Through the opening of the carriage window, the sunlight seeps through.
It’s been a few days since we departed from the village.
So far, it’s been a peaceful travelling situation.
Even though some problems came up such as how the carriage seats were uncomfortable to sit in, especially during the times we met bumpy pathways, and how stray monsters like Goblins and Hobgoblins strayed in front of us, the trip until here was uneventful.
That said, if even one of those Goblins made its way here, and casually landed a hit on me, I doubt I would still be relaxing like this. Of course, these two rough birds on my shoulders are far stronger than an average Goblin, and would probably deal with it if it did.
But, with how these guys act, I’m not sure I can place my life in their hands.
There is even a chance, that they might be the one to take my life instead.
Thinking about this topic had ruined my relaxed mood, so let’s stop.
Still, regarding how the stray monsters were dealt with, there was only one reason.
I slightly turn my head, and look outside, where a certain man riding a horse, who was clearly stronger than the others who were walking beside the carriage.
He was the reason why no harm came to us during this trip, Borzche-san.
I’m grateful to him and the other escorts from the ‘Lotzard’ famiglia.
Because if they weren’t here, who knows what could’ve happened.
Since every time a monster came, they quickly got into formation, and defended the passenger carriages, as the merchants were calmly navigating the map behind them.
It just goes to show you how well known their strength was.
Although, their strength is still lacking in my eyes, so much that they can’t even reach my feet in terms of raw power. Though I can’t say that out loud.
It seems that gradually, my mind had grown arrogant as time passes by.
It’s a similar feeling to when I had reached the maximum level in an MMORPG game in the past, while looking at low-leveled new players. Naturally, this was normal for me.
But, can I still treat this world like a game?
I still don’t know that.
Of course, I had seen how realistic the people and enemies are here, with their various ideals and lifestyles, completely unlike game NPC’s wherein they have no consciousness.
During the time that little demon king attacked as well, I had seen pools of blood and dismembered limbs that was enough to make a normal person empty his stomach.
Either way, I had to take this seriously from now on.
I turn my sight to the sleeping face beside me.
Long, flaxen-colored hair, a mature-like beauty, and giant monuments of…
Well, it was Marielle-san.
She was still unconscious, even though she looked healthy all this time.
I guess curses like this, don’t show their effects externally, but internally.
I reflexively reach out my hand, and ruffle her soft hair for a while.
“….Wake up soon, Marielle-san.”
No matter how game-like this world was, I had something to do now, that took precedence over everything. The benefactor that gave me a place to stay, made me eat the first delicious meal after arriving here, and the one that taught me many things.
The first thing that I had to do was get there, Lavis City.
Watch me, I’ll get rid of that measly curse for you in just a bit.
Only after that, will I decide what to do next.
“So until then, don’t leave me and Elle-chan alright?”
I say with melancholy, as my vision gets darker.
Wait just a second, my vision’s getting cloudier for some reason.
That’s strange, why is my hand moving from Marielle-san’s head toward the valley of prosperous hopes and dreams-I mean, moving towards her chest area?
Even though I know this, I can’t seem to control my hand to retract back, and it was slowly reaching its destination. No, this can’t be, mind control?
Such dastardly magic was used on me? How careless have I grown during this trip?
As much as I want to stop, prolonging the inevitable is futile.
So, it can’t be helped. Forgive-
Surprised by the small voice, I quickly withdrew my hand, which was about to go past the road of no return, and along with my head, it inadvertently crashed into the carriage wall at my back. The wall didn’t break, but I swear my heart rate shot up many times.
Following that, a sound of solid things hitting each other was heard, and a stinging pain of a million needles assaulted my mind. Well, not really.
<<Pain Resistance>> was Level 3 after all.
Thank you for that, past me.
“Kyouya-nii, what are you doing?”
Turning my sight towards the source of the soft voice, I saw a cute animal…not, it was Elle-chan tilting her head slightly, who had a questioning gaze.
“No, I was-wasn’t doing anything!”
I seem to have raised my voice in surrender for some reason, but I wonder why?
It’s not like I was caught doing something indecent to this child’s mother, right?
Un, let’s go with that.
“…Is that so?”
“Yes, I was just watching over…well, never mind that, when did you wake up?”
Yes, I swear to the different beings of worship, that I saw little Elle-chan sleeping across from my seat only a minute ago. I’m sure of it.
So why was she looking at me like that?
No, please don’t look at me.
That innocent gaze of yours hurts too much, I can’t bear looking at it straight on.
“I woke up just now, and I saw Kyouya-nii make a strange face, so I called out to you.”
I, I’ve been caught huh…
But, that’s okay! A child like Elle-chan couldn’t possibly understand what was happening!
In the first place, that wasn’t my fault.
Someone had controlled my movements and thoughts, making me act strange.
There is no need to feel guilty in the first place.
But even if that was the case, I still couldn’t let the words out of my mouth.
Like, I was forbidden to speak or something.
I could only stay silent and hang my head down.
“Hmm, well it’s fine. I know Kyouya-nii would never do anything weird right?”
Ugh, I felt a stabbing sensation inside my chest just then.
What ever happened to my <<Pain Resistance>>?
Did it only protect against external pain, as expected?
Thanks for nothing, past me.
Was it a lie? Did I really have those impure motives?
For now, let’s apologize and…
Why can’t I talk?
It’s weird. I can’t let my voice out, let alone move my mouth.
This can’t be true.
I was sure that my actions and thoughts of mind control was just a delusion brought about by my self-defense mechanism. But why, why can’t I talk?
Could it be?
Was there really someone who can use the ominous <<Mind Control Magic>> that I once saw while browsing through the ‘Ruler’s Skill Tome’ but never had the guts to learn?
I shudder at the frightening thought.
Is, is this where I die?
Getting crushed under this heavy sense of guilt?
While lamenting the fact that I should have gotten <<Mind Control Resistance>> before this happened, a slightly deep voice resounded outside…
“Stop! It’s time for lunch!”
When I directed my sight outside the carriage, the owner of the voice belonged to Borzche, the escort leader. It seems that the fact that the sun was at its apex in the sky, was the reason why we stopped to have lunch. Food was important after all.
But, did they not have any means of telling time in this world other than looking up?
Well, maybe someday that question will be answered, but for now let’s add it to the pile.
‘Pile’ in this case, meant the large amounts of unanswered mysteries since coming here.
As the carriage had reached a full stop near some trees, and a meadow further in, my clouded vision slowly cleared up, while various voices could be heard outside.
“…I guess it’s time to eat.”
“Ah, let’s go down from the carriage.”
Suddenly, I could talk again.
Was it all in my head after all?
I’m not even sure anymore.
In any case, we had to come down for lunch, that was paid for already, so I open the door at our sides by lifting the wooden hatch, and jumping lightly on the grassy ground below.
Offering Elle-chan my hand to avoid letting her fall, we safely got down.
The two birds were already perched on both of my shoulders, but once they got out of the carriage, they flew around in a circle for a bit before descending back again.
A strange custom to do, but I guess it’s nothing that interesting.
Marielle-san can only be fed once in the morning, and during the evening by slowly giving her nutritional juice from the ‘Perac Fruit’ that gives stamina and energy by drinking out of it, since she can’t consume solid food while unconscious.
Of course, I had gotten this from one of the merchants who were travelling with us, and this particular merchant was focused in trading food goods. His name was Forear-shi.
Meanwhile, the other two were in the weapons trade and item business.
Their names were Gaspar-shi, and Yozak-shi respectively.
Gaspar-shi had a larger belly compared to the other two, but he seemed to be the most mature one out of all of them. Must be because of his age.
As expected of merchants, I guess?
After making sure that only Marielle-san was left inside the farthermost carriage, and that she had enough ventilation to breathe properly, we closed the carriage door and went towards the others who were preparing the firewood, seating arrangements and the meals.
I also found a useful function for my <<Intuition>> skill during these few days.
It turns out, that I can also make it that the warnings ring in my head, whenever a designated ally is in danger as well, including myself and other designated living beings.
Naturally, I immediately designated Marielle-san, following that was Elle-chan.
I judged that the two birds didn’t need my help seeing how they act around me.
By the time I had learned this useful feature, Lode-san was already too far away to be designated, so I can only wait till we meet again in the future.
When we reached the gathering of people, Borzche-san told us to help pitch in and gather firewood. Well, he only told me of course. Elle-chan was only told to wait here with the others, but it seems she wanted to help with the cooking so he lets her do what she wants.
I saw an embarrassed smile on his face when he saw how happy Elle-chan was after being given the okay to help with the cooking, which was suspicious as they can get.
“This damn lolicon…”
“..Hmm? Did you say something Kyouya-dono?”
“No, I’m just thinking about how much firewood I should get.”
“Well, we only need a little more, so one stack would do.”
“Aye, got it.”
Oops, I let my true feelings slip out there for a moment.
But it couldn’t be helped.
Dangerous actions like that deserve to get nipped in the bud before they bloom.
I thought to myself as I was gathering dry sticks and branches in the nearby trees.
A few more minutes later after I had contributed my share of work, the meal was finished.
As I was starting to stand up to receive my share, a slightly spicy aroma tickled my nose.
Looking towards the source, a wooden bowl of soup along with some dried meat and vegetables were being carried on a wooden tray by the little Elle-chan.
She was slightly moving faster than her usual pace, as she moved towards me.
Elle-chan says politely, as he presented the tray of food to me.
“Ah, thank you Elle-chan.”
“Un, taste it.”
“…I, I will do that.”
A sudden chill ran up my spine when she said that last line, but I’m sure it was nothing.
I pick up the wooden spoon placed at the side of the tray, and dip it inside the strange-smelling soup. I bring the liquid to my lips and…
Everything was burning.
My lips, my tongue, my mouth, my throat, everything.
The moment the soup entered my mouth, a tasty never-before-seen flavor met my taste buds. By that I mean, a new burning sensation filled my insides.
At this moment, only these three things filled my head.
Pain, which wasn’t in any way alleviated by the <<Pain Resistance>> skill.
Regret, at the fact that my <<Intuition>> didn’t warn me about this.
Or maybe it had, but I just decided to ignore it.
And finally, fear. Fear of the child named Elle-chan, who can surprisingly tell what certain things are, and can hold a grudge over them with an innocent smile.
Frightening, too frightening.
Oh where hast my skill of <<Fear Resistance>> gone?
It sure isn’t here, I can tell you that.
“..Ah, I mixed up salt with the pepper spice, I’m sorry Kyouya-nii..”
“….No, I’m sorry. Please forgive this fool.”
At the epitome of this burning hell, I muster up the strength to beg for forgiveness.
“…Hmm? What are you talking about, Kyouya-nii?”
An innocent smile with a tilting head gesture may be cute, but you can’t fool my eyes!
You’re enjoying this aren’t you?
Just then, I heard the wing-beat of feathers at my side.
When I turned to look, I saw the black Raven flapping its wings, and it seemed that he was opening and closing its beak in amusement while looking at me.
Wait a minute.
If I think about it, I don’t even know to what extent this guy’s strength was.
There was a chance that even this guy can use other magic besides that wind blade magic I saw, right? No, I’m sure of it. That’s why he’s laughing at me right now.
Like he’s mocking me.
Right at that moment, it all made sense.
“…..I…..It was you!”
I use <<Instantaneous Movement>> on my right arm, which was already moving towards the Raven’s neck, trying to catch it. But, in the next moment, it disappeared.
“Tch, he’s fast.”
Even if I was feeling intense pain, and my stomach would probably be ruined later, my anger towards this guy had reached its peak. There can be a limit to being annoying!
I quickly scan the area with my <<Automatic Map View>> and <<Dragon Eyes>> used in rapid succession, until I found that guy hiding in my shadow.
“You can even do that!?”
As I was surprised at the strange raven, I quickly turned around and resumed my pursuit.
But as if expecting it, the raven with black wings had already flew farther away.
Seeing me who was bursting with rage, and the black raven cawing in mockery, Elle-chan stifled her laughter while covering her mouth.
Well, it wasn’t that strange.
After all, we had been repeatedly fighting with each other during these past few days to alleviate Elle-chan’s boredom somewhat. It’s also fun for me as well.
Even the people around us, including Borzche-san, Forear-shi, Gaspar-shi, Yozak-shi, Golov-san, and a few others were used to seeing us quarrel.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not angry at how I was controlled by a bird.
Not one bit.
I swear once I get my hands on that guy, I’ll pluck his feathers out
Well, he will probably regenerate those with the help of the white phoenix who was perched at my right shoulder, sighing as if she was tired of seeing this, but I can’t stop just because of that. I have my pride as well.
That being said.
“I’ll catch you if it’s the last thing I do!”
I shouted towards the sky where the raven was flying around in circles.
Like this, our peaceful journey continued…
My <<Intuition>> skill suddenly rang out.
Checking the map, there seems to be about 30-40 enemies coming towards us.
“Hou, a nice lunch party huh?”
When I turned my head towards the enemy leader person’s voice, my expression turned serious. It’s because this guy…
“Leave your valuables here and we might let you go. Not really though.”
This guy was strong.
“Who are you people?”
Gaspar-shi asked in a threatening tone.
“Hah, a measly human dares to talk down towards us?”
The hooded man with creepy eyes at the leader’s side mocks.
The leader-like person signals to another subordinate who was over two meters tall, and had a body almost as large as Lode-san, prompting him to move forward.
Gaspar-shi keeps up his already crumbling facade.
The large man holds his hands together, and does a hammering motion towards the head of Gaspar-shi. Naturally, the target couldn’t detect that movement fast enough as he was a normal person, so he was dumbfounded.
But, I can.
I’m not admitting that I’m abnormal though.
Using my movement skills, I push Gaspar-shi to the side where the hammer-like fists’ trajectory couldn’t hit. Losing its target, the attack could only crash into the ground.
Even though I say that, the ground caved in.
I put one finger on my lips calming Gaspar-shi’s down in his surprised state.
After seeing that, he quickly conformed to my instructions.
“Human, those movements, I’ve never seen them before.”
The leader-like person, no, the Beastman-leader says in amusement.
“It’s nothing special.”
I say with an uncaring expression.
“Is that so? Well then, let’s see shall we?”
With a mocking grin, he removed his hood, along with the others, showing pointy ears above their heads, all with different appearances. This is going to be troublesome.
In the first place, I’m weak right now.
Still, what should I do?