The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary

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Chapter 173

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Translator: Lizz

Proofreader: Xemul

They went to buy groceries and medical supplies the next day. They also rented a carriage as their destination was quite far this time.

After loading the carriage with all their luggage, they left Kapha.

This time, they would have to travel to the center of the continent from Wargenburg, which was in the southwest. It was already quite a considerable distance even without the return trip.

But it seemed like it was only Loren who thought that way. When he grumbled about how it would be such a long journey, Lapis answered in a ‘what do you mean’ tone:

“No, not really”

And Gula didn’t seem to be thinking about anything in particular. She had left Kapha carrying a bag of all the food she could buy from the city’s food stalls on her shoulder, and was now fully preoccupied with relocation of the food from the bag into her mouth.

“It’s not?”

“If we go straight for the mountain range, how long did you think it will take? It’ll also depend on the road conditions, but it’ll take seven or eight days.”

Their job this time had a time limit of 30 days. If what Lapis said was correct, half of it would be for travelling. Once including the time to cross the mountains, it left them almost no time for any activities within the demons’ territory.

“That’ll be fine for people with a more relaxed schedule. Those with a primary focus on effectively fulfilling the job would keep their luggage to the minimum and race there on horseback. If they change horses midway, they’ll be able to arrive in about four days.”

“What about us?”

They weren’t exactly in a hurry, but if they deviated too much from the time limit, they would be considered as not finis.h.i.+ng the job and wouldn’t receive the payment. The remuneration wasn’t their original aim, but since the expense for this trip was quite high, it was common sense to try earning back as much as possible.

“First, we head north. Then after three days of travelling, we’ll make a stop at a certain place. It’s a short way to the mountain range from there.”

“I can’t make sense of what you’re saying.”

Wargenburg was in the southwest of the continent. Everyone knew that they would need to go northeast to get to the center of the continent, but Lapis just told them to go straight north. Loren understood that she wanted to take another route, but he couldn’t understand the part about ‘a short way to the mountain range after a stop three days away’.

“But if Lapis says so, then so be it.”

“Yeah, just leave it to me.”

Lapis a.s.sured, full of confidence, and Loren just stopped wondering about it. There was surely something that even a former mercenary like him couldn’t imagine at that place, so he decided that worrying about it was futile.

Their journey north was surprisingly smooth. To the point that Loren, who had expected some monsters or bandits at least, felt a bit anti-climax at the lack of hostile encounters. He didn’t voice it out loud, but he suspected that Gula’s presence probably played a big role. Even though all she did was lying around in the carriage all day long, Gula was still an Evil G.o.d, and if she didn’t deliberately conceal her presence, weaker monsters wouldn’t dare approach them. Stronger monsters might be confused by her aura, but stronger monsters were usually also smarter, and they wouldn’t mistake a being obviously stronger than them for a prey. As for the bandits, they didn’t appear probably because they could sense danger from their party. Or maybe they were just lucky.

“That reminds me, we’ll probably cross the border if we continue north for three days. Is it alright?”

“It’s quite simple for adventurers to cross the border. We just need to show our identification tags at the checkpoint.”

This was a proof of how big an organization the Adventurer Guild was. The Guild was influential over a substantial part of the continent, and the identification tags they issued held much more validity than those of any other organizations. Their party had to go through numerous checkpoints on their way north, but just as Lapis had said, they mostly get through with no troubles once they showed their adventurer identification tags.

“Doesn’t this make smuggling too easy for adventurers?”

“You may not notice, but they all secretly perform on us.”

Even though the checkpoints might vary in scale, they were all agencies of the country. Of course, they were manned by soldiers, but it seemed like there were priests like Lapis in the mix as well. Lapis said that they could judge a person to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by using undetectable spells. The judging standard was rather vague, but basically these spells could detect if a person was feeling guilty or was hiding something. Anyone judged as ‘bad’ would be captured and investigated in detail.

“Then why didn’t you get caught, Lapis?”

The word ‘demon’ evoked an image of evil by itself, so Loren found it strange that the spell didn’t catch Lapis.

Lapis replied with a calm and dignified face:

“I am a priest of the G.o.d of Knowledge. There is not a single thing that I feel guilty about.”

“What about Gula?”

‘Evil G.o.ds’ evoked a fare more evil image than that of ‘demons’. Lapis might not be caught, but Loren thought it was illogical that even Gula wasn’t caught.

But Gula also replied with a calm and dignified face:

“I also have nothing to feel guilty about, not a single one”

“This ‘checkpoint judgement’ is quite useless, isn’t it?”

Loren unthinkingly blurted out, and both Lapis and Gula gave him an elbow to the stomach. Thanks to the jacket he received from an Elder Vampire in a previous job, he was alright but for a little choking.

On the third day of their journey north, they left the main road under Lapis’ guide. Following her instruction, they continued on for a while, until all that was waiting for them was a sandy desert.

“There is such a place?”

The deserts Loren knew had scorching sun and dry air. But this desert was not that warm even in the middle of the day, and even though the air was dry, it was a bit chilly. The sand spreading under their feet carried a bluish hue, making it look like the sea.

“There’s nothing here?”

Just as Gula said, there was nothing in this place. There was only sand, and no other human figures besides their party. No one knew why Lapis brought them to such a place.

“Well, there’s really nothing here. You don’t know this place, Gula?”

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Gula frowned and pondered for a while, then looked as if she had recalled something and clapped her hands:

“This ain’t good, Loren! The horse is being swallowed by the sand!”

The horse struggled wildly while sinking. If the horse sunk, the carriage, which was linked to it, would also be in danger. Not to mention that if they lost the horse here, there would be no replacement to pull the carriage, and they would have no choice but to abandon their luggage.

Loren grabbed the rein on the driver seat and tried to see if he could somehow pull the horse up. But before he could, Lapis gently placed her hand on his arm.

“It’s alright. Just let it sink.”

“What are you saying…?”

“Our stop is below this desert.”

Loren worried that the heat might have gotten to her. But then the temperature wasn’t that high, and the sun wasn’t that hot. It was difficult to think that the heat at this place was enough to make Lapis lose her mind.

“I’m serious. We’ll need to get under this desert.”

“Through the sand? Won’t we suffocate?”

Living things couldn’t breathe in sand. a.s.suming that the stop Lapis mentioned was really under this desert, then depending on the depth, there was the very real possibility of them suffocating and dying before reaching it.

“Loren, let me tell you one good thing.”

“I only have bad feelings about this, but speak anyway.”

Following the horse, the carriage was slowly being swallowed by sand. Lapis placed both hands on Loren’s shoulders, Lapis said with a deadly serious face:

“If you faint before suffocating, the chance of being saved will be higher.”

“I don’t have such a convenient skill!”

Loren unthinkingly shouted back. He tried to jump out of the carriage, but Lapis clung to his waist. It looked like Loren would be able to immediately shake her off in this contest of strength, but that was not the case, and he was pulled back into the carriage.

“It’s alright. Just take a deep breath before your head goes under and bear with it for a while.”

“Could it be that there’s a difference between our breathing time?”

“…Loren, do you want to faint now?”

“Are you stupid?! Let me go!”

Loren struggled violently but couldn’t escape from Lapis’ arms. Gula watched Lapis pinned a squirming Loren down while tightening the mouth of the groceries bag so that sand couldn’t get in, and regarded the carriage sinking into the desert little by little with a shrug.

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