༺ Friede (1) ༻
In the evening of the next day, the nightfall before reaching the Great Woodlands.
Vera entered the camp and settled down in the carriage as he closed his eyes, waiting for the meal to be ready. Soon, his brows furrowed upon sensing a constant disturbance.
‘… We’re being followed.’
Since leaving the town, there had been signs that they were being tailed, with the pursuers maintaining a certain distance throughout the day.
There was no chance that they were travelling along the same path by pure coincidence.
The road we’re on now leads directly into the Great Woodlands. There are no other towns or special places on this route, so the fact that our routes overlap means that they’re after us.
Vera clicked his tongue, then turned around and examined Renee.
She was resting with a faint sign of fatigue lingering across her face.
‘It’s impossible to move at night.’
There was no way he could force Renee to travel at night, who was still suffering from the hangover’s aftermath. The most important thing for Vera was Renee’s well-being and stability.
In the end, there was only one way left.
“Can I go outside and take a look around for a moment?”
He needed to get rid of the ones that were following them.
Vera nodded and slightly bowed after hearing Renee’s permission.
“I’ll be back soon.”
Vera opened the door of the carriage, approaching Norn and Hela who were preparing the camp, and spoke in a serious tone.
“Someone’s tailing us. I’ll be venturing out for a while in order to clean up, so stay alert.”
Norn was taken aback upon hearing Vera’s words, but soon nodded his head in response.
“…Aren’t we leaving right away?”
“We’re staying here for tonight. The Saint hasn’t fully recovered yet.”
“It won’t take too long. I’ll see you in a little while then.”
As soon as he finished speaking, Vera turned around. Norn looked at his fading back, then instructed Hela.
“You must stay by the Saint’s side. I’ll set up the camp.”
Norn’s gaze turned to the sky.
It was still twilight, and the night was only beginning.
Vera contemplated while focusing his attention on the scattered hidden signs of their pursuit.
Why are they following us and where did they come from?
The answer came quickly after some thought about the cause.
‘…The Saint’s shout.’
The words Renee shouted while drinking in the inn’s dining hall.
It may have seemed like a drunkard was being absurd at first glance, but some must have been skeptical.
The pursuers may be those who harbored suspicions, or those who have heard the situation. Then, it’s obvious what they’re aiming for.
Vera clenched his fist as a steely glint flickered across his eyes. He then inspected the place where he sensed those signs.
They’re the ones after Renee.
As Vera removed his sword from its sheath, he tensed all of his muscles. He then quickly began to emulate the most efficient way to fight.
‘The Sanctuary is…’
It wasn’t an option. No, it was more correct to say that it would be inefficient.
It’s a rather conspicuous ability, and it’s too ambiguous to choose restrictions without knowing what kind of opponent I’m facing.
‘… If that’s the case.’
I need to get rid of the scattered ones first, stealthily and promptly, before they even realize they’re being attacked.
Vera slightly pursed his lips and revealed his stigma.
“From now on, I won’t open my left eye until I finish off my enemies. I won’t breathe more than 20 times a minute, and on top of that, I will keep my left fist clenched.”
A primitive form of oath he preferred to use before implementing Sanctuary.
All he needed now was to maximize his physical prowess.
“In accordance with that, my physique will be blessed with speed and my senses will be much sharper during the fight.”
The stigma burned. The oath was engraved in gold on his solitary soul.
Vera counted the number of opponents with a sharper sense than ever before.
He sensed they were spread out in groups of three.
Vera turned towards the three signs that he sensed close by and stepped forward.
The ground he stepped on resounded with the sound of the wind and the rustle of fallen leaves.
Vera knew very well how to deal with pursuers.
He couldn’t help but know. It would be strange if he didn’t know. After all, he lived the entirety of his past life on the run, being hunted by numerous pursuers.
In essence, pursuers move in a formation, maintaining a certain distance so every group can cover each other.
They would maintain this formation to search a vast area and narrow the encirclement in order to pressure their discovered target.
Of course, Vera had experience breaking through such an encirclement and knew how to break that type of formation.
The method was precisely what Vera was proficient at.
All he had to do was cleave his way through the encirclement with his sword.
A clean slashing sound echoed. Vera beheaded three people with a single slash, then launched himself at the next target right away, without sparing even a single glance at the headless corpses.
Unless the pursuers were morons, there must have been a way to communicate with each other.
He had to cut down as many enemies as possible before they realized that something was wrong.
This was the fourth time, and there were a total of twenty-one pursuers, so there were only three groups remaining.
However, it didn’t matter.
The power of the stigma was still empowering Vera’s vitality.
Aside from the restrictions, the power definitely relieved the burden of moving in a state where breathing is restricted.
Vera, who was using his sharp senses to focus on the widespread signals, suddenly frowned at the pursuers when they started behaving abnormally.
They seem to have realized that they were under attack.
It could be said that they took their sweet time until more than half of them had already fallen, but for Vera, who intended to end them all at once, it was bad news.
Everyone was gathering in one place. The rendezvous point was.
The place where Renee was residing in.
Vera clenched his teeth so hard that one could even hear the gnashing sound. He then soon hastened his steps.
With a stomp, Vera increased his speed.
Far in the distance, Vera noticed nine figures heading together towards the campsite.
At this speed, they would reach the campsite in ten minutes.
He had to fight here.
Vera infused his sword’s tip with divinity, then swung it widely. Soon, the divinity was launched from the tip of the sword.
An ability he imitated from the knights he saw once, who did something similar with aura.
The launched divinity passed through the two of them. The bodies of those who were penetrated by the divinity swelled in an instant, and then.
They exploded at once as their flesh was scattered in air following their demise.
It seemed to be the names of those who exploded just now.
Vera momentarily sighed and took a deep breath, ‘Huff,’ then tensed his calf muscles and dashed to the one who seemed to be the leader, who was present at the center of the group.
A neat horizontal cut.
The leader’s head flew into the sky after Vera’s slash.
Vera forged forward, sensing his victory.
No matter how much the pursuers struggled, they weren’t a match for Vera. In the first place, Vera’s each and every action was for ensuring Renee’s safety. He had no intention of defending against them. So naturally, it was a one-sided offensive.
Then three pursuers charged at him without panicking. Vera twisted the path of their outstretched swords, causing them to stab each other.
Three left. Two of them took out their bows, and one of them turned around and began to flee.
Vera concentrated divinity at the tip of his sword again, sweeping a large area with a criss-cross slash.
The next moment, the divinity was swept away.
The ensuing scene was such a perfect explosion that he felt satisfied after using divinity.
Three figures burst out at once as their flesh scattered.
Vera realized that all the remaining nine pursuers had fallen, and erased the oath that had been engraved on his soul.
He heaved a deep sigh.
Vera controlled his breathing, and then, with his sunken eyes, he inspected the still intact corpses of the pursuers.
It was, of course, to find out their identity.
They were quite systematic. It was a military force… He couldn’t guess their exact level because he defeated them with a single slash of his sword. However, when he thought of the man who was trying to flee at the end, it suggested that there was a much bigger force behind him.
The escapee would have delivered the information safely.
He wanted to follow the fugitive, but he couldn’t get any further away from Renee, so he ended up killing the fugitive.
Vera moved and picked up the leader’s head, who he had beheaded first.
Fluffy gray hair. He had an astonished look on his face. The look of someone who wasn’t even aware of his own end.
‘He seems young.’
That was the first thought that crossed his mind when he saw the face. Not to mention, he had pretty neat features.
If he had to express it, he seemed androgynous.
Vera stopped inspecting the head in his hands because something suddenly caught his attention.
The place where the ears should be was scarred. To be precise, it was as if the ears were cleaved out.
Vera narrowed his eyes upon seeing that scar and fell into deep thought.
The elves who turned their backs on Aedra. Outlaws of the Southwest.
When you see an androgynous elf with a cutout ear. The first thing that comes to mind is ‘Familia.’
Vera frowned for a moment and continued to ponder over such concerns before immediately throwing the head and went towards the headless corpse.
Because there was a way to confirm his suspicions.
Vera put his hand on the corpse that was lying on the floor in an ugly posture and began to undress him.
‘Even if they’re Neuter, they wouldn’t have genitals.’
Since they are elves, there must have been no genitals in their groin region.
Vera, while thinking that, was taking off the fallen corpse’s clothes.
A breath of wind blew past Vera’s nose.
Flinch. Vera’s body trembled as he quickly got up and drew his sword.
It wasn’t wind in a figurative sense. The wind itself blew past him.
Vera knew who performed this kind of skill.
His eyes narrowed as he bent his waist. The muscles that had become tense to the limit swelled as his senses became sharp.
A sound that gradually approached from afar.
When a slim human figure with a wind-like sound was coming through the thicket, Vera narrowed his eyes and focused his gaze at a single point.
The person’s visage suggested their gender was ambiguous. Even in the dead of night, their blonde hair glistened in the moonlight, and their bright-green eyes stood out against their thin facial features.
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