The next day in Abuero, an hour after the 6am bell had rung. Alektor, the other merchants, escorting adventurers and Rei walked to the main gate to leave the city.
Rei handed over his guild card to the leader of the guards, who still seemed apologetic for yesterday.
「Huh? It’s you?」
Unexpectedly, a voice called out to him from behind.
When Rei, who had handed over his guild card, turned around, he saw four adventurers.
The one at the front was a warrior who seemed to be the leader of the group. His deep blue scale armour, made from the scales of snake and other serpentine monsters stood out. Rei recalled a person with such characteristic equipment.
「If I remember correctly, the Sword Bees from that time……」
「Yes! You helped us out there! But, why are you here at Abuero?」
「As you can see, I’m part of a small escort. ……That aside, how did you know it was me? We barely met and I’m not even someone that conspicuous.」
With Set, Rei wouldn’t have been as surprised since Set stood out greatly. However, Rei was just was just wearing his Dragon Robe, which with its concealment effect, looked like an ordinary robe. He wasn’t holding his Death Scythe either, one of his most recognisable features. That was why Rei was surprised that they were able to recognise him like that.
「What are you talking about? Didn’t you give us most of the Sword Bees? I can’t forget the face of such a benefactor.」
「……Is that all? Well, you seem to be doing fine. So, why are you preparing to head out at this time?」
Being in line behind people who were about to leave the city meant that they had something to leave the city for as well. Rei asked them, but the adventurers only smiled.
(……I see. Short on money.)
Rei more or less understood when he looked at them. It was because they held a similar feeling to Milein, when she was short on money.
And he wasn’t wrong.
「Ah, ahahahaha. Well, you know. It’s a……bit.」
Rei nodded at the man with scale armour, who tried to pass it off with a bitter smile.
「Well, good luck. As for me……」
「Hey, Rei. We’re leaving now, stop chatting and join us!」
Rei was about to say something when he heard Taenia’s voice from the merchant caravan.
he raised his hand lightly to let Taenia know he had heard her.
「……As you can see, I have to get going.」
The adventurer wearing scale armour hurriedly called out as Rei headed over to Taenia.
「We’re a rank E party, Blue Sky Blades! Thank you for your help with the Sword Bees. If there’s anything we can help with, please let me know!」
In response, Rei raised his hand back slightly as he headed over to Alektor’s merchant caravan.
「Do you know those people?」
Fabel asked as the carriages started to move, but Rei shook his head slightly.
「They’re acquaintances. When I passed by here previously, I killed some Sword Bees but didn’t have the time to strip materials from them. So I just gave them to those guys who happened to pass by.」
「……Don’t you have an item box?」
Fabel asked while walking near a carriage. On her back was her beloved shield, with her sheathed sword at her waist, ready to be drawn at any time.
Her old shield had been damaged beyond repair in the battle against the Icebirds. But, she had gotten a new shield in Gilm, completely different from her old one.
After glancing at the shield for a moment, Rei replied with a small nod.
「Ah. Even if I have an item box, I still have to touch each one to store them. I didn’t have the time.」
「……What were you in such a hurry for?」
「That’s. ……Ah, he’s here.」
As he looked up to mislead Fabel, he saw the figure of Set gliding down towards the ground as he stretched his wings.
As soon as he landed on the ground, Set rushed towards Rei at high speed.
No matter how he slowed down, Set was still Griffon over 2m in length. Fabel’s cheeks twitched as she moved away from Rei. The neighbouring carriages also sped up as to avoiding getting caught up. The horses that pulled the carriage were also scared of Set and showed no resistance to speeding up……no, rather, they sped up quite happily. Of course, the horses were still well trained enough not to fall into a panic.
「Oh! ……There, there. Set, how was spending the night outside? Are you hungry?」
Set didn’t blast Rei away as he ran over……instead, he just stopped and stood there as Rei stroked him.
While everyone around him looked at Set with surprise, Set was just satisfied with Rei. After finally calming down, Set took up his place next to Rei.
「Um……Rei-san, are you okay?」
「Ah, sorry for surprising you. No problem. We can’t waste too much time here, so let’s move on.」
Rei replied to Alektor, who had asked cautiously. At that moment, the people around him all though 『As if you can talk!』. In a sense, it was natural for all of them to think that.
「T-That’s right. Then let’s head off from Abuero, the carriages are lined up already. We’ll be relying on the rest of you as escorts like yesterday. Considering the distance to Sabrusta, we’ll be camping out tonight, so be careful about that. Well then, let’s go.」
Along with Alektor’s words, the carriages lined up like yesterday. Beautiful Raindrops stood to the left and right of the carriages. Rei and Set stood to the back.
Louise wanted to be with Set, but Taenia forced her away so as to not cause any fuss as they started to move towards the city of Sabrusta.
Perhaps it was due to the presence of Set. Same as yesterday, the caravan continued down the road without being attacked by monsters.
In the first place, they were already out of the frontier, so they didn’t have to worry that much about monster attacks. But instead……
(Tch, have they come again?)
With his extraordinary eyesight, Rei discovered a figure hiding behind a tree at the side of the road.
It wasn’t long after leaving the city of Abuero that he had noticed the presence of a few people tracking them. The scouts, if they could be called that, were so adept at hiding themselves that when Rei had made a casual remark about them during lunch to Taenia, who was in charge of the escort, he found out that none of them had actually noticed.
In this case, it should be noted that the skills of the members of Beautiful Raindrops weren’t low, but that the skills of the bandits were superior. Rei suspected that the bandits’ skills had improved due to their acts of robbery along this highway.
(Should I have ignored Taenia and Alektor’s opinions and done something different during lunch?)
He had thought about that, but Taenia hadn’t wanted to split up their strength and be caught out.
Rei then suggested that Set could attack from the sky. Taenia was eager to support that method, but this time, Alektor expressed his reluctance, albeit passively. Certainly, Rei and Set were powerful on their own. However, that was just their individual strength. Alektor’s opinion was that the bandits would take advantage of their numbers if one of them went alone.
(But the came to tail us soon after leaving Abuero……perhaps there are bandits on the streets of Abuero.)
It wasn’t strange at all. In teh first place, bandits were most common on the highway connecting Abuero to Sabrusta, and it was only natural that there would be people on the streets gathering information about merchant caravans travelling through.
「What’s wrong Rei. Is it that again?」
She might have noticed Rei’s frown as he walked. Taenia, who was walking next to one of the carriages, slowed down and called out to Rei.
「Ah. Can you see several trees growing a bit further ahead along the highway? There was a person there who seemed to be a bandit scouting, just behind the second tree from the right. ……But, he’s not there anymore. He probably came over to check the level of the merchant escort.」
Taenia listened to Rei’s words and turned to look down the road ahead, but unfortunately, she could only see the trees that grew there. However, as Rei had said already, the man who may have been acting as a scout for the bandits had already left.
「Hmm, I’m afraid they’ll be more than happy to attack us then.」
「Probably. That’s why I had suggested catching a bandit while we were having lunch. If we could get some more information, we would have be able to find out where they are and clean them up in one go.」
「That’s not possible as long as your employer says you can’t. And in the end, they were just scouts right? In the worst case, they might be just acting as bait to be found.」
「……You think the bandits think that much?」
「I don’t know. However, there are bandits spread out all through this highway. Who would lead groups of bandits? It wouldn’t be strange for them to use their heads to some extent. Well, if they’re really smart, I don’t think they would continue being bandits in the first place.」
Rei nodded after listening to Taenia’s words for a few seoncds.
Certainly, the head of a group of bandits should be more intelligent than the bandits he led……or shrewed in their own way.
「However, I think the possibility of being attacked is actually quite low.」
「Why do you think that?」
At Rei’s question, Taenia tunred to look at Set, who was walking next to Rei.
「Do you think bandits would attack when there’s a Griffon around? Normally, you wouldn’t attack if you saw an A rank monster. No matter how you think about it, they can’t win.」
Rei was understood quite easily at Taenia’s words.
But even so, Rei still had an unpleasant premonition.
「Still……if they were to attack, what do you think?」
「I’m sure they won’t attack. ……But, you’re right. If they were to attack, I guess it would be tomorrow at dawn? It’ll will probably be the time when a guard’s wariness is lowest.」
「I guess so. Then in that case……is it better for me to do the dawn watch?」
To Rei, he had already assumed the bandits would attack. Although she was surprised at Rei’s expression, Taenia was no longer confident that there wouldn’t be an attack.
(If Rei, the youngest rank C adventurer in the frontier city of Gilm says so, is it too rash to discount the possibility of a bandit attack?)
Thinking of that, they continued down the road, and before long, the sun started to set. Alektor told them to stop the carriages near a decently sized forest and they each started to prepare to camp.
「Then, can we have two night watch shifts?」
After eating dinner, as it was winter, the surroundings were already dark. However, it was still too early to sleep. The merchants talked among themselves, warming around a campfire while drinking, playing card games and killing time.
Meanwhile, Rei and the three adventurers from Beautiful Raindrops were discussing the order of the night watch as they warmed themselves up around the campfire.
「Two shifts, huh. It would definitely be nice for the three of us to be able to keep watch at the same time……but is it okay for Rei to be by himself?」
At Taenia’s words, Rei shrugged his shoulders and turned to look at Set, who was lying on the ground next to him. By the way, only Rei, Taenia and Fabel were actually discussing the night watch. Louise was just patting Set’s fur with an ecstatic expression on her face.
「You don’t need to worry about that with Set. To be honest, I think it’s enough to just have Set keep watch.」
Rei held out a hand to stop Fabel as she almost responded on reflex.
「I know. You want to say we have to keep a watch ourselves because we’re hired as escorts right? I have no objections to that of course. That’s why I’m proposing this.」
「……Are you confident with just yourself and your monster?」
Rei nodded without hesitation at Taenia’s question asking for confirmation.
Rei had absolute confidence in Set’s abilities on night watch. It was not groundless confidence, but confidence after having left it to Set many times before.
「Well, I’m okay with it. If you consider Set, Rei’s self confidence isn’t unfounded. And Rei himself is a higher rank adventurer than the rest of us.」
Taenia, the leader of Beautiful Raindrops, nodded and decided on the order of shifts for the night watch.