Chapter 44: That time when I was asked to go to the front lines
It has been 7 days since I came back to town.
Work has now ended and I was about to return to my room when I was called by the landlady.
「This afternoon, a guild staff member came with a message and a letter for you. I inserted the letter into the gap of your door. I think you'll know the details if you open it but since I'm already here I'll just tell you. If I remember correctly, they said,『Once you hear this message and read the letter, please come to the guild house immediately』.
「Got it. Thank you very much」
After hearing that, I went towards my room and I was about to go inside to grab my guild card when the letter that was inserted into the door's gap fell. I guess I should bring this along with me as well.
I jogged towards the guild branch and then I went to the receptionist onee-san.
「It's Caam. I'm here because of the message」
While saying that, I placed the unopened letter on top of the counter then sat on the chair.
「It's good that you came before dark. Simply speaking, you have been elected for compulsory enlistment. Please ask our branch chief for further details」
After saying that, I entered the counter from the side then was led to the branch chief's room on the second floor.
The onee-san knocked and said.
「Caam-sama has arrived」
Hearing that, she opened the door, bowed, then let me in.
Every single one of the onee-san's actions was so refined that it makes you wonder why she's just working at the branch office.
The branch head was sitting behind the desk stamping and signing documents. When he found a good time to stop, he looked at me.
His appearance is that of a really old werewolf.
「So you're Caam-kun. I've heard the rumors about you. Well, let's leave that aside for now」
With that said, I was led towards the sofa to sit.
Then, the branch chief sat in front of me with some documents and a high quality-looking rolled paper that's sealed with seal wax.
「I think you've heard a bit about the situation at the receptionist desk but you have been selected for conscription. These are the official documents regarding Caam-kun selection. By the way, this paper here is the official document that was sent to me. It more or less has the same contents just in an itemized-like form」
He laughed as he handed the rolled paper to me.
「May I open it?」
「Of course, those documents are for you. Even I am fairly interested in its contents so it's certainly something that you would want to read」
He said that in a carefree way but his thinned eyes and smile looked like he just stumbled upon his prey.
I removed the seal, unrolled it and found two sheets of paper. One was the directive and the other was a personal letter addressed to me. Taking a quick glance at the letter, it said something like 『I've heard of the rumors about you』, 『I wish for you to cooperate in sending reinforcements to the fort on the front lines』, 『It's a relief that a demon-kin like you is affiliated with the guild』 .
「I haven't given it a thorough read but I think I know enough of the details so please look over it as well」
「I can read it too? Is it alright considering the contents?」
「Yes. It's just the directive and a personal letter so I think it's probably fine」
After saying that, I handed over the letter then he started looking over its contents.
While he was doing that, the onee-san knocked on the door and said.
「I have brought tea」
Hearing that, the branch chief just gave a quick reply and then the onee-san came in, handed us the tea, bowed again, then exited the room.
「It certainly is just the directive and a personal letter」
「Would it be alright if I asked some questions?」
「No problem. Also, you don't have to force yourself to talk that way you know?」
「Okay. I'm wondering who this "Cravatte Terno"(クラヴァッテ＝テルノ) who signed this letter is. I haven't associated with these kinds of people so I would like it if you'd let me know」1
「He's one of the pretty influential nobles whose territory is near the front lines. It seems like his grandfather made a great contribution to this kingdom, however, Cravatte-dono who is willing to defend his territory without sparing any effort so is also a relatively commendable noble. You won't hear a single rumor about him putting the tax collected from the people into his own pockets」 2
「Is that so?」
It's the first time I've heard anything about a noble. It's the first time I've heard of somebody having a last name as well. If speaking of nobles, I'm finding it hard to imagine somebody other than those fat and lustful ones that I know about.
「Rumors about you have reached his ears so that's why he made a personal request to the guild and sent out these. He would be a really reliable supporter to have」
Really? He's ruining my plan to live in peace though.
「Then, what am I supposed to do in this situation?」
「Going by the letter I received, you need to quickly pass through the next three towns to rendezvous with the transportation corps as an escort while at the same time being added as a part of the reinforcements. Then, once you reach the battle area, you'll transition from being an escort to fighting in the frontlines」
「Haa…… Is that so?」
「You sure sound unmotivated」
「Is it okay if I go with my own interpretation?」
「To make the story short, this is telling me 『with guarding the reinforcement unit convoy as a ruse, help us defeat the humans attacking fort in the frontlines』. How's that?」
「That's pretty much it」
As he said that, the branch chief took a sip of his tea.
「I don't think it's necessary to expressly use such a roundabout way of saying it right?」
「It probably can't be helped. I mean, you can't really expect the directive to just say『Hitch a ride with the reinforcement convoy then come help us chase away the guys attacking the fort』」
Ah. It seems like this branch chief has a pretty impish personality.
「……I guess that's true. What happens if I refuse?」
「You would most likely receive some kind of punishment」
「Most likely? Does that mean that it's also possible that I won't?」
「That would just be up to Cravatte-dono's discretion. Although I don't think he'll force you due to his personality, it would be setting a bad example to others if he doesn't give you punishment so he probably has no choice」
「Haaー, my head hurts…… I see. I understand. What do you think I should do first?」
I replied while sighing.
「Depending on what preparations you have to do, you can ride on the prisoners' carriage to Tephroite. From there, you link up with the troops and travel together towards the fort on the frontlines」
「Prisoners, huh? Wait, do you have that many prisoners in this town?」
「It seems like the order to frequently dispatch them to the frontlines came from above. I'm not sure why since that's completely out of my jurisdiction but it seems like they send them off once they have 6 people gathered」
「Then, does that mean that they've already gathered six people right now?」
「No. We're in a hurry this time so we're just sending three, four if we include you. That's why when your preparations are complete, I'll inform the big-shots in the vigilante corps so that you can depart on the next day」
Thinking about the cost for transporting 6 people, they're going to be in a deficit, aren't they? Well, they're probably getting the money from somewhere.
「There's always a lack of manpower in the front lines so that's probably why they requested for prisoners to be regularly sent there」
Prisoner warriors huh……Will that be alright for the command line and moral I wonder?
「Is that carriage safe?」
「They're going to have shackles on them so they probably can't kill you at least」
「It's the worst, isn't it?」
「If you want, you can just go to Tephroite on your own you know?」
「I can't ride a horse so please just let me go together with those guys」
「It's pretty unusual to meet someone who doesn't know how to ride a horse. Well then, it's decided. As soon as you're done with your preparations, speak with the receptionist. You'll be informed of further details at that time」
「Ah. What are we going to do about the food when traveling?」
「The prisoners will be provided with the minimum amount provisions and I think the soldiers watching them are going to bring their own necessities. I don't really know the fine details surrounding that but if you have a certain amount of money, you can just buy stuff at the towns along the way. There are even some prostitutes working away from home in the front lines so you can buy their services there if you need it」
So basically, it would be better if I bring some money along with me.
「Got it. Well then, I'm going to excuse myself」
After saying that, I went out of the room. While thinking about what preparations are necessary, I left the guild and went straight back to my room to write it all on a note/memo.
I don't have a choice but to go through all the possibilities while moving forward.
・How much time it takes? Unclear. For the time being, it would be ideal to take along an ample amount of goods. Also, pay rent in advance.
・What are the other things necessary? It's possible that we'll be given provisions but I don't know for how long so I should bring my own preserved food and other luxury goods.
・Would it be enough to just bring one pair of shoes? It's uncertain. Bring at least one more pair as reserve.
・What clothes are appropriate for the climate? It's almost winter so dressing warmly is indispensable.
・Special equipment that's fit for the terrain. It's a battlefield with a fort so it's probably on level ground. Should prepare clothes that can blend with the surroundings.
・Necessary medical supplies. It's highly likely that potions will be provided but I should prepare a few of my own.
I'll also recall the survival lessons I learned so that I can apply it once I'm there.
・Have an accurate grasp of the situation
・Utilize all of your senses and never be impatient
・Don't forget where your current location is
・Overcome the fear and panic
・Be able to come up with on the spot plans*
・Value your own life
・Manage your stress
・Have a realistic take on the situation
・Don't forget that you have your own problems
I guess that should be it.
Among those things, the most difficult ones are controlling my fear and not succumbing to depression. I've killed monsters before but I haven't killed a human nor a demonkin yet. There's also a high possibility that the humans will use the demonkins who are prisoners of war as meat shields. I wonder if I can resolve myself to kill them at that time?
Well, let's just leave that to the future me. No need to think about it right now.
After that is a letter I guess. I'm raising my own death flag here but it's better than not sending one.
『I have been elected by a pretty influential noble to go to the frontlines. The reason for that is because it seems like a rumor about me being a magician is being spread around. Well, you don't have to worry about me so please just continue living like usual. When you're done reading this, please show it to other people close to me as well』
Un. I've already made it sound as trivial as I can. I just left out the going to the battlefield part out of the letter. Well, it's probably better like that than sending such a serious letter.
While I was writing that, as usual, Latte dropped by my room. She saw my memo and the letter so my going to the frontlines was exposed. Well, I didn't intend to hide it though.
「What the heck does that mean!」
It's unusual for her to raise her voice like that.
「Nn? Ahー, I have been personally selected by a noble to go to the frontlines. It seems like they're expecting for me to do something there with my magic」
「Why are you being so calm about this!? You could die you know!?」
「Hmmー. I haven't been to a battlefield before so I'm not really should how I should act. I've been told that I need to go there as soon as possible so I can't go back to the village to inform them. That's the reason why I'm writing a letter」
「This is the worst…… What kind of face do you expect me to make when I hand this letter to Suzuran-chan!」
「It's okay. I-」
*slap!* Together with that dry sound, pain ran through my cheek. Ahh, I guess I have been slapped.
While saying that, I gently hugged her and stroked her head. She' probably about to cry since her shoulders are trembling.
「Perhaps even I am just trying to keep myself preoccupied in order to deal with it somehow. However, it's already an unmistakable fact so I hope you just accept it」
After saying that, Latte cried for a few minutes while hugging me. While we were like that, I noticed a sound coming from next door so, like last time, everyone has probably gathered in Hengst's room to eavesdrop on us. I actually noticed those sound a while now ago. Seriously, what am I to do with those guys.
「Errー so you see…… It has been decided that I'm going to the frontlines」
In the kitchen, disregarding what happened before, I tried reporting it to the others in a lighthearted way. It's so that they won't worry that much.
「Why are you acting like it's nothing!」
I was just yelled at by Folly-san in a terribly loud voice.
「Don't shout at me! I don't even know how I should react to it since it was just decided all of a sudden!」
I shouted back in reply.
「My bad」He apologized but the air in the kitchen became heavier.
「Well, it would be enough for you to remember a guy like me if I don't come back. Please don't grieve for me okay?」
That's probably unreasonable though…… While everyone was sitting in that gloomy mood, the landlady put her hand on my shoulder and said.
「You shouldn't look at your enemy's eyes when you're about to kill them okay? You'll just get drawn in. If you get into a contest of strength with your opponent, you should aim for the moment he exhales. Well, I'll just leave the things in your room be for a while」
After saying that, she went back to her room.
Then, everyone else did the same in succession.
「If Suzuran-chan and Latte-san cries, I'll comfort them while making a pass at them. If you don't want that, you better come back」
Oi, you stupid horse. Latte and Celesso-san are staring daggers at you so you should probably stop.
「If you die, I'll come looking for you in the other world to beat you up」
Celesso-san, you might be smiling while you're saying that but your nails are starting to dig into my shoulder you know?
「Well, if the worst happens, just run away. You can just think about the consequences afterwards」
Folly-san, thank you very much for the useful advice.
「Please make us some sweets when you come back」
「Then I'm going to ask for a chiffon cake」
「Yeah yeah. I got it already」
「Why don't you leave your money to me?」
Un, the human representative in this town is here as well. Do you want to come along too?
Once they all finished saying a few words to me, everyone dispersed.
I went to the baths after that. Latte proposed that we sleep together but considering the situation, we just left it at cuddling.
Isn't it better to do it in this situation since we won't be able to meet for a while you say? Well, doing it like this would mean that it's still possible for us to keep our promise with Suzuran okay?
Now then, this morning, there are a lot of things to be done!
I should bring my own emergency rations just in case we stop receiving food supplies while there. Because of that, I decided to make some hardtack, the so-called iron biscuits that were used during the civil war. It's so hard that it was believed that it won't break even if hit by a bullet. However, the purpose of that was to make it last a long time so I guess that's reasonable. Also, for my indulgence, I'll also make some hard biscuits.3
Latte said she wanted to spend the entire day with me today, so I immediately got started making it before breakfast. It's really easy to make. After deciding the quantity, it's just knead and bake.
After it was done, Latte snuck a bite on the hardtack.
「This is soft and delicious you know~?」
「Well, you see, after three days, it would be so hard that it would be difficult to break. Because of that, anyone who tries to take a bite on it like you did just now would have their teeth broken」
Aside from the information I've read, I don't know anything else about it though. I haven't even eaten any but I still said that. Well, that's better than not saying anything I guess.
We had our breakfast after that then I went to the boss to explain the situation.
「Make sure you come back alive okay!」
He said that while in tears as he hit both of my shoulders. Even the other workers started hoisting up some really nice death flags for me.
「Let me treat you to sake next time.」
「I know a place that has delicious rice so let's go there next time」
「To be honest, I didn't actually dislike you……」
Well, there was one that wasn't an actual death flag at least.
Now then, on the way back, I'm going to shop for consumables, luxury goods and clothes.
For the clothes, I decided to head to that dog-eared onee-san's store.
Huh? That guy next to the onee-san… Ahー. It seems like his confession turned out well.
「Excuse me. Do you have any grey or white clothes that are a little bigger in size? If you don't then at least sell me cloth of those colors」
「Hmm~. We have white clothes but we don't have anything grey~. Do you perhaps also need some pants?」
「Eh? Ah, yeah」
「Ohー. As expected~. You're the boy who bought a set of dark blue clothes some time ago right? It was a pretty unusual purchase so I remembered. However, I'm terribly sorry but we don't have white pants」
「Just some layered clothing that doesn't stand out then…… No nevermind, I'll take that dark brown set. Please give me some white and dark brown cloth as well」
「Okay~. Got it~. Dear, could you please bring out the goods?」
「Caam-kun. That really is such a strange purchase, isn't it~」
「Hmmー? It's pretty normal if you just think about it as everyday clothes though. It's an advantage wearing inconspicuous clothes when fighting monsters or if you're in the middle of battle. These are so that I can blend in with the background. The white ones are for when it's snowing while the dark brown one for blending in with the ground. I also wanted grey for long range battles so that I'd seem blurred out to deceive the enemy's eyes a bit. It's a large purchase but it's almost winter so I wanted to have an extra layer of clothing as well. It's the same concept as an assassin wearing black clothes at night but instead, I'm doing it at daytime」
I received three different replies to that.
It seems like while I was explaining that, they have finished bringing out the goods.
「「Thank you very muchー」」
「Hey hey~ Where are we going next~?」
「I guess we should go looking for the luxury goods. Although I already have the hardtack, I want some bittersweet dried fruits as well. I'll buy some tea, walnuts, and candy too」
「Eating something sweet relieves one's tired body, or to be more accurate, it revitalizes the spirit」
They probably won't understand if I say things like nutrition in this era. That's why I should just stop trying to explain any further.
I mean, for food, they would probably just have hard-baked bread and dried meat. Personally, I'd rather eat walnuts and dried fruits instead. I wanted to make my own from lemons but since I'm short on time, it can't be helped so I'll just have to give up on that this time. It would be nice if I can purchase those on site.
We went home after that. I then spread out a cloth on the floor and lined up everything that I'm going to bring along.
・Luxury goods (sweets, tea)
・Medical Supplies (My self-bought potions)
・Needle and thread (To stitch deep cuts and fix clothes)
・Rope (Just in case I need it)
・Leather bags and several sheets of oil paper for waterproofing
・Parchments (For my notes)
・A larger amount of rock salt and brown sugar
・A utility knife
・Distilled liquor (For various purposes)
・A small box for small articles
・A small knapsack
・5 silver and 30 large copper coins
That's all of them I guess.
「Will all of these fit in there?」
After saying that, I rolled my clothes instead of folding it, wrapped it all in oil paper and placed it inside a leather bag in order to waterproof it. Dividing all the small articles I bought, I placed them in the pouches attached to the sides and the front. Then finally, I placed everything that I'm going to use frequently inside last so that they would be near the opening for easy access. As for my blanket, I'll just fix it on top of the rucksack. Once I made sure that all of the attachments were fastened securely and no longer moving about, my preparations were complete.
「See? I managed to make it fit somehow」
「Nnnnnーー! Don't you think it would be heavy though?」
Her face was starting to go red from straining trying to lift it up but she eventually gave up.
Well, it might be a bit on the heavier side for me but it's not like I can't lift it. since it's not like it's any heavier than Suzuran and Latte.
「Next up would be my weapons. I wonder if these would be enough. Will it be better if I get a crowbar that's a bit longer? I guess this It'll get heavier though. It's best if I could just use one hand to swing it…… Well, whatever. I'll just go with what I have」
With that said, I attached the crowbar and machete to my pack and held the shovel in my hands then tried jumping around a few times.
「What are you doing?」
「I'm checking some things out. Like if it's still rattling, or if its balance is shifted to one side, and whether or not it's impeding my movements」
「Nnー. That's pretty thorough, isn't it~」
「If I don't exercise proper caution, it would increase the possibility of me dying after all」
「Usually, you'd only see nothing but people wearing armor and equipped with either a sword or spear who's making clink clink sounds as they're walking. Compared to that, this not really making any sound seems kinda strangeー」
Looking at the gatekeeper, father and then at Folly-san, you'd understand but in this world, the usual choice for protective equipment would be either just a full plate armor or leather armor.
「Ahー, it's evening already? I should hurry up and report to the guild. 」
I took off all of the equipment I've been wearing up until now then went to the guild. When receptionist onee-san met eyes with me, she said.
「Over here please」
She immediately led me inside without any need for me to state my business. Well, I was just here yesterday after all.
Just like what happened yesterday, she immediately left after letting me in the branch chief's room.
「Are you done with your preparations already?」
「Yes. It's the first time I'm going to such a place so I just gathered everything that I could think of. If I still need anything else, I'll just procure them on-site」
「That's good. All that's left is for me to inform them that you're already finished with your preparations. They made sure that they're ready to head there at any time so you can just head to the gates tomorrow morning to depart. You'll be picked up in front of the gates. Don't be late okay?」
「I'm not really sure if there's anything else. Did you already tell your parents about this matter?」
「I came from Beryl village so I didn't have the time. Because of that, I'm just going to send them a letter」
「Is that so? I'm sorry that this had to happen on such a short notice」
「Don't worry. One of my girlfriends is going to deliver my letter back home」4
「One of? How many do you have?」
「I have two desu. The first one is back home in our village since I just come here to work. Uhm……the other one just kinda happened while I was here」
I just gave him a brief explanation about that.
「I see. Two huh. Make sure you don't die okay?」
Old man, that's a flag you know?
「Yes. Tomorrow morning it is then. Be at the front of the gates once they open to get picked up, did I get that correctly?」
「Well then, please excuse me」
After saying that, I passed by the onee-san who was about to bring us tea so I said.
「Ah, I'm sorry that I won't be able to stay for tea」 before running back home.
When I got back to my room, Latte, who has already finished making dinner, was waiting for me.
「Welcome back~. It went quicker than I expected」
「Well, I just had to report to them after all. Thanks for making dinner」
「Un. Let's eat it before it becomes cold~」
Even though I'm going to the frontlines tomorrow, we didn't talk about that matter at all and just ate dinner as usual. She's probably just being considerate of me.
「Let me wash the utensils okay?」
She headed towards the kitchen after saying that so I decided to visit the landlady to pay rent in advance.
I knocked on the door and once it opened, I said as I handed over the money.
「Here's the advance payment for 90 days of rent」
If it was like usual, she would just give me a short reply but it was different this time.
「I'll leave your room as it is for 150 days. It's impossible to wait any longer than that so at that time, I'll just hand over your luggage to either Latte or Suzuran」
「Ahー, okay. Thank you very much」
After I said that, she immediately closed the door. Well, that's just the usual thing for her after all.
Finishing her task, Latte and I went to the baths. She's also going to stay over today but like yesterday, we decided to just sleep together.
She wasn't clinging to me today but instead, she has her back turned towards me. Is she already asleep I wonder? Just when I thought about that, she started speaking in a low voice.
「Hey, you're going to come back, right?」
「I can't really say. I haven't really heard anything after all. I was just called so I'm not sure if this is going to be dangerous or relatively safe」
「……I see. I will absolutely make sure that your letter reaches father-in-laws and mother-in-laws, as well as Suzuran-chan, Wurst-kun and the others. That's why I'm also going to leave tomorrow」
「You don't have to be in such a hurry you know? Well, I guess it's bad for it to be too late as wellー」
After saying that, our conversation ended. I thought for sure that we were going to do it today but in the end, nothing happened.
When I woke up the next morning, Latte was already up and preparing breakfast and my boxed lunch. Then, right in front of my eyes, she cut off a few strands of her hair, placed it inside a leather pouch and handed it to me.
「This is a p-protective charm」
Where did she learn of such a thing I wonder?
「Do I need to do it as well?」 I asked in reply.
「No, since I don't want it to become a memento」
I was given a pretty clear refusal.
「Then just let me do it so that if I don't return, you'd have something to bury back in the village」
「Why would you even say such a thing……」
She had a terribly sad look on her face as she said that.
「Just in case」
「There shouldn't be any need for that kind of thing!」
Latte seriously didn't like it so I just decided not to do it.
Until the end, even as I was about to leave, she didn't show any indication of her usual clinginess.
Her voice sounded like she was about to cry but was just trying her hardest not to so
I gave her a slightly vigorous reply so that she would feel at ease.
Reaching the gates, the usual gatekeeper who yawned sleepily was already there. Noticing me, he said.
「Oh? What's this? You look like you're about to go away somewhere for a while. You asked to help with some kind of subjugation request again?」
「Nn? Ahー. I'm going to the frontlines」
「To. The. Frontlines」
「It seems like I got a bit too famous so I have been nominated by a noble whose territory is near the front lines to go there」
He didn't say any more than that and just pat my shoulder before going back to start their preparations to open the gate. I wonder if that's his way of saying goodbye. Well, if I ever come back, I guess I'll treat him to a drink.
A short while after the gates opened, a carriage arrived and an armor wearing reptilekin coachman asked.
「That's right」I replied.
He pointed towards the back without saying anything else. After confirming that I already got on, the carriage began to depart.
Inside, there was a soldier who glaring at the shackled prisoners. All of the prisoners were beastkin. The first one had cat ears, the second one had dog ears, and the last one had fox ears. Although I'm already used to seeing strangely muscular old men with animal ears, I've determined that when traveling, it's definitely still the best if they are cute girls.
「Ah, how do you do? I'm Caam. It might be short but I look forward to working with you」
Thinking that it would be better than staying in this unpleasant atmosphere, I gave them a lighthearted greeting and introduced myself.
「Stop talking with the prisoners!」
The soldier who was sitting in front of me shouted. Okay then, have it your way. Let's just travel from now on in this wake-like state. This is going to be a terrible trip, isn't it?
Since I wasn't a prisoner, I decided to make some adjustments that would improve my journey even a bit. Thinking about that, I placed my luggage in front of me and unfastened the blanket so that I can put it in my seat to make up for not having a cushion.
「Don't just do whatever you like!」
He yelled at me again. The prisoners where grinning but should he really be angry at something like this?
「Ah, well, I'm not a prisoner so……」
Saying that, I didn't mind him and just continued putting my blanket on my seat but I was hit. To be honest, it hurt quite a bit.
「Didn't I just tell you not to do that!? You bastard. If you keep on having that rebellious attitude, I'm going to put shackles on you!」
As expected, being treated like this, even as a former Japanese, I can't help but be angry.5 Only a saint wouldn't get mad at this you know?
「You see, I don't really know how influential this Cravatte person is but just because they received an order from a noble, I was immediately sent off to the frontlines by the guild even though I'm not a soldier. I have to go even if I don't want to you know!? I can't even complain that I'm being sent together with prisoners. Since I'm only affiliated with the guild, not a prisoner nor a soldier, you can't force me to follow your rules. I'm not planning to do anything to your prisoners so just let me do what I want for fuck's sake! Or what, are you going to kick me out of this carriage? Does that mean you're willing to take responsibility and replace me as the summoned magician!? Tell me your name so that I have something I can tell the guild when I go back and they ask me for a suitable reason. I can just return to my usual daily life after that」
While saying that, I grabbed the collar that's peaking out of his armor then twisted and pulled it using physical enhancement causing the guy to rise up from his seat.
「So, what now? Are you going to let my ass sit on a blanket or are you going to take responsibility? You choose」
The prisoners were laughing so hard while the other soldier/coachman was looking at us. Oi oi, look at the road for crying out loud! What are you going to do if the horses suddenly ran wild?
「D-do as you like! However, don't you dare conspire with the prisoners, you got that!」
「You're the best man」The prisoners commented.
「Shut up!」 was what the soldier had to say to that while hitting them.
Rather than the soldiers, I feel like I can get along even more with these prisoners.
It was already evening but we've just reached the first village. We spent approximately 10 hours traveling. Walking speed is about 3~4 kph so considering that we traveled faster than that, it seems like we're now pretty far away from the town. It feels nice that it doesn't take that long to get to the nearest town to our village.
Still, this village is pretty deserted, isn't it?
「The village we arrived at has no vacant houses or an inn. We can go to the guard station but we don't have beds for you guys. You can just sleep in the stables at the bottom of the guard station. I'm going to give you your rations right now. Eat it gratefully. As for Caam, I don't mind if you negotiate with the villagers for a place to stay but we're leaving you behind if you're late. Also, while you're at it, go and draw some water from the well to give to these guys. Oh, and if anybody escapes, I'd happily turn you into a prisoner as well」
After he said that, he distributed the same hard bread and dried meat we had for lunch.
It seems like he's pretty bitter about what happened earlier.
You'd think that we'd at least get some kind of soup once we reached the village. Or are they saying that I should negotiate that too when looking for lodging?
The prisoners' had a rope tied to their handcuffs earlier but it seems like they're given a longer rope at night so that they would be able to do their business if they have to.
『If they really wanted to, couldn't they just run away with that?』 was what I thought.
Once they saw the soldier enter the guard station, the prisoners started talking in a low voice.
「Man, you're the best. You don't seem to be a prisoner like us and you're not a soldier so there's no reason for you to follow the rules」
「Thought soー. It's really hard to deal with an inflexible guy like that. That guy's neglecting his duties as well. Isn't it his job to fetch water for you guys? I really wanted to point that out earlier」
For now, let's discuss what we're going to do about food. Let's also try to deepen my relationship with these people.
While nibbling on the bread, I used my magic to make hot water then placed it into a cup with tea leaves to make tea. I decided to give them some too since they might choke on that hard bread if there's nothing to drink.
「Thanks. I haven't had anything warm to drink after I was caught」said cat ears
「Yeah. They didn't even give us soup at least」 said dog ears .
「What's worse is when they actually make us skip meals」 Then finally, the fox ears added.
These old men really aren't cute at all.
「Still, it really is true that you're a magician. I've never heard of anyone making hot water before you know? Thanks to that I was able to drink some tea that I thought I would never get to drink anymore」
「That's right. We'd get found out by the guys at the guard station if we light a fire so that really helps」
「I've heard the rumors about you. You're that guy who made a gigantic mud ball and took out a high goblin by himself right?」
「It's possible that it was me but still, the rumors have grown so big that it also possible that it might not be me you know?」
「No no. I was actually there when you made that mud ball you know? It was between spring and summer if I remember correctly」
Ah, there was a witness here…
「Ahー, yes. That's me」
As I said that, everyone laughed while muffling their voices.
This might be just the sentiments of a fellow traveler who is also being treated as a sacrificial pawn but it's better like this than doing nothing.
「Tell me your names」I said.
「What's the use of telling you the names of guys who are certain to die in the upcoming battle?」
Because of that, they didn't tell me their names.
「Do you guys want to wipe your bodies?」
When I asked that, they rejected me while saying.
「You might get yelled at if we became clean all of a sudden」
Well, they smell a bit but it can't be helped. I guess I'll just do it on my own.
We had nothing else to talk about after that so, even though it's still early, I decided to go to sleep.
Surprisingly, these old men might actually be nice people. Don't expect me to share my blanket with them though.