<Nngh…I prepared a situation like this and you run up and slash them head on? Don’t you see you ruined everything!? It would be different with a blunt weapon, but slashing a snail doesn’t do anything! You’ll just damage your sword, won’t you? Are you stupid? You are, aren’t you? Silver is indeed softer than iron, but…no, that’s not the issue here, is it? Some swordsmen can cut metals with iron….but we’re talking about masters! Does that blowhard believe he’s a master swordsman?>
The gryphon was surprised to see Stefan slash the golems head on. In a completely negative way, of course.
Stefan’s slash did damage the golem’s chest, but nothing more. The core hidden deep inside the beast’s chest was still untouched.
<Look, now the snail revived out of anger! And I was even merciful enough to pick two weakened ones! What did you go and give it energy for? What’s the big lug even doing? That other snail is still weakened, what’s the point of fighting it? Let the scrawny fool or the barking mouth keep it occupied, then finish it off later!>
The gryphon was absorbed in the fight, for all the wrong reasons.
<Gaaah, enough!! I can’t bear to watch any longer! I’ll go back to thinking about interesting things! Hmm…Sigmund…Mordred…Siegfried…Patroclus…no, that doesn’t tell me much…Aramazd…Verethragna…it’s hard to think about cool, grand-sounding names…>
In the end, the gryphon ignored Crack of Dawn’s battle and lost itself in tangential thoughts.
The gryphon’s plan of “Surprise the sleeping Crack of Dawn members with a horde of invading golems!” was in action. During the execution, it had heard something “very interesting”, so it sometimes thought about it, grinning to itself.
The twin wolves were enjoying their golem hunt beyond the wind wall. They jumped and leaped, rushed and ran, knocking out golem after golem. When they met the gryphon’s eyes, they gleefully waved their paws.
The twins did not use their claws and fangs, just their four limbs as weapons. Similar to when they were running on the cliffs in the depths of the valley, they emitted cold and heat from their paws to instantly freeze or scorch whatever they touched.
Silver is a good conductor. The cold and heat quickly penetrated into the golems’ bodies, freezing them or making them boil. With precise aim, destroying a golem’s core was very simple. The wolves were like their natural enemies.
Truthfully speaking, the twins did not destroy the golems’ cores right away, but played with them by crushing them part by part to enjoy a longer hunt.
The golems had increased their numbers to defeat the gryphon, but were being annihilated by two magic wolves without being able to attack it even once…it was a nightmare.
The shout made the gryphon turn around: it saw Eric being punched and blown away by a golem.
The gryphon had stopped following the battle altogether, so it did not know how it had progressed.
<How does the rearguard get done in first? Hmm…maybe a gemstone, like sapphire or diamond, would be a nice name…no, that doesn’t feel right…>
Eric was a Tamer, but fought with a bow when he joined the fray. Golems were unaffected by regular bows, but even so he was supposed to be the party’s rearguard, so he should not be defeated first.
Serge ran up to Eric and made him drink a healing potion from the magic bag he carried. The Tamer spat out blood, but was not in mortal danger.
“Shit!! How hard are they!?”
<You cut the hard part, that’s why. Finding a soft spot and striking that is key when fighting tough beasts, didn’t you know? Did you come to exterminate the snails without even researching them? Or is it your first battle against them? I think I remember seeing you fight some before…oh well. Chloe, Will…Zoey… shorter names are easy to remember, but they lack majesty…>
The gryphon mumbled in response to Stefan’s shout, but humans couldn’t understand its speech. Whatever it said, the humans would never know.
“Hey! Gryphon! Help us!!…Please help!!”
His plate armor was battered and stained, his bloodied helm proof that he had been attacked several times.
The gryphon heard the man’s pleas, but naturally did not move.
<I’m not a servant beast anymore. I do not have the slightest reason to listen to your requests, so why do you shout? If I helped I would ruin this trial, wouldn’t I? Hmm…Disaster Lord, Tornado King…no, these sound dumb…>
The gryphon first did not plan to show itself in this place. It considered staying atop one of the valley’s cliffs and enjoy seeing Crack of Dawn’s members’ surprise at being surrounded, then beaten by a few golems so that they would lose their confidence and realize where they truly stood.
It planned to come down when most of them were knocked out or fainted and have the twins eliminate all golems. The twins would attack the golems secretly until then.
It thought that, if they didn’t see the twins attack, when they woke up and saw the golems defeated they would think that “Someone came and did this after we were knocked out”
If the gryphon didn’t show itself, the Wind Wall would be just a “strange phenomenon”, so no one would realize that was its doing.
In a world where magic and magical beasts existed, there were many phenomena still unexplained by mankind. Without evidence, it would be easy to hide the truth.
It was a spell no average magic beast could ever perform, so no one would ever think it had been created by the gryphon on its own.
The gryphon had managed it by creating a magic tool-like item. Using this tool, it used magic essence in the atmosphere to activate magic directly, something very far from human or even magic beasts’ comprehension.
As it was difficult to control, the gryphon planned to lie still in a high location and watch the situation from afar.
Just one sentence, however, changed everything.
The gryphon understood everything thanks to Stefan’s “I’ll kick you out of the party, like Roa!!”.
Without the brat, there was no more need to play the servant beast role or to stay with Crack of Dawn.
The gryphon had unleashed its actual fighting prowess, which it had hidden until now, hating to be used and seeing the party gloat of achievements that were not theirs. It had also told the twins to use their powers freely, even if they ended up standing out.
As a last farewell, the gryphon appeared before Crack of Dawn and crushed the Subjugation Collar, the symbol of its servant beast act.
It made them fight the golems just to avoid ruining the plan it had prepared.
<Incredible, you cannot even defeat two mere snails…did I spoil you too much? I believe I gave you opportunities to train…I suppose it was not possible to pretend to serve you and train you…ooh! How about Schumacher? It feels like it would be really fast…!>
The gryphon had never officially become a servant beast. The same held true for the twin wolves, of course. They wore the Subjugation Collar, but its magic was inactive, so it was nothing more than an accessory.
Serge was blown away and bumped against Bonne, then they fell together. Because of the impact, the magic bag fell from Serge’s hands.
“No!! No!! Ouch! It hurts!! Heal! Heal! Heal!”
Bonne had just suffered a scratch, but panicked and repeatedly cast healing magic on herself. She used abbreviated chanting, so the effect was minimal: further confused by the lingering pain, she kept casting magic.
<Wasting recovery magic like that…typical novice spellcaster. You’ll waste your magic power and get hit by Magic Stupor…oh right…magic words. Avada Kedavra…no, it doesn’t sound like a name…>
The magic bag that fell from Serge’s hands and was stomped on by the golem that was chasing him and Bonne.
After a flash of light, the magical bag’s contents appeared at the golem’s feet: a large quantity of food, magic potions, spare weapons, and armor. It had been ripped apart and destroyed completely, so it spat out its contents.
The contents were stomped on by the golem’s feet, so a cacophony of crushed glass, wood, and metal echoed in the surroundings.
The only good thing was that the sound distracted the golem, making it lose its balance and fall down.
<Tch…..silence!! What are you doing, playing around!? I can’t even think! Aaah, I messed up the magic control! The Wind Wall will disappear!?>
A beak turning pale was certainly not an everyday occurrence.
The gryphon reflected for a short while, then whispered, an embarrassed expression on its face.
<…it’s not my fault…it’s yours for being such a useless lot! You shouldn’t have surprised me like that!>
No one could hear the gryphon as it talked and convinced itself with excuses. It then glanced at the Crack of Dawn members, still engaged in battle, and spread its wings.
<Farewell, useless lot! Do your best! Most of the golems outside the wall have been defeated by the twins! You’ll be fine! I do not want to fight those things!>
The gryphon apparently still saw the golems as insects, so it gave up on fighting them. It slowly flapped its wings and took flight, but the Crack of Dawn’s members were too busy to notice.
The wind wall was slowly dissipating. As the gryphon said, the golems beyond it had severely decreased in number: the bodies of the defeated golems also formed a sort of barricade, so the surviving golems could not rapidly reach Crack of Dawn.
The gryphon headed to the twins’ position.
The two replied right away to the winged beast’s call.
<The brat left the useless lot! It turns out they kicked him out! I’m going back into town to look for the brat, who will surely be crying, whimpering all alone, desperately wishing to see us! You play till you’re satisfied, then catch up!>
<He got kicked out? Wow!! We’re free!!>
Even while jumping around in joy, the twins kept defeating golems. The Subjugation Collars around their necks were quickly destroyed, one into mist, the other into charred pieces.
<Hehehe…I will give you a cool, grand name, brat! Just you wait!>
The gryphon flew past the Aldon forest in an instant and headed towards the town.
The golems reflected. Not one or some of them, but all of them, through their shared conscience, felt they were in danger.
Their fleeing companions were being killed by the five units in the forest. Five units who had the same smell as the thing that threatened them. They believed them to be its children.
If they shared its smell, they had to be its offspring. The threat they felt from “that” was true. Even its children were powerful. If its offspring were so strong, “that” had to be much, much stronger. They confirmed the thing which scattered the smell.
The golems tried to attack the thing that invaded their paradise, but were stopped by a bizarre wall and could not go any closer.
When “that” left the depths of the valley, the wall disappeared too.
The golems went looking for “that” and found what appeared to be its new nest nearby. There were a strong smell and the same wall that locked them in the depths of the valley.
The golems were enraged by the audacity of building a nest in their paradise. The wall did not allow them in, however.
The golems gathered their comrades and tried crushing the wall, but something outside the wall started to kill them. Something with the same smell as “that”.
Two very fast things started destroying the golems. One froze them, the other burned them. At first they crushed the golem’s cores, but then started destroying their parts and leaving them unable to move, not taking their lives.
The golems could understand the two had not grown any weaker. They were holding back, playing with them, like cats play with their prey. They were viewed as innocuous creatures they could kill at any time and were being used as toys. The golems were simply used as playthings, mutilated and left alive.
While their comrades were being destroyed, two managed to pass through the wall.
There they found the source of the smell and five units bearing the same smell. Those five were weak, but “that” did not help them.
Those five children were probably of no use to “that”. Weak children eventually die even if protected: protecting them is futile. It was a law of nature.
“That” eventually left and the wind wall disappeared alongside it.
The golems had stopped the five weak children, but the two quick children were still destroying them. Soon enough, no golem in the valley could move anymore and the two quick children disappeared.
Did they go to their parent?
There were many golems left, wounded but still alive, with ample minerals they could use to recover. The minerals of their fallen comrades. There also was enough magic essence in the valley.
Reviving themselves was easy, but meaningless. Numbers did not change anything. The source of the smell could not be touched. Even its children were too powerful.
In that case…
The only way out was to boost their individual strength…
The golems left their mineral bodies and gathered, to reunite the power that was split and multiplied.
Their cores fused and became one again. To become something powerful enough to defeat “that”…