It all started with a single scream.
The silence before dawn was broken by the tormentous scream of a dying man.
“Hmph. So you weren’t a big deal, after all, Black. It was a bit disappointing to be able to kill you that easily.”
The masked woman――Renko, laughed mockingly.
She was no professional assassin. Therefore, she had used her 【Martial Arts】 skills to finish her opponent with delight, although unable to keep him quiet.
“How disappointing. I didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to fall for such a trap.”
“Tch……You’re already here.”
The man who rushed in less than ten seconds was the Pope’s personal guard, Nex, a genius swordsman in his late twenties who became a close aide to Pope Black.
In order to escape, Renko did three backflips with the lightness of a ninja and landed on the edge of the window.
“Too bad. You’re already surrounded.”
Just as Nex said, dozens of soldiers were waiting outside the window.
The soldiers moved too quickly.
No way! ――Renko came up with a reason why.
“That’s right. The one you killed was a body double. It was a trap to expose idiots like you.”
Nex answered the question floating in Renko’s mind. At the same time, an avalanche of soldiers stormed through the door of the room, surrounding Renko.
“Not bad……But still, I’m not the type to get caught that easily!”
When further resistance seemed futile, Renko then paused for a moment, and after placing both firsts in front of her chest in a pose…
A dazzling light and wind emanated from Renko, blowing away the soldiers close to her.
The invincibility period when the 《Transform》 skill is used was 8 seconds. Of that time, the user can only move freely for two seconds after 6 seconds have elapsed.
Should she take advantage of those two seconds to leap out the window, climb up the roof, and use the high Agi of her transformation to escape? Or should she smash her way through Nex and the rest of the soldiers in front of her? There were two choices: escape or attack. And obviously, Renko chose to go on the offensive.
It wasn’t a bad choice, the difference in power between the soldiers and Renko was obvious. Even ten soldiers were no match for her after using Transform. Also, defeating Nex, one of the Pope’s main forces here, would greatly increase the success rate of the revolution. And it was not too late to escape to the roof.
……However. There was just one thing, something that was unexpected.
And that was the extraordinary strength of the personal guard, Nex, in interpersonal fights.
Renko knew he was strong, and she was wary of him, but she didn’t expect him to be at such a level.
A sharp blow from 《Lance Swordsmanship》. Renko received it on the shoulders, losing her balance.
It was a very clever blow. While using the other soldiers as a meat wall, Nex’s 【Swordsmanship】 skill, which he unleashed taking advantage of the gap generated by this location, was clearly a move of someone used to kill other people.
It was only natural. Nex had so far, at the behest of Pope Black, turned dozens, maybe hundreds of people into rust on his sword. Some of them resisted violently, and some of them were so strong that they could be called masters. Yet, he still overwhelmingly and unilaterally cut them down. Nex was the strongest and most fearsome swordsman in the Sacred Country of Kamel.
Furthermore, in a battle between 【Martial Arts】 versus 【Swordsmanship】, the 【Swordsmanship】 had a longer reach, and therefore an advantage.
In other words, the reason Nex was able to go toe-to-toe with Renko, even after her using 《Transform》, was due to the difference in numbers and experience, as well as the compatibility of their skills.
“I can see you’re starting to get impatient.”
Five minutes have elapsed from the start of the battle. Two minutes remained in her transformation.
Renko had already defeated ten soldiers other than Nex. However, no matter how many she defeated, soldiers kept replenishing one after another. The only way to break out of this situation was to defeat Nex, who was keeping Renko from moving freely.
However, Nex was still strong. If Renko tried to attack him, he would use his soldiers to fend the attack off and then counterattack, and if Renko tried to run away, he would slash at her with terrifying speed and accuracy.
And so, in the course of this back-and-forth battle.
Two minutes passed, then――
At Nex’s command, the soldiers all attack at once to restrain Renko, who had her 《Transform》 undone.
Renko was finally silenced after being forced to wear a “collar of servitude”, a restraint used for criminals.
The collar of servitude will prevent the subject from performing an attack. In other words, it activated the “unable to attack” feature. In Mobius Online, this item appeared only during story events, but in this world, it has spread to countries, knight orders, merchants, and even the underworld. Humans are animals that are always in search of security. And the security of being “unable to attack” has an irreplaceable value.
“I believe you are Raspberry Bell-sama’s……I see, so that’s it.”
Nex then removed Renko’s mask and recognized the face beneath.
“Send her to the dungeon. Prepare her for torture.”
The Pope will be in danger if I don’t make her spit out whichever information she has as soon as possible. Thinking so, Nex decided to hasten Renko’s torture after informing the Pope.
“Oh, Your Holiness! Why are you alone in a place like this……?”
“I heard that someone tried to assassinate me. I came to see her face.”
“Is that so!? B-But, with all due respect, Nex-sama insisted that nobody is allowed to enter.”
“Did he say not even I was allowed in?”
“N-No, that’s not it……But, it’s dangerous.”
“And isn’t she wearing a collar of servitude? That should pose no danger.”
“Don’t spout any more stupid words. If you want to keep your life, that is.”
Within five minutes of Renko’s imprisonment, the dungeon was visited by Pope Black.
He threatened the soldiers standing guard outside and went in.
“I don’t need an escort, I’m just looking at her face. I’ll be out in less than a minute.”
Intimidatingly refusing to be accompanied by soldiers, Pope Black walked alone through the dungeon, stopping in front of the cage at the end.
“……So it’s true that was a body double. Haaa, I’m feeling disgusted.”
Renko was inside the cage. As soon as she saw the face of Pope Black, she cursed.
Seeing Renko’s appearance, Pope Black smiled and opened his mouth.
“――Yes, My Lord.”
Right next to Renko, the darkness distorts, slowly forming up the shape of a woman’s body.
What appeared was a nun who one day had identified herself as Ann. She’s a woman with a faint smile, fine lips, and eyes, and who gave up a hair-raising presence.
“Wha……!? You, cant be……!”
“We don’t have time, I’ll transfer you to my house.”
The man disguised as Pope Black said so, interrupting Renko’s surprise, and tried to give Anko instructions.
If they took too long, the jailer would get suspicious. Therefore, there was no time to waste.
Renko then stood up and said a few unexpected words as she approached the man.
“W-Wait! Give me a chance……! Can you give me one more chance?”
No questions asked, you’re being dismissed.
Realizing this, Renko frantically begged.
“Next time I’ll kill the Pope! Give me a chance to make things right! A chance to repay my debt to Raspberry Bell-sama!”
“You say “repaying” and “making things right” and all those sweet-sounding words, but in the end, you just want to be satisfied with yourself, don’t you?”
“W-Wrong! You’re wrong……”
Those words pierced her like knives.
Renko denied it with a sorrowful expression and continued speaking.
“Raspberry Bell-sama is taking advantage of me. But she is kindhearted. She’s using me but at the same time, her heart aches because she using me. If I leave now it will all have been for nothing. Raspberry Bell-sama will be more distraught.……”
“……Isn’t that just what you think? She might not actually be thinking any of that. Isn’t that just some delusions you’re forcing yourself to believe?”
It was just as the man said. Hence, Renko had no more words to respond to.
“What a shame. You really don’t understand my personality. That’s why you lost. If it was a member of the R6, they would’ve dared to oppose me more stronger. Sorry, but I can’t be keeping you company any longer.”
……Surprisingly, a lenient man.
However, Renko didn’t understand the significance of using that name here.
But still, her emotions changed just as the man intended.
“……Until the end. I want to stand my ground until the end.”
“I honestly don’t care about saints or the Sacred Country of Kamel. I want to take my stand until the end, no matter what it takes. I want to hurt that son of a bitch who used Raspberry Bell-sama, this innocent, adorable, and normal girl, who chained her up. I want to hurt him until he begs for death……!”
From Renko’s mouth came her very strong and true feelings.
“I know I might fail, that I might cause trouble. But I still want to stand up for myself. For the me who knows the heart of the girl named Raspberry Bell.”
Renko knew. No matter how great her abilities and knowledge might be, Raspberry Bell was not a saint at heart. She was just a very ordinary maiden.
“…… won’t you let me use this life that was saved, for the sake of that child?”
Sitting upright on the cold stone floor, she placed both her fist on the ground by her sides facing down, and bowed her head.
Right now she was Renko, but at the same time, she wasn’t Renko. She was Rei, the only daughter of the proud bandit leader, Rimusuma. The passionate chivalry that once existed within her had returned.
The path of evil that frustrates evil. The way of the righteous bandits. Not for anyone. All for the sake of not going against one’s own path.
The passionate way of life of those men burned fiercely and was inherited in her heart.
But what about the man?
He loved these kinds of people, without logic and without regard for efficiency.
With a ‘ding’, the collar of servitude around Renko’s neck was broken.
“I’ll send you to the north of Old Joh. Take the eastern route to Old Joh. The Pope is beyond.”
The man had just received a communication.
Communication from Codename: 『Consade』. “In case of emergency, the pope will take command from the east of the city”. They must’ve obtained this information from the previous day’s undercover investigation.
“Thank me after it’s done. Don’t worry about the rest, do what you want.”
“Yeah. Sorry, I owe you one.”
Anko’s 《Darkness Transfer》 and 《Darkness Summon》 sent Renko to the forest north of Old Joh.
He had a debt to pay. Even though he knew that the target for the assassination was a body double, he still felt guilty for letting her cross that dangerous bridge. Therefore, he wanted to help her as much as he could.
But even without that, he had decided already to leave the assassination of the real Pope to her. She would probably fail. and as a result, he would have to clean up the mess. But even though he knew that, he decided to entrust her with the job for the time being. That was the decision he arrived at.
It didn’t matter if it was double the work, if it was a waste of time, or if it was a waste of money. This was not something a man who had bet everything in his life up until his death on online games, could dismiss as “wasteful effort”.
Leave it to her. It makes sense. It is worth it.
He knew the beauty of risking your life for something you’ve set your mind to.
“What should I do now……?”
The man left the dungeon while sighing, thinking about what would happen after Renko failed.
His destination, the Holy Sanctuary――The room of Saint Raspberry Bell.
A few minutes after this, the anti-church group, Dizart, launched a surprise attack on the capital city of Old Joh.
And so, the night was over.