On their way to Vouka from Mashajain, Lecan and Eda caught sight of something unusual.
A Stout Dragon (Nevtozam).
It's pulling a giant cart.
These dragons can be deployed as workhorses when tamed, capable of pulling heavy load way beyond the limit of horses.
But since keeping them requires an enormous amount of food, and they can't move that fast, they're not always the best choice in all cases. There's also the issue of the lack of dragon tamers around. Thus only lords that own stone quarries and big merchants employ these dragons. As it's faster and cheaper to just split the load for load that can be split.
Stout Dragons found above ground are about as large as the Petitfire Dragon in Dungeon Rotor while being heavier. But they're completely harmless in term of battle force from the viewpoints of expert adventurers like Lecan. Earth Dragons are not well suited for battle to begin with.
Lecan saw several Stout Dragons at Mashajain and on the highways south of the capital before, but this is the first he's seen one in the route between Vantaroy and Vouka.
Ahead of it is six horse drawn carriages. Four escorts are on horseback.
Lecan went around and outran the caravan. Then Eda who had been running behind him spoke.
"Ah, it's Vandam-san and Zeki-san."
True enough, the one riding on the leading horse was Vandam. With Zeki riding on the carriage right behind him. The two were looking at Lecan and Eda's direction. Seeing these two here, this entire caravan must belong to Chaney Company.
Eda slowed down her running pace and approached Vandam.
"Hi there, Vandam-san! Zeki-san!"
"Oh, if it ain't Eda! And Lecan too! You two gave me a shock."
Two people running on foot suddenly appearing from the horizon, outstripping the caravan before approaching them, can't blame him for being alarmed.
"Still, wow. Did Chaney Company buy a Stout Dragon?"
"Nah, we're just renting one. The townlord's rebuilding his mansion, so we gotta buy up lotsa huge granite rocks y'see."
"Oh, I see."
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"Eda, we're going."
"Un! We'll be going on ahead!"
"Yea, take care! See ya around!"
Lecan and Eda raised their running speed once again.
They arrived at Vouka on the 13th of month four.
The two got in through the west gate and headed for Goncourt Mansion.
Yet, Lecan could not find Jericho's blue dot there.
He had a business with Jericho, but if he's not at Goncourt Mansion, then he's probably at Shira's house, cleaning or tending the garden.
Lecan went to Shira's house. Eda followed along too.
<Life Detection> displays two blue dots at Shira's house.
(Are those Shira's and Jericho's?)
But neither of the blue dot possesses a large mana pool.
(Looks like Shira's developed yet another new technique.)
Lecan's <Life Detection> could originally display Shira's vast amount of mana. But then it suddenly lost its ability to display Shira during a period right before Herb Saint came visiting. It's the reason why Lecan could no longer look for Shira.
But Shira would let herself be displayed in <Life Detection> whenever she had business with Lecan. And only for a short burst in most cases.
Not sure how, but that extraordinary mage figured out how Lecan's <Life Detection> worked and developed a way to escape from it.
And not just <Life Detection>. Shira is able to hide herself from <Mana Detection> as well. <3D Perceptions> can still capture her when Lecan is close by, but it only shows a hazy outline of her figure.
As such, even <Life Detection> which gives Lecan an enormous advantage in this world is meaningless before Shira. However, she could never hide her mana pool up until this point. It would either be there or not at all, no inbetween. But it appears she's even found a way to hide her mana pool now.
As Lecan approached while jumping between walls, Jericho was at the garden. It seems he's tending the plants there. Which means the blue dot inside the house must be Shira.
This time Lecan has brought souvenir for Jericho. Dragon's meat. Wonder how will he look when he get this.
Lecan and Eda jumped off a wall and landed on the garden. Eda went into the house.
As Eda doesn't possess search ability like Lecan, she must have missed Jericho in the garden.
Just as Lecan came close to Jericho to give him the souvenir, he instinctively leaped back.
What stood there looked like Jericho. A Longarm Ape. Its back is turned at Lecan and it's standing behind a tree, but its form is definitely that of a Longarm Ape.
However, its presence is completely unlike Jericho's.
It's utterly overwhelming.
Lecan can detect targets with strong mana even from afar with <Life Detection>. And generally, those with abnormal amounts of mana are also strong in battle.
However, there are beings with high battle power even with little mana.
Lecan cannot perceive the strength of such beings until he's close enough to sense them. As it's not by way of skills, but something his senses forged over time.
He feels a tremendous sense of dread from this something resembling Jericho in front of him.
His spine feels like it's crackling and burning hot.
Chills swell up from inside out.
There was only one other time he came across a threat of this caliber outside dungeons.
The encounter with Earth Dragon Toron.
The monster resembling Jericho before his eyes now possesses a powerful presence not unlike Earth Dragon Toron.
However, Earth Dragon Toron was an owner of gigantic body as befitted of its strength, not so with this thing.
A monster with the form similar to Jericho with strength you could mistake for Earth Dragon Toron.
That monster turned around.