DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 11 Part 7

The convoy advanced through the forest. The road had been taken over by the forest: large roots grew under the stone pavement, displacing it and making it hard to walk on. The road was originally wide enough for two carriages to proceed side by side, but now it barely accommodated one.

Thanks to the advanced technology used in its construction, the road somehow retained its shape, but if it hadn’t they would be forced to give up on their advance as soon as they entered the forest. The stone pavement, set without gaps by using earth magic, was now uneven and rough, but no grass grew on it. Dead leaves covered it, however, so its edges were barely distinguishable.

A deep forest was dark even during the day. The trees grew tall with their branches interconnecting and preventing sunlight from passing through. After a while, the convoy reached the deepest part of the forest, a point that would make it difficult to even return whence they came. There was still time until sunset, but the surroundings were already pitch black.

The spellcasters’ magic illuminated the path the convoy proceeded on. They could not camp in such a place, so the only option was to advance through the deep forest, even if they did not know how much further it extended.

The inspection party advanced forward, while somehow enduring the fear of being suddenly attacked from the darkness.

“Hey, Grandpa Gry. For a while, there’s been a lot of small presences moving around…”

Normally he would let the servant beasts do it, but this time Roa tried detecting enemy presences. Grandpa Gry had said strange things, and Roa knew well how dangerous it was to trust the gryphon.

Roa used a modified version of Kristoff’s sonar, which Roa simply called “Wave”. Roa’s Wave simply spread a ripple of magic power at regular intervals, but Roa found it very useful, so it had become one of the types of magic he was best at.

If he spread the wave-like magic he did now he could inspect the surroundings and, by controlling its width, he could search the contents of objects or turn it into magic to heat up the contents of objects, unblockable magic which Roa dubbed “Micro Wave”.

Roa was able to modify magic thanks to his dexterity, trained by alchemy, so it would be difficult for others to imitate him. Even for Kristoff, who taught him about the spell, using any modifications was impossible: he had been clearly surpassed by Roa.

Anyway, Roa’s wave detection magic had caught something fleeting, appearing and disappearing in it for a while.

“It’s like their presences aren’t stable…”

<Compared to magic beasts, beasts are harder to detect, especially if they’re small. If you trained regularly, you wouldn’t have trouble though.>

Grandpa Gry shot down Roa’s question and the boy pouted and looked away. He was aware that he always relied on the servant beasts for fighting and detecting threats. He was training recently, but the habit wouldn’t go away yet, so he often forgot to keep wary, except during emergencies. Grandpa Gry called him out on it, so he didn’t want to ask anything anymore.

The inspection party did not seem to have noticed the presences yet, as they advanced without showing any signs of particular caution. What they were wary of were magic beasts, human threats or large beasts, so they did not pay any attention to small animals.

“Bow-wow!”

<Oh, we’re surrounded.>

“Eh?”

Roa spread his detection magic farther, but did not detect any nearby presences. They had to be far if his magic failed to reach.

<They are probably targeting the twins, trying to provoke them.>

Grandpa Gry seemed to be positively enjoying itself. In contrast, hearing that they were the targets the twins’ mood turned sour. They silently bared their fangs, intimidating the surroundings.

“Ah…”

After a while, Roa’s detection magic picked up something. They were the same presences he felt before, very small ones. There were so many, however, that they managed to surround the whole inspection party.

The leaves and branches in the surroundings started rustling. They started making sounds on purpose.

They had approached without making a sound, so it was hard to imagine that they were so careless as to make sounds when they were close to their enemies. Only the servant beasts noticed this, however.

“….something’s coming!”

Hearing the rustling, one of the knights shouted. It was a man, so he had to be one of the knights hurriedly assigned to the party, as the Nemophila Knights were all women. He had to be quite experienced, as he realized something was approaching only by hearing a faint sound.

However, he was just a knight added to the party as an expendable pawn. He was not skilled enough to properly deal with emergencies.

“Why didn’t anyone else notice?”

“Who cares about that! Prepare for battle!”

“Nothing comes up in my detection magic! Are you really sure!?”

“Maybe he was too frightened and overreacted?”

“No, there really is something!”

The spellcaster using detection magic from the carriage’s coachman seat denied the knight’s words, but the knight responded vehemently. The spellcasters’ detection magic targeted humans and magic beasts, so they couldn’t find such small presences.

The other knights weren’t sure how to react and just watched as the spellcasters and the knight quarrelled. They were wary of the surroundings, but gave no orders or even stopped the convoy to take a defensive formation.

<Too inexperienced. Incredibly so. They aren’t taking a single countermeasure!>

“I guess it can’t be helped?”

Roa’s group, at the back end of the convoy, was pretty easygoing. The twins, however, did not hide their hostility and were faintly growling.

Another rustle.

“Waah!” 

After a relatively cute shout, the dull sound of something heavy hitting the ground was heard.

“What happened!?”

Everyone’s eyes focused on one spot: there, a female knight had fallen from her horse.

“S-Something bumped against me!”

The female knights spoke in more arrogant tones while on duty, but the unexpected occurrence probably made her forget about it. She was not hurt from falling, but she was dazed and couldn’t stand up right away.

“It can’t be! My detection magic…gah!”

The spellcaster’s words were cut off when something smacked his forehead. It was a shock strong enough to knock him unconscious: the spellcaster collapsed on the coachman seat.

The light magic he was casting flickered out for a moment, but another light magic spell soon appeared. Grandpa Gry had cast it, but no one noticed it: they all thought someone from the inspection party did it.

“Enemy attack!! Stop the convoy!! Soldiers, get off the carriages and get in formation!!”

“Y-Yes!!”

“Enemy attack!! Enemy attack!!”

They finally realized they were under attack and started preparing for battle, but it was already too late. The next moment, something bumped against the tail of the horse drawing the carriage in front, sending the horse into a panic and running off wildly. It was the carriage with the soldiers on it.

The soldiers were standing up to prepare for the enemy attack, so the horse’s sudden rampage sent them flying and bumping into each other like falling dominoes, piling on top of each other, unable to move.

The wild horse advanced for a few meters, then made a wide U-turn, but the carriage was caught in a large root and fell over.

“Ah! That’s bad! Let’s go help them!”

Roa was calm, believing Grandpa Gry’s words that they would not be “lethal”, but he finally lost his cool. Even if the “enemy” had no intention to kill, an accident could cause unforeseen deaths.

Thinking about it, Grandpa Gry never showed any care or attention to anyone other than Roa or the twins. As long as the gryphon was with them they did not risk death, but the same could not be said for the inspection party.

“Bow-wow!”

“What’s wrong?”

The twins growled in a low tone, as to oppose Roa’s orders. They didn’t move, nor did Grandpa Gry. The gryphon was another story, but the twins would always obey him immediately.

<The twins can’t move, brat. They are only attacking this much because the twins are keeping them at bay. They chose the twins as partners for their game, after all. They’re trying to shake them to make them move. But if they do, we’ll be bombarded by an all-out attack.>

Roa recalled the result of his detection magic. They were completely surrounded: if the enemy launched an all-out attack, the inspection party would be annihilated in seconds.

“Then, Grandpa Gry-”

<I have *promised* not to move.>

“!?”

Roa was confused for a moment by Grandpa Gry’s words, then ran towards the knocked over carriage. If the servant beasts didn’t move, he had to do something himself. He was irritated by Grandpa Gry’s mischievous grin, but there was no time to waste scolding the gryphon.

The situation would worsen in the time spent talking.

The other horses were struck by light objects and lost control, one after the other. They might start rampaging at any moment. The soldiers riding the carriages other than the first one got off, but they didn’t know what was going on and were frightened by the attack so they moved sluggishly.

The male knight, who first noticed the aggressors, was barking orders, trying to arrange the convoy in a defensive formation. No one had the leeway to go help the soldiers in the knocked over carriage.

The female knights…the Nemophila Knights were surrounding their captain’s white carriage. Protecting the party’s captain, who was also a noble, was probably the correct decision in this situation, but they didn’t give the soldiers any orders and just acted by themselves, which was simply irresponsible.

The captain, who should act before anyone else and give orders, was still inside her carriage being protected by her knights. Even Roa was shocked by their actions. He mentally concluded that she wouldn’t be useful and ran to the carriage knocked over. The soldiers who were not wounded by the fall were starting to crawl out.

Roa first helped the soldier who acted as coachman, thrown off by the rampaging horse. He was unconscious, but seemed to have only fractured his hands.

“Please gather the wounded in one place! Anyone not wounded, make a circle and protect them!”

Roa then laid the coachman soldier down next to the carriage and sprinkled a recovery potion on him. He had a bone fracture, so Roa used a medium grade potion. His potions were much more effective than normal ones, so even a medium grade potion could probably heal skull fractures.

“Sorry! Please take care of him!”

“Yes!”

Looking at Roa using recovery potions without hesitation, a soldier carrying a wounded comrade approached him. Roa immediately used a potion on the wounded soldier. Normally, he would check the soldier’s condition and decide the grade of the potion to use, but there wasn’t enough time. The top priority was not to let the wounded die.

A medium grade magic potion could provide temporary relief for any kind of wound, so he decided to use medium grade potions for everyone at first. He took some more potions out of his magic bag and placed them on the ground.

“Please use these on anyone wounded!”

“Hey!! Aren’t these medium grades? Can we really?”

“There’s no time to worry about that!!”

“O-oh, yeah, sorry…”

Roa left the healing to a nearby soldier and went to the crashed carriage. When the horse fell over the harness got caught and broke its neck, so it was already dead. Roa peeked inside the carriage and saw several wounded soldiers inside.

They were stuck inside the carriage, which twisted because of the fall, and couldn’t even crawl out. Some of them tried to lift the part they were stuck under, but it didn’t look like they could manage.

“I’ll help you now!”

Roa then grabbed the knife at his waist.

“What are you going to do!?”

Seeing the knife, one of the soldiers shouted, but Roa smiled in reply, as not to intimidate them.

“I’ll dismantle the carriage and get you out.”

Roa then started cutting the carriage with his knife, as its framework got in the way of the rescue. The carriage was made with wood and looked shabby, but it was sturdy enough to transport soldiers and supplies while also reinforced with magic. Its framework was as sturdy as iron.

“Eh?…whaaat?”

The soldiers thought it was something ridiculous, but, contrary to their predictions, Roa’s knife easily cut through the carriage’s frame. Roa’s knife was a bit larger than usual ones, as it was made to dissect magic beasts. 

Its true essence, however, lied not in its shape, but in the line of mithril embedded into the blade. The knife could be imbued with magic and cut through anything. Just like Dietrich did when he cut down the Mithril Golem, Roa wrapped wind magic around the blade and cut through the carriage’s framework.

The blade of wind could even cut through mithril, so it cut through the iron-like frame like a hot knife through butter. The lightly glowing knife, enveloped in wind magic, looked like it had a divine aura.

“I’ll dismantle the carriage and let you out. Please leave me enough space.”

Roa talked again to the shocked soldiers and had them move away, then started cutting down the carriage to dismantle it. He used a great quantity of magic power, but thanks to the contract with Grandpa Gry their magic power reserves were one and the same, so he wouldn’t run out of magic power anytime soon.

Roa was irritated with Grandpa Gry, instead, for not lifting a claw despite people’s lives being on the line, so he used as much magic power as he could, without any restraint. Not that Grandpa Gry’s magic power would ever run out even if used a spell like that for hours, though.

“S-sorry…let us do something to help too!”

A soldier timidly called to Roa. His serious expression as he cut the carriage, metal fittings and all, with such ease scared them a little. If that same knife was directed towards them, their armor and body would probably be easily cut too, killing them in an instant.

Roa, instead, was trying to dismantle the carriage and rescue their comrades. Rather than fear, the desire to help him was stronger.

“Thank you! Please move away the parts I cut down then!”

“Got it! Leave it to us!”

Roa would not imagine even for a second that they were afraid of him and, happy that they would cooperate, replied with a smile. Looking at his smile, the other soldiers felt their fear disappear and smiled too.

“I’m going to help too!”

“Me too!”

The soldiers healed thanks to Roa’s recovery potions spoke up too. The other soldiers were guarding the surroundings and did not join in, but they probably felt the same, as they occasionally looked at Roa, curious to see how the rescue operation went.

Thanks to more and more soldiers cooperating, the carriage’s dismantling proceeded smoothly and the soldiers inside were rescued in a matter of minutes.

“This soldier is only lightly wounded…”

Five soldiers had been trapped inside. They were all unconscious, but they only fell on each other when the carriage was knocked over, so the other soldiers acted as cushions and were mostly unhurt.

“This soldier’s ribs are fractured, stabbing his organs…”

The soldiers close to the floor of the carriage, pressed by all the others, were gravely wounded. Their legs were twisted in unnatural directions, their stomach bleeding, some of them were spitting blood too. The soldiers saw their comrades, rescued from the carriage but in terrible condition, and despaired.

“A low-grade potion is enough for that one, but this one needs a high-grade potion. Let’s give medium grade potions to the others and see how things develop.”

“Eh!? A high grade!?”

“Don’t worry.”

Such wounds indeed needed a high-grade magic potion to be healed. The soldiers, however, were surprised to see Roa use such expensive potions so easily.

“Done! The blood you lost won’t come back, so please rest for now. Next is…”

Roa healed the wounded, then looked around. While he was helping the soldiers, the “things” hiding in the forest stopped attacking. They did not withdraw, however: Roa’s detection magic showed that they were still surrounding the party.

Maybe they waited for Roa to heal the wounded. As Grandpa Gry said, they did not intend to kill anyone. In that case, now that everyone was healed, they would probably start attacking again.

“They’re coming.”

The presences started moving and Roa’s expression stiffened. A bush near the road rustled. And…

“….a rabbit?”

From the bushes, a small, milky-white rabbit appeared. There was no mistake, it was really a rabbit. Not a magic beast: a simple white rabbit. It came out of the bushes and scratched its ears with its hind legs. Roa was taken for an instant by that cute scene.

Ah, this is…

The next moment, Roa realized his mistake.

“It’s a trap!”

His detection magic had detected many small animals in the surroundings. The white rabbit in front of him now definitely fits the description. Roa was aware of this, but even so his reaction was too slow. No human managed to react in time.

They couldn’t see the rabbit as an enemy and lowered their guard: there couldn’t be enemies if a rabbit was present, as small animals were very wary of danger.

“Gah…”

“Waah!”

As soon as Roa shouted, one soldier after the other was knocked out. The aggressors were small shadows jumping out of the woods. Too fast for the human eye to register, they jumped around using the ground, the tree trunks and even the branches as foothold.

One of them headed in Roa’s direction. It came from his blindspot, but he somehow noticed it thanks to his detection magic. Despite noticing, he couldn’t dodge in time. With a dull thud, Roa felt a strong impact on the back of his head. At the same speed as it attacked Roa’s head, the shadow jumped back and disappeared once again in the darkness of the forest.

“….ouch…”

Roa managed to resist. He knew he couldn’t dodge the hit and decided to use body reinforcement magic instead. He cast the spell at a speed impossible for an average person and reinforced his body almost instantly.

It was all thanks to reinforcement magic expert Cornelia’s teachings and special training, paired with Roa’s dexterity, honed by his daily concoction of magic potions.

Even if he could stand that one hit, however, the attack would not stop. The leaping shadows probably understood that one would not be enough to knock Roa out, so he was attacked again, by three shadows this time. Roa took out his knife and prepared to counter them, but he was pretty sure he couldn’t deal with all three of them.

“Whaaaooooooonnnn!!!”

Roa was prepared to be knocked out, when a howl shook the whole forest. That cry stopped everything. Even Roa, who knew that the howl belonged to the twins, felt like his heart was being crushed. Not only the soldiers and the knights, but even the leaping shadows stopped.

The only sounds that could be heard were the trees falling after being shaken by the cry.

“They’re really rabbits…”

Roa, who recovered first, whispered to himself. He could recover quickly thanks to having spent many years with the twins.

The shadows that had attacked Roa and the inspection party were clearly rabbits. They were not all white, like the one which appeared from the bushes: some had brown or black spots, but they were all rabbits. Some had pointy ears, others had droopy ears. Intimidated by the twins’ howl, the rabbits were confused, their heads spinning.

Humans received less damage: the twins’ intimidating howl stopped them from moving, but they were recovering quickly. Some soldiers and the Nemophila Knights, however, were sitting on the ground, holding their heads with their hands. They were intimidated while they were in a state of deep fear, so they were probably affected more than others.

“Rabbits are more sensitive to sound, after all.” 

The twins’ howl of intimidation hit the rabbits harder, as their large ears caught sounds more effectively. They were all incapable of doing anything at the moment.

The twins ran towards Roa, as fast as the wind. They did not lower their guard, however. They stood at his side and growled while looking at the surroundings.

“There’s more, right?”

The twins nodded, growling while baring their fangs. Roa’s detection magic showed other presences. The rabbits still hiding in the forest were many times more the ones now wobbling around the road. There might be even more outside of Roa’s detection range.

The twins’ mood was foul, however, not because of the rabbits in the forest. When Roa was first attacked, they tried using magic to get close to him, but the spell didn’t work. Their magic was sealed by Grandpa Gry. In the time they were surprised by the miscast , they allowed Roa to be attacked.

Then Grandpa Gry told them that “offensive magic might kill the rabbits, so only use normal attacks, which can be controlled more easily.”

They did unleash a flurry of kicks on Grandpa Gry immediately after, but they were still angry.

“What should we do…?”

Roa couldn’t come up with any good ideas. Little by little, the rabbit’s encirclement became smaller and smaller.

“What are these? Rabbits?”

“They’re rabbits, right?”

“What the…?”

“We got done in by rabbits? For real?”

The soldiers, recovering from the twins’ intimidation, looked at the wobbling rabbits and expressed their confusion. Since the enemies that ambushed them and created chaos in their ranks were small and weak-looking rabbits, their reactions were justified. Some soldiers were even knocked unconscious by them. Their pride had been shattered.

The soldiers weren’t aware, but the people living in the area called this forest “Humiliation Woods”. All humans who entered it were beaten senseless by the rabbits, which looked much weaker than them, but their lives were always spared and they could leave it “safely”.

The stronger the humans were, the more their pride was hurt by the rabbits, so often they would give up on battles for the rest of their lives. Hence the name “Humiliation Woods”.

Very few dared speak to other people, except very close ones, of the shame they suffered in the forest. For this reason, rumors of the forest did not spread to other regions. The inspection party had carefully researched the route to the Citadel Dungeon before the departure, but had no information about the forest.

<Twins, do not kill even one of them. If you do, rest assured that our party will suffer deaths as well.>

“Hmph!”

Grandpa Gry’s warning reached the twins, but they snorted in response, since they were still angry at the gryphon. Roa then tried to calm them down.

“Please. I don’t want anyone to die.”

“Whiiine”

“Whiiine”

“Please protect the soldiers too. I’ll be okay by myself…I think.”

Roa’s words seemed to lack confidence, so the twins nodded reluctantly.

“Everyone! Please group together if you can! They’re coming again! Put anyone unconscious in the center and huddle up as if forming a circle!”

Roa thought that this would make it easier for the twins to protect the whole party. Originally, he did not have the authority to give orders to them, though.

“All of you! Follow the adventurer’s instructions! If you want to survive, do as he says!!”

The male knight, however, seemed to have decided to trust Roa and called to the soldiers in support of him. The reason was that Roa had saved the soldiers’ lives and was the only human capable of withstanding the rabbits’ attacks.

The soldiers obeyed sincerely: they didn’t hesitate and acted immediately, as if they trusted Roa too. They formed a circular formation, with the unconscious troops in the center.

There were also exceptions, however. The Nemophila Knights did not move from the captain’s carriage. They seemed undecided, but glared at Roa with frustration.

Roa made sure that the soldiers moved into one spot and glanced at the twins, instructing them to protect them.

“The rabbits are attacking again!”

Roa shouted at the surroundings. At the same time, trees and bushes rustled and the rabbits quickly leaped out, like a sudden avalanche. Countless rabbits popped out of the woods, covering the area with their numbers.

“!?”

Even Roa, who predicted the attack thanks to detection magic, was surprised. He used the maximum amount of body reinforcement magic, to prepare for the rabbits’ attack. He closed his eyes, bracing for the impact, thinking he would surely be able to withstand attacks by rabbits, no matter how many.

“Hmm?”

Nothing came his way, however. Roa slowly opened his eyes and noticed that the rabbits were flying everywhere, except towards him, just like a stream splitting around a rock.

The rabbits that headed towards Roa deftly picked up the rabbits confused by the twins’ intimidation and disappeared in the woods on the other side of the road. It all happened in one second: the soldiers grouped together couldn’t move a finger either.

“Are we saved…?”

The soldiers saw the rabbits run off apparently without even looking at them, but the very next moment…

“Gah!”

“Waah!”

Several soldiers shouted in surprise and pain. It wouldn’t be over so easily, after all. After saving the confused rabbits, the rescuers disappeared into the forest, but quickly turned back and resumed the offensive.

Their movements were so quick they deceived not only the soldiers -who felt relieved for a moment- but even the wary magic wolf twins. One after the other, the soldiers were knocked unconscious. The rabbits used the trees and branches and attacked the soldiers from all directions.

“Bow….yip!!”

The twins tried howling again to intimidate the rabbits, but were kicked on the mouth and stomach with perfectly calculated timing and could not howl. The twins tried running to avoid the attacks, but the rabbits took advantage of their numbers, so there were no gaps to use to flee.

“Shit!!”

The knights and soldiers tried to sweep the rabbits with their swords, but they barely managed to protect themselves. The rabbits targeted the hands holding the swords and knocked them out of the troops’ grip. The unconscious soldiers kept increasing.

“Aaah! Why!? Noo!”

“Stop it!!”

The Nemophila Knights, still protecting the carriage, were in an even worse situation. Surrounded and unable to make a single movement, they were kicked away and rolled on the ground. The rabbits then used them as footholds and stomped on them, as if they enjoyed it, since they continued to do so long after they lost consciousness.

It was only small rabbits jumping on it, but the knights’ luxurious armor with nemophila patterns was twisted and crushed, their swords broken, their helmets kicked away in the darkness of the forest. 

<Hmm, the others are powerless against them, are they…the twins lack experience too, evidently. They have no experience fighting numerous enemies faster than them, so it can’t be helped, but…well, it will be good experience.>

Grandpa Gry’s tone was perfectly calm. The gryphon was lazily lying on a gigantic fallen tree trunk, looking down at the rabbit mayhem. For whatever reason, the rabbits did not do anything to the gryphon, as if it wasn’t there in the first place. It might have made a secret agreement with whatever commanded the rabbits.

“G-Grandpa Gry!”

Roa barely managed to resist the rabbits’ attacks with his body reinforcement magic, but was about to fall to his knees. He protected his head with his hands and couldn’t even use his knife.

<I am not going to help, brat. This is a trial for you and the twins. If you can’t handle a situation like this, you’ll die in the Citadel Dungeon.>

“Kh…”

<Besides, the adventurer you aspire to be is not protected by others, right?>

“……”

Roa clenched his teeth in frustration, emitting a grinding sound.

<Well well, looks like the boss is finally making their appearance. You three, it’s time to struggle and achieve your growth!>

Grandpa Gry’s haughty voice did not reach Roa anymore. As if prompted by the gryphon’s words, a presence stood out in Roa’s detection field. He was focused on it.

It was as large as the other rabbits, but its aura was much more powerful. It was a dangerous opponent, that much was certain. It slowly approached the party from the direction they were heading.

A shrill, rabbit-like cry could be heard. All the rabbits stopped in their tracks, sniffed the air, then moved towards the road, then lined up neatly in two rows, on the left and right side of the path. They looked like spectators preparing to see a parade…or rather, knights preparing to welcome the appearance of their king.

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp…..

The rabbits started stomping the ground, rhythmically, in unison. The heavy sound echoed through the forest. The soldiers and knights still conscious were completely taken in by the sudden development. The solemn atmosphere made it clear to everyone what was going to happen.

The king was coming.

The king, leader of the rabbits, was going to enter the scene. From the direction everyone’s eyes were glued to, it finally appeared.

A pitch-black rabbit with drooping ears. It was as large as the other rabbits: it even looked smaller than some of the larger ones in the pack. Its beautiful black fur, however, glowed under the light created by Grandpa Gry’s magic.

Its long black drooping ears, which almost touched the ground, made it look like it was carrying a mantle over its shoulders as they fluttered.

A rabbit king, through and through. All the humans present swallowed their breath.

Only four people, or rather, one human and three magic beasts reacted differently.

<Hmph, what a show-off.>

Grandpa Gry spat out a comment as the rabbits still continued their rhythmic pounding.

“Whiiine”

“Whiiiine”

The magic wolf twins slowly came closer to Roa, rubbing their bodies against his legs. Roa gently patted their heads, while looking at the approaching black rabbit.

“Listen, I’m going to do my best too. So please lend me your strength.”

Roa’s resolve was made. Not to fight while the servant beasts protected him, but to fight alongside them. Roa gripped his knife and wrapped it in wind magic.

……stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp…..

The rabbit king looked straight at Roa and the twins. The part which seemed to be glowing was white fur mixed with the black. Maybe it was a natural pattern, or the effect of the rabbit’s age? In any case, it did not diminish the rabbit’s regal presence in the slightest.

…..stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp…..

The rabbit king finally arrived before Roa and stopped.

….stomp, stomp.

The rabbits’ stomping stopped. Exactly one moment later…

Stomp!!

A final, louder stomp was the signal.

“!?”

The rabbit king disappeared from Roa’s sight. At the same time, a shock ran through his knife. Roa almost dropped it, but thanks to physical reinforcement magic and the nervousness that stiffened his grip, he managed to hold onto it.

The rabbit king was once again before Roa. His knife and the rabbit king’s ears were crossed, just like two warriors locking swords.

“Wind magic….”

Roa’s knife was enveloped in wind magic and faintly glowed. The rabbit king’s ears too glowed faintly themselves. Both lights had the same green hue: they were using the same type of magic.

“Wing Rabbit…”

Roa, surprised, whispered to himself. After he did, it looked like the rabbit king’s mouth formed a grin.

Wing Rabbits were rabbit-like magic beasts. They used wind magic on their long, drooping ears to fly and slash with Wind Cutters: despite their looks, they were very dangerous magic beasts. There weren’t supposed to be any in the Perdu Kingdom, however. Roa only read about them in books and had never seen one before.

“Kyuuh!”

The rabbit king cried, then twisted its body. It leaped in the air as if dancing and landed without a sound. Only then did Roa feel pain on his cheeks. Before he could realize it, he was wounded and bleeding. The ear that was not blocked by his knife probably did it.

“Woof!”

The red magic wolf jumped at the rabbit king, but was easily dodged.

“Woof!”

The blue magic wolf then tried to take advantage of the rabbit king’s blind spot, but was dodged too. The rabbit king was clearly faster than them, and it even looked like it wasn’t making an effort either. No matter how much they jumped, the twins wouldn’t be able to even touch it.

“Grrrrr…..”

Irritated by a goal they couldn’t reach, the wolf twins growled.

<Oh yes, you can use magic against that opponent. I don’t know if you can hit it, though.>

Grandpa Gry lightly mocked the twins, who glared back. They couldn’t use long-range magic yet, so they needed to touch the opponent to use their magic. They could extend magic from their claws, but only for a few centimetres. Grandpa Gry knew it, so it taunted them about not being able to touch the rabbit king.

“Kyu!”

The rabbit king jumped backwards, putting more distance between them, then launched a spell from its long ears.

“Be careful!”

The spells, launched from both ears, targeted the twins. They were Wind Cutter blades, long-range magic spells, as if the rabbit king wanted to respond to Grandpa Gry’s taunt.

The twins quickly dodged them, but then realized something and looked behind them, worried. They focused on dodging and did not check if there was anyone behind them. Luckily, the Wind Cutter blades only slashed some trees before dissipating.

Taking advantage of the opening created by the twins looking behind themselves, the rabbit king attacked Roa, who stopped the wind magic-powered ear blades with his knife. His movements were still crude, but he managed to block the attack.

Is it going easy on me….?

Roa tried to slash the rabbit king several times, then reached this conclusion. His opponent was clearly going easy on him. Or rather, it looked like it was training him through battle. Whenever Roa failed to block the rabbit king’s attacks, it slightly changed its aim.

Despite the fact that they were both using wind magic, it was strange that Roa could block the rabbit king’s attacks without being overwhelmed.

The rabbit king was probably adjusting his magic power to Roa’s level. The twins probably noticed it too: they were irritated at first, but eventually started moving more calmly.

If that’s how it is…

Roa jumped backward and opened a large space between them. The rabbit king too moved farther from Roa and the twins.

“Phew…”

He wanted to decide the next strategy, but he couldn’t discuss it with the twins. He looked at them and found that they were looking at him too. Their clear eyes were pleading Roa to believe in them. What Roa could do was to fully believe in them and do what he could, with all the strength he could muster.

“Let’s do this.”

Roa whispered to himself, then prepared his knife for the next attack. The rabbit king probably understood that Roa decided what to do, as it grinned again.

“Kyuuuh!”

With a sharp cry, the rabbit king leaped towards Roa. Its ears were already wrapped in wind magic and glowed faintly. Roa cast body reinforcement magic, but focused it more on speed than defense.

Body reinforcement magic boosted the body’s resilience and muscular power. Boosting muscular power raised the user’s speed too, naturally, but differently from using it to protect oneself, the boost’s timing was difficult. Cornelia’s teachings hadn’t reached that step yet, but Roa thought he could manage to do it at least for a second.

Roa could actually move faster than usual. He swung his knife imbued with wind magic straight at the king rabbit, which parried it with its ears. The moment their wind magic clashed, Roa weakened his magic power.

“Kyu!?”

The king rabbit was surprised by the development. It had adjusted its magic power to evenly clash with Roa’s, so it lost balance. It risked cutting Roa’s knife and maybe even killing Roa himself.

The rabbit king weakened its magic power to match Roa’s.

“Haa!!”

The moment the rabbit king’s magic weakened, Roa boosted his own to the max. A flash of magic light: the faint glow turned very bright.

Roa’s suddenly boosted wind magic did not form a Wind Cutter blade, unfortunately, but even so it managed to push back the rabbit king.

“Kyu!?”

The rabbit king spun in the air, trying to regain its balance. Roa, however, took advantage of his boosted speed and grabbed its leg.

“!?”

The rabbit king then completely lost its balance. Even so, it managed to kick Roa with its free leg and slip out of his grip. However…

“Woof!!!”

The magic wolf twins came to assist Roa. They approached the rabbit king as fast as they could and attacked with their claws. Pitch black rabbit fur danced in the air. The result was that they managed to inflict a small wound on the rabbit king.

Even if the twins struck with their magic-infused claws, they could only cause two small wounds on the rabbit king’s back. They tried to attack again, but Wind Cutter blades from the rabbit king’s ears stopped them.

The rabbit king landed, then jumped again to put more distance between them. Its expression seemed somewhat content.

<I suppose you pass.>

Stomp, stomp!!

As soon as Grandpa Gry spoke, the rabbit king stomped the ground loudly. It was a signal: all the rabbits scattered and disappeared into the forest. One second later they were already gone. The rabbit king, who remained behind by itself, winked at the group and jumped. It then used wind magic on its ears to fly away like a bird…

“….did it really…wink at us…?”

Roa’s body felt less tense and his legs started shaking. His clothes were torn and had traces of blood here and there.

No one answered Roa’s question. The soldiers and knights were standing dumbfounded, as if they just woke up from a dream. If there weren’t so many unconscious soldiers, cut down trees and the broken-down carriage, they might think it was really a dream. Or rather, a horrible nightmare.

They were attacked by a horde of rabbits and could not lift a finger against them. In the end, they were saved by a young adventurer boy and his young servant beasts. It sounded like nothing but a nightmare, but it was reality.

It would take them some more time to fully understand what happened.

“You all!! Catch those rabbits! If we let them go without doing anything after they attacked us, the name of the Nemophila Knights will be blemished!”

Then, a woman’s high-pitched voice resounded in the surroundings. Everyone still conscious looked towards its owner: Count Amadan’s 4th daughter, captain of the Nemophila Knights, leader of the Citadel Dungeon inspection party, Eileen James Amadan.

She came out of the carriage she had stayed in until now, her face pale as a sheet, and shouted. No one responded to her order, however. Her personal guards, the Nemophila Knights, had been whacked unconscious by the rabbits and the other troops were still dazed and could not understand what she was saying.

“What is wrong with you all!? Did you not hear my orders? Because of those rabbits the carriage was broken down and you almost died, did you not!? Go catch them all!!”

Eileen continued shouting and the soldiers gradually understood what she was going on about, creating an atmosphere of incredulous disappointment.

“…you didn’t even do anything…”

Someone whispered, loud enough to be heard.

“Who said that!?”

Eileen shouted, ready to draw her sword.

“Isn’t that true? You knights just stayed there by yourselves and didn’t do a damn thing!!”

“And you got even knocked out like that!!”

“And you were inside the carriage the whole time. You come out now and start giving orders? If you want those rabbits so much go catch them yourself!”

“Yeah! When the carriage was knocked over it was the adventurer boy who saved us.”

“Sorry! I forgot to thank you! Thanks to you our comrades were saved! You even used so many expensive potions for us, I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Those magic wolves are really something too, our *noble knights* couldn’t do jack against the rabbits, but they knocked them out just by howling! They moved like the wind, as fast as the rabbits even!”

“An adventurer with a gryphon at his command is amazing, after all. How can you dismantle a carriage with a knife anyway!?”

“What the hell was that last rabbit anyway?? It used magic, right? Was it a magic beast? And you stopped magic with a knife!? You’re incredible, dude!”

The soldiers first voiced their dissatisfaction with Eileen and the Nemophila Knights, but gradually started praising Roa and the twins. They were the only ones who acted properly during the rabbits’ attack, after all, so they were surely worthy of praise.

What they said to Eileen was the truth too and she couldn’t deny the praise to Roa, so she just bit her lip in frustration, unable to say anything.

The rabbit incident caused Roa’s position in the inspection party to change radically.

𑁋

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