I fly low along the ground and head toward Haranae.
Ball rabbit is riding on my head and Adofu and two red ants are riding on my back. I never thought I would receive help from the red ants, but things have changed and here we are. I ended up quickly caving in.
It’s nighttime and it’s pitch black. I have to get to Haranae before noon tomorrow.
I’m flying at a low altitude along the ground so that I don’t get spotted before I enter Haranae.
“…Why don’t you enter Haranae by changing yourself to look like a human?”
Adofu had shot that suggestion at me yesterday. I was a little worried, but eventually I agreed.
If I march right in as a dragon, I’m going to immediately cause a commotion just by appearing. If that happens, then we won’t be able to use Adofu’s strategy of sharing his testimony in front of the people who’ve gathered for the execution in order to destroy the hero’s backing. My MP usage is going to be strained, but there’s no helping that now.
Adofu did say as well that if he pulls it off well enough, then there won’t be any fighting. All the effort I’ve put into risking my life to level up would be wasted, but having a safety measure in place is a decidedly better idea.
With my current status, as well as taking into consideration my automatic recovery skills, I should have nearly an hour. I’ll continue moving forward toward Haranae. Then, when I get close enough, I’ll use [[Humanization]] and continue moving forward on the red ants. They allowed me to choose the two fastest ants in the nest. The differences between their speeds could be chalked up to margin of error.
While it sucks that I won’t be able to challenge the hero in peak MP condition, the only skill that is an outright MP drain is [[Humanization]]. My MP became critically low in the battle with the red ants, but that was in the beginning when my level was really low, which meant that my maximum MP was pretty low as well. Because MP doesn’t restore itself upon leveling up, my maximum MP and remaining MP then were miles apart.
But… this time is different. It’s obvious that this will be settled before I even use up 1000 MP, which means that that won’t be the bottleneck here.
…Is it already the next day? Before long, the sun starts peeking out over the horizon. The deadline will come when the sun hits its highest point in the sky, high noon.
“…Huh? Who could…?”
Adofu mutters. Following the direction of his gaze, I see what looks to be a man crying over a horse.
Wait, isn’t that one of the Haranae soldiers I fought before? His name was… His name… What was his name again? I recall seeing a well-rounded head whose shape was easily seen through a turban. Ah, right, he’s Hagen.
His favorite horse ran off. After that, I remember seeing him in the distance riding on top of a camel… And it now seems like they managed to reunite. There are no signs that they’ve noticed me and there’s no reason for me to get involved. If I do get involved, then there’s a good chance that I’ll give myself unwanted trouble.
“Why is he here…?”
Adofu’s eyes widen and his mouth hangs open. Was Hagen an acquaintance of his? Well, they are soldiers serving the same country. Do they know each other really well?
“He- head towards him! Please!”
Adofu says that with some excitement in his voice as he points at Hagen. He even seems to be losing his composure. Did they have a really close relationship?
“He was supposed to have died after failing to subdue an evil dragon! Irushia’s testimony, it’s- I thought Hagen had been killed by Irushia’s hand long ago. However, there must’ve been some kind of slip-up and Irushia missed something!”
Oh, that so? But, what does that have to do with anything?
“If Hagen is alive, then we can drag out all of Irushia’s lies, one after another. He’ll go mad from all the base accusations that he can’t lie his way through or distort! His words, everything, will have no consistency! If that happens, then not even the church would be able to protect him!”
Wait, seriously? You’re telling me that bald loser over there is actually that important? I’m glad that we managed to come across him. If anything was different then I expect we would’ve easily missed him. If you had told me, then I would have put some serious effort into searching for him. No… Adofu had no doubt in his mind that Hagen was dead. There’s no way he would’ve even thought to ask.
I’m sure that Adofu, who said that he was an escaped, condemned criminal, won’t be able to reach the crowd alone. So it’s great that we now have a new witness here. Looks like there’s still some hope.
“I don’t know how he let Hagen slip, let alone leaving a mistake like this unfixed for all this time, but this is an opportunity that we won’t have again.”
That… certainly is something to be worried about. If Hagen’s existence is able to completely flip the situation around, then why was such a man left unchecked and out here in the open? If all the stories I’ve heard about that hero from Adofu are true, then I don’t think he’d be the type of man to shy away from killing people to silence them.
I think that it might be a trap, but I don’t have enough information to make that call. However, strange things like this sometimes just happen and can’t be resolved through conjecture alone. Because Adofu, who knows much more about the situation than me, is happy to show no restraint, it might be better if I don’t harbor any more doubts. For now, I’ll just be on alert.
I promptly switch course and decide to head for Hagen.
As I draw near, I can see that his horse has been seriously injured and is lying on the sand. The part of the horse’s hind leg near the hip area had been gouged out and is bleeding profusely. It was probably done in by a monster. Hagen had fallen to his knees and was placing his hand near the injury, shedding tears.
“Mariaa! C’mon, Mariaaa!”
I thought he was with someone else, but I fear it’s probably just the horse. Didn’t that horse abandon its one-time master and run away? …Though, Hagen doesn’t seem to care about something like that. That’s unexpectedly gentlemanly of him. Maria also turns an envious gaze on such a master.
“[[Rest]], [[Rest]]! God damnit!!”
Light emits from Hagen’s hand, healing the horse’s injuries. However, the wound doesn’t close up.
Anyhow, should we try contacting him? Once I get close enough to him, I let out one of my usual attention-grabbing roars.
Hagen looks over his shoulder at me, stands up, and begins screaming while running away, suddenly abandoning his horse. As for the horse… she looks on intensely at Hagen’s back with a dumbfounded expression plastered across her face.
Yep… you two are reeeally made for each other.