Chapter 5-22 : Encounter Ⅱ (part 2)
「Well done, Sarasa-san, Iris-san! It ended faster than I expected.」(Lorea)
「I was holding my arrow the entire time, thinking that I could probably support you from here but you guys defeated it so quickly. I thought Giant Snow Centipedes were more dangerous.」(Kate)
Seeing that the giant centipede had stopped moving, Lorea-chan and Kate-san approached us.
Listening to what Kate-san said, Iris-san made a slightly complicated expression and pointed at the severed head of the giant centipede.
「You think it’s not that dangerous? Look at those sharp jaws! If you can’t keep up with its speed, you would get cut in half by that! Thanks to these snow boots that Store Owner-dono prepared for us, I could move quickly on the snow.」(Iris)
「Giant Snow Centipedes are considered to be dangerous monsters because they can move really fast on snow, but if we can move as fast as them, there’s nothing to be afraid of.」(Sarasa)
「Now that you mention it… If we didn’t have these boots, we might have ended up like those guys.」(Kate)
Kate-san turned her gaze to the side, looking at three men approaching us.
There were about ten of them at first, but some of them were injured and some others ran away in different directions.
There were also people who were not moving at all… They might have lost consciousness or… died.
Lorea-chan looked at those people with a worried look on her face.
「Are we… going to help them…?」(Lorea)
「I want to help but I don’t know if we have enough supplies to help them all…」(Sarasa)
Normally, Collectors only bring enough supplies for themselves. So do we.
Therefore, if you encountered people in need of rescue, it would be quite difficult to decide whether or not to help them.
Climbing a snowy mountain unprepared can endanger your life, so you need to bring various items. Because even the necessary supplies weigh a lot, it’s difficult to carry extra supplies.
If you force yourself to help others even though you only have enough supplies for yourself, you might end up dying before you could reach the bottom of the mountain.
All we can give them is just a little bit of food and a little bit of medicine. We need to keep some for ourselves.
However, we still don’t know who these people are. We will help them if they are just Collectors who are having a bad day, but we will ignore them if they are bad people.
「They look just like Collectors, but for some reason, my instinct says that they’re not.」(Iris)
「Hmm, I don’t think they are Collectors either… I smell something familiar from them. I noticed it while fighting.」(Sarasa)
「Come to think of it, I smell something that stinks. What is this smell?」(Kate)
Kate-san twitched her nose, trying to smell it, and then frowned.
「Hmm… I think it’s the smell of an alchemical substance that attracts insects. Collectors usually use it to lure insects that can be used as alchemy materials, but… Why did they use it here? Didn’t they know that it could attract Giant Snow Centipedes?」(Sarasa)
「I didn’t know such a thing exists…」(Lorea)
「Even if we need to collect insects in the future, I will never use that kind of thing!」(Iris)
「Yeah, me neither.」(Kate)
The three of them frowned. Perhaps they were imagining many insects crawling and surrounding them.
Of course, I don’t want to use it either. I made some bottles of it but they are strictly sealed and stored in my warehouse.
I used bottles that are more durable than normal ones just in case because it would be a catastrophe if it spilled on the floor even just a little bit.
「Honestly, I’m a bit curious about that dangerous substance… None of us used it, right?」(Lorea)
「Of course. In other words…」(Sarasa)
There’s no need to think about it. It must be those men.
「But why did they do that? Did they want to lure Giant Snow Centipedes out?」(Kate)
「Whatever the reason is, they look suspicious to me. ーーYou guys, stop right there!」(Iris)
Iris-san took action without hesitation. While holding her sword, she turned toward the men who were approaching us and told them to stop.
「Who are you? Where did you come from?」(Iris)
The men whispered to each other. They seemed to have a little discussion.
After that, the two of them turned back and walked toward their injured friends who were lying on the snow, while the other one stayed.
The one who stayed pulled out his sword and dropped it on the snow, trying to tell us that he meant no harm. He then continued approaching us slowly.
When we were finally able to see his face and clothes more clearly, Iris-san raised her eyebrows. She seemed to know something about him.
「That equipment… Those people look just like Collectors from afar, but if I’m not mistaken, that equipment belongs to the regional army.」(Iris)
When Iris-san put her thumb on her chin and said that, Kate-san nodded in agreement.
「Yeah, you’re right. I’ve seen it before.」(Kate)
「Regional army…? So you say that those men are Baronet Kirk’s men?」(Sarasa)
「Yeah. Look. There’s an engraving of the Kirk Family crest on his armor, right?」(Kate)
「Ah, now that you mention it.」(Sarasa)
A reasonably decent armor is quite expensive in this kingdom.
You would need a huge budget to hire soldiers and provide them with good armor.
「They had a lot of money to make all that armor, unlike my family who don’t even have the money to hire soldiers. Haha…」(Iris)
Thinking how poor her family was, Iris-san chuckled awkwardly.
It was natural for the Lotze Family, who couldn’t even pay their debt themselves, to hire soldiers, let alone buy expensive armor.
However, Adelbert-san is a good lord and his people love him, so I think his territory is peaceful enough to the point it doesn’t need any soldiers to protect its peacefulness.
「Anyway, I don’t think this encounter is a coincidence.」(Iris)
「You’re right. There’s no way Baronet Kirk’s soldiers happened to climb this snowy mountain, happened to be attacked by a Giant Snow Centipede, and happened to run in our direction.」(Sarasa)
「Also, they seem to use that substance as if they intended to lure the Giant Snow Centipede to us from the beginning.」(Kate)
「Yeah… They’re very suspicious…」(Iris)
Saying that, Iris-san raised her sword and stuck it out toward the man who was walking toward us.