Chapter 44 – Silver mines (5)
The room was quiet after Brendel entered, but he did not mind the situation and walked between the small gaps available before sitting down on the only empty bed. Everyone’s eyes followed him, especially Maher who continued to frown as he stared at Brendel.
[Why are they on their guards? Do I look terrifying? Or is it because there’s another reason?]
Brendel shook his head inwardly. For some reason, their muscles were stiff, and their hearts pounded loudly. However, he did not want to remove their anxiety. While they had agreed not to report his strange behavior, but who knew if their minds changed? It would be better to observe their movements.
The strange tension continued to the evening because of his presence.
Due to the number of workers pouring into the silver mines when they returned, the work usually started on the second morning, which gave Brendel much time to familiarize himself with the mines.
He had passed on the frightening meal offered for dinner. There was no possibility of identifying what was cooked in the pot, and the green-like paste looked like it was some kind of witch’s potion as it carried a rotten stench to it. Brendel nearly emptied the contents of his stomach, not to mention eating it.
He was secretly thankful for Jana’s reminder to bring sufficient dry rations. At the same time, he wondered if she had done similar related work to foresee the necessity of carrying his own food.
He stealthily confirmed several locations in the other camping areas after touring the valley once before returning to the place he was assigned to. He immediately saw the slightly malnourished youth when he entered the place.
The other young men in the group had gone out for their meals, with the exception of the girl who was also sitting beside the malnourished youth.
“Are you not going to go for your meal?” Brendel asked, wondering if their relationships with the group were bad. It was common in some groups after all, but the youth shook his head.
“I don’t eat dinner.” The young man replied. He did not seem like he was afraid of Brendel like the other youths were.
[Don’t eating dinner? Perhaps he’s a follower of the Temple of Silver Lily?]
In his memories, only the suffering believers who lived in poverty had this strange habit. The reason the believers did not take the evening meal was to pay tribute to the King of Fire, Gatel, at his worst period in his life. The humans led by him in that era desperately tried to escape the assault from the Miirna by going into the wilderness, and countless people starved to their deaths as a result.
The youth nodded to Brendel’s question.
[The Temple of Silver Lily branches off from the Holy Cathedral of Fire. It’s quite common in Arreck, but the typical believers don’t fast, and the ones who do are apprentices taught in the religion’s ways.]
“Did you learn their ways as an apprentice?” Brendel asked.
“Yes, and no. I had studied the doctrine alongside with an apprentice, but I have not entered the Temple as one.”
“Does that mean you can read if you studied with the apprentice?”
The youth nodded. Brendel thought he was quite impressive. Freya recognized a few words because she was fortunate enough to encounter Captain Marden.
Many old veterans could not write and read, but his own grandfather was another exception, and his family was sufficiently well-off for him to be educated, while Romaine was taught by her aunt. It would be a joke if she did not learn how to read as a witch’s descendant.
But in this world, there were not many literate commoners.
“If that’s the case, why have you come here? Even though the Temple of Silver Lily doesn’t receive many donations, it’s a legitimate religion recognized by the Holy Cathedral of Flames.” Brendel sat down and asked curiously.
“I don’t know if I belong to the Temple. The priest who taught me has passed away.”
Brendel’s curiosity only lasted for a moment.
[I see. Without a formal introduction from a ranked personnel, he can only be considered as an ordinary believer.]
His thoughts quickly went back to his operation. He had roughly understood the terrain within the silver mines, but he felt the situation was becoming more and more troublesome.
The Gold-ranked swordsman rarely appeared within the mines and mostly stayed within the army building. Sneaking into there was still doable, but capturing him there without being found out was nearly impossible.
He was currently unable to come up with a plan, but since he already planned to stay for a week, he could only wait and see if an opportunity came up. While he was thinking, the malnourished youth suddenly started coughing severely.
The latter felt Brendel’s gaze on him and said with a slightly apologetic smile: “I’m a little ill. If you feel uncomfortable, you can sit a little further away.”
Brendel was not worried. He had nearly 100 OZ worth of Physique and was literally invulnerable to sickness. He shook his head and retrieved a waterskin bag from his bag as he knew that the water within the mines was not for human consumption. The barrels that contained water was starting to smell foul.
“I have clean water here. Go ahead and drink it,” he said.
“Thank you.” The girl with a few freckles on her face accepted the waterskin bag under with the approval of her companion and looked at Brendel like he was an exotic animal.
[Why is she looking at me like that now? It’s just water…..]
Brendel naturally did not mind something so trivial when he came from a world where the necessities of life were freely available. But the backward world of Vaunte went with a different principle; the lowest social class mostly believed that the weak were prey to the strong. Not many would extend their hands to the weak.
But this act won a favorable impression from the two. It was clear that the ill-looking youth felt much better after drinking several mouthfuls of water. The silence continued for a while before the girl broke the silence between them.
“Mister, I heard that you’re quite amazing?”
Brendel blinked. The question sounded really strange. Still, he had not considered this question properly. Was he amazing or not? He compared himself earnestly with his former self at level 130, before shaking his head: “Hardly so……”
“‘Hardly so’ still means you’re impressive. I heard that the adventurer’s ranks are something about a metal rank, I assume mister is someone like that?” She asked.
“It’s Iron-ranked.” The youth beside her corrected.
Brendel glanced at them, unsure why they were interested. But the distribution of ranks was not a secret, and many commoners knew about it.
“I still lack by a hair’s breadth to reach that level,” Brendel said. He felt that someone of his age having an Iron-ranked status was too conspicuous. The Iron-ranked mercenaries under him were nearly thirty to forty years old.
The lower his profile was, the better it was for him in this camp, so he randomly replied.
“Mister, are all the mercenaries like you? At that…… Iron-ranked level?” The girl asked again.
“Of course not. I think your friend knows that adventurers possessing an Iron-rank are considered to be skilled. But why do you ask?”
Brendel was not lying. Hardly anyone would want to become an adventurer if their skills were higher than an Iron-rank. The rare exception was those who liked to travel everywhere like a nomad.
“We want to take a look at the outside world.” This time it was the youth who answered.
“To go on adventures?”
Brendel did not think it was a good decision, but he did not persuade them. From a certain point of view, this mining job truthfully looked like it was an awful one. Furthermore, he was also young enough to understand why they would feel this way.
[Hmm. That Maher fellow isn’t here now, and it seems like the two in front of me are less wary. Isn’t this a good time to get information from them? They have been in here longer than I have.]
“I heard rumors about the silver mines’ tunnels. Do they lead to the Jurgen Underworld?”
“I don’t know what that Jurgen Underworld is, mister,” the youth shook his head, “but there are tunnels which lead further down. The rumors say that no one has ever walked till the end of it, and people had gotten lost because of that.”
Brendel nodded inwardly. It seemed like Tagiv’s provided information was not wrong. He suddenly had a hazy idea to kill two birds with one stone, so he continued to ask: “That sounds very interesting, are there any related legends about them?”
The two people in front exchanged furtive glances, but it did not escape Brendel’s eyes. Since the two people in front of him knew he had other intentions in his mind, he started to lead them into a direction where it seemed like he came for the strange rumors like an adventurer.
“Of course there is,” the youth said and slowly nodded.
“Would you like to listen, mister?” The girl asked.
“Of course,” Brendel answered with a smile, “I can give you money for any interesting information you heard about the mines in detail……”