In a certain forest, Takamoto-san and I were hiding in some bushes, peeking out at our surroundings.
[???]: “—Dammit! Where’d those guys go!”
[???]: “They weren’t running that fast, so they should be here still. Let’s try looking over there first.”
[YUZUKI]: “… It looks like they’re gone.”
.[TAKAMOTO]: “That’s a relief, but… I’m sorry. In the end, I even got you involved.”
[YUZUKI]: “No, I’m fine. More importantly, Takamoto-san, we need to treat you quickly…”
There were countless injuries cut into Takamoto-san’s body because of those boys from earlier and their companions—
About an hour ago earlier. When we were walking in the woods, a boy called out to us with a troubled look.
[YOUTH]: “Um, excuse me!”
[TAKAMOTO]: “Is something the matter?”
[YOUTH]: “Our friend got hurt nearby and he hasn’t been able to move…”
[BOY]: “Please, help us!”
[TAKAMOTO]: “We can’t neglect a child who is in trouble. Let’s go to where your friend is.”
[YOUTH]: “Thank you so much! Over here.”
When we reached an open place in the woods, there were other boys around the same age as the ones leading us gathered there.
[TAKAMOTO]: “Which child is the one that’s hurt?”
[YOUTH]: “There isn’t one.”
[YOUTH]: “We brought you guys here ’cause we have business with you…!”
Right after he said that, the boy suddenly pulled out a blade and sliced down at me.
Just as the blade was about to reach me, someoned stepped in as if to protect me—
[YUZUKI]: “Takamoto… -san…?”
[TAKAMOTO]: “I’m alright…”
[TAKAMOTO]: “More importantly, why are you all doing this…?”
[BANDIT YOUTH]: “Hah? This guy still doesn’t know he got tricked?”
[TAKAMOTO]: “In other words, are you all possibly… bandits…?”
[BANDIT BOY]: “Yeah, we are, now hand over everything of money! If ya don’t… we’ll do this!”
The boys took out their weapons one after another and attacked Takamoto-san.
However, Takamoto-san didn’t draw his sword and, while being injured by those boys, he pulled my hand and desperately ran.
[YUZUKI]: “… How come you didn’t fight? You even let yourself get hurt to this point.”
[TAKAMOTO]: “Although the others were bandits, they’re also children. I can’t hurt children.”
The moment I heard that something in me snapped.
[YUZUKI]: “—Right now, you’re in the wrong, Takamoto-san.”
[YUZUKI]: “I love your kindness.”
[YUZUKI]: “But right now you’re just running away from something painful.”
[YUZUKI]: “If those children are left alone like that then they might hurt someone again.”
[YUZUKI]: “I think true kindness would be fighting to correct those children.”
Hearing that, Takamoto-san’s eyes widened and then he muttered to himself.
[TAKAMOTO]: “… That’s right, it’s as you say. If there isn’t anyone around to correct their mistakes, then they’ll never start a new life.”
[TAKAMOTO]: “My eyes are opened thanks to you.”
Pressing against his wounds, Takamoto-san faced me.
[TAKAMOTO]: “Won’t you give me courage?”
[TAKAMOTO]: “If I could share in that kind and brave blood flowing in your body, I—“
[YUZUKI]: “Of course, I don’t mind.”
I said this decisively but maybe Takamoto-san remembered what would happen after this, because he got an embarrassed expression.
However, his decision hadn’t changed and, brushing my hair aside in what was like a gentle caress, he exposed my neck.
[TAKAMOTO]: “If it hurts, please tell me…”
Every time Takamoto-san gently sucked my blood, a sweet numbness ran through my body—
[TAKAMOTO]: “Thank you… very much.”
Before I knew it, Takamoto-san’s injuries were completely gone and I couldn’t see the fearful appearance of his from earlier.
[TAKAMOTO]: “I will return them to the right path without fail, so— will you wait here for me?”
[YUZUKI]: “Yes, always…!”
Takamoto-san nodded at my words and then started walking in the direction of the boys.
The side of his face had an expression that seemed like he was unbound by something and it looked more gallant than usual.