191 Flag Retrieval
I dashed past the forest at high speed. Chimera was clinging tightly on my shoulder. The empire's gate came into view before it got dark. It went by so fast, can't even begin to imagine my speed.
A crowd of people who must have just gone back from magic beast hunting are gathered in front of the gate.
(Oh yeah, a rampaging group of magic beasts came close to the empire didn't they?)
I turned around and looked back. The path I ran through is a straight line to this gate.
(Ah, that must be why I got here quick. I guess they're processing the aftermath here huh?)
Looking around, there's a lot of wounded people and traces of blood on the ground.
Also, soldiers and knights are running around.
Not to mention flustered merchants. They're negotiating and book keeping here and there. The fervor is amazing.
Mats stripping as well as people joining in are still being carried out.
(With that amount of magic beast, the effect this will have on the economy must be quite huge.)
As I walked up to the gate, I surmised that the magic beast extermination had taken quite a toll on time, manpower and casualty.
It's easy to guess the battle raged on until just now seeing wounded people still being carried away on stretchers.
(Still, wasn't the rampage yesterday, wait the day before? And it only just ended huh. Was it a hard battle or perhaps some unforeseen trouble cropped up.)
I asked the guards near the gate if I could pass through.
I'm thankful I even got a reply in all this hubbub.
"Aah? Just go! We're busy here! Aren't you a polite one? Where'd you come from anyway?"
"Ah no, I entered the forest just the other day and came back to this scene, can't help getting curious you see."
It's a mix of lie and truth. Telling the truth would only cause issue, not like he'd believe it anyway. Heck, it could make the guards suspect and arrest me.
"I'm amazed you survived... Is it luck or something else? Fine, here's a rundown. Magic beasts showed up. We dealt with them. And now we're busy with the clean up. Ya got that? Go along now."
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After getting shooed away, I went through the gate.
The open space before the gate is lit with many bonfires. A grand festivity. Food stalls everywhere. Also merchants buying and selling magic beasts' mats. The clatter is aggravating to the ears.
(Well dang, what a bad timing to be back here. Leaving or finding an inn both would be a struggle.)
Slipping past this dense crowd would be quite a task. Booking an inn when it's almost nightfall is probably out of question.
With so many people concentrated here, I could see all the inns nearby fully booked on.
"Can't be helped. Guess I just gotta camp out."
I've taken one magic bag with me. The rest were for the elves. A present for them, or not really. One is plenty for this solo journey of mine, so I used that chance to dump them.
My bag has all the traveling tools we used during the journey so camping out is not a problem.
As I left the place and started looking for a good spot to do just that, someone called out to me.
"Ah! You're that man from the other day!"
I turned at the owner of the voice to spot Tagdes, a young merchant man we saved on our way to the empire.