After his shift was over, Thomas spent the rest of the evening in peace within his tent. During breakfast the following morning he discovered why there had been so few attacks on the caravan so far. He looked at a guard named Reginald, a local, as he spoke, "Ya see, most bandits and monsters have about the same level of intelligence. They don't like pickin' fights with large caravans unless they have a larger force to attack with. Even more, they don't like pickin' fights too close to cities and towns where someone might be able to come help. The most likely place we're goin' to be attacked is from this point forward. At least, until we're about fifty or so kilometers from our destination. We call it a 'dead man's land' when there's a big gap between one place and another. Those places are the most dangerous for this kind of job."
Thomas nodded in agreement then asked, "So what was up with those Elemental wolves we got ambushed by before?"
Reginald waved a hand dismissively, "Sometimes stuff like that happens. But it's pretty rare. Most likely they were desperate cause a bigger monster ran them out of their homes or somethin' like that. Attacks so close to cities are rare and usually not that dangerous. Especially in a weaker area like that. What you should be worryin' about is where we're headin' now. Big gaps like we're headin' into are where the smarter monsters and bandits wait for us."
Thomas nodded his head in understanding. When too close to a city it wouldn't take long for officials to catch wind of a group of bandits or monsters and send people out to exterminate them. In wide-open spaces, it would be a lot easier to hide after taking out some targets and looting them. A large caravan like this one would prove to be a juicy target but only to groups strong enough to attempt taking it out. A weaker group would just get steamrolled in no time by the guards protecting the wagons.
The danger was rather real as Thomas found that he was one of the weakest guards protecting the caravan. Almost everyone else had at least one attribute that approached two hundred, at a minimum. Most of them had at least a single attribute above two hundred. At first, no one had been willing to discuss such a topic but when they all realized he was an otherworlder they'd opened up a bit. After all, even if he knew he was significantly weaker than them and couldn't do anything to them. Any single one of them would likely be able to roll over him without even noticing his presence.
To put it in perspective, the strongest guard in the group was the leader of a four-man party named Jackson. Thomas had been shocked to learn that his strength was approaching four hundred. Just a flick from that mans finger would be enough to atomize his head! Well... that's an exaggeration but close enough to the truth to make a point. To all of the guards, Thomas was about as much of a threat as a child. When Thomas asked why someone so powerful was doing a simple guard job on a caravan he'd learned that Jackson was an old friend of Volcrags and happened to be heading in the same direction.
Just knowing that everyone was so powerful depressed Thomas. He'd thought he'd been getting pretty strong since he'd finally broken through one hundred in all of his attributes, but every single person in the caravan was a Lord Class like himself. On the flip side with everyone being so strong, especially Jackson, odds were any trouble they ran into would be easy enough to overcome. He did learn something interesting though. The next 'evolution' or rank up only came when an attribute reached five hundred. At that point, a person becomes King class.
After king came Emperor but no one was really aware of what your attributes had to be at to reach that point. Most people only ever made it to King class and very few had ever made it to Emperor. The reasoning was simple enough, death. Unlike himself, if they died it was for good. Because they wished to preserve their lives they would have a natural stopping point and wouldn't push harder or try to go higher because it would risk their lives. They had to go slow and steady and many would retire or die before getting past King class.
It was rumored that there was a class above Emperor, but no one had ever heard of what it was called or what your attributes had to be at to reach it. They just knew that if anyone got that strong they would be god-like and unstoppable. Or so the legends went.
Riding in the back of the carriage as it trundled down the road was a rather boring affair. Thomas almost hoped that something would attack just so he could get some exercise. He filled the hours by working on the designs for the various weapons he wanted to try making. He wanted to practice his Gravity Magic but it was too demanding on his mana and he needed to make sure he had plenty of mana to fight with. It would be no joke if he used all of his mana and then got into a fight.
As he predicted, Lexiana would send him glances like she wanted to try to talk with him. Sometimes he would look into her eyes in return. When he did her face would go red like she was angry and she would look away with a huff. Not that he blamed her, he may have been a tad harsh to her but he felt she deserved it so he didn't feel guilty in the least. They would arrive at their destination the day after tomorrow before noon. He would only be forced to be in close proximity to her until then. Once they reached the city they would separate and when he left the city he would make sure to do it in a way that she couldn't follow.
When lunchtime rolled around the caravan came to a stop so everyone could stretch their legs and get something warm to eat. Thomas looked at the wide expanse of grass and smiled. He doubted they would have any encounters with bandits or monsters during the day. It would be too easy to spot a group large enough to threaten the caravan and any groups small enough to hide in the grass wouldn't be dumb enough to attack. If they were going to be attacked it would likely be either sometime tonight or tomorrow night. Judging by the relaxed atmosphere of the other guards it seemed like they felt the same way.
As he was eating lunch with Snowlily, Lexiana sat down across from him. She looked rather determined as she took a deep breath and spoke, "I want to talk."
He glanced at her and replied nonchalantly, "About what?"
She squirmed a bit before she could reply, "Your plans for the future. I want to be sure Snowlily will be safe."
Thomas couldn't help staring at her incredulously. Did she really expect him to tell her any of his plans? Did she want him to make it easier for her to stalk him? He shook his head and replied in a deadpan tone, "None of your business."
Lexiana deflated at his reply but nodded in understanding. She hadn't honestly expected him to answer, she had only asked on the off chance that he might. Thomas studied her for a bit then asked, "Anything else?"
"Can you tell me about yourself then?"
He shrugged his shoulders, "What do you want to know? I may not answer you though."
Lexiana crossed her arms beneath her breasts. He wasn't sure if she was doing it on purpose or not but her posture and her crossed arms were pushing her breasts up and accentuating her cleavage. Her breasts were not large, at least a large b-cup or small c-cup if he had to guess. The way she was pushing on them made them seem larger than they actually were. After she pondered for a bit she spoke, "Though otherworlders are weak, you seem weaker than most that I've met. Why is that?"
Thomas sighed at the question. He already knew he wasn't as strong as he thought but she was just rubbing salt in his wounds, "I don't focus on combat. I prefer to make things like weapons and armor."
She brightened a bit, "Oh! So you're a blacksmith?"
She'd heard Volcrag the day the caravan left and knew the content of Volcrags promise to Thomas. So with that information and what he said she assumed he was a blacksmith. She was rather surprised then when Thomas shook his head and said, "No. I'm a Magitech Engineer. Blacksmithing is part of it but I do a lot of other things as well."
Lexiana froze for a moment then loudly whispered, "That's not possible! I thought only dwarves could be Magitech Engineers!"
Thomas tilted his head to the side in confusion. Hekrin had never mentioned anything like that at all! That sly bastard old goat of a dwarf! Hekrin made him do all of those professions without ever even mentioning that it should have been impossible for him to learn the profession! Thomas wanted to run all the way back to Ulvstad just to smack Hekrin in the face! Thinking back on it though... Hekrin didn't seem surprised at all when he became a Magitech Engineer. Did Hekrin expect that he could do it since he was an otherworlder? If he remembered this in the future he would need to have a long talk with that old bastard.
Putting those thoughts to the side he addressed Lexiana, "I'm an otherworlder. There isn't anything I can't do. Well. Except die permanently."
He smirked after saying that causing Lexiana to frown and look vexed. He'd guessed long ago that she'd thought of killing him at least once or twice. She simply hadn't because she would have gotten in trouble within the city and he would have been able to come back and accuse her of the crime. Though really the thing that stopped her most was the existence of Snowlily. Lexiana took a deep breath and asked, "So that weird weapon of yours. That's a Magitech weapon?"
Thomas shook his head, "Nope. It's just a mechanical weapon with a small enchantment modeled after a weapon from my original world. It's a cheap experiment and weak as hell. I already plan to make something much more dangerous."
Thomas couldn't help grinning at the look of panic on Lexiana's face when he mentioned making a stronger and more dangerous weapon. It's true that the Peace Maker was a pretty good weapon in its own right. Anyone could use it to kill weaker monsters with ease. Well, provided that it wasn't soulbound to him. But the next weapon shouldn't end up soulbound since he didn't have any of the special wood he used to make the handle of the Peace Maker.
Lexiana glanced suspiciously at the Peace Maker sitting in its holster on Thomas's hip, "How can a weapon like that not be a Magitech weapon with immense magical power? It's impossible for something like that to just be mechanical like a crossbow!"
Thomas laughed, "You can believe that if you like. But I can swear to you that it only has one small enchantment that produces a tiny flame. Everything else is purely mechanical in nature."
Just as Lexiana was about to argue with him, Volcrag called out, "Alright! It's time to get moving again! Everyone back to your wagons!"
Lexiana uncrossed her arms which caused her breasts to return to their normal shape as she stood up. Together the three of them, Thomas, Snowlily, and Lexiana, made their way to their wagon and climbed aboard. Lexiana turned to look at Thomas, "So if you consider that weapon to be weak then what do you plan to make that's stronger?"
Thomas smirked and lifted a finger to his lips as if he was making a shooshing sound, "That's a secret."
Lexiana huffed but didn't argue with him. She was actually pretty happy. This was the first time they'd talked so much. It was also the first time she hadn't royally pissed him off. She wanted to keep talking to him for the rest of the afternoon and get just a little closer to him. Snowlily was still ignoring her very existence but that should change if she could at least get on truly friendly terms with Thomas. People could say whatever they wanted about her, but when she had a goal in mind she would try to do her best to achieve it!