DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 11 Part 6
“Kh…why doesn’t that adventurer complain?”
In the most gorgeous carriage, Count Amadan’s fourth daughter, captain of the Nemophila Knights, and inspection party leader Eileen James Amadan whispered to herself.
Her white horse carriage was much more luxurious than the others. The undercarriage was made out of wood taken from trees that had transformed into magic beasts, which had extremely strong shock absorbing capabilities. Even, so the rough roads caused her to get motion sickness, so now she was lying on her seat with a very pale countenance.
Wearing tight clothing made her even more nauseated, so she changed into loose pajamas. It was hard to imagine that she was in the middle of an expedition. If they were suddenly attacked, she probably couldn’t even run.
If the expedition’s leader was like that, her subordinates would surely be concerned enough to have a headache, but the knights riding together looked at her without the slightest change in her expression.
“Lowly commoners such as adventurers are used to traveling, after all. He’s probably okay even if we camp outdoors for so many days in a row.”
“That’s true. But his food supplies or finances will run out soon, will they not? He has those voracious magic beasts with him, after all.”
“Indeed. It appears they consume feasts night after night, so it will surely happen soon.”
The female knights were caught in a misunderstanding: Roa had barely used the food supplies he brought with him. The magic beasts caught prey every day and he prepared meals with it. He never cooked it all either, so he had even more food supplies instead. The firewood and other things used to cook were all procured on the spot.
Salt and spices were decreasing, but they were just seasonings, so he would not use large quantities anyway, so they would probably never run out.
As for his finances…he rarely ever entered the towns they visited, nor did he lodge anywhere or buy anything, so he had spent nothing. The female knights’ thinking was based on regular travel, so they made one misunderstanding after the other.
“Let us wait for the moment he runs out of food supplies, then extend a hand of mercy. Until then, do not engage in any sort of contact.”
“Yes, we understand.”
“I am very much looking forward to it. I will have a gryphon under my command, just like the Princess Knight Eileen.”
Eileen’s face, pale due to motion sickness, reddened slightly. She desired Grandpa Gry, as the legends said that her admired princess knight Eileen traveled with a gryphon at her command.
If she simply demanded it, however, not only did she risk being refused, but also antagonizing the gryphon. Because of that, she planned to wait until Roa was in a pinch, to extend a helping hand and curry his favor, thus bringing Roa and the gryphon to her side.
She had not shown herself to Roa yet in order to make her first impression more powerful. What she aimed to create was an episode right out of a fable: the adventurer finds himself in deep trouble and is rescued by the sudden appearance of a beautiful maiden, whom he promptly falls in love with. In a word, a honeytrap.
To be perfectly honest, Eileen’s looks were not what one would define a “beautiful maiden”. As a noble’s daughter, she was completely average: it would be a bit far-fetched for her to become renowned for her looks. That’s how “average” she was. Her features were well balanced, however, evidently enough for her to overestimate her beauty.
“To have such an opportunity to obtain a gryphon…I was indeed born under a lucky star.”
The dreaming maiden blushed while thinking of her dazzling future and managed to forget the motion sickness for a while.
Three more days passed. The party was forced to camp outdoors and their food supplies dwindled steadily. Roa’s meals did not change, however, so the way the troops looked at him went from being resentful to suggesting they were close to turning violent.
Roa, of course, did not just wait without doing anything: trying to improve the situation at least a little bit, he tried asking if he could help in various work, but the supervising knights refused every time.
Roa and the servant beasts could set up the captain’s humongous tent in about 30 minutes if they tried, and the prey hunted by the servant beasts could greatly improve the party’s food supplies situation, but there was little they could do if their help was always refused. Roa had the feeling that the knights were being stubborn.
Eventually they reached the location where the trees around the road grew too numerous and formed a forest, which Grandpa Gry mentioned a few days prior. The inspection party stopped for a moment before the forest that appeared over the road, then started discussing how to proceed.
“It’s really a forest.”
<I do not lie, brat.>
“You ‘forget’ to say important things sometimes, though.”
What Roa was looking at was a rather large forest: it did not look like “trees that increased a bit too much”, but like it had always existed there. The trees were tall and thick, as if they existed there for centuries.
It wasn’t clear how long the road had gone without being maintained, but it had to be dozens of years at least. Even if the trees were cut down now, it would be almost impossible to return to its original state. The trees extended as far as the eye could see, so if they took a detour around the forest it would likely take much more time than cutting through it.
“What will they do, I wonder?”
<Cutting through the forest is the shortest route, but no one with common sense would do that. They will probably take a detour.>
“But it’s not a magic beast forest, right? I could gather all sorts of materials along the way, so I sure hope they cut through it…”
<I suppose it was absurd to expect common sense from you, brat…>
Roa was looking at the large forest with excitement sparkling in his eyes. Forests were a treasure trove of materials, even magic beast forests were no exception. With reliable security such as Grandpa Gry and the twins, Roa could enter even in the most dangerous forests as if he was taking a merry walk, so it was normal for him to be excited.
<There are troublesome beasts in this forest, brat.>
Grandpa Gry twisted its beak into a menacing grin.
“Yeah, you said that before too. What kind of beasts? I can’t think of any animals you would find troublesome, Grandpa Gry.”
The gryphon replied simply by narrowing its eyes. It didn’t seem like it had any intention to answer.
The twins asked too, but the gryphon simply maintained its devilish grin. It was definitely plotting something.
<You’ll find out when we encounter them, so look forward to it. As long as we don’t try to kill them, they will not be “lethal”, so there is nothing to worry about. I believe it will also be good training for the twins!>
“Training…? We’re talking about animals, right…?”
<Beasts, yes. But they are a well-trained bunch.>
Roa and the twins couldn’t understand what Grandpa Gry meant and tilted their heads, puzzled. They couldn’t imagine well-trained animals that were careful to not be “lethal”. Besides, no matter how strong they were, animals couldn’t pose a challenge for the twins.
Even the Dark Panther, considered one of the strongest animals because of its nature and ambushes, ended up being hunted by them instead. What kind of animals could be good training for the twins? What kind of animals would Grandpa Gry consider troublesome?
Roa and the twins both thought about it, but failed to reach a conclusion.
<Ooh, it looks like they will continue on the road! Looks like her rampaging ladyship has as much common sense as you, brat!>
Prompted by Grandpa Gry’s cheerful tone, Roa looked ahead and saw that the head of the convoy was moving straight towards the forest. The horseback knights moved to the front to check the path ahead while they proceeded, but they were still being quite imprudent.
The sun had already started descending, so they had less than half a day for travel. That probably made them hurry ahead, but doing so without knowing the forest’s size or path was nothing short of reckless. Roa, who was used to going into forests, thought it would be impossible to cross the forest by sunset, but Eileen apparently decided otherwise.
“…this is reckless…”
Roa looked forward to going into the forest until moments ago, but looked down on the party’s decision now, even if it complied with his desires.
<Either she’s bold or she’s dumb! Who am I kidding, she’s dumb. As expected of her rampaging ladyship!>
Grandpa Gry cackled loudly in glee, but no one outside Roa’s group could hear. If they did, they would surely be angry.
“I wonder if she knew about this forest?”
<If she did, there is absolutely no way she would have chosen to enter it! Well, time for us to go in! Do not worry, I shall not spoil anything, so you can enjoy the show together with those fools!>
Grandpa Gry looked like a father bringing his children into a haunted house attraction. It was looking forward to how Roa and the twins would react.
<Even you will be surprised, brat!>
Grandpa Gry looked just like it was the attraction’s creator. Roa and the twins half glared at it, with suspicion in their eyes. They were heading towards Grandpa Gry’s old nest, so it wouldn’t be strange if there were contraptions made by the gryphon on the way there.
“Maybe I should warn them….”
Roa whispered to himself, but the knights probably wouldn’t even listen. If they heard there were only animals in the forest, they might proceed with even less caution. Roa sighed deeply while giving the excessively giddy Grandpa Gry the side-eye.