I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
After that first troll encounter, the monster party officially started.
We encountered monsters, fought them, continued onward, encountered more monsters, fought them as well, continued further onward...
Many different types of monsters appeared.
In addition to those green skins, we also saw weird beings that were more like chimeras than mutant beasts or abominations.
Everything was hectic because we had to change our approach with each new monster, but the real problem wasn’t the amount of monsters we were facing.
The problem was that I couldn’t even fight them, I had to just spectate like a fly on the wall instead. The combats looked fierce, but being forced to just stand and watch made me itch for battle.
But I held myself back.
Since the knights seemed to be getting suspicious of me, prioritizing my safety was the right call.
Eventually, after continuously killing monster after monster, the sky began to darken.
Before the sun could fully set, we started preparing to camp for the night. In a wild mountain like this one, it would take some time to find a good place.
Thankfully, we were able to find a decent-sized clearing before it became completely dark, and we took it as our campsite.
Osel gathered a few dried branches from the forest and used them to quickly create a campfire.
I didn’t ask why a knight like him was so proficient in camping in the wilds... Instead, I became confused by what he was doing right now.
“We’re going to have smoke. Will that be okay?”
“Most of the monsters in these early sections of the mountains are diurnal, so we should be fine.”
“But you’re still saying there’s a chance.”
“There is nothing more foolish than being completely sure about something in the Gem Mountains,” Osel said. “There are a few nocturnal monsters as well, but you won’t have to worry about them.”
“Because we’ll die the moment we encounter one.”
...Was he trying to scare me? I couldn’t tell.
“We will keep watch for the night, so please don’t worry and rest, young master.”
“As you should. The thing I hate most in the world is getting woken up.”
I decided to lecture them a little bit.
“Diligently keep watch and don’t slack off, all right?”
“...I’ll keep your words in mind,” Osel said, his expression a little weird.
It looked like there was more he wanted to say, but I just ignored him and took out my sleeping bag.
Unlike the magic items I’d taken from the safe, this was just a normal sleeping bag.
Still, its quality was high, so my body quickly became warm.
I was assaulted by drowsiness due to the pain I had suffered through today... but I didn’t have any intention of sleeping soundly here.
I thought about maybe snoring as well, but I figured that might be too much, so I stayed quiet.
Since I didn’t have anything else to do, I practiced my circulation.
Like this, time passed until, from somewhere in the camp, I overheard a conversation.
“You can take a rest as well, Ms. Butler.”
Now that I thought about it, Arzan was here. She had also laid out her sleeping bag, but it didn’t seem like she had any intention of sleeping anytime soon.
Maybe she just didn’t get sleepy, or maybe, like me, she was suspicious of these knights.
“You used to work in the main house? I don’t think I’ve met you before... It’s unfortunate.”
I was pretty sure the one talking to her right now was called Victor.
He looked sleazy, so he didn’t really look like a knight.
Honestly, I felt this way about all the knights other than Osel.
It was amplified due to the light equipment they were wearing from having to hike through the mountains.
“How about we have a meal together after we get back to the main house? I know of a pretty good restaurant in the nearby city...”
“Thank you for your offer, but I am planning on returning to work right away.”
It had to be tiring to even respond to them, but Arzan was diligent in her responses.
However, she did have her unchanging expression, which blocked them like an iron wall.
In any case, I wished they would talk about something interesting. Because I had to listen to these boring and useless snippets of conversation, it was getting pretty hard to stay awake.
Even so, I held on. I hoped they might slip up, even a little, if I waited long enough...
After about an hour had passed, though, this thought process changed.
I should just sleep.
This decision wasn’t made due to the overwhelming pressure on my eyelids. There were two factors.
First, I came to the conclusion that these knights probably wouldn’t try and harm me for the first few days.
I wasn’t the only one harboring suspicions; at least two of the knights were wary of me as well.
This was true even now, while I lay in my sleeping bag.
I’d been acting like I was asleep for the last hour, but I could still feel two knights tenaciously observing me.
I knew I was being observed, but not by whom... but there was a good chance that one of my observers was Osel.
They were surely being thorough, so my expectation was that they wouldn’t act for at least a day or two.
The second factor was the existence of Arzan.
She really didn’t look like she was going to go to sleep, and she seemed to be suspicious of the knights just like I was.
There was a chance that she was actually on their side and was acting to fool me... but, y’know... that didn’t seem very likely.
In my past life, I had learned thoroughly exactly what kind of person Arzan was.
She was impossible to threaten or entice. She was the type of person to bite her own tongue and die rather than do something dishonorable.
Most importantly, the knights hadn’t wanted Arzan to accompany them in the first place.
As I finished thinking all this, I lightly let my tensed body and guard loosen... and I drifted away on my first night in the mountains, feeling light nervousness.
On the second day, I awoke in the early morning.
My body wasn’t bound, I wasn’t hurt anywhere... Nothing had happened.
As I checked my surroundings while still acting like I was asleep, I saw one of the knights on watch staring at the campfire as it started to die out.
I saw Arzan sitting a little further from the fire, but she looked fine for having stayed up all night.
Looks like she’s used to staying up all night.
It seemed like she’d received training to be able to at least somewhat maintain her condition without sleeping for a few days.
I’d felt it when she first beat me up, but Arzan wasn’t a simple butler.
Although the situation was interesting, it was also bothersome.
The knights were a problem of their own, but I was cautious of Arzan as well.
On top of all this, I was curious why the family head had summoned me.
I was starting to think that maybe I’d left the mansion without thinking about it enough...
But this was better than running away and defying the family head’s order.
A day passed, and then another...
I didn’t see any suspicious activities from the knights.
Monsters didn’t break through the formation a single time, and the gaze I was feeling from them faded as well.
It was as if everything that had happened on the first day had just been a coincidence.
Were the suspicions I had felt on the first day just a misunderstanding? Was I just off in my own imagination due to being unnecessarily distrustful?
* * * * *
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
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* * * * *
If I were a little more optimistic, I could’ve stopped thinking about it here.
However, I was still suspicious of them. They had simply noticed that I felt threatened by them, so they were acting as if nothing had happened.
A psychological battle like this was won by tenacity, and the calmer party was bound to win in the end.
And I was sure that they were less certain about me than I was about them.
After slaying some monsters, Osel approached me.
“Young master, are you all right?”
“I’m fine. But Sir Osel, about your knights...”
At this point, I decided to try to disturb the calm pond of his heart by tossing in a stone.
“Can’t you all fight with a bit more finesse?”
Osel blinked stupidly and took a while to come up with a reply.
“What do you...”
“Every time you guys finish fighting, the smell hurts my nose. You and your knights all get covered by blood and waste whenever you fight.”
“I honestly expected a lot more from the Fang Knight Order. One of the two proud wings of Bednicker. Famous enough to be known throughout The Empire. But now that I see you fighting in person, how should I put this... It’s crude.”
After a moment, Osel belatedly raised the edges of his lips into a smile, but I could tell that he wasn’t really smiling.
Another clue was that he didn’t say anything even though he was usually never at a loss for words.
Like I was talking to myself, I mumbled, “Is it a difficult problem...? Well, finesse is something one is born with. But I hope you don’t tarnish the Bednicker name.”
Wow. Even I felt like this was a detestable thing to say, now that I thought about it.
On top of that, the same words could hurt more or less depending on who said them.
Luan Bednicker... how many people existed in this world who could stay calm after hearing something like that from the young master who was openly despised by his entire family?
I said a lot of things to continue to gnaw away at the hearts of Osel and the knights:
“I think you need to work more on your formation. It’s not effective.”
“Ah, let’s rest a little here. My legs hurt.”
“What’s this stew? Is it pig feed? No, not even pigs would eat this. Fuck. Eating bark would be better than this.”
That last one ended up being a little longer since it was the truth.
Once again, as I riled them up with just my words, I remembered my fourth senior brother’s words.
—It is hard to find a person’s wrath, but digging it up is easy.
Osel tried to keep his calm at the start, but eventually, he became unable to do so. His replies started to have less sincerity, and at some point, he just started to ignore me.
However, I had kept a much more effective attack up my sleeve.
“I can’t bear to watch this unskilled display,” I said quietly.
Immediately, the expressions on all the knights’ faces changed.
I’m starting to feel it, a crack in the facade.
Most of the time, the members of a top knight order were children of good families, but that wasn’t always the case.
Sometimes, commoners could enter into these groups.
These guys probably weren’t commoners, though. Commoners wouldn’t react like this to being called unskilled because they would’ve received much harsher treatment in the process of becoming knights.
Are they the children of concubines?
Even if they weren’t, they were probably half-bloods who weren’t treated well by the family.
Such people would have half-learned manners and both love and hatred for the word noble.
For them, being called unskilled or uneducated would be a severe trigger.
I had wondered why my taunts were working so well, but this was probably the reason.
Wouldn’t someone like me be the kind of person they hated most? An idiot who only caused trouble after being born into a good family?
Of course, I still had unanswered questions. Even if they were children of concubines, why would members of such a righteous knight order antagonize me?
I turned my head and acted like I didn’t see the knight’s expressions, but I accidentally ended up looking at Arzan.
It was good that I’d looked at her, though for a different reason.
Bloodshot eyes and dark circles under her eyes...
If I hadn’t known her beforehand, this change would’ve been easy to miss, but, well...
At this point, Arzan seemed to realize I was looking at her because she looked back at me.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
Her voice was weak as well.
Did the knights also realize her condition had deteriorated?
As I thought about the situation, Arzan’s condition, and the ferocious expressions the knights showed, I quickly came to a conclusion...
From the very front of the group, Osel said, “We’ll rest here today.”
Hearing that, I looked up at the darkening sky. Tonight, or tomorrow at the latest, something would happen.
Her head was heavy, and her eyelids were heavier.
It felt like the warmth of the campfire was hugging her eyes.
Arzan forced her eyes to stay open as she stared at the fire.
While doing that, she asked herself, How many days has it been since we entered the mountains?
Although the answer came quickly, she was ashamed at having forgotten it for even a split second.
Arzan had learned that no matter the time, she needed to be completely aware of her situation.
Here, “situation” meant three things: time, location, and condition.
However, Arzan honestly became a little confused that she wasn’t sure of all three.
Have I gotten dull?
Arzan spaced out as she stared beyond the campfire.
Four of the five were asleep, and one of them was on night watch.
Arzan was currently leaning against a tree while wrapped in a blanket, but due to how her eye was half-closed, one could mistake her for having fallen asleep.
In front of these knights, Arzan had spent the last four nights acting like she was sleeping.
One could ask why she was going through all this trouble... but she couldn’t give a clear answer to that either.
Sometimes one had to put their instincts above their logical thinking, and this was one of those times.
Some signals could not be ignored.
She had survived a few times thanks to believing in her gut like this.
But still, I might have gone too far by not sleeping for the last four days.
At times like this, she hated how inflexible she was. She wondered if perhaps this suffering was unneeded.
Was she too suspicious for her own good? These people had been sent here on the order of the Lord of Blood and Iron, after all.
Most sane people wouldn’t dare to misuse the name of the Lord of Blood and Iron.
This wasn’t a problem of being brave or fearless... Everyone knew just how brutal of an end they would meet if they did that.
Her eyelids were too heavy.
She felt like she was at her limit.
She needed to close her eyes and take even a small nap.
But Arzan didn’t fully lower her guard. She stayed wrapped up in the blanket and lowered her head a little.
It was an ambiguous stance where one couldn’t tell if she was asleep or looking at the campfire.
It helped that, for the last four days, no one had approached her except for the knight called Victor.
He had approached her again today, but since he was asleep, she wasn’t in danger.
Due to all sorts of justifications, Arzan’s guard slowly lowered, and the fatigue that had accumulated in her body started to flood in.
As the night deepened, the forest was encased in silence.
In this open area where not even the sound of bugs could be heard, the crackling of the campfire was the only constant.
Even though not a single strand of wind was blowing, the heat of the fire started to become weaker.
It had started to run out of fuel.
As the current night watch, Osel knew this fact very well. It had been clear to him that the fire was starting to die down, and a bundle of firewood was right within his grasp.
However, Osel did not throw the fuel into the fire.
“She was tenacious,” he mumbled to himself in a dry voice.
His voice was the signal. The knights who were sleeping in their sleeping bags started to quietly wake up as they responded.
“I don’t think she’s an ordinary butler.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Osel, still looking at the flame. “Kill them.”
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