Chapter 106 – Tenso village

It was all going smoothly.
Yes, was.

The rain stopped me dead in my tracks.

I can protect myself against the rain itself with magic, but it’s hard to walk through the sludge.
I don’t get physically tired, but I’m not used to this, and having to be careful not to slip and fall is mentally taxing.

I make a hut with Earth Magic, about big enough to fit six tatami.
I pack it with a kitchen, sleeping quarters, and a bath, so it feels like it would be pretty cramped, but it’s not like I actually have anything to take up space, so it’s not that bad if I’m staying here alone.

All I can do while I’m here is test my magic, practice alchemy, and cook, so I’m actually pretty bored.

My one real problem is air circulation.
I try cooking without doing anything about it, and it becomes hard to breathe in here, so I use Wing Magic to circulate air out of here.
As for the bath, let’s just say preparations are going pretty smoothly.

I end up staying here for three days, and I’m sure Hikari and the others kept advancing through the rain in the meantime.
I don’t think I’m going to get there before them anymore.

The day after the rain stops, the ground isn’t quite dry yet, but I push through.
I don’t think it’s going to be dry any time soon, because the trees are blocking the sunlight.
I do one day’s worth of walking in two days, because I have to walk on mud until I leave the forest.

But once the forest is behind me, it’s not a long way to Tenso.
I can see the main road, and even some wagons here and there.

I activate Map, and spot Hikari and the others, already in the village.
Is Drett there too?

When I finally reach the village too, people look at me like they’re suspicious.
Were these people sent here recently? I don’t remember them.
I guess it’s natural for them to think I’m odd, because I have few equipment, no luggage to speak of, and came here on foot.

I show my guild card to the gatekeeper, and see a face I recognize in the back.
But I’m still talking to the gatekeeper, so that person doesn’t say anything.

But once I’m cleared to enter the village, she jumps onto me like she was anxiously waiting for it.

“Master, I was worried about you.”

“Were you? I’m glad to see it looks like you made it here without any problems, Hikari.
But it looks like Drett is still here too.
What happened?”

“He’s selling slaves.”

A lot of merchants ran from Messer to Rent.
Many stayed in Rent to camp there, even though it’s becoming very crowded, and others decided to head to Loyet.
And even though so many stayed in Rent, that’s still a lot of people passing through this village that’s still in the process of rebuilding.

But still, they can’t go without resupplying, and they want to rest here even if it’s for a short while.
That’s leading to some quarreling, but among all that, the Howler slaver company is getting preferential treatment.

Some people aren’t too happy about that, but the village chief himself came out and bowed, so the other merchants assumed Howler just has some sort of connection here.
That’s not quite the truth, but oh well.

And so, there have been talks and discussions about the undermanned village buying slaves to help them with labor.
They have the funds for it, but the village is split between people who aren’t so sure about hiring slaves, and people who want to speed up the reconstruction of the village.
That means the argument is still going on.

“If it isn’t Mister Sora.”

He sounds pleased.

“You brought the three girls just like you promised.
Thank you.”

“No no, it was rewarding for me as well.
I found good business here, so it was well worth the trip.”

Looks like they decided to do business with slaves.

“So Mister Sora.
I happened to hear you are in the market for a wagon.
Is this true?”

I look at Hikari, and she tilts her head.

“Ah, I heard it from Sera.
And since I sold many slaves, one wagon should be enough to get us to the next town.
So, how about it? Of course, I will offer you a discount.”

He then shows me the wagon, and tells me its price.

“Isn’t that too cheap?”

“You offered me some things as well, like the item bag.
And considering the cost to maintain it, it is more than profitable for me.”

I can’t tell if he has good intentions or if there’s a catch.
Should I assume it’s the former? The wagon doesn’t look bad, at least not as far as I can see, and I have no complaints about its size either.

“Master, are you buying it?”

Asks Hikari just before I say I will.

“It will make it easier to get from place to place, right?”

“But you like walking.”

I guess I do.
It gets me experience points too.

But walking at my pace is hard on the others, especially because I can’t gauge how tired they are.

“If you’re walking, I’ll do my best too.”

She says with a strong tone while making a fist with both hands.

“Master, if you’re doing this for us, you should probably reconsider.”

Says Sera, as she comes along with Mia.

“It’s easier to move around in a wagon, but it’s harder to protect it with few people if monsters attack.
There’s a smelling salt for horses used when monsters attack, but apparently it puts a big strain on the horse.”

Says Sera, and Drett nods.

“What do you think, Mia?”

“I agree with Miss Sera.”

That’s the biggest issue here, but maybe they’re holding back their true thoughts because they’re slaves.

“Master, if we’re going to be bringing Mia along, we really should travel by wagon.
I’m not trying to be nasty about it, but I think she should work on her stamina a little.

That’s a good point.

What if we go to a dungeon or someplace like that? We can’t travel by wagon there.
We have to rely on our legs and nothing else.

“Sorry, but I’m going to hold off on buying it this time.”

“No problem, the village chief also talked to me about buying it, so I will just sell it to him.”

He really is a good merchant.

“Then can I ask you one last thing?”

“If it is something I can do.”

“I’m looking for someone.
I think this person might be a slave, who may have been sold to someone already.
An elf by the name of Eris.
If you find something out, please send a message addressed to Sera through the adventurer guild.
I’m still a member of the merchant guild, so you can send it through there too if it’s more convenient.

This is a quest fee.
Ah, if possible, send me results of the investigation periodically, like every thirty days.”

“An elf? I have been in this business for a long time, but I have never dealt with an elf.
They tend to stand out, but I have never even heard of said Eris…”

I give him an additional ten gold coins.

Sera, who is standing behind Drett, looks surprised when she hears that name.

“I see, then please just do what you can.
Tell me any information you can get your hands on, even a small rumor.”

I didn’t know about that, but it does make sense.
I’ve been going around slavers, but I haven’t seen a single elf in any of them.

Drett nods, bows, and leaves.

“So, what have you all been doing?”

“Mia has been helping?”

“Why did you phrase that as a question?”

“She wasn’t an asset.”

Mia drops her shoulders when she hears Hikari.

I hear more about it… And I get it.
She tried, she really did, but she got in the way.
But I hear women have been kindly looking after her.

One of the villagers hears us talking and comes over.
I remember her, she was there when we took down the orclord.

I’m sure that was awful for her, but she comes at me with a smile.

Once one comes, others follow, to thank me for saving them, even though they thanked me enough when we left.

Then I ask to be taken to the village chief, to greet him.


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