Chapter 7 – Peddler
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Riding the carriage was a man who seemed to be on his 30s and was probably a merchant.
Next to him, I could see a man who seemed to be on his 20s and was probably an adventurer.
They’re probably a peddler and his bodyguard, but I don’t know why they stopped.
As I blinked my eyes at them, the merchant-like man got off the carriage, bent down in front of me, then, while looking me in the eyes, asked, “What are you doing here?”
“W-well…” Now how do I answer that?
“Were you attacked by bandits perchance? Is this why you look this battered?” He asked me.
Oh, so that’s what’s happening.
My current outfit is still the same ragged dress that I was wearing when I was thrown away.
I did try washing it after I learned magic, but even then, I kept on wearing it for a whole year, so it’s undeniably in a terrible state. There are even some holes in this dress by now.
I’m certainly not in a condition that is easy on other people’s eyes.
“I’m glad you’re safe at least. Are you alone?” The merchant asked me next.
“Eh? Ah, yes.” I stuttered a bit, but managed to reply.
“I see…” His tone was somber, “Well, let’s just be glad you could be saved at least.”
I wasn’t actually alone, since Aria was here, but since this person can’t see her, it’s safer to say that I’m alone.
Though more importantly than that, he really does seem to think I have been attacked by bandits, doesn’t he? I guess it’s because I only have my clothes on me, so he is assuming that the bandits took everything else I had?
“Anyways, it’s too dangerous for you to stay alone here, so I’ll help you go to a nearby town.” The merchant told me.
“Uhn… Is that really alright?” I asked him. Won’t I be a bother like that?
“Of course it is! Or rather, if I were to abandon a child like you, then the world itself would scowl at me.” The merchant replied.
I was going to walk to town myself, but it would certainly be great if I could get a ride there.
Just in case though, I turned towards the direction that Aria was most likely at, but she gave me no reaction, so I think she’s okay with the idea of getting a ride.
“Oh, right. I’m Ronil, and this is my escort, Ryuk.” The merchant introduced himself and the adventurer.
“A pleasure to meet you, missie.” Ryuk said.
“I’m Haku. Nice to meet you too.” I replied.
Ronil seemed to be a pretty cheerful person. He let me sit next to him on the driver’s seat, and he kept on talking to me throughout the whole voyage.
Thanks to him, I learned all sorts of things.
Ronil told me that he is a peddler, and that he was currently heading to the commercial city of Karaba to sell a shipment of nails.
He is a veteran who has been living the merchant life for over ten years, and he said his dream was to open his own store.
Ronil also seemed to always make sure to take good care of his appearance in order to look presentable. His beard was well-shaved, and the way he presented himself exuded a merchant-like dignity.
On the other hand, Ryuk seemed to still be a rookie. He was constantly and restlessly looking around, and he started pulling out the sword on his waist as soon as he heard the slightest sound.
He’ll probably get tired if he keeps on being overly cautious for too long, but I suppose that can’t be helped when he is in charge of other people’s protection.
Ronil also told me that he hired Ryuk after he saw Ryuk looking troubled in the Adventurer’s Guild. Ronil seemed to have decided that entrusting his safety to a rookie would be a good long-term investment.
Overall, Ronil seems to be a fairly good person.
“By the way, Haku, what are you going to do once we reach the town? Do you have a goal in mind?” Ronil asked me.
Come to think of it, I haven’t really decided what I’ll do after we reach the city.
I guess… I’ll become an adventurer?
I do have some food stored, and I can sleep wherever if necessary, but I can’t live like that forever.
After all, I’m currently in such a sorry state, that a kind peddler just felt like he had to help me when he saw me on the road.
Therefore, I need to earn money.
However, the number of jobs available to an eleven years old girl are fairly limited. Amongst them, being an adventurer seems like the most reasonable option.
An adventurer can easily apply for jobs at the guild, and they were people who we admired back in the village… I think it would be nice if I could make a living as an adventurer.
“I’m thinking about becoming an adventurer.” I told Ronil.
“An adventurer? At your age?” Ronil’s tone showed surprise.
I tilted my head at his reaction though. I mean, it was pretty normal, back in the village, to go become an adventurer after becoming ten years old. All that one needed was to have the right magical aptitudes, and they’d be ready to go.
It shouldn’t be particularly unusual to become an adventurer at my age then.
Suddenly though, Ronil shook his head, as if he had realized something.
He then put his hand on my head and gently stroke it, “Well, good luck. I won’t always be in Karaba, but if you need help, you can rely on me.”
I don’t get why, but I understand that he is being sympathetic towards me… Is being an adventurer such a tough job?
I mean, I do know that only a handful of the children in the village actually succeeded in the adventurer life, so it’s definitely a tough job.
I also heard that it may be life-threatening, so I can understand being worried about a child doing it, but… At the same time, I remember hearing from my older sister that young adventurers all do fairly plain and safe jobs. Stuff like collecting medicinal herbs or delivering packages, so… Why did Ronil show such a reaction?
Besides, I don’t really have any other job options available to me, so if I want to obtain money, then I have no choice but to become an adventurer.
It will take us two days to reach Karaba. Had I walked there, it would take even longer.
The carriage itself isn’t very fast, but considering the fact that I have no stamina at all, and that I would definitely need to take quite a few breaks on the way to the city, I can safely say that I was very lucky to be picked up like this.
In any case, after a while on the carriage, when the sun started setting, we began setting up camp.
While we were working on that, Ronil kept on talking to me the whole time.
He told me that, since this area is close to the forest, we have to be wary of monsters.
However, monsters don’t appear too often in this road, so it’s actually a very safe path.
Instead of monsters, the biggest danger one needs to worry about here, is bandits.
The forest works as a perfect hiding spot that provides a good vantage point to let them easily observe and surround their ‘prey’.
Therefore, the nearby towns constantly request adventurers to eliminate the bandits, but no matter how hard they try, it seems like the number of bandits never decreases. It feels like they have the same life force as goblins.
As for goblins, they seem to have the same reproductive power as horn rabbits, and enough vitality to live basically anywhere.
They are smart enough to make weapons too, and while they may not be very dangerous individually, a large group of goblins is considered a fairly dangerous threat.
When a goblin horde attacks a city, it feels as if you’re watching an avalanche descend upon you.
And so, while I listened to this kind of thing, we gathered firewood and started a fire.
Ronil and Ryuk seemed to be very surprised when I started the fire with magic.
“You’re quite skilled, missie.” Ryuk told me.
“It’s already surprising that you can use magic, but to start a fire with it? I never heard of someone doing that.” Ronil said.
The main use of magic is in combat. Since the aim is usually to hurt an enemy, the firepower of spells tends to naturally be high.
Even the basic ball-type spells have enough firepower to be used in battles, so even if you try reducing the firepower to the minimum, you still aren’t usually able to use magic in day-to-day life.
“I’m a bit good at magic.” I replied.
Ronil chuckled, “You look quite promising, you know?”
In my case, I was able to develop magic for use in day-to-day life by studying the magic circles, and it’s now easy for me to do this.
I made these spells mainly to improve my quality of life while in the locus of magical power, but I’m glad it’s still being useful even now that I left it.
Regardless of that though, once the camp was set, Ronil gave us bread to eat as dinner.
I think it’s bad to receive this much after already receiving a free ride on his carriage, but I’m hungry, so I decided to accept his kindness and eat it.
And so, I vigorously bit the bread… And immediately let go of it when I realized how hard the bread was.
It was almost like biting stone… This isn’t something that can be eaten.
But then, as I groaned at this troublesome situation, I heard a giggle.
I looked up towards its direction, and saw Ronil holding his mouth, holding back his laugher… Seems like he knew this was going to happen.
“You have to soak it in water before eating it.” Ryuk told me.
Then, he put water in a bowl and dipped the bread into it.
It still looked very hard, but as I saw Ryuk somehow eating it, I decided to try doing the same thing.
… It’s still hard.
But it’s not unbreakable… I bit it, then pulled it with all my might, and was able to somehow tear a small part of it.
It doesn’t have much of a taste after being soaked in water, but this is better than the nuts I ate in the locus of magical power at least. After all, eating this bread doesn’t make me feel as if my throat is burning.
And then, as I was eating, I heard laugher again. I wondered what was so funny about it.
Also, this time, Ryuk too was smiling widely… What is it? What’s so funny?
Either way, after I finished eating and relaxed for a bit next to the warm fire, my eyes started feeling tired, so I laid down to sleep.
At that moment, I was lent a blanket, and I actually cried when feeling its warmth… To think I had been sleeping with only a leaf to cover me until now. I had almost frozen during the particularly cold nights…
I felt someone staring at me when I was about to sleep, but I didn’t open my eyes to look. I was too tired…