Chapter IV : 144 IV

Chapter IV : 144

“ Utopia “

The humans made their decision. As a group, they traveled across the sands towards Town #144. Hunter was hesitant but he agreed with Rina when she reminded him of their objective. Despite the lack of a guide, they still had to find out where the droplets of Black Blood came from. If there was anything about the Overlord in that area, they should pursue that knowledge. Although Steel believed that the snakes’ home led to Impact Cavern, they were unable to confirm it since the creatures made them stay away from the darker parts of the rock formations. If that place was indeed Impact Cavern, the humans thought that perhaps, someone from 144 documented it or, even better, found another way in.

Puppy did not go with the group. The tardigrade was, for some odd reason, adamant on staying on his rock pillar. Linnorm did not stop the humans from leaving but it had a worried expression on its face. Hunter bade the snakes farewell and promised that he would come back someday. Their journey so far seemed to have changed Thyme a bit. He was less apprehensive of animals and became more supportive towards his fiancé. At one point, the guard even said that porcupig quills can’t solve everything after all.

Despite their worries, the humans reached 144 without delay and without any untoward incidents. Steel grumbled every now and then about the lack of something new to look at, but it wasn’t a chronic disease or a mortal wound so the others did not worry about it. Rina was as enthusiastic as ever; she particularly liked how her own map turned out and the additional information which she wrote down on the pages of her history book also delighted her.

Up close, Town #144 was, in one word, normal. The houses were made of the usual white stone and they did not have any telltale acacia slashes. Beside one of the houses at the edge of the town, there stood a large figure in an earthen pot. Hunter, who was almost as curious as Rina, approached it. His fellow humans thought that he suddenly vanished, but their worries turned to bursts of laughter soon enough.

“ Not again, “ the tamer said while his head was inside the mouth of a snap dragon, “ Why me? “

Steel tried to hold his laughter as he walked over to Hunter’s side and tickled the offending plant’s stem. At that, the flower opened up and the brown-haired boy was free from his bright red captor.

“ At least that snap dragon only had one flower, “ the farmer jested, “ Imagine what would have happened if you stumbled up to a bigger plant? “

It was nothing to worry about, he said. Snap dragons are just overly friendly tame plants, he said. There’s a very low chance that a human could be allergic to them, he said. But Hunter scratched his face repeatedly as bright red rashes broke out on his cheeks. It was quite an inconvenience, but at least it was just a snap dragon. Compared to what happened to them earlier, the tamer would not complain about his current situation.

“ Wow~ this place is pretty! “ Rina was awe-struck by the many colorful tame plants that co-existed with humans in 144.

There were more snap dragons, which Hunter cautiously avoided, bellflowers and some flowering witchweed too. As the group walked farther into town, they noticed the friendly people who didn’t mind the presence of strangers and, as they got close to the town hall, Thyme stopped and pointed at his feet.

“ Grass… “ the guard said.

“ So? “ Hunter raised an eyebrow at his friend, but it could not be taken seriously because his face was full of red rashes.

“ It is growing on sand! “ Steel pointed out.

“ Of course. Ever since she arrived, this place has blossomed, “ said a small man with a very squeaky voice, “ It’s good to see you again, Steel. “

The farmer could not believe it. His old friend who had gone to the desert and never came back now stood before him.

“ Ochre! “ the large man picked his friend up and embraced him tightly.

“ Argh! Your friendship still hurts! “ the small farmer coughed until Steel let him go, “ If you want to meet her… “

He led the group to the town hall where people sat around a lone figure. There, on the soft grass, stood a woman with pale skin, waist-length black hair, and narrow black eyes. Her pinkish lips had a gentle smile and a simple white dress fit her beautiful body perfectly. But the most remarkable thing about her was the fact that when she opened her bare hand, a single black rose blossomed upon it. While the others stood in awe, Rina approached the woman and looked up at her flawless face.

“ We’ve been looking for you, “ the historian bowed slightly, “ Overlord. “

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