Under the Large, Mysterious Tree
Mister’s covered wagon was moving at full speed below us. Dust clouds rose in the air as the horse’s hooves kicked the dirt. It was like watching a race. They were driving the horses so fast that I began to worry about them as I descended. When I was level with the driver’s seat, I called out to him.
“Hello there. You can slow down now.”
“Huh!? Ah, Mister Asagi!?”
He looked at me twice with an expression of shock. Then he slowed down and eventually stopped. The wagon behind us followed suit.
“Um, is everything alright then?”
“Yeah. There’s no problem at all.”
“But you were just fighting the giant…”
I appear to be quite lucky. Mister muttered with a laugh. Well, I don’t care to sound conceited, but it was probably quite rare to have two high-ranking Adventurers go on an escort quest. But I always thought of these kinds of surprising encounters as what made traveling so wonderful.
“Phew…Well, I think we might be a little ahead of schedule, thanks to that run. But now it’s probably necessary to have the horses rest.”
“I see no problem there. I know… We should camp by that tall tree over there.”
We obeyed his suggestion and slowly walked over to the large tree. It was huge. But what kind of tree was it?
□ □ □ □
The conversation naturally moved towards the fight as we walked.
“I had heard the rumors about you, Mister Asagi. They say that when you use your skill to wrap wind around your legs, you battle faster than the eye can see.”
“I’m definitely visible. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
Notoriety and tall tales had spread far and wide. They say that where there is smoke there is fire. Well, there was a lot of smoke.
“So how did you kill that monstrous giant?”
“Uh, it’s a trade secret.”
The last thing I needed was to hear overblown rumors about Niflheim.
“Haha. The trump card of Silvergreen, is it? How terrifying! Most terrifying!”
“Asagi is the type that does everything that they can. The godspeed skill and the sword. And magic. With those three, a giant is little more than a baby.”
Daniela said boastfully. I found it quite embarrassing when she did this and hoped she wouldn’t take it any further.
Ultimately, Daniela continued her tales as we made our way to the great tree. I had retreated to the rear wagon so no one had to look at my painfully embarrassed expressions. But I poked my head out upon hearing Mister and Daniela’s voices. The conversation seemed to have changed.
“What is it?”
“Asagi. Someone has beaten us there.”
Part as practice, I jumped out and landed on top of Mister’s wagon and looked to the foot of the tree. I could see now that a large merchant caravan had surrounded it and set up camp.
There were about five to six wagons and carriages. Tents had been pitched and a bonfire was burning.
There was nothing we could do about it. The horses were tired. We would have to get them to share the spot. We talked about it with Mister and decided to stop to the side of them for now. Then Mister got out of the driver’s seat and talked with a man who appeared to be a guard.
“Excuse me, but who is the boss of this merchant caravan?”
“In the big tent over there.”
I suppose he acted as an intermediary as well as a guard. We apologized to the others around us as we passed them and made our way to the tent.
It was right under the big tree, by the roots. It was the size of a small hunting lodge. It reminded me of the kind of tents that nomads used. When I looked towards the entrance, I saw a man and a woman who was looking at us with their hands on their swords. They were very serious about their jobs. I thought with amusement while raising my hands to show we were not in any way hostile.
“Sorry for the sudden intrusion. But we have a request to make to your boss. Can you help us?”
The man muttered as he glanced at the woman next to him before entering the tent. The woman now took a step to the side to block the entrance. They really did take their job seriously.
We had to wait for quite a while after that. No amounts of ‘this sure is a large company…’ could make the woman take any notice of us. Mister started to become restless. Hey, boss. You’re making us look bad.
It was when I started to scan the rest of the site out of boredom, that the man came out.
“You may come in, but you will leave your weapons here.”
Harsh security. Was this person so important? I wondered as I took out the Cocytus Lance and the demon armor sword. Those and the Ashikirimaru. I handed them over rather roughly too. It was revenge for being ignored. The woman clicked her tongue. Scary.
Daniela, on the other hand, declared she had no intention of handing over her weapons and said she would stay by the door. Well, they were very important to her. My weapons were also important, but someone had to go. I left the hollow bag with Daniela and Mister left two knives. Then we both entered the tent.
It was warm inside and very comfortable. However, there was a ridiculously strong smell of incense that overrode any sense of comfort almost immediately. There was also a lot of extravagant decorations that helped make my opinion of the interior drop like a rock.
To the far back, there sat a fat merchant on a chair that was somehow much too large for him.
“So? Who are you people?”
“I own a store called Mister’s Antiques. As you are in this place that we had planned to camp for the night, I came to see if you would allow us to stay here with you.”
“There is no more space. You must go elsewhere.”
Alright, I get his type. Yes, yes. I knew it well.
“Oh, do not speak so soon. I beg of you.”
“I already gave you my answer. Do not make me angry.”
“We had to escape at full speed due to a monster. Our horses are exhausted.”
“I don’t care. It has nothing to do with me.”