Chapter 95 – An Old Comrade!?
One of the young men that we just saved said,
“Sorry. You even carried our baggage for us.”
“Don’t worry about it. This should be faster than pushing a cart. The sun is starting to set, so we should hurry.”
I said as I drove the carriage.
The food supplies they had gathered were stacked in the back.
“That’s true. But thanks to you, we’ll reach the fortress in no time. Can you see that bridge over there? Once we cross it and go through the forest…”
The human said, and then Melk rushed ahead towards the bridge and kicked it.
“It seems fine. It’s wide and durable.”
As Melk said, it was wide enough for the carriage to cross it.
After all, it was made of stone.
No parts of the pillars and arch appeared to be destroyed.
In fact, this bridge…looked quite familiar.
It was the same with the road we had been traveling on. This road that extended from the main road. It was paved very beautifully. And in spite of having not been used for a long time, there were no spots where the stone had been peeled off.
“Aye. While it must have been here for years, it is very sturdy… Hmm? Are you anxious?”
The man had started to cross the bridge, but then he noticed that I had stopped.
“N-no. It should be fine.”
And so followed after them.
As it was already dark, I could not see it clearly. Perhaps it was all a mistake.
Iria, who sat next to me, said,
“It looks just like the kind of bridge that you built, Sir Joshua!”
“We-well, most bridges have this kind of shape.”
I said as I continued to drive the carriage forward. And then a light came into view.
There were a lot of tents, but also shanties in the settlement… In terms of scale, there should be more than a thousand people here at least.
And beyond the settlement, loomed a tall, stone structure.
It was surrounded by walls, with a gate and drawbridge. It seemed more like a lord’s castle than a fortress.
“It’s too dark to see properly, but it is big.”
“I didn’t know that such things could be built…”
Iria and Melk were astonished, and one of the men explained with a pleased expression.
“Indeed! After all, this place was made by the general’s old comrade. He was the one who led us to flee to this place. Apparently, that fortress was built in a day.”
“But only Joshua could make something like that.”
Melk muttered as she looked at me. But the man laughed and shook his head.
“Surely even you could not build that in one day. Besides, the story about it being built in a day is clearly a lie.”
The other humans laughed and nodded in agreement.
As for me, I was just stunned.
“There is no doubt about it… This place. I made it.”
“You, Sir Joshua?”
Iria asked me with a puzzled expression.
The familiar voice sounded from behind me, and I thought I felt my body shake.
When I turned around slowly, a stout man who was wearing armor stepped out from the shadows.
And when he came closer, the light of the moon exposed his face.
He was a man that I knew well.
An old comrade. He was an honorably poor knight who had been a commander on the frontlines for the Knights Order.
Until the very end, he had remonstrated Royg, who had banished me. This had earned him Royg’s wrath, and he was cut down.
I had seen some of the older knights carry him away, but…
Solm also seemed surprised to see me, as his eyes were wide.
The attendants that followed after him were the same, as they went into a defensive posture.
After a moment, Solm smiled and walked towards me.
“Joshua. Sir…Sir Joshua! Why are you here!”
“We just happened to be passing by.”
I said, and then the young man we had helped earlier explained.
“Ge-General. You know him? The truth is, we were attacked by monsters while gathering food, and these people saved us.”
“I see! I am grateful.”
Solm bowed to me and Iria.
“Still, Solm. I’m surprised to see you in a place like this.”
“After meeting you and being attacked by the former captain, I escaped here with the old guard. After all, the captain would never forgive those who rebelled or deserted him. Though, I have heard that most of his men left the battlefield without fighting. I think the Schwarz Knights Order is finished…”
I closed my eyes and nodded.
“Royg lost his arm. I doubt the knights order can be rebuilt.”
Both of us felt conflicting emotions.
We had given everything to the knights order, and now it was gone. I had been a founding member, and Solm had joined shortly after.
However, after a brief moment, Solm had a satisfied expression.
“But I feel refreshed now. There is nothing to bind me. The only thing to do is to dedicate myself to fighting the Demon King army.”
“Is that why you are gathering people to this place?”
“As you may already know, several human cities to the south have already fallen to the Demon King. There is a great hole in our defense line.”
We had already defeated an army of orcs led by Bish.
However, the other armies would not ignore this opportunity.
“The Demon King army will strengthen their invasion to the north, and so more humans who lost their homes will flee up north. And so I mean to make this place a breakwater. We will fight the Demon King while creating a home for people who have lost theirs.”
So saying, Solm looked to the center of the fortress.
“Thankfully, there is a river on our south and west side here. And there is also a very strong fortress, which you made long ago.”
Upon hearing those words, the people that we saved gasped.
“Well, he did repair the wagon in a second…”
On the other hand, Iria and Melk had expressions as if they had known all along.
I remembered after looking at the fortress. It was during those years when the Knights Order was still actively battling against the Demon King Army. I had built this as a checkpoint between the north and south.
It must have been abandoned after we stopped fighting.
“I-I’m glad that it was useful.”
“It has helped us greatly. We only had to remove dead leaves and vines from the warehouses, and they became living quarters. Though, the amount of refugees is ever increasing.”
About one thousand people would be able to live in the fortress at the most.
“So you don’t have enough houses.”
“Yes. While we are building more, we also have to gather food. It is embarrassing to talk about, but I did not have any funds saved up… And so we had to rely on the charity of nobles who I happened to be friends with.”
So they didn’t have the funds to buy supplies from the north.
Even within the Knights Order, Solm was the person least associated with luxury. And he had likely been underpaid, just as I was.
Solm then bowed his head to me.
“Sir Joshua… Please, will you not help us? With your production magic…”
“I don’t mind. But…”
I turned to Iria, who was looking at me with a concerned expression. And then I nodded.
“I have my own place to return to now. And so I can only offer my help temporarily.”
And then Iria’s face brightened.
“Sir Joshua… We are also being attacked by the Demon King Army. And so if there is anything we can do to cooperate, we will do it.”
These people were humans.
And after the business with the slave merchants, she could not have felt friendly towards them.
And yet, both Iria and Melk had helped the humans earlier.
Of course, I’m sure that they understood what this meant.
“Thank you, Iria.”
“You have helped us so much, Sir Joshua. Besides, we cannot ignore those who are in need.”
Iria said with a smile, and Solm and the others bowed.
“We are grateful. Of course, we will also offer you what help that we can. As neighbors, let us build a good relationship.”
And then Solm’s expression softened as he said,
“But it is getting late. While it is a poor token of gratitude, I hope you will eat with us.”
And then Solm led us to the fortress.