After staring at the red-head for a while, Thomas turned to look at Volcrag and asked, "Is there any chance I could guard a different wagon?
Volcrag looked between Thomas and Lexiana. As a long-time merchant, it wasn't hard for him to see the tension and hint of hostility that Thomas held toward Lexiana. To answer Thomas's question he shook his head, "Sorry son, you two were the very last to sign up and the only ones to not sign up as a pair or group. The other wagons are all guarded so this is the only one I have for you."
Snowlily sat by Thomas's leg as Thomas crossed his arms over his chest and sighed, "What's the cost for abandoning this request?"
Volcrag frowned deeply, "The cost for abandoning a request is ten times the reward. In this case, that comes out to ten thousand gold. You will also lose a rank at the guild." Volcrag sighed, "Look son, I can see ya got an issue with the lass there. I need at least two guards per wagon ta make sure my goods are all taken care of and protected." He looked Thomas over closely and smiled, "Tell ya what. Ya do me the favor of not quittin' so I can leave on schedule and I'll introduce ya to a friend of mine in Bilri when we arrive. He's a master blacksmith. I can tell just by lookin' at ya that you swing a hammer yerself. So, waddaya say?"
Thomas honestly had to stop and think about it. The cost of quitting the job was no big deal to him. Ten thousand gold wasn't cheap at all but it was within his means and losing one rank on his guild card didn't really feel like it would have any effect at all. However, the offer to be introduced to a master blacksmith was rather tempting. He might be able to learn something interesting and if not he should be able to use the blacksmiths forge for a bit. He'd been thinking about making some upgrades for his gear.
Thomas sighed, "Alright. Just remember your promise."
Volcrag nodded, "I will son. We'll be leaving in about half an hour so make sure ya got everything ya need."
|System Notice: New Quest!|
|Guard the caravan led by Volcrag from Stok to Bilri.
Rewards: 5,000 experience, 1,000 gold
Failure: 10,000 gold
Volcrag walked away while waving over his shoulder. He had other things to take care of before the caravan could leave. Thomas looked at him walking away and observed the caravan. There were twenty wagons, each with two guards and some cargo inside of them. Each wagon had a driver as well bringing the total headcount to sixty-one people. Forty guards, twenty drivers, and Volcrag. Each wagon was pulled by two horses as well. Thomas guessed that at least half of the wagons were just storage for supplies.
Unable to find any other excuse to delay climbing into the wagon, he turned to look at the red-head inside of it and let out a long frustrated sigh. He was determined to kill her if she proved to be a problem, regardless of the consequences. He eyed her for a bit before picking up Snowlily and climbing into the wagon to take a seat as far from the red-head as he could get. It wasn't very far with all of the boxes and bags filling the back of the wagon.
For her part, Lexiana simply observed Thomas and Snowlily quietly while they arranged themselves. The half-hour wait went by rather quickly and when it was done their wagon driver climbed into his seat and peeked into the back, "Hello there. I'm Thomas, you can call me Tom."
Thomas laughed lightly and replied, "Nice to meet you Thomas, my name is Thomas and the little one here is Snowlily."
Lexiana looked at Tom and nodded, "Lexiana."
Tom smiled happily. He was a young man, somewhere in his early twenties with short dark hair and dark eyes. He seemed like a decent young man, at least that's the impression he gave. Tom turned to face forward and called back to his passengers, "We'll be leaving momentarily. I hope you both have everything you need."
Thomas leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest again to try and relax. Though he stole a glance at Lexiana. Now he knew her name, not that it really mattered to him in the least. It was plain as day that she was following him and essentially stalking him at this point. Once this job was done he would find a way to ditch her for good. It shouldn't be too hard. Once he left Bilri he could run and use his wings to take flight and gain some distance. After his growth to a lord class Nephilim, he felt a lot stronger and expected he would be able to fly a fair distance.
The wagon jerked as the horses started to pull it. Their wagon really was the last in line leaving the rear guard to Thomas and Lexiana. They slowly rolled down the road with the wagon jostling and bouncing along. Thomas grimaced and tried to find a comfortable way to sit. These cargo wagons had either minimal or no form of shock absorption making every little dip, crack, or rock on the road a literal pain in the ass. With the constant bouncing as motivation, he began to think about ways he could modify the suspension to make the ride more enjoyable. He had plenty of iron and coal in his inventory to make steel. Some simple leaf springs should be a large improvement and wouldn't take much effort to make and install.
He spent the next few hours just working on a design for the springs. He even took the time to hop out of the wagon and look at how the wheels were currently setup. It was pretty basic so he could add in the springs relatively easily. It would be heavy work given the weight of the carriage body but he figured he could make a jack using some magic to save himself some effort.
The caravan skipped stopping for lunch and only stopped when it was time to set up camp for the night. They all pulled into a small clearing on the side of the road and packed in tightly. The drivers took care of the horses while Volcrag watched over them. The guards, Thomas included, were left to make their own meals. They were provided access to some basic travel supplies from one of the supply wagons though. Thomas ignored the provided supplies though. He had plenty inside of his inventory.
Together, Thomas and Snowlily moved over to one side where no one really was gathering yet and made a small campfire. After finding a small log to use as a seat, he dug through his inventory and pulled out a few skewers of meat and a couple of sandwiches that they could easily eat. Snowlily wagged her tail while digging into her dinner. Thomas felt someone glaring at him and looked over to the side to lock eyes with Lexiana. She was glaring daggers at him. He stared back at her until she averted her eyes with a huff. Damn, she was an annoying bitch!
He decided to take a page out of Snowlily's book and ignored her as he enjoyed his dinner. Once the meal was over though, he was forced to deal with her. They were responsible for guarding their wagon and would need to work out their shifts. Even with a large contingent of guards, they had a lot to guard a large number of wagons. Several guards would have to be on shift at the same time and all guards were expected to take one. The discussion lasted for a bit but Thomas insisted on one thing. He wanted to take the same shift as Lexiana.
It might seem counter-intuitive to want to spend more time with the woman that was stalking him but it meant he wouldn't have to sleep while she was awake. He couldn't trust her and wouldn't give her a chance to do anything while he was asleep. So, his plan was to suffer through a shift at the same time as her so he could keep an eye on her. With their shifts divided, Thomas and Lexiana were on the midnight shift with another three guards. They were divided into eight shifts for one hour each with five guards per shift. Despite the midnight shift being the worst, it was nice that the shifts were so short.
With all the work divvied up among the various groups of guards, everyone went their separate ways. Thomas set his tent up near the wagon he rode in during the day. He'd been tempted to sleep off to the side alone but that could be a mistake and leave not only himself but Snowlily vulnerable too. Plus, if he was near the group the guards on duty could keep an eye out and make sure that no one suspicious would come near his tent. While he was setting up his tent he secretly installed the warning system. He actually used the rods as his tent stakes. It wouldn't give him much warning but it would prevent someone from getting inside of his tent without him knowing. And even if they pulled up one of them it would cause his tent to collapse and still warn him.
With it all set up he crawled into the tent with Snowlily and got ready to get in a short nap before his work shift. Snowlily curled up next to him while he lay down. He'd left most of his clothing on in case there was an attack by monsters or wild animals during the night. That was part of his job after all. Thomas relaxed and used 'Serenity' to help himself drift off to sleep.
Lexiana was proud of herself for deciding to take the same quest as Thomas. She could keep an eye on him and get closer to the Garou. It really was a perfect plan! Or at least... it was supposed to be. The moment that Thomas found out she was on the quest he'd been completely on guard against her. He hadn't said a word to her the entire day. Even worse, the Garou had followed his example and pretended she wasn't there. It was heartbreaking. All she wanted was to take the Garou somewhere safe and protect her from the world.
During dinner, she couldn't help glaring at Thomas when she saw him feeding the Garou such simple basic food that could be bought on any street corner. Thomas glared at her in return. She wanted to say something, to yell at him for feeding the Garou such low-class food. As he continued to glare at her she remembered his fearsome weapon, swallowed her concerns, and looked away. She felt like she'd made another mistake.
After dinner, when they were talking about splitting up the guard duty she'd expected Thomas to take the opposite shift from her, she was surprised when he insisted on working the same shift. She wasn't going to complain about that though. Now she would have even more time to try and get close to the Garou. She watched Thomas set up his tent while setting up her own. There was a bit of a spring in her step as she pictured being able to have a conversation with Snowlily, her tail even wiggled a little like it wanted to wag. After she watched Thomas crawl into his tent she did so as well.
Peaceful and quiet hours passed with nothing special happening. At midnight the guards on shift woke up the ones on the next shift, which included Thomas and Lexiana. Snowlily stayed in their tent to continue sleeping since there was no need for her to be on guard duty during the night. Thomas slipped on his armor and weapons to do his duty properly. Thomas took a position on top of one of the wagons, sitting in the driver seat, to keep his eyes out. He occasionally used his mana field ability to 'ping' the area and check for any extra bodies or monsters while his 'All Seeing Eyes' allowed him to see great in the dark.
Time passed quietly until about halfway through his shift. Lexiana slowly and clearly approached him. She didn't make the mistake of trying to sneak up on him. Not that she could with him using mana field to check his surroundings. She looked up at Thomas and tried to smile while she spoke, "I... I owe you an apology. I'm sorry for the way things have been between us. I just wanted to protect Snowlily."
After some observation, Lexiana knew she needed to make up with Thomas first before she could approach the Garou. Snowlily seemed oddly attached to the human and she knew that she had to be his friend first. To that end, she needed to apologize for her behavior and she knew it.
Thomas looked down at Lexiana with his glowing blue eyes sending a shiver down her spine. He stayed quiet for a moment before nodding, "Apology accepted. Though I still don't forgive you for stalking the two of us."
He turned away from looking at her and continued to do his job. Lexiana watched him for a moment then walked away to do her job as well. She hadn't gotten far with him but it was definitely a start.