Now this is getting good!
The marching speed of the demon lords saw a remarkable increase as soon as Noel joined them.
That was mainly because Noel had taken over the luggage that would otherwise have been on the horses’ backs but there was another point that the horses could be praised on.
Even though they were near a land dragon that could be considered a high ranking existence, they did take some distance from him but not once did they try to run away.
Though they had some anxiety about this matter originally but unexpectedly they didn’t have to do anything about it.
These definitely were horses that Zaido could be extremely proud of having selected.
「He’s excellent isn’t he?」
The〈Alchemy King〉Shaw had a proud look on his face.
「That’s unexpected, for you to be proud of something other than money」
「People, in themselves, are property as well after all」
Merea was riding on top of Noel alongside the luggage.
At times he would talk to Noel in dragon tongue and had somehow seemed to have gotten used to riding on the dragon’s back as well so he look like the spitting image of a dragoon.
「He’s gotten used to it quite easily hasn’t he?」
「I’d like to say as expected, but he seemed to be feeling a little sick at the beginning though」
「It’s a win simply because he didn’t barf」
In the first place, having fifteen horses marching together was already something that stood out quite a bit but now that they had a land dragon together with them, there were no questions about it.
That said, they understood that quite well when they decided to increase their speed.
Unlike how they had been till then, being careful not to have their destination exposed, they no longer felt any need to be too careful anymore.
Since they had reached this far, it was now only a matter of reaching Lemuse.
They had to reach Lemuse before the pursuit from Mūzeg reached them.
Suddenly, Shaw, who had been having a conversation with Salman towards the rear of the group, straightened his collar and started speaking with a serious expression.
「We somehow managed to get here at a speed much faster than I had ever imagined. Honestly though, if they managed to circle around ahead of us even now then there’s absolutely no way for us to get away from them. Since we even have a land dragon to help us speed things along」
「Yeah, that’s true. If Mūzeg does manage to exceed even a dragon then at that time I’ll give them a grand applause」
Salman let go of his reins and spread both arms.
「By the way, how far is it to Lemuse?」
「If we run at this speed then at the fastest it should be two days. An appropriate time would be three days」
「In that case our rations will last till then huh」
「Yeah. Also our stamina will…well it’ll be fine I think」
Shaw spoke after taking a glance at the other demon lords.
「In that case, let’s end the talk about it going well. The problem is, what should we do if they do circle around ahead of us」
In all honesty, thinking about that alone should be more than enough.
If there’s no one circling ahead of them then things would work out.
What they needed to think about was what if Mūzeg was in the way they were proceeding on.
「…do you think that is possible?」
Salman asked with his sandy hair billowing in the wind.
He had an extremely serious expression.
「That’s right huh…, I’d say about 50% chance of that happening」
Shaw similarly had an extremely serious expression while he replied.
「50% huh. Even though we’ve done so much and it’s still 50% huh」
「Mūzeg is that kind of an existence after all. It’s just an example but――」
Shaw removed his right hand from the reins and raised his index finger.
「In case the other side was also using land dragons?」
「Oi oi, there has never been a country that’s done something as frightening as that. Even if they were to use it, where would they get those land dragons from?」
「Who knows? Isn’t it from around some place?」
「Land dragons roam around in groups you know. If you try to kidnap one of them, the entire army of dragons would chase after you. …Ahh, that scene has more impact than a nightmare huh. Just imagining it made me want to cry」
「Hmmm…, in that case, stealthily steal it while it’s still an egg?」
「I wonder if the parent would even look away」
「If they intentionally aim at a child dragon and while their attention is diverted to that――」
「A simple diversion huh. …I don’t know. Even then it’s not really that convincing. Well, in any case, no matter the method they would have had to sacrifice a lot of people just to capture one dragon」
「However, if Mūzeg were to decide that it was required then they would easily approve of the sacrifices. That country itself was built on a large number of sacrifices after all」
Salman realised that amongst those sacrifices, even they themselves were included and not to mention their ancestors who couldn’t run away were as well.
「Well, though that was said, if we just look around then there are times when lone land dragons are sold so then it just becomes a matter of whether they have the funds to purchase it or not」
「So you’re basically just going to go with the assumption that they’re using a land dragon huh. ――It’s really annoying that it feels like your prediction would turn out to be true」
If it had been a complete fantasy creature that Shaw had mentioned then even Salman wouldn’t have bothered with that conversation.
At the very least, as a 『merchant』 though he might use his imagination as a joke but in essence he was pretty much realistic.
Since that is the case, then there must be some catch to it.
Even if it’s not clear, then small amounts of information may have piled up and formed into an idea of maybe that might be the case, in Shaw’s head.
That was why Salman felt annoyed and heaved a depressed sigh.
「If that were true then it would be the worst. I seriously can’t keep going on if that happened, I’ll just throw my arms up」
「No, I completely agree」
However, Salman quickly fixed his posture from having done a resignation pose and once again started speaking in a serious tone.
「If they end up with land dragons in front of us and if that were to happen right before we reach Lemuse…」
Salman had a strong resolution burning in his eyes as he continued.
「We’ll first need to push the ones that can’t fight onto Lemuse」
「――Yeah, that’s true」
After that incident at the sacred mountain, there was one point that gradually came up after seeing everything and having various conversations on the road.
In other words, there were demon lords who were not good at fighting.
The〈Heavenly Demon〉Aiz was a prime example.
The ones who inherited such special techniques ended up having the title of demon lord shoved on them was right after the era of the great war.
In order to strengthen their foundation in various ways, the countries would also go after individuals who had strength like Shaw with his economical power or Aiz with her espionage capabilities.
They weren’t necessarily good at combat but even then they were still aimed at simply because they possessed certain useful abilities.
As the war between nations evolved and started branching out in various types of warfare, the convenient techniques that these people had, had become ever more sought after.
Also, it was also convenient that they weren’t nearly as strong as the demon lords who opposed the countries during the great war.
Since their power to resist was low, they were easy to capture.
Hence, there were many descendents of demon lords who had been targeted in such a way after the war.
Since Salman knew this, his first priority was to have the ones who couldn’t fight to retreat from the battlefield and somehow push them off onto Lemuse.
「If we’re just at the finish line, then even if I have to throw them over I’ll do that. The one thing I want to avoid no matter what, is having the people who can’t fight standing on the front lines. That’s my obstinacy as the〈Fist Emperor〉」
Salman’s determination was strong.
Even Shaw could see that.
Seeing such a Salman, Shaw couldn’t help but think 『Good grief』 with a wry smile on his face.
「Haa. Might it not be about time that you started carrying herbal remedies from your stomach? It seems like you’re somehow worried about every single person around」
「In that case you go get that medicine from your firm」
「If we reach Lemuse safely then, while I’m building the Lemuse branch, I’ll do that for you then」
「Not sure if I should say as expected or what but you’ve already made preparations to set up a branch in Lemuse?」
「That’s obvious isn’t it? Who do you think I am? I’m the money-grubber, Shaw Jules Sherwood you know? It’s an assumption that we’ll be saved and it’s a premise to earn more money」
「I’d rather respect you…」
Salman showed a sarcastic smile to Shaw.
「Anyway, I’m fine. Till some time ago I didn’t really care. I ended up going off in the opposite direction, so to speak…more like, let it be. Talking about me is pointless when you have situations like Merea, Elma or you walking around. It’s not something that particularly needs to be discussed anyway」
「In that case, in time」
「I just told you to let it be」
「I could smell money so that’s why」
「I just felt a serious amount of fear towards your nose」
Salman smiled bitterly.
「In any case, let’s head forward first. That sort of a conversation can take place after we find a satisfactory place to lay our heads」
The two stopped their conversation at that point and ensured their horses were running properly.
After one night had passed, in the evening of the next day.
At around that time, the air around the demon lords was tingling violently.
――It was the exposure of their tension.
There was no helping it though.
Two days later they would reach Lemuse but then again, in two days they could also end up encountering Mūzeg once more.
If that were to happen then it would end being a head-on collision.
They couldn’t really expect to get away as easily as they did the time before.
That situation had gone their way simply because they had the initiative as well as the geographical advantage.
If they do end up fighting in an equal scenario, then there was no way to know what would happen.
That was why they were tense.
At the same time, they prayed.
We beg and hope that Mūzeg is not there waiting for us.
Along the way so far, they didn’t even leave a footprint behind――or so they believe.
Even then, if they took up a possibility then, it was rather clear that Mūzeg would set up a search line to the east.
They most probably wouldn’t think that the demon lords would run to Lemuse that was basically declining but the three kingdoms near it would be candidates to run to.
They may not know the actual destination but they may end up using the power of numbers to set up a gigantic search line that covers even the detour route.
Mūzeg has at least enough numbers to set up something as broad as that.
That being said, becoming too pessimistic would be a problem as well.
In the end, unless they saw it with their own eyes, they wouldn’t know which one was the truth.
That was why they wished and prayed.
Let the situation develop in the way that we desire, please.
They made it through the second night.
According to Shaw’s estimation, at the earliest they should reach Lemuse tomorrow.
The demon lords had stopped speaking to each other much.
They had conflicted thoughts of wishing that they would reach Lemuse without anything happening as well as dreading that they might end up encountering Mūzeg on the way there.
A major sense of tension could be felt leaking from the demon lords.
The night of the third day.
According to Shaw’s estimation, at the earliest they would reach in two days and at a suitable pace would reach in three days and the latter ended up being on the mark.
Thanks to that, they were more than convinced that something would take place on the next day.
Their tension was reaching the critical point.
They did feel like making the horses run further in their anxiety but they knew that if they didn’t let the horses rest properly now then when it came to facing Mūzeg, the horses wouldn’t be able to function as they should.
On the contrary, it could even be considered excellent that they were able to rest up properly at the very last moment.
Especially, the few combat oriented demon lords who were used to combat seemed to be on edge and kept leaking bloodthirst all over the place and the other demon lords who weren’t particularly good at combat made sure not to upset them and had a resolute expression on their faces.
The relationships between the demon lords had become considerably firm.
There was no mistaking that fact.
The morning of the fourth day after Shaw and Salman had made their predictions had come.
If their predictions were correct then by afternoon, they will either see the town of Lemuse or they will end up seeing something else.
Everyone completed their preparations silently and rode on their horses.
On that day, Merea was riding on Noel and was considerably further ahead compared to the others, with his white hair billowing in the wind, he was scouting out the area.
Behind him, Elma similarly was on alert scouting the area out.
The demon lords hoped that no enemy would be caught in the exceedingly excellent scouting skills of those two.
The sun was moving towards it’s very peak for the day.
The position was considerably high.
It was noon.
While balancing on Noel’s back with his foot on the base of Noel’s neck, Merea looked around the surroundings.
――It’s about time huh.
It had been exactly three days since the day that Shaw and Salman had made their predictions.
If their predictions were true then around this time, something should be visible.
He strained his eyes.
Although his red eyes reflected a field but there was no city in view.
Not to mention, they couldn’t see any people either. Even the peddlers or merchant parties that they saw at times were not visible at that point.
He strained his eyes.
On his right he could see a hill with sparse greenery on it.
That direction is south.
Merea himself hadn’t seen it but apparently the southern part of the eastern continent had rich greenery.
He remembered such information but immediately cut off that train of thought.
He strained his eyes.
On his left he could see a wasteland which was dyed brown.
It seemed like they were running in the gap between a wasteland and plains.
He strained his eyes.
――Suddenly he could see sand billowing in the distance.
It was a cloud of dust.
Either it was disturbed by the wind or――『someone had disturbed it』.
He strained his eyes even further.
He wondered if something was hidden inside that cloud of dust.
He tried to figure it out.
At that moment, a wind blue from his left to the right and it seemed to have momentarily blown away that cloud of dust.
The cloud of dust cleared up and inside it, he could see something.
『There is something』
That cloud of dust was not because of the wind.
Something was rushing over the wasteland and was blowing up a cloud of dust as it ran.
In an instant.
In an instant Merea figured out what that something was.
That figure was something that was very similar to the figure of Noel who he was riding on.
「――There are land dragons (Reirnote)!!」
Merea’s shout was something that brought back all their anxiety and not to mention that it also was a shout that brought up a sense of misery in them.
They were able to see the black flags of Mūzeg raised high on the backs of those land dragons.