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Chapter 119: A Day of Leisure

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

The night of strengthening filled Camilla with energy, and even if the method didn’t make Kagriss stronger, it rejuvenated her all the same.

As morning came and the sky turned from black to a dark blue color from the rising sun, Camilla jumped up, stretching out of habit. Kagriss copied her, although she looked a bit confused.

“I don’t really see the point of this,” Kagriss said.

“Well of course. We’re not real humans, nor are we living. I doubt golems would feel anything if they do stretch.”

“Oh, right. So, what should we do now?” Kagriss asked. Before Camilla could tell her to think of the answer or suggest something herself, she hurriedly followed up. “Um…do we gather information first, then? Perhaps we’ll be able to find a pattern to the night raids by that mana beast.”

Camilla looked lazily at her.

Truth be told, Camilla would rather not tangle with it at all, but it supposed that if they were going to stay in this village for any amount of time, clashing would be inevitable.

In that case, it would be better to be prepared. Sighing, she nodded. “I guess gathering information is prudent. It probably won’t take very long, and then we can go explore the plains like we planned. You know, even I haven’t gone that far into that place because I didn’t have much time before now, you know?”

“Oh really? That’s something new to both of us then,” Kagriss said. Her eyes shone.

To help her learn more about the world, she had bought some reference books alongside her fiction, and some of it had information about various environments. Naturally, there were entries about common creatures found on the plains and prairies, and this time, she and Camilla were truly on even ground with regards to knowledge.

Pulling a dainty little bag from the back of the carriage, she stuffed the reference book she had been flipping through while she tried to take her mind off the thumping carriage the day before and was just about to shoulder it when Camilla grabbed hold of it.

“I’ll hold it,” she said. “Remember our setting. You’re the lady and I’m your maidservant.”

Only then did Kagriss remember her agreement with Camilla. Reluctantly, she released her grip and the bag fell into Camilla’s hands.

Checking to see that their horses hadn’t strayed too far and that there was water and fresh feed left out near the barn—they’d pay for it later—and that their appearances were proper for the roles they played, the two of them set out for the village proper to hunt for information.

It wasn’t too far away, perhaps a few minutes at a walking pace neither fast nor slow.

With Kagriss in the lead and Camilla a step behind, maintaining proper distance like a proper servant, they reached the edge of the village that was marked by a low, crude fence that served more as a perimeter marker than any real defense.

Activity of many large lifeforms filled their senses.

The closer they were to the lifeforms, the clearer their shapes were. The farthest ones were faint, blurry auras, while the closest ones were solid and well defined.

Before their lifesense, the villagers might as well have no privacy. Walking into the village, the family closest to them were gathered around a table, making the motions of eating.

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With the sun rising, the end of the second sleep marked the start of a new day for the village. The majority of the villagers were up already, going about their morning, be it eating, preparing for their day’s task, visiting neighbors, or other work.

Kagriss led the way to a small outdoors bench and Camilla sat down next to her. With a stillness achievable only by an undead that wasn’t truly alive, Kagriss watched, her eyes scanning the streets, listening to the sounds nearby, smelling the foods of breakfast, and feeling the life around her with her lifesense.

Bit by bit, she pieced together the morning routine of a human villager.

“Actually, this is a bit creepy, you know?” Camilla suddenly said from next to her.

“How so?”

“Well…how would you feel if something that you would consider a monster sat next to your house taking in every little thing you do and using it to build her knowledge base about you?”

Kagriss grimaced. “Well, if you word it like that…It’s not like I care what they’re doing individually, though. I’m not targeting them specifically.”

Camilla rolled her eyes as she let out a little helpless laugh. “That doesn’t make it any better. Only a little at best, if any.”

For a moment, Kagriss didn’t say anything, but in the end she shifted in place on the bench and nodded. One of the basics of being a good person was to treat others how she would like to be treated, at least until they wrong her in some way.

She just met these villagers, so how could they have wronged her before now? She valued her privacy as well, especially if it involved Camilla.

As Kagriss pulled back her senses, no longer paying attention and gathering information, someone passed by—a man dressed in boots. His eyes widened at the sight of her, dressed in that rich red dress that hugged her curves.

Although fashion had become more daring as the years went on, the dress that Kagriss wore was far from the norm, and the man could not help but catch a few more eyefuls of her.

His feasting of his eyes were soon interrupted as Camilla cleared her throat.

The man jumped. “Huh? Oh, hello…!”

Camilla smiled thinly. Not even an apology?

Well, it was only normal to think that Kagriss was pretty, but Kagriss was already hers. No man was allowed to look at her with such a lecherous gaze.

Under her frigid gaze, whatever the man was about to say shrank back into his mouth and down his throat into his stomach as he swallowed. Bowing slightly, he averted his eyes and looked down at the ground, hurrying along his way.

Soon, more and more people came out. Their reactions to Camilla and Kagriss’s presences varied much, some of them ogling Kagriss like the first man had, and those Camilla chased away with the threat in her eyes.

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Others merely expressed curiosity, and still others simply ignored them after a brief glance.

Some of the more daring ones came up to them, one of them a young man with skin browned from the sun. His jawline was rather well defined compared to other people of this region, and he wasn’t bad looking at all.

“Good morning, misses.” He greeted Kagriss first, and then Camilla. “Are you the lady in the carriage from last night?”

Although he spoke to Kagriss, the question seemed directed at Camilla instead. He had an accent too. Plainly, he wasn’t really from around these parts, although he seemed to have settled down.

Camilla had taken a look at his hands. They were rough and marked with calluses born not of weapons but of farming tools.

Letting the man wait a bit for his reply, Camilla was the one to answer. “Correct.”

The curtness of her words, or word, made the man’s expression freeze and the atmosphere turned awkward. Already, there were some people standing a bit away looking at them as if watching a show. However, the unnaturalness of the man’s expression soon faded.

Her tone wasn’t really that out of place considering their respective social positions, after all.

Taking a deep breath, the man looked back at Kagriss. “Since you didn’t come out and show yourself last night, you were the talk of the night with everyone guessing your appearance,” he said. “Now I can see that you are more beautiful than any of us imagined.”

This time, it was Camilla who was speechless.

While Kagriss didn’t have any outward expression with only a nod to indicate that she heard, completely playing her “aloof wealthy noblewoman” act, Camilla acted as her arms and mouth. Naturally, she did not hide her emotions, her perplexed expression for all to see.

Even though each of the words made sense and the sentence made sense, Camilla had no idea what the man was getting at.

The words were praising Kagriss, yes, but why?

Far from appreciating the compliment and taking it to heart, most high-born or wealthy ladies would probably take offense to a mere peasant commenting on their appearance. As if their words sullied them.

The difference in social classes made the words less sincere praise and more the doings of a bootlicker.

While Kagriss probably didn’t care, Camilla still had to go through with her role and act offended for Kagriss. It was actually a bit tiring.

Holding back a sigh, Camilla glared up at the man. “Please watch your words before my lady. Her appearance isn’t something the likes of yourself should be discussing…”

A hint of amusement came over from Kagriss’s side, and the weariness that Camilla felt from her roleplaying evaporated.

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Suddenly, dealing with the man didn’t seem so bad anymore and she casually changed gears.

“…However, my magnanimous lady forgives you.”

The amusement grew stronger.

The man seemed startled by her words, blinking in confusion, and hurriedly muttered an apology under his breath.

Even after all that, Camilla still had no idea what his goal was. But since he was already here and he didn’t seem like he had anything urgent to attend to, Camilla fetched a coin from per pouch. Five-crest.

She held it up, trapped between her index and middle finger.

“Truth be told, after hearing about the incidence of strange, dangerous things and horse-sized cats, my lady has become curious. If you tell us what you know, this is yours.”

Surprisingly, the man didn’t immediately jump at the chance for the money.

“I’m not the person you should be asking.”

“Oh? Why? Then who should I ask?”

“Uh…please wait a moment. I’ll go fetch him now…” Not bothering to answer the question, the man ran off, leaving Camilla no less confused than before, still holding the coin in her hand.

He just…left.

Was he actually going to come back?

She peered over next to her at Kagriss to see her with her head down. Since even sitting she was a little shorter than Kagriss, Camilla could see what other people couldn’t—a tiny, quivering smile that threatened to grow.

Camilla resisted the urge to poke her. What was so funny anyway.

Fuming a little inside, Camilla decided to wait.

With the man gone, the people nearby watching dispersed. The village wasn’t that large in the first place, and soon it cleared out by more than half. Only a few lone souls remained in the houses that were still within range of Camilla’s lifesense.

Just when Camilla thought that the man wasn’t coming back, he returned, dragging with him a person. At first glance, Camilla thought that he looked familiar, and upon searching her memories, it came to her.

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The man—or more like an older boy, now that she saw him in full color under the sunlight—was the person who someone called Johnny, and who claimed to see the horse-sized cat.

Almost as if fleeing some kind of demon, the man from before left, swift as the wind, leaving Johnny behind.

Camilla narrowed her eyes. Was she that scary? Was that why the man ran? Knowing that she will probably never get her answer, Camilla sighed and focused on the boy standing before her, his face red.

Hard work had burned away all the baby fat from him, but he couldn’t be more than seventeen years, still too young to be formally ordained a templar.

Faced with Camilla alone instead of in a crowd, he began to stutter. “I—I heard you asked for m—me?”

“Yes.” Camilla held up the coin again, waving it alluringly. “This is yours if you answer my questions about the cat you saw,” she said, cutting straight to the point.

“The cat?”

Camilla bit back the words she was about to say, that she knew he wasn’t that dumb. Surely even someone dumb could figure out what cat she was talking about.

Thankfully, the nervousness of the boy hadn’t completely taken away his intelligence and he soon recovered, scrambling for his words. “Oh, um…um, yeah, the cat! I did see it! It was huge! Taller than a horse!”

At his claims, even Kagriss raised her head, finally showing interest in something. “A horse?” she asked.

Johnny froze at her voice, looking toward her with a look of awe. Kagriss’s voice was quiet, and just deep and serene enough to be reminded of the depths.

Before he could dwell too long on it, though, Camilla snapped her fingers and the boy shook his head, clearing his mind. “Y—yes, a horse! Twice as tall. I probably couldn’t reach its mouth even if I reached up!”

He stood up on his tiptoes, stretching his hand up, using himself as an example.

While twice as large as a horse was certainly big, neither Camilla nor Kagriss had considered how big that truly was, but seeing Johnny stretch up yet claiming to not be able to reach the beast’s mouth, the description became real.

At the same time, they realized that the so-called dangerous thing truly was a mana beast. No normal cat could get that big. Not in human territory.

“What else did you see about it?” Camilla asked. “For example, eyes?”

“Yes, the eyes was green and it glowed in the dark!” Johnny said. Slowly, his nervousness melted away as he got into his groove and began to blab. “It was so damn scary. You see, I remembered that I forgot to water the animals for the night, so I woke up and went to the pens over round there…”

He pointed.

“…and when I got there, there it was, the cat! It was kind of dark and the clouds were covering the moon, but I think it was black? I could barely pick it out from the dark if it wasn’t for the eyes and it was like this high off the ground…!” Johnny tiptoed again to demonstrate.

He continued to run his mouth. “…you see, and it literally stepped over the fence again—”

“Okay stop!” Camilla almost shouted her command. The story was interesting—it wasn’t, actually—and all, but there were things she had to do. In any case, she learned what she needed except one thing, so before Johnny could go, she cut him off at what seemed like a proper cut-off point.

Johnny stared pitifully at him, a bit offended that she’d be so cruel as to interrupt him. However, that sadness disappeared as quickly as it came when Camilla tossed the coin into his hand.

“And one last thing,” she said. “Does the cat come at any particular time?”

Johnny nodded, completely certain of his answer. “It only comes during nights when the moon is covered by the clouds.”

“I see,” Camilla said simply, and then waved him away.

Squeezing the coin in his hand, Johnny ran away, leaving Camilla and Kagriss sitting in a rather empty village.

After making sure that there really weren’t anyone around, Kagriss allowed her prim and proper sitting posture to slip, slumping a little. A miffed expression came onto her face. “So in the end it’s a waiting game,” she muttered. “I haven’t seen a truly cloudy night for days.”

“Now now, perhaps we’ll just get lucky? Anyways, good work! If I didn’t know that you were roleplaying beforehand, I’d have been fooled completely by your act!” Camilla was about to pat her on the back, but suddenly she remembered Kagriss laughing at her, and pulled back her hands. Kagriss didn’t notice.

Putting on a miffed expression of her own, Camilla stared at Kagriss ruefully. “Well then, let’s go to the plains then, since we’re done here.”

“Okay.”

Kagriss’s mood changed as fast as lightning. One moment she was upset about having to wait for a time that the cat beast might show up, and the next she was cheerful, or as cheerful as someone as quiet as her could be.

Hiding behind a house, Kagriss applied on them a quick spell of camouflage and rough invisibility. From there, they simply took flight with Kagriss trailing behind.

After a moment, Camilla finally decided to forgive Kagriss and she grabbed Kagriss’s hand, accelerating them both with the magic of her wings. “Let’s go!”

In the span of a few breaths, the village was far behind them and all that they saw below them was the green and yellow expanse of the vast plains, and the herds of animals that roamed the land.

Picking a random location, they landed.

For almost the entire day, they wandered through the plains filled with grasses that sometimes grew taller than they were, and they matched plants to the reference, tracked the huge cow-like animals, and even played a bit of hide and seek, all the way until the sun began its slow descent toward the horizon.

Hiding themselves and taking into the air again, Kagriss was all smiles as she took hold of Camilla’s hand on her own this time.

“Did you have fun?”

“Yeah, I did,” Kagriss said, squeezing Camilla’s hand. “Also, we’re thirty-seven to twenty-nine so I won the matching contest.”

Camilla rolled her eyes. “Are you going to hold that against me forever?”

“Yup!”

A sigh rang out, and after a moment, two voices full of laughter rang out, carried away by the wind to who knew where.

As they prepared to land near the village, Camilla slowed down.

“What’s wrong?” Kagriss asked, flying a bit further and carrying Camilla along until she finally managed to stop. “Why’d you…oh.”

They both felt it. Holy mana from the village. A single templar.


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