67. Road Trip
“Are you… Miss Salvos and Miss Rachel?”
“It’s Princess Salvos and princess Rachel.”
I spoke haughtily as I walked forward, chin up and back straight. Rachel strutted alongside me, her nose held high and a light smile plastered on her face.
“And princess Princess too!”
I eyed the doll in her hand with a disdainful look and huffed.
“Very well, and princess Princess too.”
The carriage driver raised a brow and slowly nodded.
“Uh, right. Well, just hop on in and we’ll be good to go…?”
He seemed uncertain— unsure of his station. Of course he would be; when faced with such majesty, one couldn’t help but tremble in awe before my presence!
Rachel and I entered the coach as our servant stopped and began conversing with the carriage driver.
“Yeah, I’m not with them. Yes, Daniel— thanks for doing this. I know it was a favor from the guard captain, but we really appreciate it...”
The two Human men paused and eyed us with envious looks from the outside. Daniel sighed wistfully, shaking his head— obviously entranced by the rich garments I adorned.
“Right, I know they’re a bit dirty, but we’re a bit low on money right now. We’ll try not to leave a mess. Thanks.”
With that said, our servant finally decided to step into the carriage and join us. He sunk into the seat opposite Rachel and I, his presence actually shrinking from being before us. Averting his gaze in reverence, he spoke softly.
“Salvos, you’re embarrassing.”
I sputtered and leaned forward.
“What did I do?”
“The way you were acting. That’s going a little bit too far.”
“What do you mean? I was just behaving the way a Princess would!”
“But you’re not a Princess. And you’re being rude to the carriage driver. It was kind of embarrassing.”
Daniel sighed again, rubbing at his temples. I protested as the carriage began to get moving.
“I didn’t do anything Rachel wasn’t doing. Why am I the embarrassing one?!”
“Rachel is a child. You’re a Greater Demon. There’s a difference.”
I harrumphed and crossed my arms.
“At least I’m not being a grumpy Human man.”
“I’m not being grumpy— just look at yourself, Salvos.”
I glanced down at my regal dress: the tattered cloak, the torn and cut pants, and the Blue Jacket that did not exist anywhere else in this world. I shrugged.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“You look like a beggar.”
I pouted and turned my head to the side, facing away from Daniel.
“Hmph, it is expected of the common folk to lack the same pristine taste of the nobility. I think I look wonderful.”
“You don’t even understand how fashion here works.”
“Neither do you!”
I pointed an accusing finger at him. He opened his mouth to retort, but bit back his tongue. I grinned triumphantly.
“See, you know I’m right—”
Something cut me off. I felt a light tug and turned to face the little girl staring up at me with wet eyes.
“Salvos… Mr Daniel… please don’t fight. I-I’m sorry—”
Rachel sniffled, wiping at her face with her doll. I blinked and Daniel bit his lower lip.
“We— we weren’t actually mad at each other, Rachel. Look, it’s fine.”
He reached over and patted her on the shoulder. Rachel sniffed, but more tears ran down her cheeks; her face was entirely red, and snot and saliva was eeking out of her nose and mouth. I grimaced, however Daniel whispered to me.
“Salvos, help me comfort her!”
“What do I do? I don’t know what to do!”
“Just… do something!”
I hesitated. And then picked Rachel up and hugged her. I said nothing, just holding her crying continued. Daniel opened his mouth but I placed a finger on my lip.
He slowly nodded and sat back down. The carriage ran into a bump as we finally left Warrington, and I continued to hug Rachel for a while longer. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. This was what Edithe did to me to make me feel better when she told me she was going to leave. It made me feel better for some reason, and for some reason now, I wanted to make the girl feel better too.
And eventually, she did. Rachel stopped crying and began giggling when I took Princess from her.
“She’s mine now!”
“Stop! The Demon has taken Princess! Do something, [Hero]!”
“Wait, you want me to join in?”
I laughed, holding the doll up to the ceiling of the coach.
“Of course… if you dare.”
I gave him a dangerous smile and he gulped. It was meant to be a joke, however he quickly looked out the window of the carriage and firmly planted himself onto his seat.
“I’m good here, thanks.”
The ride was fun, with Rachel and I playing with each other, and Daniel and I engaging in some harmless jokes. In other words, it was relatively uneventful, and one week flew by before I knew it.
I glanced out the window, staring ahead at the city before us. Rachel was excitedly trying to sneak a peek behind me, however I was blocking her way since she took Princess back from me.
“Let me see!”
“There’s nothing for you to see. It looks just like any other city.”
Indeed, the Sunmere Republic had been no different from Nixa. When we crossed the border, I was expecting some kind of change of landscape, or a change to the sky. However, the sun remained up above, the night was still dark, and the stars remained twinkling, unmoving in dome overhead.
“I still want to see!”
Rachel protested, crossing her arms with a pout. I sighed and picked her up.
“Fine, if you want to see the city— here!”
The walls of Viechester lay ahead of us— a pristine, white barrier that separated the settlement inside from the world of monsters beyond. I saw nothing special about it, and yet both Rachel and Daniel gaped at the sight before us.
“What’s so ‘woah’ about it?”
I cocked my head and Daniel turned back to me, nodding.
“A rare mineral found only in the Motharis Mountain Range in the Human Lands. It’s like marble in its texture, but stone in how durable it is. But most importantly, it has powerful anti magic properties. Meaning that having a wall built out of it renders any magical siege nearly useless. Even a Level 100 [Mage] would have some difficulty tearing down that wall.”
“What about 150? Would a Level 150 [Mage] be able to destroy it easily?”
“I mean… probably?”
“Then I just have to be Level 150 then.”
“You… haa… you say that like it’s so easy, but knowing you you’ll actually go about and do it.”
He slumped back into his seat and Rachel had me move her around to get a better view of the city.
“You’ve been keeping up with my leveling, Daniel, haven’t you? Even if I weren’t in my Mortal Form, I don’t think I’d be able to beat you in a fight very easily.”
“But I have a General Skill. A cheat Skill, I guess, since I’m a [Hero].”
“And that is?”
I quirked an eyebrow. He gave me a helpless look.
“[Hero’s Skill: Bonus Experience]. Everything I do grants me slightly more experience than it would a normal person. It’s… really not fair.”
I stared at Daniel for a moment. Then I raised an angry fist and waved it at him.
“You can say that again!”
“Hey— I can’t see, move me to the left.”
I did as Rachel told me, and turned back to my Human companion with a glare.
“So you’re saying that you can be leveling faster than me if you work harder to level up, but instead you choose to spend every night sleeping instead of fighting?!”
“That’s… I still need sleep.”
“But you still could outlevel me and you don’t!”
“...how do you know I haven’t outleveled you?
I narrowed my eyes and identified the grinning man.
[Warrior - Lvl. 10]
Daniel shook his head and cast his gaze out the window.
“I know I can do so much more with my Class, Salvos. It’s just that… sometimes, when I try to do something right, things just go horribly wrong. Like when I met you for the first time.”
“You attacked me!”
I happily pointed it out.
“R-right. And I made a dumb mistake. Sure, terrible things happen without me doing anything either, like with Lucerna. However, I was the reason tens of thousands of lives in the Elutra Kingdom were made worse. I don’t want to be responsible for something like that again.”
I nodded slowly, deciding that this was not the time to openly speak my mind. Rachel continued admiring the city as the carriage rolled its way through the open gates. Daniel remained solemn for a moment longer as I finally decided on what to say.
“So, what do you want to do, Daniel?”
“What do I… want to do?”
He repeated after me dumbly. I cocked my head.
“What is it that you want?”
He hesitated, then he mustered up a chuckle.
“That’s oddly philosophical for you.”
I shrugged and cast his gaze down to the palm of his hands. He stared at it and spoke with resignation.
“I don’t really know what I want. They expect you to know everything you want to do in life by the time you’re 18 years old, and I’m 20, but— I’m just lost.”
“I don’t know what I want to do. I guess, if you’re talking about the near future, I’ll be helping you get back to your home. Then after that… who knows?”
I nodded slowly.
There was a lull in the conversation as we went through the gates without being stopped— apparently, traveling was not as difficult in the Sunmere Republic. Then Daniel spoke up, meeting my gaze.
“What about you, Salvos?”
“What do you want to do… with your life, I guess? Any goals, aspirations?”
I beamed and answered instantly.
“I want to find Haec. I want to be with my companions, and maybe make more companions. I want people to recognize me. I want to continue to be Salvos. And I want to level more and more!”
He blinked. Then he laughed.
“I shouldn’t have expected anything else from you. Honestly.”
He shook his head and smacked his forehead. I grinned as he sighed.
“But why do you want to level, Salvos? Is it something… ingrained within you? An instinct? Or do you have an actual reasoning behind it.”
I actually had to pause to answer his question. I tilted my head back and thought over his question carefully. Then the words came out from my mouth slowly, thoughtfully.
“Right now, I’m Salvos. But I’m… incomplete. I’m not the Salvos I can be.”
“You’re not the Salvos you can be? Sorry, I’m not really getting it.”
Rachel exclaimed and pointed at a group of well dressed adventurers marching down the streets of Viechester. I elaborated.
“I am Salvos, but I can become a more complete Salvos if I level and evolve. I can feel it— whenever I change, whenever I level, whenever I evolve— I become more… complete.”
“So, it’s an instinctual desire then?”
Daniel gave me a curious look. I simply shrugged.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t think… it might be the System having an affect on you, do you? To make you think that way. To want to level.”
He quickly corrected himself.
“Or the voice in your head that isn’t actually yours but is there. From when you level.”
“I don’t think the words that appear in my mind aren’t mine. They’re as much mine as my thoughts are.”
“But… don’t you think it’s strange that the world is intruding on your head? That when something happens, it’s received in your mind?”
I spoke simply, giving Daniel a puzzled look.
“I don’t get how it’s different from touching a rock and feeling its texture. You feel it with your hand, but your mind perceives it too, right?”
The [Hero] from another world paused. He rubbed his chin and narrowed his eyes.
“I… never thought about it like that. I guess it’s like a new sense. A… sixth sense? But still, I just find it kind of… like what if it’s making you want to level. That it messes with your mind to feel that way.”
The coach rolled to the stop and Rachel excitedly jumped in my arms. I plopped her down back next to me as she spoke excitedly about exploring Viechester. I turned to Daniel and grinned.
“Maybe? But that’s who I am, and I wouldn’t be Salvos if I didn’t want to be more Salvos!”
“Now that, I agree with.”