Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
With Shinden’s six legged speed, it was easy to catch up to Lille’s group.
I lost sight of Lille and the others when we went to fight the spider chimera and instead of relying on my terrible sense of direction, Shiden used his powerful nose to find and track them down.
No doubt automatic tracking came standard in dragon mounts, making the prospect of losing Shiden even more frightening.
Nina and Lille pulled beside us again while I was thinking about such unnecessary things.
“How was it? Were you able to rescue the soldiers?”
I nodded my head at Lille’s question before asking her a question of my own.
“I asked this before, but was that a good decision?”
Nina looked down at her little master when I brought up the errand we had been asked to complete.
Lille was troubled by Nina’s and my stare but she spoke up nevertheless.
“Margrave Brainier is said to be a brave and resourceful individual.”
“When we ran into the margrave’s troops fighting the undead, I thought that if we abandoned them and one managed to survive and inform the margrave of our existence, he would assume that we were working with the undead…… He would become a threat to my country’s people if that were to happen.”
Lille had an earnest look in her eye, while Nina and I shared a look with one another.
“So, there was no hidden reason then?”
It was as Lille had said, if Margrave Brainier was as smart as he was suggested to be, then a survivor reporting that suspected Nozan allies had gotten away untouched by the undead, it wouldn’t be that much of a leap in logic to assume the two forces were working together.
Nina replied to my question with a nod, but when she saw Lille puffing out her cheeks she shook her head and tried to explain herself.
“Princess, I won’t belittle the logic behind your reasoning, but Margrave Brainier is a hated enemy who stole our country’s land. Never show mercy to the enemy……”
Lille shook her head in denial of Nina’s statement.
“Those undead were clearly moving with purpose and under someone’s control…… Their leader is still unknown, but at the very least Margrave Brainier can be crossed off the list of suspects.”
Everyone, including Nina and I, was surprised by the little girl’s statement.
Ariane and Chiome had a bit of respect in their eyes as they looked at Lille.
“That’s certainly a possibility…… given that it was his own troops who had been attacked, the undead probably aren’t under the Margrave’s control.”
“If the Margrave isn’t the mastermind, then he will have to take action against the undead when he receives the reports about them. That person should be able to reveal the ones behind all of this in no time.”
Chiome had been silently listening to Lille’s explanation up till now, but she suddenly turned her clear blue eyes on me.
I somehow understood the meaning behind her look and shook my head in response.
We can guess that, based on Sasuke’s last words, he was turned into an undead by the Hiruku Theocracy, but we still lacked any solid evidence.
Given the religion’s prominence within human society, it wasn’t hard to imagine the Hiruku Theocracy holding the highest authority within this region.
It would be a dangerous for foreigners like Ariane and myself, or a beastmen like Chiome, to throw out allegations based on mere speculation.
Even if we told Lil
le the core of our suspicions, any actions she was able to impose would be viewed as slanderous towards the religion, especially since it had been other races that provided the information to begin with.
Religion is a tricky subject, since you could never know where fanatics might appear.
It would be rather reckless for members of a different race to reveal their true thoughts here.
In any case, there was no point considering such things now.
Neither the guardsmen nor the cavalrymen showed us any direct hostility since we were united in our mission to slay monsters, I think.
In this situation, anything that threatened that unity would only decrease our ability to fulfill Lille’s request.
……Let’s just do what I can for now.
My gaze was set straight ahead as I contemplated such things.
An army of one hundred thousand undead awaited us. How desperately would the capital’s populace struggle? What kind of reaction would they have upon realizing their saviors weren’t humans.
“……You won’t understand the risk until you roll the dice.”
When she heard my mutter, Lille gave me a strange look, so I shook my head to ease her worries.
Afterwards, we took several more breaks as we continued northwards, the sky being dyed crimson of the cross of the trip.
Only then did the scenery start to change once more.
A vast forest spread out before our eyes.
An ancient forest filled with massive trees like Canada…… was not how you would describe the ordinary forest in front of us.
Up till now, we’ve only seen variants of gentle hills, plains and cultivated farmland that surrounded small villages, so I was a bit relieved to return to the forests I’d recently become accustomed to.
Did it have something to do with my flesh and blood body mimicking an elf, or has living in a forest made me homesick for such areas?
The preceding riders gave the potential obstacle no mind and charged straight towards the forest.
“Do we have to pass through this forest?”
Ariane seemed a bit puzzled by their behavior.
Shortly after entering the forest, the party dismounted and began setting up camp once they’d tied their mounts to nearby trees.
Apparently, we’d be spending the night here.
The forest was named Idoba Forest, and it extended past Salma and Nozan Kingdom’s current borders.
Once we crossed to the other side of the forest tomorrow, we’d be in the Nozan Kingdom.
After Zahar explained everything to us, I dismounted from Shiden and started setting up camp with Ariane and Chiome.
Even if you called it camping, hiding from the patrols of Branier territory was our utmost priority, so cooking was out of the question and our tent was nothing more than a large canvas I’d brought along.
Everyone silently ruffled through their bags for the preserved food and called it a day after eating.
The next morning, the cavalry emerged from Idoba Forest, despite the sky being as dark as the previous night.
Lille’s group followed directly after the cavalrymen and we brought up the rear again.
It’d been six days since Lille left the capital.
While the girl tried her best to show appreciation to Earl Dimo’s cavalrymen and her imperial guards, flashes of irritation would surface on their faces from time to time.
It was to be expected……
The fate of their country hung in the balance because of the whims of an eleven-year-old girl.
Not to mention that her father was the King of said country.
Even if it seemed like she was desperately trying to save her father, they had no idea if she would sacrifice her own people to due so.
In their eyes, their fear of losing their county rivaled her fear of losing her father.
While grasping Shiden’s reins, a vision of Soulia appeared before me.
Towns and castles in this world had to have defensive walls built around them in case of monster attacks.
Not even an army of one hundred thousand undead could easily penetrate them.
The largest problem should be the stockpiled food and necessities.
I didn’t know what kind of treatment beastmen slaves received in the capital, but it couldn’t have been long before their food was cut off.
I might have been able to increase our speed by taking Lille and using transfer magic, but the obstructing darkness of late night and early mornings would drastically shorten the distance we could travel using it.
Currently, Lille would be unwilling to wait patiently for the sun to rise before the journey could continue, and I was still reluctant to reveal transfer magic to humans.
My eyes drifted between Ariane and Chiome when it dawned on me that I had no issue revealing transfer magic to them.
Was it because of intimacy…… a sense of closeness to those close to my original race?
The sun gradually rose as my head was consumed by such thoughts.
Around noon, the cavalry broke away from the grassy plains we’d been on and started to travel along obviously man-made roads.
Eventually, a medium sized town appeared in the distance and one of the cavalrymen raised the Earl’s and Nozan’s flags and raced ahead of the group.
Since we probably wouldn’t attack a town with such small numbers, we must have already reached Nozan.
The sound of a trumpet rose from the town gate and our party was led to a nearby stable and pasture.
The dignified appearance of a dragon mount bringing up the rear caught the interest of those going in and out of town, so two guards ran parallel to us as we neared the stable.
The cavalrymen and guards had already dismounted from their horses and were untying what little baggage they brought along.
“Switch horses! Be sure to check the condition of your new mount before we depart!”
Zahar stood in the center of the activity issuing out commands.
So we were stopping to exchange horses.
Their horses had been ridden over a considerable distance, and their strength and stamina should be praised for making it this far.
“Arc-dono, is your ‘mount’ alright? A horse can be arranged for you if you’d like?”
While the others were getting prepared, Zahar came up to us and glanced at Shiden before speaking up.
Shiden let out a small “Gyurriiin” and scratched the ground with one of his feet in response.
He insisted that he could still go on.
“I think we’ll be alright.”
“Then we’ll leave once preparations are complete.”
Apparently satisfied by my answer, Zahar turned on his heels and started checking on some of the others.
It took about thirty minutes for the guards and cavalrymen to remove their saddles from their old horses and place them on their new ones.
Once they were ready, we left the town in a hurry.
However, as we left I noticed that the number of cavalrymen had increased somewhat and they flew an unknown flag.
They seemed to belong to that town’s feudal lord. Although our numbers hadn’t increased all that much, the inclusion of well-rested cavalrymen did boost morale.
We continued riding north until the sun began to set.
We camped out near a small town this time, but since we were within their country, the feudal lord provided us with a warm meal.
According to Nina, we’d reach Soulia tomorrow.
The Dimo cavalry seemed excited that our destination was within reach, but the guards that had accompanied Lille since the beginning didn’t look so good.
Lille was handed a bowl of warm soup by her personal guard Nina, but the princess had a glum look on her face.
When I turned away from them, I found Ponta happily wagging her tail as she dug into her plate of freshly cooked vegetables.
“You always go at your own pace……”
Once she’d licked the plate clean, I started scratching under her chin, while she began cleaning her fur.
A yawn leaked out as she began to drift off because of her full stomach.
“The capital shouldn’t have fallen, but……”
Chiome let out a small mutter as she looked at Ponta, causing Ariane’s ears to subtly twitch.
Only the gods knew at this point……