Black Cat Chapter 106: Escort

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 A few days after returning from my homecoming, Chariot received two simultaneous requests.


 One was a request to subjugate an ogre, and the other was to escort a carriage to a furniture workshop.



 The ogre was to be defeated in the village of Cabane, east of Ibouro, and the destination of the furniture workshop’s carriage was Kilmaya, a town in the Duke of Escalante’s territory, south of Viscount Lagart’s territory.


 You may think it’s impossible to take on a request in two completely different places at the same time, but what the heck, it’s possible if you split the party into two.



 The ogre’s subjugation will be handled by Laius, Gad, and Serge, who have been working together for some time.


 The furniture workshop escort, on the other hand, was originally a request that Shure had received as a request, so I would be tagging along as a bonus.



 I would like to try my hand at subjugating an ogre, but this time I plan to learn how to escort from Shure.


 I had escorted the chief of Atsuka village when he came to Ibouro, but I was just sitting on the coachman’s seat with Mr. Zeol, so I hardly did anything like escorting him.



“Borzi, the owner of the Furniture Workshop Diaco, has a quirk, but he pays well…” (Shure)


“A quirk…?” (Nyango)


“You’ll know that as soon as you meet him…” (Shure)



 Early in the morning, while heading to the south gate of the meeting place, Shure told me about the request.


 The Furniture Workshop Diaco is a workshop that manufactures high-end furniture, and they have clients in other cities besides Ibouro.



 Borzi, the owner of the workshop, apparently goes to his clients in Kilmaya twice a year for business meetings.


 This is the fourth time Shure has been asked to escort a client since last spring.



 It takes about four days to reach Kilmaya from Ibouro by horse-drawn carriage one way.


 The roads along the way are patrolled by knights from both the Lagart and Escalante families, so there is little danger, but it is not absolutely free from bandits and monsters.



“Very rarely, you may encounter a wyvern…” (Shure)


“Aren’t wyverns A-rank monsters?” (Nyango)


“Yes, but they are the weaker of the A rank monsters and only attack travelers once every few years or so, so I wouldn’t worry it… probably.” (Shure) [T/N: That’s a flag you know.]



 Wyverns are so-called pterodactyls with wings as their arms.


 When its wings are spread out, it is about four meters long, and from its head to the tip of its tail, it is said to be about seven meters long.



 They nest once every few years on Mount Bule, on the border between Lagart and Escalante territories, but they seldom come down from the mountain to the road.


 Even so, livestock on farms at the foot of the mountain are sometimes attacked.



“What would you do if a wyvern attacked?” (Nyango)


“At that time, I will sacrifice my horse to protect my employer…” (Shure)



 Wyverns are big monsters, but they will go away once they have the food they need.


 She said that it is written in the contract for escorting that the horses will be sacrificed, how pitiful.



 As I waited with Shure at the designated spot near the south gate, a large carriage approached us.


 It was a four-horse cart, with a carriage attached to the back of the cabin.



 When the carriage stopped, a woman who looked like a maid, a man who looked like a butler, a middle-aged leopardkin man, and a leopardkin girl who looked a little older than me got out from the cabin.


“Good morning, Mr. Borzi.” (Shure)


“Hmm, good morning Shure, is that the adventurer you were talking about?” (Brozi)


“Yes, it’s Nyango from the same party.” (Shure)


“Nice to meet you, I’m Nyango, a C-rank adventurer.” (Nyango)


“Oh, even though you’re a catkin, you’re C-rank…” (Borzi)



 Shure’s temples twitch as Borzi looks me over as if he’s trying to gauge my value.


 It’s hard for other people to understand, but he seems to be in a slightly bad mood.



“Hmm… he’s definitely a catkin. That’s fine… but stay away from my daughter unless you have to. Okay, you got it?!” (Borzi) [T/N: Doting idiot parent sighted.]


“Yes, I understand.” (Nyango)



 It seems that the quirk Shure mentioned is about Borzi being a doting idiot parent.


 His daughter Elisa is 17 years old, not as tall as Shure, but tall and slender, and quite beautiful.



 The reason for making the request to Shure was that he did not want a male adventurer to come near Elisa.


 The reason I was allowed to accompany her this time was because I belonged to the same party as Shure and was a catkin.



 If Elisa and I were side by side, we would look like an adult and a child, an owner and a pet, and it was only natural that Borzi would allow me to accompany her.


 But Borzi doesn’t know about my cleaning technique, which was trained by Ms. Leila.



 Well, I don’t have to show it to Elisa, but…


 When we met face to face, Elisa’s fingertips were twitching.



 Apparently, she wants to fluff my prized fur, but Borzi’s eyes are glowering, so give it up.


 I’m a guilty man, too… Meowbad.



 The cabin is big enough to seat about ten people, but me and Shure are on the coachman’s seat… or rather I’m on Shure’s lap again.


 The carriage is a four-horse carriage, so the platform is set up high and the view is quite nice.



 In addition to the four people in the cabin, there is a coachman and two craftsmen in the back of the carriage.


 The owner of the workshop was in a luxurious cabin, and the craftsmen were treated as baggage, but as expected of a furniture workshop carriage, there were comfortable chairs in the back.



 The most unfortunate of all the people in the carriage are the three of us who are riding on the exposed platform, but of course we are protected from the cold wind by a cover made of void magic.



“How… the wind is not hitting me at all.” (Coachman)


“Fufu, that’s thanks to Nyango’s void magic…” (Shure)


“I didn’t know that void magic could do such a thing.” (Coachman)



 The driver, Haig, is a donkeykin man in his late 30s.


 Haig had prepared a thick cloak and hat to protect himself from the cold, but he was overjoyed to know that he was free from the chilling wind that was blowing.



“Well, I know it can’t be helped because of my profession, and it’s especially hard on windy days.” (Haig)


“Shall I cover the horses, too?” (Nyango)


“No, the horses’ body temperatures rise when they run, so they’ll be fine as they are.” (Haig)


“What if it starts to rain?” (Nyango)


“That’s right… it’s convenient if you block only the raindrops…” (Haig)


“I can do it. Then I’ll just protect them from the rain.” (Nyango)


“Thank you. You’re very helpful.” (Haig)


“Naturally, Nyango is super talented…” (Shure)




 The road leading south from Ibouro leads to the Royal Capital if you follow the road as it is.


 The road is more heavily trafficked and better maintained than the roads leading north, east, and west, as there are several large towns in other territories along the way.



 Trees have been cut down on both sides of the road to improve visibility.


 Cattle and sheep graze on the other side of the fences, preventing the grass from overgrowing and reducing visibility.



“Wow… it’s completely different from the road heading north.” (Nyango)


“With such good visibility, it is easy to see approaching monsters and difficult for bandits to hide…” (Shure)


“What if bandits show up?” (Nyango)


“The first priority is to escape. We don’t stop the wagons unless they’ve killed the horses.” (Haig)



 A bandit who attacks a carriage is a serious crime, punishable by death unless there are extenuating circumstances.


 Even if an adventurer in charge of escorting a caravan kills a bandit, he or she is not only allowed to act in self-defense, but also to receive a bounty.



 If there is a bounty target like Zozon in the mix, the bounty can be even higher.


 Basically, banditry is an unprofitable crime, but it is said that in years when there is a poor harvest, many people flee into the night because they can’t pay their taxes and turn to banditry.



“This year, the summer was so hot that the southern part of the kingdom seemed to have suffered from the drought.” (Haig)


“I heard there was a good harvest around here.” (Nyango)


“That is true. But rich lands attract poor people, so we cannot rest assured.” (Haig)



 As a coachman, his own safety is at stake, so Haig is very careful about the information he receives.



“Where do you get information about other cities?” (Nyango)


“The Merchant Guild and Craftsman Guild are the best places. It’s the place where people from other cities who come here to do business always show up, and it’s the most accurate source of information. You can also get gossip at the bars near the Merchant and Craftsman Guild, but you have to be careful because there is a lot of false information there.” (Haig)


“I see……” (Nyango)



 There is an unspoken agreement among the horse-drawn wagons that proceed along the streets that they keep a certain distance from each other and proceed at a similar speed, except for extremely slow horse-drawn wagons.


 We are always at least 100 meters away from the carriage moving ahead.



 They need to shorten the distance in order to attack as bandits, and by keeping a distance, they are showing that they have no hostile intentions toward us.


 In other words, when the distance between the wagons gets shorter, that’s when we, the escorts, need to be careful.



 About an hour after we left Ibouro, the carriage in front of us overtook the carriage that was further ahead.


 The overtaken carriage was carrying a large amount of straw on its back.


 From behind, it looked as if the pile of straw was moving.



“Nyango, just be careful. Sometimes there are bandits lurking under the straw…” (Shure)


“Okay…” (Nyango)



 At first glance, it would appear that the large pile of straw prevents them from increasing their speed, but it is said that it is a classic trick to keep bandits lurking in the straw.


 It is said that the moment a slow carriage tries to overtake another, the bandits will attack the driver from inside the straw.



“Nyango, what about the carriage behind?” (Shure)


“They won’t come near us.” (Nyangop)



 Shure took me off her lap, sat me down between her and Haig, and gripped the hilt of the dagger she had removed from her waist.


 The distance between us and the carriage in front of us shrinks, 40 meters, 30 meters…



 Still no suspicious movement in the straw.


 20 meters, 10 meters… close to catching up, there was a squirming movement in the straw.



 The moment Shure braced herself, the face that popped out of the straw was a girl with pigtails.


 A bearkin girl smiled and waved at us.



 Shure who waved back had a wry smile on her face.


 *Sigh*… don’t startle us.





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