Chapter 11: A Strange and Uninteresting Request
「I lost a great deal because of this kiddo. 」
I heard the upset voice of old man Richard. After the deals were finished between the customers at the tavern, everything went back to normality. Some of them left the tavern, while others remained on their seats.
I remained in the tavern.
「That’s not fair. I couldn’t win in the end. 」
The duel made us some scratches. Since my knife was rusty and old, some of its cracks pierced Caria Burdnick’s face. Therefore, she was removing pieces from her face one by one as she complained continually. It seemed like she was making a big effort to endure the pain. However, no matter who it was, if a duel is about fighting with blades, then it’s obvious there’ll be some wounds on the opponents. It was natural. While I grabbed my remaining knife, it just broke off.
「A draw is acceptable. Although she is an apprentice, that young Lady is a very proud knight. We know that her family name Burdnick has some negative backstory, but her skills are outstanding. Not bad indeed. 」
The duel resulted in a draw. It all happened because I held my knife on Caria Burdnick’s throat, while she held her sword pointed to my shoulder. We were going to strike each other at the same time before the old man declared that the duel was finished. I really don’t know how that happened in the end.
I had a chance of ripping her skin, while she had a chance of piercing my shoulder. There would be a lot of consequences to both us if that outcome had really happened. Even so, it appeared that Caria Burdnick was convinced of the settlement. She had this strange smile on her face as she went outside of the tavern. She said “Let’s leave it like this”, with a dignified expression. It looked like she accepted our draw. If that’s really what she meant, then it was perfect for me.
However, I could feel within my heart a strange feeling between eccentricity and excitement.
「Well, it was superb nonetheless. Even though this child doesn’t have parents, he is growing up exceptionally. I didn’t know that my apprentice growing into an adult would be so commendable. 」
Old man Richard was strangely praising me.
It was hard to believe that this vicious old man will praise people without any ulterior motives. In other words, there is something behind his odd behavior. There’s no doubt. I had a feeling that I should avoid him at all cost. Because this vicious old man was good at deceiving me in the past. His cunning stratagems made me “step into pitfalls” without noticing.
「…Master, you really are vigorous. But don’t use me for your weird purposes anymore. 」
I was washing my face on the tavern’s tub as I spoke with him. I clearly noticed that the old man grew old. His bread and hair became white. He won’t be able to endure the hardships of a real battle anymore. However, he still looked robust and full of vigor despite his old age. His eyes were impeccable as always as he kept looking at me like an eagle. His whole appearance still gave everyone an impression of strength. Although I never knew the details, people said that he was a very famous adventurer when he was on his prime days. Many whispered that he was even involved in the national affairs. Well, true or not, I don’t know much since I’ve only heard his stories from people in the taverns.
As the old man heard my worrying words, he deliberately touched my back while smiling through his teeth.
「Lugis, you’ve grown suspicious of me, huh…But don’t worry, it’s not a weird job. I believe that you’ll be suitable to accomplish it without any concerns. 」
I raised my eyebrows when I heard the old man’s words.
「To put it simply, what you want is to get the job done regardless of what happens. 」
「Indeed, your insight is getting better at judging others. However, this time is different from the tasks you performed on monsters before. 」
He looked closely at me, as he kept laughing creepily. This man was a true devil. He never was a good person in the first place. How can I trust a man like him?
Yet, despite his cunning ways towards me, he always pushed me to my limits. To learn how to survive. To learn how to aim higher. To learn the harsh ways of the world. On that matter, I believe that old man Richard was the best tutor.
「Okay, tell me what you want. I’m determined to make a living as an adventurer. I’ll do anything to accomplish my goal even if I have to “cross dangerous bridges”. 」
Old man Richard distorted his eyes for a moment as he kept stroking lightly his beard. It seemed like he was hesitant at first. This was making me nervous. Afterwards, he spoke with his usual fearless voice that never disappeared even after he grew old.
「It’s an easy job. If you succeed, I will recommend you to the Adventurer’s Guild chief. Let’s start with the outline… 」
We left the tavern and he pointed me on the direction of one of the Kingdom’s borders. He waived and went away. I was starting to wonder if I could really trust the old man.
「Hey, it’s still long ways to go. I’m bored now. Hey you, tell me an interesting story. 」
「Why is this woman going with me in the first place? 」
How can this old man leave me with her as if he did nothing at all? I was almost losing my mind here. It seemed like I could not change my past and future path with this woman right next to me. How could I remain calm on this absurd situation?
Never mind. The content of the task itself seemed certainly easy. I just needed to deliver the wax sealed letter and a few supplies to Fort Colliden on the western frontline. I was told not to look at the contents. They should not be open nor seen. I just had to deliver it.
Indeed, this task seemed like a good job to achieve some recognition. Honestly, of all the items, I didn’t touch the wax sealed letter but I felt a strange exaltation when I saw them from afar. So far, process was going smooth. The horse carriage looked like the ones from the Guild. It’s extraordinary how everything seemed to go so well. I have to confess that I’m feeling some anxiety, because I don’t remember having to complete a task this easy before.
There was only one dissatisfying point about all of this. Why is this woman, Caria Burdnick, accompanying me? This woman belongs to the Knight class. How she became involved in the Adventurer’s Guild work like this?
「I have my reasons. But I’m not obliged to specify everything to you. To put it simply, the Knights have the right to intervene in the Guild’s work, so you have no right to complain. Think of me as a member of your party and nothing else. We’re just here to complete this work, ‘kay? If I find any dishonorable behavior coming from you, I’ll report you to the Guild. 」
Caria Burdnick was despicable as always. On that moment, she lowered her eyes at the wax sealed letter and she looked thoughtful.
Aristocrats or equivalent branches can only execute wax sealing in this Kingdom. In other words, this letter was written by the someone from the upper class. They must want to convey some important message or instructions to Fort Colliden. Certainly, it’s not strange to have one or two people to do such job, since they’ll need to avoid unnecessary attention. It’s hard to choose the right person to deliver crucial messages.
However, fast horses are used originally to deliver official messages. There must be a good reason why we must go in a horse carriage. It’s only my speculation, but it may be related to this woman’s presence.
While I thought curiously at it, I grabbed a fruit from the cargo. It was a good red fruit. Once you bite, the red juice will spread on your mouth. They sometimes sell this type of fruit on the markets for a decent price.
Although I thought there was something going on with this task, maybe there was not a very big reason behind all of this. I received this task as an adventurer and the apprentice Knight just tagged along to make sure the journey was smooth.
Maybe, I overthought too much. I don’t think there is anything important going on after all. At best, it would be just a regular notice.
As I ate the red fruit, I grabbed the letter and I was trying to guess the true meaning of this request. I kept staring at the seal without getting bored.
Everyone lost their bets its a tie! The House wins… the house always wins… lesson to you all don’t gamble!