They couldn’t have Andal teleport them on the way back.
So, that meant that they had to experience the long distance travel from Rainfield all the way back to Solia.
“So, back then, that happened.”
Riley thought it would be a bother to have extra people tagging along. However, fortunately, it wasn’t all bad.
One of the good things was that he won’t be bored on the way back.
“Why didn’t he just smack him or something?”
“Because our commander was the youngest there. In terms of skill, he was second to none. It was ridiculous.”
Someone said that reality was more like a fiction than a fiction.
The stories from the mercenaries were more interesting than fictions. Riley, who usually took a nap during the afternoon, opened his ears wide and tuned in to their stories.
“I really thought he was insane. He was telling us we should charge in to something we couldn’t even tell if it was really there or not. We just gave up trying to convince him otherwise.”
It felt like he was lying here and there. However, even when Nara was boasting about slaying an ogre, he wasn’t lying. Nara’s stories felt real.
“Tell me more. So what happened?”
“What do you think happened? Our commander couldn’t hold it anymore. He exploded in anger.”
While the carriages were on the move during the morning and afternoon, they spent their time chatting on top of the carriages.
“Shall we rest here for a while?”
“Okay. The horses are exhausted too… and the place looks good too.”
Whenever they had to give the horses some rest or had to stop because it was the nightfall, there was one more thing Riley got to see. It was another good thing about having them tag along.
“Well then, Ms. Nainiae, shall we go stretch ourselves?”
“If you are fine with me, okay.”
While they were resting, while the campfire was going on, to make use of the free time, Nainiae and Nara decided to do sword practices together. It was Nara’s idea.
“You can’t use magic, okay?”
Tadak. Tadak. [Sound of the campfire wood cracking.]
With the campfire going on, Nainiae and Nara stood in front of the fire. They aimed their weapons, which were carved from woods, at each other.
“The time limit is three minutes. I’ll be the judge. The side that scores most hits or disables the opponent is the winner. Do you understand?”
Rorona, who was an archer with good eyes, took on the role of being the judge. After the countdown, Nara and Nainiae’s duel began.
‘As expected of Young Master Riley’s servant.’
Nara was exchanging blows with Nainiae. He spun his spear in circle and mumbled.
‘She’s not like the first time. Her skill improved substantially. It’s surprising.’
She was not using magic. However, Nainiae’s skill was significantly improved in comparison to their first duel. He was surprised.
‘I’m still better when it comes to techniques. Still, she is no pushover… She might surpass me eventually.’
Although it was a practice, a duel was a duel.
Nara decided he won’t go easy on her anymore. He sharpened his eyes in the middle of the duel and charged in to strike her in the gap in her defense.
Nainiae cringed in light of Nara’s calculated attack. She lost her balance and tilted back.
“It seems like you are conscious about your right hand. In a real fight, if you mind things like that, you won’t last long, Ms. Nainiae.”
The duel was decided. Nara pulled away the tip of the wooden spear, which was aimed at Nainiae’s neck. He tapped the spear at his shoulder and then tilted his head side to side.
This was her third practice duel.
Up to her second duel, she responded promptly to Nara’s advices. However, this time, for some reason unknown, she was just sitting there with a blank look in silence, frozen.
‘Is she upset about losing?’
Nara got closer to Nainiae. He furrowed his brows.
Nara saw that Nainiae’s face was full of sweats. Nara was going to tap her shoulders, but he retrieved his hand and called Rorona.
“Rorona, could you bring some towels here!”
It seemed she noticed that something was not right. Rorona rushed to the carriage and brought a towel.
“Oh my… You are sweating a lot… Here. Please wipe it off with this.”
“Ah, Yes… thank y…”
Nainiae held the towel that Rorona handed to her. However, because of her shaking hand, Nainiae ended up dropping it to the floor.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Embarrassed, Nainiae blushed. She carefully picked up the towel and used the part that didn’t get dirt on to wipe off her neck.
“Excuse me, Ms. Nainiae.”
She responded promptly this time.
“By any chance… Is it because of what you told us before? Is that why your body’s condition is…”
Nara only knew that Nainiae’s lifespan was very limited. He didn’t know exactly how long it would last. He asked carefully.
“No, it is not really….”
Nainiae avoided Nara’s eyes. She had her right hand hidden behind her back. Fiddling with the right hand, she blurred the end of her sentence.
“Not really? What’s not really?”
As a woman, Rorona could tell Nainiae was hiding something. Rorona brought out her bow and looked at Nainiae.
“Try holding it.”
Rorona was asking in a serious tone. Not able to say no, Nainiae held the wooden sword in front of her.
“You are holding it firmly, right?”
Nainiae was not able to give a response.
Rorona tried pushing Nainiae’s wooden sword with the side of her bow.
Her hands, which were shaking, were not able to hold the sword until the end. The sword was dropped to the ground.
Nainiae’s condition was more serious than it appeared to be. Nara cringed big time and looked at Nainiae.
“You fought a duel with me in that condition?”
Nara thought that Nainiae’s response was slower and her strikes were weaker. Nara had extremely infuriated look on his face.
“Ms. Nainiae, if you are ill, you should just say so… Why did you fight in this condition?”
Nara crossed his arms and scolded Nainiae.
Rorona turned her body toward the carriage.
“Please wait… I’ll report this to Young Master Riley.”
Perhaps because he didn’t nap during the day, he was already asleep in the carriage for the night.
Nainiae quickly raised her hand to grab Rorona’s arm. Nainiae bit her lips.
“Please wait, Ms. Rorona.”
Nainiae’s hand was shaking so much that Rorona could hardly feel any strength in her grip.
Feeling desperation in Nainiae’s hand, with a saddened face, Rorona stopped and turned to look at Nainiae.
“To Young Master… Please don’t tell him.”
Frustrated, Rorona raised her voice. In response, Nainiae lowered her head with a downed face.
“Don’t… Please don’t tell him.”
* * *
The two carriages took two short breaks around noon and one long break during the dinner time.
As always, today, they found a suitable place for the evening and were resting.
“Are you guys not going to duel today?”
Riley didn’t see the duel last night because he went to sleep early. Sitting on the carriage’s steps, Riley asked.
“Ah, about that…”
Nainiae, who was preparing lunch with Rorona, broke cold sweat and blurred the end of the sentence.
“My condition isn't so good today. Nothing good will come of having a duel at this time, not to me nor Ms. Nainiae, so… I told her that I’ll be taking a break today.”
Nara stepped in and answered for Nainiae.
Nainiae secretly sighed in relief. She casually turned his head, but her eye met with Riley’s.
Nainiae flinched and quickly turned her head away to hide her face.
Although she quickly turned her head away, Riley was still steadily staring at the back of Nainiae’s head.
Nobody could tell what Riley was thinking. As if he was examining something, he was glaring at Nainiae as if he was going to burn a hole through her with his gaze. Eventually, Riley turned his head, looking uninterested.
“Excuse me, Ms. Nainiae. Does the Young Master really know about it?”
Glancing over at Riley, Rorona asked Nainiae.
Nainiae responded with silence.
“Just tell him. Your health is getting worse, so you will need to rest.”
Nainiae shook her head left and right as the response.
“Young Master would understand that much! Driving the carriage is not very hard. Also, even if he doesn’t, our commander can drive it for you, so for now, you should rest and…”
Nainiae avoided the question by bringing out the dishes for the lunch. Avoiding Rorona, Nainiae walked away.
Looking at the back of Nainiae, frustrated, Rorona sighed big enough to make the ground sink.
“It’s frustrating to watch Ms. Nainiae.”
Before she realized, Isen was next to Rorona. He picked up a sandwich and mumbled as he ate. Rorona, with her arms crossed, disagreed.
“I understand her a little.”
Isen tiled his head side to side.
“There is a thing like that.”
Rorona decided to postpone explaining it. Just like Nainiae, Rorona picked up some dishes and sandwiches and started to walk.
Holding a dish with both of her hands, Rorona was about to give Nara his sandwich. She suddenly stopped walking and raised her ears.
‘Something is coming?’
Riley noticed it before Rorona. With his ears wide open, he had his head turned to the direction of the sound.
“It is a carriage.”
Rorona mumbled. Having heard that, Riley, now sure of it, picked up a sandwich that Nainiae prepared and said it.
“I think there are many of them. Should I go check it out?”
The rumbling sound on the ground was pretty loud. It seemed like there were many carriages heading this way.
“Do as you wish.”
Riley was certain that the carriages were going to pass through where they were. He chewed on the sandwich with an annoyed face.
“I’ll go check it out then.”
Rorona gave the dish to Nara. She jumped up to a tree nearby.
With Rorona gone to identify the carriages, Riley, who was taking care of a sandwich, quietly called Nainiae.
“Yes, Young Master.”
“Isn’t there something you should be telling me?”
Having heard his question, Nainiae fell to silence for a moment. She smiled awkwardly and asked,
“Is the sandwich to your taste?”
Having heard the question, Riley gave a blank stare at Nainiae. He peeked a smile and raised his hand.
“… Yes. It’s not bad.”
He patted her on the head. Nainiae could not be happier. She was smiling, satisfied. She even forgot the pain.
About three minutes had gone by.
There were sounds of fallen leafs cracking. Rorona, who went to investigate, came back.
“Who was it?”
Nara, who was chewing on the sandwich, asked. Rorona, who landed on the ground gracefully, swung her ankles around and responded.
“They were all mercenaries.”
“But why do you have that look on your face?”
Rorona looked displeased somehow. Nara tilted his head side to side and asked.
“It was Kabal Mercenary group.”
“Kabal? In that case, that bastard Kabal is there too?”
“Yes, he was.”
“Ugh. That muscle head dumbass is there?”
Riley was listening to the conversation. It was right around when Riley started to tilt his head side to side because of the stories about some mercenary he didn’t know.
“… Wow, look who is here?!”
There were sounds of a few dozen carriages swarming to the place. Kicking up the dust, they stopped in the open space where Riley’s group was resting.
“The commander of the Lightning Boulder group is here?”
Of the few dozen carriages, from the one in the front, there was a muscular man that jumped down from the driver’s seat. He made ‘boom!’ sound upon landing.
Concerned that dust might get on Riley’s sandwich, Nainiae used magic and hid her hand. She fiddled with her hand, opening and closing it.
“Small world, really! I didn’t think I’ll run in to you again in just half a year. Are you coming from Rainfield?”
The man was wielding a mace that was becoming of his size. Kabal came right up to Nara and asked.
“What about you, Kabal? Are you going to Rainfield?”
Kabal was a giant. Nara had no choice but to tilt his head up and look at Kabal. In uninterested tone, Nara replied.
“You are just a 15 year old kid, but you sure know how to run your mouth? That’s right. I’ve heard that an old friend of mine is going to be in Rainfield. I just finished a job, and I’m headed over there.”
Kabal shrugged his shoulder and explained. Nara wiggled his brows and said,
“Is that so? In that case, won’t it be best for you to get lost, fast? The summer is almost over. What are you going to do if you get there by fall and catch cold?”
The boy was picking a fight with the man. Kabal tapped his thigh loudly and laughed over it.
“Haha. Bullcrap! A cold? That’s something a little pip-squeak like you should be worried about.”
“This works out well. There is an archbishop with similar aura as you walking around in Rainfield.”
Nara was glaring at Kabal with deadly eyes. When Nara mentioned the archbishop, Kabal furrowed his brows.