Rockwall Lou – V7 Chapter 5

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟓

(5)

The transport team primarily operates on a day-return basis. They rarely venture as far as “Yukikaze” because they only operate in areas relatively close to the city of Arche.

Beyond that point, there are places that can only be verified through maps and research materials.

“Blood Rain”.

The terrain is bowl-shaped, constantly covered in a murky red mist. A roadway runs at a lower level, and there are large puddles about ankle-deep scattered around, making movement difficult.

Perhaps sensing the splash of the carriage wheels, a demon beast resembling a squashed frog began to gather, hopping around.

It’s three times the size of a human.

Furthermore, a creature with fangs resembling a ladle slithered closer.

It’s twice the size of a human.

They are the Sennin Toad and its larvae.

Due to the “Red Wave”, most of the demon beasts in the “wilderness” seem to be absent. However, this particular demon beast can only inhabit misty puddles.

Therefore, they attacked in groups.

Their numbers were in the dozens.

A fierce battle ensued where they fought desperately.

The skin of the Sennin Toad is oily, and its larvae are covered in mucus, causing swords to lose their sharpness. The knights rubbed their swords against each other to restore their sharpness and continued defeating the demon beasts.

A Sennin Toad attempted to leap onto the carriage, but Luo repelled them all. From the earthen shell surrounding the carriage, Luo launched objects resembling spear tips, sending the Sennin Toads flying. This technique was once used by a demon beast called the Rock King Eagle.

“But it’s strange, isn’t it?”

Breathing heavily, Bekios voiced his doubts.

“Hmm, it seems our strength has increased since the battle with the Summoning Monkey.”

After swiftly rubbing two swords together, they were sheathed.

“I’ve heard that the power of the Star Princess enhances the abilities of those she trusts.”

The relationship that was initially awkward warmed up considerably after a song was performed in the carriage. Perhaps that was the reason.

“In that case, we must get Gangi to sing.”

“Hoohoo!”

Amidst a large puddle filled with the corpses of demon beasts, Chara exclaimed in excitement.

“It’s a treasure trove! Toad oil that cures all ailments and the liver of the larvae which is said to extend one’s life!”

“We can’t load such a stinky thing onto the princess’s carriage.”

“Guess we have to leave it behind.”

The seniors covered in mud and slime sighed in unison.

“Luo, the road has submerged underwater. Can you create a path that’s easier to traverse?”

In response to Gangi’s request, Luo readily agreed.

The road soaked in the puddle rises. Due to the lack of water splashes, the sennin frogs do not notice it, and the larvae cannot climb up.

After the “blood rain”, there’s the “sand snake”. A winding road runs through the vast dunes, much like a giant serpent.

When the wagon’s wheel gets stuck in the sand, Luo quickly creates a solid footing. The road ends, and ahead is a massive, swirling hole. It appeared to be the nest of the “giant antlion”, perhaps fifteen times the size of a human, but thanks to the detour made by Luo, they managed to bypass it without any trouble.

The desert nights are profoundly cold, but underground homes are warm and safe. During the night, there were traces on the ground as if a giant snake had passed, and everyone was left speechless.

“Luo, it seems our landmarks are fading. Can you recreate them?”

Stakes, carved from stone, are pierced at regular intervals along the roads that are often buried by elements like water, snow, or sand. In the depths of the “wilderness,” where no one had ventured for centuries, even these stakes were starting to crumble.

The reason Gangi entrusted Luo with the maintenance of the wilderness road was to ensure a smooth return journey.

One cannot predict what might happen en route to or even upon arrival at the “Altar of Endings.” Establishing the road now would eliminate any chance of getting lost later, and the underground dwellings would serve as optimal camping grounds.

For those who followed, these preparations proved to be extremely convenient.

If he had been aware of the approaching carriage, Gangi’s instructions to Luo might have been different.

Without having to battle any demon beasts or labor to clear the path, the Hero Squad leisurely trailed the “Star Guardian” carriage.

The hippohorse is powerful and enduring, but its short legs prevent it from reaching high speeds. The Hero Squad, with their faster carriage, adjusted their speed, waiting for an opportunity. They could’ve easily caught up if they wanted to.

After traversing several terrains, it was Tenku who first spotted what seemed to be their destination.

A place called “Stardust Meadow,” bustling with various blooming flowers, marked the end of the wilderness road. A stone temple stood tall in front of a cliff that seemed like a cut-out from the world.

The Hero Squad’s carriage accelerated. Meanwhile, the “Star Guardian” carriage, having confirmed their proximity to the destination on their map, came to a halt. Their plan was to rest their weary bodies in the underground homes while the sun was still high, and then set out the next day.

Seizing this opportunity, the Hero Squad’s carriage sped through the “Stardust Meadow” and reached the “Altar of Endings.”

They had faced inevitable battles, numerous times. While the hippohorse and carriage remained unscathed, the senior knights were utterly exhausted.

Even in their invincible state during melee combat, they were at a disadvantage when the demon beasts employed their unique abilities. Their armor was dented, shattered, and their bodies were covered in wounds.

The fact that they all arrived at their destination intact was undoubtedly due to Luo’s magic. But it was also the result of their decades-long rigorous training.

They stood still, dumbfounded for a moment.

Atop a gentle hill stood an ancient temple, surrounded by a beautiful meadow of flowers.

The northernmost point. The terrain ahead was not marked on any map.

According to the legends, the “Horned Lion” was supposed to be waiting here.

Seeing Tweney, who clasped her hands in front of her chest showing signs of nervousness, Bekios gave a comforting smile.

“Worry not. After completing their journey of trials, every Star Princess from past generations has lived happily. Even if we are to face the demon lord, we will protect you.”

Clergymen don’t question myths. Tweney realized that the “Star Guardian” folk, probably except for Maasa, didn’t know or even anticipate the outcome of the journey of trials.

The young girl thought it was better this way. Otherwise, this journey would have been depressingly somber.

“Yes. Thank you very much.”

Amidst the solemn faces and each person’s resolve, only Luo was crouched down a distance away from the carriage.

From the ground, something like an earthworm was poking its head out, wiggling about. Curious, Luo reached out to touch it, but it retracted into the ground, only to poke its head out again from a slightly different spot.

The boy followed it and crouched down.

It wasn’t an earthworm, but a tentacle.

It would retract and then poke its head out again, beckoning the boy with its wiggling motion.

At the end of his pursuit, there was a hole about the size of a fist.

Luo peered into the hole.

Inside the hole, there was a flame.

Changing into various colors in the darkness, the flame flickered enchantingly.

“Hey, Luo. What are you doing?”

Hearing the old man’s voice, the boy looked up.

“Come on, let’s go.”

“Alright, got it!”

Responding energetically, the boy ran back to where everyone was.

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