The day after the fight with the bandits. Since then, there had been no other attacks by bandits, and the merchants who had stayed up the night before had breakfast before starting a little earlier as they went along the highway.
Many of the merchants were mentally strained due to having gone through a bandit attack and then being asked to deal with the bandit corpses. The appearance of several merchants dozing off in the carriages was noticeable.
(Well, they weren’t originally frontier merchants, I understand they’re not used to that kind of thing…….that said, even if we are escorting them, it’s amusing to see them completely let their guards down while sleeping.)
Rei thought to himself as he walked at his usual position behind the carriages with Set.
Looking to the left and right of the carriages, Taenia and Fabel were wary of the surroundings, not showing any signs of drowsiness.
After the fight with the Prairie Wolves and the bandits, they had left the watch to Rei and slept. So as expected of D rank adventurers, unlike the merchants, they didn’t show any signs of drowsiness.
Fortunately, they continued down the highway for several hours without any attacks from monsters or bandits.
「I can see the city of Sabrusta!」
One of the merchants on the leading carriage gave a yell.
At the same time, the merchants who had been dozing in the carriage at the back woke to cheers.
Meanwhile, Rei headed for the front carriage with Set and called out to Alektor.
「With Set, there will be a fuss trying to get into the city again. I think it would be better let Set roam around here, like he did at Abuero.」
「I agree. Since we’ve come this far, we won’t have to worry about being attacked by monsters or bandits anymore. Rather, I would be very grateful if you could save us the trouble.」
「Understood. Well, unlike in Abuero, I don’t have to stay in Sabrusta. So I don’t need to split with Set like last time. ……Hey, Set. Go play around for a while.」
Set nodded at Rei’s words, spread his wings after a few steps and flew away from the merchant caravan.
Looking back, Rei turned to Alektor and noticed him staring back.
「No, I thought I heard you say that you weren’t going to stay at Sabrusta……」
「Hm? Ah. Isn’t the escort only up to this city? In that case, there shouldn’t be any problems.」
「That’s right, but, what are you plans from here?」
The way Alektor had been thinking, he had thought Rei would stay the night in Sabrusta and head back to Gilm the next day. But from what Rei had said, it sounded like he was planning to head back as soon as he finished this request.
Rei nodded without any hesitation, because that was what he had been planning to do.
「Of course. The escort request was only up to this city right? Sure, I might looked around the city for a bit to see if I can find anything interesting, but I’ll definitely start to head back today.」
「But then, won’t you have to camp overnight again?」
「Hm? Ah, I see. You don’t know, do you? Given Set’s speed when he flies, it will only take me half a day to get back to Gilm.」
「……I-Is that so?」
Rei nodded naturally at Alektor, whose eyes went wide as he replied unconsciously.
In fact, Rei had already calculated in his mind how long it would take to go back, comparing it to the time he needed to get to Baar.
「However, if it will take me half a day, it’s highly likely that the gates will be closed by the time I get back to Gilm. In the end, I’ll still need to camp for a night.」
「Then, why don’t you stay a night in Sabrusta and leave early tomorrow morning?」
「I had considered that, but it would be troublesome if Set started sulking again.」
With a wry smile, Rei spoke as he watched the city of Sabrusta draw nearer.
Basically, back in Gilm, Set slept in the stables while Rei slept in his room. Set didn’t have many complaints about that, but he still looked forward to the opportunity of sleeping with Rei.
In the first place, monsters that appeared along the highway were not considered enemies to a Griffon like Set. Rather, they were more like food. So camping with Rei was closer to a picnic to Set.
「……I see, that’s regrettable. As for me, it’s quite unfortunate that I have to part ways with Rei-san here. But thinking about it, it would certainly be troublesome if Set started sulking.」
「What, you still haven’t given up on trying to recruit me?」
「That’s right. If I could hire a promising adventurer like Rei-san as an escort, I would be buying more security. I was thinking about renegotiating here.」
Rei shook his head at Alektor, who was explaining with regret.
「I think I told you in Gilm, but unfortunately I can’t do that. Only on the frontier can Set and I grow.」
「……I understand. But if you need anything, please contact me. My merchant group basically operates in the center of the kingdom, our headquarters is in the Imperial Capital, but we’ll probably have a branch in Sabrusta soon as well. 」
「Branch office? Aren’t you travelling merchants?」
「Yes. Of course, our merchant caravans are definitely our main business. But we also manage stores. However, I’ve left that to an old friend and I lead the caravans myself.」
Even as they conversed, the merchant caravan continued down the highway, eventually arriving at Sabrusta.
After showing their ID and guild cards, they completed the procedures to enter the city. Unlike at Abuero, Set wasn’t around, so they managed to enter without any commotion. And……
「Then, I’ll mark the request as complete here. Thank you very much.」
Alektor handed over a signed document as proof of request completion.
「I was glad to be able to work with someone like you. It’s a bit difficult since you mainly work somewhere else, but if the opportunity comes up, let’s work together again.」
「That’s not fair~. I want to go with Set~.」
「Hey, Louise. I’ve known for a long time that you like animals……but why do you cling to Set so much?」
Fabel smiled as she said goodbye. Louise tried to follow Rei back to Set, but Taenia stopped her with an appalled expression.
Having seen this scene several times over the past few days, Rei smiled at the sight.
The surrounding area may have been close to the city gates, but it was winter, so there wasn’t much activity. As such their group was looked at strangely by passersby.
「That’s right. I don’t know if we’ll have the chance again, but if there is, I might ask you to join us on a request again. I’ll look forward to working with you again then.」
「What are you talking about? As the higher rank, Rei will be the one taking care of us then.」
Like that, Rei split up with them as he entered the city.
Louise was still complaining from the back, clamouring for Set, but Taenia was holding her down as she scolded.
Smiling at that situation, since he had come to Sabrusta, he decided to look around to see if there was anything interesting.
There wasn’t anything of particular interest, but there was a street stall that attracted Rei’s attention. If it had been a stall selling ordinary skewers, Rei wouldn’t have paid much attention. However, it was different if the stall sold udon, which had spread all the way from Gilm. In Abuero, he hadn’t looked at the food stalls as he hadn’t the time to go around the city. Rei hadn’t thought that udon would have spread from Gilm all the way to Sabrusta, which was quite far away, and immediately ordered some udon. But…..after being boiled, the noodles had been simmered in soup and had gone all soggy. It was so sticky that Rei almost couldn’t eat it. He had to flatten everything down before trying to pour it into his mouth.
After walking around the city, Rei hadn’t made any new discoveries aside from magic items and new food, with the exception of bad udon. He bought some firewood and a variety of food for his plans for the night and then headed for Sabrusta gate.
The time was just past noon. Rei judged that he should to be able to make some distance by riding on Set if he left at this time.
「Your ID please.」
「Here it is.」
Rei simply handed over his guild card, put on his hood and left the city without any particular issues.
As a guard, he was suspicious of Rei, who wasn’t carrying much with him, despite Rei being an adventurer. However, seeing the letter C on the guild card, he hesitated to ask about it.
Fortunately for Rei, the city guard was one of the ones who had looked through Alektor’s merchant caravan’s ID and guild cards. He remembered that Rei had been an escort of the merchant and decided to trust the C rank written on the guild card. If it had been a thickheaded guard, Rei might have been detained for holding a fake guild card. After all, Rei looked delicate and short, not like a C rank veteran.
「Even if I meet up with Set, if it’s too near the city, it will still cause a fuss.」
Rei muttered to himself as he walked a short distance down the highway. When Sabrusta was out of sight, he looked around before calling out.
His call was loud, but not to the extent of reaching Sabrusta. However……
Obviously, Set had good hearing and couldn’t miss him. He immediately rushed down to Rei with a cry.
Then, Set proceeded to rub his face all over Rei. While patting his head, Rei took out a sandwich with plenty of meat he had bought in Sabrusta from the Misty Ring.
「Here, I’ve kept you waiting. Here’s a souvenir. I think it’s quite good as the shop was doing quite well.」
Set ate the sandwich Rei handed over while giving a happy cry. A large number of sandwiches, costing about a silver coin, were emptied into Set’s stomach in a matter of minutes.
「Now then, let’s go back to Gilm. We’ll have to camp out for a night……but we won’t have to worry about guarding anything, so it’s not too hard for us. The cold isn’t really an issue either.」
Saying that, Rei got onto Set’s back.
Set also lowered his back quietly to make it easir for Rei to get on.
「So, let’s head back to Gilm. I want to eat udon at the Satisfied Stomach.」
Rei said that as he remembered the udon he had eaten in Sabrusta.
As for Set, udon was a bit hard to eat, but he didn’t dislike it, so he gave a cry to say that he had no objections.
「You think so too Set? ……Then, let’s go shall we?」
With a cry, Set flapped his wings and flew up into the sky after a short runup.
Hearing his cry, nearby monsters all scattered in fear of the Griffon, but that was a story that had nothing to do with these two.
A few hours out from Sabrusta. Rei and Set had already passed the place where they had set up camp the previous night and were attacked by bandits. They had also flown past Abuero. However, the sun had already set, and even if they headed for Gilm, Rei calculated that it would be in the middle of the night……so, he asked Set to land on a rocky outcrop near the road.
It it fine here? Set seemed to ask with a tilted head. Rei stroked his head with a smile in response.
「There’s no problems here. I had planned to camp out for a night anyway, so I bought some firewood in Sabrusta.」
Saying that to Set, he took out some firewood and the Death Scythe from the Misty Ring before using magic to light a fire.
Then, putting a pot of stew on the bonfire, he stabbed Icebird meat skewers around the campfire.
The stew was already ready, but since he was used to it, he kept it hot anyway. Taking out some freshly baked bread from the Misty Ring, he shared an extremely luxurious meal, if he had been an ordinary adventurer, with Set.
After eating some dried fruit for dessert, Rei called out to Set, who was lying on the ground without care of the cold winter night.
「……Well then, let’s get on with today’s main event.」
Saying that, he took out the Icebird magic stones from the Misty Ring.