TL: Just when you thought the cliffhanger was bad, here’s the insert chapter that makes it cliff-extreme.
Edit: It’s going to be a pretty jerkish move to stop TAS at its highlight. I’ll be translating the last challenge till it’s over (which I will post less chapters instead in Jan). Err, probably wait a day or so.
So, when’s the next chapter? Well, excluding future sponsored chapters, Jan 1, 2018. If I’m not wrong, the final challenge ends around 4 chapters later, just in case anyone wants to donate to get the next chapter (you will just find yourself in another cliff). Might want to wait instead unless you just want to support regardless, cough. I’ve updated the widget on the right accordingly.
For the people in my patreon, I’m going to put in a post detailing certain things regarding the recent arc in a day or so, and you might want to at least read that post when it comes.
Chapter 71 – King of the underground (22)
================= Odum’s POV ===================
A girl’s yelp of pain echoed throughout a dark tunnel, and the dwarf who had just crawled out at the end of it had to turn back his head again. He saw Romaine clutching her forehead with tearful eyes as she tried to make her way out.
“What’s wrong?” The old dwarf patted the merchant girl’s left hand and saw that her pale forehead had a red patch on it.
His eyes bulged and exclaimed with exasperation: “Why did you knock yourself again? Didn’t I tell you that this tunnel was dug for my own personal use? It’s definitely going to be a low ceiling for you, so you need to be careful about how you move about!”
“But you didn’t warn me again after that.” Little Romaine clutched her head, complaining and muttering with a frown.
“Lass, this doesn’t need to be reminded all the time!” The dwarf sighed and lent a hand to pull her out from the pits, “Alright, how is it, do you still feel pain, girl?”
“Of course it hurts!” Came the reply without any hesitation.
“Well, you must hold it in even if it hurts. If we dwarves stubbed our toe on a sheet of metal, we wouldn’t even make a sound.” Odum went close to the forest’s edge as he spoke and looked down. The road to the mines was just below them. “Alright, we’re pretty much in the Silver Mines now. Quickly now, wear your bandana!”
But Romaine was apparently more interested in his earlier words.
“Is it really true?” She stared back with big round eyes as the dwarf made his way back to her: “Even if you stubbed your toe, you wouldn’t make a sound?”
“Of course.” The old dwarf clearly saw that the little girl did not believe him. He glared and yelled angrily at her: “Lass! I’m an old dwarf whose beard is longer than your hair. Do you think I’m lying!”
He watched Romaine flip open her bag and search it with great interest. Soon enough, she brought out a flat object that was black in color.
And his jaw soon unlodged itself and hung loosely.
“What is that?” Odum said with great suspicion.
“A metal plate!”
“What are you doing with it?”
“Testing if it’s true?” The merchant replied curiously with innocent eyes.
“Get! Why would a dwarf do such a ridiculous thing!” His expression immediately changed: “Lass, why do you even have this thing in your bag to begin with!”
Her reaction made him blink in an odd manner.
The merchant girl was tilting her head with a large smile, with her long finger moving across her face repeatedly as she spoke smugly: “Shame on you, you’re bragging! My aunt didn’t lie to me. She said dwarves love to brag!”
“What did you say!” Odum’s temper flared up and he raised his fist. But he suddenly remembered that she was a young girl and he had lived a long life. He could not possibly beat her up or her aunt, for that matter. In the end, he coughed and reluctantly let it go. “Let me tell you, little girl, only witches would make that claim!”
Odum did not know he had hit the nail on the head.
He thought for a moment and decided he had to at least maintain his dignity: “The reason for not trying is there’s no need to. Also, we’re in the mines and we sneaked in here. It would be bad if we get discovered just because we made a bunch of noises!”
“Of course! Lass, do you think a dwarf in my position would lie to you? I’m different from those cunning humans!”
But before he could finish his words, he heard a yell that came from the forest:
“Who’s inside there?”
The old dwarf’s words were silenced. He turned his head back stiffly to peek out from the bushes and instantly discovered a group of patrolling riders. He did not know when they appeared exactly, but evidently, the loud exchange between Romaine and himself had caused them to be discovered.
“Oh, this is bad.” Odum frowned and placed a finger to his lips: “Don’t speak, got it?”
He emphasized his words as he was afraid that she would cause trouble.
But the girl nodded obediently like she understood, though she stared at her surroundings looking a little excited.
The two trespassers whispered amongst themselves, but that did not mean that the people out there had failed to overhear their mumblings.
“The people who are inside the forest, stop hiding and come out right now. We definitely saw you.” The commander signaled to his men. They untied their guns below their saddle and took them out, and he waved his own threateningly: “If you don’t come out, we’re going to attack.”
Romaine immediately cast her gaze back at the dwarf. Even though she had a weak sense of social interactions, she traveled enough with Brendel to know the knights were not giving out empty threats.
‘What should we do next?’ — said her eyes.
The dwarf did not need her reminder. He immediately stood up from the bushes in a hurry and raised his hands: “Captain Mordel, it’s me, don’t shoot!”
The captain of the riders was slightly taken by surprise but he quickly lowered his gun: “Odum, so it’s you, old fellow. You’re sneaking in again. Well, Lord Perkins is asking for you,” he suddenly glanced at Romaine and asked puzzledly, “who’s this?”
“….. She’s one of my relatives.” The old dwarf’s skin was nearly not thick enough to spit out this lie without blushing, but he had no choice to give a shoddy excuse for this unexpected encounter. “What does Perkins want me for?”
“Your relative?” The riders immediately ‘understood’ and some of them even made fun of him, “oh, I didn’t know you had a daughter—”
“Cut out your prattling!” Mordel quickly interrupted his men. “Something has happened to the mines, and Ser Kodan has gone in to check it. Lord Perkins wants you to help out—”
There was clearly not much respect in the riders’ tone when it came to Perkins.
Odum snorted through his nose.
“What exactly happened in the mines?”
“It seems like someone has dug into the pits again. Monsters came out and injured the miners. I have to thank Mother Marsha later. Today’s not my duty to guard the mines—” Mordel clearly did not have the disposition of a military officer, and appeared to be even relieved. “And the events are just like what you have probably experienced. There’s an earthquake, and it’s a real mess inside the mines.”
The dwarf’s heart skipped a beat when he heard the heart of the mines were dug through again. But the news of the earthquakes and monsters made him turn his focus on that aspect. “An earthquake? Are the tunnels preserved? Hmm, the emergency tunnels A4, A12, B3, are they still usable? And how about the lifts?”
Odum knew the mines like the back of his hand. He immediately asked about the stable tunnels that would lead to the fifth level.
“I’m not sure,” Mordel shook his head, “I don’t dare to go in right now. You can try asking information about it from the guards there, but old fellow, you can’t be serious about going in. You must think carefully. There are monsters below, and there’s no need to work so hard by putting your on the line for that ‘Lord Perkins’, right?”
“Hmph. What would you know?” The dwarf answered grumpily.
“Fine, fine, then I wish that you will croak faster, old man,” he leered at Romaine, “Don’t worry, I’ll help take care of your relative—”
“Fuck off!” Odum roared in fury.
The riders laughed and started moving away.
The dwarf turned back to Romaine with apologetic grumblings, but he quickly lost his ability to maintain his dignity. Romaine was looking at him with curiosity and repressed laughter.
“Well, it’s not really very important—” Romaine nodded earnestly, “I won’t laugh or look down on you for bragging about how respected you are on the way here!”
Odum was immediately rooted to the spot and felt like his reputation was ruined.