“Our destination is the ruins of Sable Radiance’s Palace. According to the information I was given, we just have to head north but I’m not sure how far we have to travel.” I could tell that this salamander wasn’t going to harm us at all. Thus, I happily told it our destination without any reservation whatsoever: “Based on the fact that we encountered that golem, I dare say that we are nearing our destination.”
“So you’re saying that your destination is close by?” The salamander paused for a second before adding: “That’s your guess?”
“That’s right, if something as monstrous as that golem has even appeared, I doubt the palace will be much further away.” At that, I gave that golem’s head, which was half as tall as I was, a swift kick and then I smiled: “Where else would you find such a powerful golem other than the palace, they can’t be that common, right?”
“Long ago when I was still young, my elders mentioned that golems were hidden throughout these lands and they weren’t in the minority either. When you least expected it, one could ambush you.” Her reptilian face darkened. “Moreover, it’s really hard to find food here or perhaps it’s simply because there are so many golems here that the majority of the creatures ended up getting expelled, leaving behind those who possess some sort of unique ability. Are you sure this is really the place you’re looking for?”
“It should be right, Princess Meisian was the one who told us to head north some time ago and that’s what we’ve been doing all this while. Even if my instincts were wrong, we still have to pass by this area anyway.”
“So you’re fine with putting your life in danger?” She gave me a confused look. “Just like with that golem, if I hadn’t followed you all…”
‘If she hadn’t followed us, I would probably be dead by now. But should I really give up my long held goal just because of that? I still want to see Nicole, to see Roscar. Also, how are Numila and the others doing in Abaddon? But if I don’t visit the palace, will I be stuck in this god forsaken place forever? No…I must go, I want to return to the human world, I want to find Numila and the others. Yi Yi too; that fallen angel who even gave me a second chance at life by sending me to the Blood Sea…I should at least thank her personally…and talk about our marriage at the same time…ahem…I mean if I’m marrying her, won’t Nicole be as…’
‘Crap…I’ve gone off the rails again…’
“Are you all right?”
“I’m fine but if you’re trying to persuade me to give up, stop. No matter what, my feet will never stop.” I knew she meant well by trying to stop me but I had too many considerations to back down now. Besides, I didn’t want to be stuck here forever either. Thus, I resolutely shook my head and said: “I want to leave, there are too many people waiting for me elsewhere and I want to see them again. Even if I die while trying, that’s fine…but no matter what, I’m not spending the rest of my life as a coward in this forsaken place…to me, both outcomes are just as bad.”
“Is that so…” She fell silent. During this period of silence, neither of us spoke. I was busy recovering while she…well, I had no way of telling what she was thinking now but either way, none of us was planning to break this silence yet. Ten seconds later, the salamander finally spoke up once more: “Travelling northward in this injured condition of yours, and with this level of combat strength…that’s just too risky…”
“Huh? So what you’re saying is…”
Even though I had only heard the initial half of what she was trying to say, I could basically guess what came next… ‘don’t tell me she wants to accompany us…’
“I’ll travel with you all then, since you’re so dead set on continuing.”
“…you want to follow us northwards? Didn’t you just say that it is dangerous…why accompany us?”
Truth be told, her offer was a pleasant surprise for me. Given our current level, proceeding forward would most likely result in our…death, even if we did our best to avoid those golems. How long could we avoid those golems and how many were there exactly? No one know. Thus, this entire endeavor was nothing but a suicide mission unless I found somewhere to train first. Naturally, that was out of the question as it would take too long.
Yet lo and behold, a salamander actually offered her aid…
“That’s right.” She nodded.
“Because we helped you in the past?”
“You can say that.” As she said that, she flicked her head to the side in a display of feigned aloofness that honestly…was a little hard for me watch.
“What…what about your children?”
At that, I got as firm an answer as you could possibly give, as if this was only to be expected. “Whether or not the children can live is their own business. As a mother, my only job is to give birth to them.”
“…that’s some personality, I gotta say…” How else was I to react then?
“Personality?” The salamander shook her head. “This is the way of our race.”
“Alright then, I won’t tsukkomi that anymore…”
“Tsukkomi? What’s that?”
“…it’s nothing, pay no attention to it…ahem…come, let’s have a round of introductions then, we’re all companions from now on after all.”
After a round of introductions, we roughly had an idea of this giant salamander. Her name was Nola, a Six-stars that was almost at the level of a Seven-stars. Because of her pregnancy, her level dropped rather drastically but at least it was still within the band of Six-stars.
‘Speaking of pregnancy, what about her husband?’
The answer I got then was this: “Unlike the other races, we don’t marry.”
“Because we’re hermaphrodites.”
‘So they are all futas then?’
Speechless, I didn’t know what to say except: “…you salamanders are really quite special.”
“Special? How so?” Nola gave me a puzzled look and said: “Honestly, I feel you devils are the strange ones instead. Why must you have two separate genders and even mate to give birth, isn’t that just annoying?”
‘Annoying…so a little piston action is too troublesome for you? Don’t you know that the key to a healthy lifestyle is exercise? Also, isn’t it the norm to have two genders. Anyway, you futas are the weird ones here…’
Just like that, Nola joined our merry band in our concerted push for the palace. With her addition, our progress picked up considerably. From time to time, we would meet some golems but they were all taken care of by Nola.
Naturally, No.3, Big 4, Sinmosa and Sasani were a part of the fight as well, as the supporting role…unlike the main role they played not too long ago. For the most part, No.3 and Big 4 weren’t upset by this relegation to the second string though No.3 was a little concerned at first about Nola’s motives.
He came up to me to discuss this concern but I rebuffed him by asking: “What do we have that’s worth stealing anyway?”
Truly, we were downright broke right now. The only thing we had that was worth mentioning was Shadowfang but that was clearly unsuitable for Nola’s body shape… After giving it some thought, No.3 finally shook his head and said: “Nothing.”
‘Speaking of which, why was she following us if we had nothing then? I guess it’s because she wanted to repay the mercy we showed her but for a creature of Purgatory to act like that is a little unexpected…’