|Author: Tsunose Bun||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3024 characters|
|Translator: Jiro||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1129 words|
“Totoara, I want your opinion on something.”
Merc said this as she showed Totoara the map after they had left the settlement and walked for a while.
“What is it?”
“According to this map there’s a bridge here. The old man we encountered in the village, though, informed me that the bridge had collapsed.”
Totoara was taken aback when she heard that. But, after a little pause, she grinned and replied,
“Then let’s take a detour. If we go through here, we’ll be able to avoid the bridge. We’ll lose a lot of time if we go to the bridge first and then opt to return. Whereas if we take the detour from the beginning, we will simply lose a little time. What’s there to think about?”
“It’s just that I can’t seem to trust that old man. First, he made up that fake illness and then even forced us to go into the forest… I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that this might be a trap.”
“A trap? Who would set a trap for us?”
“The Adventurers’ Guild.”
Totoara gasped, her gaze falling on Merc.
“Before I left Logholt a friend of mine, Jonahim, told me that this exam might be a hit.”
“That’s right. The Adventurers’ Guild, it appears, raises the difficulty of the exam every couple of years to ensure that no one passes. If we assume that the Guild employed that old man, we may be certain that there is a trap waiting for us at that detour.”
“Aren’t you overthinking this? I won’t deny that the Brega guy was a shady character, but I can’t picture the Guild designing an exam that no one could pass. After all, if they planned to fail us all then they wouldn’t have given us this map in the first place.”
Totoara spoke out after a moment’s thought, siding with the Guild. Merc was influenced a little by her argument, but there were simply too many unusual things.
“It’s not just that elderly couple. If you think about it, the bandits from yesterday were strange as well. Despite their bravado, they immediately chose to retreat.”
“That’s because of you, isn’t it?”
“That doesn’t add up. Even from the beginning, I didn’t sense any enmity from them. I’m not just talking about killing intent. There was no enmity at all. That’s just hard to believe. Given that they were assaulting two gorgeous young ladies, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had some ulterior motives.”
“Young… I suppose I get where you’re going with this.”
Totoara expressed her surprise with a slight nod, as she was taken aback by what Merc had said. She then went on to say, “In other words, what you’re trying to say is that the bandits were hired by the Guild and were simply there to prevent us from passing the exam, which is why you didn’t feel any hostility from them, correct?”
Totoara decided to offer her consent for the time being and leaned forward to speak with Merc.
“I see. Well, I can’t completely agree with that considering they cut my arm but still… So, what are you planning on doing?”
“What if we get to the bridge and it’s really collapsed, what then? Are you planning on going back?”
“If we go and then come back, we definitely won’t make it. To go from the bridge to the detour path takes two to three days, or one if we’re quick. Given this, we’d be better off taking the detour in the first place. Even if there is a trap it’s not like there’s a bridge or a tunnel there so we won’t have any problems.”
“How much time will we lose by taking the detour?”
“Beats me. Probably around half a day. However, it’s definitely faster than going to the bridge and then going back.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Merc, you need to decide.”
It was natural for Totoara to say that Merc was overthinking things because she hadn’t witnessed how the elderly couple had faked their illness. Merc, on the other hand, couldn’t shake the feeling that everything up to this point had been planned, and she was having trouble explaining this to Totoara.
“How about we trust my gut feeling on this one and take the detour? With our current pace we won’t have any problem reaching Logholt even if we lost half a day.”
“Hm… Well, if you go that far, then I guess I have no choice but to trust you. It’s true that the detour seems more reliable.”
After being persuaded by Totoara1, Merc ultimately chose the detour. This was the first time they were going to deviate from the map’s red line.
Then three days went by.
“That’s right. Nothing happened, Merc.”
Even though it had taken them a little longer, Merc and Totoara had made it to the opposite side of the bridge. They had now returned to the red line once more.
They returned to the bridge, however, in order to reassure themselves. When they did, they noticed that the bridge had collapsed, precisely as the old man had said. They would have had to forgo the exam had they chosen to cross the bridge.
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In other words, taking the detour had been the right choice.
“See. You were just overthinking things.” Totoara said in a boastful manner.
“Was I really…”
Merc, on the other hand, was forced to accept the truth in front of her eyes, despite her reservations.
Although it was true that the elderly couple had feigned illness, what the old man had told her was also true. If the Adventurers’ Guild was trying to keep them from passing the exam, then everything they had done up to this point was illogical.
“Let’s go. There appears to be a lake ahead. How do they expect us to get through it? Should we maybe take another detour?”
“We’ll decide on that when we get there.”
The red line on the map ran directly across the lake, but they would have no choice but to go around the lake’s perimeter unless there was a bridge or a boat.
After a short stroll, both girls were struck by the sight of a giant lake.
However, there was neither a bridge nor a boat on the bank at that lake. There wasn’t anything that could help them get across.
“Just what is this?! Are they telling us to swim across?!”
Totoara grumbled as she studied the map the Guild had given her. Merc, on the other hand, gazed across the lake and noticed a little boat floating at a spot just off the shore.
She also noticed a person inside the boat2.
- Robinxen: A terrible decision really.
- Robinxen: In other words, had they followed the red line they’d have reached the boat in time, two step trap.