Chapter 21: Returning the Favor (1)
Editor: Borderline Masochist
Cale just casually nodded toward Choi Han on this early morning and picked up the glass of cold water that Ron had prepared for him. Cale recalled what Ron had said earlier, as he felt the cold water flow through his body.
‘Young master, it is not good to take such a long night walk. This Ron was very worried about you.’
It made his mind clear up, even without the cold water for some reason. Cale carefully put the water back down and started to speak to Choi Han.
“You took care of everything properly?”
After Choi Han had brought Cale back to the inn, he immediately went back to erase their tracks and create a new set of fake tracks heading toward the west.
Meeeeeow. Cale looked toward the kittens that were eating jerky and yawning, and started to explain to Choi Han about the city that they would soon reach.
“The name of the next city is Puzzle City. That is the middle point in our journey.”
Once you get out of the Henituse territory that is surrounded by mountains, all the roads are well-paved from this small city in the Viscount’s territory to the capital.
‘That’s the reason that the Henituse territory has been safe until now, even if it is a bit annoying for the merchants.’
Even if you have a lot of goods to sell, it would be difficult for merchants to travel to buy those goods if the roads were rough. However, the merchants pushed through this inconvenience because the roads were paved as soon as they left the Henituse territory.
Furthermore, these paved roads allowed for the influential powers in the eastern half of the Roan Kingdom to gather frequently. That was why people in the capital were able to discuss many of the issues in the east, even though there were no nobles with a higher nobility than the rank of Marquis in the east.
“It took a while to get this far because our territory has a lot of mountains, but it will not take very long from here.”
Puzzle City was not the middle point in terms of distance, but in terms of time.
“I went to check the Viscount’s villa on my way back.”
Looking at Cale’s stoic expression, Choi Han had a slightly bitter expression as he responded.
“They all seemed to be in a state of chaos. There were also soldiers and knights leaving the village.”
“I’m sure they went to report.”
After regaining their consciousness, they probably sent people to Venion and investigated the area around the cave. However, that did not seem to be the end of Choi Han’s report.
“Just say it.”
Cale started to frown, and bluntly retorted to Choi Han. Choi Han still seemed to have a bitter expression, and slowly started to speak.
“A part of the exit route we took from the cave was blown up. Even the trees, grass, ground, and everything around it was a mess.”
The kittens dropped the jerkies that were in their mouths. However, Cale was still relaxed.
“I’m sure the dragon did it.”
Choi Han just stood there silently. Cale saw that, and started to smile as he stood up from his seat.
Even if it is only 4 years old, the dragon was still extremely smart. It knew someone may come to the escape route, and probably decided to blow it up. Since dragons are also very sensitive to mana, it probably destroyed everything around it to destroy the magic tools in the area as well.
“It’s good enough that it didn’t kill all of the fainted people. It’s probably holding back because it is still young and still has some fear.”
“I see. I did feel a strong amount of mana there.”
“Don’t look down on the dragon just because it is small. You’ll regret it.”
Dragons were said to be large animals that were extremely petty. Cale praised himself once again for leaving the dragon instead of bringing it with him, before asking Choi Han a question.
“You can get out now. Are you going to be sleeping until we leave?”
“No. I need to go help Beacrox out.”
Cale gasped in shock and quickly asked.
“Oh, I guess you are close now?”
At that moment, Cale saw Choi Han have a stoic expression for the first time. Choi Han answered very sternly.
“No. We are not close at all.”
“... I, I see... okay then.”
Cale responded back with a similar expression on his face, and Choi Han silently bowed before heading out of the room. Cale gave Choi Han an order as he was opening the door to leave.
“Ah. Tell Hans to prepare some drinks on your way out.”
Choi Han’s eyes opened widely in shock as he looked back at Cale. He looked back and forth at the relaxed Cale and the clock that showed 7:00 am. Cale refreshingly answered Choi Han’s silent question.
“Haven’t you ever heard of a hangover drink?”
Choi Han left without saying anything else, but Cale did not care. Even On and Hong were looking at him and seemed to be asking if he really was going to start drinking this early, but he also ignored them, and looked into the mirror.
“What a wonderful expression.”
His face seemed to be extremely tired, and still slightly drunk. Cale nodded in satisfaction, before heading down to the first floor.
‘As I expected.’
7:00 am was early, but the day was not yet over for some people. The Vice Captain was standing there, looking like he had never even drunk last night, and was having a serious conversation with someone.
Cale could see a stiff Choi Han nearby. It was because the person speaking with the Vice Captain was one of the knights that Choi Han had defeated yesterday. It was only normal to stiffen up.
Cale approached Choi Han, and kicked Choi Han’s foot.
“Why are you stiffening up like that?”
Choi Han flinched for a moment at Cale’s stealthy whisper, before smiling awkwardly and quietly responding back.
“I thought I had used enough strength to make them unable to fight for about a day, but they are up and moving much earlier than I expected. I guess I thought the human body was much weaker than it actually is. I guess I can use more strength against humans in the future.”
Cale turned his gaze away from Choi Han. Choi Han really fit the model of a normal main character who would happily destroy anything in his path toward justice. There was also other existences who were outside of Cale’s expectations.
On and Hong had followed him downstairs. The kittens had smirks on their face as they wagged their tails and peeked at the knight. Anybody could see that they were enjoying this situation.
‘...Am I the biggest coward here?’
As Cale was thinking about that and sat down at his table, the inn owner brought a bottle of alcohol to him.
“Young master, I prepared the same alcohol you drank last night.”
“Old man, there is something that keeps coming to my mind whenever I see you.”
Cale smiled at the nervous old man and continued to speak.
“I think you are a really smart vendor. It’s a compliment. This is perfect for a hangover drink.”
The alcohol bottle opened with a refreshing sound, and Cale immediately poured a cup and downed it. His face almost instantly started to turn red. Cale purposefully made his eyes only half opened, and looked toward the Vice Captain. The Vice Captain was still talking to the other knight.
“Yesterday, we had a party to relax after a long journey until here. Everybody was drinking and relaxing. Nobody left the inn. But I still don’t understand why someone from the Viscount’s estate would be curious about that.”
The knight from the Marquis’s estate seems to have introduced himself as someone from the Viscount’s estate. The knight smiled at the Vice Captain’s suspicious gaze, but the knight still answered back with a serious expression.
“There was a thief that broke into the Viscount’s villa yesterday. A couple other knights and I were on guard, but we lost a few items to the thief. After hearing that people from Count Henituse’s estate were here in the village, we came to see if the thief had stolen from the Count as well.”
‘Thief my ass. Well, I guess a dragon thief is a thief as well.’
Cale took a gulp directly from the bottle while thinking about that. At that moment, he made eye contact with the knight who was at the Viscount’s villa yesterday.
“What are you looking at?”
The knight immediately bowed and turned his gaze away. The Vice Captain looked toward Cale awkwardly, before letting out a fake cough and then confidently and loudly answering.
“Ahem. Our young master is drinking because his day turns out better if he drinks in the morning. Furthermore, it is a hangover drink. He is the type of person who drinks to cure his hangover caused from drinking too much the night before.”
Cale glared at the Vice Captain because he could not tell whether the Vice Captain was mocking him or coming up with an excuse for him, before taking another drink.
“I see. What an interesting young master.”
The knight responded to the Vice Captain’s words positively, before respectfully bowing toward Cale.
‘I guess this should lessen their suspicion of us.’
Cale felt like they should no longer have any reason to be suspected by the Marquis’s knight who came to the inn so early in the morning. The dragon happened to disappear while Cale’s envoy was here, and they were leaving the morning after, but there weren’t many reasons to suspect them.
Venion’s remaining subordinates here will think about the six starred outfits that the attackers were wearing, the ones that seemed to represent a certain organization, as well as the tracks that were leading to the west. Most importantly, however, is that they would never think that someone like Cale, who was called trash, would be able to do something like that.
“Then I wish you a safe journey as you continue on today.”
In addition, there was no way they could hold the eldest son of a Count from leaving when they didn’t have the Marquis, Venion, or even the Viscount with them. Especially when that noble was heading to the capital under the order of the crown.
‘Who would think that a noble that is drinking on his way to a summons from the crown would be normal?’
It really was good to be trash. Cale continued to drink with satisfaction.
‘I’m sure Venion would not suspect us, even after finding out what happened.’
Venion and Marquis Stan were probably the people who knew better than anyone else that there was absolutely no relationship between Count Henituse and the secret organization. That was especially the case when it came to the dragon.
Cale watched the knight leave the inn before drinking the honey lemon tea Ron had put in front of him.
“Yes, young master.”
“Honey tea really seems to be the best to cure a hangover.”
Ron smiled as he looked at Cale, but Cale looked away and tried to calm his stomach. Once Cale no longer felt sick from drinking too much, they started on their way once more.
Their next destination was Puzzle City. It was the city that was the center of the transportation of goods in the East, and it was pretty famous for the number of rock towers around the city.
Cale needed to find an unfinished rock tower in Puzzle City.
“Are we camping out today?”
On took a bite of the jerky as she asked Cale. Cale nodded his head.
“Yes. Starting today, we will be camping outside every so often.”
Cale had set a pretty filled schedule from here on as well. It was because he wanted to have enough time in Puzzle City. He turned away from the kitten siblings, who were whispering quietly to each other, and looked outside the carriage window.
‘The Vitality of the Heart.’
That was the name of the ancient power that would strengthen the Indestructible Shield. This was a power that was focused on restoration and vitality.
‘That was why the eldest son was looking for it.’
Taylor, the eldest son of the Marquis, who had lost his position as heir. He was the only good person in the Marquis’s family, but the lower half of his body had become paralyzed because of Venion’s schemes.
Taylor had rummaged through all sorts of texts to find a power that would cure him. He happens to find an ancient text in an old bookstore in the process, and, although it was difficult to decipher the ancient text, he manages to decipher a few words after putting in a lot of hard work.
Restoration. Rock Tower.
Those two things became clues for Taylor who immediately headed to Puzzle City, which could also be called Rock Tower City. He was probably at Puzzle City right now. In the novel, he would find the ancient power in about a month from now.
‘But it was useless.’
The, ‘Vitality of the Heart,’ was unable to restore an already injured body. It only was able to restore any injuries received after earning the power. There was also a limit on how much could be restored, as well as a cost to pay for any restorations.
Taylor fell into despair after learning about that fact. He had no time, and that ancient power was his last hope. It was because Taylor did not know when Venion would come to kill him.
‘He dies a month after finding the power.’
Taylor ends up dying by an unknown organization while the capital was in a state of chaos from the terror incident. Of course, Venion was responsible for sending that organization after Taylor.
The reason Cale remembered this side character, that seemed to have an even smaller role than the original Cale in the novel, was because of the strong friendship Taylor had with his friend.
The crazy priestess. She was Taylor’s friend and the only person who survives Taylor’s assassination. She kills half of the assassins in anger and ends up becoming excommunicated by the temple. She ends up with a large injury on her back from the incident and confidently tells the temple about what she had done.
‘I acted as a human rather than following the will of the lord. I believe that is the right thing to do.’
She then continued on after that.
‘I am now free!’
That is when she starts to be called the crazy priestess by others. Her specialty was using the strength of the God of Death for curses. The temple had excommunicated her, but her god did not throw her away.
When the war broke out in the novel, she became famous, even though she was not a hero, because of how she helped to heal the injured.
‘I think it will be different this time.’
There was a good chance that Taylor would not die in a month. Venion was going to be busy dealing with the dragon incident and sucking up to the Marquis. He probably would need to focus on his younger siblings rather than his paralyzed older brother to maintain his status as the heir to the Marquis title.
‘And since I will be taking Taylor’s last hope away, I will need to give him a new hope.’
Although the Vitality of the Heart was an ancient power that Taylor did not need, Cale was not such a bad guy to take someone’s last hope away.
Cale was also curious to know about what that combination of Taylor and the Crazy Priestess could achieve if they managed to live longer. He thought that the two of them could change the Marquis’s estate. If that could happen, that would be better for Cale in the long run.
However, something that he suddenly thought about made Cale stiffen his expression.
‘Even Beacrox struggled under her curse right?’
Once Cale thought about the struggles the torture expert Beacrox had with the priestess, he stopped thinking about her right away. He decided to stop thinking about the good-natured and citizen-caring noble Taylor as well.
‘They don’t mesh well with me.’
They were different types of people than Cale. They were good people who were loyal and trusted each other deeply. Cale preferred Ron or Beacrox to those kinds of people.
‘...No. How could I ever think about such terrible thoughts.’
Cale quickly stopped thinking about Ron and Beacrox as well.
At that moment, Cale looked down after feeling something tapping at his leg. He could see the golden pupils of the kittens shining, as the kittens started to speak.
“I heard from Hans earlier.”
Hans still didn’t know that the kittens were Cat Tribe kittens, and continued to say all sorts of things in front of the kittens. The kittens seemed to want to tell him something they had heard Hans say.
The siblings seemed to have gotten used to Cale’s rude way of asking, and started to speak.
“If you make a wish at a rock tower, it will come true.”
“He said the rock towers were pretty.”
“I want to go. But it’s okay if it is too annoying.”
“I want to go with you, but it’s okay if it is too difficult.”
Cale blankly stared at the fidgety kittens before casually asking.
“What kind of wish do you have?”
Hong shook his fur, that was now healthier and shinier thanks to getting good treatment from Hans, and shouted out with excitement.
“That everybody, including my new little brother-”
Cale immediately started to ignore the kittens and turned away from them. The carriage stopped at the same time. They had arrived at the location of their campsite for the evening.
“Looks like we are camping out again starting today.”
Cale answered Hans’s statement, before looking around their campsite. The wind from the forest blew by his head. Cale spent the night with a pretty relaxed mind.
The next morning.
“...What is this?”
Cale stared at the dead deer that was at the border of their campsite. It had been hunted recently. Hans reported to Cale, who just continued to stare at the deer.
“Someone left it here on our campsite.”
Hans pointed next to the deer. Cale was looking at that spot as well. On the ground was a drawing of a fork and a knife.
It was as if someone had left the deer there for them to eat. Cale suddenly had an odd thought. He then turned his gaze toward his companions. The kitten siblings in Choi Han’s arms, as well as Choi Han himself, were all smiling while looking at him.
‘...I have a bad feeling about this.’
He had a really bad feeling about it.
An individual that could speak, but could not write, had left the deer for them.
Also, it was an individual that Choi Han, the person on watch last night, clearly knew was there, but pretended not to see.
‘...I have a bad feeling it was the dragon.’
He turned his head back to look at Choi Han, On, and Hong, who were still looking at him, and seriously warned them.
“We are going to pretend like we don’t know.”
The two siblings seemed to be mocking him, but Cale pretended to not know about it. However, a new ingredient was delivered to them every time Cale and crew camped outside. Wild hog, rabbits, and all sorts of fruits. Cale was now sure about the existence of the dragon following behind him.
Cale then arrived at Puzzle City with that confirmation in his mind.