I rocked heavily back and forth. Stars shone in the clear night sky.
Winter appeared to be almost upon us, as a moist breeze caressed my fur. I stretched and wagged my tail as I rested on Senri’s lap.
Senri gently stroked my back. Cool breeze or lustrous fur mean nothing special to me. Since vampires barely register any changes in temperature….
“Oh really… little miss is heading to Romberg with your dog?… What is your business there? It’s not the kind of place girls like you should visit… it happens to be the front line.”
“I’m going to join the fight. I may not look it, but I can wield a sword.”
“Ehh… with those skinny arms? Either you’re really confident in your skills or too reckless.”
The one who spoke was a gruff man with a deep scar on his cheek.
His vulgar eyes gave Senri the once over. I stood up on her lap and thumped my tail and growled as menacingly as I could with my high-pitched voice.
The filthy man chuckled at my threat and said, “Quite the reliable knight you’ve got there but that pretty dog of yours would be eaten up in under a week if you take it to Romberg.”
Unfortunately, I am not a Knight but a Baron.
A month after I had begun to grow accustomed to being treated like a dog, we joined a large group of travelling merchants and proceeded on our journey towards the north.
Groups of horses and carriages at the front and back as far as the eye could see along with the lights, probably makes us look like one big herd from above.
In this day and age, places outside of towns are not safe. There is the threat of monsters and also bandits.
It would be no trouble for someone as strong as Senri or me to travel safely from one town to another, but for most of the population, travelling is a risky business.
That is the reason for travellers or merchants with no means to hire decent guards to travel in big groups.
In this world where only the fittest survive, man’s place on the food chain is certainly not at the top. They would not be able to survive unless they join forces.
Human society works on the principle of give-and-take. People capable of fighting like Senri and I, are hired by merchants for the price of food during the journey, a small fee and are allowed to ride in the carriages.
Even with guards, it is safer to travel in large numbers and while traversing long distances, it is more mutually beneficial.
Although, the circumstances are a bit different in our case.
Senri patted my head as I thumped my tail in protest at the vulgar guard.
It was Senri’s idea to join a group of merchants.
I and Senri can travel much faster on foot rather than carriages. I do not tire and am much faster than a carriage, and as I would be carrying Senri on my back, there is no other method more effective for a swift escape.
However, a woman travelling alone would be too conspicuous. Even if I were in my human form, we would still stand out. It would pose no major issue outside of towns but while entering towns or passing checkpoints, we will need to go through inspection. The Death Knights’ influence cannot be underestimated. So, the only way to hide a person is in a group.
We were positioned in the middle of the group. Although the vanguard and the rearguard are more likely to face any potential issues, the fact that Senri had a dainty appearance and I am a dog were taken into account, so we were placed at the center of the group where it is the safest.
Even so, probably due to there being very few female guards, the other male guards often hit on Senri by way of killing time, which had me greatly annoyed.
They stopped trying to lay hands on her after she twisted one of their arms but I felt like they could defile her with their contemptuous gazes.
Nevertheless, I was unfortunately stuck in a cage during the day and though I was let out during the night, I could not possibly turn human, so there was not much I could do about anything. Maybe I could put them on guard if I were a bigger dog, but I command too little respect as I am now.
What’s more, since joining the band of merchants, I have thrice been kidnapped by scoundrels who fell for my beautiful coat of fur and each time we have had to change the location to regroup. Dogs are considered assets so stealing them is a crime, but apparently I am so adorable that people would not mind committing a crime to get their hands on me.
There were even requests from registered merchants who wanted me, and every such request fed my ego but Senri looked a little fed up with the whole situation. The price seemed to climb at every negotiation, at this rate, I might get sold off the next time.
“Baron, you wag your tail at anyone.”
You know, I am not doing it because I want to. I somehow end up wagging my tail. The body of a dog is a mystery.
☠ ☠ ☠
A city near the border was decided as our next destination.
Romberg. A fortified city where humans and beasts compete ruthlessly over the rights to the land. It is also known as the city of blood and iron and the most relentless battlefield in the entire continent.
There are three reasons as to why we chose the city.
Firstly, Romberg was not in correlation with the Death Knights of this continent, hence the chances of meeting Epée here were unlikely.
Secondly, repeated battles would not only accelerate the rate of my evolution but also enable us to earn some money.
Thirdly, if something were to occur, we could take refuge in the Demon King’s territory.
If rumors are to be believed, Romberg seems to be a truly dreadful but also the most technically advanced city and a place that was haunted by both man and demon.
Hide a human among humans and demon among demons. Although we do not plan to stay there forever, it is the most optimal destination for now.
The only issue was that Romberg was an extremely long journey.
The bonfire snapped and crackled as it burned bright. A hotpot with a variety of ingredients hung over the fire, enveloping its vicinity in a fine aroma. Although we were in the middle of nowhere, there was a flurry of activity resembling a tavern.
The group moved according to plan. Both people and horses get exhausted unlike the undead, so it was necessary to make regular stops at watering holes.
Guards took turns keeping an eye out for monsters or beasts. Senri was also included in the rotations but I was not as I was unfortunately a pet dog. They would not add me to the list.
However, during that time, I do something only I am capable of.
“Baron, were you a good boy?”
Once we stop to rest, excited children of the merchants gather around me.
There are not a lot of dogs travelling with us. The ones in the group, though not as huge as Albertus, were all robust dogs that could be used for combat. Apparently, these adorable children cannot help but want to feed me.
There are even kids who bring over their share of jerky or precious sweets. Even their parents looked on affectionately at the actions of their children.
Good grief, there is no helping it…. I woofed, thumped my tail up and down as I took them on.