THE TRADER HAS ARRIVED! ②

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“It looks like it could be an adventurer.”
“Yeah.”

Aria and I were near the village.
At this distance, we could clearly make out the appearance of the suspicious person lurking about.

It looked like a man who was a lot older than us.
He wore a sword on his waist, and gave the impression of an experienced warrior.
His appearance was quite shoddy, but he wasn’t gruff enough to look like a bandit.
Seeing objectively, he could be an adventurer.

“What business would an adventurer have with our village, especially in this season?”
“Who knows? For now, it would be better to ask them ourselves won’t it?”

We approach the village while talking.

Perhaps because to our conversation, the adventurer-like man turned towards us, and started waving his hand.
We returned the gesture, for the time being.

Seeing us wave back, the man starts running towards us with all his might.

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I took a step forward in order to hide Aria.

“He’s coming closer.”
“Yeah.
He probably thought we weren’t enemies once we waved back.
What should we do?”
“…It should be fine as long as he doesn’t intend to harm us.”
“Roger.”

We slowly walked towards the adventurer while not letting our guard down.

***

“Sieg-san.
Is there really such an amazing alchemist in that village on the frontier?”
“I’m quite sure of it.
The earth extract sold by the lord of this land, was of considerable quality.
Only a highly-skilled alchemist could have concocted something of that quality.
Besides, the only place the lord visited recently is the village I’m about to head out to.
Man~, I must say I’m glad that Raquel-san’s company decided to undertake my bodyguard request.”

We were hired by the trader Sieg, of Sieg Company, to guard their horse-carriage as we headed to the rumored pioneering village.

Truthfully speaking, I didn’t want to accept it.
However, since I got injured in the beginning of autumn, I couldn’t prepare enough reserves for winter.

Most requests in winter were considerably dangerous which is why adventurers wouldn’t normally accept them, but I couldn’t fill my stomach on ideals.

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I was scraping by day-to-day, completing risky requests with my party members, when Sieg-san’s request fell into our laps.

A bodyguard request is a lot better compared to the other ones.
There was the danger of spending winter nights in the open, but the preparation of tools for that were done by the Sieg company, so we chose to accept.
These conditions were too attractive for us to give up on, so it must’ve been pretty urgent for Sieg-san to reach this village.

After all, news of particularly high quality earth-extract were doing rounds.
This “earth extract” was said to be made by mixing lots of ingredients using alchemy, and was supposedly indispensable for alchemists.

“But aren’t alchemists supposed to live in larger cities, and such? I’m sure they must have other businesses.”
“It would seem that some highly-acclaimed alchemists prefer to settle in frontiers.”

Lilifa joins into mine and Sieg-san’s conversation.
She is an elf, and our designated magician.

Elves were highly tribal, as well as a curious bunch.
Without straying from the norm, she also stuck her head in whatever piqued her interest.
This time’s request was accepted by Lilifa as well, on reflex.

“Ooo-i.”

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Zeal, who went ahead as our scout finally returned.

“I think I found what could be a human settlement just ahead.”
“Ooh! I’m sure that must be the rumored pioneering village!”

Sieg raised an elated voice upon hearing Zeal’s words, but I was a little caught up in how he said it.

“Did something happen to the village?”
“…I was just a bit surprised since it’s surrounded by a moat and walls on all sides.
Seemed too splendid for a village.”
“? Aren’t strong defenses normal for a pioneering village, considering where it’s located?”
“It felt a bit too grand despite that…”

Zeal’s remarks had made me curious, but we couldn’t very well turn back now.
Sieg-san also seemed to be curious, as he stopped his horse-carriage and approached me.

“What do you think?”
“I can’t judge without having seen it myself.”
“That’s also true.”

Zeal’s intuition was almost always correct in times like these.

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It wouldn’t hurt to be cautious.

***

“What’s that?”

As we continued our journey, a village(?) started becoming visible.
Just as Zeal said, it was surrounded by walls, and even had a moat.

However, the scale was strange.

The walls were most likely twice my own height, and the moat was so wide that even Zeal couldn’t have jumped across it.
Zeal wasn’t the only one surprised at the fact that such a high-defense village was a pioneering village.

“Sieg-san.
It might be better if we staked this place out first.”
“You’re right.
Even I didn’t expect it to be like this.”
“Heey! Racquel! Can we go in yet?”
“”…””

Beside the two of us who were talking with dark expressions, Lilifa couldn’t stifle her curiosity.
For a curious elf like her, this village would appear to be full of interesting things.

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