Encounter in the Woods
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I stayed overnight at an inn, and by the nightfall of the next day, I was at the border between Shaalta and Kilghina. The borders of the two countries are divided by a natural river called the Ort River. I was taking Stardust down to the ground, resting and watching the Ort River.
The Ort River was said to be a set with a valley called the Ort Valley, which was created by ground split. The Ort Valley was a valley that seemed to be difficult when I looked at it. The valley was more than ten meters deep and the rocks were rugged. So, no matter how fast people were, they wouldn’t want to climb up and down with the rocks on the hands and feet.
Indeed, it became a border. It was such a terrain. When I looked at it right now, I saw a river flowing under a steep valley. The width of the river was narrow and small at the moment, but when the summer came in full swing, it would be flooded with thawed water, which was said to be terrifying.
If it was said naturally, it was famous as a bridge-crossing river, and there were only two bridges in this river both now and in the past. One was at the downstream of the river. It was set up in a place where the flow was calm. Its name was the Hot Bridge. The other one was the Zuk Bridge at the upstream.
The Zuk Bridge that I was looking at currently was crowded with people. These were the people who had heard the news of the war and they were trying to leave Kilghina. Everyone was walking towards Shaalta.
I had never actually seen a bridge called the Zuk Bridge but I had seen it in pictures. The place where I was now was a scenic spot, and the Zuk Bridge with mountains and valleys in the background seemed to be a staple in landscape painting.
Certainly, it might be quite a scenic setup if it was seen in peacetime. However, since there were refugees now, it had become a suitable sight as a subject of the war painting rather than the landscape painting.
I heard that the pier bridge was built during the Great Empire era. However, I had a doubt whether it should be called a structure.
But, as for the skill of the architecture, it could be said that the height was sufficient.
The central pier of the Zuk Bridge was made to parasitize on isolated rocks in the middle of the river.
The natural rocks that formed the base of the pier was reinforced with a large stone wall so that it couldn’t be further eroded by the flow of the river, and the stone wall protruded at a sharp angle toward the upstream. It might be a part of this protection that the architect of the ancient times made while getting wet in the river. Natural rocks were made to wear like shoes made of stones, and it looked like a towering toe that split the water.
The pier was built again on a rock that appeared above it. Unfortunately, the pier and the bridge above the rock weren’t from the Great Empire Era. The bridge there was broken by an earthquake about a hundred years ago, and the existing bridge was rebuilt at that time.
However, it seemed that the Zuk Bridge was added with further remodeling. Work was still ongoing on the downstream side of the Zuk Bridge.
I also knew this for the first time since I came here, but it seemed that they were going to expand the Zuk Bridge in anticipation of heavy traffic. Perhaps, it was an arbitrary decision made by the Rube Household.
However, it didn’t seem to be a regular expansion. A thick wooden pillar was set up in the remaining of the rocks, and a simple wooden bridge was made. That seemed to be the case. In other words, the plan was to build another wooden bridge next to the stone bridge so that it would be double-tracked.
There were no masonry craftsmen there, and the workers were carpenters with saws.
The purpose which came to this inspection was the necessity of the inspection, and there was another reason. I wanted to do some research on the coordinates of the major cities.
‘Traveling with an Eagle King is surprisingly inconvenient, and even if you fly with intuition, it isn’t easy to get to the destination. Therefore, you can move while keeping the main road under your eyes and by tracing the route that moves on the ground, you can remember the positional relationship between towns.’
‘However, you don’t have to do that if you know the coordinates of the towns. If you know the coordinates, you can map them. A map with the correct shape of the coastline and borders is time-consuming and difficult to make, but it isn’t difficult if you just mark the location of towns on the map.’
‘As long as you know the coordinates, you don’t have to be confused about moving in unknown places. All you have to do is put your compass on the map before you fly, check which direction you want, and fly in a straight line.’
So, I was going around each important town one by one to check the coordinates.
While doing so, three days passed.
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The cities along the road, west of the capital of the Kilghina Kingdom, were in a restless atmosphere as evacuees spread rumors one after another.
There were many strangers and the security was temporarily deteriorated. So, it wasn’t an atmosphere where people could stay in an inn with high-quality items such as an Eagle King. For that reason, I bought raw meat with the Eagle King and immediately left the town.
Then, in the daytime, I carried out observation with a sextant around noon. If it was clear at night, I would check the position of the North Star and magnetic deviation. However, no matter where I measured it, this peninsula seemed to be a region with almost no magnetic deviation, and the compass needle always pointed to the North Star. It didn’t make much sense.
At night, I secured a place to sleep before the sun went down, and walked through the forest, looking for branches. It was still cold at night at this time of year. I needed to make a bonfire before night.
On that day, I went into the depths of the forest, searching for the branches as usual. As I picked up the branches that were falling everywhere, the sun went down.
I went to where the local residents got their firewood. Then, I found a place where I could cut some and decided to make a bonfire there.
Once I gathered about ten branches, I tore a paper by hand and soaked it with the volatile oil in the bottle. I made a spark with a flint stone on it, and it was instantly lit.
The fire gradually spread as the fire was spreading to the branch which burned easily. Once it gained the momentum, the fire wouldn’t disappear.
I sat on a stump that was as flat as possible.
“How long have you been watching?” (Yuri)
There was a sound of stepping on the undergrowth, and a person appeared.
“Uhm, have I been discovered?” (??)
That person didn’t seem to call companions, so I thought he was a lone wolf robber, but it seemed different. When I looked at him again, he looked well dressed rather than a robber.
He came out, scratching his head as if somehow embarrassed. I didn’t feel hostility at the moment.
“What do you want?” (Yuri)
“I was thinking of doing an encampment too, so I thought I would do it with you if you didn’t mind.” (??)
Surely, the man was holding aside an amount of branches that he didn’t just collected recently as a mere excuse. It was likely that he intended to do an encampment.
“Well, I don’t mind.” (Yuri)
‘The more firewood you have, the warmer it becomes. So, it’s fine.’
‘However, a relatively rich young man like me meet a stranger when camping out. When it come to things like this, it is standard for the other party to steal and leave. It’s good to be alert.’
“I have weapons, but would you like me to leave it?” (??)
‘Did he read by mind?’
The man had a small bow. I couldn’t see it, but I think he held a dagger in his pocket. However, I still couldn’t feel the hostility.
“No, it’s fine. You don’t have to do that even if you’re not attacked by bandits during the night. It would be fine if you put it on your waist.” (Yuri)
“That’s true. Honestly, I’m not convinced with my physical strength.” (??)
The man said shyly.
Certainly, it was fine that he wasn’t confident. No matter how I looked at him, he didn’t seem like doing business in the wild.
“Well, please excuse me.” (??)
The man laid a thick cloth on the other side of the bonfire and sat down on it.
“Do you have anything to eat?” (Yuri)
The man took the meat out of the leather bag that was tied to the side of the backpack.
The meat, though called meat, wasn’t likely sold at a butcher shop. Apparently, it was a part of a foot, so I didn’t know what kind of animal it was, but it was probably procured by himself using the bow he carried.
It didn’t seem to have rotten, but it seemed that the blood wasn’t removed satisfactorily. The blood which seemed to be cloudy was dripping from the leather bag.
It looked like he wasn’t good at handling the meat. Either it was his first experience with hunting, or he was hunting but letting someone dealing with it. Or was it because he had no time to handle it?
Anyhow, it wasn’t something to be eaten if it was handled in such a rough way. When baked that meat, the inside of the meat would become like a rotten blood stew.
“Can I grill it over fire? I’m a bit hungry.” (??)
“Of course, I don’t mind.” (Yuri)
‘Why is he eating like this, even though he dressed well? Or rather, even though the appearance is good, the badge of the Knight is attached on his chest.’
‘This is a badge commonly known as the Knights badge, which is given to Knights graduates. The Knights aren’t needed to wear them, but those who aren’t Knights can’t wear them.’
‘Instead of wearing it, you must not carry it, and if you pick it up somewhere, you must report it immediately and return it. As for the public stance, it is unlikely the badge will actually be returned, but there aren’t many foolish people walking around with it on the chest if they don’t have the qualification.’
‘It is a felony of identity, and if you get caught, you will be a felony. It should be the same with Kilghina.’
‘In other words, perhaps, this person is a Knight. If so, is he guilty of any crime and running away?’
‘Even if it’s not possible to become a Knight, you can become a member of the intellectual class and it’s possible to get a job which can earn enough money to eat. I don’t know the details, but it should be the same in Kilghina.’
‘Some people say that they wouldn’t get the job of the common people because of their pride, but even if they don’t have money, they wouldn’t do earthy things such as traveling while hunting.’
“No, please don’t grill it at all.” (Yuri)
“…Is that so?” (??)
Then, the man looked a bit disappointed and brought away his meat.
“Let’s feed that meat to my eagle. Instead, eat my meat here. It’s meat that the butcher cooked and seasoned properly.” (Yuri)
“Aah, I see. I really appreciate it.” (??)
The man brightened his face.
‘Well, you don’t want to eat that kind of meat. The nutritional value may be rather high, but no one would want to eat a meal that makes the stomach ache.’
“Then, should I let it eat right away?” (??)
“I don’t mind. She will eat it when she is hungry.” (Yuri)
The man got close to Stardust, and brought the meat to the tip of her nose. Stardust picked the meat with her large beat and ate it.
‘I’m worried a little, but there isn’t any maggot, so it wouldn’t hurt her stomach. Or rather, since the butcher only sold salted meat, this meat would be a rather healthy diet for the Eagle King, where raw meat is recommended. After all, wild animals don’t drain the blood.’
“It’s a well-trained eagle, isn’t it? Her behavior is elegant.” (??)
The main said while looking at Stardust.
‘If it’s a poorly trained Eagle King, it will snatch the meat and eat it greedily, so it is proof it’s a well trained Eagle King.’
‘The fact that such a line came from his word means that the man is a Knight. A scammer who wears a Knight’s badge should never have touched an Eagle King.’
“Yes, it is. She’s an eagle I’m proud of.” (Yuri)
“Excuse, are you a member of the Hou Household?” (??)
‘Aah, he immediately found it out.’
‘Well, the saddle is engraved with the household crest. Since it’s not a trip to hide identity, I thought that there would be no problem if it was found out.’
Yes. Even so, from my point of view, I’m more interested about where you came from.” (Yuri)
I nonchalantly probed him.
“Surely. Well, I have nothing to hide. I’m Gin Toga.” (Gin)
‘Toga… The Toga Household is one of the General households of the Kilghina Kingdom. In the case of Rook, who derailed from the ‘rail track’ of the Knight and had the train became a bus, was just an ordinary farmer that held Hou as his surname. Having a surname is possible. However, if that is not the case, usually the ones closely related to the household are given the surname. So, to introduce himself as a Toga means that he is the son of the Toga Household. What is he doing here?’
“Gin, is it? I’m Yuri.” (Yuri)
“I see. Yuri-san, is it? Nice to meet you.” (Gin)
Gin lowered his head.
“We’re done with the greetings, so let’s grill the meat.” (Yuri)
I took the meat out of my luggage. It was salted goat meat. It wasn’t a lump like a carcass, but rather sliced thickly.
I pricked the thick steak-like meat with iron skewers. Then, I handled a knife to cut it into two pieces. I gave one to Gin.
“Let’s eat.” (Yuri)
When Gina received it, he immediately began to hold it over the fire.
“There are no plates, but there is bread. It’s good to eat between them.” (Yuri)
“That’s good. I haven’t eaten for a long time.” (Gin)
‘Could he hunt animals and eat meat until now? It’s like a primitive person.’
When I looked at his clothes, they were still quite dirty, but that didn’t mean that it was splashed with the blood of the animal. Perhaps, he was careful to keep his clothes clean. Despite being dirty, it was visible that the clothes were well-tailored.
Somehow, it was mismatched. Clothes, appearance and attitude were of those of the upper class, but the way of life was like a primitive person.
- Reposting the map that has been posted in chapter 54 so that you don’t have to go there all over again. I change the Reformed Royal Capital to Royal Capital – Reform.
- I suppose there should be magnetic deviation in Scandinavian Peninsula but I’m not well verse in this matter.
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