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I May Be a Needle in a Haystack, But Let Me Tell You Something, Okay?
In the end, I didn’t get a wink of sleep and woke up in the morning. Apparently, the other guys couldn’t sleep either.
I’m not in a state to eat breakfast, so I refrain from eating, and prepare to leave while drinking herbal tea. Rico comes over to me and delivers a sandwich to me.
“Maybe you’ll get hungry around noon, take it with you.”
I thanked Rico and put the sandwiches in the infinite storage. When everything was ready, Lady Considine herself came to our room to greet us. She was dressed in armor, unlike a magician.
“Are you ready to go? Then we will depart. We will guard you until you reach the border. If we find any deers on the way, we will subdue them. At that time, we may not be able to protect you as well as we would like, but please understand.”
After a brief explanation, the lady left the room briskly. We just followed behind her in silence.
I was a needle in a haystack in the subgutation army. ‘The hero who had revived Krumfal had come to the Principality of Niza, which was suffering from deer damage, but he was unable to do anything about it. The deer had escaped his barriers, causing more damage to the crops, and the barriers he had placed on the King didn’t work either, so he returned back to the empire without achieving anything.’ I can’t help but feel some animosity towards me.
“…I was wondering what kind of hero would be coming, but he is a very young man.”
“That’s why I was suspicious from the start, that a young man like that would be responsible for the restoration of Krumfal.”
“I’ve heard that he is the husband of the Emperor’s sister. I’m sure it was his retainers who restored it.”
“He is overconfident enough to take credit for it… He is such a pain in the ass.”
“After all, you came to the Principality for a few days, only to devour the life-supporting food of the dwarves and then return to your country.”
I have no words to refute the unspoken words of the adventurers. Rather, I’ve been thinking about what the Dwarf King said since last night. If the King dies, will this country really be saved? Will the Deer God really stop the deers from damaging the crops in exchange for the Dwarf King’s life? I wonder if there is any way to stop this. But I couldn’t come up with a good idea.
“Mr. Rinos, let’s kill those adventurers.”
“Master, let’s go our separate ways.”
The two girls’ voices brought me back to my senses. The adventurers seemed to be bored with my topic and were talking about something else.
“Which of those women did the Marquis get his hands on first?”
“No, no, no, maybe the woman came on to him?”
“They both have the kind of faces and bodies that men like. I can’t say anything about their asses.”
“If Princess Ricorette, who is scarier than demons, finds out, the Marquis will cry. Let’s all keep this to ourselves, okay? Hahahahaha.”
Lady Considine, who was leading the way, didn’t even look back at us. She must have heard the adventurers’ conversation, but she didn’t seem to pay attention to it. She was talking with the robed man next to her, who was also riding a horse. The robed man is probably one of Dr. Lecornai’s subordinates.
After a while, the march came to a halt. Lady Considine turns her horse around and comes up under us.
“We will now take a rest. I’d like to have lunch a little early, so please, Marquis.”
“No, we’ll pass. We have our own ingredients.”
“Don’t be shy, Marquis. The food we are serving is the relief supply that you originally brought from Hedata. Moreover, they are crops from your territory, aren’t they? I’m sure you’ll have no problem with that, since you’re eating your own food, so to speak.”
A guy in a hood interrupts our conversation. From the sound of her voice, she seems to be a woman.
“Thank you very much. I really appreciate your feeling. However, your feelings are more than enough.”
“I see. We will be leaving in two hours after lunch. Until then, you are free to spend your time as you wish.”
We moved away from the Lady Considine until we were out of sight of the adventurers and made a resting place.
“What were those adventurers!”
“They have no idea what they are talking about! I hate them, those men!”
The two girls were preoccupied and angry. Apparently, they had been saying some pretty obscene things to me without me noticing. I suggested that we put up a barrier to block out the adventurers’ voices, but they strongly refused. They said they didn’t like the idea of losing to them.
“As soon as we enter the forest, we’ll be at the border. We’re almost there. Be patient.”
As I quieted them down, I looked at the troops led by Lady Considine. Perhaps the Principality of Niza had provided them with weapons and armor made by the dwarves. They were equipped with weapons and armor that I had never seen before. In addition, almost all of them were imbued with magical power. They may have enchanted magic to strengthen their bodies.
As I was thinking about this, a herd of deer appeared at the entrance of the forest far ahead. The troops were in an uproar and everyone was in a panic. Then, those who were fully equipped mounted their horses and charged at the deers.
For the time being, we too interrupted our break and chased after the troops. Ferris and Luara are on foot, so Irimo is running along with them, so it’s not a big deal speed-wise.
Perhaps surprised by the sight of about 100 adventurers charging, the deers retreated into the forest. I thought the troops were going to follow the herd into the forest, but for some reason they stopped far before the forest. As we approached, it seemed that there was some kind of dispute at the head of the unit.
“What nonsense! We should kill every deer we find!”
“I am the head of this unit! I will not allow you to act on your own without my orders!”
Apparently, the earlier assault was something the adventurers had done on their own.
“It’s okay, princess. Just leave it to us and we’ll take care of it. We’ll make sure the deers are killed.”
“Yes, yes. If you listen to what the princess says, you’ll never have enough lives.”
The situation is almost out of control. Seeing this scene, Ferris poked me in the leg with a peck. I looked at them, nodded, and turned Irimo at the Lady Considine.
“I’m sorry to bother you. If deers have appeared, it means that you are going to take down the deers. Since we are probably in the way, we will leave first. We are almost at the border anyway.
“Oh, yeah. I’m sorry for showing you such a bad scene. I apologize. We will now start to subdue the deer. Please allow me to end the protection of the Marquis here.”
“Yes, and good luck with that.”
For some reason, the Lady Considine stops me. I walk up to her again.
“I’m sorry to ask you this, but… I heard that the Marquis was the one who quelled the civil war in the Hedata Empire. In addition, he is reputed to be skilled in fighting in the forest. Is there anything that my troops should be aware of when fighting in the forest?”
“Things to watch out for…?”
“Princess, there’s no point in asking the Marquis that, is there? We’re a party that has participated in the conquest of dragons before. We know how to fight in the forest better than anyone else. Just leave it to us!”
A man who looks like an adventurer yells at me. I get a little louder.
“It is reassuring to know that someone has defeated a dragon. If so, killing a deer should be no problem. But only if you really have slain a dragon.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“There are all kinds of people who have slain dragons. Even the ones shivering in the back of the troops can be said to have participated in the conquest of dragons.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“If a party is truly capable of conquering dragons, they won’t make random moves just because they’ve found their prey. None of them would act on their own accord.”
“Do you… do you want to die?”
“Stop! Marquis, I apologize for my rudeness. This is all due to my inability to lead. Please forgive me.”
“No, there is no need for Lady Considine to apologize. You’re right. In the event of a battle in the forest, there are two things I would advise…. Keep your retreat clear and ride a fast horse.”
“…What does that mean?”
“This deer subjugation will definitely fail. If that happens, the only thing that matters is whether or not your life will be spared. In order to save yourself, it is imperative that you clear a path of retreat and leave the battlefield as soon as possible. Therefore, you need to secure your retreat and ride a fast horse.”
“Hmm, that sounds like something a useless, wasteful, food-eating aristocrat would say. Hey guys, did you hear that? We’re going into battle, and we’re going to kill deers, and he want us to clear a path out! It’s funny, isn’t it?”
“Gah-ha-ha! It’s true. I can’t believe he thought of running away from the beginning! Hahahahaha!”
The adventurers burst into laughter. Lady Considine also gives me a little scornful look.
“Since ancient times, I have never heard of a victory for an unorganized force. I wish that my fears are unfounded. Please take charge to your heart’s content. I wish you the best of luck.”
After saying that, I drove Irimo back to where my friends were waiting. I then proceeded through the forest, aiming for the Empire.
“Will Lady Considine’s subjugation campaign fail?”
“Yeah, most probably, it will fail. If the adventurers act as they please, there will be no strategy at all. The deers aren’t stupid, and they’ll easily be able to handle a hundred or so people.”
“They should just let the deer take care of them!”
“Well, there’s only one thing for me to do. All I need to do is to return to the Empire as soon as possible and ask His Majesty to reinforce the relief supplies. Also, it might be a good idea to speed up the harvesting of Krumfal’s crops. I’ll have to consult with Rico and Mei about that. In that case, we need to get back to the mansion as soon as possible. I’ll set up a transition barrier here right now.”
Ferris replied cheerfully.
“…Irimo? What’s up?”
Irimo had stopped walking for a moment and was not moving.