|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 838 words|
Three Adventurers were occupying the vicinity of the cave entrance. All of them wore heavy equipment and had handbags stuffed full of something laying around.
They were laughing loudly and raised toasts. They sat around a bonfire and drank something, most likely alcohol.
Seeing what looked like scales giving off black luster through the gaps of their bags, it was no doubt that these were the same Adventurers that Cortina judged to have come for the Dragon’s scales. Then why would they come here… I started wondering but quickly realized the reason.
This forest was unexpectedly vast. The only open places in it were probably the hot spring where the Dragon has settled and in front of this cave. There were no other places, unless you returned to the town.
But if they returned to the town, they’d have to keep their mouths shut about their sudden profit. After all, the scales were first come first served limited treasures. If they blabbered their mouths, it could invite potential competition. And there was no knowing when the Dragon would return to the hot spring.
In other words, this palace was ideal for them.
The Carbuncle raised a surprised voice from the sudden encounter. Me and Cortina were experienced Adventurers, so we knew better to raise our voices, but it was unreasonable to ask that from a monster.
With that, the Adventurers finally noticed us. They stopped their cups and directed impure looks at us.
“Who are you supposed to be?”
A woman shouldering a child was certainly a sight that would draw suspicion, but still nowhere near as suspicious as them. Their bearded faces were flushed due to alcohol and their armors had scratches all over filled with rust.
They didn’t care for them, but seemed like they have used it for a long time. Based on that, they appeared to be quite experienced, but their character was on the opposite vector.
“Err… We came to recover a lost child. Don’t mind us.”
“A lost child, you say?”
Cortina answered socially and showed them Mikey on her back. She then shifted her position to give Mikey over to me.
“Shh, just take him.”
If I carried him, I wouldn’t be able to fight. If possible, I wished Cortina did it instead. Just when I was about to ask that, the guys raised wild voices.
“Hey, what’s that behind you—is that actually a Carbuncle?”
The voice asked in amazement. He probably never thought he’d find a Mythical beast right after successfully accomplishing the plain yet rewarding job of collecting the Dragon’s scales. However, his yell invited nothing but trouble.
Carbuncles were protected beasts. Even by simply following us, it could cause problems. Moreover, the gem on its forehead was extremely valuable. To the point that one would risk breaking the law to obtain.
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“Quite attached to you eh? Hey, won’t you lend it to us for a bit?”
The man asked over-familiarly. The other two also moved to entrap us in between. But just before that encirclement was complete…
“Take Mikey and run, hurry!”
Then I finally realized why she handed Mikey over. Cortina… Planned to hold them off here on her own. Their personalities aside, they seem to have some skill. They might be too much to handle for a rearguard like her.
Naturally, our odds of winning wouldn’t change even if I joined in. The usual me, that is.
If I used threads, then my strength would make a difference. If I joined forces with Cortina, we could drive them off. But that would lead to revealing myself to her.
“Just go. I’ll catch up with you later!”
She said that, but it would be difficult to break free from the encirclement of three people. It was just like…
“Just like me from back then, huh.”
Stalling for time with her life on the line. Well, in her case, if she didn’t have us as a burden, she might’ve been able to do something. Snares and traps that utilized the terrain were her specialties. Perhaps she could handle them somehow if she utilized her strong area.
However, at the end of the day, she was a magician. And neither strong like Maxwell, nor fast like Maria. She was clearly above your ordinary Adventurer, but it was hard to say if it was against three of them.
While I was weighing my options of running and joining, Cortina’s voice urged on. Her yell seemed to have pushed my back, I broke into a run. You could say this was a conditional reflex because I followed her commands in my previous life.
I rushed inside the forest’s dark depths. One man tried to come after me, but Cortina got in the way and blocked his path. Then, she immediately started chanting as the three men rushed towards her.
I felt the signs of battle from behind as I continued rushing through the forest with Mikey and the Carbuncle.