Chapter 138 - Unusual Passenger Ship (1)
Since ancient times, cities had flourished nearer to the center of the country and declined as they moved further away. Of course, some cities close to the border had a strategic value, but Ramos wasn't one of them.
Nevertheless, Ramos had a geographical advantage. It was part of the coastline called a 'cape,' a terrain which stretched from land to sea.
It was a port city. Yes, Ramos was one of the few port cities in the middle of the wide central continent. The area was too narrow to be used as a strategic point, but there were no problems with transportation using the sea route. Furthermore, it was also famous for being a shortcut to the eastern part of the continent.
For these reasons, Ramos evolved into a level comparable to that of other metropolitan cities, despite being on the edge of the kingdom.
The day began in its usual manner.
"Hey, the youngest! Open the door at once!"
"Yes! I understand!"
The youngest guard assigned today, Hanson, ran toward the pulley controlling the gate.
As with any city, Ramos controlled any night time admissions by locking the gate. It was a considerable distance from the habitat of the nearest creatures, but there was no harm in being careful. Then in the morning, the gate would open as the sun rose.
Hanson arrived at the pulley and started opening the gate with his thick arms. The walls weren't very high, so the gate wasn't that big, but a few soldiers were supposed to open the gate together. Yet he was being asked to open it on his own. This was the hazing style of the Ramos guards.
Unsurprisingly, Hanson's face flushed red, but he couldn't open the gate. However, he had considerable strength for a human who couldn't use aura. The senior guards, who were watching him, whistled as they were startled that a fairly good newbie had entered.
But that relaxed expression didn't last long.
"Uh, who is coming from over there?"
"What? How long until they arrive?"
"They're coming soon. Based on the dirt, it is a small but pretty high-end carriage?"
The guards watched the horizon from the walls every day, so their eyesight was similar to that of a good hunter. They noticed the presence of a carriage coming from the western horizon and quickly determined the identity of the approaching carriage.
It was okay up to here as it wasn't rare for guests to come early in the morning. However, the problem was that the speed of the carriage was more than imagined.
"W-What? Why is it so fast?!" The veteran guards belatedly noticed the seriousness of the situation and hurried down the wall.
A high-end wagon meant the guest was a noble or from a top business company. It wasn't a situation where they could be late because they were hazing the newbie. Hanson, who was already exhausted, kept turning the pulley firmly with his seniors.
Durururuk...! The gate opened at a super fast speed. Shortly afterwards, Theodore's party stopped in front of the gate. The guards, who had passed through the crisis, became nervous again as they saw the carriage.
It was impossible to find the original appearance of the carriage, which had been shiny at the time of purchase. The carriage looked as if it had passed through the middle of a battlefield. This was natural. Theodore turned away from the surprised guards toward the forest they had just passed through. There were still thousands of undead inside.
'Dammit, it was much more annoying than the first night.'
After killing the warlock who attacked first, Theo had been vigilant but hadn't seen any shadows at all.
To be hidden from Hugin's detection, the other warlock must be hiding a few kilometers away. In the meantime, their purpose of trying to stop the carriage had been revealed. It was why the enemies only used low grade undead, unlike on the first day.
In the end, Theo and Randolph gave up on fighting the undead and just concentrated on breaking through.
Finally, one of the horses started foaming and collapsed to the ground.
"...I am really sorry."
Theo had repeatedly used Haste and fatigue recovery magic on the horses, which meant the aftermath was terrible. The other horse was just barely standing. It would've died as well if it had run a little longer. Theodore used simple magic to bury the horse that died. Then he turned towards the nervous guards.
Theo had a convenient means of not having to answer any questions.
"I am from the Polonell Company."
The sentence and the plaque were enough to make the Ramos guards step out of the way.
* * *
"We will split up here."
"Yes, I'll see you at the port later."
After entering Ramos, the two of them split up according to their roles. Randolph would dispose of the wrecked carriage and remaining horses, while Theodore would see if there were any ships heading toward the Soldun Kingdom.
'I hope we can leave today.'
He had entered the city somehow, but that wasn't enough to stop the Orcus Company from attacking. Theo and Randolph could only shake off the rabble... It would be hard if two senior level undead like the death knight appeared.
The Doom Wight had been taken care of thanks to Theodore and Gluttony, but it would've been fatal for Randolph if he had been alone. The force behind the Orcus Company was much stronger than expected, so he needed to escape that power as quickly as possible.
However, the answers Theodore heard weren't optimistic.
"There are no ships left?"
"Yes, I'm sorry, but they are all booked..."
It was a mistake Theodore made because he had never seen the sea or a ship in his life.
"It will be similar even if you ask another shipping company."
Basically, all the ships were booked. There was an obvious limitation to the number of guests a boat could hold, and it was difficult to show flexibility, unlike traveling over land. Moreover, he was looking for a ship heading to another country.
There were occasions when there was a vacancy, but luck wasn't on Theodore's side this time.
He was talking to Belf, a member of Luere Shipping.
"During this period of time, most ships are going to the south or north, so there are only three ships heading to the Soldun Kingdom. If you book now, you will probably have to wait a month."
"Even for someone from a top company?"
Belf eyes narrowed as he saw the mark that Theodore held.
"Oho, you are from the Polonell Company."
However, Belf didn't hesitate to shake his head. Despite Theodore's status or money, there were really no places left.
On the sea, the Polonell Company's name didn't play a big role. The Polonell Company's influence was mainly based around the land routes to the north, which meant it didn't have as much influence in the distant areas on the Central Continent. Ramos was among them, since it mainly operated via the sea.
Theodore bit his lip at being blocked in an unexpected place.
'If I can't get a ship here... do I need to obtain a carriage and run to the western border? No, it is tough due to the time spent here. I also need a carriage good enough to break through the undead's siege... Should I go into hiding?'
He was cornered. Theodore recognized this fact and looked at the floor with a grim expression.
Although he had the knowledge, brains and experiences of several great people, Theodore was still young. Veronica would've overcome this adversity with her strength, while Vince would've booked a ship in a port city from the very beginning.
It was at this moment that...
"Umm... Did you say you are called Theodore?"
"As I said, it is impossible with a normal ship. However, it might be possible with a special ship."
The depressed Theodore scrambled at those words. "Special ship?"
He could pay no matter how much the extra charge was. Thanks to the duel bid, the money he'd spent at the underground auction wasn't that big. However, instead of explaining the implications, Belf placed a finger to his lips. "However, there are two conditions."
"What are they?"
"First, you must agree to maintain the confidentiality of the ship. You will know the secret after boarding."
Theodore wanted to complain, but he wasn't in a position to be picky. He needed to fend off the pursuers and arrive at the Soldun Kingdom. As long as he could achieve his purpose, Theo didn't care about the surprise.
Belf then told him the second condition. In some ways, the condition was what Theo had expected.
"Then I need a deposit."
"Do you mean I have to pay extra?"
"No, not that."
Theodore looked confused, making Belf smile and whisper loudly, "Is there someone in the group other than Theo?"
"Yes, two people including me."
"Then 20 gold is required. If you pay 10 gold each, you will know why eventually."
Did he mean the rest of the money would be collected after boarding? Theodore tried to ask, but Belf was adamant that he couldn't explain any more.
'Che, it can't be helped.'
Due to his circumstances, Theo had to take a submissive attitude. In the end, Theodore accepted Belf's offer. He handed over a few gold coins and received two boarding passes. Thanks to the bronze mark of the Luere Company, it was difficult to make counterfeits of the boarding pass. Perhaps this wasn't a one-time thing.
"I will arrange a room for two people. The departure time is this evening."
Theodore looked down with a worried expression and asked Belf something he had almost forgotten, "How long will it take to get to Soldun Kingdom? I heard that we can arrive as early as four days."
"Ah, I'm sorry. My explanation is late." Belf scratched his head at the question before replying, "The ship makes a little 'detour,' so it will take more than a week. Do you have any urgent business?"
"...No, it is okay." Theodore though for a moment before putting the two boarding passes away. The most important thing was getting rid of the chasers from the Orcus Company, not arriving at the Soldun Kingdom quickly.
The advantage of going by sea was that he didn't need to be worried about raids from the warlocks. The zombies, ghouls, and other low level undead couldn't withstand the pressure of the sea currents or the sea creatures.
However, Theodore was skeptical about the special nature of this ship.
'Let's meet Randolph and tell him the news.'
Theodore left the Luere Company and headed toward where Randolph would be waiting. As the leader of a mercenary group active in the central continent, Randolph might know the secret.