“Alright, your majesty, if we continue further, we will enter the dangerous region with no administration.”
We stood on the sand dunes and looked at the yellow sand ahead and behind us. Both areas looked the exact same. If Tarak didn’t stop I wouldn’t have known I entered such a dangerous place. But I guess it makes sense. People spoke of this place like it was dangerous as hell. The scene in front of me just looks like a huge collection of yellow sand though. This place looked the exact same as other places. There were no traces of blood or corpses. Not even a human silhouette was in sight.
This place is really disappointing…
Perhaps a good way to describe my feelings would be that I felt somewhat sad. I worked hard to prepare for this. If it looked like a war-zone with corpses lying around, I’d be celebrating. But now I feel like all my preparations were pointless and I felt lost. But then I looked at Tarak next to me who was very serious. It looks like this is the place.
I smiled and said: “This place doesn’t look any different to the outside.”
Tarak tugged on the rope and then sternly said: “Of course it is filled with sand. Everywhere is sand in the desert. We just have not seen people here yet. What makes this place dangerous is not that it is in the desert, because it is the same everywhere in the desert. The most dangerous thing in here is always those around you. But we are at the border right now so we cannot see the most dangerous place.”
I looked at the desert before me and then said: “Since we’ve come here, forget turning tail. Well, I never intended to anyway. Tarak, you know this place better so I’ll let you lead us.”
Tarak shook his head with a smile and replied: “While you say that, I could not find what you were after either, your majesty. Your majesty, I can only guide you to every campsite. Every campsite in the desert is very dangerous. Those are the places we can guarantee our safety from the sandstorms. The situation in the desert changes in the blink of an eye.”
“Uhm, but are we the only ones who know the campsites?”
Tarak shook his head and replied: “I can only say that that might not be the case. Those who can be here are all elites who know well how to survive in the desert. It would be preposterous for them not to know of the campsites. Of course, as we split up in this large region so we might not meet. Needless to say, fights may break out at night over campsites and then we would use our enemies’ corpses as pillows to sleep.”
“You sound experienced.”
“That is because I have done that before.”
Tarak replied casually. I looked at his eyes that didn’t have a grain of sand on them and chuckled. I really couldn’t tell he could do that sort of stuff. Perhaps he noticed my smile which is why he frowned and said, “Your majesty, killing people does not make one feel guilty. Or rather, human nature is meaningless when faced with life-or-death. I do not want to kill either, but if I do not kill, I will be the one who dies. As such, I must kill him and for the above reason, I will not feel guilty. That holds true even if I had to drink human blood because of that.”
I nodded. People will do anything to survive when faced with a life-or-death crisis. That’s human instinct. Actually, it’s the instinct of all creatures. Maybe everyone can get along during the day, but when night falls, they’ll definitely come into conflict to secure a resting place because nobody can say for sure what that person might do to them while they’re sleeping at night if they accept them into their camp. Hence, the best option was to kill all those you didn’t recognise.
It’s cruel and sounds very unreasonable, but this is an irrefutable truth. Nobody can be trusted in a place without constraints. Trust is spit-out chewing gum if there are no constraints in place. That goes for both animals and humans.
“Alright, let’s start heading to the place closest to our current location. I have searched that section before, but let us carpet-search the area as if we have never searched it.”
Tarak made an invitational hand gesture, then smiled as he said, “Your majesty, please do not be surprised by anything that happens next.”
“I understand, but Tarak, I have a question. Why is there no city in this area? This area is the intersection point between the five nations. If there was a city here, travelling would be more convenient and merchants would have a resting place. It should be a fantastic place for a business-oriented city.”
It’s not completely barren here. There’s an oasis inside this region. They just need to construct a city here. To be fair, this is a great place to build a city so why did this become an uninhabited region?
“This place was actually originally a city, It was close to the oasis. But that was a long time ago. There was a city here roughly around when the five nations of the desert were colonised. It was formed by immigrants and merchants. It was the most extravagant place in the desert at the time as well as the richest. All metals were transported from this city at the time. However, due to the environment as well as wars, the city got levelled and its citizens fled. That was when the five nations of the desert were built up.”
Tarak looked at the end of the desert, silently nodded and continued, “It is said that it was a magnificent city. It is also said that there was a large volume of metals and ores that did not get transported away in time. Of course, these are all legends. The ruins of the city are still there. Countless people searched it over and over for centuries but never found anything.”
“Oh?” I narrowed my eyes and continued, “I see how it is now. It makes sense. This place is excessively flat, making it easy to attack but hard to defend against attackers. That’s a reasonable enough reason to not build a city here. But I am very interested in the legend you mentioned.”
“That is why they are just legends, your majesty. A lot of time has also passed. Roughly a century if I had to say. Mm, definitely more than a century and no less for sure.”
Tarak waved his hand and then added: “It has been many years yet countless people come to try and strike it rich. But forget an ore, they could not even find traces of the ancient city. The greatest find was an incense burner from the ancient ages. That incense burner is still in Nara’s room. Therefore you need not go there and search, your majesty. It is a good place to take shelter from the winds though.”
“Hmm, alright. We’ll go there if we have a chance then.”
I pondered to myself for a while. I guess it’s only fair. It’s been so long already. If there was some secret treasure there, it would’ve been discovered ages ago. There’s no way nobody has discovered it till now. But then based on what Tarak said, we need to search places that have been searched before nonetheless given that we’ve already come all the way here.
In terms of priority though, let’s put it aside for now since it’s not the point closest to our current location. We’ll slowly move toward that direction and then go check it out if we have time.
“Everyone, prepare your weapons.”
After travelling for ten whole days, I finally gave that order.
We aren’t in a city now. We don’t even have Elizabeth’s protection. This is a primitive jungle with no rules, laws or constraints. There are no virtues or kindness here. The only useful things here are the guns on the soldiers’ backs and the swords in their hands!