A few hours later…
The smell of monster repellent reached the farthest depths of the valley. Because of its geography, things easily pooled in the valley: the same had happened to the magic essence flowing in from the forest. There weren’t any underground veins of magic nearby, but there was enough magic essence to call it a magic essence pool.
Crack of Dawn’s target, the Silver Golems, were “there” too.
The smell of monster repellent carried by the breeze…the intense smell, which marked the gryphon’s territory, had instilled fear in the two Silver Golems. Unlike logical fear, it was instinctual and primordial. It wasn’t something that could be easily suppressed.
Silver Golems, from a human standpoint, were very powerful magic beasts. Though, that only applied to humans. For a gryphon, they were opponents easily defeated one on one. Even if a gryphon had to face two at the same time, they just risked a few scratches.
Faced with the smell of a strong opponent, the golems reacted by instinct. Either we flee…or we fight to protect our territory. Based on their strength, the golems’ only option was to flee: they had no chance of winning.
They did not want to flee, though. That was the two golems’ final decision.
The valley had a rich silver mine and overflowed with magic essence: for the Silver Golems, it was the perfect homeground. Paradise, even. They wanted to avoid having to leave it, no matter what.
What else could they do, then?
The golems’ thinking was, in comparison with humans, rather childish.
If we can’t win by fighting normally, we have to create a situation in which we can win. That was their conclusion.
For the golems, increasing their battle power meant to increase their numbers.
This would be difficult to do in a normal location, but the current environment was more than ideal.
The silver necessary to create their bodies, the magic needed to animate them…both were abundantly available.
Until now, only two golems had been created, because there was no need for more.
The moment had finally come, though. The Silver Golem absorbed the magic essence in the atmosphere and split its core.
Golems increased their numbers by division: the split core absorbed silver and other materials and rebuilt its body. This ability was the reason why golems were said to be alchemy creatures based on slimes.
The two golems first became four…
Those four would then soon turn into eight…
How much will they able to reproduce before the gryphon’s attack…?
Will they have enough power to stand against the gryphon…?
The Silver Golems concentrated all their strength in increasing their numbers.
It was late night in the campsite near Aldon forest. Nostalgia’s members were sitting around the fire.
“He’s finally asleep.”
After a simple meal based on bread, dried meat and vegetables, they planned to turn in early to be ready for the next day.
They lit a fire to also serve as magic beast repellent. While they also boiled water, they wouldn’t prepare hot meals near a forest infested by magic beasts. If they cooked meat or prepared soup, the smell would surely attract them.
Roa’s gryphon-made monster repellent was probably effective, but it wasn’t worth taking risks just for the sake of a meal.
“How many times did he ask if it was really okay for him not to stand guard?”
“Like we’re going to have our employer stand guard for us!”
It was Roa, of course, who asked such a question so many times. While camping they would take turns standing guard, but their employer was not included in this shift, naturally. That too was a part of the escort mission, after all.
Because of his habits, however, Roa felt that it was his responsibility to do it. He felt vaguely guilty to go to sleep while others would stand guard for him: he was so persistent in asking about it that a bizarre situation ended up happening: adventurers on an escorting mission trying to convince their employer to go to sleep and let them work.
Nostalgia’s members couldn’t know, but while Roa was in Crack of Dawn night guard duty was always performed by him and the three servant beasts.
The servant beasts could stay awake for several days without trouble, and even if asleep they possessed enemy detection abilities far higher than human beings. Roa joined them to go wake up the other party members in case anything happened.
Roa didn’t stay up all night to stand guard, of course: after checking on the party’s items, he slept outside until it was time to prepare breakfast, wrapped in the servant beasts’ fur, so he could wake up as soon as they moved.
Sometimes he also asked the gryphon if there were any presences of magic beasts nearby: in case there weren’t, he took one of the magic wolves and went to gather herbs and materials to make some pocket money.
Even if accompanied by a servant beast, normally walking around in a forest at night was an insane idea, but Roa had absolute trust in the gryphon’s ability.
“So, what did you want to talk about?”
It was supposed to be Cornelia and Bernhart’s turn to stand guard, but they said they had something to talk about, so all Nostalgia members were awake and gathered, for a sort of meeting.
Until they were sure Roa was asleep, they held the meeting originally planned for the following day.
“….it’s about Roa….”
Cornelia started talking.
His movements weren’t bad, but as a swordsman he was a complete beginner. It didn’t look like he could only move like a beginner despite having received training, but that he was never taught anything. If he trained, maybe he wouldn’t be able to become a first-rate swordsman, but he could surely become a decent adventurer.
“There’s no point in saying that now, though. …I thought that you guys would probably notice when you’ll see how he moves in the forest, so I wanted to make sure you didn’t start telling him things or giving him training tips lightly. Roa just gave up on becoming an adventurer, so you’d just give him needless concerns”
Thus concluded Cornelia.
“….The same can be said for his magic. I think he’s rather talented, to be honest…his magic flow and structure were both smooth. With some training, he’d be able to use effective offensive spells…I can only think that no one in that could give proper magic teachings.”
Bernhart too gave his opinion, in a strained tone.
Roa was skilled enough in alchemy to create magic potions, so it was impossible for him not to have any talent for magic. He was focused on production, which only required low magic power, but alchemists were also magic specialists.
“The hero party’s magic user…is that fallen holy woman, the cleric, huh. I heard she was reinstated as holy woman candidate after they received the title of hero party, but she’s just horrible. Holy women also have to act as instructors in the church, right? If someone who can’t even teach a bit of magic gets that position, it’ll be a fine mess.”
Dietrich spoke unusually quietly, making sure Roa didn’t hear anything. His normal cheerful expression was also gone, as his brow was deeply wrinkled.
“She might have become a candidate again, but if she was discarded once I doubt she’ll really become a Holy Woman. Rumors say that she did something really bad and was thrown out of the church, with the pretext of “training”…”
Kristoff was the party’s intel specialist, so he actually knew what that “really bad” thing was, but chose not to say it. It would have just made the other members feel sick to their stomach.
“Looks like money and power are more important than talent or humane qualities in this country…I don’t think that’s impossible…”
“Rotten to the core.”
It might be another country for them, but such a corruption of authority was nevertheless unpleasant. The expressions of Nostalgia’s members were painfully dejected.
“This country looks down on people too much. Money and power are more important…Roa’s case is the same. Because of the master and disciple system, if you end up with someone who can’t teach your life is over? It’s just ridiculous. The disciple isn’t at fault at all!”
Dietrich did his utmost not to speak any louder.
In the kingdom of Perdu and throughout the continent, belonging to a guild was proof of being trustworthy, no matter the profession. Depending on the country, however, guild regulations varied wildly.
In this country, the master and disciple system was an absolute staple. There were rare exceptions, but it was a universal rule.
The Adventurers’ guild, differently from the Merchant or the Creator guilds, allowed anyone to become an adventurer, as long as they registered.
It was however necessary to join a party as an “All-Rounder”, become the disciple of one of the party members and to be recognized by them, otherwise you couldn’t form a party and take requests.
Exceptions were only adventurers who came from abroad, like Nostalgia, but they weren’t trusted very much because of the Adventurers’ guild’s closed mentality, so they had a rather difficult time in finding work.
One might think that if an All-Rounder ended with a master incapable of teaching, they could just become someone else’s disciple, but this was very difficult to do so in this country.
A disciple that left a master before being recognized as full-fledged was labeled as “discarded because of having no talent”, “spineless”, “ungrateful” and would not be accepted by any other masters, in most cases.
Even if they were accepted by someone, that master also risked damaging their reputation, as they had picked someone ungrateful.
This was the same for All-Rounders like Roa, who could not become anyone’s disciple and were discarded from their party…or rather, were treated even worse.
Furthermore, in this country if someone failed at their first job and tried switching to another they would be labeled in the same way, as “discarded because of having no talent”, “spineless” and “ungrateful”, which would make it very difficult to find another job.
People like Roa, who smoothly found another profession, were very rare. Or maybe Coralde was rare, since he hired Roa without any qualms. While he never gave them the favorable treatment Roa receives, Coralde had hired people in similar situations before, as long as they were talented.
“This country has been at peace for a long time, its population just continuing to increase. I guess they can afford to waste people.”
Cornelia was surprised by the sound that followed her comment, the sound of Dietrich’s teeth grinding.
Wow, he’s really angry…our boss really hates that kind of stuff after all…
Cornelia and Dietrich had known each other for a long time, so she knew his personality well. It didn’t match this country’s spirit at all.
They had come to this country, rich in magic beast forests, just to practice fighting against land-dwelling magic beasts. Now that they had learned enough, there was no point in continuing to bear such an unpleasant environment.
I guess it’s about time to go…
Cornelia thought this while reminiscing about their nostalgic homeland, where the sea breeze always blows.
<Looks like things are getting interesting.>
The gryphon noticed the unusual happening in Norfar valley and whispered.
Dawn was approaching, so the surroundings had started getting brighter, but the valley’s cold air had formed thick layers of fog. There was barely any visibility, just as if they were inside a cloud.
Since the twin magic wolves were playing around, excited by the fact that they could barely see their front paws, the gryphon sent them to practice inspecting the surroundings while they played.
Magic beasts had several tools at their disposal to learn about their surroundings.
In addition to sight, smell, hearing and the other senses humans and animals also had, they could let their magic power expand to inspect the surroundings.
The twin magic wolves tended to rely on their five senses, so the thick fog was the ideal situation to have them train their ability to inspect surroundings through magic power.
While instructing them in this activity the gryphon too expanded its detection field to the maximum, thus noticing the unusual situation.
<What’s wrong, gramps?>
The twin wolves got so close that their snouts were about to touch the gryphon’s face. They had to, or they couldn’t see it in the thick fog.
The gryphon deftly moved away its eagle-like face and grinned.
“Hehehe…rejoice, twins! You’ll be able to go all out for the first time in a long while. It will take these useless dolts another full day, but there is plenty of small fry awaiting!”
The gryphon started counting the number of presences it detected.
“…..56, 57, 58, fift….what!! They increased again! I was almost done counting and they increased again! They’re over 100 now…more than double than before!? This manner of increasing, this magic power…are they superior versions of slimes? No, maybe golems?”
To reach such a conclusion with so little information available was not possible for any monster.
<Silver Golems, right?>
The gryphon could only tell they were golems, but the twin wolves went as far as stating the magic beast’s name.
<Ngh!? How can you tell?>
<They said so!>
The twin wolves had been paying attention to Crack of Dawn’s conversations, so they knew that the expedition’s goal was to take down Silver Golems.
The gryphon had not the slightest intention to listen, so it didn’t know. A request undertaken by human adventurers would just involve magic beasts too weak to stimulate its interest, or so the gryphon thought. It always thought any enemy magic beasts could just provide good fodder for the twins.
The gryphon looked away from the twins, awkwardly.
<Silver Golems, I see….interesting. I do not know since when they have been multiplying, but as long as they can feed on magic power, they can continue forever. They already number more than 100, so with the right conditions they might even exceed one thousand!>
The gryphon tried to quickly change the topic, but its prediction was correct.
The Silver Golems, fearing the gryphon’s smell, continued doubling their numbers as quickly as possible. They had just reached 128 units.
If they kept increasing at this pace, the following day -when Crack of Dawn was expected to reach its destination- they would reach over 1000. As long as the silver needed to build their bodies was available.
<It’s about time for you twins to practice magic attacks, right? We have the right targets here. You can fight at full power!>
The twins ran around in the fog, as happy as could be.
The thick fog made it impossible to see anything, but they had started getting used at perceiving the surroundings via magic power, so they didn’t bump into anything.
The joy of being allowed to use magic attacks made them unable to stay still.
The twins were high-rank elemental magic wolves, “Fire Magic Wolf” Skoll and “Ice Magic Wolf” Hati. They were unique species, twins born from the same parent, “Great Magic Wolf” Fenrir.
They were still young and had not yet had a chance to fight against magic beasts that could let them unleash their full power, so the members of Crack of Dawn and the Adventurers’ Guild only considered them to be magic wolf pups with an unusual fur color. Their actual power, however, was quite terrifying.
Unlike normal magic wolves, they could use elemental magic. The ability to use magic was very rare among magic wolves; their parent, Fenrir, had learned to use wind magic over time: in its younger days, it was an average magic wolf. Its children were supposed to be normal magic wolves too.
The twins could use magic mostly because they were unique magic wolf units, but even so their learning speed was incredibly fast, thanks to the gryphon, which had taught them as a way to kill time.
The gryphon also taught them to fight cooperating with each other, so even without using magic they boasted very high skill in battle.
<Hehehehe…if they grow over one thousand, they’ll be enough to train the twins and also let me play for a while! Hehehe…the brat isn’t around this time, so I can enjoy myself without worrying about anyone! Hehehe…..>
The recent events had caused stress to both the gryphon and the twins: thanks to this very convenient chance to release their stress, they were all in very high spirits.
The twins were running around in a frenzy, while the gryphon muttered to himself in words incomprehensible to humans, his expression stuck in a grin. Though they expressed themselves differently, their joy was the same.