I’m back! Managed to squeeze out one chapter but will have to see if I can get Thursday’s release done in time.
Chapter 0101 Ambush
After Ra entered the tent, Gecko started talking.
“There are people pulling strings behind the scenes in this attack.”
“So it means that they didn’t chance upon and attacked a caravan that was passing by, but was aiming for us.”
Max supplemented Gecko’s explanation.
“That’s right. Although it seems certain that they are aiming for my life, I’m not sure if that’s all. Perhaps the requester had another aim. This time, we are transporting some valuable items …”
Gecko paused and sipped his tea.
“In other words, there may be attacks in the future, so be careful. It’s okay, we may look like this but we are adventurers from the City of Rune. Ryo and we are used to putting our lives on the line.”
Ra laughed as he said that.
“No … I was wondering if you would claim that this breaches the contract and would want to withdraw …”
Gecko laughed slightly and said ambiguously.
“No way, we won’t do that. We took on the responsibility to escort you to the Capital Aberdeen and will see it to completion. Please leave it to us. Right, Ryo?”
“Yes, of course.”
Ryo nodded in response.
He didn’t like abandoning a request once received either.
“I see. Then, I look forward to working with you once again.”
Gecko smiled happily and bowed his head.
“Even so, I wonder who are the ones trying to achieve their goals by destroying the Rho Bridge.”
Ra muttered loudly.
The day after the attack, the caravan had breakfast as usual before setting off.
It had been the third day since they left the city of Kyradea.
“Is Rho Bridge that massive?”
After last night, Ra was surprised to hear that the people involved in the attack might have caused the collapse of Rho Bridge as well.
“Oh, it’s huge. It’s 40 meters wide and 1 kilometer long. The plan itself had been around for over 100 years, and it’s been planned and abandoned, started and canceled, and so on. Finally, it was completed 15 years ago. Furthermore, it took more than five years from the start of construction to the completion.”
“That sounds amazing … I want to see it once.”
A bridge with a width of 40 meters was quite large.
Ryo was very disappointed to not be able to see it.
“In the report, they mentioned it 『collapsed』, but we don’t know how much of it has become unusable. If you have the chance, why don’t you take a trip? There should be towns on either end of the bridge so you can go sightseeing.”
Ra replied and recommended sightseeing at Rho Bridge.
After lunch, when Ryo was relaxing, five of Gecko’s subordinates came over.
If Ryo’s memory was correct, all five were children who used Water-Attribute Magic.
“Um, Ryo-san, we apologize for disturbing your break …”
“Please teach us about Water Magic.”
The eldest young man bowed, and the remaining four bowed accordingly.
“Eh? Ah … huh?”
Ryo was surprised at the sudden development.
“Yesterday, we were saved by Ryo-san’s magic. This trip is safe because Ryo-san is here, but I think we will have many more trips in the future. Until now, we were satisfied with just generating water, and in fact that is a great asset for a long-distance merchant, but I think it would be even better if we could protect ourselves.”
“Yes, so … Ice Wall, you want to be able to use yesterday’s Ice Wall?”
All five of them replied at once.
The young man who initiated the talk was about 18 years old while the youngest was probably still a 10 years old boy…
He didn’t mind teaching, but Ryo had no experience teaching magic to others.
Moreover, he did not have a firm grasp of how much magical power Ice Wall consumed …
While he was wondering what to do, Ryo’s <Passive Sonar> reacted.
He quickly stood up and said.
“It’s an emergency. We’ll come back to this later.”
Then Ryo looked around and found Max.
“Max-san! Many monsters are coming from the East!”
When Ryo shouted, Max rushed to Ryo. Then, he asked loudly while running.
“What is the number, distance and time?”
“More than a hundred, 500 meters away, one minute later. I will surround the area with an Ice Wall. Everyone, stay within the carriage circle.”
Unlike when they camped at night, the ten carriages were stationed in a circle because it was a lunch break.
“Everyone move within the carriage circle! Hurry!”
Gecko and his subordinates acted swiftly in response to Max’s shout.
Everyone finished evacuating in less than 30 seconds.
“Ryo, you’re good to go.”
“<Ice Wall 10-layer package>”
An Ice Wall was created around the outer perimeter of the carriages.
Almost as soon as it was completed, the front of the monster pack reached the camp.
Gakin Gakin Gakin Gakin Gakin ……
Monsters hit the Ice Wall and made considerable collision noises.
And it was continuous.
The monsters were mainly boa-type, but they consisted of quite a variety of types.
From east to west.
The monster that hit the Ice Wall got up and immediately started charging toward the west.
That situation continued for about five minutes, and finally the flock of monsters ended.
However, Ryo’s <Passive Sonar> captured five humans in the woods.
(Five people about 100 meters away … when did they appear?)
Max asked, finding it strange that Ryo still wouldn’t dispel the Ice Wall after the horde of monsters passed by.
Ryo kept thinking as he motioned to pause with one hand.
(Distance 100 meters … it’s about my limit? Well, let’s try it. <Ice bind>)
Without missing, the limbs of the suspicious person closest to them were restrained with an ice whip.
However, at that instant, the biological reaction of the restrained individual was interrupted.
In other words, he was killed.
This was unexpected.
Killed the moment he was immobilized … that method of sacrificing a teammate without a second thought was unusual.
Moreover, that was not the end.
A strong flame rose from the area where the individual was restrained by the Ice bind.
“No way!? <Squall> <Ice Coffin>”
Ryo extinguished the fire with heavy rain with <Squall> and surrounded the corpse with an『Ice Coffin』.
It seemed that the remaining four people attacked the Ice Coffin, but when they learned that no attack was effective, they withdrew to the east.
Ryo finally took a breather and noticed that everyone was looking at him.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Gecko-san, Max-san, Ra-san, I need to explain something …”
When Ryo said that, the three gathered and distanced away from the others.
“I can tell something happened …”
“I saw the fire blaze.”
“Well, that’s what Ryo does, don’t worry.”
Max, Gecko, and Ra each give their impressions.
“Yes. Actually, about five people were approaching under the cover of the attack of the monster.”
“I waited for a while but they remained lurking, so I tried to catch them with magic … but the remaining ones immediately killed the one I caught.”
Max was surprised at Ryo’s explanation. That was happening behind the scenes …
“That the flame just before?”
Gecko asked a question.
“Not exactly. I think they were trying to incinerate the corpse. In other words, we’re facing opponents who won’t even leave traces.”
“I see … they’re thorough.”
Gecko responded calmly, even though his life was being targeted.
He was completely prepared.
Was that the nerve of an old fox big merchant?
“I encased them in ice so that they wouldn’t be burned. They tried to attack that too but found it impossible and left to the east.”
“Really … it seems that we’re targeted by troublesome people.”
Gecko scratched his head with a bitter smile at Ryo’s explanation.
There may be traps to kill the ones who come to verify the person in the <Ice Coffin>.
Ryo included that in his explanation, so Gun, Ryo, and Max came to check on the person in the <Ice Coffin> to find and clear the traps.
Sure enough, a trap was set up to burn all those who inadvertently entered, but it was lifted by Gun without any problems.
“This is … amazing.”
Max muttered when he saw the corpse in the Ice Coffin.
“Then, I’ll erase the coffin.”
Ryo dispelled the Ice Coffin.
Max and Gun were responsible for inspecting the corpse while Ryo surveyed the surroundings.
(There must have been four people lurking besides this corpse … but there are almost no broken branches. Only a few blades of grass are bent. Are they quite accustomed to moving in the woods …? Or is it another reason …)
Of course, Ryo had no so-called ranger-like knowledge.
At best, there were only fragments of the knowledge lying around from the internet and conversations with middle and high school friends.
Ryo’s ears caught the conversation between Max and Gun.
“It’s useless, they’re thorough in the sense that they don’t carry any identifiers.”
“The only identifiers are the daggers he’s carrying … there’s something but I can’t tell due to the burn marks.”
“At best, we can only tell that they’re completely covered in black clothes?”
Ryo looked back and saw the body they were inspecting.
(Covered in black all over? I remember seeing that somewhere recently … Oh, Whitnash. The corpse on the ground when Niels and the others were fighting the Fire Magician at the sandpit. I heard from them later that the person was targeting the princess. That corpse and this corpse … look similar …? Well, all bad guys are dressed in black, so I can’t tell.)
Ryo came to an awfully lazy conclusion with his own judgment and prejudice.
(Eh? But they still bothered to burn this corpse? If there aren’t any identifiers, why go that far?)
“What’s wrong Ryo?”
While examining the body seriously, Max called out to Ryo, who seemed to be thinking about something.
“No … I was wondering why they bothered to burn this corpse …”
“It’s something they can’t leave behind … the body!”
Then Max began to remove the clothes of the corpse.
“Captain, such a hobby …”
“Idiot! I think there is something special about the body. Gun give me a hand too.”
Then they began to undress the corpse.
The skin and clothes were scorched and burned in some places.
However, they managed to find a tattoo right above the heart.
“What is this tattoo …?”
“A bird with two heads …”
“And a sword is piercing it …?”
Max, Gun, and Ryo saw it.
(Double-headed eagle emblem? Pierced with a sword? I’ve never heard of that … well, it’s natural because I have no knowledge of this world of 『Phi』.)
The three looked at the tattoo for a while, but Max took out a knife and began to carve the chest.
Gun was surprised at the sudden action and raised his voice.
“It can’t be helped. This is the only evidence. Gecko might know something.”
While saying that, he scraped off the tattoo on the chest.
“Hmm, I’ve never seen such an emblem.”
Gecko looked at the extracted tattoo but there was no such emblem in his knowledge.
“More importantly, I question … if a bird pierced with a sword is really an emblem. But it’s definitely something important to them. I feel like this is an important piece of the puzzle to keep in mind. Max, you did it well. Ryo-san and Gun too.”
Then Gecko gave each of them one large gold coin and went back to his tent with the stripped tattoo.
Ryo was worried about the tattoo, but he couldn’t solve it so he stopped thinking about it and returned to Ra and his friends.
“Ryo, welcome back. It seems that we will leave soon.”
“Okay. By the way, Ra-san, have you heard of this?”
Ryo briefly talked about what happened earlier.
“A double-headed eagle pierced with a sword? I wonder. I wonder if they have a pretty deep grudge against the double-headed eagle.”
Ra replied with his head tilted.
“I see, there is a possibility.”
While thinking about that, they heard a voice from the front.
In the woods about 5 kilometers away from the caravan.
There were five people in black costumes.
A woman called Natalia, who received reports and apologies from the four who returned, shook her head a little.
“Ice Wall huh … You mentioned that it was ice that restrained Gae’s limbs.”
“There seems to be a troublesome Magician. This is a bit of a problem … and that’s all for the report?”
That question cause a slight stir among the four who returned.
However, they couldn’t refrain from answering.
“Actually … we failed to dispose of Gae’s body.”
For the first time, her voice was mixed with displeasure. Hearing that, the four were frightened.
“I-I’m sorry …”
“Leave the apology for later, why did the disposal fail?”
The four replied with what had happened.
They tried to burn it but it suddenly rained and the fire was extinguished.
And in an instant, Gae’s body was encased in ice, and the ice wasn’t damaged by any attack.
Therefore, they withdrew.
“Ice again! This is quite troublesome …”
(I dropped the Rho Bridge and joined up but the other team made a blunder by failing to dispose of the body. Although there were adventurers, I thought that there were many ways to deal with an escort of about 20 people, but a troublesome Water-Attribute Magician was among the adventurers. I don’t think I should stick my hand further into this. The headquarters ordered me to return to report the collapse of Rho Bridge. I thought I could assassinate Gecko along the way, but would I lose everything because I was too greedy?)
“We will return to the headquarters to report of the collapse of Rho Bridge. Contact the headquarters. In addition, tell them that the assassination of Gecko has not been started yet. They would assign the assassination to another team.”
Natalia muttered to her subordinates.
“I thought Water-Attribute Magicians were useless but … I will have to change my perception.”
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