Chapter 61 : The Abnormal Situation of The Highway
「May I ask a question?」
「Of course, Aria-san. I’ll do my best to answer it.」
Reis replied to Aria’s question with a bright smile on his face.
So far, their journey was going well.
They had been ambushed by several monsters on the way, like goblins. Tama used his 《Elemental Roar》 to sweep them clean before Aria and co stepped forward to fight them.
They were now on the second night of their journey.
Everyone huddled around the campsite, eating their dinner with the sound of the crackling bonfire on the background. According to the schedule, they were supposed to arrive at Gladdstone just before noon.
As long as nothing happened on the way.
「It’s about the Earth Dragon’s skeleton. What are you going to do with it? I’ve heard you entered the bidding for the corpse but… I don’t think you’ll gain much profit like that.」
It was unbecoming of an adventurer to delve too deeply into the matters of their commissions, especially to the ones who requested them. But Aria spent two days traveling with Reis, she knew he was a good person. He wouldn’t be offended with her for asking.
「Yes, you’re right… Please, you mustn’t mention this to anyone. One of my acquaintances is an arms dealer, and he told me this corpse is a raw material for weapons. I’ve been suspecting a big war is approaching us, so…」
「I see… I suppose this could be considered a trade secret…」
Aria was satisfied with his answer. She had already heard of it.
A big war… It might be a dispute between nobles, or even countries. Many big merchants got that kind of information from their connections, treating them as absolute secrets.
The information was vague, but it was enough for Aria.
(If a big war happens, it’ll be followed by someone being falsely accused…)
While imagining such a situation, Aria stared at the floor.
She’d fight for justice, as long as it was against monsters or demons. She refused to be involved in a fight against other people.
Aria’s sense of justice was conflicted from being pulled to different ways.
「Fufufu… Tama, are you trying to comfort me? You’re so cute.」
Tama, busy with his grilled meat, noticed Aria’s depressed state. He abandoned his food to comfort his master, climbing on her lap and rubbing his face on her stomach.
Aria smiled, affectionately brushing his head.
「Gumumumu… What’s so good about that weak woman…」
Stella muttered as she looked at her rival and her love interest lost in their own world. She stuffed herself with grilled meat and burned with jealousy.
Ever since that moment when she questioned Aria, Stella hadn’t been able to hug Tama. Not even once. Now that Aria knew she saw Tama as a man, she never let her guard down.
Reis quietly observed the couple’s flowery exchange from the sides.
「That Elemental Cat is really wise, don’t you think?」
「Tama is above average in that regard. He seems to understand what people say. On top of that, he’s also equipped with a myriad of skills.」
「Hou… Does that mean he has other skills aside from the elemental attack he showed today?」
「Some of them have yet to be confirmed, but I don’t think they’re offensive skills. Well… I can’t say much about it because he has the habit of hiding his skills…」
At that moment Aria sent Tama a reproachful gaze for always using an amazing skill at the last moment. But the kitten played it dumb, cutely tilting its head and letting out a soft mew.
Aria gave up on scolding her knight and started guiding Reis to his room.
「Well, Reis-san. Now that we’re done with dinner and al―― What is that sound?」
Apparently, she was the only one who heard it, because neither Stella nor Reis seemed to hear anything. They looked at her with puzzled expressions.
Little did she know, Tama had also heard it.
(This sounds like something being pulled… Something quite heavy.)
Only Aria and Tama had heard the strange noise. The sense of hearing of both Elf and Behemoth was vastly superior to common people. Whatever it was, it was quite far from them, but they heard it, nonetheless.
「It’s gradually getting closer… Tama, Stella-chan, prepare for battle!」
「NYA~AN! (Roger, Master~!)」
「I don’t know what kind of monster you are but you’re about to become rust on my blade!」
Aria unsheathed her dual knives while Stella took out her greatsword and Mega Shield.
Reis hid behind everybody, ready to run away at the first sign of trouble.
「Nyaaa~! (《Divine Protection of Lion King》!) 」
Tama buffed everyone while they prepared before facing their enemies.
「OOH!! This is so amazing! The buff gives even night vision!」
Reis cheerfully shouted when he felt the spell buff him.
He was unaware the “night vision” was the true reason Tama had used his spell on everyone.
In front of them, their enemy slowly revealed themselves, their identity familiar to Aria.
「That is… a〝Small Treant〟, right? I’ve seen their picture before.」
It was indeed a Small Treant, a three meters tall plant-type monster.
They were the type of monster that attacked by using their weight and their branches.
「That’s strange. There shouldn’t be any Treants inhabiting this area…」
Reis was puzzled. Small Treats were native to forest areas or forest-type labyrinths.
Neither of those places existed around that area.
「Now is not the time to worry about that! Tama! Use your fire breath to burn them to ashes!」
「NYAN! (Leave it to me, master! 《Flame Howling》!)」
Answering to his master, Tama invoked his 《Flame Howling》 with an adorable purr.
『GAGYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! ? 』
The death throes of the Small Treant resounded into the night.
Tama’s skill was so powerful, not even the regeneration ability of the trolls could withstand its might. In the blink of an eye, the Small Treant was engulfed into flames and burned to ashes.
「That’s…! Aria-san, we have a problem! Several small treants are approaching very quickly!」
Meanwhile, Reis noticed something behind their enemy.
Just as he said, a crowd of treants headed towards them, their numbers greater than dozens.
「We can escape with the wagon! It’s dangerous to ride it at night, but it’s better than being overrun by monsters. If we stay here, they’ll overwhelm us! There’s too many!」
After making sure Reis was properly seated in the wagon, Aria leaped onto the coachman’s seat. Tama was on her shoulder, ready to intercept any attack while Stella boarded the loading tray and readied her sword.
「Nyan~! (《Divine Protection of Lion King》!)」
The buff was activated a second time, but now Tama’s targets were the six Lizard Carriers that were pulling the wagon. They would need the night vision to advance through the darkness.
With a whip of the reins, the Lizard Carriers started running with a loud cry.
Behind them, the Small Treants howled.
Maybe they were angry because their victims escaped.