DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 11 Part 2
In the end, Roa decided to have the twins take turns carrying him on their backs. Unlike Grandpa Gry, they agreed as soon as he asked. Their bodies looked a bit too small to carry Roa, but they were actually much more powerful and robust than horses. Even with Roa on their back, they could move as normal.
They were so happy to carry him that they kept running left and right, so Roa would get tired instead. Roa made a ruckus trying to calm them down, so the knights thought he was playing around again, but he didn’t notice, just as he didn’t notice how Grandpa Gry was looking at them, feeling lonely for being left out of their ‘games’.
On this first day, the convoy proceeded without problems, and finally evening came. The Citadel Dungeon inspection party stopped to set up camp.
They were still inside the kingdom of Perdu and there were villages and towns in the vicinity of the road they were proceeding on, so they could easily find lodging there. Count Amadan’s daughter, the chief of the expedition, however, was determined to make an adventure out of the expedition, so they were forced to set up camp.
Roa wasn’t aware of such circumstances and wondered why they went out of their way to set up camp, which would be taxing on everyone’s physical form, but guessed they had to have a reason and duly followed suit.
The inspection party stopped in a relatively safe camping site on the side of the road, hitched the horses in the simple facility present and started setting up camp.
Roa spoke and a female knight, probably in charge of operations, replied. Roa didn’t know it, but she was a member of the Nemophila Knights, Dolores.
“Do yours by yourself! Don’t rely on us just because you’re coming together! We knights have no intention of getting chummy with adventurers!!”
The moment Roa opened his mouth, Dolores shut him down sharply. Confused by her reaction, Roa was about to say something, but in the end he just mumbled “Yes….” and walked away, towards the edge of the camping site.
“He wanted to pry some food or a place to sleep from us, I’m sure. What nerve!”
Dolores whispered to herself, as if spitting against Roa’s back, but he didn’t hear. Of course, he didn’t have the slightest intention to take food or a place to sleep from them. He had tried talking to her to see if he could help with the camp preparations. It was clear from Roa’s point of view that the inspection was done in a quite sloppy manner.
The foot soldiers moved around with little to no motivation and Dolores’ orders were lacking too. If they continued like that, it would get dark before they finished. If they started preparing meals then, they couldn’t make anything decent. Roa couldn’t bear looking anymore and called to her, but she had the completely wrong idea.
With nothing else to do, Roa started setting up camp for himself. The soldiers were afraid of Grandpa Gry, so he chose a spot as far away as possible from the center of the camping site, where the bulk of the inspection party was. He thought that the inspection party would probably use the campsite’s stoves, so Roa started gathering stones to build a makeshift one.
When the stone stove was ready, the twins came back with firewood. Roa hadn’t given them any orders, but this often happened since their roles split naturally.
<Grill these whole. With herbs.>
Roa lit up a fire with magic and Grandpa Gry appeared from somewhere, dropping a huge mass of prey in front of him. It was a large bird called a Rainbow Pheasant. It was as big as Roa’s upper body, bigger than Roa himself if its long tail feathers were included. It was not a magic beast, but a normal animal, with beautiful plumage and delicious lean meat.
Grandpa Gry had caught five of them. The gryphon was next to Roa until they reached the campsite, so it had to have gone and caught them in the short time after.
“Now? It takes time to prepare them, you know? I was thinking of cooking the meat I brought, but….oh, okay. Drain the blood then.”
Roa thought for a moment, but concluded that the inspection party would take time to start preparing their meals, so he accepted.
<I already drained the blood. Make sure you make soup with their offal!>
“I know, I know.”
Grandpa Gry had already drained the prey’s blood as it too was used to Roa’s camping routine. Roa then started cutting the Rainbow Pheasants. He said it would take time, but that was just by his point of view. He was quite fast, actually.
Roa said he would have to prepare them, but since Grandpa Gry requested to have them grilled whole, he just had to remove their feathers and extract their organs.
He plucked the feathers carefully, since they could be used as materials, and opened a hole in the birds’ buttocks to extract their organs without damaging them. The neck, claws and other parts that couldn’t be eaten were cut off.
Roa had already finished preparing all five, but the inspection party was still finishing setting up their tents and hadn’t lit up bonfires or fires for the cooking stoves.
“Two for Grandpa Gry, one for the twins…for me the thighs will be enough, I guess…”
Roa talked to himself as he stuffed mashed potatoes through the hole from which he extracted the Rainbow Pheasant’s organs from, then seasoned them with a lot of herbs and a pinch of salt and spices, so that the servant beasts could eat them easily.
He had brought the potatoes and herbs from town: all cooking ingredients were prepared so that they could be used as soon as they were taken out of the magic bag. Roa then placed a grill on the stove and started cooking on low heat, but the inspection party hadn’t yet finished setting up camp.
Smoke billowed in the air. The smell of roasting offal spread in the surroundings, also reaching the inspection party’s camp.
“Tell me how you want them done.”
Roa talked to the twins, who nodded in response. Grandpa Gry was already lying down under a tree. He had no intention of helping, apparently.
Roa then started making soup. He put the sliced necks and claws in the pot first, to make a broth out of them. He added a little bit of salt and spices, as the flavor needed to be thin for the servant beasts, then started making meatballs with meat from the liver and other organs.
Of course, he didn’t use organs with excrements inside, only the organs that humans liked to eat. For the finishing touch, he added a lot of potherbs.
<Mmh? I have no need for vegetables.>
Roa heard Grandpa Gry clearly, but ignored it. A very nice smell was spreading in the surroundings, but the inspection party members had finally finished setting up camp and lighting fires.
“Here you go!”
As soon as Roa spoke the servant beasts gathered around him. The sun had already set and the surroundings were growing darker. Roa too thought that it was the time limit for cooking. Even at night, it was possible to cook by using bonfires, but it would be harder to control the cooking condition of meat or slice ingredients.
The pleasant smell of the food drifted off in the air as the servant beasts happily chomped and chewed on their portions. Some soldiers, attracted by such smells and sounds, wandered closer to Roa’s location, but the female knights in charge of preparations glared them back into position.
Roa too started eating the soup he made for himself, with stronger flavor, together with dried bread. He had baked a lot of dried bread at home in advance, to last a long time but also be delicious and pleasant to chew on. It was an original recipe of his.
The inspection party’s clearly slow work concerned him, but since they refused when he tried to help, he thought that they would find any more interference annoying, so he decided to just eat on his own.
When the surroundings turned pitch black, Roa had finished eating, had put away his tools, lowered the fire and started sipping on herbal tea. Just then, the inspection party started eating their dinner. For the soldiers’ stomachs, stimulated by the pleasant smell of Roa’s cooking, it was a cruel meal.
Stiff bread, dried meat, a soup with a minimal amount of root vegetables. It was a very frugal meal, aimed at nothing but replenishing nutrients, so the soldiers lost even more energy. However, there was no other choice but to eat and they did so while looking at the servant beasts enjoying their delicious-looking meat and vegetables with resentment.
Roa, on the other hand, already started making preparations to go to sleep.
“I want to go gather materials, but…if I went now, they might get angry. I’ll sleep a little, then we’ll go in the middle of the night. Grandpa Gry, you stand out so take care of the camp here, okay?”
Roa said so to the servant beasts, preparing to turn in early. All he had to do was to lean on the already lying Grandpa Gry’s stomach and sleep, though. That’s what he planned to do from the start, so he didn’t make any preparations other than the bonfire.
It would be a problem if it rained, but being used to camping, Roa had already checked the weather and was sure that there was no risk of rain, at least until the next day. Even if he had to set up a tent, though, for Roa it would only take about five minutes.
“You there!! You’re going to sleep like that!? Who’s going to stand guard!!”
Roa was about to drift off to sleep when a female knight -who had been watching him from who knows where- suddenly came yelling at him. She was a different one from the knight Roa talked to before, named Evelyn.
When camping out, someone had to stand guard, that was common sense. When camping in large numbers, the order would be chosen in advance, but since Roa had been told to camp on his own, he had completely forgotten about it.
“Thanks to the servant beasts, there’s nothing to worry about. If anything happens they will notice, so you can go to sleep too.”
With Grandpa Gry and the twins around, there was no need for any human to stand guard. They could notice any enemies in their sleep, and faster than a human could while paying their utmost attention.
Moreover, thanks to Grandpa Gry’s presence, most animals and magic beasts would be too scared to come any closer: the gryphon’s mere presence was more effective than a magic beast repellent. The only realistic threat were other humans, but if they knew anything about gryphons they wouldn’t approach the campsite either.
“Well then, good night.”
Roa then closed his eyes. He leaned his upper body on Grandpa Gry’s belly, sandwiched between the magic wolf twins, and fell asleep.
Evelyn was left speechless by how easily he did and could not utter anything else. Frustrated, she returned where their tents and carriages were and instructed soldiers who hadn’t had their meals yet to take turns standing guard.
She did not trust Roa’s words at all. Even if she did, she could not consciously go to sleep without leaving anyone to stand guard, while entrusting magic beasts -even if they were tamed- with their lives. For a normal person, this was simply obvious.
“What in the world is that adventurer…?”
After handing out her orders, Evelyn sighed deeply.
Roa and the servant beasts continued to sleep until the middle of the night. The moon was hidden by a thin veil of clouds, so darkness reigned in the surroundings.
The campsite was next to the main road and offered a spacious view, but going just a bit farther from the bonfires would make it impossible to see even your fingertips. All members of the inspection party were already sleeping, except the ones standing guard, so in the darkness, only the sounds of the logs crackling in the fire could be heard.
The guards were standing upright, paying close attention to their surroundings, as expected of professional soldiers. They had lit up not only bonfires but also elevated watch fires, so the atmosphere was somewhat ominous.
The troops had at least numbers on their side, so they would take turns in standing guard in hourly shifts. That was probably the reason why they were fine standing up.
“Nothing at all ma’am!”
Evelyn of the Nemophila Knights called to one of the soldiers standing guard. The knights too would take turns standing guard, together with the soldiers, to be ready in case anything happened.
“….is that adventurer really sleeping?”
“Yes ma’am, so the report said. The servant beasts appear to be sleeping as well.”
“Is that so.”
The soldier replied clearly. Other than the soldiers standing guard, some patrolled the surroundings regularly. They also checked on Roa and reported his status.
Evelyn looked troubled for a moment, then headed towards Roa’s camp.
“Is he really sleeping? The bonfire is still burning, though?”
From a distance, she could tell that Roa’s bonfire was still lit. Once she was closer, she could see the boy and the three servant beasts, pleasantly sleeping together.
Gryphons are high-rank magic beasts. They were said not only to never familiarize themselves with humans, but also that humans would be attacked as soon as they entered a gryphon’s sight.
Such a magic beast, however, was now sleeping with a human in front of her eyes. The human was even using the gryphon’s stomach as a cushion. It was simply astonishing. Evelyn felt as if she was seeing something straight out of a myth and swallowed her breath.
That same moment, the magic wolf twins sleeping at Roa’s sides raised their heads at the same time. Evelyn thought that they noticed her approach and took a cautionary stance. She tried her best to keep her hands from reaching for her sword.
She thought that if she showed any hostility a commotion was sure to ensue. She did not want something like that to happen at the moment.
The magic wolf twins, however, waved their paws as if greeting her. They did so at the same time, perfectly synchronized. It even looked like they were smiling. Evelyn was too surprised to react, so she just stood there, dumbfounded.
The magic wolf twins did not pay attention to her anymore and ran off quietly, careful not to wake Roa up. In a split second, they had disappeared from the camp, as quickly as the wind.
“….what was that about?”
Evelyn gazed at the direction the twins disappeared to. She stood there like that for just a short while, but it had been enough time to answer all the questions that popped up in her mind.
The magic wolf twins returned.
Looking at the two magic beasts returning, Evelyn barely muffled a scream.
The twins brought back with them a Dark Panther that they had hunted down. The prey was larger than them, so they carried it using both their backs.
Dark Panthers were large felines with pitch black fur, which used the cover of the night to hunt. In the darkness, they were practically invisible and very difficult for humans to spot. They used this advantage and their feline agility to strike the victim’s blind spot.
The prey would often end up with their throat slashed before even realizing there was an attack, so as Evelyn said, Dark Panthers were feared with the nickname of “Reaper” in this country.
If it was possible to fight them head-on, they were not too dangerous, but even veteran adventurers died if they were ambushed by them.
The magic wolf twins had hunted one down in that short time, so it had to be close. Evelyn, however, had not heard anything. The twins had to have ambushed the Dark Panther instead, killing it before it could make a sound.
The twins dropped the corpse at Evelyn’s feet with a thud. As if they wanted to show it to her. The two wolves then “smiled”.
Did you all notice that this guy was close to the camp? Could you have defeated it?
Seeing the twins deposit their prey at her feet and smile, Evelyn thought that they wanted to boast about their accomplishment and ask her such questions.
Evelyn was scared. Those two were not regular magic wolves. With her limited sword skills, she would be killed easily by them. They could ambush and kill her before she realized it, just like the Dark Panther. Unconsciously, she put a hand on her sword’s hilt, but she was trembling. Her sword clattered.
The magic wolf twins, however, returned to Roa and Grandpa Gry’s side, without sparing a glance to Evelyn. As they did, they grabbed some firewood in their jaws and threw it into the fire.
Evelyn watched them do so and was shocked, again. The servant beasts even took care of the fire. As Roa had said, he could sleep until the morning without any problems. The magic beasts surveilled the surroundings, disposed of any threats and even took care of the fire.
“….we are useless…is that what you want to say…?”
No one was there to answer Evelyn’s question. The twins lied down at Roa’s sides again, as if nothing had happened, and quickly fell asleep.
As if Evelyn and the knights were something they could take care of in their sleep….
A few hours passed.
Dawn was still a few hours away: it was still the middle of the night, but Roa woke up. While the inspection party was sleeping, he wanted to gather materials in the area. Normally it would be dangerous to do so this late, even if they were close to a main road, but Roa had the servant beasts with him.
He had freely gathered materials at night even in magic beast forests until now, so he didn’t find it dangerous at all.
“In this area…I think we can find Goosepalm? It’s good for canceling the smell of wild meat.”
Roa then looked around and noticed that, at the edge of the area illuminated by the bonfire, there was a Dark Panther corpse on the ground.
Roa was using Grandpa Gry as a cushion, so the gryphon definitely did not go anywhere. If the twins had hunted it, they would have put it closer to the bonfire. He couldn’t imagine that the inspection party had hunted it and left it there.
<The twins presented it as a gift to a knight who came here tonight. They did it to create a better relationship with you, but the knight left it there and went away! Such impertinence!>
The answer came from Grandpa Gry. Roa asked for details: as it turns out, a female knight had approached their camp. The twins noticed and, hoping for them to like Roa at least a little more, hunted down a nearby Dark Panther and presented it to the knight.
Dark Panther meat was not good, but its fur was beautiful, so it was often sought after. It was an animal that always moved stealthily and was difficult to hunt, so it was quite precious. As a gift, it was of rather high value.
The magic wolf twins cried sadly. They looked at the Dark Panther, their refused gift, with melancholic eyes.
Roa did not know the reason why, but also considering how he was treated when he tried to help set up camp, the inspection party had no intention to get along with him. Refusing to accept the Dark Panther was probably another sign of their rejection.
“Looks like they don’t like me much.”
Roa felt a little sad, but he gently rubbed the twins’ heads.
“Thank you, both of you.”
There had always been a rift between knight and adventurers. Their attitude might be something he had no choice but to accept. Even so, he was happy that the twins thought about something they could do for him.
“But you don’t need to push yourselves. Just act as usual. There’s still time, we’ll get along soon. No need to hurry.”
Roa consoled the twins as he rubbed their heads and their mood soon improved, as shown by their wagging tails.
“Grandpa Gry, don’t you start thinking about payback, okay!?”
<What!? They disregarded the twins’ good intentions and made them sad!! They must pay!!>
“I knew it, you were already thinking about it…I said no.”
Roa was relieved. Good thing he made sure if Grandpa Gry was up to something.
“Okay, let’s go gather materials then. I want some eggs for breakfast too. Are there any around here?”
<The nest of the Rainbow Pheasants I hunted yesterday should be in the woods west of here. The twins can probably find it easily.>
“I see. Okay then, let’s start walking.”
As initially planned, Roa went gathering materials with the magic wolf twins, leaving Grandpa Gry back to take care of camp.