After a quick chat with Frea-san, we decided to have a cup of tea together, and we both moved down the bustling main street towards a coffee shop.
As to be expected, there weren't as many coffee shops as there were back in Japan, but there were still many coffee shops in this world as well. Rather, there were so many varieties of stores here in the main streets, including amusement shops.
The city is safe and the people live in abundance, and there are no slums because the government provides supporting aid to those in need. However, as expected, not everyone lives a rich life, and I'm sure there are people I've never met who are troubled with their everyday meals.
But even if that's so, I still think that this is a really nice world…… and the people I've mentioned were vastly lower than those living in the medieval times within my imagination.
As I looked at the crowded street and thought about this, I felt a strong emotion immediately afterwards and reflexively turned towards that direction. I usually turn off my Sympathy Magic when I walk in a crowded place like this. However, there are times when my Sympathy Magic, which is supposed to be turned off, would be forcibly turned on regardless of my intentions.
That's when "the being holding great emotions" nearby moved. And what I felt this time was anguish, impatience, conflict…… all such strong emotions fueling their frustration.
When I looked back, I saw a shop selling fruits…… and a man reaching for a basket lined up in the store. The store owner was unaware of what the man was doing as he was dealing with other customers.
I immediately tried to speak up, but before I could, I heard Frea-san's voice.
[The act of theft doesn't impress me at all.]
[ ! ]
Her voice wasn't loud at all, but it sounded so sharp that it could be heard very clearly. The man who was reaching for the basket seemed to hear it too, as I saw him reflexively jerk back his hand.
While the surrounding people noticed and were confused, Frea-san leisurely walked up to the man. Thereupon, I felt a strong sense of conflict from the man again.
[D- D*mn it!]
Looking somewhat impatient, the man takes a knife out of his pocket and points it at the approaching Frea-san. The length of his knife wasn't large at all. It was at best the size of a fruit knife, but it still held a sharp edge…… and seeing the knife, the people around him distanced themselves, creating an open space in the street.
Seeing the man pull out a knife, Frea-san stopped and looked as if she was thinking about something for a moment.
[……Putting aside whether your actions were right or wrong for the moment, it has been my custom to accept a challenge in any form.]
Saying this, Frea-san slowly crossed her arms and opened her legs to shoulder width.
[That may have been a bit of a roundabout way of putting it. I'll make it clear…… Come, I'll be your opponent.]
In that instant, I felt a sense of intimidation as if the air around me was overwhelming me, and the surroundings were enveloped in silence. Frea-san didn't emit any magic power or shouted loudly. If anything, her arms were still crossed and she wasn't even in a fighting stance.
However, the aura of a strong person, or perhaps, the atmosphere of someone who had been through many battles emanating from her body, made the air around her instantly tense and sharp.
Pressured by such an atmosphere, the man with the knife was frightened, taking a step back. However, he still held a strong feeling of impatience……. It seems like he was desperate enough that there was no going back anymore, and taking only one step back, he started running towards Frea-san again, holding his knife with his trembling hand.
The man then swung the knife down at Frea-san, who still had her arms crossed. And that knife…… stopped before it hit Frea-san.
It wasn't as if Frea-san had magically blocked his attack, but the man seemed to have stopped his knife himself. The emotions coming from the man changed from a strong sense of impatience to one of resignation, and he let go of his knife.
Then, he crumbled down on his knees, as if he lost his strength, crestfallenly lowering his head.
[……I see. It seems like your heart hasn't been tainted by evil huh.]
As Frea-san looked at the kneeling man, saying those words, the sound of footsteps could be heard, and several knight-looking people appeared through the crowd.
The knights moved their gazes to check their surroundings, and when they noticed Frea-san on the way, they looked surprised and they deeply bowed.
[Fumu, it seems like you know about me huh. Then, this makes the situation quick…… My comrade.]
[Eh Ah, yes.]
[I'm sorry, but would you mind if we go for a little detour]
[Y- Yes, it's alright.]
[I give you my thanks.]
After briefly speaking with me, Frea-san then turned to the knights. She then called out to the knights who seemed to be leading them.
[Even though it was an attempt, a crime is still a crime, and it would have made sense for you to bring this man in. However, I'm sorry, but can you let me handle this man]
The knights looked at each other, looking slightly puzzled when they heard Frea-san's words, but afterwards, the knight who seemed to be leading them spoke.
[……I understand. If it is the request of none other than Sky Dragon-dono, I will entrust this matter to you on my authority.]
[I'm sorry. I'll tell the Symphonia King about what happened and apologize later…… Ahh, I'll be owing you one for this.]
As she said this, Frea-san took out from her pocket a card with the same red claws that were painted on the back of Frea-san's clothes and handed it to the knights.
[Come to me if you are in trouble, and I promise to help you.]
[Thank you for your kind words.]
After making sure that the knights received their cards, Frea-san nodded once before turning her head towards the owner of the fruit shop that was almost robbed.
[I'm sorry about the commotion in front of your store.]
[Ahh, no…… There was no real harm done anyway……]
After a brief apology, Frea-san picked up the basket of fruit that the man had just reached for.
[I'll be taking this…… Keep the change as a nuisance fee.
Handing a gold coin to the shopowner, she called out to the man kneeling on the ground, holding the basket in her hand.
After saying that, she briefly made eye contact with me, while the man stood up and started following us.
The majesty of Frea-san's presence split the crowd with each of her steps, and we moved away from the street where the commotion had occurred.
After walking for a while, we reached a park with few people, where Frea-san quickly turned to the man and urged him to sit on a bench. After the man obeyed and sat down on the bench, Frea-san handed him the basket of fruit in her hand…… and some other foods, which she probably took out from her magic box.
[……Fill your belly first, then we'll talk about your situation.]
The man looked puzzled at Frea-san's words, and after exchanging glances between the basket and Frea-san several times, he then slowly reached out to the basket and started eating. Perhaps, he was too hungry, as once he started eating, all of his attention became directed to it.
[I'm sorry, comrade.]
[No, don't worry about it.]
I could understand why Frea-san had brought the man here as if he was protecting him. Somehow, this man didn't seem to be an evil person at heart.
From my Sympathy Magic, the first emotions I felt were anguish and conflict, followed by frustration, and when he lowered his head, resignation and regret…… and now, I can feel confusion and deep remorse. I could guess that they had some kind of situation.
After a while, the man finished his meal and began to talk…… about why he had tried to commit theft.
To sum it up, the man was an entrepreneur. He started a business a few years ago, and at first, his business was doing quite well. But one day, he made a big mistake, which led to the eventual failure of his business…… crashing him down until he was almost penniless.
Since then, he had been working as a laborer to make ends meet. However, his luck had been bad lately and he hadn't been able to get a job, and he was so hungry that he decided to steal.
Finished listening to him, Frea-san puffed on her kiseru pipe before quietly speaking.
[……So What are you going to do now]
[I'm going to look for another job.]
[Fumu, but then, it'd just end up all the same, right]
[……I guess I hadn't quite let go of my pride. I hadn't been able to contact my parents because I didn't want them to know how miserable I was. But because of my pride, I was about to make an irreversible mistake. I'm really grateful that you stopped me.]
[I see. You'll look for a job, and if you can't find one, you'll ask your relatives to help you out…… So And then, what]
[……I don't know when it will be, but someday, when I save up enough money…… I'm going to try all over again.]
As he talked with Frea-san, the hesitation disappeared from the man's eyes. It's just a hunch, but I could feel that no matter what troubles he faced, he would never commit a crime again.
Seeing the man's face, Frea-san slightly smiled and taking a huge burlap bag out of nowhere, she placed it in front of the man.
[If that's the case, you can do it now.]
[I'll give you the money. Use these, and try again.]
Seeing the burlap sack containing a large amount of money, the man looked as if his thoughts couldn't keep up, and dumbfoundedly muttered.
[You tried once, and you failed. However…… You have also gained the experience of failure. I'm sure that in your mind right now, thoughts like "What if I had done this" smoldering in your mind. If that's the case, don't just let that smoldering thought burn out. If you need money for you to try again, and you don't possess such money, I'll give it to you.]
[……! Ahh…… Uuuu…… Thank you…… very much.]
Hearing Frea-san's words, I could see a lot of emotions appearing on his face, but he still received the burlap bag with trembling hands.
Even though he looked puzzled, I could see a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes.
[This is your second attempt. You have the know-how and the experience of failure, which you gained from the first attempt. If you fail again, then it simply means your abilities are lacking.]
[When such a thing happens, come and visit me. I will train you, so that you could try again for the "third time".]
[For challengers, failure does not mean defeat. Defeat is "when you lose the will to challenge again". No matter how many times you fail, no matter how you are defeated, as long as the flame continues to live in your heart, you are not a loser, but a challenger. And I will always be on the side of the challenger. As long as the light in your eyes doesn't extinguish, I will not abandon you. I will push you as many times as possible, and send you back into the battlefield. So, don't be afraid and challenge with all your might!]
[ ~ ~ ~ ~ ! ]
As he listened to Frea-san's words, telling him that she wouldn't abandon him no matter how many times he failed, the man was overcome with emotion, weeping where he sat.
[It takes courage to take on a challenge. It takes even more courage to try again after your first failure. However…… You dared turn your blade on I, Freabell Nidzveld, one of Dragon King-sama's executive subordinates, the Four Great Demon Dragons. Compared to that, it should be easy for you to muster such a level of courage, right]
After Frea-san told her such, sounding somewhat happy, the man wiped away his tears and vigorously replied. Then, holding up the burlap sack he received, he spoke without any hesitation.
[Thank you very much. I will gratefully "borrow this money".]
[……I did tell you that I'm giving it to you, right]
[No, doing such a thing wouldn't make me satisfied. I will definitely return all of the money you have entrusted me…… No, I will double it!]
[Hoohhh…… Now that's the look of a challenger.]
After saying that, sounding somewhat impressed, Frea-san continued with a smile on her face, looking as if she was having fun.
[You don't have to double the money. But yes, if you really want to return more than you received…… when you visit me with the money…… bring along your favorite drink, whether it's alcohol or juice. At that time, we will celebrate your triumph.]
[……It seems like you wouldn't be needing a "third time" huh.]
The man who vigorously nodded had a strong light, and just as Frea-san said, I could see that he indeed had the face worthy of being called a challenger.
And upon seeing this, Frea-san nodded her head, looking like she was really delighted.
< The rough character draft of Shea is available in Activity Report>
She is actually the richest among Dragon King's subordinates. She basically carries around money to give those who were just like in this chapter, challengers that don't have money…… Even when she tells them that she doesn't need them returned, she's still getting more and more money back, and was often doubled or multiplied several times.
She is basically a caring person, and like shown in this chapter, she often helps and encourages challengers, so she is well-liked anywhere and is well known in the Human Realm. The red claw pattern isn't the emblem of the "Scarlet Fang", and was instead the emblem that Nidzveld personally likes to use, and those who adore her often have the same pattern on their clothes.-