DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 10 Part 4

Under a perfect blue sky, the town welcomed another morning. 

Five days have already passed since Roa accepted the Citadel Dungeon inspection request at the Adventurers’ Guild.

In the city center, the gates leading to Count Amadan’s residence were wide open. Under the watchful eyes of the gate guards, a platoon appeared.

A gorgeous, dazzling white horse-drawn carriage and mounted knights surrounding it. After it, another carriage and foot soldiers. They were around one hundred, but maybe because they were assembled with haste, there were gaps in their advance: their pace was not coordinated.

They were all armed enough to suggest that a war might be starting, though.

The Citadel Dungeon inspection party.

That was the name of the platoon heading towards the Citadel Dungeon to inspect it, just as the name said. The core of the party was formed by the Nemophila Knights, headed by Count Amadan’s fourth daughter, to which soldiers and magic users deemed necessary were forcibly aggregated to complete the party.

This was because the Nemophila Knights were not created for battle and were not included in any regular military organization. They were a band of all-female knights created for the count’s 4th daughter, a mere 10-strong group that functioned as a decoration more than anything. The reason behind their existence was a story in itself.

The story was titled “Tales of Princess Knight Eileen”.

Despite the same name, there was no relation with Count Amadan’s 4th daughter, Eileen. The tales were about a princess that lived several hundreds of years before in this Kingdom of Perdu.

She was proficient in all martial arts, a hero that waged war in countless battlefields and achieved innumerable victories. She was also a beautiful maiden with shining blonde hair. It wasn’t clear how much of it was historically accurate, but, at least in the tale, she was portrayed as such.

Accompanied by strong comrades, she fought on many battlefields, loved a foreign prince, commanded powerful magic beasts and fought against evil ones, loved a foreign minister, fought against the tribes of the blazing deserts, loved a subordinate despite their difference in status, then loved another foreign prince.

Her tales were so popular that they were still played in the capital’s theater. Eileen too had enjoyed them since she was a child. They shared the same name and a similar standing as daughters of nobles, so it was natural that, in her strong childish fantasies, she fell in love with the character.

Eileen strongly admired the princess knight and wanted to be like her. Having the same name, she saw herself as the same character.

Unfortunately…or rather, luckily enough, she was quite skilled with the sword…at least compared to *other things*. Her results in studies, magic, dance or knitting were all catastrophic, at least she had some talent with the sword.

Being the 4th daughter of a Count was a precarious position, actually. She could be used for political marriages, but if she didn’t have any strong points she could be left behind. She needed at least one thing to be proud of. The count, while half giving up on her, decided to have her trained in the art of the sword at least.

Eileen then spent day after day practicing the blade. When she turned 15, the Nemophila Knights were formed. 

Eileen herself wished for this band of knights to be created, but for the Count, it was a last resort. She did not have the necessary skills to join an official band of knights, not even as an apprentice, but it was too late to have her give up on the sword. Even if she did, there was nothing else for her to do. In such a situation, the Count opted to create a new band of knights.

Since a noble lady like Eileen would be the leader, no male knights could be allowed to be close to her, so all appointed members ended up being women.

The Nemophila Knights’ main duties were to act as security during ceremonies and banquets. Even if they stayed inside they would not look intimidating, instead bringing beauty and grace, so they were used surprisingly often. They were even sent to the royal capital’s ceremonies at times.

One of their biggest strengths was that they could freely enter locations where only women were allowed, and, since their captain was a noble, they had excellent manners and were very attentive, so they were especially popular among ladies of high society.

However….

“We can finally depart on an adventure…!”

Knight captain Eileen, sitting in her pearl white carriage, whispered to herself. Her dream was to become like princess knight Eileen, not to be just a captain of knights in name.

She craved for adventure from the bottom of her heart.

“My first adventure at 20 years old…this must be fate.”

Princess knight Eileen too first visited the battlefield at 20 years old. Until then she had been treated as a burden by the royal family, but she proved her worth on the battlefield and quickly started climbing the path to become a hero. Thus started the tales.

“Today marks the beginning of my tale as well!”

Eileen, blushing in excitement, tightly hugged her trembling body.

𑁋

At the same time…

Roa and his three servant beasts were outside the town, in an open field just outside the gates. They were scheduled to join the Citadel Dungeon inspection party there.

Access to the city center, where the count’s mansion was located, was restricted for commoners, and its walls did not allow magic beasts to enter it, even if they were a tamer’s servant beasts.

Because of this, they had to meet in a location different than the palace the inspection party departed from, so Roa was informed to head to that location outside the city gates.

“It’s almost time for departure. Are you sure you won’t rethink it?”

Cornelia, standing next to Roa’s group, asked a question. No one else from Nostalgia was present: she had come alone to see Roa off. The other members had left earlier on a horse carriage and were already moving, as they would need more time than Roa and the inspection party to reach the Citadel Dungeon.

Nostalgia was also authorized to enter the Citadel Dungeon, but the authorization came from their homeland, the kingdom of Nereus, they would have to enter it through a different route than Roa’s. It was a longer detour compared to the one Roa’s group would take, so they were forced to take separate ways.

Only Cornelia stayed back, as she would receive the weapons Bruno made for them and then join them as quickly as possible. Thanks to that, she could stay and see off Roa.

“No matter what anyone says, I’m going. My safety is guaranteed by Grandpa Gry, and I want to become an adventurer after all. Why don’t you and the others give up on going instead, Cornelia?”

“Well, I agree that it’s better for us not to go, but the leader…”

Such a conversation had been repeated several times during the last five days. Both were worried about each other and tried dissuading the other party from going to the Citadel Dungeon, but both of them had firm convictions.

Roa would never give up his ambition to become an adventurer and Nostalgia’s leader, Dietrich, was being obstinate.

<Have I not said so many times that there will not be any problems? Do you doubt me?>

Grandpa Gry, lying on the grass, his wings spread as it basked in the sunlight, interjected. The magic wolf twins were running around as they pleased, chasing after butterflies, stopping to smell the flowers.

“I know that, but we’re still worried.”

“I’m actually worried about you all, though. Will you really be okay?”

“Getting to the Citadel Dungeon won’t be any trouble, I think. Then we’ll probably have to rely on Grandpa Gry, though…”

Roa’s group and Nostalgia promised to meet before entering the Citadel Dungeon and to go in together: it was the safest compromise and the only way for both parties to feel relieved. They didn’t know, however, what the inspection party Roa travelling with them would have to say about that.

Cornelia said that they will have no trouble getting to the Citadel Dungeon, but her expression was not as bright as her words suggested. She seemed to be concerned about something.

Very few people had ever entered the Citadel Dungeon and returned alive: it was known to be a place of certain death, so her concerns were well-founded. Even if Grandpa Gry said there wouldn’t be any problems, she couldn’t help being worried.

“….I can’t shake off this worry. Please take this.”

“Eh?”

Roa gave Cornelia one of the three magic bags he was holding. He had borrowed them from the Coralde company and had Grandpa Gry modify them. It was not camouflaged as a normal bag like the one he used before and looked as flashy as magic bags usually did.

“What is this?”

“You might think I’m fussing too much, but please take it. It contains various magic potions, the *special water* effective on the undead and clothing made from Grandpa Gry and the twins’ fur. All the magic potions are labeled to explain their effects, so check how to use them and what they do. There’s a lot of that special water too, so use it against the undead. The clothes are more protective than chainmail, but it’s easy to sweat in them, so be careful. You can just give back the magic bag to the Coralde company when you’re done.”

Bombarded by all that information, Cornelia looked confused at the magic bag.

Every time Roa brushed Grandpa Gry and the twins, he thought that he would like to do something with the great quantity of fur that came off them. The simplest way would be to turn it into thread and make clothing with it, but the servant beasts’ fur had all sorts of unique properties that made it difficult to use.

It was soft to the touch but turned hard if it sustained a shock; if twisted it tried to return as it was right away, so Roa couldn’t make thread out of it. He mentioned this to yarn spinning artisans in the Coralde company and they solved the problem for him.

Normal sheep fur was washed to remove all dirt and grease, lined uniformly and spun into thread.The servant beasts’ fur couldn’t be processed this way, so they heated it up, treated it with chemicals, mixed it with fur from other animals and somehow succeeded in making thread out of it.

Such a process was very complex and difficult, so even veteran artisans ended up making defective products four times out of ten: once it was spun into thread it wasn’t possible to process it again, so it was deemed unfit to be made into a product. The silver lining was that it could be used as a unique item for a special person. 

The clothes Roa gave to Cornelia was made from the thread processed then, which he bought and had made into inner clothing by Coralde company employees.

Roa wore it too, and while it felt pleasant against the skin, it didn’t let much air through and made it easier to sweat. In exchange, it provided greater defense than chainmail, could not be cut by regular blades, and also absorbed blunt impacts.

Grandpa Gry’s fur by itself would be weak to fire, but thanks to mixing in the twins’ fur, that weakness was canceled out.

“…is it really okay? I’m very thankful, but…”

“Please don’t worry. The reason why you’re going to the Citadel Dungeon is me and Grandpa Gry, so think of it as an apology.”

Roa’s words made Cornelia feel even more conflicted. Various magic potions, holy water, inner clothing made from magic beast fur. Such items would easily cost an absurd amount of gold. She couldn’t just accept them so casually.

Even Roa was not sure whether he should give them to her, worrying that he might cause trouble instead. He felt that Cornelia was worried about the journey, though, so he made the decision to give it after all.

“Thank you. I will accept them, then.”

Cornelia thought for a moment about what to do, but considering that they were going to the Citadel Dungeon, accepting the items was the only realistic choice. Especially the *special water*, holy water, would be very useful against the undead.

The undead around the Citadel Dungeon were impervious to physical attacks and among them there were also ghosts and liches, which were hardly affected even by many kinds of magic, except recovery spells.

Nostalgia’s members planned to use the weapons crafted by Bruno against them, but since they would be using such weapons for the first time, they weren’t sure how effective they would be. With holy water, they could defeat them easily. They just needed to pour it on the undead, so it was easier than exterminating insects, so it was an item anyone would crave when fighting the undead.

“It’s nothing, really! I just planned to be as prepared as possible and made too much stuff, so there are a lot of magic potions too. It’s a problem if you don’t use them, I mean…Mr. Coralde said selling them is forbidden, so I can’t even do that…”

“Wait, Roa!?! What do you mean that selling them is forbidden!?”

<Looks like they’re here. Time to depart!>

Cornelia was about to start grilling Roa, when a group of armed troops appeared from the gates. The time for departure had come.

“Thank you for seeing me off! Take care, Cornelia!”

“You too, Roa!!”

After a simple greeting, Roa left Cornelia.

The inspection party also had foot soldiers among its ranks, but even so it was advancing rather slowly. Maybe they were showing off to the surrounding townspeople that they were leaving. There were people gathered at the gates, looking at them with interest.

<Aren’t those her rampaging ladyship’s soldiers?>

Roa heard Grandpa Gry’s comment and stopped. He looked at the inspection party and noticed soldiers wearing characteristic armor, spread as to protect a pure white horse carriage.

They were wearing full body armor decorated everywhere with nemophila flowers reliefs, so they had to be the band of knights led by the count’s daughter. Their excessively decorated armor would be of little use in battle, except for providing an easy target due to its dazzling splendor. Roa had seen them several times before, so there could be no mistake.

“Looks like it…”

<So this inspection party or whatever is led by her rampaging ladyship. I guess she’s inside that carriage.>

Roa listened to Grandpa Gry’s amused comment and felt something heavy in his chest. No one told me that…he almost wanted to whine.

Count Amadan’s daughter had often been a source of grievances. This was true not only for Roa, but for all adventurers living in the city. She was completely detested by all of them.

Eileen, daughter of Count Amadan, admired very much the “Tales of Princess Knight Eileen” and always tried to join fields of battle. At present the country was in peace, without the slightest threat of foreign invasion, so the only battlefields available were fields of battle against magic beasts or bandit extermination missions.

Fighting against magic beasts was the adventurer’s main job, thus normally the knights did not get involved.

That Count’s daughter, however, did so any chance she got. It would be alright if, once on the battlefield, she showed some cooperation, but she always acted without thinking of what trouble she caused to others and put the whole battle at risk.

In a situation where even the proudest adventurers cooperated with each other, she ignored all orders and acted as she pleased, trying to make a name for herself and getting in the way of adventurers. On top of that, she was also lacking in fighting ability, so once she was in danger she haughtily demanded to be helped. 

Every time the guild would mediate with the adventurers to settle things one way or the other, but some time ago a decisive episode happened to make all adventurers detest her even more.

Not too far from the town of Amadan there was an underground cave-type dungeon. Because of insufficient culling, the magic beasts dwelling in it ended up prowling the surroundings. It was an incident with scale so large that the whole town’s adventurers were dispatched to deal with it.

A detailed strategy was formulated: while surrounding the magic beasts, the adventurers would cause them to spread thin over a wide range to exterminate them, but Count Amadan’s daughter went wild. Too eager to gain achievements, she charged into a pack of magic beasts, lost immediately and ran away, finally luring a large number of magic beasts into one spot.

Because of this, the encirclement was broken and the strategy rendered useless, plunging the battlefield into chaos. Many adventurers were killed or wounded, while the magic beasts that escaped them attacked nearby villages, creating casualties even among civilians.

Those who didn’t know the actual circumstances blamed the guild for the poor management of the situation and the adventurers were met with chilling stares. Count Amadan’s daughter, however, was protected by her noble status and did not take responsibility in any way. She was just scolded by her father, the Count, and ordered to restrain her activities for a while.

She did not apologize, nor show any signs of regretting her mistakes. It was obvious that all adventurers would start hating her. Roa too found her troublesome to deal with. If possible, he wanted to have nothing to do with her.

<She’s an interesting woman for sure. This will be a fun journey!>

“Eeeh!?”

Grandpa Gry’s words made Roa loudly express his surprise. Even the twins looked at Grandpa Gry with suspicion.

“….now that I think about it, Grandpa Gry was also in pretty good spirits the time when the magic beasts overflowed from the dungeon…”

<That was a really fun experience. Those arrogant lot, always barking orders left and right, were pleading for help with tears in their eyes, after all!! It felt great to be able to go as wild as I wanted without anyone saying anything later! Mwahahaha!>

“Well, good for you then.”

Roa sighed heavily. For Grandpa Gry, the count’s daughter was useful for creating a chaotic situation in which the gryphon could freely go on a rampage. It didn’t matter to it whether people died or what damage was caused in the process. The only thing Grandpa Gry cared about was whether something pleased it or not.

When the monsters overflowed from the dungeon, Roa was providing rear support. He distributed magic potions to the wounded, prepared meals, used the twins and monster repellent to create safe areas. Because of this, he doesn’t know how exactly Grandpa Gry went wild, but remembers well how happy the gryphon looked when it rejoined them later. He probably caused a lot of chaos too.

“Grandpa Gry, don’t do anything rash, all right?”

An unidentified concern welling in his heart, Roa rubbed the gryphon’s neck and tried to get it to listen.

<I have never done anything rash, though? What are you saying? There is no one as prudent as I!>

“Yes…yes, you’re right.”

Roa didn’t know if Grandpa Gry was serious or was just joking to change the topic, but as soon as he heard the reply he gave up on getting it to listen. It was pointless if it didn’t have any intentions of listening.

Grandpa Gry looked at Roa’s reaction and grinned.

“Okay then…I’ll go greet them and ask where our position is, so be good, okay?”

<Yes, of course.>

Roa then quickly walked towards the inspection party. Grandpa Gry looked at him go, then talked again.

<Looks like the brat forgot.>

“Bow-wow?”

“Bow-wow?”

The magic wolf twins tilted their heads.

<Her rampaging ladyship wants me. She sent messenger after messenger to that villa, requesting them to hand me over.>

What Grandpa Gry referred to with “that villa” was the house where Crack of Dawn used to live. The daughter of Count Amadan had sent messengers many times in order to request them to give her their gryphon. At the time Bonne’s father, an elite member of the Supreme God church, was the party’s sponsor, so her request was not a demand, but was rather mild.

Grandpa Gry remembered, however, that every time it met the count’s daughter on the battlefield she looked at it with a passionate gaze. It could tell that in her eyes burned envy…or rather, desire. Being looked at in that way was the reason why Grandpa Gry remembered the count’s daughter.

Now that they didn’t have any powerful supporters anymore, it was easy to imagine that the count’s daughter would demand Roa to give her Grandpa Gry. She would probably not accept no for an answer either. Roa had a strong sponsor in the Coralde company, but it was nothing compared to the church.

<Did you know, twins? Princess Knight Eileen was accompanied by a gryphon servant beast, they say.>

The twins didn’t know what to reply and tilted their heads to the side, but Grandpa Gry continued talking.

<It was actually not so, but her rampaging ladyship believes it…what methods will she use to obtain me and fulfill her obsession of the Princess Knight’s tales? Hehehehe…>

Grandpa Gry grinned evilly, leaving the twins with a mixture of surprise and disgust.

<She shall learn that whoever tries to separate me and the brat will suffer an adequate punishment…>

That very moment, the air shook.

A loud rumbling could be heard from the town. It was like something crumbled: the shaking was transmitted by the ground.

<Ooh! The Adventurers’ Guild contraption finally activated! Just like in celebration of our departure! I just tinkered a bit with the magic tools there, so that they would activate when the right time came, but -as expected of me!- what perfect timing! This journey shall be truly enjoyable! I have my own goals too after all! Mwahahaha!!>

Grandpa Gry laughed gleefully, uncaring of the magic wolf twins’ cold gaze.

𑁋

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