Wandering Mercenary in an Open World - Chapter 17
As the day broke, the group left the inn. Kyle, pressing his temples with his thumb, groaned as if he were about to die from his hangover.
Amella opened her sharp eyes and spoke.
“Didn’t I tell you to drink moderately? Can’t you hold your liquor?”
“…I’ll just force myself to throw up and come back.”
Watching Kyle unsteadily walk behind the inn, Amella sighed.
“How much did you drink to be in such a state?”
Then, as if something suddenly occurred to her, she turned her head and looked at Ruon.
“Ruon, are you okay? I heard from the owner you drank all night.”
“As you can see.”
“Well, you seem fine since your complexion hasn’t changed. Do all people from South Korea drink as well as you?”
‘Oh? She remembered.’
Ruon smirked and shrugged.
“Seems like you’re special in various ways.”
With that statement, the two of them didn’t engage in any further conversation. After a while, Kyle approached them. It seemed like it took him a long time to gather himself, and his face was quite pale.
“Sh-shit. I’m sorry.”
“From the look on your face, it seems like it’ll be difficult for you to pick up speed right away. It can’t be helped. Let’s walk slowly until you feel better.”
The group packed their belongings and mounted their respective horses, moving forward. They had eaten their fill the previous day and had rested well, eager to continue their journey. The horses seemed restless, as if they wanted to run freely, but Kyle, who couldn’t handle riding horseback due to motion sickness, couldn’t fulfill their wish.
As they slowly moved forward amidst the chirping of birds, a group of men caught up with them, walking briskly. One of the men, who appeared to be the eldest among them, turned his head towards Ruon, curious about something.
“Aren’t you the guy who drank heavily until the sun rose? I saw you sitting next to me yesterday, and your drinking capacity was unbelievable. We happen to be going the same way, so I thought we could accompany each other. Is that inconvenient for you?”
Ruon shrugged his shoulders, not feeling any particular discomfort from the man’s joking laughter. The man exchanged glances with Kyle and Amella before speaking.
“I’m Colin. These two are my brothers, Dean and Van. They’re twins.”
Identical aside from a scar near one’s eye, the twin’s bald heads nodded slightly in unison. Amella addressed Colin, her gaze gleaming as she waited for his response.
“I’m Amella. That person is Ruon, and the one struggling here is Kyle.”
Kyle weakly raised his hand, looking comical, and Colin chuckled before speaking.
“It seems like he caused a ruckus last night. So, where is everyone heading?”
Receiving no response to his question, Colin widened his eyes and clapped his hands in surprise.
“Oh, excuse me. I asked without thinking… Well, then, let us go first. We’re planning to go to Breiten. They’re gathering the army there right now. It’s a bit ridiculous to enlist at this age, but well, what can you do?”
Amella let out a soft sigh.
“So, the war is starting. I wonder if the king knows how much blood will be shed for his ambition?”
Brushing his bushy beard, Colin replied.
“If he knew, there wouldn’t be a need for this fuss. Well, as terrible as war is, folks like me who live by the sword don’t often get opportunities like this. I’m tired of having to work day after day, just for enough to eat. It’s about time I made a big move.”
He chuckled and added, “If our brothers can skewer the heads of those savages, we might receive recognition for it and even be granted a small fiefdom, don’t you think?”
It seemed like he hadn’t considered the possibility of getting his own head skewered. In Ruon’s eyes, Colin appeared to be no more than a gambler willing to risk his life for a slim chance of striking it rich. However, Ruon had no interest in how others led their lives, so he nodded absentmindedly.
“Give it your best shot.”
“Now, can I ask where you guys are headed?”
Colin licked his lips, expressing a hint of disappointment. But since no one provided a more elaborate answer, he scratched his beard and spoke again.
“Dumfreese, huh… I guess we can travel together until Coleman Bridge.”
“Coleman Bridge? Where is that?”
Kyle’s complexion still didn’t look good, despite his question. Yet, his curiosity seemed to outweigh his discomfort.
Amella answered, “It’s a bridge built by an architect named Coleman. It was designed for one side of the bridge to raise, allowing boats to pass underneath the bridge’s arch without any hindrance. It was quite a remarkable bridge at the time and garnered significant attention. There’s even an anecdote that during a war, they raised the bridge just in the nick of time, leaving the enemies bewildered.”
“A drawbridge,” Ruon nodded, watching as Amella finished her explanation without interruption.
“Amella, you’re really smart.”
Kyle exclaimed in admiration, and Colin chimed in.
“Well, well. That’s interesting. I’ve passed by a few times, but I never knew it had such a function.”
Amella raised her head.
“It’s only natural not to know. Many years ago, there was a massive landslide that filled the river beneath the bridge with earth, rendering the need to raise the bridge unnecessary. Naturally, maintenance became lax, and now it’s just an old structure with stories like ‘back in the day, it was like this.'”
Kyle hesitated before speaking.
“If it’s natural not to know, how come you do?”
“Well, I’ve read various books.”
Kyle fell silent, scratching his chin, and turned his head.
The group continued to move forward. After a while, Kyle regained his complexion enough to ride without any issues. However, with Colin and his brothers tagging along, the pace of the march remained the same.
Since they were going to part ways once they crossed the bridge, Ruon’s group didn’t bother to hasten their speed and instead engaged in casual conversation. Of course, calling it a conversation would be an exaggeration. It mostly consisted of Colin bringing up a topic, Kyle responding, and occasionally Amella chiming in.
After a while, Amella spoke up.
“We’re almost there. Once we leave this road, we’ll find Coleman Bridge.”
At her words, Ruon, who had his arms crossed on horseback, raised his head and furrowed his brow. Then, he squinted his eyes.
“Didn’t you say the bridge was out of commission?”
“Yeah, that’s right… What’s going on?”
Amella frowned, and Kyle shouted, “I can hear the bridge!”
And indeed, they could hear it. Although it was quite a distance away, the group could clearly hear the sound of a bridge being raised.
The first one to notice ‘it’ was Ruon. Something was standing still at the front of the bridge. At first, he thought it was a statue, but its slow movement made it clear that it was alive. Ruon squinted at the beast, which was still so far away, yet so large and distinct that it seemed to defy perspective.
It was a monster.
It held a gigantic wooden club in its long arms that reached down to its knees, and its nostrils were constantly sniffing, leading it to rub its nose with pot-sized hands. Dripping with slimy drool, the creature’s dull-witted appearance was overshadowed by its menacing glowing red eyes.
Others who belatedly noticed the monster each exclaimed.
“What the hell is that?”
“Is it a troll, by any chance?”
“Why would a troll be there?”
Amella, rolling her eyes, responded to the remarks.
“Trolls have a habit of liking bridges and even building houses underneath them. Could it be that it lifted the bridge?”
The view of the towering troll, about three meters tall, frightened everyone, but they stood their ground and started to calm down. While everyone remained silent and bewildered, Ruon descended from his horse and began walking steadily forward. Amella shouted.
“Ruon? What are you doing?”
Upon her words, Ruon turned back with an unconcerned demeanor.
“I’m going to get rid of that thing.”
Surprisingly, it was Colin’s twin brothers who were most startled. The two bald-headed brothers, who had hardly spoken so far, shouted simultaneously.
“Hey, Stop! Can’t you see its size? It’s a fully grown troll!”
“Why would you provoke it and drag us all into trouble? Come back immediately.”
“My brothers are right. Ruon, don’t cause unnecessary trouble. It would be better if we all discussed this together.”
Hearing their concerned words, Ruon sighed inwardly. He turned his body as if to imply that there was no longer any point in listening and gave a brief answer.