Everyone stared at Azadine, but he continued to speak.
“Hic… hic. Such bad actions.”
“What? Is he drunk?”
“Everyone! This is why people are so corrupt!”
The merchants and adventurers looked at each other.
‘This bastard, look at him.’
‘Who asked this guy to drink?’
Everyone looked at the person in charge as Azadine continued to rant.
“The three archangels pledged to grant the power of the white magic to those who stuck to the three virtues and sealed themselves to this land! Yet, as the people shun this, the Rescue Knights’ powers are beginning to wane! Here comes the Age of Jupiter’s dominance when the power of darkness will regain its strength, yet why is this world full of pleasure seekers blind to virtue?!”
“W-what is he saying?”
“Brat! We just wanted to earn some money and own some slaves….”
“That’s right! It is that! Slaves! Slavery is illegal for the Rescue Knights and the Church! How can you say such cursed words?! Don’t you know that such sin will lead us all into failure?!”
The merchants were embarrassed at Azadine, who was talking loudly and speaking about the Faith of the Rescue Knights.
The Age of Jupiter was an apocalyptic story told by the Rescue Knights. It was a story that beggars and the poor liked to talk about.
Of course, it was a story that fanatics of the Rescue Knights would love to speak about, but Azadine was now rambling as a drunk.
“The Age of Jupiter is coming! The three virtues! Stay away from pleasure, corruption, and prostitution!”
“No, didn’t he have too much to drink?”
“W-we gave him how much we drank.”
“It is fine! There is nothing about sobriety in the virtues!”
Azadine said this and tried to drink more, but the merchants stopped him.
“What kind of power does he have?”
“H-he is tall! Such big bones!”
The merchants barely managed to stop Azadine.
“Now, now, there is a long way to go tomorrow, so you can go in and rest!”
“Ah- understood! I can walk on my own feet!”
Azadine pushed back the merchants trying to support him and shambled into a bedroom. Once he entered, he placed his arms together, clasped his palms, and controlled his breathing.
His face had returned to normal in mere moments, and his expression was calm. He had deliberately pushed his heart rate higher and imitated the actions of a drunk.
“As expected, everyone hates fanatics.”
“Didn’t they hate you for behaving like a drunk?”
Mediam, who was on her bed, stuck her head out.
“You were watching? Not sleeping?”
“I am always ready to leave the inn, of course.”
“Wouldn’t it be difficult to act as a messenger with such a face?”
Ismail also spoke to Azadine, as he was unable to sleep.
“I don’t know if they’re really talking about children of the Messenger Clan or if they just captured a helpless person and called them as such so they can sell them as slaves to the rich, but it is disgusting, and I want to kill them.”
Mediam had tossed and turned in her bed with a cold expression when she heard about one from her clan being enslaved.
“We need to check on how genuine that is.”
Even Azadine disliked the merchants and the head of the sawmill for what he had done. That was why he had deliberately pretended to be a fanatic and ruined the atmosphere, but just that much wouldn’t relieve him.
“When you confirm it, will you kill them?”
“In some cases.”
Azadine gave a slight confirmation.
“Because it is a messenger’s mission to set the Emperor’s laws right. Now, do we sleep for tomorrow?”
Azadine brushed his teeth with tea and salt before lying on his bed.
‘Who is this daughter of the Messenger Clan that they spoke about? Is she a messenger’s child? I know nothing about her because I haven’t heard of such a case. I will need to go and check.’
Azadine calmed his troubled heart and closed his eyes.
The following day, the merchants and adventurers were hungover as they packed their belongings and prepared for their journey. Everyone seemed used to this state as they likely drank a lot.
Even though they suffered from a hangover, watching them pack their goods without breaking anything showed they were experienced.
“Then let’s go!”
This group seemed accustomed to moving on their own. The party left the Imperial Road and walked alongside a forest path. The path was quite nice for a forest path, and there were frequent traces of human travel. There were also tea vendors around that sold tea and sweets.
Azadine asked a tea merchant.
“Is business going well?”
“Well, it’s decent. If we do business on the main road, the officials won’t stay still.”
“Any beasts or robbers?”
“Hahaha. There are, but they fly.”
The tea merchant said this and made tea for the merchants. Azadine walked away quietly and told the children.
“The merchants are watching, so do not use your bows. Got it?”
The children’s use of their bows revealed their identity when they fought the holy knights. It wasn’t normal in Hubris for 13-year-olds to use bows so skillfully.
This also wasn’t a place where they could reveal their identity. Azadine had warned them in advance and followed along silently as if he was an unbothered and unimportant pilgrim.
Kaka and Chico were surveying ahead to check the road they were on for any possible traps. They also joked around with members of the Cell Sword Guild and shared some rumors with Tarki.
Judging from their attitude, they acted like they had no trace of noble blood. Most importantly, they didn’t join in on any talk about the slave woman of messenger descent.
‘It might just be a coincidence, but that gives them good points for me. At least I prefer those two over Tarki. Since they didn’t take part in the discussion about slaves, they should be careful to not die, right?’
Azadine made that silent evaluation and continued to follow the merchants.
As they went deeper into the forest, the light darkened, and the trees looked menacing.
Azadine clicked his tongue at what he saw.
There was some black magic entangled in all this.
Traces of black magic.
“There is a sawmill near the back of this forest. They will tell us of any wyverns around this area if we go there. We will also sell some of our items to reduce our load…”
The merchants explained this for the adventurers’ understanding and protection.
Could they go?
To Azadine, this looked like a place infested with dangerous black magic. For the merchants, however, this was a normal forest.
“Something doesn’t smell too good.”
Mediam, who was a talented mage, covered her nose.
“Really? I didn’t notice anything.”
Seeing that Tarki was not bothered by the scent, it seemed like this was something ordinary people couldn’t detect.
“Stay close to the Kerim Goat.”
As he said this, Azadine prepared his weapon. He took out two swords he had taken from Kozel’s soldiers and placed one on his wrist and the other on his back. He also picked up four hunting arrows and tucked them into his pants under his robe.
While he did this, the merchants shouted.
“Ah, we arrived at the mill!”
“Ehh! Karim! I brought the drink…”
However, the man at the mill’s entrance was growling instead of replying…
Hounds with large claw marks on their backs and disemboweled guts ran from the sawmill in a fit of frenzy.
The Cell Sword Guild immediately began to form a circle. Everyone had come to hunt, so they were armed with short spears. A strong defensive wall was soon formed as they created a circle around the group.
However, the hounds that rushed at them didn’t seem to care. Despite being undead, they began to circle the troops as if they still had their instincts from when they were alive.
“B-be careful! Show your weakness and we are done!”
A hound jumped into a gap it noticed. Suddenly, an enemy began to attack from the back, a weak point they could not cover immediately.
Surprisingly, it was Tarki who stopped it. He fended off the hound by swinging his sword randomly. The hound backed away from Tarki’s sword and retreated when it felt that it was no longer a weak spot.
“Damn it! That is a tough thing!”
Holding his longsword, Tarki stood at the rear to cover the weak point of the defensive circle. He swung the longsword in the air to block more hounds from approaching.
Azadine praised Tarki and analyzed the situation. The undead hounds had encircled and surrounded the group of adventurers and merchants. At the same time, human undead and zombie-like things were shambling from the village.
These were probably residents of the village, as they were coming out with axes, knives, clubs, hunting spears, saws, and chisels.
“T-they are too many!”
The undead hounds circled them, pinning down the adventurers and merchants behind their spears. In the meantime, the rest of the horde was coming closer, making everyone flustered.
It wasn’t easy to move with so many things happening. However, if they stayed still, they would become surrounded.
Those behind the spear wall took out their hunting bows and began to shoot.
Azadine was watching this and thought that it was odd. Their arrows didn’t fit the bow properly. They were not trained right and were wasting precious arrows.
If they had poor shooting skills, they should have aimed for the slow-moving zombies. Azadine, who didn’t like what he saw, picked up a stone from the ground.
“Move away for a second!”
Azadine said this and threw the stone.
A hound was hit on the head by the thrown stone.
The hound, which was undead, struggled on the ground as Azadine’s stone throw was strong enough to shatter its head.
Another stone flew by and accurately hit a hound.
“Leave the hounds to me and aim at the zombies!”
The others were incapable of hitting the fast-moving hound. Following Azadine’s advice, they aimed at the slow zombies and landed their shots. However, their arrows were weak, so it was unable to stop them.
The zombies continued to move even with arrows sticking out of them. Unless someone had a strong shooting technique that could destroy bones and muscles, the situation would devolve where the zombies would need to be hit from close range.