Katsumi strolled into Oak Town, her official Rune Knight robe flaring behind her. It felt like the time she'd joined the Knights of the Dark Oath in LAO. All this white simply wasn't her. It made everything feel unnaturally bright. She looked around, trying to spot the partner she was meant to have on this mission. Being a low ranking Rune Knight, she didn't have her own backup squad for missions. Katsumi was okay with that for now. She wanted to ease her way into this working with others thing. Working with only one or two strangers would help.
There was some sort of crazy wizard going about the town market, according to the mission. He always appeared at the same time with a group of henchmen. Then they wrecked havoc with fire magic. There were at least seven dead already. Many more were in the various medical centers with severe burns. It couldn't stand as it was. Every day the man went without being apprehended, the more people got hurt.
As Katsumi patrolled the market, someone grasped her sleeve. It was a young man, who smiled brightly at her. "Thank you, miss. I feel much safer with you around." Katsumi returned the smile though her thoughts turned to Ri. He hadn't called or messaged in a few days. It made her wonder if all the time apart was straining their relationship. "I'm happy to help, sir. Anything I can do to make you citizens feel safer." The man bowed moving away. With that one interaction, others began to wade forward. They offered up thanks for her service, happiness at her protection. Katsumi was starting to wish she hadn't worn her uniform. This was a little too much for an introvert otaku like her. And where was her partner? It was almost time.
An old man shouldered his way through the crowd around her. The others in the crowd seemed to know why he was there. They backed away to give him room. Katsumi was taken aback by the rage in his eyes. "You'll make him pay, won't you? You'll kill the bastard? Make him wish he'd never been born?" Katsumi blinked slowly. How did she explain she couldn't do that? In defense of lives or herself, she might be able to but she couldn't go into the mission with the intent to kill. She refused to. Not only because of a personal code but the MC's punishment for previous 'infractions' had been brutal. "No, sir, I will not kill him. Doing such would only put a stain, not only upon me, but upon you. We are not made for vengeance."
"He took everything from me! My wife, my darling daughter! My son-in-law! My-" He covered his mouth looking down at the ground. Tears slowly fell. "My darling grandbaby." The words came out in a whisper. Katsumi frowned, pulling out the mission details. It had a list of the dead and their ages. There were no children dead according to the information. Perhaps he was writing off his family as dead. Or there was another incident tied to all of this. There was no way to be sure.
Katsumi put a hand on the man's shoulder. "I will not kill" She said firmly. "However, I will do everything in my power to stop this man and bring him to justice. That much I can promise you. Whatever crimes he's committed, he will pay for them. I will not compromise myself to do so though. Do not ask that of me." The old man nodded, turning to go. There was something in his eyes that Katsumi didn't like. It might not be the last she'd seen of him.
The crowd rumbled with unsatisfied anger. This mage had brought unrest, terror into their home. Their feeling of safety had been shattered by his ruthless acts. They wanted justice. No, they wanted vengeance. For all the people he'd killed, all the buildings he'd damaged, all the safety he'd smashed, the villagers wanted this criminal to pay. Katsumi couldn't give that to them. That didn't make them very happy. As the crowd dispersed, there was more than one disparaging comment thrown her way. 'What use are the Rune Knights?' seemed to be a common phrase. Katsumi had to grit her teeth and bear it. She wasn't here to fight with the villagers.
The clock of the town began to chime. High Noon. The mage was about to show himself with his lackeys. Her partner didn't seem to be here yet. She pulled the Henkan from her waist, activating their sword forms. That was okay. She had been in tougher scraps than this in LAO. What were a few fire mages against her might? At least that's what she thought until she saw the group headed her way. Katsumi lowered herself into a fighting stance. Perhaps a partner wouldn't be so amiss right now.
As the criminals spotted her, fire began to fly. Katsumi moved, avoiding what she could. Cries of pain and fear came from the villagers around the market. Damn it. She didn't have time to dance around here. She'd have to make some risky choices. Pulling back her right blade, she activated a spell. The blade began to glow blue. Katsumi shot forward. Her sword cut into the side of one of the mages. He went down with a scream. "Stop what you are doing in the name of the Law!" Katsumi said quickly, dodging another stream of fire. In hindsight leaping into the middle of their group may not have been her best idea.