「Master, over there. Lots of people.」
『It looks like they’re heading towards Barbra.』
「But… Bit off somehow.」
We spotted a few carriages along the road on our way back to the city.
That in itself was totally normal. Today was the day of the Lunar Banquet, and we were only about an hour away from the city. I wouldn’t be surprised in any which way if the carriages contained villagers looking to have a good time in town.
We were still pretty far away from the aforementioned carriages, so we couldn’t actually see it in all that much detail. We could, however, still tell that something didn’t seem quite right. I could’ve sworn that I heard a scream or two.
『Hmmm… I think they might be getting attacked by magic beasts.』
Drawing a bit closer led me to realize that my prior guess had hit the mark spot on. The carriages were being chased and attacked by kobolds.
『Urushi, fly over there as quickly as you can!』
Dashing through the air allowed us to get a much better view of what was going on. That is, four adventurers were currently fighting off the kobold onslaught with all they had.
「Don’t give up Dregg!」
「Keep it up! The villagers will be screwed if we mess up here!」
「Don’t let these damn things past even if it costs us our lives!」
「I know! I know already! There’s no way in hell I’ll let em pass me till the carriage is far away enough!」
「That’s the way!」
The adventurers had leapt off the carriages in order to better stall their assailants by facing them head on. All four of them were clearly risking their lives in hopes of letting the five carriages they accompanied escape. None of the four seemed like they intended to back off or run away despite the fact that a few of them had already suffered several heavy injuries.
Damn, they be manly as hell.
『Go ahead. The enemy’s leader should be… that one over there.』
Species: Evil Kobold
Demonic Beast (Evil Being)
Intimidation: Lv 4
Commander: Lv 3
Claw Techniques: Lv 3
Claw Arts: Lv 3
Leap: Lv 4
Art of Evil: Lv 3
Bound to the Evil God
Description: No known description.
Its title and innate skill were both a bit weird, as they seemed to point to the fact that the kobold was one of the Evil God’s subordinates. Rather, that should’ve been a given seeing as how the kobold is classified as an evil being.
Was there supposed to be anything special about him though? Did he have those skills and titles because he had more of the Evil God’s divine protection than the average member of his species? I mean, relatively speaking, his stats were pretty high. He was quite a bit stronger than the Goblin King I defeated in the past.
Would I end up getting that Art of Evil skill if i I absorbed the kobold’s magic stone, and would absorbing it automatically bind me me to one of the Evil God in some way? Hmm… I’m not so sure trying it is what I’d call a good idea…
『Let’s try to avoid having me absorb the boss kobold’s magic stone. Apparently it’s bound to the Evil God, so I don’t think taking its abilities is that great an idea.』
「Nn. Got it.」
『Urushi, we’ll be leaving any leftover weaklings to you.』
Fran leapt off Urushi’s back and used the force of her fall to split one of the kobolds in half. The kobolds were frozen in shock, but Fran didn’t care. She began mowing weakling after weakling down with ease without so much as giving them a chance to recover from the impact of her sudden descent. Urushi did the same and proceeded to tear through enemy lines.
The pair’s advent hadn’t just left the kobolds speechless. It’d done the same to the adventurers and caused them to freeze in place.
It went without saying that the kobolds posed us no threat, but Fran refused to show them any mercy regardless. She unhesitantly chose to cast Inferno Burst, the most powerful spell in our arsenal.
I was on guard because I was worried about the effects of the Evil God’s divine protection, but it turned out that my anxiety had been misplaced. In the end, the Evil Kobold was still just a kobold; Inferno Burst had roasted it and turned into nothing but a smoldering carcass in a matter of moments. We did manage to get ahold of its magic stone, but again, I didn’t feel like absorbing it, so I just chucked in storage instead.
The remaining kobolds immediately scattered upon losing their commander. The species as a whole was innately rather timid, but it seemed that having a strong leader had led them to act in a bit more of an ambitious manner. Losing said leader caused them to immediately regain their usual cowardice and flee. Oh well, whatever. They were weak and all, but honestly, chasing them down and killing them was a tedious waste of time, so we refrained.
All four adventurers had remained frozen for the entirety of the battle’s two minute duration. It seemed as if they had yet to finish processing the events that had just transpired. They were unable to immediately grasp that a child and wolf had descended from the sky, beat the enemies that they’d been struggling with, and even sent them running with their tails between their legs.
It wasn’t until after Fran started treated their wounds that they finally managed to provide some sort of response.
「W-We’re being healed?」
「T-thanks, you really saved us there.」
「What the hell just happened?」
Apparently the four of them were all members of a party by the name of Cedrus’ Winds. Their moniker originated from the fact that their base of operations was located in Cedrus Village, a small, nearby settlement.
They told this whole long ass emotional tale about how hard they worked and the extent to which they endeavored in order to become true adventurers before finally settling down in Cedrus. Honestly though, I wasn’t even the slightest bit interested, so the whole thing went in one ear and out the other.
What I did get from their story was that they were so thankful to the villagers that they were willing to risk their lives to protect them regardless of what kind injuries they suffered in the process. I didn’t care for their flashbacks at all, but I honestly appreciated their actions for how manly they were.
All four of the adventurers took turns thanking Fran and shaking her hand. They offered to give her every single last one of the kobold’s corpses despite the fact kobolds would’ve been worth quite a bit to them given their rank. I had to say, they were pretty good people even if it looked kind of weird for them to surround Fran while thanking her profusely the way they did. I mean, free stuff was free stuff, and I liked free stuff, but we ultimately ended up refusing their offer in the interest of time. We didn’t really need kobolds for anything, and they weren’t worth much to us, so yeah.
The five carriages that’d escaped a bit earlier quickly returned after noticing that kobolds had scattered. The villagers stepped out from within and all bowed their heads in turn to offer their thanks to the four adventurers that’d almost died saving them. The two groups really did seem to have a pretty good relationship with one another.
We asked the village chief a few quick things, and verified our expectations. We’d been right, they villagers within the carriages were currently on their way over to Barbra so that they could join in on the Lunar Banquet’s festivities.
「It’s pretty rare for Kobolds to be out here. The road is well travelled, so they normally stay far away, but most people have holed themselves in the city today because of the banquet.」
Anyone and everyone’s more or less taken today off because of the Lunar Banquet. The city was having trouble getting its usual patrols done; the lack of guards had left them understaffed.
We decided to give them a hand and stick with them until they reached the city. It was only an hour away, and I’d probably feel a bit guilty and overly conscious of my decisions if they ended up getting completely wiped out after we went through the trouble of helping them out once already.
The carriages only actually had six seats, so having two extra bodies made things a bit tight, especially with Urushi taking up the entire back seat. The villagers didn’t seem to mind at all though, given that they’d already seen Fran’s might. Besides, most of the people on the carriage we were in were children, so it wasn’t as bad as it otherwise could’ve been.
One of the villagers, a woman late in her prime, handed Fran a few dried potatoes. 
「I like the way you eat! Here, try this too.」
「Om nom nom.」
「What a cute face you’re making. Give this one a taste as well.」
「You look so adorable! You’re just like a squirrel! Here, have another.」
「Nom om nom.」
The older ladies we were sitting with praised Fran in a bit of a shrill voice as they watched her stuff her cheeks.
Yup, they’ve got good eyes. Fran’s super cute.
Riding Urushi would’ve made this whole trip a mere ten or so minutes, but Fran looked like she was enjoying herself. That, combined with the fact that they ended up telling us about all sorts of interesting, festival-related stuff, made riding the carriage well worth it.
The villagers were planning on staying in Barbra for a total of three days. Apparently, heading towards the city around this time of year was fairly common practice for anyone that lived in a village in Barbra’s immediate vicinity.
One of the main reasons that they had such a practice was because they wished to sample the cooking contest’s products. Unfortunately, they as villagers weren’t exactly what you’d call rich. They didn’t have much money or time, so they could only afford to visit a maximum of four different stalls.
Apparently, traders and messengers had already informed all of the thirty or so villages nearby of the first round’s results despite the fact they’d only just been announced yesterday. The villagers themselves had also already figured out which of the four they wished to visit; they’d sorted it all out ahead time in the interest of efficiency. The swiftness and excitement contained within their actions really served to testify the event’s grand scale.
「It seems that Dordoros, last year’s winner, isn’t going to be participating this time around.」
「That’s because he got hired by the Kingdom of Norland. He’s now working as their royal chef.」
「Either way, we’re definitely going to go to The Dragon’s Table. They managed to win second last year, so they’ve gotta be good.」
「Yeah, but don’t be forgetting about Jeff’s Meaty Steakhouse.」
「We’re obviously going to The Seafood Skewery too. You can’t get stuff like that back in the village no matter where you look.」
「And of course, it goes without saying that we’ll be visiting Barbra’s Orphange too, right?」
Fran raised a question in response to the final item they listed. It didn’t really seem to make sense or fit in with the rest.
「Yup. The orphanage’s chef, Io, is really well known around here. They don’t really use any fancy ingredients, but their dishes are still really delicious. They tend to leave you feeling really relaxed.」
「We want to show the orphanage that we’re supporting their actions, so we visit their stall every year.」
「You really have to hand it to the chef. I don’t quite know how they manage to make their dishes taste so good!」
「Right? I think the orphanage managed to come in fourth last year too.」
And so they went on and on and on.
I was pretty content with learning about the contest’s more famous participants, but, I couldn’t help but feel vexed that they’d already decided where they were going ahead of time. They weren’t the only ones either, apparently their mentality was pretty normal. In other words, newcomers to the competition like us were at a pretty big disadvantage.
That said, it wasn’t like we were really in that bad of a spot. Curry bread was an amazing product. It could be stored for a couple days on end without any issues, and it didn’t even need to be reheated seeing as how it was still good even when cold. We should be able to appeal to people looking for a snack or two between meals.
「Also participating in contest.」
「You are? Really?」
「Nn. Master entered. Helping out.」
「Are you working at that place called “The Black Tail?” I think I remember the chef’s name being Master…」
The Black Tail was the name I randomly came up with on the spot when they gave us our registration forms. It seemed to fit, as it reflected a property shared by both Fran and Urushi.
「Nice. What kind of stuff are you guys selling?」
「Never heard of it.」
「Master’s own recipe. Really tasty, even when cold. Lots of spices. Ten Golde each. Can be carried around easily. Good for snacks.」
The older ladies hopped right on Fran’s advertisements and immediately took her words to heart.
「Can they last a few days without going bad?」
「Yup. Works well for gifts.」
「Oh great! That means we’d able to buy a bunch and take them back for everyone in the village.」
「That sounds like a great idea. We’ll make sure we stop by your stall too then.」
「Nn. Will welcome with open arms.」
Yay for more customers!
 Iunno if you guys have ever had Philippine brand dried mangoes, but dried potatoes are kind of like that. They look like… this
On a side note, I feel like the author’s paragraphs are slowly getting longer. Damned evolving writing styles!