Daver and the City of Snowrock
"Kurdak, hurry! We'll arrive in Snowrock in an hour," urged Vera as she waved excitedly.
She was currently wearing a large red cloak that matched her flame-red hair well. She stood out even more in the snow-covered field as a result.
"You make it sound so easy! Let's see you hurry with two rucksacks!" complained Kurdak with a pained expression.
Unlike the warmly dressed Vera, one of his armor's straps had come loose -- half his chest was exposed to the elements. His arms weren't covered either. While a human's constitution could be greatly boosted with impetus, giving them much better heat and cold resistance, extreme temperature wasn't harmless. Appropriate clothing was still necessary.
Kurdak was dressed so lightly because he was hot and sweating; it was hard to walk through snow with two rucksacks on your back. In Leguna's own words, he'd probably sweat more than he'd urinated in the last couple of days.
"Alright, I know you're tired. Let me carry one," offered Vera guiltily after seeing the sweaty Kurdak.
She took one of the rucksacks. She immediately felt uncomfortable with the more than 50 kilograms.
"Annie's faring the best of us all," commented she as she stared at the dimensional pocket the girl wore on her waist enviously.
Dimensional pockets were a kind of magical storage item that could carry objects far more voluminous than themselves without any of their properties changing. While the pocket wasn't that large, with just two cubic meters of space, even the smallest pockets cost three thousand gold. They were a luxury frugal mercenaries could not afford no matter what.
"Hey, that's enough envy for today. Had Annelotte not let us store some of our luggage, we'd have to carry even more stuff," interrupted Kurdak, panicked, in a desperate attempt to change the subject.
He'd noticed that Vera's expression was the same as the one she had when she'd seen something she wanted in a shop.
"Huh, so you're aware only your load was lightened. Why do I have to carry everything myself?" mumbled Leguna with a voice as cold as Kurdak's.
Since he was quite a bit smaller, his rucksack extended beyond his head. The huge thing didn't look right being carried someone so small at all.
"Hehe, you have to think about it yourself," Kurdak said softly as he patted Leguna's shoulder, "I didn't think you'd be daring enough to peek at the two while they were bathing! I almost want to call you my boss!"
"I didn't peak, okay?! I was patrolling the area. I stopped by the lake for a drink! How could I have known they were bathing there? It's not like someone warned me!"
Leguna spoke only the truth. But he did feel his blood rush to his head when he saw Annelotte's flawless back. If not for Vera squealing a moment later, he would've had a perfect memory over which to fawn.
"Hehe, it doesn't matter whether Vera or I believe you. Annelotte's opinion is what matters. She took everything of yours out of the ring immediately, I say that says it all," teased Kurdak.
Leguna glanced at Annelotte walking in front of him, carefully. She wore an all-white cotton robe. Matched with her short ice-blue hair and exquisite face, she looked as attractive as ever. Perhaps because she heard the two talking, a slight blush was on her cheeks.
"Go on. Give her your explanation and see if she wants to carry some of your stuff again," smirked Kurdak.
"... Her pocket is almost full anyway. I'll be fine even without anyone's help," mumbled Leguna in a quiet whisper.
Annalotte had ignored him since the incident at the lake. He'd tried to make up with her several times, but she just flung him away. He'd given up on the idea of getting involved with her. He still kept on looking for a way to make it up to her, though, much to his two companions' dismay.
They arrived at Snowrock an hour later. It was one of the southernmost human settlements on the entire continent. It was said that Snowrock had been just a small town a hundred years ago, but, due to its proximity to Icepeak Mountain, it attracted quite a number of adventuring lodgers. In time, the town evolved into one of the nine great cities.
Since they weren't going to stay for long, Kurdak didn't think too much about their accommodation. He intended to rent four beds for a few nights. Vera, however, was adamant that she wouldn't sleep in the same room as the smelly men and complained incessantly. While Annelotte didn't say much, it didn't take a genius to realize she had no interest in sharing a room with crude males fighters. Leguna didn't take Kurdak's either, he insisted on renting a more expensive room himself. In the end, Kurdak had to yield and bring them around to look for rooms.
Winter was Snowrock's busiest season, though, and finding four vacant rooms was even harder than spotting a snow rabbit on the snow-covered grounds from half a kilometer away. In the end, the four settled on renting three rooms at an expensive inn.
"My legs are dying!" complained Kurdak with a mischievous expression.
"Boss, if you don't wash your feet today, I'll sleep in the corridor!" said Leguna sadly, but resolutely.
"Ah, by all means, be my guest," agreed Kurdak without hesitation.
Had it not been for Leguna, he wouldn't have had to spend ten gold coins on such expensive accommodation, so he couldn't wait to take it out on him with his feet.
"Ah, this place seems rather nice. We'll stay here. Don't worry, Ley. If Kurdak doesn't want you there, you can sleep with me," offered Vera.
"Great! I won't sleep with Boss then!" accepted Leguna without hesitation.
Who would turn down being able to hug Vera's supple thighs in favor of Kurdak's smelly feet?
"In your dreams! You're staying with me!" protested Kurdak as he dragged Leguna into his room without discussion.
"Will we set out in two days?" asked Vera as she chewed on a piece of rabbit meat.
Roasted rabbit was the inn's signature dish. Each cost two gold coins, though, so Kurdak felt like Vera was chewing his flesh.
"Maybe. We still have to buy more necessities tomorrow. We'll leave after we have everything ready. We're going deep into Icepeak Mountain, so we have to be as prepared as possible," said Kurdak as he snatched a rabbit leg from Leguna.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My young master has something he would like to discuss with you. I wonder if you would be so kind as to come over for a talk?" said a man who sported a horseshoe mustache with a goatee as he pointed at the center of the hall.
Kurdak looked in the direction the man pointed to see a handsome, elegantly dressed youth looking at him. The man revealed a dazzling smile when he noticed Vera glance at him.
"Sorry, but we aren't interested," refused Kurdak coldly.
This wasn't the first time they'd encountered such situations. While Vera only looked average, her eye-catching long red head of hair and bombastic figure roused most men easily. According to their experience, the people who approached them at inns were mostly intent on taking advantage of her. Cyranos and Kurdak had gotten into many a bar fight over things like this.
"Our young master is the eldest son of Daver's president. You know, the merchant guild? I hope you will kindly reconsider," insisted the man as he creased his brows.
"I don't know about your little guild. We are dining, so I would appreciate it if you stopped bothering us," cut Kurdak him off with a dark expression.
He had a feeling he was going to get into another fight.
"Know your limits," said the man in a low voice as a chilling aura shot out from his body.
A mid-order warrior! thought Kurdak, surprised.
The aura he let out was a cut above his own. While he didn't expect him to be so much trouble, it didn't mean he was about to let up. While Vera hadn't officially acknowledged the nature of their relationship, he'd been considering her his partner for a few years. This wasn't something on which he would back down.
"Scram!" bellowed he coldly.
"You really don't intend to show any respect," asked the man as he squinted, his impetus lifting his hair.
"What's wrong, Kuger? Our friends here don't intend to accept our invitation?" asked the youth, appearing nearby without anyone's notice.
Kuger hurriedly retracted his impetus and bowed.
"Young Master Daver, not only did they refuse your invitation, they even talked bad about the guild."
"So, they look down on our guild?" asked Daver as he furrowed his brow.
He'd wanted to invite the group over for some drinks because he was attracted to Vera, but he didn't think the lowly mercenaries would refuse him and even talk bad about him.
"We don't need to trouble ourselves with knowing what Daver is," answered Annelotte with her cold voice.
As Kurdak's table was against the wall where the candlelight was dim, Kuger and the rest didn't really pay attention to the girl sitting in the corner. They only took note of her after she spoke. The moment Daver saw her, his eyes widened with interest. Just as he was about to say something, a cold glint flashed across her face.
"Please leave. We have nothing to talk about."
Daver's face paled, but he quickly calmed down.
"I see, I have to apologize for disturbing your meal," he said with a forced smile, "Kuger, let's go."
"Young Master, why did we leave just like that?" asked Kuger, confused, after they'd left.
"That blue-haired girl isn't someone we can mess with. We still have things we need to deal with. It's best we don't cause any trouble," answered Daver as he shook his head.
Kuger was shocked. Given that Daver was a magus of the 12th stratum, was the girl even more terrifying than him? He didn't doubt Daver, however. The youth was the household's most promising talent. Not only was he acknowledged as a genius in the arcane arts in Snowrock, he had excellent instincts. Had he had a little less pride, he would be perfect.
Over the many years he'd tended to Daver, he knew his young master had his reasons for insisting on leaving. It was why he'd left without another word when Daver said so.
Daver, heir of the Daver clan. Lustful, but talented in magic with the water aspect and magus of the 12th stratum. Member of Eye of Arcana and of a mid-level merchant guild and family in Snowrock, recalled Annelotte.
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