Dream Life Vol 3 Chapter 2.1: “Western Region of Aurella Road”

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 July 2, 317 of the Tria calendar.




 Since it was the day after the Midsummer Festival, an unexpectedly large number of merchant caravans were departing. However, we were not in a hurry, so we slowly made our way along the Aurella Road, the main road connecting the western merchant city of Aurella and the adventurer city of Pericritor in the east.



 The Aurella Road is a relatively safe road on the east side of Doctus, but the west side is a dangerous road where bandits and monsters are rampant. There are geographical reasons for this.



 The area east of Doctus can be said to be the sphere of influence of the Kingdom of Lacus from a macroscopic point of view. It is also an area where monsters are subjugated quite frequently due to its proximity to the adventurer’s town of Pericritor.



 Conversely, the western side of the region is close to the Caem Mountains, which are the de facto border between the Caelum Empire and the Kingdom of Lacus, and it is difficult to say which is the sphere of influence of either.


 Since the Caem Mountains have been a disputed territory between Caelum and Lacus, there have been few defeats between the two countries, and as a result, many monsters inhabit the area.



 In addition, there are many villages that have fallen into disrepair due to Caelum’s invasion campaign, making it an easy place for thieves and bandits to hide out.


 To make matters worse, the Caelum Empire, the power closest to the road, was not aggressive in defeating the monsters and bandits in the Caem Mountains.



 The other great power, the Kingdom of Lacus, was also active in defeating them on its own side, the northern side of the Caem Mountains, but did not advance its forces to the southern side, the side of Caelum.


 If Lacus advanced to the south of the mountain range, the border dispute with the empire, which is now at a low ebb, might reignite.



 There was a clear reason for the Caelum Empire’s lack of active involvement in the safety of the Aurella Road, despite its nominal territory.



 It is the City-States Union, including Aurella, that benefits most from the Aurella Road. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Lacus in the north and the Kingdom of Caum in the south, which are located beyond the highway, are also benefiting from it.



 In other words, if the Aurella Road flourishes, it will only contribute to the expansion of the power of Lacus, which is an enemy, and the City-States Union, including Aurella, which is rapidly expanding its power and becoming a virtual enemy, and there is little benefit to Caelum for its own country.



 Aside from the northern count Roswell, who was benefiting from the Aurella Road, the emperor and nobles in the southern imperial capital of Primus felt that they had no obligation to help their rivals.



 Although Aurella is the merchant city that benefits most from this road, Aurella’s leaders naturally have the will to improve this situation.


 However, they have not been able to launch a large-scale campaign.



 Aurella is allowed to continue to exist by the Caelum Empire because it is a merchant city with a minimum of military force. They feared that if Aurella deployed a large-scale military force, even to subjugate monsters and bandits, it would give the Caelum Empire an excuse to invade.



 In other words, the road from Doctus to Aurella is a kind of power vacuum where the interests of the major powers are intricately intertwined.


 For this reason, the merchant caravans that travel the Aurella Road often form large caravans for self-defense. Nearly a hundred wagons were escorted by two or three hundred mercenaries to counter threats from monsters and bandits.



 Even so, it is not possible to organize a large caravan every time. The wagons traveled at different speeds, and the cost of transportation would go up if they had to keep up with slower wagons.


 Furthermore, if a small trading company is transporting the same kind of goods as a large trading company, it is obvious that the large trading company will have an advantage if they arrive in the same city at the same time.



 Young, ambitious merchants who do not like this may form small caravans and take to the streets in an attempt to outflank the large merchant companies.


 But such merchants invariably paid the price. Still, there was no shortage of merchants who were willing to take a chance or two.



 And then there were us, who, from a distance, looked like a group of wealthy aristocrats because of the appearance of our bodyguards and the make of our carriages. Because of this, we were likely to become a target of the bandits.



 The nobles often carried lighter and more expensive goods than the merchants, such as jewelry and gold. In addition, they are often less well-traveled than the merchants and may take frequent breaks or, conversely, be reluctant to match the speed of the wagons, which may cause them to be separated from the merchant caravan.


 In addition, if there is an opulent carriage among the utilitarian wagons, it is easy to identify the target from a distance, and it is thought to be an excellent prey.



 This time, the Lockhart family’s group includes Guy Jakes and Byron Seedorf, two of the fiercest men in the group, but the young patrol members are just under 20 years old and look like inexperienced young soldiers if only by their appearance.


 Furthermore, the six of us were also young for hired guards, and the fact that many of our party were women made us more likely to be targeted.


 I pointed this out to my father, but he didn’t seem bothered by it and replied with a laugh.



“We won’t be slowed down by bandits. Well, even if there are three times as many as ours, we will be able to overwhelm them. Of course, I’m counting on you guys to do the job.” (Matt)



 It is true that the level of the village patrol youths is about 30, which is enough to be considered a full-fledged soldier. Guy and Byron, who are in command, are over 50, and my father and Enos are over 40.



 If the six of us are added to them, a band of bandits with a main force of about 20 levels can sufficiently compete with about 30 or 40 of them, and if we don’t get ambushed, we can even overwhelm them with the magic of me, Liddy, and Sharon.


 Even so, I warned him further that he could not let his guard down.



“But the bandits in this area are not to be underestimated. You should be careful to work with the merchants as much as possible.” (Zack)



 My father nodded at my warning and said, “That’s right. It would be foolish to waste time-fighting and getting injured.”



 Baked by the bright early summer sun, we arrived at the inn town of Holywell, 50 kilometers west of Doctus, on the evening of the second day after our departure.


 During that time, we had been in the line of merchants, so our travel speed was quite slow at 25 kilometers per day, but we encountered no monsters or bandits, and had no trouble of any kind.



 The next day, the forest became even deeper, and we began to hear the sounds of monsters, but thanks to about one hundred wagons and more than two hundred guards, we had only sporadic encounters with monsters.



 On July 7, the sixth day after our departure.


 Today’s destination is the city of Rawcliffe, which is the closest town to the Frontier Count Roswell’s territory.



 Nothing had happened up to this point, and the tension among the escorts was beginning to loosen somewhat.



(It’s at times like this that something happens. And if I say it, it’s going to happen…) (Zack)



 I was more alert than usual to my surroundings, and Dan, noticing my actions, was equally alert. Of course, the veterans Guy and Byron were not caught off guard.



 Our position that day was at the front of the caravan.



 Then, around two o’clock in the afternoon.


 Seven or eight more kilometers and we were in the town of Rawcliffe, and then it happened.



 After a rest stop and an hour of going through a deep forest with little sunlight, we were entering an area where large trees were sparse and dense bushes were abundant.



 It was open enough to get some sunlight, but there was no shortage of places to hide a few meters from the road, and a few dozen well-trained soldiers could have been used as ambush troops.



 I looked at Liddy and Beatrice, thinking it was the perfect place to ambush us. They seemed to feel the same way, their hands gripping their weapons tightly.



 As we were advancing with increased vigilance, the merchant escort at the head of the line shouted, “Attack! The bandits are here!” We heard the screams of a man who seemed to be the leader, the neighing of horses, and the thud of something crashing into the ground.



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