Chapter 26: One Knows while the Others Don’t
「Ann. Are you coming with us? 」
Caria asked her before we left.
We were at the front gate of the wall that separated the city-state from the outside. The gate was still closed, but Largud Ann moved her shoulders and answered us.
「I don’t have any fighting ability. I’m just a guide. I won’t be able to help you more than that. I’ll use my free time today to meet with other trading partners. 」
Largud Ann waved us goodbye with her small hands.
On the other side of the walls, we could see another town in the distance. It could be a merchant town or a residential area. We were not sure.
But, we heard that this town was the only town with permission to build a settlement this close to the walls of Garoua Maria. However, only merchants and adventurers had the authorization for free traffic. Other people were not allowed beyond the walls without a valid citizenship. But, that didn’t forbid the circulation of people from other places. Garoua Maria was famous for its independent economy. That’s why many people came to this city-state looking for jobs, looking for a glimmer of hope.
Yet still a glimmer without much hope, since many of those people were not allowed inside the walls. The result was apparent outside the gate. The slums of poverty filled the landscape outside of the walls. The General-Governor of Garoua Maria never acknowledged this existence. Neither the citizens. They just continued their wealthy lives as if nothing happened elsewhere. This sounded familiar to me. I remembered what I went through all my life. My eyes looked upset.
I was probably the only one who felt this way. Largud Ann was not only a guide; she was a woman of business. That’s why she was more interested in trading partners than coming with us on our quest. Numbers were what mattered to her. Not poverty. Ms. Ninz wrote about her traits on the letter she sent me.
Caria was the one who was less interested in poverty. Even Largud Ann’s preferences were more comprehensible when compared to Caria’s cold-hearted feelings. At least, our guide had some sense of courtesy. While Caria only used her bitter words, even when we went shopping she only complained to me.
「What are you doing? I understand that the common folk hate luxury. But, not using money for what they need is no longer a virtue of temperaments, but a virtue of stinginess. Lugis. Are you sure that what you bought is what you really need? 」
「I should be the one to ask what the hell are you doing, Caria. New weapons, especially knives, are important. Even my chewing tobacco. It’s something I need. It might not be a luxury to you, but it is to me. The rest of the stuff I bought will be useful for our trip. 」
I took a deep sigh. But, Caria looked at me as if I was a selfish man, who only cared about himself and nothing more. I just bought what was necessary for our trip and for our needs too.
It didn’t matter what I said. Caria would never be able to accept whatever I do. Why did she act as if she was the person with common sense? She was far from being a reasonable person.
The bells announced the beginning of the day. The sound echoed through the surroundings. At the same time, the guards began to open the large gate by moving the trigger.
Many people went inside and outside of the walls after passing though the security point. Suddenly, we heard a familiar voice that remained stuck in my earlobe.
「…Thank you for waiting. We should go. The second bell hasn’t rung yet. 」
Next to us, a woman dressed in a reddish black coat raised her hand. It was Filaret la Volgograd, the Sorceress. The coat’s pattern matched quite well with her dark hair and eyes. She brought heavy equipment that looked like proper preparations for a long journey.
Next to her, someone shook his blonde hair with confidence. It was Helot Stanley. He also had the appearance of someone ready for a long journey. His equipment was well placed, so that it won’t interfere with his movements. He also had a sword mounted on his waist.
「Everybody is ready. Let’s hope everything goes according to plan on this journey. 」
*warning bell rings* The four of us gathered in front of the gate when we heard the second sound of the bells.
「…Please wait a minute. I understood the purpose of your first condition for our request. But, I don’t think your second condition is that reasonable. What you’re asking is too far-fetched. Who thinks to ask for an oath as a condition? This is absurd. 」
The perplexed words of Helot Stanley echoed through the tavern.
Yeah, I knew it too well. I was aware that he would bite my bait. I knew him too well to know how he’ll react.
Words of Oath. It was an important contract that a Sorcerer makes with other being. It was an unbreakable vow. A chain that tied the Sorcerer with that said being. People said that it was like a dramatic medicine, a powerful matter that could change one’s life.
That’s why he was quite astonished to hear my condition. No one probably heard of a request for a Sorceress’ words of oath in exchange for a quest. However, even though there were no precedents, that didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. But, he wasn’t my negotiating partner. The deal didn’t matter that much. As long as both parties agreed with the negotiating, the deal was legitimate.
That’s right. In this world, there were people who would sell their dignity for a piece of bread as a condition. Others would sell their bodies for riches. Trading deals were not that unusual.
「Helot Stanley. I’m not doing business with you. I would like to ask you to step aside respectfully while we’re negotiating. It’s not as if we’re having a life threatening conversation. After all, we’re just talking, aren’t we?」
I looked attentively at him. I gathered my courage and spoke to him with sharping eyes.
No one would like to travel with a Sorcerer, much less be his or her escort. They were always involved in difficult quests, for example, fights against demons or other impossible tasks that would test their own humanity. At least, that was widely believed by adventurers.
So, when a Sorcerer made a request, there usually weren’t many adventurers who would rush to accept such requests, even if lots of money were up for grabs.
Yes. Even if a Sorcerer asked someone for said request, it would not be a mere business of the local Guild. It would be a matter of all Guilds. That’s why it was so troublesome. Even if someone was new to this kind of job, or even if he or she didn’t know how to create a request form, everybody would know at least this much. Of course, Filaret la Volgograd wouldn’t take that measure too lightly. However, the hateful hero continued to intrude.
「We can’t give you what you ask. There are a few Guilds on this city that can help you with your needs. You should find a Sorcerer for yourselves in there. You should leave this place.」
The undeniable weakness of my opponent. I proposed a balanced condition in exchange for the request. It would be dishonorable if they refused. It was fair and square. But, I was sure she knew about it.
Helot Stanley’s cheeks distorted for a moment. He looked frustrated. It seemed that he did indeed bite my bait for real. He really wanted to stop this negotiation at any cost. Ah, but it was too late, hero.
「…Shut up, Stanley. He’s right, we’re just talking. Besides, the deal is fair. If we don’t do it, then, the balance of our request won’t be fulfilled.」
Filaret’s words were absolute. Helot Stanley looked even more frustrated than before. But, he was obliged to obey her words. In this deal, she was the one in charge, while he was just her companion.
And knowing his personality, her words must’ve been hard to swallow. It was cruel. It was repulse too. But, it was amusing to me.
「If that’s the case, then give me permission to accompany you. I can’t pretend that I’m feeling good about this. But, there’s nothing I can do. I need to show my dignity and act like a proper gentleman.」
So, that was the words that spilled from his mouth after great suffering. It was understandable. It was obvious that he’ll offer himself to accompany her after the condition I gave her. It was bad for him, but he pretended to be good. That was Helot Stanley. That’s why he was the hero.
Ah, his frustration…such an amazing feeling.
The journey to the ruins took around one day by carriage. That was only my estimation, because not many people traveled to that sort of place before. Therefore, we had to prepare everything in advance in case the journey took longer than expected. The carriage was full. To be honest, I didn’t have fond memories of riding in horse-carriages. But, I guess it didn’t matter much as long as I didn’t pay to ride this one.
The carriage was quite spacious. We were four people, but we had good distance among ourselves. It was not a noisy journey as we only heard the sound of wheels and hooves.
It was like an idyllic journey. There was no dispute. It was a journey that surrendered to the sound of nature.
…The fresh air of nature went through my lungs. It was as if my health was rejuvenated. My stomach was not upset neither was my back.
That’s right. It was peaceful, but something was fishy. The outside scenery was beautiful, but inside it was weird and awkward. At least for me. I looked at my surroundings and my mind became puzzled. Caria Burdnick. Filaret la Volgograd. Helot Stanley. And, me.
Ah, Ah. My senses finally returned to the harsh reality. This group reminded me of my painful and shameful journey of my future self. My dignity was thrown to the ground. They stepped on it several times. The peaceful atmosphere I felt before slowly transformed into a suffering atmosphere. It was as if my body fell on a garden full of needles.
I didn’t even swallow my own spit properly. Suddenly, my throat became dry and my stomach was upset. It was full on unwanted emotions. I rubbed my chin with my fingers and, then, I gripped my teeth.
I remember. But, they didn’t know anything about it. Still, I did remember everything.
Amidst the silent, they could only hear the sound of hooves and wheels echoing around… However, what they didn’t hear was the turmoil that I felt inside.
Have a great weekend.
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