After about a few minutes, Elle-chan finally stopped crying.
When I tried to separate from her embrace, she was reluctant to let go of my shirt, which looked dangerously cute. But, I harden my heart and slowly move her away.
Now, as a result of the countless tears that were shed by the emotional Elle-chan, my shirt was wet with various liquids. I’m not gonna voice out what those were, since that would be untactful of me. Besides, it was time to seriously plan my next move after all.
After explaining to Elle-chan the circumstances of Marielle-san and her curse, and about how I will take them both to the city of Lavis because it was dangerous here, I confirmed my general plan of action inside my thoughts.
Even after elaborating on and on about complicated things, that when heard by a normal child, they wouldn’t get it and quickly lose interest, Elle-chan surprisingly responded with a nod, showing her understanding.
What a capable child.
When the discussion was finished, Lode-san abruptly stood up, as if a giant had moved, and said towards the inwardly nervous me, and the mature Elle-chan…
“Now that Elle-chan is here, you two must quickly go to the ‘Association’ sub-branch to register two more passengers. It’s only a matter of time before they depart after all.”
“Mhm, but since Mom is still sleeping, I will stay and pack our things. Kyouya-nii, I will catch up with you later with Lode-ojichan, so can you please register us ahead of time?”
As I was about to reply to the large-builded Lode-san, Elle-chan suddenly replied instead.
Her serious expression right now, must be because she understands the situation right now is dire. I need to get psyched up as well. I can’t lose to Elle-chan.
“…Alright, make sure to catch up quickly.”
“Un. I will.”
When she said that, she instantly dashed into the hallway. Her room must be somewhere down through that way. After seeing her scurry off, I lock eyes with Lode-san, and request something from him, without saying a word.
With a look as if he understood, I break eye contact and made my way to the door…
But not before turning to the side, and entering a different place.
Going into an empty room located at the side of the living room, I finally, for the first time since coming into this world, changed my clothes.
Taking off my shirt, and taking out one set of the ordinary clothes I bought, I lightly control the water particles in the air, and will it to gather unto my semi-naked body.
Cleaning off the noticeable dirt, and getting rid of strong odors, I make the contaminated water disappear. I don’t know the principle behind this phenomenon, but it’s useful, I can tell you that. I did the same with my lower body as well.
I felt slightly refreshed, as if I was just scrubbed with a wet cloth, but it still felt like something was missing. I guess nothing beats a good bath after all.
I wonder when I’ll find a place to take a bath here?
Or is there even a place like that in a world like the medieval times?
I sincerely pray that the latter was just my negativity speaking.
After changing into the clothes which were slightly more baggy and uncomfortable than the clothes I wore when I was sent here, I soak the dirty clothes with <<Water Ball>> and quickly remove most, but not all of the moisture from it.
Placing it inside the leather-skin bag along with the other sets of clothes, I went out of the room, and continued walking until I made it out of the house itself.
Roy-san was only standing by the doorway, observing our conversation without much interest, so let’s ignore him for now. I would like to thank him for taking care of Elle-chan while I was away, but since I didn’t have anything on me that was fit to present, I decide to refrain from inadvertently insulting him with a gift he wouldn’t like.
Could money work?
Was the naive thought that came to mind, but even I didn’t know how much money was fit to be a gift for simple gratitude. Let’s not do that after all. In the future, I should find something nice for Roy-san. Alright, let’s go with that.
Somehow, my thoughts felt as if it were a little lukewarm and irresponsible, but I decided not to mind it. A great man once said, if you retort, you lose.
Truly, a wise saying.
Only giving a curt greeting, and saying my thanks to Roy-san the village guard leader, I said my goodbyes and started walking towards the commercial area of the village.
Along the way, I noticed that only a few people were walking outside their homes.
It seems that the evacuation order was properly delivered.
Either that, or it was probably because it was still early in the morning.
I could only show a wry smile towards my idle thoughts as I walked through the desolate streets of the morning village path…
Soon enough, I reached the sub-branch of the ‘Association’, and was relieved to find that a few spots had been vacated in the passenger list. According to the receptionist, this was due to the previous evacuation warning that was sent out.
Apparently, those who were knowledgeable about the danger of a ‘Demon King’ immediately took all their belongings and their families with them back to the city of ‘Edoria’. Of course, they took a different means of transportation to get there.
I guess, as expected of a ‘Demon King’, in this case?
In any case, I had immediately payed the transportation fees for two more people, one adult, and one child, to the receptionist that was grinning as she took the coins from me.
She told me, that the carriage was scheduled to leave a few minutes from now so I knew I had to hurry and pack my things. Of course, I didn’t have anything except this leather-string bag filled with commoner’s clothes and this ‘Steel-Iron Sword’ that I had just bought yesterday, so I knew that rushing would be a futile endeavor.
I could try to quickly buy the daily necessities that I should have bought early on, especially when I was about to travel to another city, but I had no time.
Instead, I asked the receptionist as to where the carriage was located as to avoid getting lost. In retrospect, I should have done this the first time I came here.
I really didn’t think this through, didn’t I?
Well, I was preoccupied with the ‘Demon King’ problem and all. No, I can’t use that as an excuse. Though, I’m not sure who I’m making this excuse to, in the first place.
As I was struggling with my inner thoughts, which was not visible on my face due to my outstanding control over my facial expression over the years, I heard the location from where the carriage was going to depart from, as the receptionist’s words entered my ears.
After finishing my business here, I proceed to where the receptionist told me to go.
After some bit of time had passed, my feet stopped in its tracks after reaching my destination. Turning my head left and right, I scan the area.
It might not be needed since I had the map skill, but it wouldn’t hurt to ascertain the location by myself once in a while. Carelessness is the enemy after all.
Like I’m one to say that.
I look around and see three medium-sized structures with wheels, mostly made out of wooden material. It looked a bit sturdy, as the large wheels embedded at the sides of the rectangular box-shaped means of transportation.
Around these objects, were a few able-bodied men with different weapons equipped on their backs, such as swords and maces, while some men looked pale and skinny.
These must be the so-called ‘Escorts’ that came from that famous ‘Famiglia’ I had no interest in. Certainly, they were few in number, but with my <<Estimate>> skill in full effect today as well, I could tell that their competence in a fight was enough.
Specifically, the former group are made for taking and dealing damage from the front, while the latter group was mainly composed of magic users and long-range weapon specialists. Balance was the key to this particular escort group.
Quality over Quantity is what I always say.
Although, I’m not sure about what kind of dangers we will encounter during the journey, so it wouldn’t hurt to keep my guard up once we leave.
‘So these are carriages…’
Looking at the mysterious game-like vehicle, I momentarily lost my focus for a second.
This is bad, I was supposed to be serious now.
Lode-san had asked me to save Marielle-san’s life and to dispel her curse. And in order to do that, I had to find this Chronos guy in Lavis City. It would be wise to hurry as well, but I had to see if there were any hindrances around.
Using <<Dragon Eyes>>, I secretly appraised the people gathered around the carriages.
I noted the locations of those inside, and some that were even a few meters away hiding in inconspicuous locations such as trees, bushes and rocks.
What are these guys even doing?
It seems the mysterious letter was right. Their levels were awfully low once I glanced at most of their status pages. Leaving that aside, their statuses were high as expected.
Even the lowest-leveled out of all of them, a Level 3 Human who has the job of ‘Apprentice Merchant’, has more than 50-60 status points for each status field.
Why the heck does a novice merchant like you even need that much strength?
Give some to me, I beg of you.
The me right now, would probably die in one hit from a ‘Goblin’.
My previous encounter with one, only serves to reinforce this depressing fact.
Unconsciously burying my face in both hands, I struck upon an idea.
Wait, maybe once I meet that guy Chronos, who Lode-san had said to be really smart about a lot of things in this world, I can find some way to protect my weak self during the day?
It was a plan full of holes, just waiting to be retorted, but at least I got the general idea.
Thinking of a side-benefit to meeting a stranger, I slowly regained my motivation.
In any case, they sure are late. I can already see the merchants packing up boxes and such.
Just as I was thinking that…
I turn my head to see the small Elle-chan running at a slower pace, carrying a small leather bag at her back, excitedly waving her hand in my direction.
As I was looking at the cute scene with a pleasant expression, the wide grin I had on my face quickly disappeared as if it was a lie. Yes, because ‘it’ was there.
A large, towering shadow.
Skin as dark as charcoal.
Large, bulging muscles with scars scattered in different places.
And most of all, an expression that said ‘I’m going to tear you apart’ was ever present on his large, overbearing face with crossed eyebrows and a fierce glare.
Honestly, if I was still a normal university student back in Japan, I would consider ‘him’ a dangerous guy whom I wouldn’t come close to even if I did want to die.
That was how scary he looked, objectively.
That ‘dangerous guy’ was currently…
“Sorry for the long wait, Kyouya-dono.”
Showing an apologetic smile, Lode-san slowly put down the two leather bags he was carrying on both his shoulders, and courteously bowed to me.
The gap was too wide.
As I was preoccupied with telling Lode-san there was no need to exaggerate that much, two sounds of cutting air resounded in my ears. Tch, I thought these two troublesome creatures had left me for good back at the house, but it seems I was mistaken.
Settling into both of my shoulders, like they belonged there, were the two birds which I have yet to consider bringing along or not.
I was slightly leaning to the latter choice, but since they were kind of a means of protection for me and Elle-chan, along with Marielle-san during the day, I reluctantly decide to let them come with us during the trip.
Of course, I had no qualms about their power.
Just that, their power might be the end of me one day.
That’s why I always had to be conscious around them, so as to not die prematurely.
Naturally, I thought of using <<Contract>> on them, but apparently, the skill needed specific conditions to be fulfilled, if I wanted to make different types of contracts.
In this case, I couldn’t even activate the skill since I had insufficient magic power during the daytime. This means that I have to endure until sunset today.
And that’s only hoping the other passengers riding with us were far enough to not see me conducting this suspicious magic ritual later.
Leaving only the minimum amount of viligance towards both of my sides, I pat Elle-chan’s head without reserve and ask…
“Did you pack up everything you need?”
“Un, Mom is still asleep for now but I’ll take care of Kyouya-nii in the meantime.”
Surely, whenever I talk to this child, I feel that my soul is being cleansed each time..
I don’t know why I feel like this, I just do.
It sounded a bit embarrassing to be taken care of by someone younger than you, but I can’t complain when I look at the earnest expression of Elle-chan.
“Sure, I’m counting on you from now on until we reach the city okay? I promise I’ll find a way to cure Marielle-san so that you two can see each other again.”
Now then, after talking to Elle-chan, I took Marielle-san, who was unconscious on Lode-san’s large back, and transferred her to mine. I can tell, that she was getting lighter.
A slight sting of anxiousness pangs at my mind once again, but I only need to keep it in for now. Until I find a concrete way to solve this problem, I am going to keep myself in check.
But as if seeing through my inner turmoil, Lode-san handed me a medium-sized container, made out of brown leather and pieces of bronze metal, different from the other bags, as he talked to me about something with a hushed voice…
As soon as our talk was finished, I said my goodbyes to Lode-san as I swung the straps of the leather bags over my shoulders, to which the trouble-making birds responded by landing on my head instead. Hey, my head’s not a bird’s nest.
As much as I wanted to shake them off, I couldn’t.
The reason was obvious. It was because Marielle-san was sprawled on my back, and I had to watch Elle-chan as well. So, my hands were tied.
Soon enough, a loud but shrill voice reached our ears.
“Last call to all the passengers on the list!”
Oops, I guess it’s time to go.
I felt a slight chill down my spine as I turned towards Lode-san, who was having a serious expression. The previous conversation we had before weighed on my mind.
“…I wish you luck on your travels. Take care of little Elle for me.”
Is that all? Then let’s go-
“….Don’t hesitate when the time comes.”
“….Ah, I understand.”
Of course, I was still reluctant on doing ‘that’, but if it was really necessary, I guess I won’t be given a choice huh. Nevertheless, I…
“Hmm? Are ya a passenger as well? What are ya doing, walking so rigidly?”
I guess I was nervous after all.
But it can’t be helped.
“No, it’s nothing. I’m Kyouya, and this here is Elle-chan. The one I’m carrying on my back is named Marielle-san. We are registered passengers.”
When I said that, the man who asked about my strange behavior, went through a parchment of some kind. Probably, it was the list of passengers on each carriage.
Now that I look closer, this guy was also part of the escort group from earlier.
But something was strange.
It seemed that this guy, was the only one among them who could use magic, and was skilled with using weapons as well. His body frame was well-toned as well, with no unnecessary muscles nor malnourished skin.
Although, those were only the results gathered from <<Dragon Eyes>>.
Soon enough, it seemed he found our names on the list.
“Ah, I found it. Yes, Kyouya, Marielle, and Elle. Yep, all there. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Borzche, leader of this escort group.”
“Nice to meet-”
I was about to say my greetings in response, but it seemed he wasn’t done speaking yet.
“I am one of the members of ‘Lotzard’ the ‘Famiglia of Protection’, so ya can rest assured that we will do our utmost to protect ya guys during this trip of ours.”
Although, ‘Lotzard’ wasn’t one of the ‘Seven Major Famiglias’, it had to be considerably famous if this guy had this proud confident face as he talked about it.
At least, I wish it to be so.
After talking a bit with Borzche-san, the leader of the escort group, we went inside the farthermost carriage in the back, and sat down.
The trouble-making birds settled back onto my shoulders right after I had put down the bags, and placed Marielle-san gently leaning on the side of the carriage wall.
The seats were made out of a soft but slightly uncomfortable material, so it took a while for me to get used to it. Looking out the window placed at the side of the carriage, I looked towards the front, as the horses started to move in unison.
“Let us meet again, Kyouya-dono! Little Elle! and Marielle as well!”
As me and Elle-chan waved goodbye to the large fleeting figure of Lode-san, who was slowly disappearing as it grew more blurry from a distance, I release a tired sigh.
And as if acting in response to my sigh, my body’s tenseness was fully released at once.
It seems that the fatigue from last night, came crashing down at me all at once, as soon as I released my tension. In fact, I can’t seem to move much now that I think about it.
It wouldn’t hurt to rest for a while after this whole ordeal.
Following the series of comfortable feelings, I sunk into my seat while thinking of what the future holds for me and these new companions I made during this time.
Marielle-san, whom I had to find a cure to her curse once we arrive.
Elle-chan, her daughter who is cute and mature at the same time.
Lode-san, the largely-built shop owner who was a little scary, who was going to catch up with us sooner or later, a few weeks after we reach at our destination at least.
And finally, these little unpredictable creatures of absurd strength resting on my shoulders, who seemed to be the offspring of Phoenix-san, my benefactor.
Although, I’m not quite sure if they’re related at all, judging by their personalities.
Hoping that all will work out somehow, the rocking of the carriage, the sounds of the wheels tripping over small rocks along the path, and the gentle feeling of something soft covering my tired body, made me slowly shut my eyelids as I drifted off…