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180 Players Happening to Pass By

 It took two days to reach Codo Bosra from Lancaster-without transportation, that is.

Although winter had passed, thick snow still caked most areas and humpbeast hooves would easily be caught. It was difficult for horse carriages as well since they would slip frequently, not to mention that stiffening oneself and going out would be a third slower than usual.

But that wasn't a problem for departing out of the Lancaster Hideout: even during winter, Marni would often lead his merchant group on detours as he headed to Lancaster for trade.

That was why the Lancaster Hideout had many small modified sleds available for rent on cheap prices (but they are still mothballed and unused).

The matter of beast of burden was easily solved as well-many Player-domesticated creatures of all unusual forms roamed just outside the Unnamed Town, with most of them currently in the crossroads.

For one, setting them free felt like a waste on all the efforts spent on them.

And the owners certainly couldn't bear killing them for EXP after bonding with them.

That was why if any Players asked to use the creatures for normal tasks like pulling a sled, the owners would naturally happily give out the pet they don't need.

Hence, Simba and the children quickly spent what few game coins they have in exchange for three pets that resembled drooling huskies with ram horns growing over their heads, and a small sled that looked like it could break apart at any given moment.

While Simba was a little worried whether the sled could last long enough until they found Gwendolyn and the others, the man who had sold them the sled swore on his life that it was as sturdy as the boat which the God of Games provided in the Fishmen Island event.

The man, who had started his business selling bonepowder and chest armor was even willing to put his quote on a contract, signing it with Simba and the God of Games as his witness.

He really didn't look like he was lying, which was why the children decided to believe him.

With the contract signed, they put the reins over the three huskies and headed out for Codo Bosra.

***

The noblewoman had Gwendolyn in her arms as she ran over the snow with her handmaidens.

They were unprepared. The stagnant snow was slowly eating away at their body warmth with the lack of clothes that could stave off the cold, and slowing them gradually.

Moving in the snow required great stamina in the first place, which left them even slower.

That was when the cries of Blunt Rhinos could be heard from behind.

"Damn it, they're actually using a Lytai Blunt Rhino to hunt us in the snow?!"

The noblewoman immediately felt a chill in her heart.

The last two days felt like the gods were fooling around with her.

Oh, omnipotent Lyante, God of Light... if you could hear my prayer, please grant even the faintest of miracles and grant salvation upon your child!

And just as expected, nothing happened.

It was true that the gods would bestow Divine Grace upon their believers, but it was only a small selection of them who would receive such grand honor. The majority of believers could only watch them in their loftiness as they lived out their mortal lives.

And the noblewoman was one such mere mortal.

Though born a noble, she did not inherit any titles.

Once upon a time, she envied-even felt jealous-towards those Chosen Ones who were adopted by churches as children, hence living in their lofty status and looking down upon the rest of them. She dreamed of becoming a Chosen One herself as well, that the gods had been careless enough to forget about her.

Be that as it may, people grow up, and having understood that she was a mortal, normal life wasn't that hard to accept.

So why was this happening?

If... just if, there were a god in this world who treated every believer with kindness and grant them mercy...

How good would that be.

"Stop! You're not getting away!"

The Codo Bosra soldiers were shouting from behind, but the noblewoman did not stop.

An arrow shot out, brushing past her ear while a fiery sting flared over her cheek.

It probably scratched her.

Still, she did not stop.

The noblewoman knew she wouldn't make it, but she also knew that stopping meant that she would be caught and crushed by the despair she had forced herself to forget and dump from her mind.

"We've already killed those three brats in the name of the law! Though I don't know how their corpses vanished, I personally cut off their heads!"

The soldier behind could have been merely attempting to scare the noblewoman with the children's deaths, but the noblewoman's pace was messed with ever so slightly.

She had assumed that Simba and the others ran off in the opposite direction or simply surrendered, and never did she thought that they would fight to the death to buy time for their escape.

In that moment, she felt regret-she had behaved indifferently towards the children in their journey, because the presence of Baron Nigelania's murderer had left her uncertain.

Now that she thought about it, they were good children who had been caring for them all along, and it would have been nice if she showed a bit more concern towards them in return.

That was when she found her handmaidens looking determinedly at her.

"Milady, you must live on, and protect Young Lady."

"Wait!" The noblewoman knew what they were about to do and tried to stop them, but only managed a hoarse gasp.

Meanwhile, the handmaidens had already turned, rushing towards the city watch soldiers on the humpbeasts, bent on sacrificing themselves so that the noblewoman had the time to escape.

As a matter of fact, their swordplay was slightly more devastating than the children. However, not only were those skills demanding on a person's body, their limbs had already been frozen to the extent their blood circulation was stagnating.

Therefore, how much power would their skills even have?

In no time at all, they were overcome and subdued by the soldiers' sheer numbers.

However, they did not kill the handmaidens immediately-perhaps because the patrol captain wanted to have a little more spoil of war.

"For god's sake, refusing a toast? You'll only be forced to drink a forfeit!" The patrol captain cursed even as he commanded. "Shoot off that b*tch's legs! Anyone who hits her gets a reward!"

The archers were smiling even as they trained their bows.

That was when a sled rushed towards them from the flanks, knocking down several humpbeasts on the edge who in turn crashed into every other humpbeast and soldier, diverting their attention away from the escaping noblewoman.

"Who is it?!" The patrol captain struggled to calm the humpbeast beneath him while roaring at the sled that was hidden behind the cloud of snow that it just kicked up.

With his accomplishment almost within reach only to be so confoundingly stopped short by somebody else, the patrol captain was absolutely furious, feeling just like allowing a boiled duck fly off.

"Just some Players happening to pass by." Simba declared loudly, grinning at him after having snatched off the two battle maids off the back of the humpbeast. "Remember that."