Before long, just as Loren had sensed and Ange had confirmed with her , a group of riders arrived in the village . But by then, Loren’s group had already cleared their camp and left the plaza .
At first, they had thought about hiding in a warehouse or some cattle pen; however, after some careful consideration, they concluded that once the riders arrived and found no one in the villages, they would search those places next . So, they chose a suitable home in the village and hid there .
Dealing with the donkey that carried their luggage was another problem . But in order to be able to apologize and explain things in case the villagers came back, they also led it into the house .
“They have nice equipment . ”
Loren muttered . He closed the window’s shutter so that it wouldn’t look out of place, and was peeking outside through the slits to check out the riders .
He believed them to be Vargenburg’s soldiers . There was still the possibility that they were robbers though . Still, Loren didn’t think that there was a robber gang powerful enough to mobilize dozens of riders like this .
“Vargenburg’s regular soldiers . I’m sure of it . ”
Layla, who was also peeking outside the window, confirmed their ident.i.ties . Loren considered that if she, a former knight of Vargenburg, had said so, then it couldn’t be wrong .
“What do Vargenburg’s soldiers do at a place like this?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it has something to do with the war . ”
As Layla answered Ange’s question, the troopers rode deeper into the village, and some of them spread out . Judging by their behavior Loren a.s.sumed that they were likely scouting and checking out the state of affairs here . That didn’t say anything about their intentions though .
“Would be fun if we could s.n.a.t.c.h one . ”
To understand the situation, asking the person himself would be easiest . But if they did that, they would definitely be branded as criminals . Working in such a large number, it was certain that these Vargenburg soldiers were acting on someone’s orders . If they hindered their job, things would be neither pretty nor fun .
“Should I secretly capture one of them?”
Lapis proposed in response to Loren’s words, but he shook his head .
“If you do, you’ll turn the whole empire into your enemy . ”
“Miss Layla, would your connection manage somehow?”
Layla had looked startled at the word ‘capture’, but her expression stiffened immediately, and she pondered for a short while . She tilted her head in contemplation while groaning quietly .
“It’ll be difficult . I’m not sure if I can get through to them or not . These soldiers are following some secret order; if this is handled poorly, it’s very likely that we’ll be arrested here . ”
“Even that will be fine, I think . ”
Loren grumbled . He had been unwilling to take on this job from the beginning; b.u.mping into the kingdom’s soldiers and getting arrested halfway through would be a splendid reason to give it up, wouldn’t it?
However, being tied up, even for a short a time, wasn’t a pleasant experience . Loren himself couldn’t bear the thought of it, letting Lapis and the others have such an experience, was not an option .
“It’ll be easier to talk if there’s someone I know… No, wait, that person is probably…”
Layla, who was looking outside with bated breath, seemed to have discovered a familiar face among the troopers that had stopped at the plaza; she inched her face close to the window slits .
“I’ve probably found someone who I can talk to . I’ll go out first . I’ll call you out if things go well; if not, I’ll shout, and you guys run . It won’t be a big deal if only I get caught . ”
Said Layla, after looking closely at the troopers for a while, as if to verify her memory . She then moved away from the window and before the group could ask any questions, she leapt out of the house .
There was no time to stop her; Klaus and the others couldn’t do anything but watched her leave in shock . Loren and Lapis took up the reins of the donkey, ready to run away at any moment and listened closely for any sounds from outside .
The troopers immediately noticed Layla and surrounded her, but it seemed like she had introduced herself as a Knight of Vargenburg immediately: they didn’t arrest her, but took her to the square where troopers were gathering instead .
“Will Layla be alright?”
Ange asked worriedly . As if to rea.s.sure her, Klaus hugged her shoulders and pulled her towards him . Roll seemed to be jealous of it and quietly leaned on Klaus; he put his hand on her waist and also pulled her to him .
“What are you guys doing?…”
Loren questioned bluntly; he was feeling doubtful about whether they really understood the situation . When he noticed Lapis, who was beside him, looking up at him with expectant eyes, he scratched his head .
“No, I won’t do that?”
“You’ve lost to Klaus here, I think . ”
“It’s not about winning or losing, not that I want to win, in the first place . Rather than that, focus on the current situation . If Layla gives a warning, we have to run right away . ”
Loren said as if chiding . Smiling wryly, Klaus took his hands off the girls, and they hurriedly distanced themselves from him while blus.h.i.+ng . Lapis looked dissatisfied, but she seemed unwilling to pursue the matter further and just quietly watched for any progress with bated breath .
Finally, they heard Layla calling from outside:
“Talk is done! It’s alright to come out now!”
Klaus and the other two girls were relieved that Layla had seemed to handle things well . But Lapis still looked tense, and Loren once again put his hand on his great sword in alert .
“Loren? What’s wrong? Layla said it’s alright…”
“That’s not something to accept without questioning . I’ll go first . ”
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***
He and Lapis believed they shouldn’t let their guards down until they could be absolutely certain that everything was alright . But it was probably no use telling Klaus about that, so Loren decided to go out by himself first . It was so that he could buy some time for the others to escape if anything happened, but they didn’t seem to understand . Klaus still nodded with a puzzled face though .
Riding through a forest didn’t seem like a very good idea, but the forest wasn’t that dense to make pa.s.sing it on horsebacks impossible . They probably could make it if they slowed their speed .
“However, there’s something that bothers me a little . That concern has gotten stronger once we arrived at this village . ”
“Would it be alright for me to ask what it is?”
Lapis asked Karl before Loren could open his mouth .
Karl looked alert for a moment, but once he noticed that the one who had asked the question was a girl in priest clothing, he softened just a little . When Loren was thinking how convenient it was to have clothes that could announce to everyone that one was a priest, Karl spoke .
“You have known that there is a war going on in this vicinity, I believe . ”
“Yes, we’ve heard of that . ”
“The truth is, desertion has been happening one after another in both armies . ”
That was not anything unusual, Loren thought .
In the first place, there were very few people going to wars because they liked it . Most people did because they had no other choice, and as they could die at any time, he could understand why some wanted to run away .
It was a bit concerning if desertion was happening in both sides, but the chance of dying wasn’t that different for front line soldiers whether their side was winning or losing . So, it was not like people would run away only when they were losing .
“It seems like the deserters have taken refuge in this forest . ”
Karl turned his stern eyes to the forest and scowled .
“I thought that they would hide in this village before pa.s.sing through the forest, but if this place has become vacant, then where did they go?”
“Are you thinking that they’re staying in the forest?”
“I don’t know . But we don’t have the time to ponder or investigate it . ”
Having said that much, Karl made a proposal to Loren as if he had just come up with it:
“If it’s alright, what do you think about travelling together with us? Since the village has been in this state, I believe you have also thought about investigating the forest . ”
“I don’t want to take part in wars . ”
“Don’t worry about that . If you come with us, you’ll be able to grasp the state of affairs in the forest to some extent, and it’ll be safer than you going through it alone, don’t you think? I also believe that it’ll be safer for us to cross the forest with some adventurers than by ourselves . What do you think?”
It could be said that the ability to detect danger of adventurers was superior to that of knights or soldiers, whose main purpose was to fight . In exchange, they could borrow the knights’ and soldiers’ combat ability to pa.s.s the forest – that was what Karl was proposing .
It was not such a bad bargain, but was there a catch in it somewhere? Loren wondered . He looked at Karl, who was waiting for his answer while considering what to do about it .
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***