They look like a group of soldiers fully armored. There are around 20 people, I think. A few of the ones behind have slightly extravagant attire, and riding a splendid horse.
The soldiers were bringing along men in shabby attires tied up in ropes. Who are they…?
I thought for a bit and made a conjecture. This place is called the ‘Bridge to Hell’. That means it is a place to send people there. They went out of their way to create stairs on a closed place to send people in. Also, the men who are walking with their heads hanging down and tied up by ropes.
I can tell just from a glance.
They are criminals.
And so, that makes this place an execution ground.
It is in essence a death sentence, but if you survive, you are forgiven; they are probably using a roundabout method like that. Or there’s also the possibility they watch and enjoy from above.
…I am glad I didn’t destroy that lid…that bridge.
They are slowly going down the hill.
There’s still some distance, but I can see them from here. They should be able to see me completely from their side too.
I had Ai-chan turn invisible, so it may look like I am alone, but…running into them is so unlucky.
I have to think about what I should do.
(For now, it is certain that they are some sort of soldiers. They have the equipment, so maybe they are formal soldiers somewhere? The chances are low that they will suddenly attack me. I would say it is better than running into bandits, I guess.) (Nanami)
I also thought about the possibility of a village girl having come to pick up wild strawberries. Too bad that wasn’t the case.
It is stuffy-looking men. It should be natural to think that these are the soldiers managing this fortress.
Will they attack me? No, it is only one suspicious girl, so there’s no way they would suddenly turn hostile.
Well, if they do attack, I have my own ways of dealing with it. More importantly, I should take in mind even more complicated situations. As for what I myself want to do, the ideal would be to not make contact with them and go sayonara. But that’s already impossible.
They are armed with swords and spears. I can also see bows. That’s only what I see from here though.
They don’t look strong, but they are soldiers. There’s no way they are weak. However, they don’t look like they are strong enough to win against Ai-chan either.
(Ai-chan, if they begin attacking from afar, put up a barrier.) (Nanami)
Ai-chan can make a barrier with Spirit Abilities.
It should be able to block the Spirit Abilities and arrows from their side.
(No, I still can’t tell if they are enemies or allies, so make sure not to attack by any means until I tell you, okay? Don’t undo your invisibility either.) (Nanami)
While we were doing that, I could tell that the soldiers were beginning to grow noisy.
Thanks to them having stopped, I regained a bit of my calm.
Or more like, my nerves must have toughened up slightly after the 20 day bloodthirsty training to the several days living in the unpopulated wasteland. Thinking about it normally, who would care if there’s a single girl there. I could turn it around and say that I am a village girl and have come to pick up wild strawberries or something and then retreat.
I actually don’t want to make contact with them, but if I try to avoid them, they will only suspect me instead.
This fortress must be a government owned facility, and I am a person that was roaming around it. A serious soldier would ask what they have to say at least.
The danger level is 2, but it is a place where there’s barely any people after all.
There’s still around 50 meters between me and them.
They are pointing here and talking, but I can’t hear what they are saying.
“This is when Hint comes in handy.” (Nanami)
I operate the Status Board and open the Survival Hint with 1 Crystal.
Run, fight, or talk?
I was looking forward to the answer and…
<<Obtain a horse.>>
“I am telling you I don’t need hints that forgo so many steps…!” (Nanami)
With this, I can’t tell how to deal with those soldiers.
I have a whole ton of Spirit Stones here, so exchanging them for a horse…might be possible, but that’s most likely not the problem here.
It seems like the talk of the soldiers has been settled, the middle-aged man that seems to be the captain came here alone.
He doesn’t have his weapon out. Looks like they have taken the option of talking, and that relieved me a bit.
The man must be wary of me, he stops at a pretty distanced spot.
“I am someone from the Gemrespain Kingdom! I have come to send the criminals to the Hell Trial! Identify yourself! What are you doing at a place like this?!”
Gemrespain Kingdom is a small country at the north of the continent. If I remember correctly, there should be a number of Chosen there.
As I thought, the tied up people are criminals.
The Hell Trial must be to send those criminals to the Hellskull Wasteland.
In other words, a death sentence that doesn’t dirty their own hands. It would be one thing if the ones thrown in there had weapons, but with nothing in hand, there’s nothing they can do.
Now then, what should I say?
I can’t tell the truth here. I have no choice but to lie.
“I am a traveller. I came here because I had business nearby, but since I had the chance, I thought I might as well get a look at the Bridge to Hell…” (Nanami)
It is all made-up, but it should be plausible. This should be the only staircase around here since they have that exaggerated fortress there. It wouldn’t be strange at all that a traveller would think ‘might as well go check it out’. It shouldn’t…
I am not like Celica-chan; I am terrible at lying… I would like to escape before I mess up somewhere.
Ai-chan is invisible, and it seems like they can’t see Ai-chan either.
I myself am only in adventurer clothes with a mithril breast armor; there shouldn’t be anything strange. I also have a bow and a backpack. No matter how you look at me, I am a traveller.
“I will be leaving already, so don’t mind me~.” (Nanami)
I said that and tried to leave at once, but ‘Stop!’ -I was halted.
So my plan to get away in the confusion has failed, huh.
Was it bad that I ignored the hint of obtaining a horse?
“You are a suspicious woman. This place is managed by the nation. I have heard there’s spies who masquerade as spies. I can’t allow you to leave just like that.”
“E-Eh…? I simply looked down a bit from that slab over there though…?” (Nanami)
“Captain! There’s signs of someone having used the fortress!”
At that moment, a young soldier came running and reported this.
Even though I only used it for a single day… So unlucky.
(What should I do…?) (Nanami)
I could use a Barrier Stone. However, that’s simply an item that distances antagonistic targets. I don’t know if they are antagonizing me yet.
There’s the chance they will just be asking me about my circumstances and that’s it.
“Won’t be letting me leave…? What do you plan on doing?” (Nanami)
“We will be investigating you at the fortress.”
The man answered with that, but his mind must have had a different response, those words were transmitted to me.
—Those face features are not seen often around here, but she is a cute girl.
—This time’s mission was boring with only male criminals, but we got lucky here.
—We can just send her to Hell when we are done.
Well, Celica-chan did warn my ears out about the bad public order.
Different from the big cities that have Great Spirits, the places that function with only people are rotten, so to be careful.
Even if that weren’t the case, it might have been the same on Earth.
Well, if they are bad guys, I don’t need to show reservation.
“Got it. It is not like I have anything to feel guilty about, so please investigate me to your heart’s content.” (Nanami)
“Hooh, you are obedient.”
The man grinned and turned his back to me.
I slowly followed behind him.
(Ai-chan, can you defeat them all while still hidden?) (Nanami)
—I think I can.
(Then, I will give you the signal for the timing. Ah, to a degree that doesn’t kill them, okay?) (Nanami)
I don’t intend to go as far as killing them. I don’t have the courage or the resolve.
I will just make it so the soldiers and the criminals can’t move for a bit.
The problem is when they are stronger than us… At that time, it would be the time for the Barrier Stone.
Or there really might come the need to kill them, but…when that happens, it happens.
This isn’t Earth anymore. I have to draw the distinction.
I act obedient as I follow behind them.
Ai-chan was floating diagonally above me while still hidden.
The man that was called the captain reunited with the other soldiers.
The other soldiers are comparatively younger, and their grinning really speaks a lot about their messed up nature. Putting it bluntly, they are the type I hate.
As long as I don’t speak to them myself, even with Communication, I don’t hear the voice of their mind, but I can tell even without hearing it.
(Then, Ai-chan, please.) (Nanami)
Ai-chan activates its Spirit Ability just right at the time when the soldiers gather.
“Wa?! What’s going on?!”
“A Spirit Ability! Woman! Is this your doing?!”
The soldiers take out their weapons in anger.
But the Spirit Ability casted by Ai-chan is powerful. As long as you don’t erase it with an opposite element, you won’t be able to do anything. In this case, it would be Earth Wall to erase the ability of Ai-chan, but it seems like there’s no earth user within the soldiers.
“I-I don’t know what’s this either! What’s this? Kyaaaaa! I am so scared!” (Nanami)
I act as if I am not involved at all and take a bit of distance in the confusion.
To make it easier for Ai-chan to fight.
I do have my gun ready for whenever I need to immediately shoot, but if I shoot this, the target will definitely die. I think it will be a bit impossible to shoot here.
Ai-chan activates even more Spirit Abilities consecutively.
They were enclosed by walls of wind from all four directions, and the soldiers were being gathered in one spot.
Ai-chan can activate Spirit Abilities at the same time equal to the amount of tentacles and eye.
And at the end, Ai-chan chanted the finishing move.
A higher tier ability of water, Ice Coffin.
I have been shown that ability countless times in these 10 days, but it is a powerful ability that almost completely suppresses the target if it hits. The problem is that it takes a bit of time before it activates, but if they were to be cornered into a situation where they can’t move like just now before activating it, you can definitely hit.
Only water and darkness have coffin abilities, so they won’t be defeated by an opposing element.
The soldiers and criminals that were cornered into one spot by the wind walls were imprisoned in a coffin of ice all together.
The soldiers that were roaring angrily until now have stopped cold, the surroundings turning silent as if it had been a lie.
“Thanks, Ai-chan… You…didn’t kill them, right?” (Nanami)
—They are alive inside.
“Then, let’s escape quickly.” (Nanami)
Ice Coffin is a high tier water ability.
The restraining power of the lower tier Water Bind is weak, and it is apparently famous in the fact that it is even harder to use than Shadow Bind. Ice Coffin is exemplar, and it can almost perfectly confine the target, and most of all, it deals cold damage.
If locked up for 5 minutes, the opponent will be dead tired in the cold.
“Horse… I see. Obtain a horse…huh.” (Nanami)
Seeing the horses that the soldiers were riding on before, I spoke to them.
“Can someone come with us?” (Nanami)
—Who are they?
—Where are we going?
—I am hungry.
—I don’t care whichever.
The horses were neighing as they answered.
Looks like they don’t really care. Well, they must be warhorses, so they must obviously be taken care of greatly. I would feel a bit bad pushing them to come with me. It will be quite the long distance trip after all.
I had AI-chan undo the invisibility, and most horses were scared of Ai-chan.
If it is coming with us, they have to not be scared of Ai-chan. They are warhorses, so I thought that they would be more courageous, but even with that, it seems like Ai-chan is still scary.
They all said in chorus: ‘Scary’, ‘Scary’, ‘Scary’, ‘Scary’, ‘Scary’. Well, Ai-chan is a carnivore, so for hervores, Ai-chan must be a natural enemy. It can’t be helped.
That said, horses really are smart. It seems like they understood decently soon that Ai-chan is not an enemy, their mood turned into ‘if it isn’t going to eat me, that’s fine’.
There are 6 horses in total, but I decided to take 2. These 2 are comparatively fine with Ai-chan.
But because of that, they are also a bit wild in nature. Oh well, we will manage somehow.
“Then, let’s go. You get on too, Ai-chan.” (Nanami)
“Just like this. You would get tired if you were to float the whole time, right?” (Nanami)
—I will try.
The reason why I am taking 2 is because I thought about having Ai-chan ride one.
I want to decrease Ai-chan’s calorie consumption.
I have Ai-chan ride on the back of the horse while calming the horse down.
Ai-chan’s balance sense is good, and it can hold the reins with its tentacles. It doesn’t seem like there will be any problems.
“We are heading off. Is that ice ability going to undo itself if we go away?” (Nanami)
—Undos when I can’t see it.
‘When I can’t see it’, huh.
That’s a super long range.
For now, as long as they didn’t see Ai-chan… I myself have a plain appearance. Even if they were to make me a wanted person, the chances of me being identified are low…I think.
I am going to be crossing countries here.
By the way, I have already learned to ride a horse by hanging out with Celica-chan. In the long past, I would tag along with Celica-chan who would want to do everything, and Hi-chan and I did a variety of things together too but, at those times, I didn’t expect even in my dreams that it would be of use to me in this way.
I got on the horse and had it run south.
I had quite the detour there, but now what’s left is to go to Meltia where Hi-chan is.
Wait for me, Hi-chan!