you deal with one of them?”
Of course, it’s about the black-clad men.
Having gags forced in their mouths on top of having their whole bodies bound and wrapped up, the two black-clad men glare at Julia-kaasan and me in turn.
As I write ♭ in the air,
“I can handle them both,”
When I casually raise Black A and B up with [Physics Magic], the black-clad men open their eyes wide in surprise.
“Mum, take care of the children.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Mum went to cheer up the children who had regained their composure after Melby’s song.
――We found out about this cave just past noon on the day I returned to the village with Melby.
The search of the faeries, who were well accustomed to the topography of the area, was precise. On the other side of the mountain, they discovered some suspicious men in a cave atop a steep cliff that the villagers didn’t dare approach.
They were certain, due to the children inside.
Furthermore, apparently faeries “can’t be seen by bad people” so there was no fear of being sensed by the men.
If the villagers had gone to hunt in the forest, the men might have suspected something and run away.
Anyhow, Julia-kaasan decided to go rescue the children after receiving the information.
I offered my help.
I thought she would refuse, but Mum readily consented to my proposal unexpectedly.
To Mum, I am both her own child as well as her disciple, and it seems that it is natural for a disciple to help their master.
And so, Julia-kaasan and I headed to the cave where the men were――with no trouble, we secured the black-clad men and succeeded at rescuing the children.
The cave was in a location that would take 2 hours to reach from the village even with an adult’s gait, so the return trip while cheering up the worn out children was a hassle.
It was possible to transport everyone with [Physics Magic] if I felt inclined to, but doing that would cause an uproar so I restrained myself.
Then again, Black-Garb A and B were being transported via [Physics Magic] so it really wouldn’t make that great a difference anyway……
By the way, it was inevitable that maintaining [Physics Magic] the entire time would consume MP, but I threw them once and reduced their momentum when they land while lowering them to the ground (dropping them), before throwing them once again; this was quite a rough way of transporting them but with these guys’ crimes, no one reprimanded me.
Ah, as you might expect, I requested and had Melby cure just the burns from《Flame Lance》.
The two “evildoers” who couldn’t see faeries seemed to have been spooked out though.
Thus, I harboured slight feelings of guilt for not carrying the children, but the children walked without much complaint thanks to Julia-kaasan and Melby’s efforts.
The subordinate(?) faeries that Melby had summoned also encouraged the children by singing and dancing.
Melby can use [Spirit Magic] so she would immediately fly over and heal the children if anyone got injured.
Before I knew it, Melby started being called “Big Sister” not only from the faeries, but also from the children.
And then, when the children learned a few of the faeries’ songs, we finally managed to reach Riverette Village.
As we arrived at the village, Aino-chan, who had been tired of waiting, came rushing over.
And――Oh, so you’re Boyce-kun.
In contrast with the lively and adorable Aino-chan, Boyce-kun seemed quiet.
Somehow, I felt like future Boyce-kun would be henpecked.
The spokesman and Boyce-kun’s father (Bolbo-san, I think) and his wife bowed their heads to Mum many times.
Beside them, Aino-chan lead Boyce-kun and came before Melby, and they also bowed many times.
I think she’s around five years old, but she’s a considerably mature girl.
The remaining six children ended up being looked after by Riverette Village’s village chief and the spokesman for the time being.
Of course, it was only “for the time being” so we sent people to the neighbouring villages to convey that we are sheltering the missing children, and have people come to claim them.
They should have been uneasy being separated from their parents but thanks to the faeries, the children seem to currently be having fun instead.
It might not be good for their parents who, I expect, are worried but it’s better than them crying as they wait.
The black-clad men have been bound tightly and locked up so they can’t escape.
There are lots of things I’d like to ask but I can’t go interrogating them on my own accord.
Dad’s subordinate knight should be coming from Corbette Village so we will be handing them over to him.
Well, I have [Appraisal] so the black clad men’s statuses were in plain sight.
I also found out quite a lot but…… I’ll compile that information later.
――Like this, although a few mysteries remain, the case of the missing children which occurred in Riverette Village (and the neighbouring villages) has been resolved.