Chapter 73 - Convoy from the Capital #3
The three gust wagons rushed down the mountains.
Transformed into the wind itself, the wagons occasionally ran into monsters obstructing the way. The wagons slammed into kobolds and goblins with huge destructive power and turned them into blood on the wheels of the wagons.
Even big monsters like trolls and ogres couldn't escape dying.
It seemed like the number of those killed by the wagons had increased by one.
'Wow, isn't it completely shattered?' Theodore clicked his tongue as he watched the blue blood scattering outside the window. Since the blood was blue and there were the remains of an insect, it must've been a giant mantis which was crushed.
A threatening monster which even first-class mercenaries were afraid of had been destroyed by the wagon. On the contrary, the wagon didn't feel the impact at all.
'Maybe this could be used as a weapon?' Theo rejected it as soon as he had the thought. '...No, it is impossible.'
The wagon had great power and speed, but the workforce required to get the most out of the wind power was too advanced. Rather than assigning a few 5th Circle magicians to a wagon, it was more efficient for them to fight directly.
He shook off the thought and turned to Mitra who was playing in the seat next to him.
She was playing with the sylph Ellenoa had summoned. The elemental, which looked like a translucent sparrow, spread its wings at Mitra's signal. The scene of a little girl and a bird playing together happily was like an illustration from a fairy tale book. Theo's heart calmed down slightly at the sight.
At that moment, he felt a soft touch as fingers entwined with his.
Theo looked down at his hand and was shocked as he realized the identity of the other person. It was because Ellenoa, sitting across from him, was holding his hand. The pleasant sensation of her slim, soft hand was vividly transmitted through the palm of his hand. This was despite him knowing that Ellenoa was a neutral gender.
However, her voice was as calm as always as she said, "Are you worried about your mentor?"
Those words pierced right inside of Theo.
His blushing complexion instantly turned pale. His thoughts turned grim as soon as he thought about his mentor, Vince, volunteering to stay behind in Bergen. They had talked a few times about the decision, but Theo still couldn't fully understand it.
To Theodore Miller, Vince was his one-of-a-kind mentor, and his value was immeasurable.
"Yes, that's right." Theo nodded with a bitter smile.
It was funny that he was worried about his mentor, but Vince was in an injured state. According to Shugel, Vince's injury would worsen if he moved using space magic. Theo was reluctant to let such a person act as bait.
Then Ellenoa squeezed his hand and whispered in a small voice, "Don't be too concerned. His fate has yet to reach the time when the knot will be tied."
"Huh?" Theo's eyes widened at the words.
He would've ignored her if she were a fortuneteller on the streets, but Ellenoa was a mysterious high elf. Furthermore, elves were a species famous for not being able to tell lies. Theo mulled over the meaning of Ellenoa's words before asking in a trembling voice, "...Ellenoa, can you see the future?"
Seeing the future-or in other words, Foresight-was a type of power given to gods, demons, and ancient dragons a long time ago. The weakness of mortals was always time, as they feared the future. So, the prophets who could see the future were considered as gods.
Ellenoa was a descendant of an ancient species, but could a high elf really see the future? In response, Ellenoa shook her head with a subtle expression. "It isn't anything so tremendous. I can just understand when the 'end' comes. It is a half-power that appears when I'm in danger."
"No, but...!" Theo tried to say something more, but he soon fell silent.
Ellenoa wouldn't lie just to reassure him. As long as his mentor was safe, there was nothing more to ask. Besides, there was something he should say first before questioning Ellenoa's abilities.
"Thank you for your concern."
"It is nothing."
It was an appreciation for exposing her ability in order to comfort him. As Theo's face brightened a little bit, Ellenoa smiled and shook her head. Then Mitra leaned back and fell to the floor of the carriage.
The awkward air in the wagon broke.
The atmosphere inside the wagon became brighter, and as the two people laughed at Mitra's behaviour, Mitra hit Theo's feet with a sulky expression. Her gesture was telling them not to laugh, but it just made the duo laugh even more.
As the pleasant sound emerged from the windows, the wagons passed by the middle point of the mountain range thanks to the wind power.
How long had they been on the mountain trail? Around this time, the sun was going down, so the magicians lowered the pace and handed Theo a package. The identity of the small bag was soon revealed.
"This is your meal with Ellenoa."
"Ah, thank you."
Theo picked up the bag and placed it on a table in the center of the wagon. He hadn't realized it, but he was really hungry. Theo opened the bag and pulled out a few fruits, baked sweets, jerky, and two bottles of water. The fruits were probably prepared for Ellenoa as the conventional wisdom was that elves didn't enjoy eating meat.
However, Ellenoa denied it outright. "Well, it isn't that we don't enjoy meat. It's just that living beings are all the same, so is there a reason to discriminate between plants and animals? Rather, our bodies will weaken if we don't consume meat at all."
"Uh, then why do the Elvenheim elves only eat fruits on their missions?"
"I'm not sure." She ate an apple and thought about it for a while before answering the question. "Maybe there is a problem with the way the meat is cooked?"
"The way it is cooked?"
"An elf's tastebuds is a few times more sensitive than that of humans, so it is hard to eat food with a lot of spices. I guess they only ate fruits that weren't cooked separately." Ellenoa proved her words by eating the jerky. "We basically eat raw food, so there isn't much food that is cooked using fire. It is common to eat a fresh and lean cut of meat."
Theodore involuntarily imagined the elves eating meat.
An elf hunter running through the forest, shooting a boar, and then cutting its flesh with a dagger and eating it...
He imagined the elf's mouth covered in blood and felt like his fantasies about elves were being broken. It had been imagined that elves were graceful beings who enjoyed fruit and tea leaves, as well as playing with wild beasts.
However, that was just a fantasy of humans.
* * *
It happened around the time when Theo had finished his meal and Ellenoa was putting down the last apple core.
"2nd Car, 3rd Car, stop!"The wind power stopped after a yell was heard from outside the window.
Simultaneously, the door of their carriage opened, and a magician entered. The blue robe indicated he was a Blue Tower magician, and he was powerful enough to make Theo's sensory perception tingle. The magician came from the third car which was attached as an escort role and explained why the carriage had stopped so suddenly.
"The 1st Car that is 250 meters ahead has started to engage with something. We will go again as soon as the 'Clear' signal is received, so Ellenoa shouldn't worry."
"Wait a minute. You aren't joining the fight?" Theodore asked with a strange expression.
He was questioning a senior, but the magician replied calmly, "That's right. The formation of the Red Tower is so unique that is it different for other towers to fight with them. Elder Herman is there, so there is no reason to join."
"But what if-"
"If it can destroy the 1st Car in a short amount of time, there is no way to win even if we join. And the important thing isn't winning."
They were escorts, not combatants. It was the duty of the convoy to deliver the high elf, Ellenoa, safely to Mana-vil Capital. Even if they could defeat the enemy, they had to first eliminate any possibilities of Ellenoa being harmed.
However, Theo had just been thinking about winning. The experiences he'd absorbed were all about 'fighting and winning,' not escorting someone. Theo was convinced by the difference and fell silent. No, he was forced to shut his mouth.
It was a Heat Wave Chain. As a pale red pillar rose in the distance, the earth started to cry out.
It shook like an earthquake. A part of the dim sky became brighter. Clouds were torn apart by the strong flames and explosions rang out. Despite the interval of a few hundred meters, the mana in the atmosphere was struggling like crazy.
It was the aftermath of a magic collision which was at least of the 6th Circle!
"Kuk...!" Even the air touching Theo's eyelids felt hot. A wind shield was opened in a reflexive manner.
After using the cold magic, he felt the ambient temperature going down a little bit. If there was this much heat from the aftermath, the center must be as hot as lava. It was proof that Herman's group was literally pouring out their power.
The total number of magic power detected with his senses were eight. 'Five 5th Circle magicians and three 6th Circle magicians.'
One of the 6th Circle magicians was half a step away from the boundary. It was without a doubt Herman, who used to be at the 7th Circle. Just him alone was a huge threat. No matter who the opponent was, they absolutely couldn't be safe. Even if the opponent was of the master level, this much firepower would be enough to take care of them.
However, Theodore frowned instead of feeling relieved. Why? It wasn't because of a chill down his spine but cold air flowing from his left hand which tickled his bones. Was it a warning from the sleeping Gluttony? Or maybe a feature he didn't know about had been triggered? Either way, there was no way to resolve the question immediately.
Kukung...! Kururung! Kung! The thunderous sound rang out repeatedly.
A fire pillar tore apart the clouds, and smoke which looked like a mushroom covered the sky. It was magic which would tear apart any defenses Theodore had. Despite such fearsome attacks being launched, the battle still hadn't finished.
Shortly after that, all sound was cut off like it had been sliced by a sword.
Silence covered the night sky, and the burning flames were overwhelmed by the darkness of the night. A few burning treeS were the last remaining traces of the battle. The silence was so clear that the sound of someone gulping could be heard.
"...Is it over?" Someone asked.
The signal indicating the end of the battle hadn't risen yet. As the magicians of the 3rd Car waited for instructions, 'it' fell from the night sky.
Tok, todok, tok...
It was dark red and round. The ungainly shape rolled forward between the two wagons. Someone used 'Light' magic reflexively as the shape gradually grew clearer.
White hair turned to ashes, wrinkles distorted by burns, and eyes which were filled with fear...
A name escaped from Theodore's mouth, "...Elder Herman."
It was the head of Herman, who had been brutally murdered.