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Published at 11th of February 2016 06:47:58 AM

Chapter 18

CHAPTER 18: CARAVAN GUARD


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Several hours after the morning incident . Suimei passed through the city wall encircling Mehter, dressed in the clothing he’d purchased earlier, the altered bag he’d brought with him from his world in one hand .

Despite having taken the time to finish final preparations at the inn, finish breakfast, and even kill some time before departure, Suimei had not had a chance to either apologize or say farewell to Lefille .  Fate permitting, we’ll meet again anyway, he thought to himself, before taking off at the appointed time .

Running through a few requisite exit procedures with the sentry at the city gate, he finally exited the city .

At the side of the long road leading away from the city was the meeting place for the caravan escorts .

Before reaching the rendezvous point, however, Suimei suddenly turned to look behind him, some unknown feeling prompting to him to take in the soaring city walls .

This was Suimei’s first time looking at these city walls, which protected Mehter every day, from this close .

It was a massive defensive structure encircling the entire city .

Although it had been constructed not only for the purpose of protecting the palace, but the entire capital as a whole, the term “castle wall” felt nonetheless appropriate . Back in his own world, the construction of castle-like rampart walls to protect cities had similarly been a common practice back in the Middle Ages .

An integral part of the defensive function of the structure, the top of the wall was arrayed with battlements featuring both parapets for defending against enemy archers as well as crenels for defending archers to fire their own arrows through .

It looked like the people of this world relied on such fortifications to defend against external threats to the city – both human and monster alike .

However—

Just like Dorothea mentioned earlier, it doesn’t look like these walls are protected against magic .

Looking at the city wall, Dorothea’s words came to mind . Indeed, the wall running around Mehter seemed to be constructed of a very different type of material from the magic-resistant one that the guild training field had been built with .

Instead, it looked to have been built using a kind of gray brick, likely the same type of primitive concrete that the Ancient Greeks had used to build the many temples of their gods . This was likely because the magic-resistant material had been a recent discovery, and thus could not have been used in the construction of these walls, given their age . On that point, given the scarcity of the material in question, it likely couldn’t have been used on such a large structure anyway .

“But like this, a single powerful spell is all it would take to bring this whole thing down . ”

Objects subjected to direct magical attack would very quickly crumble, let alone a primitive structure like this one .

Although it looked impressive enough, but considering the vital role it played in defense, he had to say it didn’t seem that reliable . Increasing its size would do nothing; its fundamental flaw was its fragility .

Worrying about this is meaningless, Suimei thought as he turned back . The defensive capability of the city was no concern of his – he had defensive walls of his own, after all . Spending any more time pondering the defenses of this world was a pointless endeavor .

Pulling his thoughts back to the present, Suimei looked at the empty space before him, where people had already begun to gather .

Standing there were a number of people dressed in rather fine clothing as well as roughly twenty who were armed . In total, there were some dozens of people as well as a handful of wagons .

It had already reached the scale where it could be considered a small, mobile village – this was the caravan that Suimei was looking for .

Caravans . In his original world, similar things had existed . Merchants and transporters would join together to protect both themselves and their cargo when passing through dangerous areas, defending against robbers and other violence .

The caravan head was typically a merchant responsible for transporting goods between cities, who engaged in this business as a livelihood . Other members of the caravan included both those who traveled under this banner as well as unaffiliated merchants who joined for the journey .

I have to say, this is pretty much what I expected .

The scene before him essentially mirrored his knowledge of how such things worked back home . At least with respect to outer appearance, there wasn’t really anything that stood out as being different .

However, if one were to instead consider the armed individuals standing by the wayside, the differences between this caravan and ones back home would become immediately apparent .

A single glance would reveal armored warriors and mages alike, including even female swordswomen similar to Lefille among their number .

Although the armed individuals numbered not more than twenty, Suimei nevertheless felt that this was quite a substantial force already .


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The sheer number of guards that had been hired was a testament to the dangers of this world .

Not only was the level of civilization in this world considerably low, but many dangers were also present that were not to be found in his own world . In this world, without suitable martial force, travel between cities and kingdoms would already be all but impassable; transportation methods from back home such as airplanes and rail were, of course, an impossibility .

Traveling between cities consisted of following the large, paved road . Street lights did not exist, and even finding a water source or lodgings required a good amount of effort .

As Suimei considered the circumstances, he came to realize just how convenient life had really been back in his own world .

Debating the relative conveniences and inconveniences of the two worlds with himself, Suimei finally arrived, and made his way toward a particular man who was dressed like a merchant .

From the description he’d been given at the guild when accepting the request, this appeared to be the man who had given the commission to the Twilight Pavilion .

“Can I help you?”

“I’m Yakagi Suimei, from the adventurer’s guild . I’m here to present myself as one of the escorts for this caravan . ”

The man first met Suimei’s business-like introduction with a look of suspicion, his expression changing as he suddenly remembered something .

“Oh, how polite . I’m Galeo, the one who’s organized this caravan . You’re the Yakagi who knows restorative magic, I presume? Thank you for accepting this request . If any are injured along the way to Kurand, I’ll be relying on you . ”

“No problem at all . It’s a pleasure to be working with you as well . ”

Suimei took the outstretched hand in a handshake, signaling the end of their business meeting .

Suddenly, however, Galeo looked at Suimei with some confusion on his face .

“I’d heard Yakagi-san was a mage, but your clothing…”

“Oh, my clothes?”

“Mm-hmm . No matter how I look at it, I can’t see it as a mage’s clothing…”

So he’s confused about this too, huh?

“Haha . I’m not actually that fond of mage’s clothing, to be quite honest with you,” Suimei answered with an unfeigned smile .

Galeo again gave him an appraising look .

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“Let’s see, how do I put this… Mage clothing is so over-the-top, as if to rub how great we are in people’s faces . It’s totally putting on airs . ”

This was indeed how Suimei truly felt after seeing the apparel of the mages of this world . These last few days, up until he’d managed to accept this commission, he’d often gone out for strolls on the town . He had thus seen more than a few magicians and staff members of the magician’s guild .

His impression at the time? How incredibly pompous .

Now, that wasn’t to say that all mages were thus attired, or even that clothing of this nature was inherently inappropriate . Nevertheless, for Suimei, new to this as he was, the mere thought of dressing in that manner filled him with embarrassment .

Additionally, Suimei had no particular desire to appear particularly mysterious, important, or superior .

Furthermore, the sight of their clothing brought to mind images of his own world, where he’d seen the ostentatious mage clothing of antiquity . Even if it meant creating unnecessary misunderstandings, he refused to look like that .

Finally, although his situation was indeed slightly special, the other magicians Suimei had met – his father and the Society head included – were similarly dressed in normal clothing .


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“Oh, I see . …Well, if I have to be honest with you, I don’t really like that style of clothing either . Any time I have to interact with those types, they always give off the feeling that they’re superior to me . ”

“Is that so? Yeah, I have to say I don’t feel like that suits me . ”

“Yep, yep . I can totally understand that . I definitely prefer your type, who are more mild and polite in your dealings . ”

“Oh, that reminds me . I’ve already prepared things like a magic staff, so you don’t need to worry about that . ”

100% lie .

“Oh, okay . There’s nothing else on my mind then . We’ll be in your care for the duration of the trip . ”

“Right . ”

Suimei’s agreement marked the end of the conversation and Galeon returned to join the other merchants .

He definitely had other matters to take care of . They were about to set out, after all . It was natural that he’d be busy at this time as the one in charge of the caravan .

At that moment, a nostalgic voice called out to Suimei, instilling him with a sense of deja vu .

“…Excuse me, but is that you, Suimei-kun?”

“Huh? Oh, Gurakis-san?”

Suimei turned to see the figure of someone who shouldn’t have been there: Lefille Gurakis .

“What brings you here? I’m sure you said that you weren’t planning on leaving for a short while yet?” he asked, thoroughly nonplussed .

Because Suimei and Lefille had stayed at the same inn, they’d conversed several times . Through those conversations, he’d learned that Lefille had some things to take care of, and thus hadn’t planned on leaving for some time yet .

So why would she be here, looking like she’s ready to set out as well? Suimei was unable to come up with an explanation .

His question prompted a nod from Lefille .

“Yeah, you’re right . It’s just that the reward from the commission I accepted a couple days ago was quite a bit larger than expected . That meant that I met my goal for earnings earlier than expected as well . ”

“So you’ve saved up enough?”

“Yep . I’m definitely fine on that point,” Lefille answered with a calm smile .

When they’d spoken earlier, she’d told him that she needed to stay around Mehter for a while, to save up money for travel as well as expenses for study .

“…If you don’t mind my asking, can I ask what kind of request that was?”

“Monster bounty . A large monster appeared a fair distance from here . The situation was pretty urgent, and so the reward was quite large . ”

” ‘A large monster’? ” Suimei inquired, his interest piqued .

He’d never guessed that something like that had happened while he’d been waiting for an escort mission .

“Yep . A semi-giant . ”

“Semi-giant…”

“Mm-hmm . ”


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…She didn’t continue .

She apparently was under the misconception that Suimei would understand with just that .

“…Um, and what exactly is that?”

“…Eh? You don’t know, Suimei-kun? We’re talking about semi-giants, you know?”

“I’m afraid not . There’s nothing like that where I’m from, you see . ”

“O-oh, wow . Um, okay… So there are places like that too…”

His answer had been too unexpected; Lefille was completely taken aback . This was to be expected, however . As a visitor from another world, there was a veritable mountain of “common knowledge” items of which Suimei was ignorant . The name included the word “giant”, so he could at least tell that this monster was large and humanoid .

“Okay . Semi-giants are a subspecies of giant . They’re one-eyed, and though smaller in stature than a normal giant, are still quite massive . Their arm strength is of particular note, and is at a frightening level – they can shatter a city wall with a single arm . But still, I have to say… That a monster like this, which commonly appears in fairytales, doesn’t exist in the east…”

“Well, you could say that . …So Gurakis-san, how did you defeat it?”

Suimei’s sigh carried a tinge of astonishment . A being that was capable of destroying a city wall was clearly extremely dangerous . Lefille’s casual attitude when speaking of having defeated the monster, without the least hint of pride or excitement… It looked like she was a rather incredible person .

“It wasn’t like I did it on my own, you know? A number of us formed a party to take it down . My contributions were quite small, in fact . ”

Given the indifferent look on her face, he was unable to tell if she was simply being modest or not . Nevertheless, he had a hard time believing her words…

Anyway—

“On that note, can I ask if this monster is pretty common?”

Semi-giants . As he posed this question, he envisioned a slightly smaller version of the legendary Cyclops from the stories of his world . This time its appearance had been sudden, but how were things normally?

Suimei’s head drooped gloomily as he awaited Lefille’s reply .  Pleaaaase tell me something like that isn’t a common occurrence .

“Not at all . Small monsters are one thing, but large monsters like the semi-giant are quite rare . Actually, speaking of that, this area isn’t a suitable environment for them . ”

I guess they’re not that common after all, Suimei thought to himself just as Lefille continued .

“That said, I can’t say it was entirely coincidence . The fact of the matter is that it did appear here, after all . ”

“Yeah…”

…Lefille’s words prompted Suimei to sink into thought . From what he’d read in the palace library with respect to monster ecology, there were two or three main hypotheses as to why large monsters appeared .

First, a naturally occurring phenomenon resulting in spontaneous generation . Second, mutation . Finally, offspring of the Mazoku which suffered from cognitive defects at birth .

Suimei personally felt that the last hypothesis seemed the most likely . The first two options were simply too coincidental, whereas the last conjecture seemed reasonable enough . If it was indeed true, however, then that would mean—

“There’s Mazoku nearby . ”

Although he didn’t know where Lefille had fought the semi-giant, this was nevertheless obvious conclusion to draw .

Lefille, however, did not reply . Perhaps she had figured he was simply mumbling to himself .

“Gurakis-san?”

“…Oh, yeah, maybe . ”

She had been so slow to reply that Suimei turned to look, only to find her gazing off into the distance .

The valiant, elegant spirit that had formerly been reflected in her pupils had been replaced by a murky shadow .

He didn’t know why, but something about their conversation just now had put her in a dreary mood .

…After a brief moment, Lefille finally seemed to notice Suimei’s worried look, dispelling the dark mood in an instant .

“It’s nothing . Please don’t worry about it . ”

“Hah…”

She was definitely thinking about something, Suimei thought to himself as he expressed perplexed acknowledgment . Lefille, on the other hand, cut off that thread of conversation, pretending as though nothing had happened .

“Um, about that…”

“…?”

That solemn, valiant feeling vanished alongside her hesitant words . She seemed to be embarrassed about something, her tone finally matching her age .

“Er no, it’s just that… Um, well…”

“…?”

Lefille hesitated . Closer consideration revealed that her cheeks had taken on a reddish tinge . What the heck is going on?

Turning her head slightly, Lefille peeked at Suimei out of the corner of her eye . Finally, having resolved herself, she spoke .

“U-um, sorry about this morning . I showed you a bad side of me…” she said with her head hung, embarrassed .

Shockingly, she brought up the incident from that morning herself .

Even though Lefille had just apologized, Suimei felt that he’d been rather careless himself, and so—

“Oh, no, not at all… I was too careless . Sorry about that, really . I should have been paying more attention as I took that corner . ”

“No, the fault was mine . I should have been more aware of my surroundings . Please don’t worry yourself over it . It was truly my mistake . ”

Lefille rebuffed his words with a shake of her head and another apology .

Suimei gathered his courage, and asked her a question .

“…Um, might I ask what happened?”

“Er… sorry!”

“…Not at all . Those should be my words . Sorry for asking you something like that . Please just forget I asked . ”

Recognizing that Lefille was unable to answer, Suimei immediately apologized, discarding any plans to inquire further .

What had happened that morning was likely both complicated and inconvenient to share . Although he was definitely still concerned, but he knew better than to pry .

“I-I’m going to go present myself to the caravan leader,” Lefille hurriedly pronounced, seemingly unable to endure the current atmosphere before walking off in Galeo’s direction without waiting for a reply from Suimei .

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