At about the same time as Roa’s reunion with Grandpa Gry, a commotion was going down in Adaman city.
The Adventurer’s guild guildmaster shouted, banged his fists on the table, and stood up.
The guildmaster’s quarters were properly sound-proofed, but his loud voice and banging fists managed to escape outside. The guild staff who came to report jumped in his seat, literally.
“Y-yes!! A gryphon flew back and forth several times over the city, then left…”
The guild staff simply repeated what he had just reported. He had gathered what surrounding residents had hurriedly come to report themselves. Similar reports will probably come soon from the city’s guards too.
Appearance, inspection and extermination of magic beasts: any information regarding them was reported first of all to the Adventurers’ guild.
“….it wasn’t wearing a subjugation collar, right?”
“Correct. Someone tried to confirm it, thinking that it might be the Hero party’s gryphon, but they said that it wasn’t wearing anything around its neck.”
That was part of the report the staff had previously stated too. The guildmaster’s back was streaming with cold sweat. In recent years, only once was a gryphon spotted in the vicinity of Adaman city. Only the gryphon the Hero party Crack of Dawn turned into their servant beast.
The gryphon territory nearest to the country was near the border with the country to the north, days of distance from the city, in the neutral zone surrounding the Citadel dungeon. In the long history of the country, gryphons were spotted only in very rare instances.
After the staff member left, the guildmaster gnashed his teeth and his angry fists pounded the table, again.
Shit! What the hell happened!?
His grinding teeth were about to let another shout out, but he managed to hold it in. If the gryphon that appeared over the town was Crack of Dawn’s, the possibilities were two.
Either the tamer died or the servant beasts escaped. Both of them were equally terrible. Because the guildmaster himself had delayed the forest rescue operation.
If, by a stroke of luck, “Crack of Dawn”, “Nostalgia”, and the “Problematic All-Rounder” all died, all those troubles coming out of nowhere would disappear…so he thought as he arranged for the rescue operation to depart the following day or the one after that.
If the tamer died or the servant beast fled and became free, there was the possibility that he would be considered responsible. Even if it wasn’t found out that he delayed the operation on purpose, he would be questioned for his poor handling of the situation.
It should not be possible though.
The “Subjugation Collar” was equipped with a failsafe. First, it was enchanted with mental manipulation magic to prevent the servant beast itself from removing it. It would fail even if the tamer ordered the servant beast to take it off. It also worked as a failsafe in case the collar was damaged or the tamer died.
The mental manipulation enchantment was so powerful that it would not be out of place to call it thus. In case the collar stopped working, for whatever reason, the curse would be immediately activated and the servant beast would die.
Servant beasts…magic beasts could not dispel the curse. Or rather, more precisely, “magic beasts that could be controlled by the subjugation collar could not dispel the curse”.
The guildmaster did not know that and had not noticed. Not only him, but not even the Adventurers’ guild headquarters staff who invented the collar did. It was impossible to subjugate magic beasts that the subjugation collar could not affect after all. It was a contradiction.
If it didn’t work, the beast would not become a servant from the start.
If one tried to put the subjugation collar on such a powerful magic beast, the failsafe would prevent it from being attached. Since it wasn’t possible to enslave such a beast, it wasn’t possible to confirm if the curse worked either.
No one would wonder what happened when there was such a clear contradiction.
The guildmaster gave up on thinking that the gryphon that appeared in town was the one tamed by Crack of Dawn.
It was pointless to think about the impossible. The guildmaster, ill suited to deep thinking, threw away that line of thinking.
“Is it a gryphon that flew in from somewhere then…?”
That would be a big problem. He would have to report where it flew from, for what reason it came, and where it had disappeared to.
The reason why the guildmaster was in the guild so late at night in the first place was to handle the Aldon forest and Norfar valley abnormal events. Adding the gryphon’s investigation to the mix would probably exceed the abilities of Adaman’s Adventurers’ guild.
Adaman’s Adventurers’ guild supervised many magic beast forests, so it was relatively large, but it still had its limits. It was clearly over capacity now. A headache-inducing situation.
The Citadel dungeon, territory of many gryphons, was in a neutral region that did not belong to any country. The gryphons ruled over many other flying magic beasts, so humans could not lay their hands on it. If those gryphons started moving their territory and the region became usable by humans, the neighboring countries would surely start competing for it.
There was even the possibility of war.
Because of that, the royal palace would surely demand a detailed report about the current events. An inspection would surely be dispatched too. Investigation teams from other countries might visit the city in secret.
The inspection and the report were troublesome enough, but what could happen later was much more so.
The guildmaster held his head in his hands. No matter how much he thought, however, he could only imagine futures each one worse than the other…
At the same time, one more person was listening to the same report.
“A gryphon, you say…”
In a certain room of the Coralde trading company, Coralde was receiving a report from an employee. The employee looked extremely pale, but still provided a detailed report.
“It has been witnessed by multiple people, including our employees, and none of them would lie or make mistakes.”
The employee’s report gathered the statements of the trading company’s employees and business partners. As information was a vital weapon in trade, all sorts of intel gathered in Coralde’s company. Information that could greatly affect the country or the city was gathered at top priority.
“It’s ‘that’ gryphon, surely. If it was another one, it would have been seen by someone as it flew here, but we have no such information, do we.”
Coralde was actually very surprised, but he did not show it in his expression or tone. It was to maintain his pride as president of the company: if he was shaken, the people under him would be too. He could show his weakness only a select few.
“That gryphon” Coralde mentioned was known by everyone in the city: Hero party Crack of Dawn’s servant beast. It would be normally impossible for him to be flying about freely.
Even if the Adventurers’ guild allowed the usage of servant beasts, large ones like gryphons had a limited range of movement in the city. They could use only selected streets and were not allowed to fly, except during emergencies.
If it was really that gryphon which flew over the city, something had to have happened to its masters, Crack of Dawn.
“…something happened to Crack of Dawn in Norfar valley and the gryphon escaped. Then, chased by the gryphon, magic beasts started escaping from the forest? We did not receive any reports of the gryphon leaving the valley, though…could they have missed it? The agents I sent to keep an eye on things were too few?”
Coralde mumbled to himself, deep in thought. He had sent some of his men to monitor the situation in the forest, but it was mainly to see what the guild was up to. Because of that, not much attention was paid to what came out of the forest. They were also supposed to focus on humans, however, as the possibility of flying creatures was not considered in the slightest.
“It’s not close to the city anymore, right?”
“Yes. I went to confirm too, but it had flown away already.”
“I see…yet absolutes do not exist, after all. Let us gather information about the possibility it flew here from somewhere else. Thank you for working until such a late hour.”
Coralde smiled and prompted the employee to leave the room. He would receive a fee for the information, albeit small. Good work must be rewarded, bad deeds must be punished…Coralde always rewarded appropriately those who rendered him something profitable. The employee who came to report likely paid his information sources as well.
Now alone, Coralde leant back on his chair and exhaled deeply.
“What in the world is going on…?”
There was no one to hear his uncharacteristic grumble. He started feeling a twinge of regret for sending Roa to gather materials in the forest so quickly. At the time, he thought it was the most ideal option, so it couldn’t be helped.
Coralde threw away his feelings of regret.
In the merchant’s line of work, such unexpected events happened frequently. If he felt regret every time, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.
“A little more and….I’m so close to finding out the secret of Roa’s healing potions…”
The potions made from the materials prepared by Coralde a few days prior were inferior to the ones Roa had concocted before. Coralde discussed the possible reasons with Roa and reached the conclusion that it might depend on the quality of the materials.
For his healing potions, Roa used only leaves from grown medicinal herbs, but the potions made in Coralde’s company were made from the whole herb, from the root to the leaves. That might be the reason, they discussed, so Coralde decided to make experiments to confirm it.
The results had come out a little while before, but they were not what Coralde hoped. The potions’ quality increased slightly, but it was within a margin of error. In the end, he couldn’t find out the secret behind Roa’s high quality healing potions.
If anything happened to Roa, the mystery would remain one forever….
Coralde was also worried about Roa and Nostalgia, but the possibility that the mystery would be forever out of his reach made him feel very anxious.
“I hope nothing bad happened, but…”
Soon enough, at daybreak, he would receive a report about the forest’s current situation. At night it would be possible to ascertain the party’s safety, thanks to the bonfire they would have lit up.
Let’s try to calm down and wait…
Coralde emptied the cup of cold herbal tea on his desk.