The daybreak at the desert was quiet because there were no sounds of chirping birds.
The stars in the dark night sky disappeared one after the other. The sky was gradually finding its original color, and this was the only indication that signaled the approaching morning.
Asleep, Nainiae was tossing and turning. Still looking sleepy, she opened her eyes.
‘Was I a sleep… for a moment?’
Her memory was blurry. Nainiae thought about what she did last before she fell asleep. She remembered that she gave her lap to Riley for him to lie on. Having remembered this, she had a vacant look on her face.
“Are you awake?”
For some reason, her back was comfortable. Nainiae was just lying there, but she saw Riley’s face that was looking down toward her. She slowly opened her sleepy eyes big.
“It’s morning, you rascal.”
It seemed she finally comprehended the situation. Nainiae, who was lying on Riley’s lap, quickly got up and fixed her hair and clothes that got out of shape.
“I am sorry, Young Master. I… for a bit…”
Embarrassed, she bit her lips and apologized immediately. Watching Nainiae, Riley struggled and got up. He stretched big and said,
“If you are awake, then we should slowly get going.”
Nainiae barely managed to get over the embarrassment. She looked at Riley and asked what they will be doing.
“Excuse me. Should I go get the map first?”
With just one gesture of her hand, she put all of the items they used last night in to the dimensional space. She let Riley know that she will go immediately to the Solia and get a map if he wanted.
“What about your eye? Can you use it?”
Nainiae touched the face around her right eye.
Nainiae checked her condition as she touched her face around her eye. To try it out, she looked at Riley with her right eye, but she flinched her shoulders.
“Is it still not yet?”
“I am sorry. Even I… don’t know what’s causing this.”
The pain was so severe that it was impossible for her to even force herself to use the right eye. Nainiae wondered if it had something to do with her face being healed. She swallowed her worries inside and used magic.
“I don’t think this can be called a replacement for my right eye, but I’ll spread detection magic. If the man named Kabal is still in this desert, we should be able to notice him within time.”
She said it will not be as accurate as the right eye, but it will be able to help. Right after, she made a portal to Solia and said,
“While at it, I’ll also bring some food we could eat as breakfast. It might take a while… Would you like to come along?”
She suggested they should stop by at Solia and come back to desert. Riley looked around the dark sand and raised his right hand as if he was asking Nainiae to wait for a moment.
“Wait… Over there… Are those carriages?”
Riley was asking with his right hand raised. Nainiae closed the portal on the back. She narrowed her eyes and looked at the group of carriages on the move.
“Yes. I think… they are carriages.”
Using the detection magic that she used earlier, Nainiae was able to get close to the carriages to observe them. She explained what kind of carriages they were.
“I think they are…. Some kind of merchant group’s carriages.”
The carriages had loads of food and water, the crucial items for travel across desert.
“Would you like to see?”
She made a mirror-like thing in mid-air so Riley could also see the carriages and showed him the scene that she was observing through the detection magic.
“They have food and… water… and wooden boards? That’s no ordinary amount.”
There were numerous boxes on the carriage. Riley was checking the contents of the boxes. He found a box that had different color from the rest and looked at that one.
In the box, there were umbrellas.
The umbrella looked familiar to him. Riley furrowed his brows and went over his fuzzy memories.
“Judging from the things on the carriages, it does not look like they have a business in the desert. Could they be trying to get out of Solia?”
Nainiae, who was observing the carriage, moved her gaze toward where Riley was looking at.
“Um? They are umbrellas?”
Nainiae learned that carriages didn’t just have food and drinks, but also boxes with umbrellas. She opened her eyes wide as if she just realized something.
“Ah, those umbrellas… I know those.”
“You know those umbrellas?”
“Yes. It had such a unique shape, so I remember it. They are the umbrellas that Reitri from the Reitri merchant group had.”
It seemed Riley also remembered after hearing Nainiae’s explanation. With intrigued look on his face, Riley looked at the umbrellas again and said,
“Reitri… You mean the one we know?”
Thinking about the orange haired young man he met on the way to Rainfield, Riley asked. Nainiae nodded and said,
“Yes. Young Master, you remember Horai, the one who was complaining a lot about you… right?”
Riley remembered the brat who lacked manners. He muttered with bitter look on his face,
“Should we follow them?”
“Follow the Reitri merchant group?”
“That’s right. I don’t want you to waste mana going to the Solia and back. If it is just map and food, we can get them from them. The rascal would treat us that much for the debt.”
Reitri’s group was indebted to Riley at the Rainfield. It seemed Riley decided what to do. He was looking at where the carriages were headed. Nainiae carefully brought her hand toward Riley.
“Young Master, your hand…”
It was not a long distance teleportation. It was moving short distance. So, Nainiae judged that it would be more efficient to just go instead of opening a portal.
Riley quickly gave her his hand. Nainiae pursed her lips and hesitated for a moment. She then grabbed his hand and used the teleportation magic.
* * *
It seemed like a whirlwind was blowing, and a super natural phenomenon of strange fabrics being clumped up in midair was happening in the front. The driver who was on the very front end’s carriage was surprised as he pulled the lead.
“W… What is this?”
Having noticed the front end’s carriage coming to an abrupt stop, all carriages following behind hurriedly stopped one after the other.
“What is it?”
“Ah, there’s something to the front…”
The driver tumbled and tried to explain the phenomenon. Around that time, the fabric looking things that were waving in the air disappeared. A boy and a girl made appearance.
“Uuuuak? P…. People?”
Riley scratched his head once and looked at Nainiae.
“Hey. Why did you put us in the path of the carriages? What were you going to do if we got run over?”
Having heard Riley’s criticism, Nainiae fiddled with her fingers in gloomy face. She whispered as if she was excusing herself.
“We would not have gotten run over… Really.”
Riley didn’t respond to her whisper. He walked closed to where the driver was. Looking at the driver sitting at the seat, Riley asked,
“Is Reitri here?”
There was a young boy, way below the driver’s age, casually asking where the owner of the merchant group was. The man instantly figured that Riley must be a nobility. He glanced at his comrades and asked Riley,
“I don’t know which nobility family you are from, but why is a Young Master asking about our leader…”
Because they appeared out of the blue, the driver thought they were ghosts. Now, he realized Riley was not a ghost but a Young Master from a nobility family who is with a mage. He gulped and waited for Riley’s response.
“Is he here or not? Just tell me that.”
Riley figured it would be faster to just talk to Reitri, so he said the above and cringed one of his eyes. At that moment, a voice could be heard from the back of the carriage.
“Young Master Riley?”
It was a familiar voice. Riley looked at the direction. Riley wiggled his eyebrows after finding a young boy who lightly had his face leaning out of the carriage.
Nainiae, who followed Riley to the back, clapped and called the boy’s name in excitement. The boy flinched his shoulders.
A beautiful girl who he had never seen before was acting like she was so happy to see him and calling his name. He could not help but to panic.
“What is it? Why are we stop…”
Afterwards, just like how Nainiae followed behind Riley, an orange haired young man came out of the carriage from behind Horai. He found the two people blocking the carriages’ path and opened his eyes big.
It was Reitri.
“Young Master Riley!”
Reitri saw Riley’s face. He welcomed Riley and was walking toward Riley. However, he also found Nainiae who was standing behind Riley and stopped for a moment.
“and… is she a new maid?”
Thinking about the maid uniform of the girl he met last time, Reitri tilted his head to the side and asked carefully. Riley smirked as if he found this fun and asked,
“I am not sure? Try guessing who it is.”
Pointing at the beautiful maid who Reitri was not familiar with, Riley asked Reitri to guess. Finding it hard to believe, Reitri mumbled,
“It cannot be…”
The look on Reitri’s face was growing more puzzled gradually. As if she was embarrassed, Nainiae lowered her head. She lightly lifted her right hand and ignited fire above her palm.
The fire was gray in color. It was the same color that Reitri mistook as that of a dark mage during the last summer.
Horai was not quite sure until now, but he was certain after seeing the flame. He pointed at Nainiae and opened his mouth.
“That time…. That big sis maid?”
She closed her hand to extinguish the flame. She nodded toward Horai and greeted him.
“It’s been… a long time.”
* * *
Reitri had the carriages start to move again. He had Riley and Nainiae be on the biggest carriage and served them snacks and tea with great aroma.
“You received treatments. Congratulation.”
“Really… You are a lot better now.”
Nainiae said she will pour the tea herself, but Reitri stopped her. He handed her the tea he made and smiled. Riley looked at Reitri and asked about him.
“What about you? I’ve heard that your merchant company became quite famous?”
“The Tess merchant group case that you informed me about last time helped us out, that’s all. There is not much that I have done.”
“Come on. There’s no need to be so modest.”
Even with good information, there were people who knew how to use the information and there were those that didn’t know how.
Reitri was one who was the kind that knew how.
Using the information Riley slipped him, rumor was that Reitri efficiently utilized it and let his name known widely in the merchant world.
Horai brought the map that they requested. Riley watched him handing it to Nainiae and asked Reitri,
“Have you met Nara? When I saw him last time, he said he will go find you. It looks like he is not here?”
Until he got on the carriage, Riley could not find Nara, so he asked. Reitri nodded and said,
“I met him. Actually, he is working for our merchant group now. He is not here because the Lightening Boulder Mercenary Group has a new mercenary, and they are out to help that person, so…”
“Ah, you know her?”
It was a secret that he was trying to hide, but Riley asked about Priesia. Reitri promptly explained the situation.
“Yes. Nara is not here because of a request by the Priestess. We are also moving our carriages to help her.”
“Help her? What exactly?”
“You probably already saw what the sand is like in this desert, right?”
Riley nodded and thought about the dark sand.
“It’s hard to see anything in this desert now. Let alone any people, animals like camels or commonly found scorpions and snakes are hardly seen anywhere. I don’t know how it happened, but the Karuta desert became quite literally a land of death, so… Priestess is currently trying to resolve this.”
“When you say resolve this…”
“Yes, I think she is trying to cleanse the entire desert.”
It seemed Riley was sick of it. He muttered,
“She sure has a generous heart.”
“Anyway, so, we are going to make the first move once she successfully cleanses the desert.”
Remembering the things loaded on the carriages, he looked at Reitri as if he knew what Reitri was talking about.
Reitri looked like a naïve young man from the country side. However, in the core, he was the leader who was in command of the Reitri Merchant Group.
“Young Master, you would like to go with us? Ms. Rorona said she will let us know of her location by shooting a flare arrow during the lunch time. Considering the time, it is probably about now…”
While Reitri was talking, the carriage rattled once. The man who was driving the carriage on the front said in loud voice,
“M… Mr. Reitri! It’s the arrow!”
“Ah, looks like they just confirmed the arrow.”
“… Uncle! Uncle!!”
As if he was waiting for this, Reitri got up. He looked at Horai who was watching the outside through the window and tilted his head to the side.
“Uncle, something terrible happened!”
“The arrow, the arrow’s color!”