"Lady Linette, we have covered quite a fair bit of distance tonight," Captain Rhys informed before making a request, "Please permit us to take a short break before continuing the journey."
"I will allow it," Linette gave a brief glance at Vaan before she agreed with the escort captain's request.
Although Vaan was surveying the region and didn't face Linette directly, he sensed her short stare and felt she had other intentions for her agreement.
His lips slightly curved into a smile.
"Thank you, my Lady." Captain Rhys saluted with appreciation before returning to his men.
Not long after the Earth Salamander paused its large steps, Captain Rhys and the rest of the escort group surveyed the nearby area before picking out the most suitable rock pillar for their rest.
The two wagons of goods were left at the bottom before the escort group hurled their grappling hooks over the rock pillar and began their climb.
After Linette unsummoned her familiar, she used a simple wind spell to fly onto the top of the rock pillar with Lillias on her back.
Shortly after, she glanced down at Vaan on the bottom before asking, "Do you need a hand to get up?"
"No, my Lady." Vaan shook his head and replied, "I'll be fine getting up on my own, but thank you for offering."
Nevertheless, Vaan did not scale the rock pillar immediately.
He made his way over to Captain Rhys by the wagons before tapping him on the shoulder to catch his attention.
"Hm? You need something from me?" Captain Rhys asked.
"No, rather I have something to give you." Vaan picked out one of his small pouches before passing it over to the escort captain. "The odorless powder inside this pouch is capable of erasing any smell by sprinkling some of its over the target."
"Seriously?" Captain Rhys accepted the pouch with surprise.
"Yes, I have no reason to be pulling a prank on you." Vaan casually nodded and said, "And I'm sure that you know what to do with it."
"Of course! If this works exactly as you say, then this is some quality stuff. We'll be able to save some energy with this! Let me test it right away!" Captain Rhys said with amazement.
He began calling the young warriors back down from the rock pillar before they pitched up a small camp around it and covered everything with bushes, dry branches, leaves, and dirt, whatever they could find in the area to mask their location.
Two Hellhounds attacked them during the setup, but after Captain Rhys sprinkled the powder around the small, fifteen minutes quickly passed without another attack.
"Hahaha, this is some amazing stuff, Vaan! No wonder why you were confident in traveling alone!" Captain Rhys exclaimed with hearty laughter as he roughly patted Vaan on the back.
Vaan's expression slightly grimaced with each rough pat.
Rough pats from a Rank 2 Aura Master were painful, to say the least, but it wasn't at a level he couldn't endure.
"Where did you get something like this?"
"I made it myself."
Vaan was casual with his answer, but it only made Captain Rhys even more astonished after hearing it.
"For real? Just how talented are you? I've almost forgotten how long it's been since I've met another man with your level of knowledge," Captain Rhys commented with praise.
While it appeared that Vaan was talented in multiple fields, it all stemmed from the cultivation of knowledge.
Nevertheless, it was true that there weren't many educated and knowledgeable men in the vicinity of the seven witch kingdoms.
"Well, I can't say that's surprising," Vaan smiled lightly and said, "While the Kingdom of Black Rose doesn't have any laws that forbid men from studying, their statuses don't really give them easy access to books for them to learn either."
All texts with knowledge have been deemed sacred since the emergence of witches and locked behind libraries to protect them.
After all, the cumulation of knowledge was vital to a witch's accomplishment in magic.
"That's true." Captain Rhys agreed with a nod and added, "The status of men is very low in the territory of the seven witch kingdoms. It's not easy to gain access to books without good connections."
As the two chatted for some time, Vaan noticed Captain Rhys had something on his mind.
It was not difficult for him to guess that it had something to do with the odorless powder's production method.
Captain Rhys couldn't find the right moment to ask and eventually lost his opportunity to ask when Lady Linette suddenly called for Vaan.
"Vaan, if you don't mind, I would like to continue our discussion. I'm very interested in exchanging knowledge with a learned man like you," the person spoke from the top of the rock pillar.
"Of course, my Lady. It would be my pleasure," Vaan answered before informing Captain Rhys of his leave. "Since the lady calls, I shouldn't keep her waiting."
"Un, go on." Captain Rhys nodded.
However, his disappointment was clear.
Vaan smiled and decided to leave some parting words for the escort captain to ponder on.
"The production of odorless powder does not require a high degree of mastery in alchemy, nor is its recipe overly complicated and demanding. If you can recall all the information recorded on Horned Rabbits in the Beast Encyclopedia, it shouldn't be hard to come up with a basic product."
"Horned Rabbits… Beast Encyclopedia…" Captain Rhys muttered before his eyes brightened and offered Vaan his sincere thanks. "I have benefited greatly from your generous words. Thank you, Vaan."
Vaan casually waved his hand at Captain Rhys without looking back.
The northern half of the Blackmoon Region was the Dark Hellhound's habitat, but they were not the only beasts to roam the area.
Rock Worms and Horned Rabbits also lived in the area, but they were never on Vaan's list of concerns.
They were simply not a threat.
Even without the Beast Encyclopedia, the Steelguard Escort Group should have a great understanding of the beasts that lived in the Blackmoon Region.
On the rock pillar, Vaan noticed Linette's personal tent had been set up, occupying most of the space.
The lady had been waiting for him by the edge.
Vaan smiled before inquiring politely, "What would you like to talk about, my Lady?"
"That… Actually, I would like you to continue from where we left off inside my tent," Linette requested with a slight blush.
However, that slight blush quickly turned into a crimson flush, and her heart palpitated nervously with anxiety and anticipation.
She wasn't normally like this.
Nevertheless, her meaning couldn't have been clearer as Vaan understood where she was heading with her request.
"Of course, my Lady. With honor," Vaan lowered his head with a gentlemanly bow, hiding his wide smile from Linette's point of view.
It had been one of his objectives on the trip.
He wasn't going to waste the opportunity to improve himself and build a closer connection with someone heading in the direction of the kingdom's capital.
'No rest for the wicked, huh?' Vaan silently mused.