303 townward

 The cart driven by Krull is heading towards the entrance of the forest. The light is much brighter than it was yesterday.
 The occasional rustling of the undergrowth was probably the result of small animals fed up with the long rain. I kept my eyes open on the road, just in case, but I could see deer in the distance.
 After a while, the wolves must have started to wander around to fill their empty stomachs. Then the forest would return to its normal state.
 I couldn't help but let out a chuckle at our situation, which was the complete opposite of that.

"What's wrong?

 Deanna calls out to me, seeing my condition. I shake my head.

No, it's nothing. We're in such dire straits, and the forest is going back to normal. I feel kind of left out.

 Technically, the ground is still muddy. The ground is still muddy, technically, but other than that, the forest is almost back to normal.

It's not your fault. It's not your fault, is it?
That's true, but ......

 It's true that I'm not the direct cause of this. I'm sure you'll be able to figure out the best way to make the most of your time here. It's almost like a match pump when you think about it.
 However, I am also sure that this is happening because of my own products, and that is something that I can't get over.

 However, I guess we have to accept that it happened already. There was no way to prevent it.
 The only thing we can do is to "keep all the products out of the public domain", but this is not realistic. It's already out there.
 I said a few words like that to Deanna, and pulled my attention back to my surroundings.

 The muddy road didn't slow down Krull and the cart as much as I had feared, and we approached the entrance to the forest at a slightly slower pace than usual.
 I'm sure that whoever is leading the raid knows that this area is suspicious. If we were to stand guard, our large size would make us stand out. And we're carrying a running dragon, not a horse.

What should we do?

 "What do we do?" said Rike, looking back from the platform. We've got four choices.
 We can continue at our usual speed, slow down and be more cautious than usual, or we can speed up and run through. The last one is to stop here and send out scouts.
 Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages, but we don't want to stand out any more than we did when we came out of the Kuro Forest.

We'll go at our usual speed. Deanna and Helen, stay alert.
Yeah, I got it.

 Rieke nodded at my words and took control of the reins. Krull followed and walked on as usual.
 I, Deanna and Helen looked around. Lucy peeked out of the back of the truck and sniffed, so she might be helping us.

 Despite our caution, there was nothing to see when we left the forest. Just the usual plains bathed in sunlight.
 We headed straight out onto the road. We were relieved for a moment, but it would be dangerous if we were targeted there. We pulled ourselves together and proceeded down the road at a faster speed than usual.

 We were wondering when we would be attacked from the plains, but eventually the outer walls of the city came into view. I felt myself slackening again, but I wouldn't be able to relax until I reached the entrance.


 I called out, and Helen came close to my face. I'm sure she won't hear me, but I don't feel obliged to tell her in all honesty that I'm checking her out in a loud voice.

Where's the back?
No one.
That's a quick answer.
That's the kind of thing I'm good at. I know what to look for.
I see.

 A professional mercenary's seal of approval. Now we just have to be patient until the guards come into view.
 I regained my composure and looked around again.