Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales carried his own luggage, dragged his now recovered body and panted behind the camels of the merchant group while he followed them.
Despite the obstacles from the sand beneath his feet, the stuffy and uncomfortable skin wrapped in the sackcloth, the merciless sun, the teenager was much calmer.
There was no other reason to it.
“Let me tell you, Kant. I’m telling you now, so listen up.” The rookie mercenary quickly rode up to the camel at front, and said excitedly to Kant, the huge man from Northland and who was also in Dante’s Greatsword.
“I’m talking about business that will guarantee profit and no losses… Think about it. The work we do is incredibly dangerous. It’s the same as us walking around with blades against our necks. We even have to watch the number of times we piss, we have to be worried about whether our heads will fall off when we relieve ourselves. We might end up meeting tough ones someday, and we might not end up going back. Then your wife and daughters will cry, and then they will have to suffer in poverty”
“F*ck you, Quick Rope.” Kant, who had never been patient to begin with, lifted his two-handed greatsword over his shoulders and crossed over a piece of crushed stone.He gave the chattering Quick Rope a disgusted look. “Has your mother taught you never to curse others?”
Thales looked up and looked at the camel team that formed a line in front of him, the merchants who chatted at the front and the back of the line of camels, and the mercenaries who rode horses in the distance. He could not help but have his lips form a smile.
Compared to a person who is completely trapped and isolated in the desert, hopelessly moving forward, being able to see people, meet people, hear them talk to each other happily or frustratedly was great.
Quick Rope shook his head vigorously.
“I was just making an analogy… But think about it, if you take out the money and go to Tampa right now AND make it there alive, he will give you ninety percent of the money. If you die, Tampa will give ten times the money to your family as compensation, then you won’t die a meaningless deathhey, hey! Don’t, good Kant, obedient Kant, great Kant, handsome Kant, don’t do it! I was just making an analogy, hey, ack, ow”
Thales shook his head, moved his feet, and shifted his gaze away from Quick Rope, who was being beaten up.
“You seem to have recovered well,” said a mercenary with a thick scarf who just returned from scouting. He got down from the horse beside Thales and began to a walk, letting the horses rest under the scorching sun. “But no matter what, you have just recovered, you shouldn’t force himself. You should continue to stay on the camel’s back.”
Big Dean untied his headscarf, revealing his bald head, and tied a battle axe on his back.
Thales smiled at the bald mercenary. “I think it’ll be fine if I do some restorative exercises.”
“I think what he meant is, if you fall again, we don’t have to waste time on a useless dead weight.” Mickey, who carried two machetes, rode towards Big Dean with a blank expression. He did not even spare Thales a glance.
Thales looked awkwardly at Mickey riding past them to join his other companions.
“I feel like he doesn’t like me.”
He stared at Mickey’s back and could not help but frown.
“Obviously. You cannot turn everyone into a fan of yours,” Dean said as he looked at his companion far away, “Especially Mickey.
“Due to his past experiences, Mickey is very vigilant.
“Before we became close to him, he doubted every stranger.”
Thales forced a smile.
This was the third day after he was rescued by the merchant group.
‘Dante’s Greatsword’ was a medium sized mercenary group. The small warrior named Breeze was responsible for scouting the road ahead, and when he came back, he fell asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. The former blacksmith, Schubert, was from Steel City, and he had a bashful smile; the fat Alumbian named Halgen asked if Thales was married in an amiable tone, because if he was not, he wanted to introduce one of his seven unmarried sisters to Thales; the Northlander Kant was rude, and always liked to hit other people’s shoulders hard; and there was Palka the archer, who loved to whistle all the time. At their initial meeting, after he cast Thales a glance, he ran off to pee. There was also Quick Rope, Old Hammer, Mickey, Furnace, Big Dean, and the leader, Louisa Dante. At least during this journey, these eleven professional mercenaries worked day and night in shifts to protect and escort the small merchant group of twenty people and twenty-three camels safely through the desert to the famous Tower of Eradication.
Thales sometimes wondered. ‘Is such a small number really enough to protect the merchant group?’
“Of course, if we face dozens of desert bandits, we will definitely be at a disadvantage in terms of number,” said Dean to him. “But the existence of armed merchants themselves are enough to tell others, especially desert bandits, many things. Are the desert bandits willing to take risks and fight with our eleven fully armed professional killers?
“They might win, but it will definitely cost them a lot. If they don’t have a lot of people left, the next time they rob others, perhaps they will be welcoming their own doom.
“This is the meaning of our existence, and also our principles to survive. Intimidating others is better than fighting with everything we have. After all, we are not a suicide squad. Of course, I’m not talking about the hundred-man mercenary groups who specialize in fighting wars.” Dean shook his head at that time.
Thales was grateful for their rescue and their warm welcome, especially after the terrible sandstorm that occurred the day before yesterday. His field of vision had been so blurry that he could barely see his fingers, the shrill moans from the wind by his ear was shocking and frightening, and Thales could not even hear what he said. He could only wrap his hands around his head and hide. The sand that howled nonstop was even more terrifying than blades. They struck all the targets that were exposed in the air and rushed into all cracks they could enter. Their strength was enough to tear apart Thales’ flesh and blood. Thanks to the experienced merchant group who hid in the shelter, they managed to get through the crisis by using the camels to form a circle around them. It was at that moment that Thales understood that he was incredibly lucky for fainting in the terrifying Great Desert after walking in it for four days, then running into people who rescued him, and coming out of it with just a bit of dehydration, agitation, and just a few hallucinations (before he fainted).
After he thought of this, Thales smiled at Dean. “Thank you, Dean, you saved my life, even if I am a stranger, and could even be a spy of the desert bandits.”
Dean paused for a little why before he smiled as well.
He tied his horse on the hook of the camelin front of him and deliberately drew a bit distance between them to prevent the smell of camels from affecting his horse.
“Taking care of each other. This is the creed of merchants and mercenaries who depend each other in the desert for their livelihood.”
Dean sighed, and he seemed to be a little sentimental. “Many years ago, Wya, I was like you. Of course, I was much older than you are now. I was at a dead end, and I fell in the desert alone, hanging on to dear life but only capable of waiting for death in despair.”
He shook his head. “It’s Dante, I mean Louisa’s father, Dante senior, who used his enthusiasm and perseverance to redeem me from the hands of the ferryman of Hell’s River, even though they were in a bad situation themselves at the time.
“People always rely on each other. Wya, this was what Dante told me.
“A person can’t live alone in the Great Desert.”
Thales nodded thoughtfully.
‘So that’s how it is.’
“So you joined ‘Dante’s Greatsword’ and formed a mutually reliant relationship with them,” Thales whispered, “And that’s why you saved my life, even if it is risky.”
Dean looked at the sand dunes in the distance and nodded slowly.
“If we don’t help each other, we will only die in the desert.” The bald mercenary patted his steed.
“You have seen sandstorms. And before the most terrible dust storm, even the enemies who are fighting against each other to the death must search for a chance together to flee and survive. Rest assured, Wya, we can get along well, and you will be able to return home to your loved ones. Then you will no longer need to worry.”
Thales sighed. “Thank you.”
Dean smiled. He did not say anything.
‘Yes.’ Thales thought in his heart. ‘I have no other choice.’
Drought, heat, wind, cold. If he left the team alone, he would die in this ruthless desert in just a few days. Compared to that, this merchant group had experience, supplies, protection, and clear routes. Without a doubt, following them was the right choice.
He could only form plans after they reached their destination.
Thales sighed silently.
They would eventually need to go back to Blade Fangs Dune and return to the west, right?
Thales, who was lost in his thoughts, stopped moving and almost knocked into the camel in front of him.
It was only at that moment that the teenager realized to his surprise that the merchant group had stopped.
“What’s the matter?” Thales lifted his head to look at the front line of the camel team, but he could not see clearly. He could only ask Dean in puzzlement, who was beside him.
But Dean just frowned and did not answer.
“You have to see this!”
As the horse hooves moved on the sand and let out those muffled sounds unique to them. The scout of the mercenary group, the small Breeze, passed by many puzzled merchants, and stopped in front of Dean with an anxious look on his face.
He anxiously said, “Look at what Louisa found at the front!”
Dean’s expression changed.
The bald warrior picked up his single-edged battle axe with a solemn expression and got on his warhorse.
“Mickey, Quick Rope, grab your weapons and come with me!
“Kant, you and Schubert stay where you are, stay alert and pay particular attention to the sand dunes on both sides of the slope!”
His orders were firm and swift, and the mercenaries obeyed without hesitation.
‘What’s going on?’
Thales tightened his hold on the Crossbow of Time and looked at the serious mercenaries who rode past the merchant group before they headed to another direction.
It was not just him who had such questions in their head, but the others in the merchant group were wondering about it and started to whisper among themselves. Thales even saw someone discarding his goods with a pale face before he got up his camel, looking as if he was about to run at the first sign of trouble.
After ten minutes, Mickey and Quick Rope came back, but their faces were a bit grave.
The merchant group continued their journey.
“Dean and Louisa went to the head of the merchant group. They have something to discuss.”
As Thales tried to get his answers by asking questions in a roundabout manner, Quick Rope schooled his face and whispered to the teenager, “We found a small camp not far away, but the people inside were all dead.”
Thales was shocked.
“How did that happen?”
Quick Rope led the horse forward sullenly and followed the merchant group. “They were killed.”
Thales frowned and looked at the uneasy Quick Rope with a puzzled expression. “What?
“Who did it?”
“I don’t know. That’s the scary part.”
But Quick Rope immediately turned towards Thales with a complacent gaze.
“It’s your first time in the Great Desert, lucky Wya.” Quick Rope sighed, then coughed, pretending to be mature and wise. “Besides the temperature and drought, as well as the sand, of course, there are two more threats in the desert, and they are the most threatening of all these threats.”
He moved closer and said in an enigmatic fashion. “The orcs and the Barren Bone people.”
Thales’ expression froze.
“They often gather in their own tribes, have their own livestock and territories, and they move about all year round. When they encounter threats, they will move out in groups.”
Thales subconsciously tightened his Crossbow of Time under his armpit. “You mean, the ones who killed those people are”
“No no no.”
Quick Rope shook his head, looking as if he was very experienced with the desert. “Even if you’re not lucky, you will not necessarily die in the hands of a larger tribe if you are captured by those guys. According to my experience, the Barren Bone people will evaluate your price. The orcs will see whether you are h*ng before they decide to f*ck you or sell you, or f*ck you, then sell you.”
‘According to YOUR experience?’
Thales looked oddly at Quick Rope, who was putting on a mature air.
Thales coughed and repeated, “Sell to where?”
Quick Rope showed a happy smile.
“Do you know Caligri?”
“Caligri?” Thales was momentarily taken aback. He had a feeling that he had heard of this place before.
Quick Rope’s eyes lit up as he spoke, “Caligri, the legendary desert city. Some said it’s a formidable fort deep in the desert, others say it’s a place formed by several tribes, others say it’s an ancient underground city thousands of years ago and has now been occupied by the locals of the desert, and some even said Caligri is a wicked great dragon’s playground in the desert. It likes watching people kill each other there.”
Thales was completely stunned for a moment.
“There is a great dragon in the desert?”
But Quick Rope just waved his hand impatiently, “Don’t interrupt me… In short, Caligri. That’s the most mysterious, lively and dangerous place in the desert. The Barren Bone people and orcs are regulars there. Legend has it that Caligri has quite the deep relationship with a few of the great tribes in the desert.
“Once you are captured by either the Barren Bone people or the orcs, they will sell you there, turn you into a slave, and make you someone else’s property. And while you can still move, they will make you fight, sell your body, and make you do all sorts of things that will earn them a profit as well as please the great men in the desert.
Quick Rope’s gaze turned serious and he changed his topic of conversation. “Whether it’s orcs who belong to an organizationor Barren Bone people, they are not the biggest worry for desert merchant groups. They, at the very least, have order and their own rules. No matter how strange the rules are, sometimes, some tribes also welcome merchant groups among them.”
Quick Rope narrowed his eyes and lifted his index finger. “But if you meet desert bandits
“Welp, those are scum and lunatics who broke the laws and fled into the desert from the world outside. They already have no future, and have nothing to lose.”
Quick Rope’s expression became very scary. “If you run into them, you can only pray to the Desert God or the Sunset or Bright Moon Goddesses. They don’t know what is being soft-hearted, what is taking someone in as a hostage, what is called mercy.”
Thales looked at him anxiously.
But Quick Rope was not done yet. “Even worse, if you run into the exiles”
Quick Rope narrowed his eyes and nodded. “The most dangerous existence in the desert. They are from the Barren Bone people and the orcs.”
“They are exiled by their tribes because they broke certain laws, and they travel alone. But don’t forget, these people are trained in big tribes, and they are powerful and experienced warriors. Walking in the desert to them is like taking a stroll in their own house. After losing the sanctuary of the tribe, they also gradually lose their principles and rules governing their actions. After they lost their honor and a place to belong, they suffer from the torture from the wind and sand all year round, and because of it, they became cruel, vicious, and ruthless.To survive, they had to form a group together, and they would even work together with the desert bandits, and the level of threat they pose is far greater than normal desert bandits.”
Quick Rope’s expressions and tone of voice varied with his words, making him sound lively and the picture he painted with his words vivid.
His voice turned gloomy. “They often don’t have any moral limits. In order to survive, they can even do things beyond what you can imagine.”
“Beyond imagination” Thales said while he mulled over Quick Rope’s words, “For example?”
Quick Rope tensed up.
He took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and said a word before Thales in a mysterious manner, “Cannibalism.”
Thales held his breath.
“So the rumors of the people in the desert eating other people, and the Barren Bone people and orcs eating the children sold into the desert”
“Are true.” Quick Sand looked at him coldly. “Or part of it is true.”
Thales did not say a word.
“Wya, the desert is a very dangerous place. A person might be alive today and dead tomorrow.” Quick Rope’s voice was full with melancholy. “The fear towards death and the knowledge of how often fate changes occupy our bodies and minds all the time.
“So, in order to overcome this fear, Wya, we have a way”
Thales stared at him and suddenly felt that there was something wrong.
Quick Rope coughed. “I tell you, there is a tavern boss named Tampa in Blade Fangs Dune. He promised that if you keep some money at his place, if you go back alive, he will return ninety percent of the money to you. If you cannot return alive”
At that moment.
A fully armed woman suddenly appeared behind them and slapped Quick Rope’s back viciously.
The captain of the mercenary group, Louisa Dante, smacked Quick Rope’s head in anger so much that he wrapped his hands around his head and went to hide from her.
“Stop egging other people to participate in your illegal business plan to earn money!
“Stop using all the rumors you heard by the illiterate to scare others!”