Chapter 201: From Climbing the Mountain to Being Sabo
And so, they arrived at the foot of the mountain.
Considering the direction they were going in, Loren had already had a sneaking fear that their destination would be THAT mountain. As his fear came true, he let out a deep sigh at the sight of the mountain towering over them.
“We really have to climb this?”
Loren muttered this to himself. It was no wonder that he did: to put it simply, it was one rocky mountain range.
The area was made up of a series of mountains, but Loren’s gaze was drawn to the highest of them all.
“Are you kidding? We’ll climb this?”
Next to Loren, who had just gotten off the carriage and was looking up at the towering mountain, Gula let out these words with a hint of disgust in her voice.
It really was a rocky mountain.
The mountain itself was so desolate that there was no vegetation in sight. The slope was steep, but not so steep that it was impossible to climb. The problem, however, was the height of the mountain.
From the foot of the mountain, no matter how high they casted their eyes up, the surface of the mountain seemed to stretch on and on uninterrupted. As they turned their heads to look up, they saw that the mountain was covered in thick black clouds half-way up, making the summit invisible.
They definitely couldn’t scale this mountain with a wagon, so Lapis went to hide the vehicle in a small forest nearby.
“Since we need to reach the crater, we’ll have to climb all the way to the summit, right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
After hiding the wagon, Lapis brought out bread and drinking water from the back of it and handed them to Loren while replying casually as if it was a matter of course.
It was just about noon, and as Loren took the food from her, he a.s.sumed that he was supposed to have them for lunch.
“For Gula, some baguette and ham.”
“Are you bullying me?!”
Thinking how rare a sight it was to see the Evil G.o.d of Gluttony refuse the food offered to her, Loren bit into his hard bread. The thing was tasteless, but it could fill his stomach, and that would have to do for now. As he gnawed on the bread, Lapis forced a baguette and a chunk of ham on Gula. Then she came to his side and looked up at the towering mountain, holding the same food as Loren.
“‘It’s called Mount Sverg, the Mountain Where the King Sleeps.”
“I don’t really care for the story of this mountain.”
“The ‘King’ is the Ancient Dragon.”
“It’s even less important.”
It was the kind of information that one couldn’t do anything about even after knowing it.
And staying here looking at the mountain would make any progress. He had no choice but to resign himself to it and climb.
“I don’t think we’ll make it to the top before dark even if we start now.”
“Rather than that, we won’t make it within a day.”
“So we’ll have to spend the night on a windswept mountain face?”
“We’ll have to make use of Gula’s power to dig a hole.”
The surface of the mountain was mostly bare rock. If they wanted to dig a hole in it, they would have to work for a long time and make a lot of noise with hammers and pickaxes. However, with Gula’s power, it would probably be much easier to dig a hole quietly and quickly, and the dug out rocks would be eaten up.
“Aren’t you being too mean to me?”
Gula complained while gnawing on the baguette that she had eventually ended up accepting, but she didn’t seem to truly reject Lapis’ proposal. Loren chewed on his own bread, thinking that they might not have to make Gula go that far – finding a cave would do too.
After finis.h.i.+ng their tasteless lunch, they immediately began their preparation by taking out whatever seemed necessary from the wagon and stuffing them into their backpacks. These backpacks, which were also prepared by Judie, were quite st.u.r.dy and much better than what adventurers usually used. Loren was impressed by how far ahead the demons were in terms of manufacturing technology in comparison to humans.
“We can also use these even after returning to the other side, right?”
“These are all stuff you can get by paying money, so it should be fine.”
Lapis shouldered her backpack. It was filled with supplies such as food, medical supplies, and sleep bag. Loren couldn’t shoulder his as he was carrying his greatsword on his back. Instead, he grabbed it by the shoulder straps and carried it like a sack. Gula, who was carrying a backpack slightly larger than Loren’s and Lapis’s, tried to sound as cheerful as possible as she gazed with genuine disgust at the direction of the mountain peak, which was obscured by clouds:
“Well then, let’s go have some fun climbing the mountain, shall we?”
This was how they began to climb the rocky mountain.
Unlike traveling in a wagon, the climb was extremely strenuous. Just climbing a mountain was tiring enough, but when you were equipped with a backpack filled with enough supplies to last three to four days, the amount of energy consumed is proportional to the weight. In addition to that, they had to be on the lookout for the dragon that was supposed to live in this mountain. It would be strange if it wasn’t tiring.
“Being cautious or not, if we’re discovered, we’re done.”
There was no place to hide on the bare rocky face of the mountain. The shade of a large boulder wasn’t bad to hide behind, if your enemies were monsters on the ground. But if you were hiding from a dragon flying above, you would be in full view. And there was no sign of any other monsters on this mountain. Loren was sure that since this mountain was home to a dragon, the most powerful monster of all, no other demons would even come close to it.
“Rather than proceeding cautiously, it’d be better to hurry ahead, don’t you think?”
“‘That’s right. If there’s no way to hide from detection, we might as well focus on gaining distance.”
“I don’t like the idea of fighting a dragon either.”
If even an Evil G.o.d like Gula wanted to avoid an encounter with a dragon, they all agreed that they should quickly finish their business and leave the mountain as soon as possible.
They started to climb up the slope of the mountain, but the distance to the top was too great, and after they reached a certain height, the sun went down.
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“Gula-san, a hole.”
“Yes. And if he does, this mountain will be watched.”
Lapis explained that there was a reason why the Demon King had instructed him to throw the helmet into the crater of this very mountain: It was because she had judged that the helmet and other items in the set could not be completely destroyed by any other means. Magna, who was collecting the set, probably knew about this. It would be troublesome for him if any item was destroyed, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he was monitoring the area where the only thing that can destroy these items existed.
“Do you think they will attack us?”
If they wanted to quickly get the helmet from them, they could storm the place, get rid of the three of us, and then retrieve the item at ease. They didn’t know how many accomplices Magna had, but the common sense should be at least the same number as Loren’s party or more.
“It depends on how many people they have, but the first question is whether these accomplices actually exist or not.”
They guessed that Magna might have some accomplices, but they were not certain. It was possible that what Loren sensed was just his imagination, and Lapis’ speculation was overly cautious.
“If Shayna can’t detect them, we’re in trouble.”
“Yeah. But unless Magna could find help from the demons, I don’t think there are many people that skilled. The same number as us at most, if not fewer.”
“They plan to stop us with fewer people than us?”
Lapis turned her gaze upwards. Even though the sun was setting and the night was about to fall, the heavy clouds hanging over their heads were still visible. As Loren also looked up, wondering what on earth Lapis was watching, she muttered absentmindedly:
“If they cause a commotion and attract the Ancient Dragon’s attention…”
From the Ancient Dragon’s point of view, any human or demon who set foot in the vicinity of its home would be seen as an intruder, unless the person had a specific reason for doing so. Lapis thought that if Magna’s accomplices could make a commotion to attract the Ancient Dragon’s attention then hide well, they would be able to pin that attention on the three of them.
“In that case, having too many people would become a disadvantage.”
If you were working alone, you only needed to conceal one person from the dragon. If you had three people like Loren’s party, you would have to hide three people, making it very difficult.
“Which means if they raid us, they have more people than us. If they don’t, then they have fewer people than us. Is that correct?”
“You can say so.”
If Magna really had accomplices here, what kind of method would they use to hinder their party?
As if to betray Loren’s expectation that it would be better if they didn’t exist, suddenly, out of nowhere, he saw a crimson flare running through the darkening night. It landed a bit closer to the mountaintop than where their party currently was at, and a huge explosion sounded, followed by a burst of red flames.
“Your keen senses are admirable, Loren.”
They knew the direction where the shot came from, but they didn’t know exactly where it was fired.
In case they were aiming directly at their party, Lapis executed a >. The second shot came right that moment, hitting slightly closer to them than the first one, and Lapis grumbled at the explosive sound and flames it brought.
Loren unconsciously looked up at the black clouds hanging thickly in the sky. If you made such loud noise and flames on a bare rocky mountain with no other conspicuous features around, you were bound to attract some attention.
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