“So I guess the inland humans didn’t come after all.”
“They don’t have the same sense of danger, as they are the furthest from the shadow world.”
“By the way, have you heard the rumors about them insulting the Saintesses and being banned from entering Midland?”
“I did hear that. Damn it all. Who do they think they owe their peaceful existences to?”
So the inland people were not liked here either. Still, Chiharu wanted to visit it at least once. Maki was probably thinking the same thing. They caught each other’s eyes and smiled mischievously. One day. In secret.
“Now, the representatives are going to make a speech.”
Kaider took a step forward.
“Soldiers of the human lands! I thank you for coming. Monsters now prowl the dungeons in numbers not seen before, as the miasma has grown thick. While two Saintesses have come to our aid, they are young, frail women. We cannot allow them to shoulder the burden completely. We must face this danger together!”
It was a simple speech, and an enthusiastic cry came from the troops. The delicate Saintesses also raised their voices. So did Edwy, who was wearing a blue uniform.
“While the dungeon exists in the three territories, we are all comrades of the Sun World. We will help each other!”
And now, applause.
“Aeris, the white philosopher will act as the staff officer. Sauro, Saikania, Orne, and Puel will be messengers. From the human territories, Edwy, Nyran and I will participate. Let us fight together!”
A great cry erupted.
Maki and Chiharu had only seen Kaider as being a busybody and Edwy as being kind up until now, and so they were both surprised and thoroughly entertained by this display of coolness. I mean, they were princes! In uniforms! Giving a speech! And they were acquaintances. They shouted happily and waved their hands. People who saw how excited they were just smiled gently. But the bird people who were watching from afar just shook their heads in exasperation. Aren’t you trying to stay low? Really.
It would be possible to move quickly by horse if there were fewer people. However, with many people and lots of luggage, it would be more efficient to use carriages. They had sent word out in advance and ordered for food and fodder, but they would need to bring food with them as well to feed over 100 people. Maki and Chiharu were riding one of these carriages. Thankfully, it was a season for good weather. They climbed to the top of their carriage, which was carrying bags of hay, and made a space for themselves to sit in and enjoy the journey.
It wasn’t quite as comfortable as the carriages meant to have passengers, but it did give them a 360-degree view. They would start at Greige and pass through four different towns on their way to Gromble. They would mostly be going up and down mountains on their way to the dungeon. As the two of them watched Greige disappear into the distance, Sauro flew down to see them. As the carriage used a levitation stone, an extra birdman did not cause much of a strain to the horses.
“You found us pretty quick, Sauro.”
“I can spot Maki easily no matter what she is wearing. We bird people have good eyes.”
“You can see us from that far away?”
“No. It’s like how you can tell if the grass is edible no matter how big or small or dark or light it is. It’s the same thing. Maki and Chiharu are Maki and Chiharu.”
“That seems a little too easy.”
“I never thought about it too much. But the humans and dwarves and even the elves didn’t realize anything. So it must be a beastkin thing.”
“I see. Who waved at us yesterday?”
“Orne was watching.”
“I thought so!”
“Hey, do you want to fly with us?”
“But it will draw attention.”
“Then maybe when we reach Lapondo? Don’t you want to see the view from high above, Maki?”
“If it’s done quietly after we finish work?”
Sauro said, and then he flew away with a flutter of wings.
“Chiharu, did he just compare us to food?”
“I’m sure it means that we’re important.”
Their next stop was the farming town of Lapondo. It produced most of the food consumed by the capital of Greige.
“Mister Paulo said he would take us to the market tomorrow.”
“It’s to buy food supplies. But I’m looking forward to it.”
The birdfolk were flying high above them. Chiharu and Maki looked up into the sky and waved.
Thank you so much, S.Y. for donating.