I seriously can’t say for certain. This place isn’t a mountain range or a forest. This place is a continuous path of dunes and sandstorms that come as the wind dictates. There was nothing here that could be examined. Furthermore, I’m clueless to how this sort of mine is distributed around in this world so I just looked at the desert blankly. Like an idiot, I watched Lorana and Tarak struggled through the desert on foot. They had dismounted to examine the sand under foot and would look up every now and then to see the dunes rise and fall. They also occasionally used a very long bit of metal to stab into the ground. I stood aside, afraid I’d get in the way of our two leaders.
I didn’t have a clue as to what the two of them were doing, but I assumed it was the method for locating the metal. I’m just going to trust the two of them.
Since the two of them had dismounted to walk, our team’s speed slowed down significantly. I sent out a sufficient number of scouts, and organised guards to watch our back, front, left and right sides as per Lorana’s instructions. There’s nowhere to hide in the desert. As long as it’s another team, we’ll be able to instantly see them.
At the same time, it will be just as easy to discover us so we must locate others before they can locate us. Therefore, if we discover them, we need to take them out first instead of conversing with them. As they say, a long night is fraught with dreams. They might stick one in our back before we know it.
All the teams here have their own backers. They aren’t just here to fight for the mine. A better way to put it would be that several powers are playing a death game here; teams killing other teams for the sake of their power. The employer who hired the team are benefitting from it. And no nation can do anything if you kill their people in this area with no administration.
That’s why there won’t be any peace talks or alliances. This is basically a killing field, a place where you need to kill every living person you meet.
After walking for some distance, the two of them mounted their steeds again. I rode over to their sides and asked, “How is it?”
The two of them shook their heads and replied, “No discoveries, your majesty. Though we knew this already, it feels unfortunate to have to say it again. Very unfortunate we would say. Your majesty, let us head to another spot. We will not need to search this area again…… However, we found traces others left behind here which prove that people had searched this area already.”
I nodded. I looked at them and responded, “That’s all right. If it could be found on the first attempt, it wouldn’t attract so many people here. But you said that you noticed traces of others being here before. So does that mean that it’s very likely that there’s a team up ahead of us or maybe even several teams?”
Tarak nodded and replied, “I cannot say for sure, but there are definitely people ahead. Your majesty, the scouts you sent out have not come back to report in. It might be traces left behind several days ago for all we know. Shall we try to chase them and kill them?”
I nodded with a bit of concern. It’s not good news that there’s a team in front of us because if we’re not very far apart, the resting place we choose for tonight will definitely be the same spot. In other words, a bloody battle will break out for the resting spot.
What shall I do? Shall we continue searching at this pace or should we rush straight to the rest station to set up a defence line so that we have the advantage of choosing the time and place for battle?
Killing them won’t benefit my search for the mine in any way. At most, it’ll only count as just eliminating one competing team. They currently don’t affect my progress much either. If I covet speed, I could just split my team up to search.
“Don’t worry about them. Their lives have nothing to do with us. We came here for the mine. Let’s stick to the plan and search the areas instead. Whether they live or die doesn’t conflict with our objective.”
The two of them nodded and then our team continued forward. To increase our chances of locating it, I split the entire region into sixteen sections and searched two sections per day. So we could basically complete our search in the entire region in around eight days. However, if the region is too big, I will still have enough time.
I’ve only got ten days left. If we don’t make progress these next ten days, I’ll need Luna to help me suck my mana out for me. While Luna said she could withstand the pain, Luna can’t keep up with Mommy Vyvyan’s pace. When Luna sucks my mana out, I still feel weak the entire next day. It’d be all right if I was in the royal capital, but if I’m in my weakened state in the desert, there’s no way we can travel fast. As a result, we must locate the mine within ten days. Otherwise I’ll have to stay another three days in the desert.
Even if I were to replenish our supplies one more time and make use of the Earth Dragon carriages – which have lots of storage place – my supplies would still only last around fifteen days in the desert. The Earth Dragons are excellent at pulling carriages. However, they require far more rations and water than horses. They’re not creatures that live in the desert after all. It’s ridiculous to ask them to perform like camels.
I spun my head around and saw Luna wobble. From atop her horse, Luna shook her head and looked at me with a sick look. It was the first time I saw Luna’s condition look so poor. She squint her eyes. Her cheeks weren’t red due to heat stroke. Her face was white as a sheet as though she didn’t have a drop of blood in her. She couldn’t open her eyes because she was exhausted. Shusia who was keeping her steady turned pale from shock. She thought Luna who was leaning on her was just tired. She never realised Luna was in such a poor state.
“Luna! What’s wrong, Luna?!”
Lorana moved quicker than I did. She rushed over to Luna’s side and looked at her face. Lorana wore a particularly grim expression. She removed Luna’s cape and then carried her up. Luna lied lifelessly in Lorana’s arms like a corpse. Lorana carried her into an Earth Dragon carriage and then looked at me who ran after them. She took in a big breath and said, “Your majesty, I think this will be tough on you.”
I looked at Luna breathing weakly inside the Earth Dragon carriage. In a panicked tone I asked, “My help is needed?! I’ll do anything as long as I can save Luna. I have new orders. Everyone march to the rest station as fast as you can and then set up a defence line! Big sis, how is Luna?!”
“Luna didn’t get heat stroke. She’s suffering from mana deficiency…… Her organs have been damaged which is why it’s difficult for her body to produce mana. There’s very little mana availability in the desert so that’s why she’s suffering from this sort of condition. This is a terminal disease for elves!”
“That’s right, your majesty. When we arrive at the rest stop, please make sure you get intimate with Luna. You must if you want her to live!”