Chapter 70: Practice abroad (1)
The troops Langzan dispatched to send them off waited sternly outside the guesthouse in the wee hours of the next morning. From the troops’ demeanor, it would be more appropriate to say that they were transporting detainees rather than escorting them. The carriage had an impenetrable defense and was pulled by three horses. After Di Lin and Hydin entered the carriage, the door was closed on them heavily, as if locking a metal trunk.
Di Lin waited for the horses to move slowly before speaking softly, “Could we have been discovered last night?” That could be the reason why they were so guarded against them.
“What difference is there whether they did or not?” A hazy sleepiness coated Hydin’s words. He had gone without sleep till the middle of last night and yet had to wake up at the first glimmer of light; his mood was at its nastiest.
Di Lin pondered over it and felt that there indeed wasn’t much difference. Anyway, they were only here to support Saint Padeus’ volunteer army. After this matter ended, their paths were not likely to cross again. The only thing they needed to worry about was where they were sending them to.
Two days later, their misgivings were dispelled. All the Langzan people they had met along the way confirmed that they were heading in the direction of Dabei city. Thus, Di Lin’s worries were put at ease.
The metal trunk might be considered heavy, but it wasn’t as shaky as the ordinary carriage. Hydin’s motion-sickness improved by quite a bit, so his mood also gradually took a turn for the better. He would carry out small-scale magic tests for Di Lin in his free time in the carriage. The carriage’s stability meant that there wouldn’t be any major impact even if Di Lin slipped up.
However, no matter their movements, the accompanying troops did not show any reaction. Other than the few sentences uttered when they stopped to rest, they were like invisible people, their existence comparable to air. Their presence was a must but in no way irksome.
The troops reached Dabei city at noon on the fourth day.
The accompanying troops sent them all the way to the city’s temporary guesthouse.
The moment Di Lin and Hydin stepped off the carriage, they saw a thin and dark middle-aged woman approach them. An imposing, unwavering light flickered in her bloodshot eyes.
“What are all of you doing here!” A loud roar erupted from the middle-aged woman, cutting off Di Lin’s remaining words. “Does that group of stupid creatures in the capital think there isn’t enough trouble here?”
The captain of the accompanying troops had an embarrassed yet somewhat angry look on his face. “We’re escorting Saint Padeus’ volunteer army.”
Only then did the middle-aged woman shift her gaze to Di Lin and Hydin. “You’re saying they’re Saint Padeus’ volunteer army?”
The captain hesitated. Before they came, the captain’s superior – the head of the imperial guards, had told him to be careful around these two people while they were on the road. This was also to say that the head of the guards was suspicious of their identities. However, faced by the woman’s questioning gaze, he forcibly swallowed these words and nodded stiffly.
“Two?” The woman spoke in an odd manner.
Di Lin felt that it was time for them to explain. So, he could only describe how Saint Padeus’ volunteer army had come down with a serious bout of illness after reaching Tuta city.
The woman’s expression cleared a little. Before Chai Fuang’s hasty departure, he had indeed told her about Saint Padeus’ volunteer army falling ill. The time and location was identical.
“I am the chief of Dabei city, Pamela·Vara. The troops Saint Padeus dispatched earlier are stationed at the frontline fifteen li from the city. The both of you can rest at the guesthouse first, I’ll bring you over in the afternoon.”
“Fifteen li?” Di Lin’s expression changed. He asked in astonishment, “Wasn’t it fifty li?”
Exhaustion showed on Pamela’s face. “The sandstorms have been faster than we had imagined.”
Hydin suddenly asked, “Has the cause of the sandstorms been investigated?”
Brown suffused the middle of Pamela’s black iris. She glanced at him and gave an irrelevant answer, “I’ll bring you to register your rooms first.”
The captain of the accompanying troops saw that she was about to go off and leave him as well as the rest of the accompanying troops hanging. The fury in his heart intensified. He called loudly, “Chief!”
Pamela’s footsteps didn’t stop. All she did was let out an impatient nasal sound. “En?”
“The people have been delivered. We’ll head back and report on the completion of our mission,” Since the other party had no intentions of keeping them here, then they wouldn’t thicken their skin and stay behind either. Anyway, they had already handed the people over to Pamela. She had received them personally, so even if something cropped up later, they could cast aside the blame cleanly. The moment he thought of this, the hot anger towards Pamela’s slight instantly went out. Without any hesitation, he led the accompanying troops and the carriage away.
When the sound of wheels vanished from outside the door, Di Lin asked Pamela curiously, “Why didn’t Chief keep them here?” To Dabei city, there could never be enough of the young and fit people that made up the accompanying troops.
“What else can those stupid creatures do other than waste food?” Pamela pressed her temples in fatigue. Clearly, she had no desire to say anything more.
The guesthouse was built out of simple wooden slabs that emitted creaking sounds when stepped on.
Di Lin treaded very carefully, out of fear that he would stomp a hole through the floor.
Pamela assigned them a narrow twin room. There were only two beds made out of three slabs of wood in the room. There were no bedsheets either. Sackcloth was piled up on each bed, till it resembled a quilt.
Pamela threw them into the room and walked off hurriedly without giving them any instructions.
Di Lin and Hydin stood in the room. Occasionally, they would hear the unceasing sound of their neighbors coughing. When their coughs reached great levels of intensity, the room would literally shake.
“The security here is much more relaxed than Xiaobei city,” Di Lin turned sideways and brushed past Hydin to open the window. Only half of the window was connected to the window frame, so it swung open with just one push. He looked down towards the streets. The majority of the pedestrians on the streets appeared to be in a rush; their feet didn’t seem to touch the ground.
Pamela happened to also come out of the guesthouse. Looking at the top of her head from above, he realized that a section in the middle already had white interspersed through the black strands. She noticed a youth walking past her while carrying two large buckets of water and instantly shouted loudly, “Who allowed you to pass through here?”
“I’m delivering water,” The youth was stunned by her loud yell.
“Didn’t anyone tell you to walk through South Ten Street if you’re delivering water?! This street will be used to transport trees a while later! Don’t obstruct it!” Pamela waved her hands.
The youth who had already walked more than half the street didn’t have any choice but to turn around.
Pamela ran to the other side of the street. She dragged over a man in military uniform who was directing workers to dig a well and roared so loudly that half the street could hear her. “Why didn’t you guard the entrance of the street properly?”
“I sent someone to guard it,” The man in military uniform was unable to make heads nor tails of her yelling.
“Then how did that person come about?” Pamela pointed towards the youth who was delivering water before realizing that the two buckets of water had been placed at the side of the streets while the person had already disappeared.
The man in the military uniform glanced at her expression. Guessing what had happened, he asked helplessly, “Could a spy have come to look for trouble again?”
“I don’t care how many spies sneak in. There isn’t anything here that we can’t let them know anyway. At the moment, I only wish that this group of stupid creatures can take care of themselves and not walk about with closed eyes!”
The man in the military uniform gave a bitter laugh, “I’m afraid that’ll be very challenging. The more we seal the street, the more curious they will be about what we’re doing here.”
“If they have the guts to report to this place, I’ll let them know what we’re doing every day and save them from whirling around in chaos like headless houseflies,” Pamela snorted coldly in disdain. She evidently knew that this would not happen in reality and thus curbed her temper. “How many trees have you transferred? Are there enough?”
The man replied, “The transmission magic arrays have been sealed, so they can only be transferred from the cities closest to Dabei city – Oran city and Hans city. There are a total of nine hundred trees. If these aren’t enough, we can only set our sights on Ponna city, which is even further. But I heard that the chief of Ponna city was among the first batch to be evacuated, so Ponna city is in complete disorder now. There isn’t anyone in charge.”
“Nine hundred trees? What use will that be!”
“The current problem isn’t the insufficient trees, but that there aren’t enough wood mages. Wood type magic is best for dealing with the sandstorms, but there were never enough wood mages in the Continent in the first place, and there are only sixteen in total among Saint Padues and the magic guild’s support troops.”
Pamela didn’t utter a word. She turned and walked towards the street.
The man in military uniform suddenly raised his head and glanced at Di Lin’s window.
Di Lin stared blankly for a moment and then revealed a smile.
The other party sized him up quite a few times in a probing manner before turning his head.
Di Lin withdrew his head, glanced at the narrow room, and spoke to Hydin, who was flipping through a book on the bed, “Let’s go take a look at other places in the city.” The outside was buzzing with activity, making it very difficult for him to feel content with staying in a corner and showing no interest.
Hydin raised a brow. “You aren’t afraid of being treated as a spy?”
Di Lin laughed. “The spies here don’t seem to be taken very seriously.” Otherwise, the water-carrier youth would not have been able to run wild.
Hydin kept his book and stood up.
Di Lin suddenly recalled the question he had asked Pamela. “Do you know the cause of the sandstorms?”
Hydin answered, “No.”
Di Lin thought so too. They had always been together; if Hydin knew, he should know too.
Both of them headed downstairs. They hadn’t made it out of the guesthouse when they heard the heavy sound of wheels coming from the city’s gates. In a flash, a gigantic wooden cart appeared in the horizon with layer after layer of trees placed on it. The dense and lush branches and leaves solidified the fretfulness in the city at that moment.
Di Lin suddenly said, “It’ll be good if I was a wood type.” At this moment, wood types, who had always been looked down on by the other three types, seemed incomparably lofty and sacred.
After a good length of time waiting for the fleet transporting the trees to pass by, Pamela walked over again and stuffed a pancake-like food item and a water sack into their respective hands. “The trees will be transported to the frontline. We’ll follow them.”
Di Lin looked around. There were no carriages or horses.
Pamela made out his thoughts and laughed coldly. Lifting her legs, she headed towards the fleet.
Di Lin’s face turned slightly red.
Hydin suddenly asked, “How long will we need to walk at this pace?”
Pamela suddenly turned back.
Di Lin, who was about to consume his lunch, could only put down the food that was close to entering his mouth.
 Li is an ancient measure of length. One li refers to approximately 500m, so fifteen li is 7.5km.