Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The ones you’re with」
All the townspeople were watching us as walked by. Ariane was currently walking down the street without her hood on and her face completely exposed. Her well arranged features, golden eyes, and the lilac skin peeking through her cloak would naturally catch everyone’s eye.
“It’s so strange, for an elf to live openly in a town of untrustworthy humans……”
She looked at the town’s residents while saying that. Once she put her gray hood on, the number of eyes watching us began to decrease.
“Ariane-dono, we should book a room at an inn for the night.”
“Why? We can set out for Lanbaltic once we capture the Sandworm, right?”
Ariane looked puzzled as she said that.
“Let’s say that it takes until midnight to capture the Sandworm, then we’d have to stay overnight, wouldn’t we?”
“I see what you mean…… Also, sorry for my selfishness……”
She must have remembered our talk with Casey because she abruptly apologized.
“Ariane-dono, since you’re my employer I have the duty to comply with your wishes as much as possible. Besides, the best part of a journey are the detours.”
She offered me a small thanks as she turned away and headed towards the inn district at a brisk pace. I widened my stride to keep pace with her.
There weren’t many inns to begin with, and most of the larger ones were occupied by the adventurers, so the two of us had to book a double room in a small inn for the night.
According to the owner of the inn the highway that passed this town didn’t see much traffic, so it was rare for anyone other than adventurers who were searching for monster materials to visit.
After booking our room, Ariane and I toured the city until the sun rose to the middle of the sky.
This time, when Ariane and I were approaching the guards, they quietly allowed us to carry on. However, before we reached the gate, Casey opened it and immediately came out.
A large four-horse wagon was behind him, with one person in the coachman’s seat and three other men in light armor following it. Everyone but Casey was covering their faces with a cloth which made them look like robbers out of a western.
Dried grass had been piled atop the decomposing goblin corpses in an attempt to block their foul smell, but the smell was still leaking out and the guards scowled whenever it reached them.
“Yaa, let’s depart.”
Casey was the only one unaffected by the smell as he cheerfully started to lead the wagon along. After a brief talk with two city guards we left the town and headed towards the highway.
After reaching the highway, we turned north. After a bit of traveling, we turned west and headed into the wasteland.
Casey had been teaching us about Sandworms throughout the entire journey. Sandworms apparently burrowed deep underground during the day and searched for food during the night. The reason we brought the goblin-corpses along was that they mostly ate dead flesh.
Their weak point was fire, but their skin was able to resist fire to a certain point. However, since we would risk burning the body of the specimen we were trying to collect, it had been decided to avoid using fire magic.
“I know of Soilworms, can’t you simply cut off their heads to kill them?”
“Soilworms that live in the forest are about three meters long, but Sandworms are twenty meters long. Their girth is so big that a fully grown adult can barely wrap his arms around them, and their elasticity makes it near impossible to decapitate them, even with a good sword. On top of possessing amazing strength, they retreat into the ground the moment they detect danger, which makes it difficult to defeat them..”
Casey answered Ariane’s question with a troubled expression.
Still, a twenty-meter long worm is quite the monster. However, if they’re only as wide as an adult’s arm-span, I should be able to cut them with the 『Holy Thunder Sword』. I wonder if it’d be possible to test it out with another Sandworm after this.
After a while, the ground began to soften and Casey soon looked back and signaled for the wagon to stop advancing.
“Okay, this place is good enough. Let’s scatter the bait around the area, then hide the wagon in the shadow of a rock formation and wait in it until nightfall.
As he showed the men where to place the bait, I spotted a large rock formation bursting from the red colored, barren wasteland. No one would notice if a wagon and a group of people were hidden behind that large rock formation.
Following Casey’s instructions the guards used their spears to stab the goblins before carrying them to the designated locations. It was a task that made everybody scowl.
Once the bait was set, we moved behind the rocks and started to chat while waiting for nightfall. Ponta curled up on Ariane’s knees and it wasn’t long before I could hear her light snoring.
The guards took turns poking their heads out from behind the rocks while Casey was writing down the description of a nearby growing plant on a piece of parchment
As the sun started to set, the shrubs that managed to grow in the discolored soil were dyed in an orange hue as far as the eye could see. The shadows of the rock formations began to stretch along the wasteland. While the temperature was gradually falling, Casey’s tension only seem to rise. Even the guards were smiling wryly while Casey repeatedly poked his head out from behind the rock as he became more and more restless.
Eventually, a pair of flying monsters that we weren’t here for started flying in our direction with the sun at their backs. They had figures that I recognized. With their bird-like head and four-meter-long wing span, there was no doubt these monsters were Sand Wyverns like those from this morning.
When the sound of their flapping wings could be heard, Ponta leaped from Ariane’s knees and wrapped herself around Ariane’s neck, who simply grinned in delight at the situation.
“Sand Wyverns have arrived. They don’t usually consume corpses.”
Casey was muttering something as he peeked from behind the rock to stare at the Wyverns that had landed in the area with the bait.
The two Sand Wyverns slowly approached the unattended goblins and began to peck at it like birds. However, one of them quickly lifted its head and cautiously looked around before taking to the skies. The other one must have been crazy about the goblin as it tried to take another peck when something suddenly shot out of the ground. The Wyvern shouted as it was dragged underground.
As if that were the signal, other large figures began to burst from the ground one after another. Their skin was a mossy green with a darkish yellow mixed in, and four flaps pulled back to reveal their mouths, each lined with an uncountable amount of fangs. Wiggling around in search of their prey, we could see some sand blowing out of gill-like organs that were a short distance under their mouth and a myriad of centipede-like legs were lining their stomachs.
Though only a section of their bodies was above ground, they easily exceeded five meters as they approached the rotten goblins we had set as bait. There were five of them in total.
“Arya〜, I never imaged that so many of them would come out…… It would be completely suicidal to try challenging this many Sandworms.
Casey’s voice was tinged with a hint of disappointment as he looked upon this spectacle.
“Aren’t Sandworms only suppose to eat corpses? They had no hesitations preying on the Wyvern.”
“I said they usually ate corpses, I never said they didn’t eat living beings.”
Casey focused on the Sandworms as he answered one of the guard’s question. If that’s the case then couldn’t humans be their prey as well?
I could probably kill this many if I used magic, but I wondered if it was alright to take such conspicuous actions here.
Since there were five large Sandworms, there obviously weren’t enough goblins to go around, so one of them was driven away from the bait.
The one that had been driven away suddenly noticed something and turned it’s head in our direction. It drove its head back underground before the earth began to part, indicating that it was heading towards us.
One of the guards screamed in terror as he saw the approaching worm and started to run toward the highway.
As if it had a periscope underground, the worm changed direction and started to chase after the guard that ran.
“Che, as if!”
I shot out from behind the formation in the same way and recklessly chased after the guard with my strong legs. By the time I caught up to him, the Sandworm had emerged from the ground with its fangs out, ready to consume its prey. Without enough time to draw my sword, I tackled the large Sandworm head on.
I grabbed hold of the Sandworm around its gills and stopped its charge with pure strength. It immediately started trying to wiggle out of my hold while it’s mouth hung open like an alien egg. I could hear a harsh “GICHICHI” as the beast twisted its large body in an attempt to break free of my hold, forcing me to increase the strength I used accordingly.
The guard was unable to stand and quickly started to scuttle back on his butt. I could see traces of wetness between his crotch. I wonder if this monster has some kind of heightened sense of smell.
The Sandworm arched its body in an attempt to sink back underground and once again writhed in my arms. This twenty-meter long monster had a considerable amount of power, I had to crouch down in a desperate attempt to keep the worm’s head above ground.
If the Sandworm dove underground then it would be in its home-field. I took the initiative and started to pull the worm out of the ground like a radish. However, the opponent desperately tried to avoid certain death and engaged me in tug-a-war. However, the large body of the Sandworm gradually started to pile into a wiggling mass as I pulled it out of the ground.
The Sandworm flailed about as opened its mouth in an attempt to bite at my chest. I immobilized its body by holding it down with my foot and tightened my grip into a sleeper hold.
Ariane rushed towards Sandworm and was waiting for her chance to strike with her sword in hand.
“It’s alright, Ariane-dono! Everything’s going great!”
I informed Ariane of my safety to prevent her from dealing a fatal blow to the Sandworm while applying more pressure to the hold. Before long the Sandworm began to feebly convulse as I applied a sleeper hold from a better posture.
The movements of the struggling upper and lower halves dimmed just like the remaining light in the wastelands as the chokehold started to take effect.
“No way, no way, no way… it’s impossible for a person to strangle a Sandworm with their bare hands……”
Casey said that as he and the rest of the guards approached. While keeping an eye on the behemoth on the ground, the group walked towards me. As the remaining guards ran up and were at a loss for words as they stared at me in a wide circle.
A pointless discussion began in my head about how counterproductive it was to avoid using flashy magic in an attempt to be inconspicuous, only to defeat a monster with superhuman strength. No, it was already too late for being inconspicuous.
I stood up while brushing off the dust from my cloak and armor, trying to act as if nothing happened.
Looking back at the area we had placed the bait, I saw that the Sand Worms and goblins were already gone, leaving only a barren wasteland behind.
“Casey-dono, I assume that the sample collection is complete?”
When I looked back at the worm at my feet, Casey was already moving around and prodding the large creature.
“It’s sufficient! I never expected to be able to collect such a beautiful specimen.”
Casey was brimming with joy as he spoke in a slightly exciting tone.
“Casey-dono, the sun will be setting soon. If we don’t move the specimen immediately will run the risk of being attacked by Sand Wyverns.”
One of the guards was voicing their concerns to Casey after looking at the sky. The guard who had been chased was being helped by another guard.
The sun was already hidden behind the mountain range in the distance and the sky was already a dark indigo color.
“Is that so, I had assumed that we would have to camp out, but things were wrapped up rather quickly.”
Following Casey’s instructions, the Sandworm was loaded onto the wagon. Once the worm’s large body was loaded up we set off immediately.
“Recently a group of Sand Wyverns has been appearing around town.”
On the way back to Buranbeina, Casey informed us of that fact as the guards walking beside the wagon nervously surveyed the sky.
“We encountered a few of them on our way to Buranbeina. They flow off after we struck a couple of them down.”
“Is that true!? Could you tell me where they are, so that Sukitosu-kun can send a team to recover them?”
Since Ariane and I had no particular use for them, we nodded and gave him the location of the bodies.
Before long we neared the hill that Buranbeina was built upon. The guards’ tension began to ease once we were in the reach of the city lights. The town gates had already been closed, but when Casey walked in front of the guards on duty they were opened once again.
“Casey-done, we’ll take our leave here.”
After entering the town, I called out to him in the town square. Casey looked back at us before grabbing a cloth bundle from the wagon and walked back to us.
“Today was a wonderful day. Here are the books I promised as a reward. I’m grateful that they will be useful to those of my village. Hopefully, these will inspire some of our brethren to look beyond the village.”
He handed Ariane the bundle and held out his right hand. She stretched out her own hand and shook his.
“Thank you very much. You should be more selective of the people you allow to read these.”
Hearing Ariane’s words, Casey just smiled and waved a friendly farewell before following the wagon to the feudal lord’s mansion.
“I guess we should get some rest……”
After watching Casey’s back disappear, we turned around and headed towards our inn.