DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 11 Part 1

Chapter 11 – Traveling with the Inspection Party

 

After joining the Citadel Dungeon’s inspection party, Roa’s group was told that their position was at the end of the convoy. 

The Nemophila Knights were in the lead, followed by the horse carriage with the leader of the knights and daughter of Count Amadan inside, then the knights hurriedly gathered to join the party, the luggage carriage, several carriages for the magic users, the foot soldiers and finally Roa and the servant beasts. The foot soldiers were afraid of Grandpa Gry, so they were told to put several hundreds of meters between them.

After a few hours, when they were far enough from town, the formation was changed.

All the foot soldiers rode together with the magic users on the carriages, who moved to the front of the convoy, while the knights surrounded it on all sides to protect it, followed by young lady Amadan’s carriage. After it followed the supplies’ carriage, with Roa’s group last as before.

The first formation only served to show off the young lady and her knights bravely departing for the battlefield: it was probably just a bluff.

She probably thought that placing her knights in the front would express their courage and determination, but if they were going to have the foot soldiers ride on the carriages and change the formation, there was no point in doing something like that in the first place, or so Roa groaned.

The townspeople had not noticed that an inspection party would be dispatched to the Citadel Dungeon anyway, so they probably just thought that young lady Amadan was up to her bizarre antics again.

With the foot soldiers riding on the carriages too, only Roa’s group was left to actually walk and the convoy’s speed increased. Right then, however, a problem came up…

“Grandpa Gry! Please! Let me ride on your back!”

<I said no! How dare you insult me by treating me like a horse!>

“You’re just being stingy!”

<I am not! No one is as generous as I!>

“But you used to let me all the time!”

<The past is the past! I only did it to console you when you cried like a newborn, brat!>

Roa and Grandpa Gry started quarreling. It all started when Roa climbed on one of the carriages, together with the foot soldiers. The carriage was so small it was barely possible to sit: the passengers inside were packed like cattle being sent to the market.

 Moreover, the atmosphere inside was extremely gloomy. No one talked, all the passengers only stared into space with vacant looks on their faces. Some were on the verge of tears. They probably understood what their fate would be once they arrived at the Citadel Dungeon.

The Citadel Dungeon was a destination of certain death. Going there meant to be prepared for the worst. They were also led by the Nemophila Knights, notoriously inept in battle, so it might be said that their total annihilation was ensured.

They had found a glimmer of hope when they heard that an adventurer with a gryphon servant beast would accompany them, but when they saw the short and frail-looking Roa, they were once again plunged into the pits of despair.

Because of such reasons, the foot soldiers morale was at rock bottom.

Roa couldn’t endure the atmosphere inside the carriage, darker and heavier than the depths of the ocean, so he decided to get off and advance together with the servant beasts. However, he didn’t walk fast enough to keep up with the convoy and he couldn’t simply keep running. 

He could use the recovery candies to restore his physical strength, but he didn’t have an endless supply, so he wanted to save them if possible. Thus the next idea he had was to ride on Grandpa Gry’s back.

“You showoff!! You just want to look good in front of the twins!”

<Wha…what did you just….>

“You’re just embarrassed because they’re looking!”

<N-No way!>

“Since the twins came you don’t even rub your cheeks on me anymore! Why do you let me sleep on you but not ride on your back?”

<Ngh…that…that’s….yes! I am just using you and other humans as hot water bottles! Hugging pillows! I am simply using you, brat! No problem!>

“You’re not making any sense!”

Roa was running behind the convoy with his servant beasts and shouting at Grandpa Gry. They were hidden by the supplies carriage, so no one saw them quarrel, but Roa’s voice reached the rest of the formation.

“What is that boy doing, all by himself? Does he think this is a pic-nic?”

One of the female knights pursed her lips in disapproval. Since only Roa could hear Grandpa Gry’s voice, it looked like he was making a ruckus with his servant beasts by himself. It was natural for them to find it suspicious.

“Why did his lordship request the assistance of someone like that…?”

“My, my, Brigitte, don’t be so upright.”

The fuming knight on horseback was suddenly called out. The female knight called Brigitte turned towards the source of the voice and saw another female knight on a horse approaching her.

“However, Clarissa, letting someone like that accompany us will have people question our worth!”

“I am not satisfied with it either, but it is an order from his lordship. We have no choice, do we?”

“That is true, but-”

The two female knights, Brigitte and Clarissa, lined up side by side.

“He has a gryphon with him after all. Even though he looks young, he must be an accomplished tamer. This will be a long journey, let us watch over him for now.”

“….yes, but…”

Admonished by Clarissa, Brigitte’s mouth twisted, failing to hide her discontent. Clarissa laughed wryly: she found her too honest comrade troublesome to deal with sometimes, but also had great affection for her.

“The captain is surely thinking ahead. Let us follow her orders.”

“For such an honorable mission to be sullied by that…”

Unlike the hastily gathered knights and foot soldiers, young lady Amadan and her Nemophila Knights thought the expedition to be an honorable one. They realized that they were heading towards a place where certain death was guaranteed, but they brimmed with a baseless confidence that they would return alive.

The reason why they could have such confidence was that not one of their members had ever perished on the battlefield until now, but what they did not understand was that this was only because other adventurers and soldiers had died for them to return safely. No one ever told them this happened, so it was natural for them not to know.

Their captain was a noble, so very few ever dared speak against the Nemophila Knights. They were treasured as guards for banquets and ceremonies and often praised, making it easier for them to fall into such misunderstandings.

They would never even dream of the possibility that the captain’s father and founder of the Nemophila Knights, Count Amadan, sent them to this expedition to get rid of them…

𑁋

At the same time, Nostalgia’s members -excluding Cornelia- were riding in a horse carriage.

Count Amadan’s inspection party and Roa were heading straight towards the Citadel Dungeon, but Nostalgia was heading west first. Their homeland, the kingdom of Nereus, did not border directly with the Citadel Dungeon’s area, but since it was one of the neighboring countries, it lent its assistance to the management of the neutral area where the Citadel Dungeon was located.

When Nereus citizens headed to the Citadel Dungeon, they had to pass through one of the countries which bordered directly with it, so the routes they could use were limited. Nostalgia’s group was currently heading towards one of such routes.

“Here you go!”

A voice with a somewhat angry tone was heard and a cloth bundle struck Dietrich’s forehead.

“….what’s this?”

Dietrich, who was polishing his sword inside the carriage, looked at the direction the bundle came from. His gaze was met and sustained by Kristoff, who had thrown it.

“What’s this!? What’s this you say!? I fixed it for you so thank you is what you should say!! Your pants had that hole in them for one whole month!! And you can’t even fix it yourself so you had someone else do it!! What are you, five!?”

Kristoff’s mood was foul.

“Deciding to go to a dangerous place like the Citadel Dungeon because you got all caught up in the moment! But who had to do all the paperwork? Me! I contacted the country and got it all done in five days and thought I could at least take it easy on the carriage, and what do I hear!? “Fix my pants!”!? Are you stupid or what!? You sure let that meager power you have get to your head!! Do you know how many problems you’re causing us!?”

He spat out a stream of irritation. In the last five days, Kristoff had frantically made preparations to go to the Citadel Dungeon, even cutting sleep. He was the party’s contact with the Nereus kingdom: the only one who could negotiate with them. Only he knew what documents were necessary to request authorization to enter the Citadel Dungeon.

Because of this, he had to take care of almost all preparations by himself. “Almost”, but all Dietrich did was sign the papers Kristoff prepared. The whole burden was actually shoved onto his shoulders.

The other members too helped with preparations other than paperwork, of course, but Kristoff was in charge of many of those too.

Dietrich and the others would be useful in battle, but the way they made preparations was too sloppy to be trusted. Everyone other than Kristoff thought that the more supplies they had the better and that for horse carriages more expensive was almost better, so it was headache after headache for him.

If he let them do things unsupervised, they would buy a lot of unnecessary things and rent luxury horses and carriages unsuited for traveling, just because they looked good. Because of this, he had to use the very little free time he had to also prepare for the journey.

He managed to make it in time thanks to his Coralde company connections helping their departure, but without them they would have departed without being fully prepared. 

Then, when they finally left he hoped he could get some rest on the carriage, but Dietrich told him that he wanted him to fix the holes in his trousers. It would be strange not to explode at this point. Doing so only after fixing them, however, proved how Kristoff was actually serious and honest, despite his gigolo-like looks.

“You could have gone to pick up Mr. Bruno’s weapons too! But Cornelia had to go because you went and tried to punch him without thinking! I don’t care how strong she is, how can you make a woman travel alone!?”

“….that’s because the swords would be ready today…”

“How much time do you think it takes to make a sword!? Three swords and one knife in 5 days!? That man is insanely fast!! Don’t you even have an ounce of common sense!? It’s a miracle that they made it in time for this trip!! I could have gone myself, but she was worried that I was tired, so I had no choice but to let her!! I was dead tired for real anyway!!”

Dietrich didn’t know how to deal with Kristoff’s anger. As he said, the sudden decision to go to the Citadel Dungeon, Cornelia having to go alone to Bruno’s workshop, leaving holes in his trousers for over one month were all his responsibility, so there was nothing he could say. Any excuse or justification would have just added more fuel to the fire, anyway.

Dietrich’s shoulders dropped. He put away the sword he was polishing and quietly listened to Kristoff’s scolding, hoping he would be satisfied soon.

“You’re old enough to learn to do paperwork anyway!! Even someone stupid like me can do it, so you just have to try!! Do something to serve your country instead of playing around all day!! Learn to sew, dammit!! “I’m not good at delicate stuff”!? What!? That’s only because you always ask other people to do it.”

“….you’re absolutely right, but….wait, what the!?”

Dietrich was listening obediently to Kristoff, when he picked up his newly fixed trousers and noticed something. He looked at the fixed part and shouted.

“That’s just perfect for you, o dear leader!!”

Kristoff looked at his surprised expression and laughed, triumphant. The trousers he fixed were a pair Dietrich liked very much. They were made with materials that originated from magic beasts, making them resilient, easy to move in and breezy. The material was of much better quality than the light cloth of his usual clothes, so he used them often for battle.

He was wearing them in the Aldon forest too, and that was when they were damaged. The holes formed when the magic wolf twins applied their paw marks on Dietrich’s thighs: one scorching, the other freezing. Simply put, they were paw holes.

“You bastard, what the hell…”

Dietrich spread his trousers wide. Over the holes, there were bright red stitches, in the same shape as the paws. Three stitches per leg, covering the holes created by the paw marks, lined up neatly.

“You love playing with your little wolf friends, don’t you! So I made them just for you!!”

“…you’re gonna pay…!!”

“Aren’t you glad? They’re shaped like the paws of your cute little friendos! Now you can be together all the time!”

“…I’m gonna kill you…!!!”

The two glared at each other with very menacing smiles on their lips. Soon enough, a fistfight broke out. Bernhart was sitting in the coachman’s seat, handling the horses on his own. He could hear all the shouting and fighting, but kept looking forward without even raising an eyebrow.

“They’re not tense at all, are they…”

A whisper escaped his lips.

𑁋

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