DAR Vol. 2 Chapter 5 Part 3

“So, what do we do now?”

The first to speak was Nostalgia’s scout and swordsman, Kristoff.

Next to him, Dietrich was still keeled over holding his thighs in pain. The pain didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so he suffered in silence. Kristoff glanced at him, but didn’t say a word.

“We should get out of the forest. I’m sure not all the golems have been defeated.”

The party’s shield, Cornelia, ignored him too. Even though Dietrich was right in front of her, she completely and utterly ignored him.

“…I also think we should exit the forest…but, er, is it okay to ignore him? He looks like he’s in a lot of pain…”

Unable to bear the situation anymore, Roa finally addressed Dietrich’s condition. 

The reason for Dietrich’s pain was the freezing and scorching paw marks left by the two magic wolves. Under Dietrich’s hands there were clearly paw-shaped marks, one burning, the other chilling. They were the results of the jealousy felt by the wolf twins when Dietrich hugged Roa: while he didn’t cause them himself, Roa felt responsible.

He had offered to cure the wounds, but Cornelia stopped him.

“What? No, our boss is not so frail to be hindered by a couple burns, don’t worry.”

“He’s as tough as he looks, you know. He’s just acting because he wants to be consoled. Even with his thighs slashed, the next second he’d be on the offensive again…besides, if he really couldn’t stand the pain he’d drink a recovery potion, it’s not like he doesn’t have any.”

“That’d be a waste of potions!!”

Dietrich finally reacted to Cornelia and Kristoff’s exchange. Thanks to the great number of recovery potions brought by Roa and the recovery candy he didn’t need to use any, but each member of Nostalgia had their share of recovery potions, as part of their basic equipment. 

Even if he had plenty, Dietrich thought it would be a waste to use one for a mere burn. Though they were low level, recovery potions were not so cheap that they could be used so easily. It felt wrong to use such expensive items outside of emergencies.

Dietrich had said that “it would be a waste” rather than “it could cause magic stupor”, so he too thought that the golems’ threat was over for the moment, so he could afford the luxury not to drink recovery potions right away, because of financial reasons.

“……”

The mage Bernhart then suddenly approached Dietrich. Because of his lack of expression, Dietrich did not know what Bernhart’s intentions were and stiffened for a moment. The latter did not seem to care, though: he took Dietrich’s hands and removed them from his thighs.

“……”

Dietrich, surprised by the sudden action, was still frozen in place and stared at Bernhart’s still expressionless face. Roa and the two other Nostalgia members also failed to understand the mage’s intentions and watched silently.

If Bernhart was capable of using healing magic, it could be interpreted as a necessary preparation to do so, but that was not the case. Most of the magic he learned was offensive, as was common for mage adventurers.

“Wonderful!!”

After a long silence, Bernhart erupted in praise, his eyes sparkling.

“No matter how much I look at it, only the skin’s surface is damaged! Even then, the fact that the pain persists for so long means that they use magic arranged in such a way to not paralyze the pain receptors! Magic truly perfect for annoying others! It is simply ideal for torture! How wonderful…!”

Bernhart shouted, eyes wide open to observe the paw marks better. His lips were curved in a devious smile, difficult to imagine from the usually deadpan mage.

He was clearly excited, as his entranced eyes were fixed on the paw marks located on Dietrich’s thighs, and the situation could be easily misunderstood.

“Twin wolves! Yes, you two! Could you please use magic one more time!? If possible, slowly enough for me to be able to decode the enchantment! Now!”

Bernhart turned his gaze to the twin wolves, instigating them to use magic, his fingers pointing to Dietrich’s thighs…

Because of the sudden plea, the twins’ bodies shook and they dropped the materials they were holding in their mouths. Then, after looking at Bernhart, they quickly hid behind Roa, their tails between their legs. His eerie aura probably scared them.

The twins had been happily gathering ingredients just minutes ago, but their mood had completely changed. It was rather bizarre to see them quiver in fear, despite being capable of treating hordes of golems like toys.

Despite Bernhart’s lack of hostility, the twins had raised their hackles. Their eyes were locked on Bernhart, wary of the creepy aura he exuded.

“Wait, wait, wait!? My thighs, again!? Why!?”

“I would happily give my body for the progress of magic, but I can’t observe it properly like that!!”

“That’s not the problem here!!”

Watching the bickering comrades, Roa and the others could only bitterly laugh.

“They’re making a pretty big ruckus, but won’t the golems notice?”

Cornelia speechlessly looked at Dietrich and Bernhart, then talked as if she suddenly recalled something. The mood was rather relaxed now, but they were fleeing with their lives just moments before. It was natural for her to be concerned.

Rather, it was bizarre for Bernhart and Dietrich to be able to fight like that.

“It’s alright.”

“Eh?”

Cornelia had asked the scout Kristoff, but Roa replied instead.

“We have the twins here. If any hostile magic beast approaches, they will surely notice.”

Roa then patted the frightened wolves. Their fur returned to normal, as did their expressions.

“They’re still children, but their detection abilities can be trusted.”

After Roa’s confident words, the twins stepped forward from behind him, their chests proudly swelling in Cornelia’s direction. They also waved their paws.

“Yeah, it looks like their detection range is even wider than mine, so I guess we can rest easy. They found you much faster after all.”

Kristoff spoke with an impressed tone and the twins turned towards him, puffing their chests up.

“I think that…they probably tracked my smell, though…”

“Your smell, I see…magic beasts detect others by smell or instinct, we can’t even compare.”

Kristoff thought that the twins had used a spell to find Roa’s location, as they were capable of using magic. However, Roa’s remark reminded him that animals and magic beasts tracked others via smell. His first theory was not completely wrong.

Because of the gryphon’s teachings, the twins could extend their magic power to detect other presences. They couldn’t do so as well as the gryphon, but thanks to their innate senses of smell and hearing, they could detect presences in a rather wide range.

“How does your detection magic work, Kristoff? You are using it now, right? I always wondered about it, but I can’t understand it by myself…”

Some mages were able to analyze and decode magic spells if they were used before them. If a spell was chanted, its structure could be decoded from the enchantment, but analyzing magic without enchantments, like Kristoff’s enemy detection, was very difficult.

“Hm? Have you tried studying it?”

“I’m sorry. I was just interested…”

In the case of chantless magic, one had to analyze the resulting phenomenon and try to decode the spell from just that. There were several patterns for magic spells, so expert decoders were fairly accurate. Having the ability to decode was also a hallmark of being able to develop original magic spells.

Bernhart told the twins to use magic slowly so he could precisely decode the enchantment because he possessed such talent. Of course, the activation of magic spells was also tied to magic power quantity and affinity, so whether one was able to use a spell was a completely different question.

“Well, it’s not a secret or anything, so you don’t need to apologize…I see, you can analyze magic? I guess it would be obvious for Roa. Alchemists usually are after all…”

Unlike crafting magic potions based on existing recipes, crafting new magic potions required one had to analyze the transformations during processing, combine materials accordingly, and rearrange magic in order to generate the necessary transformations.

Considering that Roa could freely create magic potions, he had to be an expert at such analysis and composition of magic.

Kristoff found this theory convincing and, with a somewhat apologetic expression, looked at Roa, brimming with curiosity. 

In a way, Roa’s the same as Bernhart too…

The honesty in his eyes made it harder to refuse, thus making him even harder to deal with than Bernhart.

“This magic is “Sonar”, a spell used underwater, which Bernhart altered to use on land. Originally it was used by fishermen to detect underwater formations and fish groups.”

“By fishermen?”

“Yeah, it was used for fishing. Most fishermen have little magic power, so this spell is made to consume little magic but cover a wide area. It’s a kind of detection magic, but it’s a little too simple to deserve to be called magic. It just spreads magic power at regular intervals to scan the surroundings.”

Kristoff then lightly bopped Roa’s head, who was staring at him intently, to hide his embarrassment.

“If those magic power waves bump into something, the user feels it. But only the number and size of the target, so it’s hard to even tell people and magic beasts apart. The reason why I said I had a bad feeling so many times before was because I could feel traces of many presences when the magic power scan was too thin to actually tell what was there.”

Kristoff had indeed said that several times while they were on the move. Roa remembered that Nostalgia’s other members listened to his reports and acted accordingly. He thought it was a hunch coming from his experience, but now learned that it was actually based on something concrete.

“The detection range is…”

Sudden growling.

Before Roa could finish his question, the twins started growling menacingly. The blue magic wolf then ran off. It disappeared deep into the forest, running like the wind, before Roa could say anything. The red magic wolf, its fur standing up, stood in front of Roa, clearly wary of danger.

“….as expected, the wolf twins have a wider detection range. I can’t feel anything yet…”

Kristoff whispered to himself in a somewhat lonely tone.

A little while after the blue wolf had run off…

“It’s entered my detection field too. It’s just one presence, but…”

Kristoff’s expression clouded.

The others kept looking at him, without moving an inch.

“….it’s huge. More than twice the golems’ size…”

His clearly tense words changed the mood instantly. Kristoff’s detection could not tell what kind of magic beast it was. If it was a golem, the wolf that had run off would take care of it instantly. However, if it was another beast, it might prove too much for one wolf to defeat and would come to attack them too.

The presence’s size, more than twice the golems’, was the most concerning fact. There were some exceptions, but in general, a magic beast’s power corresponded to its size.

“Listen, Roa.”

The question came from Dietrich. His former dazed expression was no more: he wore the face of a seasoned warrior now. He had been lamenting the pain of his wounds until moments ago, but it was like they didn’t hurt anymore.

“The golems were chasing you, right? What’s up with that?”

“The smell. What the golems were actually chasing was the gryphon’s smell. They probably fought against Crack of Dawn and recognized the gryphon as a threat, I think. The golems that survived multiplied to defeat the enemy and started chasing the gryphon’s smell.”

Roa understood the meaning behind the question and explained his theory.

“I see, so that’s why they were coming after you…”

Dietrich remembered how Roa acted as a decoy to draw the golems away. He lit up a rope that burned with a strong smell and started running after the smoke filled the surroundings of Nostalgia’s members.

The golems lost track of Nostalgia because of the smoke and started chasing down Roa, the only source of the gryphon’s smell. It was proof that Roa’s theory was found.

“Kristoff, is that unit coming towards us? What happened to the magic wolf?”

“It’s coming straight here. If it’s after the gryphon’s smell, it’s probably a golem. The magic wolf… apparently just encountered it.”

They didn’t know who did it, but a light sigh was heard, probably to dispel the tense mood.

“…no good, it’s still heading here, as fast as before…”

Kristoff’s report sent a chill through the group. The magic beast was approaching at the same speed. It meant that one magic wolf was not enough to fight it. Their uneasiness quickly swelled.

“Ah!”

The other wolf, the one with red fur, ran off. The wolf twins had defeated golems in turn after joining with Roa: one of them would stay at Roa’s side while the other fought. If they went to fight together, the enemy had to be powerful enough to require their cooperation.

Looking at the second magic wolf go, Roa’s expression was visibly worried. Not because he felt his own life was in danger, but because he was worried about the wolf twins.

“…let’s also get ready to fight. We won’t be able to flee anyway. It’s just one, right? It’s us four and those two magic wolves together, it’ll be a cinch.”

Dietrich talked with a casual tone, to give confidence to the group, beaming a big smile. Nostalgia’s members looked at each other and quickly nodded, then prepared to fight, focusing on the direction the magic wolves had ran off to.

Fighting against so many golems had surely exhausted them, both physically and mentally. Even then, they showed no fear in the face of the powerful incoming threat, glaring at the direction the magic beast would come from, without a single opening in their stances.

They started hearing sounds of trampled trees, coming closer and closer. Nostalgia’s members drew their weapons. Then, from the depths of the forest, it appeared.

“…..Mithril Golem…”

Who did the low, rumbling whisper belong to…?

It was also rather loud.

Golems were alchemic creatures with bodies formed by absorbing minerals. Alchemic creatures were living beings modified via alchemy to give them additional abilities: most of them were created from magic beasts. Golems were said to originate from the magic beasts called “Slime”.

Their metallic bodies were controlled by slimes from the inside. They were comparable to insects with exoskeletons.

Mithril Golem, as the name suggested, possessed bodies made of mithril.

“…was there a mithril mine…?”

Cornelia whispered, dumbfounded. Her remark was incorrect. There were no mines producing mithril, nor in the valley where the golems were, nor in the surrounding region.

Mithril caves originated from silver caves located where magic essence accumulated, which would change silver into mithril over many years. The silver mine in Norfar valley was close to a forest abundant in magic essence, but it was not enough to transform silver into mithril.

Why was there a mithril golem here, then?

“….it’s shining…”

The mithril golem was glowing. Kristoff stared at the soft, almost warm light. It was the same light as the one emanated from Dietrich’s mithril sword when he healed the wounds of Coralde’s coachman.

“It’s holy light, right?”

No one answered Dietrich’s question, but that was indeed holy light, without a doubt. It glowed faintly when magic power was infused in mithril and could defeat the undead, which could not be damaged through normal weapons. It was also said that infusing more magic power granted it healing powers.

The approaching golem was enveloped in such a light. Its light was also shining brightly and continuously. The silver golem had transformed through its own magic power.

The silver golems, which had not been unable to lift a finger fight against the magic wolves or even get close to the gryphon, had sought more power. They understood that numbers would not change anything and instinctively sought another method.

The method they found was to fuse their remaining cores together to create a single powerful golem. The result of the twin wolves treating the golems as playthings, ultimately leaving them alive, was that hundreds of disabled, but live, golems remained in Norfar valley.

The fusion of the surviving golem cores bore fruit in a core that contained more magic power than hundreds of regular golems. The concentrated magic power overflowed from the core and was so dense it forced the silver to transform into mithril. Thus was the transformation process of the silver golem into a mithril golem.

Though it shone with a holy light, the golem was like a damned soul wrapped in the dark flames of resentment.

“Ah!!”

Roa gasped, as the twin wolves, who tried to attack the approaching golem, were swatted away like flies.

“Gaw!”

Whining in pain, the wolf twins rolled on the ground before Roa.

“Are you alright!?”

“Growl!”

The twins barked sharply. Roa ran closer to them, but the twins did not even glance at him: they stood back up and ran towards the golem again. They were brimming with fighting spirit and did not show a hint of fear.

“We can’t let those dumb dogs do everything!”

Dietrich howled as he rushed forward. He called the twins “dumb dogs” out of spite. He did not falter before the new threat either. He was even grinning, with beast-like fangs protruding from between his lips. 

The smile of a berserker: it could be described no other way, but it came from his concern for his comrades. No matter what powerful enemies showed up, he would keep smiling, so that they would not lose heart.

As Kristoff said, the mithril golem was much larger than the silver golems. Its height alone easily exceeded five meters. Dietrich didn’t even reach its stomach. Naturally, his blade could strike its hips at best.

“You huge hunk of rubbish!”

Dietrich swung his mithril sword towards the backside of the golem’s knees, the spot where its armor was supposed to be the thinnest, but he was easily repelled with the loud sound of clashing metal reverberating through the air.

The mithril sword could cut through silver, but not mithril, as it’s quite difficult to cut material with something of equal hardness. If it was moving, it could only be wounded at most. And that wound would seal up very quickly.

“Tch.”

The mithril golem depended on its massive magic power to move. While it could not cast magic, the beast used this magic power to move and reinforce its body. The surplus magic power was used to repair its body, producing faint glimmers of holy light.

Woosh.

A gust of wind howled over Dietrich’s head. His movements were stopped by the golem’s approach and his sword was knocked back. It was only a moment, but it was enough for the golem’s huge arm to swing towards him.

With a flash of light, Bernhart struck the golem with lightning. However, there was no effect, the giant was not hindered in the slightest.

When the mithril golem’s fist was about to crush Dietrich, its trajectory changed at the last moment. The fist landed on the ground, a dozen centimetres from Dietrich, carving a large hole in the soil.

“Dumb dog! I owe you one!”

The blue-haired magic wolf had tackled the golem’s arm and forced it out of its initial trajectory. Afterward, the blue-haired wolf spun in midair, lightly landed on Dietrich’s head, then jumped again and landed.

Hmph.

The magic wolf gave Dietrich a sidelong glance and snorted through its nose. Despite being stepped on, Dietrich did not receive damage and just laughed wryly.

Several fireballs hit the mithril golem’s head and bounced away. Though the golem had a human-shaped figure, it lacked sensory organs. Nevertheless, attacks to its head were effective at disturbing its balance.

Though Bernhart’s attacks couldn’t damage the golem, they were enough to let the magic wolves and Dietrich gain some distance from the enemy.

“We can’t even damage it.”

“My magic doesn’t affect it either. I can’t even hold it back.”

“I tried to draw its attention, but it ignored me! I don’t think I can stop it!”

“Woof!”

“Woof…”

All members made their report, but no one gave up all hope. Nostalgia’s members spoke for a few seconds, then scattered again to strike the next counterattack. Their movements were smooth, clearly the fruit of training. Roa and Bernhart stayed in the back, the others formed a circle surrounding the golem, maintaining a set distance.

It was a formation used when the party’s shield was not effective. The magic wolves, despite never having trained with Nostalgia or even being able to communicate, joined in too. Nostalgia’s members were surprised by the twin wolves’ perception, but they were results of the gryphon’s training. The methods of cooperating with humans had been drilled into their brains.

The mithril golem ignored Nostalgia and advanced straight towards Roa. On this route stood Cornelia. It was natural for the member with the highest defense to guard Roa and Bernhart. She tried stopping the golem with her large shield, but there was just the grating of clashing metal: the golem did not stop moving, going forward without paying her the slightest attention.

“Cornelia!”

With a swing of its arm, the golem smacked away Kristoff, the closest member, into a nearby tree. The twin wolves jumped at the golem from behind, but it didn’t seem to even notice. The same happened when Dietrich slashed it. With a light swing of its arms, both the twins and Dietrich were sent sprawling.

Despite Cornelia’s attempts to stand her ground with magic, her boots simply dug deeper into the ground as the golem trudged onward. In the end, she was blown away as well.

Roa took out recovery potions from his magic bag and tried running to the wounded members, but stopped when he noticed that the mithril golem was directed towards him. This mithril golem was still chasing the gryphon’s smell. 

Roa had used a great quantity of the gryphon’s monster repellent to lure the silver golems’ horde. Its effect was still potent, so he had the most intense smell of the group.

“Roa!”

Bernhart stood between Roa and the mithril golem as he started launching fireballs. He couldn’t afford to preserve his magic power any longer. He shot powerful fireballs from as many directions as possible, but they couldn’t even distract the golem who was dead set on Roa. The magic beast lightly swung its arms, as if to brush aside annoying twigs, and Bernhart’s body was knocked to the side.

After lighting the surroundings in red, the flames were extinguished too. Even the fire magic had disappeared…signaling the depletion of Bernhart’s magic power.

In the darkness of the night, broken only by moonlight, the mithril golem continued to emanate a holy light. Its brilliance outshone the surroundings as if it were the only colored existence in a monochromatic world.

With a gigantic palm that could easily crush the average human being, the mithril golem stretched out its hands straight towards Roa.

Roa swallowed his breath…

He had accepted his death once before, but now felt that he wanted to live. For his own sake and for those who protected him.

However, there was no one around that could stop the mithril golem. Or at least there was supposed to be no one…

Boom!

A thunderous sound and a flash of light. A streak of light falling from the sky. As if rending apart the moonlight…

The streak of light fell from the sky to the ground, piercing the mithril golem in its wake. 

A blue and white thunderbolt.

Roa thought he had been crushed by the golem’s palm and was hallucinating. Yet, the mithril golem’s palm had not reached him. It stopped right before the boy, unmoving as if frozen.

Magic?

Roa looked at Bernhart, who remained on the ground but was staring at the sky. He was gaping wide-eyed at a certain spot. Roa followed his gaze and looked up too.

The moonlit sky was studded with stars.

What he saw was a familiar figure bathed in moonlight.

“Grandpa….Gry…?”

Roa mumbled.

As his whisper melted away in the air, Roa began to feel dizzy. At the same time, a “voice” descended from the sky.

<Hahaha….HAHAHAHA!! What perfect timing! What opportunity! Am I indeed not like a hero, appearing just in time to rescue the hapless commoners? It was worth it to hold back my impatience and wait before intervening! Someone powerful such as I must appear at the climax and be showered in praise, after all! Come, younglings, begin singing your praises! Cheer, worship! Then offer me the greatest of names! Which concretely is, Apomechanesteos!>

The inhuman, utterly boastful voice could be heard and understood by Roa too.

What is this voice..? Is there someone else besides us?

It felt like the voice was delivered straight to his mind. Startled by the sudden voice, Roa looked around, but saw no one. Nostalgia’s members were lying on the ground, but no one was in mortal danger. Though in pain, they were staring dazedly at the sky, but no one seemed to be talking.

The gryphon was floating in midair, the moon at its back, silently looking at Roa and the others. It wasn’t even flapping its wings, so it was likely magic that kept it afloat.

<Yes, let us then proceed to the coup de grace….what? Slug, you are already dead! How spineless! How utterly spineless!! To fall before a warning lightning bolt is simply too weak…this is not good…if you fall in one blow my performance will be cut too short. I cannot show the brat my true power like this…someone you thought wasn’t too strong was actually incredibly powerful, it’s such an emotional development, and yet…! Finishing with a lame attack like that wastes all the time I waited before appearing! >

Roa and Nostalgia’s members looked at the sky, speechless, while the magic wolf twins seemed somewhat annoyed. The brave expression they had worn just moments ago was gone.

They felt completely dejected. The difference in their expression was as stark as the difference between a feral beast and a stuffed animal. Though Roa had seen such an expression on them before. It often happened when they were with the gryphon. Every time it did something silly, they stared with those same eyes.

The magic wolf twins whined in unison.

<…no, twins. I am not the one to blame. Mithril does not conduct magic power or electricity well, so your magic is ill-suited to fight it, there is nothing that can be done about it. If you wish to defeat it, you must train your magic control further and become able to manipulate it freely.>

More whining.

<Twins, this shiny lug here was born because you played around too much, after all. It was created because the golems you didn’t finish fused together, you know? If you didn’t lose yourselves in playing and properly finished them off, it would have never seen the light of day.>

As the voice continued, the tails of the wolf twins progressively pointed downwards. 

“Bow wow~”

“Bow wow~”

<I always say it, do I not? No matter how weak the opponent may be, at times they can unexpectedly retaliate. If you don’t finish your foe when you can, it might come back to bite you later. Only those with absolute power can afford to hold back or show pity! One like I!>

With a tinge of dissatisfaction, the twin wolves lowered their heads in sadness. The source of the voice was clearly talking with them. Roa was looking at the flying gryphon, but his disbelief still prevented him from accepting where the voice really came from.

<Well then…it cannot be helped. I do not endorse the abuse of the dead, but I suppose I could up a little show to wrap things up. If I do not create an easily praiseworthy scene, the brat and the commoners will just keep staring at me forever.>

A breeze.

The gryphon cried loudly, as to attract attention. Then, the light of magic appeared. Thanks to the light, the gryphon’s silhouette became clearly visible.

“It’s really grandpa Gry…”

Gryphons were said to be difficult to distinguish, but Roa had lived with it for years, so he could do identify it with confidence. A strong wind blew, as to wipe away Roa’s whisper, creating whirlwinds of leaves. The leaves rose as high as the gryphon’s position, then gently glided downwards.

A breeze.

The gryphon cried again and, with a sharp sound cutting through the wind, something flew out of its throat. It advanced through the falling leaves, slicing them as it did. Many such unseen objects flew down through the leaves.

Wind cutter.

The invisible blades created by wind reached the immobile golem and cut through its limbs, even cleaving the thick armor protecting its core, with almost comical ease. The giant crumbled to pieces with a thunderous sound.

“….it cut through mithril with a wind cutter!?”

Bernhart’s handsome features were twisted in unrestrained surprise.

<Look now, we have a good commentator! Do continue, expound upon my great techniques! Commend and praise!>

“To cut through metal with wind cutter, blades of wind without actual mass…and mithril, of all metals…”

<Hahaha. Wind magic is what I am best at, after all!! Wind cutter is basic, yet paramount! If honed to perfection, it can even cut through mithril! I prepared some nice effects too, did I not? I used the leaves to make the invisible blades visible for you humans! Now the brat and the others will think that the lightning first stopped the slug, then the wind cutter finished it off! Because of my all-too-powerful strength, however, the initial lightning had already felled it! Fools that cannot even visually perceive when a magic beast dies need a show like this to remind them of their savior! Even my thoughtfulness is truly praiseworthy!!>

“Wonderful…”

Very much pleased by Bernhart’s adoring gaze, the gryphon boasted in midair, puffing its chest so much that it was about to flip over. If he simply saw what happened, Roa too would be impressed by the gryphon’s magic powers. He also felt grateful for it saving their lives.

However, because of their savior’s voice, he couldn’t help but feel his enthusiasm wane. It was terrible. Most of it was. 

The twins, used to such a situation, started playing by themselves. They seemed tired of paying attention to the voice. They seemed depressed until moments before, but they had apparently recovered.

The gryphon, with its chest still puffed up, descended towards Roa. It did not flap its wings once as it silently glided down. It finally landed on the golem’s remains, twisted its beak into a grin and looked at Roa. 

As the golem was still emitting a faint glow, the gryphon looked like a gloating king treating a mountain of riches as if it were nothing.

It was a beautiful scene, as if taken straight from a myth.

<Come, brat! Sing my praises! Then you shall offer me the greatest of names! Concretely speaking, Jupiter can be acceptable! Throw yourself onto me, weep as you express your most heartfelt gratitude! Then you will perform the brushing you have so neglected, for many more hours than usual! Then, my meal! Meat, I crave meat! I demand the finest meat, cooked to perfection!….no matter what, do not ever let me see that hellish dried things anymore!! That is the food of demons! No, it is not even food!>

All the requests were very detailed. Every time he heard the voice, Roa felt his gratitude decrease further and further. While listening, he looked straight at the gryphon. Still looking, he pulled out a small glass bottle and some sort of scissors from his magic bag.

Roa then opened the lid of a small bottle and pulled something out with the scissors-like tool…then threw it at the gryphon.

<Hah?>

Something black hopped on the gryphon’s back.

Something tiny and black. When it started crawling on its back, the gryphon understood what it was.

<An insect!?>

It was one of the ghoul beetles Roa had gathered in the forest. 

Flick, flick, flick. Roa continued to launch the bottle’s contents towards the gryphon.

<Waitwaitwait!!>

The gryphon shook its body, desperately trying to throw off the insects, but their prickly appendages stuck to its soft fur, so it was very difficult to remove them. Roa continued throwing them, so the insects on the gryphon’s back kept increasing in number.

The gryphon clawed at its back with its hind legs and frantically flapped its wings to prevent the bugs from landing.

<Wait! Stop! I am telling you to stop!! Ah…..>

Since it was moving wildly on the unstable foothold provided by the mithril golem’s remains, the gryphon stumbled and fell…

<Kh….brat!! Why are you doing this to me…>

“Why? To confirm something, and to punish you.”

Roa peeked at the beaked face of the stumbling gryphon and laughed.

<Confirm? Confirm what!?>

“….I didn’t know who the voice belonged to. That’s what I wanted to confirm.”

<? Voice?>

Still lying on its back, the gryphon’s beak opened wide. 

What the voice said suggested that it belonged to the gryphon, but it didn’t match the movements of its beak and it was also delivered directly to Roa’s mind, so he couldn’t be sure.

Another reason was that Roa couldn’t believe that the gryphon he spent so many years with had started talking all of a sudden. He then decided to act and see how the gryphon reacted, then make a final judgment. The action he decided on, however, was the rather uncouth act of throwing bugs on it.

It was also meant as punishment, as Roa said, for the gryphon’s many irritating statements…

<You….you can hear my voice? That can’t be…>

“You boast as much as I expected, grandpa Gry…I see now…you said all that because you thought I couldn’t hear…”

<But why? We shouldn’t be tied in a servant beast contract yet. The brat shouldn’t be able to….what!?>

The gryphon, still lying belly up, turned to another direction. It seemed to be looking intently at something.

<…my true name has been overwritten…a servant beast contract has been formed!? But…when!? Anyway…rather than that…my name is…>

The gryphon’s body started trembling. Its eyes were filled with despair, to the point of tears, its beak still gaping. If it didn’t have fur and wings, its skin would surely look pale.

<The overwritten name is “Grandpa Gry”!?!?! No!! I demand the contract be formed again!! Braaaatttt!!! Rename me at once!!!>

The gryphon, now Grandpa Gry, raised a cry that echoed in the forest…

𑁋

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