Meanwhile, at the Coralde trading company, Coralde was listening to a certain man’s report.
The man had arrived just after Coralde finished sending a communication to the Adventurers’ guild and the local lord about the report he received from Chuck the coachman.
“What happened in the Norfar valley?”
“Just as Mr. Chuck reported, magic beasts have been fleeing. As per your instructions, I went to inspect the surrounding areas. Magic beasts with climbing abilities, like Rock Lizards, have been fleeing from the valley too.”
The man was a sort of “secret agent”, hired personally by Coralde. He belonged to the Mercenaries’ guild and had signed a long-term contract with Coralde.
The man…and the other secret agents Coralde had hired did not belong to his trading company. As per their guild’s regulations, they did not engage in illegal activities, but they would undertake other missions. They could be called Coralde’s personal arms and legs.
Coralde suspected that the Adventurers’ guild was up to something, so he had his secret agents watch over the Aldon forest, where Roa and Nostalgia were harvesting herbs, and the Norfar valley from a distance.
“When I noticed the Rock Lizards fleeing, I tried going closer to better assess the situation, but I was spotted and gave up.”
The Adventurers’ guild coachmen and horse carts were stationed at the entrance of the Norfar valley. In order to observe the movements of Crack of Dawn in the valley without being found, the secret agents could only look down from the top of a nearby hill.
“Were you spotted by the guild’s coachmen?”
Coralde was impressed that the guild’s coachmen would be capable to notice the presence of secret agents on the top of a hill. The secret agents were first rate professionals, capable of using magic to conceal their presence. To spot them from afar was a near impossible feat.
“No, not them.”
“Crack of Dawn, then?”
“Did the Adventurers’ guild hire secret agents too, then?”
“No, that’s not the case.”
Coralde continued asking questions without letting the man continue, so the latter could only deny his hypothesis. Ultimately Coralde ran out of ideas, so he stopped talking. The secret agent then addressed his flustered employer with a vaguely tired tone.
“It was the servant beasts, Crack of Dawn’s magic wolves. They were on the upper side of the valley. As soon as I spotted them, they sensed my presence and…waved their hands at me.”
“They waved…their hands?”
“Well…precisely speaking, their front paws.”
“That’s not what I meant…”
Servant beasts obeyed the orders of their masters, but were magic beasts at heart. Coralde was naturally surprised that they would “wave their hands” at anyone.
“Do servant beasts usually wave their hands?”
The secret agent could only respond to Coralde’s genuine question with an awkward expression. He had seen a number of servant beasts during his time with the Mercenaries’ guild, but the experience he just mentioned was completely new for him.
“I was surprised as well. They waved their paws as if they saw a familiar face in the streets…both of them. What exactly are those servant beasts? I’ve never seen any act so human-like before.”
“Roa has raised them since they were small…so I suppose they grew up different than normal…”
Seeing the secret agent uncharacteristically flustered, Coralde laughed wryly. The wolves had been raised by Roa, so it wasn’t unbelievable that they turned out to be unusual magic beasts. For Coralde, Roa had become a classic example of the extraordinary.
“Furthermore, those magic beasts were likely using magic. I couldn’t see clearly because of the darkness, but the terrain changed wherever the wolves and a sort of smoke rose…that was probably ice or fire magic.”
It was not unbelievable for magic beasts to be able to use magic. It was only possible, however, for magic beasts of particular species or magic beasts that gained knowledge and magic power after living for hundreds of years. Magic wolves only a few years of age did not belong to either category.
The remaining possibility was that, while they looked like magic wolves, they were actually a kind of unknown magic beast. They could also be rare mutations or beings created via alchemy.
Coralde had also seen Crack of Dawn’s wolf twins several times, but he just thought they were magic wolves with an unusual fur color and never even considered they could be special. Their actual abilities were probably kept secret within the party.
Magic wolves that, despite their young age, were intelligent enough to be able to copy human gestures, could notice secret agents concealed by magic from a distance, and could even use magic themselves. These reasons were more than enough to keep it a secret.
“As the servant beasts spotted me, I assumed that Crack of Dawn did too, so I gave up on surveilling the valley. It could have been interpreted as hostile behavior.”
“That was a sound decision.”
“I left two other agents to monitor the forest and valley from a distance, as per your original instructions.”
Coralde crossed his arms and reflected. The twin wolves were interesting, but it was not the time to think about them. Their top priority was ensuring Roa and Nostalgia’s safety.
“I believe we will be able to know if master Roa and the others safe thanks to the smoke from their camp”
The secret agent continued on, but, even if they could learn of the party’s location, only adventurers were allowed inside magic beasts forests. There was a limit to what Coralde could do.
Nostalgia is skilled enough to be able to return safely even if they face a level of trouble, but…
Coralde was sure of it, but wanted to do whatever he could all the same. Even if it turned out that he was worried for nothing. As a merchant, he valued information above all else, so a situation in which he couldn’t gather any information was quite painful. With his arms still crossed, he closed his eyes to further focus on finding something he could do.
Silence reigned in the Norfar valley. In the place where the golems and magic wolf twins fought, large blocks of minerals were amassed here and there. Most of them were silver, which reflected the moonlight with a dull shine. Needless to say, they were the remains of the golems that fought the magic wolf twins. They were completely still and looked like they could not move anymore.
One of the hundreds of golems in the valley…
Inside the body of this lone specimen, something was pulsating: the fusion of all the golem cores in Norfar valley.
Because of the massacre suffered at the hands of the gryphon and its brethren, the golems learned that they could not defeat them. They once more gathered their scattered power.
A large amount of cores and energy fused into one, creating an incredibly powerful mass of energy.
The golems decide to fuse all their cores into one in order to create a more powerful body. With more magic essence in one core, they would be able to move a massive body much faster. The golems knew that mass and speed would turn into more power.
Hate filled the air.
The golems in the valley had not been able to even lay a finger on “that” and were destroyed by “its” children. Even its comrades managed to escape to the nearby forest and encounter the other children of “that” and were completely annihilated. Among the golems destroyed in the forest, many were still alive, but they could not move anymore, much like the ones in the valley.
Because of the smell, the golems had mistaken Roa, Nostalgia, and the wolves for children of the gryphon. All of them were considered the gryphon’s family, targets that had to be killed.
If they escaped, “that” will probably let them go. However, with so many casualties, the golems’ shared conscience was filled with hatred, so “escape” was not an option.
Slowly but surely… a very strong magic power seeped out of the golem’s core. It was heavy, sticky, like the surrounding darkness.
Magic power was not normally visible. However, the magic power resulting from the fusion and compression of multiple golem cores had become so thick that it could be seen by the naked eye.
The magic power oozing from the core spread to the surrounding silver, then started transforming it. That was an unexpected occurrence even for the golems themselves.
The body started faintly glowing in the dark as the golems obtained a new kind of power.