⌈The wasteland town Buranbeina⌋
Before long, a town built atop a small hill next to the highway came into view. A stone wall surrounded the town and I could see the roofs of several box-shaped buildings peeking over the wall from here. Unlike other cities I’ve been to there was almost no decoration to the city, but the impression it gave off was more sturdy than impoverished.
I’d say the town looked more like a fort than anything.
The only patch of greenery in the reddish landscape was around the hill. There was an area of farmland around the town and there were barely any people maintaining it. Compared to the size of the fields, there weren’t enough human silhouettes around to properly maintain them.
“Let’s stop for a bit and ask for some directions.”
“Well, it looks like the road started to lead north before we noticed……”
I didn’t really notice until now, but the direction of the road had changed substantially. It was easy to lose sight of your direction when you follow a meandering road without a compass.
Without expressing a bit of my impatience, I turned off the road and headed towards the town.
The town walls were five meters high and made of clean stone, and atop the wall were the figures of guards.
The large front gate was wide open with only a single guard standing watch. When he noticed us the guard straightened his shoulders and stared in our direction.
When we reached the guard I extended my hand to him and began speaking.
“I know it sudden, but there’s something I need to ask you. We’re trying to get to a city called Lanbaltic, does the highway lead there?”
The guard looked puzzled at my question before turning to Ariane and looking her up and down. Ariane’s true form couldn’t be seen since she had hidden her face with her cloak’s hood.
When he was finished, the guard looked back at me and answered the question.
“No, I’ve never heard of a place called Lanbaltic around here. Of course, I’ve never left this town so I only know of nearby villages……”
The guard looked embarrassed by this and started scratch his head.
Even in the modern era, you couldn’t simply go to a foreign country and expect to immediately get directions a remote town.
“Hum, we’ll have to ask for directions in town then. How much is the entrance tax?”
I asked the guard that question as I reached for the leather pouch tied to my waist, however, the man just moved aside and urged us to pass.
“There is no entry tax for this town. Not enough people visit such a remote town to make an entrance tax profitable. Oh, but there a small fee for leaving.”
The man chuckled a little and welcomed us inside.
“Welcome to Buranbeina.”
We thanked the guard and set foot inside the town.
Despite being so early in the morning, there were a lot of people inside the city walls, completely different from outside. All the buildings were box-shaped and crowded together. The narrow gaps between the buildings created a complex maze of backstreets and alleyways. Thanks to the pieces of cloth hanging on the multiple clotheslines it was difficult to peer into the depths of the maze.
In the midst of this bustling town, multiple armed men with sleepy looking faces were walking around. Adventures were filtering into their respective inns while people with farming tool were coming out of private residents and heading towards the gate.
After walking against the flow of the crowd for a bit we came across an open marketplace. “Kyun!” After weaving through a group of housewives, Ponta caught the scent of something good and cried out, starting to wag her tail.
Ponta was staring at a street stall that was emitting the savory smell of roasted beans. Though not all that large, the beans looked similar to lentil, which needed to be roasted before eating.
She was probably hungry because she didn’t eat much in the capital. Because Ponta was crying out from atop my head the stall vendor noticed us in the middle of the noisy market and started to laugh.
“Hey, mister. How about it?”
“I’ll take two servings.”
The vendor said “Anytime!” in a booming voice as he took a wooden cup in his hand and scooped the beans into the leather pouch.
When I was about to ask for directions to Lanbaltic the stall owner chimed brought up a topic of his own first.
“Mister, are you here to hunt the Sand Wyverns?”
The question caused me to remember the Wyvern attack for before.
“No, are Sand Wyverns appearing frequently in this area?”
“Oh yes. Recently they’ve started to stray from the wastelands in large numbers and carry off a number of cattle.”
That must have been the Wyverns from before. Though their number must have been nearly halved…… However, instead of an atmosphere of crisis, there were many people walking around the town with smiles on their faces.
“The situation sounds serious, but it doesn’t seem that way……”
When I looked at the surrounding shoppers while speaking, the vendor started to laugh.
“They are sensitive to sunlight, so they usually don’t fly around that much around this time of day. It’s rare for them to attack between daybreak and sundown. Groups of adventurers have come here in pursuit of Sand Wyvern leather……”
“Ho, for a shopkeeper you seem well informed about monsters.”
When I offered him a compliment, the vendor waved it off and handed over two pouches of beans while laughing.
“A monster researcher just happens to live in this town, that’s all. Thanks to his guidance the damage done to the town has been minimized. Ah, that’ll be three sok.”
“Such a talented person live here-, oh, I only have silver coins.”
I handed over a silver coin. The vendor handed me seven copper coins as change before resuming the conversation in a lower tone.
“Furthermore, the researcher is one of those rarely seen elves.”
Ariane stepped forward when she heard that.
“There’s an elf living in a human town!?”
Even she was surprised by her outburst as she had to hold down her hood and look down to prevent her eyes and mouth from being exposed.
“Y-Yes. The feudal lord prepared a special house for him and he’s been living here for ten years or so.”
The vendor had been surprised by the seemingly calm person sudden shout, but he managed to answer the question.
“Where would the elf researcher’s residents happen to be?”
Since that was what Ariane wanted to know the most I asked the vendor about it.
“Well, it’s right beside the lord’s mansion and is heavily guarded, so you can’t carelessly go there, you know?”
“What, I was just asking out of curiosity. Anyway, you wouldn’t happen to know the way to Lanbaltic, would you?”
The vendor looked doubtful when I asked about our original purpose, but after thinking it over for a bit he and called out to the older vendor.
“Old man, you said that you were a peddler in your youth right? You know anything?”
The old man with a stubby beard and looked in our direction as he smoked a pipe.
“To get to Lanbaltic from here you need to head west from the Hibotto wastelands. The Leving mountains should come into view west of the wasteland.”
The man spoke in a leisurely manner while he puffed smoke into the air. If he was telling the truth, then we’ve taken the wrong path. The southwestern path at the fork in the road was probably the correct one.
We thanked the two vendors and left. I poured some of the roasted beans in my hand, causing Ponta to smoothly leap from my head and start stuffing her face.
“What do you want to do, Ariane-dono?”
When I looked back into Ariane’s eyes I saw that she hesitated for a moment. She looked up to reply…… but I already know what she would say.
“I would like to meet with this elf researcher.”
I nodded at the expected response.
It was said that the researcher was living under the protection of the lord, but elves were often the target of slavery in human society. So this situation seemed a little unbelievable.
Based on what the vendor said, it seems that the researcher was being held captive in this town.
Since the elf’s house was located right beside the lord’s mansion and that the people know of its existence we began to ask around a bit as we slowly approached the mansion
I heard that whenever the elf came to town for a bite to eat, he would be surrounded by a team of guards. They were probably a protective measure against outlandish individuals.
However, there were also stories of the elf researcher pacifying drunken adventures that acted violently.
At the center of the town, I was able to catch a glimpse of a spectacular rectangular building that was surrounded by a large wall.
The researcher was said to be living in a house on the feudal lord’s property. There was a portcullis attached to the gate and four guards were standing outside to keep watch.
I doubted that we could easily break through the front, but I was also hesitating about trying to sneak in. This was a little different from our usual situation.
For the time being, let’s just walk up to the gate.
The four guards were instantly alarmed when they saw us heading straight towards them. The guards moved into a semicircle formation and raised their spears against us to block our path. It would be impossible to not be suspicious of a knight that stood over two meters tall with a green fox on his head and a cloaked woman whose face was completely covered.
“Excuses me, we’d like to have a word with the elf that is said to live here……”
The guards’ tension rise another notch when they heard me speak.
“No one is allowed to meet with Casey-dono without an appointment. You should leave right now.”
The blunt response of the guard could be considered normal given the circumstances. I looked over my shoulder to Ariane to see what she’d do.
She apparently thought that talking would be a waste of time considering the way the discussion was going, and stepped in front of the guards placing her hands on her hood.
“I am a messenger from the Great Canada Forest and I wish to see Casey-dono!”
She threw off her hood and revealed her pointed ears, snow white hair and lilac skin. As she stared them down with her golden eyes framed by her sharp lashes, the four guards silently stood there with gaping mouths.
Another guard appeared from inside the building. His equipment was a bit better and he was in good shape considering his apparently advanced age. Raising his voice he started yelling at the guards to get them moving again.
“Oiii, you stupid lot! Go report this to the lord and Casey-dono!”
The guards finally regained their motor functions and two of them quickly set off to deliver the message, even tripping along the way.
“Please follow me while the lord is informed of your arrival.”
The elderly man, who seemed to be the captain of the guard, led us inside the walls and offered us a seat on the guard station’s sofa as we waited.
To pass the time while we wait I began to pour the lentils I bought into my hand for Ponta to eat with great relish.
Soon the messenger returned and offered the guard captain a salute before speaking.
“Casey-done is willing to meet with them!”
The captain nodded in response and the guard immediately left.
Somehow we were able to gain a meeting with the rumored elf researcher. But I couldn’t help but feel a little depressed seeing as I might have to interact with a feudal lord.
“I’ll lead the way.”
At the captain’s words, Ariane and I, along with two other guards, followed his lead.