DAR Vol. 2 Chapter 5 Part 5

Grandpa Gry had removed its collar, flown about freely over the city to find Roa’s whereabouts, then returned to where it came from, the direction of the Aldon forest, creating a big problem in the city.

Grandpa Gry was not so admirable as to talk about its failures: on the contrary, if it could hide them, it would do so as much as possible. It would never, not in a million years, even hint at the fact that it flew over what it was looking for, all the way to the city. Or that the wolf twins, with searching abilities much lower than the gryphon’s, found Roa first.

Because of this, Roa would learn of the truth only much later…

<….that’s probably a nickname…no, a derogatory epithet…! Why is it considered a name…and I was so looking forward to it…I thought about cool names so much, and…was it then? Because the brat whispered it after my lightning struck? I became conscious of that blasted name. Was that the reason why the contract was bound…? It cannot be helped…I was called like that for so many years…aah…>

In the Aldon forest, Grandpa Gry was lying on the ground, looking somewhere with a pout on its beak, endlessly complaining. Doing everything it could to be consoled and paid attention to. 

It would even slyly steal glances at Roa and the twins at times.

Roa looked at it from the side as he headed towards Nostalgia’s members. He could tell that their condition was not critical by looking at them, but other than than Bernhart, it looked like they could barely stand up. Bernhart alone looked strangely energetic, possibly because he had a lucky landing.

“Are you okay?”

Cornelia and Kristoff were sitting, leaning against a large tree. Their expression was dark, their gazes directed at Grandpa Gry. Roa gave recovery potions to both of them.

“….thanks.”

“Sorry for the trouble.”

They both took it and swallowed it in one gulp.

<….the golem didn’t injure them at all, though? It was stupidly emanating all that holy light, so any damage would be healed right away. As proof, look at the twins! They were attacked so much, but are completely unscathed, are they not?>

Grandpa Gry, still lying down, talked to Roa. Its back was turned to Roa, so its expression wasn’t visible.

<That was a defective magic beast, you see. No matter what prey it hunted, if it healed all the damage it did, it would be pointless effort.>

Prompted by the gryphon’s words, Roa looked at the two adventurers, but they did not look unharmed at all. The mithril golem’s attack had blown them away, sending them crashing against trees and the ground, so they couldn’t be unscathed.

Roa pointed this out and Grandpa Gry replied maliciously.

<If they can’t land properly after an attack like that, it’s on them! I suppose they just practice how to attack and never how to land or flee. It happens often with young people, they’re too eager. It is foolish to neglect learning how to defend yourself.>

Grandpa Gry raised its neck, glanced at Roa, then lied down again, still acting peeved.

<As they say, to prepare for defeat, rather than victory, is the secret to survive…the playboy over there showed good detection skills and their teamwork wasn’t bad either, but as long as they only think about fighting, they have a long, long way to go.>

It glanced at Roa again.

“….you’re going on and on boasting like that, but you just want me to give you attention, don’t you? Stop interrupting and make sure you pay attention to the surroundings instead.”

<……>

They had never had a conversation before, but Roa knew Grandpa Gry’s personality very well. He quickly realized that, no matter what it said, it only wanted Roa to pay attention. The quick glances were proof. Since Roa had noticed it, he knew that no matter what the gryphon said, it was no more than chatting, in the end. He could ignore it without problems.

This worked only for Roa, however.

“….it’s just as the gryphon said. We still have a long way to go…we told you to believe in us, but couldn’t do anything. We were saved by Roa, then the twin wolves, then the gryphon…we can’t do anything.”

Dietrich was sitting on the ground, holding one of his knees. His other stretched leg was being pawed at by the twin wolves. It looked like they were just adding on his wounds, but they only meant to invite him to play with them, since in their mind he wasn’t injured much.

Roa smiled wryly at their nonchalant attitude.

<Hm? The crybaby can hear me too?>

Surprised, Grandpa Gry quickly stood up.

“Crybaby…?”

<You were crying, weren’t you! Flowing snot and all!>

“….Grandpa Gry, since when were you looking…?”

Roa recalled when Dietrich hugged him and cried while mysterious liquids poured on Roa’s head. It happened a good while before the gryphon arrived to save them.

<…well, that’s…not something worth discussing now, is it!>

Roa’s accusing tone made the gryphon realize its blunder. Feeling guilty, it tried hastily to change the subject. 

Grandpa Gry had actually returned to the forest just a bit before Roa’s group encountered the mithril golem: not much time had passed yet.

It returned just when Dietrich and Bernhart were discussing the twins’ magic. Dietrich was arguing with Bernhart with his face still dirty with tears and snot, so the gryphon probably thought he was protesting to the point of tears.

It indeed planned for a shocking entrance, but when it arrived in the forest the situation was already critical.

<….anyway! Not only the brat, but the others can hear me too!?>

Grandpa Gry shouted, meaning to change the topic quicker.

“I do.”

Dietrich’s reply was short, his expression rigid. He was angry at his own inexperience. Roa had also given him a recovery potion, but Dietrich did not accept it.

“I can hear you too.”

“Me too.”

“Y-yes sir, I can hear you! Esteemed Grandpa Gry, I would humbly ask you to impart your knowledge of magic upon me!”

One of the members was in a very different mood than the others, but they all could hear, apparently.

<Hmm…my voice should only reach the person with whom I am bound by a contract, though…maybe you have been affected because you were present when the contract was formed? Or there is another reason? Might this be temporary? Or will it continue? I do not know.>

Grandpa Gry pushed its sharp claws on its beak and reflected.

<Intriguing indeed. Is there a mental component involved? Are the brat and these people connected in some way? Brat, what is your connection with these people?>

“…..”

Interrogated by Grandpa Gry, Roa did not know what to answer. In actuality, they were an escort party and their employer: Coralde had paid them, but in reality, they were hired adventurers and the person who hired them.

After being with them for just a few days, however, Roa did not want to say that.

“We’re comrades!”

Dietrich was the one to break the silence.

“Roa is my, our comrade!”

<Is that so.>

As he did, Granda Gry’s expression turned sour. It stood up slowly and sent a sharp look towards Dietrich.

<By “comrades”, you mean…in the same way as the useless lot, the fools drunk over being called “Hero Party”?>

Nostalgia’s members could not answer Grandpa Gry’s words right away.

<Are you trying to use the brat’s abilities too? He is a rare kind of human, isn’t he? The useless lot made ample use of his abilities, but mistook them for their own and treated him like a worthless being. Someone with sharper eyes would surely want him, yes?>

Grandpa Gry’s gaze towards Dietrich was cold.

<Moreover, the brat has just gained a powerful ally in I. The twin wolves are also ready to form a contract anytime. Do you now wish to make him a comrade because of us?>

“No!!”

Dietrich looked straight back at Grandpa Gry.

<Words and behavior are easy to fake. Maybe you are not doing so right now, but what about the future? The brat says that the useless lot was kind to him in the beginning too. The more he provides, the more you will become arrogant, then start thinking that it is natural for you to receive…can you say you will not change? Become used to receive, start noticing the brat’s imperfections and treat him brashly?>

“….no….”

Dietrich’s fists were clenched so hard, his nails were digging into his palms.

<The word “comrade” implies equal standing, does it not? Can you give the brat something as valuable as what he can give? Or maybe you will say that you cannot right now, but will in the future? You cannot even defeat one mere mithril golem, but will say that “one day” you will, and lean on the brat and us in the meantime? That is what a parasite would say, yes? I know that because the brat was called so often, see?>

“You damned….!”

Dietrich stood up and howled like a beast.

“Don’t you dare look down on us!! We’ll take down your blasted mithril golem! That’s what we have to do, right!? No, I’m going to cut you down too, dammit! I’ll kill you and show you how strong I am!! And make Roa our comrade!!”

<Hahaha…how interesting. You were worthless scum that doesn’t know its place, after all! This is your true face!>

“Quit yapping!!”

Bonk!

Sounds echoed, at the same time. One came from Dietrich’s back. The other from Grandpa Gry’s head.

Dietrich’s back had been struck by a fierce kick from Cornelia. Grandpa Gry’s head by a wooden brush Roa had pulled out from who knows where.

“Boss!! What are you doing, picking a fight with a high-level magic beast!?”

“Grandpa Gry! I know you’re doing it for my sake, but you said way too much.”

Dietrich collapsed forward and Grandpa Gry held its head with its claws because of the pain.

<….uuugh…brat! What are you doing!? I am simply teaching him his place! If they get close to you the same things as the useless lot will happen again! You wanted to continue being an adventurer with those useless fools, so I didn’t do anything, but I do not want to experience that anymore!! They never appreciated your worth, looked down on you and even threw you out in the end!!>

With the same brush he used to whack Granda Gry, Roa started to gently comb its hair.

<You! Stop right now! Do not think I can be appeased so easily! I do not want to see you used and abused, brat! The twins think so too! Brat, you are mine. I cannot forgive who abuses what is mine…>

The gryphon shouted loudly at first, but gradually simmered down.

<…if you wish to continue adventuring, I shall lend you my powers! You do not need to serve dull humans……my……our powers can easily destroy….other adventurers…..>

The soft brushing pleased Grandpa Gry, who closed its eyes to enjoy it.

<……the twins kept practicing…..to be of help to you…..I also….taught them magic….they said that when they learned it well…..they wanted to surprise you…..give them a name too…..and the contract will be formed.>

The gryphon talked as rumbling, pleased noises came from its throat.

<Think well about the names to give them….contracts can only be bound once, there is no second chance…they love you as their father and mother, brat…give them worthy names….>

Roa progressively put more strength in the brushing. Nostalgia’s members watched as the brushing and pleased rumbling intensified. Only the twins looked on with happy glints in their eyes.

“Grandpa Gry, why did you hide that you can use magic?”

Roa lightly put his hand on the gryphon’s side and it sat down immediately, completely closing its eyes. There was no more harshness in his expression. Roa then pushed it slightly and the gryphon’s body all too easily rolled over, belly up, spreading its limbs and showing its stomach.

Roa continued by brushing its white stomach hair.

<…..I could not use magic because of my wounds…when the twins arrived, I had recovered, but…I did not want to show those abilities to the useless lot…just because I’m a gryphon, they used that spiteful collar to take me from you….if I showed more power, who knows what they would have done…I disliked that my powers led to their fame too……….I planned to do something when the twins became independent, but….>

“Grandpa Gry, you want to be with me, right?”

<…..it’s the same for the twins, you know?>

“I see.”

Roa then stopped and looked at Nostalgia’s members.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t become your comrade.”

There was a conviction in his tone. Roa’s expression was clear. He had the face of a man who had made his decision.

“I see…yeah, I should have known.”

Dietrich replied first to Roa’s words. He was still on all fours because of Cornelia’s kick, so he looked up at Roa’s face. His face, dirty with mud, showed a lonely smile. Hearing what Grandpa Gry said to Roa probably gave him things to think about.

“Even if I did, I would probably be in the way….”

“After all that happened, you still put yourself down like that?”

“Eh?”

Despite the fact that Grandpa Gry talked about Roa as if he was superior to Nostalgia, Roa’s opinion of himself had not changed. The reason why he refused could maybe be that he didn’t want to bring them down, rather than what Grandpa Gry said.

As usual, he had a fairly low opinion of himself. Smiling wryly, Dietrich thought of the people that caused him to think like that and clenched his fists.

<….hey! You’re already finished!?>

Grandpa Gry scolded Roa, still lying belly up. The short brushing clearly did not satisfy him.

“Yeah, the conversation was over after all.”

Roa replied in an unexpected way and returned to brushing Grandpa Gry. The other Nostalgia members looked at him a bit sadly but accepted Roa’s decision.

“People too used to getting dumped always go wild…”

“That was just like meeting your new girlfriend’s father and proclaim she is your lover. Of course he’d get wary.”

“It was a chance to learn unknown magic….you deserve the death sentence…!”

“Woof!”

“Woof!”

Fully recovered thanks to the magic potions, Nostalgia’s members stated their accusations one by one.

“No, we were Roa’s comrades, weren’t we!? We shared a life or death experience together!”

“You really have to realize that delusions like that are the reason why girls don’t like you. I told you in advance not to confuse Roa, but there you go…”

“Woof!”

“Woof!”

“I’m sorry…..but hmm…why are the magic wolves kicking me like this…?”

The twins were indeed continuously kicking Dietrich. Roa found it heartwarming, since they were inviting him to play, but to Dietrich and the other Nostalgia members it only looked like they were adding on his injuries.

“Anyway, should we set up camp? My detection can’t find anything anymore and with the gryphon and the twins around, we should be safe. I’m exhausted, honestly.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

<What are you saying?>

Everyone agreed to Kristoff’s proposal to set up camp, barring one….gryphon, Grandpa Gry.

<The crybaby said that he can take down a mithril golem like nothing, didn’t he? It’s a problem if he doesn’t.>

The gryphon grinned, deftly twisting its beak. Its stomach was still being brushed, so it was still -rather shamefully- belly up with its limbs spread, but even if it could speak human language, its sense of shame was not the same as the average human. On the contrary, it showed its stomach rather boldly.

“Even if he said that, it’s gone now, isn’t it?”

Kristoff pointed at the golem’s glowing remains. It was clearly dead and did not move an inch.

<It’s gone “ now”, that’s correct. But the sparkly guy I defeated wasn’t around in the first place, you know? So why do you not think that a new one could appear?>

“!?”

The Nostalgia members tensed up. Roa stopped the brushing too.

“Is it possible for another one to show up?”

<Possible? It’s preparing to do so as we speak.>

The new of this very unhappy truth froze not only Nostalgia, but also Roa in place.

<The mithril golem I defeated was formed by the scum the twins played in the valley. They probably thought that attacking with numbers wouldn’t work. The survivors fused into one and increased their strength. It worked against the twins, so I suppose they weren’t wrong, but it was meaningless against someone truly powerful such as I!>

Grandpa Gry stood back up, climbed on top of the golem to prove a point, then looked down -literally and figuratively- on the group.

<Anyway. This was formed by the golems in the valley. So it is not strange for the ones in the forest to form another one, is it? In fact, I can feel their presence gathering in one spot.>

In clear contrast with Grandpa Gry’s amused tone, Nostalgia’s members were growing pale. The situation had taken a nasty turn…but they did not have the means to resist.

“You’re telling me to defeat it?”

<You were the one to say you could, weren’t you?>

“That was the condition to become comrades with Roa, wasn’t it?”

<I can’t recall making such a promise. You said you would defeat it, all on your own. No need to worry, I will take care of the brat, I won’t get in your way.>

Grandpa Gry’s sadistic tone froze the atmosphere.

I just said that because I got too worked up! 

Such words came up into Dietrich’s throat, but then he remembered that he said he would cut down the gryphon as well. Thinking that the gryphon could bring that up again, he realized that there was a higher chance of surviving against the mithril golem.

However, they were not currently in danger and there was no reason to put themselves in it. There was now enough strength to protect Roa and now that he clearly refused to become their comrade, there was no point in looking for a fight. Dietrich didn’t have the slightest intention to go fight a mithril golem on his own will. If possible, he would like to be forgiven.

I guess I should prostrate myself or something…so he started thinking.

It was somewhat pathetic, but Dietrich was used to prostrate himself to apologize….only to girls, though.

<Oh, but I know that the crybaby alone isn’t strong enough. In my vast generosity, I will allow your comrades to assist you and will also lend you some knowledge to help you win.>

“YOU WILL LEND US KNOWLEDGE!?”

The shout came from Bernhart. He was so loud that even Grandpa Gry faltered.

“I WILL DO ANYTHING!! PLEASE IMPART US YOUR TEACHINGS!!”

Bernhart shouted again as he approached the gryphon. His eyes were filled with reverence.

Even if they could talk and it was an ally at present, to approach a high-level magic beast like that wasn’t normal at all.

<…..hm….?>

Grandpa Gry too found itself at a loss for words because of the unexpected reaction. Roa, who was thinking of whacking the gryphon again for getting too feisty again, was taken aback too.

“What kind of knowledge could allow a magic user like me to defeat that mithril golem!? Is it something like your majestic wind magic? But I do not have enough magic power to cast such a powerful spell! What kind of methods would you suggest!?”

Bernhart continued pressing the gryphon with questions, close enough that spit from his fervent words could reach the magic beast. He was clearly desperate not to lose a precious chance.

“Stop it! We didn’t stand a chance before, remember? How are we supposed to win!? There’s no need to risk our lives for nothing!!”

“Yeah, and the gryphon can kill it easily, right? Even if we can receive its teachings, shouldn’t we take Roa back to town first? We will apologize for the leader’s rash words, but don’t make us take risks for nothing!”

Cornelia and Kristoff tried with all their might to pull Bernhart away from Grandpa Gry, but he resisted with unthinkable strength. It was probably the kind of strength people could exert in extreme situations.

“I will not give this up, no matter what!! Cornelia, try all you want, but I will not stop!! This is a chance to touch upon the knowledge of a being that can use such advanced magic so easily! And it even offers to teach us personally!! I will never surrender!! If you two refuse, then the leader and I will go alone!! I will receive lord Grandpa Gry’s precious teachings and rise to greater heights!!”

Roa had no chance to interject. He had no idea how to react to Bernhart, whom he thought to be a quiet, attentive person, and his verbal rampage. He had showed a similar reaction when the wolf twins used their magic: evidently he was the kind of person that lost sight of his surroundings when magic was involved. A magic fanatic, so to speak.

…I have to be careful too….

Roa knew that he shared some of Bernhart’s qualities, so he calmly reflected while looking at the situation. Dietrich was standing there dazed as well, but he was feeling much tenser. His words had started it all, after all. Then Bernhart involved him even more.

He had to find a way for both Bernhart and Grandpa Gry to desist. He didn’t know the gryphon’s personality well, so he didn’t know what the right course of action could be. On the other hand, he knew Bernhart’s too well, so he knew that he wouldn’t stop easily and was at a loss about what to do.

“Bernhart! Calm down!!”

“I am calm!”

“If you were, you wouldn’t say stuff like that!!”

“I am!! This is a stroke of luck that not even her excellency the queen could grant!! What magic user worth their salt could ever let it go!? O esteemed Grandpa Gry! I beg of you, please do share the secrets of your unfathomable powers! I beseech you, even the tiniest fragment of your boundless wisdom will do!”

Even while wrestling with Kristoff and Cornelia, Bernhart fought them off with every last ounce of his strength and continued shouting.

After listening to Bernhart’s passionate pleas, Grandpa Gry glanced at Roa. He looked perfectly happy, with an utterly satisfied expression on its face.

<Hehehehe…hahahaha!!! Look, brat!! This is the correct appreciation of my powers!! Not flicking bugs or calling me weird names like you do!! Now, brat!! Adore me as he does!! Brush me with reverence!! Prepare me meals with utmost respect!!>

The gryphon boasted and laughed loudly. Despite the high-sounding tone, what he said was almost pitiful, which was very like Grandpa Gry.

…Grandpa Gry did not actually mean to sic the mithril golem on Nostalgia. It simply felt like pranking them a little. Dietrich just needed to act humble and apologize. The gryphon just wanted to make him swallow his words, after saying that Roa was their comrade as if he was something they owned.

He knew that Roa would stop any proposal that put Nostalgia in danger, after all. It could tell that Roa liked them and it heard from the twins that they had put their lives on the line to protect him. The conversation was supposed to end when Roa interjected between them.

Because of Bernhart’s unexpected entry, however, the conversation turned to how the gryphon should be adored. No matter what triggered it, there was no way that the proud gryphon wouldn’t be pleased by it. It had forgotten its initial goal and was now cackling, very much pleased.

Looking at Grandpa Gry, Roa found himself calmer, almost cold. He didn’t really care what they did anymore. Grandpa Gry is a good teacher, so they should be okay….

Roa sighed loudly. Despite what it said, Grandpa Gry usually took good care of those beneath it. It would never treat badly someone that approached it as humbly as Bernhart did.

The wolf twins were a good example: after it took them under its wings, their safety was guaranteed. Nostalgia’s members would be pushed a little hard, maybe, but they would be injured at most. Nothing Roa’s recovery potions couldn’t fix.

The rampaging Bernhart and adulated Grandpa Gry couldn’t be stopped easily even if they tried. Their safety was guaranteed, so letting them do as they pleased could be the best way to limit damage to a minimum.

“Guess I should do what I want too…”

The loudly laughing Grandpa Gry, Bernhart grappling and fighting against Cornelia and Kristoff. Dazed and confused Dietrich. Despite the probably imminent arrival of a mithril golem, the 4 humans and the magic beast seemed to be acting a comedy, so Roa let them be.

Roa looked at the magic wolf twins, still pecking at Dietrich; they immediately understood what his gaze meant and ran up to him.

Roa gently patted them.

“Can you help me a little? I want to gather mithril fragments about the size of a fingertip.”

The twins wagged their tails happily and ran towards the former golem, now just a heap of mithril.

“Let’s see if it works.”

No one was there to hear his excited whisper.

𑁋

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