“Hey…
who's there?”

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Allen cautiously called out to the figure lying on the ground.

However, the figure did not even twitch.

With stealthy steps, he crept closer to the person.

“…
A woman?”

Lying hidden in the grass was a young lady.

Her features were beautiful and she was wearing a delicate dress – she looked just like a typical princess.

But her dress was in tatters, and her complexion looked terrible.

She seemed barely alive, with only thin wisps of breath passing through her pale lips.

“Did she run away from home …
or did she escape from where she was kidnapped?”

When he gently picked her up, her long eyelashes faintly trembled.
But there was no sign of her waking up.
If he left her just like that …
she would certainly meet her end.

Allen hesitated a little …
then he exhaled a sigh as he resigned himself to his fate.

“…
There's no helping it.
Should I look after her until she wakes up?”

Allen lifted her into his arms and headed for the mansion.

The moment he stepped on the grass–

“Ahhhhh!!”

Suddenly, a man's rough voice cut through the silence of the forest.

At the same time, a deadly blade flashed behind Allen.

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The dull, shining blade cut him in two without missing its target, but his figure withered away like a mist.

“What? He disappeared…!”

“Once again, what's with this rude greeting?”

“Eh!?”

From behind the bandit, Allen called out aloofly.

The man who looked back at him did not look familiar.
However, he knew the emblem on his armor well enough.

“The emblem from a neighboring country, furthermore an imperial guard of the royal family? What business would a man with such a high rank have here?”

“…”

The soldier did not answer.

He just stared at Allen and slowly lifted his sword.

Three more soldiers appeared from behind the shade of the trees.
All of them were heavily armed, looking sharply at Allen.

Amidst the tense atmosphere, Allen merely shrugged while holding the girl.

“What an impressive crowd! You're all just in time for door-to-door sales.”

“Hand over the girl!”

Without paying any heed to Allen's flippant remarks, the soldier with his sword ready in his hand ordered in a low voice.

“That girl is a felon that has humiliated and disgraced our country.
If you try to defend her, we will show you no mercy.”

“A felon?”

He peeped at the girl's sleeping face.

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Such a weak and beautiful face was clearly far removed from such a humorous word.

“We have been instructed that it doesn't matter if the girl is dead or alive.
If you hand her over to us obediently, ……
no harm will come to you.
You have my word.”

“Hmm…
I see.”

There were signs of trouble brewing.

Allen…
grinned suggestively.

“If that's the case …
I refuse.”

“What?!”

These shady guys or the weak pitiful girl.

If you were to ask him which side he would rather be on, without a doubt the latter will definitely be chosen.
It's only natural.

If she turned out to be a bad person, he could just hand her over to them later.

So, there was no choice but to engage in a battle.

“Are you going to take on all of us all by yourself?”

“That's my line.”

Allen's lips twisted into a smile as he observed the soldiers circling him.

The soldiers' stances were unwavering.
It was obvious at a glance that they had been trained to a great extent.

Allen, on the other hand, had his hands full with the girl in his arms.
To the outsiders, he must have looked like he was being cornered in a desperate situation with no escape.

Which…
was a favorable disadvantage.

“Only four elite men…
is certainly no match for me!”

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“Argh?!”

A shriek could be heard from the right side of his back.

One of the soldiers that ran forward to attack Allen fell with a sweep of his leg.
The shriek following the elbow strike to the soldier's back signaled the start of the battle.

The remaining three soldiers moved in unison.
But Allen was quicker.

” 'Freezing Bind'! “

“Oh!”

A flash of light ran through the ground, and the two soldiers fell forward.
Their feet were stuck to the ground by ice crystals.

This kind of magic manipulates ice.
Although it's killing potent was extremely low, it was highly effective for capturing the enemies.

Only the first soldier was still standing at this point.

“Silent incantation magic?!”

The soldier's eyes widened in astonishment, but he nevertheless remained calm.
Attacking from the front, he charged forward, aiming for Allen's vital points.

However, Allen narrowly dodged the tip of the blade by a hair's breadth.
With the same momentum, he kicked the soldier in the jaw and sent him sprawling.

“Once again! 'Freezing Bind'!”

“Oh no…!”

Thus, the capture was complete.

While being affixed to the ground, the soldier looked up at Allen with wide eyes.

“That black and white hair …! No way, you are that …”

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“I'm not going to talk nonsense with you.
'Phantom Illusion'”

“Huh…
ah…?”

With a snap of his finger, the light dulled in the eyes of the four men.

Allen quietly asked them as they stared into the void.

“Say.
What happened here? Tell me.”

“…searched every inch of the forest.”

“…and found that the woman's trail had been cut off.”

“…
concluded that she had been eaten by a beast.”

“…
and decided to return for the time being.”

“Well done!”

If Allen had killed the soldiers, the next group of soldiers was bound to come along.
In that case, it would be easier to fool them into thinking that she was dead.

Allen melted the magic ice and they got up unsteadily.

“There, go home now.
Don't come back.”

The soldiers left in a daze, heading in the direction Allen had indicated with his chin.

Soon, they will regain consciousness and their memory of Allen will be wiped clean.
After that, they will return to their country to give the report they were told from a moment ago.

For the time being, the problem at hand was solved.

“But you as a felon, hmm…
there has got to be a good reason behind it.”

Looking down at the girl's sleeping face, Allen let out a small sigh while shaking his head.

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