Chapter 108 – Border city Saite – Part one

We depart from the Tenso village, three days after meeting up again.
I received a nice welcome, I was asked all sorts of things, and people were worried about my physical condition when I told them I walked all the way from the holy city.

We arrive in the neighboring town of Loyet a day later than I thought.
We would’ve gotten here a bit faster by wagon, but it can’t be helped.

Part of the reason why we had to slow down was that Mia kept pushing herself even after she started to struggle, and she popped a blister.
But then she was healed with magic, and our pace improved again.

She apologized a lot, but stopped when I told her it’s fine and to not push herself so much.

I think that actually had a lot to do with Hikari telling her about how she tried to keep going despite struggling too, and ended up causing problems because of it.
Her testimony is a lot more convincing than anything I have to say.

I thought I was looking out for her, but Mia has even less stamina and experience walking than I thought.
At least now I know that.

I’m sorry Sera, but we’re going to have to bring down our pace until she gets used to it.

We spend the night here in town, and then follow the western main road on the way to Saite.
Can’t forget to pack enough food either.

We can take it easy on the road, because there are no people around and I’m using Map too, so we’re all set.
Map doesn’t show me any monsters either.

“That’s where bad adventurers were taught a lesson by wolves.”

Hikari says while pointing.
Yes, that’s where those merchants and adventures were attacked during the night.

Mia asks more about it.
It’s not like we have anything to do besides chat anyway.

I can see a forest far to the right, but we still have a long distance to cover.

If everything goes smoothly and we keep this pace, we should reach our destination in ten days.
We’ve been walking for three hours in the morning, then we have lunch, and then we walk for two to three hours in the afternoon.

The fact that there’s no elevation means it’s easier to walk, but on the other hand, looking at the same unchanging scenery is kind of unnerving.
It’s like we’re not sure if we’re really making progress.

At night, we go off the main road a little and camp.

Two people keep watch at the same time.
It’s when we keep watch that I start wishing we had more people with us.
I can actually keep watch while I sleep by making use of Parallel Thinking, but that wouldn’t be fair to the others.

It’s bad enough that walking is so easy for me.

We just had dinner, and we’re relaxing and chatting, but then I ask something that’s been on my mind for the last few days.

“Hey, we’ve been traveling together for a bit now, so I’ve been thinking.
Are you anxious about something?”

After we met up, Mia started doing her best to help with all sorts of things.
At first I figured she was just curious, but that’s not it.
It feels less like she’s just working hard, and more like she’s kind of desperate.

“…I can’t really do anything, so I want to be able to do more…”

“You don’t have to try so hard.”

“Even in the village, when I tried to help it never went well.
And I tried to cook on the road but kept failing.

She sounds frustrated.

I guess it’s true that I thought a village girl would be able to do more when it comes to everyday stuff, but she probably forgot a lot after being a saint for so long.”

“Master, big sister Mia has been trying hard for you.”

I look at Mia, and she looks kind of embarrassed.

Hikari might have been too straightforward.
Or maybe her answer is missing some nuance.

“Don’t try too hard.
I’m sure you’re going to say you aren’t, but remember that no one’s good at something right from the start.
Just learn a little at a time.”

“But you can do anything.
Cooking, magic…”

“Magic is just because of my skills.
As for cooking… I did it in that other world too, so it’s down to experience.
You can do it too if you keep practicing.”

Then I pat her head.
We changed the color of her hair and her eyes back to normal after we left Loyet.
As for the length of her hair… Can I make something like a hair growth formula and grow it back to how it was?

If that’s possible, maybe I can sell it too.
Not that I know how to do it.

“Sora, are you thinking something weird again?

I’m not.

“Let’s stop there and just go to sleep.
I think we can reach Saite tomorrow.”

The conversation comes to an end, and we split between two groups.
One goes to sleep, and one keeps watch.

I guess I’m with Hikari today.
She’s interested in food from my world, so she usually asks me about it while we watch out for threats.

I’m not actually the most knowledgeable person when it comes to cooking.
I can talk about what I remember and what I saw on television and on the internet, or heard here and there.
But can I replicate those things… I guess it depends on whether or not the Cooking skill can do it.

 ◇ ◇ ◇

“Master, we should be reaching Saite soon.”

I hear Sera say.
Cooking has been on my mind, because we talked about it last night while keeping watch, but while I was distracted with that, all of a sudden we can plainly see Saite in front of us.

I guess I’ve gotten too used to using Parallel Thinking to think and walk at the same time.

The border city Saite.
There are actually more towns and cities nicknamed border city, and they’re seen as sort of neutral places.
They’re mostly built when the two countries are on good terms.
If that’s not the case, one side builds a checkpoint, almost like a fortress, and controls who can get in.

The gatekeeper’s checks are a little more strict than usual.
That said, it’s mostly just me.

“Slaves don’t have to be checked like that.”

“It would be a lot of trouble for slavers if they were.
In a way, slaves have a clear identity precisely because they’re slaves.
But if a slaver is coming in with a lot of slaves that committed serious crimes, that makes it tougher to let them in.”

Slaves become slaves for a reason, be it crimes or debt, although special slaves are a little different.

“What will you do, master? We have food, so are we going straight to the next town?”

Asks Sera.

“I want to do some information gathering, so we’ll take it easy for today in an inn.”

“That’s good.
Let’s look for tasty local cuisine.”

I’m the one who taught Hikari that term.
Or rather, I started using it and she liked it, and I told her what it means.

I’m thinking tomorrow we’ll go to the adventurer guild to see if we have any messages, and to check the quests.
There’s a forest nearby, so if it’s possible to go pick herbs and return on the same day, I might want to do that too.
If not, we could do a hunting quest and take care of Sera’s obligation to do a quest every thirty days.

At night, we eat in the inn’s dining room.
I don’t know if it’s because these three are slaves, or because they’re cute, but I feel like we stand out.
But I can’t let that get to me.

I’m actually getting used to these sorts of stares.
I’m developing a heart of steel… Actually, I’m not.
I’m not that used to it at all.

The girls are actually less bothered by it than me.
Hikari in particular only has eyes for her food, and seeing her enjoying it so much is actually a healing sight.


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