< Evade the Hero and Flee! 170 #19. Life is a continuous escape (11)>
I could see a small hut in the distance.
According to my agreement with the princess, a horse-drawn carriage should be prepared in there.
“You’re finally here!”
The plan seemed to be working out smoothly, judging from the cat patiently waiting for me there. It quickly rushed up to me.
“Where’s my daughter?”
“My benefactor? She’s sleeping inside the carriage.”
“Is that so?”
As expected of my dear daughter.
I heard that all beautiful women were sleepyheads, so I couldn’t help but wonder how much of a beauty she’d become after growing up.
Although, she was already overflowing with the… devilish charm to the point of being too explosive! At this rate, every able-bodied male in this continent might try to pounce on my daughter in the future.
It sure was hard work raising a daughter as adorable, pretty, and lovely as her. I needed to turn half of the continent’s populace to my enemies, after all!
-Master, that’s why you gotta do ya best to raise that dragon, you know? With a dragon hanging around, no matter how cute my little sister grows up to be, nobody in their right minds would carelessly approach her, right?
-But it’s still only one year old, though. We’d need at least one thousand years before it’s considered to be somewhat ‘grown-up.’
-But it knows how to fire the dragon breath already, right? Isn’t that like, Mission: Education for Gifted Children, success! Let’s take this chance to create the youngest-ever Dragon Lord, too!
-I’m scared by the sound of it since it’s you we’re talking about. You might actually do it, after all.
-But master, that’s your job, no?
Nope. Not interested.
What would I even be trying to achieve by creating something that dangerous?
No, hang on a minute. Even before I could create a monster like that, my life will come to an end first, you know!
I wanted to spend the remainder of my life living in relative comfort while raising my daughter. As for Kkokko, its master’s daughter would raise it well, and they should live together side-by-side in the future.
If this dragon had even a lick of conscience, it’d surely want to repay the kindness I’ve shown by rescuing it from the fate of becoming yet another fried egg.
-If you want to talk about that, weeeell, didn’t you almost turn a dragon egg into a fried egg? Aren’t you, like, the mortal enemy of all dragons by doing that?
-No one knows what happened beside you, so it’ll be fine as long as you keep your trap shut.
I messed up and nearly turned a dragon into a fried egg, but nobody knew that, so it didn’t matter anymore. Being oblivious wasn’t a crime, after all! 
-I knew it. That’s what every villain would say…
Uh-huh! My current job is a farmer.
Being a villain was my old job, kid. My old job!
This carriage being pulled by two horses was originally meant to transport cargo, but its interior was still better than my expectation.
Quite some amount of straw was laid out on the floor, making it feel rather plush. My daughter was sleeping in a rather… sensuous pose on top of the straw. And all that powerful devilish charm was currently flooding out of her without going through any filters.
“As expected of my dear daughter.”
“She might be my little sister, but this… is a bit dangerous.”
“You are the dangerous one here.”
The dangerous one had already morphed into her human form and began panting dangerously while staring at my daughter. So I grabbed the punk and chucked her outside the carriage.
The cat screeched in horror at the incoming flying metal bat, but his sacrifice was necessary for my daughter’s safety. I was fairly certain that he’d understand.
I stared at my daughter holding Kkokko tightly under several layers of blankets, then turned my head to look at the cat. “Hurry up and get in, as I’m planning to travel as much as possible during the night.”
The cat cautiously climbed into the carriage while glaring daggers at the metal bat. His caution was understandable since the metal bat was smirking dangerously at him.
I quietly fixed the carriage’s flaps and tied them securely so no chilly winter winds could get inside.
My daughter’s sleep was very important, after all.
“Well, then. Shall we get going, then?”
After sitting down on the carriage’s driver seat, I wrapped myself up with the remaining blankets and began whipping the horses to move.
Winter in the North was bitterly cold. It also arrived swiftly.
Currently, the winter’s reach had completely overtaken this area. The weather had gotten so cold that, if you fell asleep now, you’d never wake up again.
My daughter should be fine inside the carriage prepared by the royal court. And she was sharing body heat with Kkokko in her sleep, too. But my job was to drive this carriage, which meant I was completely exposed to the cold winter winds!
These winds couldn’t have come from anything else other than the middle of winter. This nostalgic feeling I was getting… It was straight out of that dark time in my life when I was sitting right at the end of the 2.5-ton army truck’s bed!
“Even though this is a royal court-provided carriage, it can’t do anything about the winds, huh…”
The driver’s seat was somewhat warm to the touch, which meant that the magic active inside the carriage worked on this part, as well. But the winds hitting me in the face still felt cold.
They should’ve at least cast a magic spell to block winds from hitting the carriage driver or something.
“But master, is such a thing even possible?”
“Yeah, if it’s the empire.”
“As expected of that cheat-y empire!”
Anything the emperor and the imperial princess said would come true in the empire.
The empire that physically showed you that it was not ‘You can do it!’ but ‘You will be forced to do it!’
Right, I got to experience several surprising events of my nonsensical suggestions turning into reality back then, didn’t I? All thanks to magicians, sorcerers, master craftsmen and career soldiers, etc., etc., working their butts off!
If it was that place, they probably could really install some kind of a mechanism to block the winds out.
“Master, the option to go back to the wonderful empire is still available right this moment!”
“Stop your nonsense, will you.”
“Eeeng. If it’s that imperial princess sister, she might even find criminals that need metal bat punishment for me every day, you know.”
Right, if it’s that imperial princess, she could definitely make an offer like that to the metal bat as the reward for capturing me. I didn’t think there wouldn’t be all that many criminals due to the strict laws but, uh, the empire was overflowing with evil organisations like Howling, so…
“Hey, you. You couldn’t have…?”
If this metal bat punk stabbed me in the back and facilitated my unwanted meeting with the imperial princess, then my life would be over.
End of my life as we know it, to put it mildly!
“Master, do you really think I’d throw you away, just like that?”
“S-such a quick answer?!” The metal bat began staggering as if my reply devastated her. She even started making sobbing sounds, too. “Don’t you know how hard I worked for you, master?! And I did everything you told me to do, too! But all I get is this kinda treatment?! I’m so sad… Sniff, sniffle…”
“Sniffle, sniffle my foot. You dare try to scam me…?”
“Eeeiiik! Master, how could you not trust me this much? It’s too unfair, you know! And I’m such a kind and caring creature, too!”
The metal bat crying fake tears suddenly did a 180 and began complaining unhappily when I saw through her poor acting.
“What happened to your conscience?”
“Never had one since my birth, master. Conscience? What is thaaat?”
She brazenly declared her ‘No Conscience’ status, leaving me speechless. But that’s because I knew that this thing’s creation was my fault, to begin with.
The metal bat pushed her chest forward proudly and retorted, leaving me unable to say or do anything but to concentrate on whipping the horses.
“Oh, you poor horsies, my master is taking out his anger on you, isn’t he?”
“You’re in no position to say that, though.”
“Bad! Bad master, taking out your anger on horses after getting punked by words!”
Huh, huhuh. Would you look at her rhyming sense? 
Such an excellent rhyming sense that she was eminently qualified to join our team, no less!
“What team are you talking about, master?”
“The escape team, obviously.”
“Uh-whew. I was the idiot for expecting something else.”
This weird silence descended between us for a while. Wanting to break it, I began whipping the horses again.
“Eh, it’s snowing, master.”
“Not the first snow of this year, but… Don’t know why, but this snowfall is making me emotional.”
“I’m sure it is, master. It’s the first snow we’re encountering this year while running away, after all.”
“You saying ‘this year’ is leaving me with a bit of a sour taste. Is it because of how I’m feeling right now?”
“Nah, I don’t think so? What you’re thinking of right now, that’s probably 100% right?”
“Are you trying to say we’ll have to escape plenty more times in the future?”
“Well, the imperial princess sister now knows about your rough location, doesn’t she?”
“The damn informant is now in the hands of the Ice Cream Princess, though.”
“But that hero is your disciple, master. A disciple of someone who’s been successfully evading the empire all these years. Wouldn’t you say he is at least capable enough to escape a measly little kingdom like this one?”
“Hiiiya~. Hey, what is up with your power of persuasion?”
It now felt like the hero punk would suddenly appear right in front of us very soon.
That feeling was so strong that I began pulling the blanket wrapped around me to ward off the cold even closer to cover my head, too!
That meant my feet area was slightly robbed of the blanket’s protection, but I decided to trust my body’s judgement and let them be sacrificed for a little while.
“Going faster makes it colder, but going slower makes it cold for longer…”
“And stopping now makes the hero catch up to us!”
“It’s too late now to regret your life choices, master. That’s why you gotta focus now on making a perfect getaway.”
“Sagacious words, but the way you say it makes me think that it’s some kind of a trap.”
“It’s the fault of your emotions, master. Your emotions.”
That might be a part of it, but something told me that there were many other factors besides.
“That’s because you know so well what’s about to happen to you, master.”
“Come, faster! Run faster than the winds!”
I relentlessly whipped the two horses to go even faster.
The snow piling up would result in the decreasing of the carriage’s speed. But the worst potential situation could happen in the morning – the morning sunlight melts the snow only for it to freeze back up again, forcing us to abandon the carriage altogether.
That’s why we needed to get as close as humanly possible to the Ruibella City Alliance, our destination.
“Master, I know that the City Alliance boasts a pretty strong military, but isn’t the empire the biggest financial supporter of that place?”
The Ruibella City Alliance began with generals and aristocrats from various kingdoms coming together to create a ‘city’. Thanks to this unique origin story, that place possessed enough military prowess to rival one or two powerhouse nations on the continent. Maybe not the empire, though.
They boasted an abnormally large military compared to the territory they were given to protect, but on the flip side, they didn’t have the resources or food supply to maintain such a large pool of combat personnel.
That’s because they basically invest all manpower and resources into keeping up the military.
It would’ve been only normal to see people living in such a place all die of starvation. But, with the support of several religious orders that hated the demon race, Ruibella strongly requested other nations to help it out in the task of protecting the border between the humans and demons.
Those nations naturally agreed with that request and began sending a fixed amount of support to Ruibella. This helped Ruibella to become an independent alliance of cities despite receiving support from many kingdoms.
In simpler terms, other kingdoms found it difficult to provoke Ruibella, but Ruibella itself couldn’t just ignore diplomacy with other kingdoms, either!
As Karuan Empire was the strongest nation on the continent, it also provided the largest support to the City Alliance. Which meant that even Ruibella couldn’t help but be mindful of the empire’s moods.
Since the empire’s goal was to capture an individual trying to flee from it, surely Ruibella would want to hand me over after only a little bit of negotiations.
Especially more so when I was accompanied by my daughter, whose veins were flowing with blood that’s undeniably half-human, but the other half belonged to the demon race!
“Wait, master! Does that mean my little sis will be in danger, too?”
“Eiiik! To think that you’d actually put my little sis in danger just for the sake of your escape!”
The metal bat suddenly began kicking me in the shin.
I’ve mentioned this already, but the horrifying pain other people felt during the metal bat’s assault didn’t get transmitted to me. Even so, the pure physical impact still hurt.
“Hey, that hurts!”
“That was the point of hitting you! How can you even think about taking my little sis to somewhere that dangerous! You evil master!”
“What the heck. I only said we’ll be heading to Ruibella, you know? I never said we’d be living there!”
“Wuiing? What are you talking about?”
I shoved back the metal bat’s leg trying to kick me again, then openly told her the real reason why we were heading to Ruibella the City Alliance.
“Do you remember the special nature of Ruibella that I told you about?”
“An alliance of cities that operate on their independent rules. Has very strong military. Not even the empire can carelessly send their soldiers across the border.”
It seemed that the metal bat was paying attention to my explanation back then. I nodded at her reply. “Right. And what else?”
“There was something else?” The metal bat began tilting her head in confusion.
I helped her with recalling the most important piece of information about that place. “Why did Ruibella form in the first place?”
“That’s obviously because the demon race is… Ng?”
I made sure to block the metal bat’s attempts to read my mind, so her curiosity had reached its peak by now. When she finally understood the intent behind my question, her silver-hued eyes grew incredibly large as she began shouting at me.
“Are you mad?!”
“Hahaha! One should be prepared to do something that drastic if one wishes to escape from the clutches of that crazy imperial princess!”
“I knew you were insane, master, but to think that it was this bad!”
The metal bat rarely got flustered, but right now, she was genuinely freaking out.
That sight brought a satisfied grin to my lips.
“Wha? Why are you smiling like that for?! Master, do you wish to kill yourself that much? Even I know that demons on the other side of the border hate humans as much as humans on this side hate them!”
“Uh-huh. Even if that’s true, all kinds of creatures still live there. Demons have been living inside the human side of the continent, so who says humans can’t live inside the demon’s territory?”
“No one, obviously. Because no human or demon would ever think that someone is crazy enough to actually try that!”
Let me tell you a very cool legend I heard during my military service days. Although… It was only one of many cool legends there, but whatever.
That place I served in my military days held many legends, that’s for sure.
For instance, a sergeant deserting the base with incredible haste while kitted out in full attack gear. Or, no one realised that a guest from the brass had come until said guest started knocking on some doors…
In the place that held so many legends such as those, there was one other notable legend. It detailed a massive incident where a civilian working in the base somehow cut through the iron fence and managed to defect to North Korea!
I was assigned near where the fencing had been cut through and used to think that the civilian was one amazing dude. To think that there would be someone crazy enough to choose to go North!
And now, here I was, trying to put to practice what I realised back then.
“No matter how insane the imperial princess is, she’d never, ever imagine that I’m bold enough to escape to the land of the demons!”
“Yup. Even the imperial princess sister would never think that master has reached such a height of insanity!”
“Hahaha! However, I’ve already made preparations, you see?”
I pulled out my hidden trump card from my inner pocket, which had been prepared a long, long time ago for a rainy day like this.
“…What the heck is that, master?”
“What do you mean, what? It’s a horn, obviously.”
Not just any horn, but a horn of the demon race gleaming in the reddish-black hue attached to a headband, no less!
This wonderful tool was crafted by none other than dwarves, too!
“But will this thing really fool the demons, master?”
“We’ve been trusting the dwarven products until now, so I’m sure it’s still worthy of our trust.”
“…What you’re saying implies that dwarves made this when you went to see them, master. Just when did you have it made, anyway?” The metal bat narrowed her eyes and leered at me.
I replied in a matter-of-fact voice. “Obviously, when I was still working for the organisation.”
“I knew it, my master is the ‘best’! Totally nuts, to the point of making me dizzy and stuff, too! To think that you’ve been planning to flee to the demon continent from that long ago!”
The metal bat began shouting loudly while this somewhat strangely motivated expression floated up on her face.
I glanced at her before whipping the horses once more.
White snow continued to fall during the night.
And I was still doing my best to flee even today.
: Yes, I know it’s ‘ignorance isn’t a crime’, but that’s what was written in the raw. Like, literally…
: In Korean, ‘horse’ and ‘word’ are spelt the same. Hence, ‘rhyming’.