“Is that… a beastman?”
Within the dark auction hall, all eyes were on the stage. The flames revealed a single girl of white, standing alone.
With the thief revealed to be the girl who had been with them until now, Tiz almost leaped from his seat. He glared at the girl.
But was that girl truly her?
The first time he met her, he thought she was a ten-year old kid. The second time, she looked closer to eleven. Perhaps his first estimation was wrong, he thought. Nothing more.
It was true that kids possessing high magic, as they often did among the nobility, tended to grow up faster. Yet Shedy, standing on the stage, looked as if she had gained another year of age and height within as many days. The little girl was already turning into a young lady. She was showing the first hints of a deadly beauty.
However, it wasn’t the most eye-catching thing about her. The audience was all staring at the pair of long, snow-white ears softly dangling from her head.
There were canine species with drooping ears, true, but the longest among them was only around 10 centimeters. No one had heard of, nor seen, such a species of beastman to have ears so long as to reach her chin. To have ears of a rabbit.
“…so, that girl was a rabbit beastman!!” Salia’s shout echoed within the silent hall. Her words couldn’t be clearer.
“…rabbit?” “A rabbit…” “Rabbit…!!!”
Mutters sounded out one by one. As they began to comprehend the words, the attendees ceased seeing her with fear and terror. Desire flooded their eyes.
“Get me that bunny!! That critter is MINE!!”
In one of the second floor booth seats, a chubby middle-aged noble leaned over the railing and screamed.
Tiz knew that face. He was the brother to the king of this Trestan Kingdom. Yet his position did nothing to deter the other attendees, full of the rich and the nobilities of other countries. Prompted by his shout and blinded by greed, they stood up, one after another, and gave orders to their own subordinates.
“Catch that rabbit girl!”
“No, auction her! I’ll pay one hundred large golds!”
“My trading firm will secure her! Get the bodyguards in here!”
“Don’t fuck with me! That rabbit belongs to Trestan Kingdom!”
“This is an auction, who the hell cares about that?! Grab her already!!”
A rabbit beastman. A race hitherto unseen, unheard of. And the girl was a beauty too, at that. She would fetch an absurd price.
Dozens of bodyguards were tripping over each other to fulfill their given orders. They flooded toward the stage. Seeing them, the auction host spat out orders to the surviving guardsmen.
“We’re taking her for our auction! Capture her, but don’t you dare harm a hair on her head! I’ll pay every one of you a large gold coin once she’s in my hands!”
Shedy just blankly stared and blinked. Her scarlet eyes swept through the hall, stopping at the approaching wave of guardsmen and escorts, and narrowed in disgust.
“Alright, just stay calm-aghk!”
A lithe swordsman was the first one to get up on the stage. Just as his bare hands were about to grab the girl, his movements inexplicably slowed down. The girl dashed in. Her dagger tore through his throat.
Then she bounced off. Several bodyguards reached for her, but the moment they came into contact with the mist overflowing from within her coat, their faces rapidly turned blue and their movements dulled. Daggers and claws ripped them apart.
Was that white mist some sort of ice magic?
The bodyguards realized this was no simple target. Some changed into magic, some broke apart a nearby chair to make impromptu bludgeons.
“This might hurt a bit, little bunny!”
One of the bodyguards quickly changed gears and grabbed a spear from the floor. He spun it, clearing off the mist, then used the pommel to jab at her.
Yet despite his seemingly-skillful spear handling, the man mysteriously slipped on a patch of frozen blood, losing his balance. The girl grabbed his face. His entire body rapidly turned pale as if the heat was being sucked out of him. In a blink of an eye, white ice covered him whole, and as the final slivers of life left him, the frozen statue shattered.
Witnessing the ruthless execution right in front of them and feeling the heat-sapping mist upon their skin, the bodyguards all went pale. They gulped.
On the second floor seating, Tiz was taking in the sight with blazing eyes. He asked the butler beside him, who was staring at the girl while looking just as pale as the bodyguards.
“Gramps… gramps! What the hell is going on?! How much is Shedy’s combat power?!”
Considering that they were employed by this auction hall, the guards must have their combat skill at level 3. Or as said among the adventurers, they were Rank 3.
And the attendees here were all either people with deep pockets or were powerful nobility. Their bodyguards must be at least Rank 4, like Salia. Perhaps there were even Rank 5s – fighters as skilled as master knights – among them.
Salia was a magic knight, possessing high magic. Her combat power was close to 400.
There should be plenty of other bodyguards here who were around her level. Even if they weren’t allow use of their favorite weapons in their capture, and even if they were hindering each other, there should be at least dozens of people above 300 power. It’s impossible for them to be having so many casualties to a little girl with only 200 combat power.
“I-I… I can not [Identify] her!”
“…her magic points, her hit points, her total combat power, they’re all hidden to my eyes!”
That reminded Tiz of something. When they were at the adventurer’s guild for her identification, the crystal displayed Shedy’s magic as 120, combat power as nearly 200, but no hit points.
Only [Total Combat Power] and [Magic Points] were important in combat, so people paid less attention to [Hit Points]. Even the guild staff thought it was just an error and ignored it. In hindsight, perhaps it was a sign Shedy was hiding her power.
“You’ve done it this time… Shedy!”
A gust of wind visited the stage, blowing away the cloying mist.
“Stop right there, villain!”
Rage colored Salia’s face so red she was giving off steam. The knight pointed the dagger in her hand at Shedy.
Noticing the woman, Shedy subtly frowned. She silently turned to face the knight.
“What are you going to do with that dingy knife?”
“You dare say that after you’ve tricked me so, knave?!”
Salia was glowing crimson now. She slammed the bandit dagger Shedy gave her on the ground.
“Nothing short of death would redeem the deception you’ve inflicted on us! Your life ends here by my hand!”
To Salia’s furious declaration, Shedy only responded with a chilly glance. The girl leisurely readied a dagger in her left hand, while her right was hidden inside her coat.
Salia was confident. If Shedy was using a water-type mist spell, then she would have the advantage with wind-type spells. Exactly the type of magic she specialized in.
‘So full of yourself with that mist, aren’t you? Let’s see how you like it when my wind blast you away, mist and all!’ Salia smirked.
And just like the knight woman expected, Shedy charged in while releasing mist from somewhere around her hidden right arm. Salia shot her arms forward.
A burst of air exploded from Salia’s hands. Just as she predicted-no. Exceeding her predictions, Shedy blasted off as if she was weightless. The girl smiled and waved. She flew off above the heads of the surrounding bodyguards.
“Noooooo! Don’t run away, lowlife!!”
Shedy left Salia’s screams behind and leisurely landed back on the ground. Before the bodyguards could regain their senses, she dashed off into the crowd of attendees.
The ladies were shrieking and running from her. The merchants were reaching out with greedy eyes. Shedy simply responded with a large cloud of mist, using it to slip through the crowd and dash for the exit.
On the way, her eyes met with Tiz’s, who was still standing on the second floor. He bore his fangs in a savage grin and declared.
“Remember this, girl! I am Tischlar, the Twelfth Emperor of the Empire of Touze, and you. Will. Be. Mine! Just wait for it!”
Shedy gave no reply.
The girl escaped to the front doors and disappeared into the town. The king’s soldiers were sent out on searches, but they were unsuccessful. She was no longer in the capital.
This was the beginning of a flood of extravagant bounties set by the wealthy, and by the nobles of Trestan and of other countries. Yet even among them, the bounty set by the hands of the Emperor of Touze himself was head and shoulders above. All within the central continent were aware of the lavish reward.
Wanted A young white-colored rabbit beastman girl, who commands a magical mist. Whosoever will apprehend and deliver the girl shall be handsomely rewarded. The girl must not be harmed. The Emperor of Touze swears upon his name: whosoever accomplishes this matter, shall be given Five Thousand Large Gold Coins as recompense.
Incidentally, many had expected this event to further aggravate the marginalization of beastmen, yet it was not so. On the contrary, demand for young, pale-colored or lop-eared canine beastman girls surged. They were sold for extremely high prices and granted a life of luxury by their buyers.