Side Story: Sarah and Iria ③

In the western part of the Canaria Kingdom, there is a city called Berka.

It is a key defense point for the western border, boasting defenses so formidable — with high walls and deep moats — that they surpass those of Ishka.

This defense is not for preparations against other countries or humans. In fact, there is no human kingdom to the west of the Canaria Kingdom.

Then, what is Berka defending against with such a strong defense? It is to counter the desert demons that attack from the west.

The Catalan Desert, a domain of demons that is on par with the Titis Forest and the Skim Mountains.

Both the overall area and the types and total number of demons inhabiting it remain unknown.

Stepping into it unprepared, one risks becoming prey to the demons, being swallowed by quicksand, or perishing after losing one’s way in the vast sea of sand.

In the vast desert that even dragon knights with their flying ability couldn’t cross, various legends have been passed down since ancient times.

According to one legend, there is a golden empire protected by a barrier in the middle of the desert.

According to another legend, beyond the desert lies an ideal land overflowing with water, greenery, and mana.

Although many regard these as unsubstantiated rumors, the occasional discovery of objects believed to be linked to these legends lends them some credibility.

Examples include rose-shaped minerals that appear to have been carved by human hands and tangible nuggets of gold and silver.

Because of this, many people believe that there are large-scale gold and silver veins in the Catalan Desert. Additionally, while not related to legends, there have been cases where vast salt deposits were discovered by people who entered the desert.

In addition, there are various types of wealth in the Catalan Desert, such as fragrant oils and spices extracted from rare plants native to the desert, and crustaceans obtained from desert monsters. Such riches have attracted many people in the past and present, whether they seek to verify the truth of the legends or to strike it rich.

These people set foot in the dangerous desert even today, with their base of operations being the town of Berka.

After returning from Melte village to Ishka, my next destination was Berka. Although both towns were within the same Canaria Kingdom, they were so far apart that it took over half a month even by carriage.

The journey took more than twice as long as the carriage ride to Melte village. Personally, it felt even more distant than the Adoastera Empire.

Fortunately, having the Clau Soras as my means of transportation has greatly reduced the travel time.

Now, the reason I came to Berka was to obtain information about the Beast King Behemoth, which I briefly mentioned before. Its horn can be used as a catalyst for the magic that forms the barrier protecting the soil and water of the Canaria Kingdom from the poisonous Hydra’s venomous sea.

According to the Elf sage Lunamaria, the existence of Behemoth itself is often witnessed, and it is not a mythical beast. However, sightings are always deep within the Catalan Desert, with even the most skilled adventurers from Berka witnessing it only once or twice a year, if that.

By the way, I previously mentioned that Elgart, the guild master of Ishka, is one of the three first-class adventurers in the Canaria Kingdom. The remaining two first-class adventurers belong to the adventurer guild in Berka.

Furthermore, the top-ranked party at the Ishka Guild is only B-rank, and there are only three of them. However, in Berka, there are two A-rank parties and seven B-rank parties.

This shows the allure of Berka, where so many high-ranking adventurers are stationed. Of course, this also means that there is a proportional level of danger, and the frequency of desert monsters attacking has been increasing every year.

Therefore, the adventurer guild in Berka has set a quota for monster subjugation, and those who cannot clear it cannot receive preferential treatment for adventurers in Berka. Naturally, there are always new adventurers who push themselves too hard to achieve the quota and end up getting injured or killed, but the guild master’s belief is that even if they’re gone, there will always be plenty of new strong newcomers.

It seems that the Berka guild master has a considerably different philosophy from Elgart’s.

“Well, it doesn’t concern me since I’m not a member of the guild,” I muttered after finishing my information gathering and securing a room at one of the top-class inns in the city.

I didn’t plan to start over as an adventurer in this city. I only gathered guild information as part of my search for Behemoth’s whereabouts.

To avoid drawing attention, I also hid Clau Soras in the middle of the mountains along the way.

As I contemplated my future plans, there was a light knock on the door, and it opened to reveal Iria, wearing the white battle robe of a priest warrior.

Berka has a considerably large temple for the law god, and it is just as important as the adventurer guild in terms of maintaining the city’s security and defense. After hearing about this, I brought Iria with me to Berka.

As for the future plans, Iria will stay in Berka and collect information about Behemoth through both the temple and adventurer routes.

“How was it?”

“The last sighting was a year and a half ago. It’s a dubious story that they saw a shadow of a giant beast that could be tens of meters long beyond the sandstorm. Around the same time, there was also a story that they saw a huge tail disappearing behind the sand dunes.”

“I see. It doesn’t look like something we can find today or tomorrow.”

Iria nodded slightly at his words and sat down on a sofa a little away from me, clearly tense.

By the way, I only took one room. There are two beds, but there is no rule that I have to use both of them. I didn’t explain it to Iria in particular, but judging from her appearance, she seemed to guess why I brought only Iria with me.

I have been seeking revenge against Miroslav, and Lunamaria; leaving Iria untouched until now was solely out of consideration for Priestess Sarah. I thought I couldn’t seduce the mother if I laid a hand on the daughter, so I didn’t take action on Iria until today.

But now that he had shaken off his feelings for the priestess, he no longer had to hold back on his daughter. In fact, he felt more attached to Iria than ever. Instead of her mother, her daughter. It sounds awful even to me, but if I remember what happened when I was eaten by maggots in the king of flies’ nest, I can kick away any guilt like a pebble on the roadside.

In addition to the sins of the past, she also owes me a debt of gratitude for curing her of the incurable poison. I have no shortage of reasons to subdue the priestess warrior.

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