Hi guys, sorry for taking so long with this. IRL ate up a lot of time. But anyway, one more down, one chapter to go.
A commoner student of the Imperial Academy of Magic was being silently bullied by the third son of a Great Noble, Rangoburt. And though he only needed five people in his team in order to qualify for the Promotional Examination, everyone was fearful of Rangoburt and refused to join his team. However, the day after he received a strange invitation, the Great Magic Caster Fluder joined his class. And he requested to join Jet’s team. Along with a mysterious beauty, Nabe.
The moment that the Great Magic Caster (forcefully) joined his team, his world changed.
Jet ascended into heaven, while Rangoburt dropped into hell.
Those who knew that he had bullied someone who was now in the same team as Fluder feared retribution and shunned him. However, he was saved by the mysterious transfer student Momon, and they built a strong bond of friendship and formed a team together.
Learning that his childhood friend Nemel, was invited to a ball at Rangoburt’s residence, Jet was worried, and wanted to be there to check on her. However, as a mere commoner, he did not have the connections necessary to gain an invitation to a noble’s ball (for he was scared of relying on Fluder_. However, one of his new teammates, Ornesty, managed to prepare one for him.
There, Jet used his special ability. His magic eye that could see through illusions, and he saw, standing next to Rangoburt, was an undead lich (probably). Shockingly, Momon was really an undead! Threatened by Momon, unable to inform anyone of his true identity, Jet began the Examination.
Some Miscellaneous Information about the Academy.
It is an institute for higher learning, created by generations of Emperors to raise the skills and abilities of those who would, in future, become the pillars of the Empire. Where previously nobles relied on private schools and tutors, the establishment of the Academy brought forth a wave of change.
Although it is called the Academy of Magic, students were not required to learn magic. The Empire believed that magic was a skill and a field of study, one that would be a pillar of the future Empire, and thus one needed to learn its benefits, and its weaknesses. And so the students were well exposed to the topic.
Perhaps it would be right to describe it as…. Opening one’s eyes?
Grading Rubric of the Promotional Examination.
1: The students are to form in a group with a minimum of 5 members, and a maximum of 8. If students are unable to form a group, they will have failed the examination.
2: This year, the students are to travel with a group of knights. The composition of the group may differ depending on availability. The students will be graded based on their actions during the journey, such as choosing the route they take, as well as the preparations they have undertaken, etc.
3: Students able to use magic must battle against monsters alongside the knights. Points will be awarded depending on the monster’s species. The students will still pass even if no monsters are encountered, however, their points will naturally be lower than that of other groups.
The Reasons for Holding the Examination.
Those who have read the above information will certainly wonder about the validity of calling this event an examination. In fact, this was a part of the Empire’s Rich Country Strong Army policy. Students that could use magic were young chicks made of gold, and the Empire would like them to work for it, rather than become an adventurer.
And thus this exam.
Spending taxpayer money to cultivate people who did not want to work for the country was a huge waste of resources. So naturally, many wanted to take this money and instead spend it on those who actually wanted to improve the nation.
We shall dive in depth on the aim of the examination.
Firstly, one needed to identify those who could work well in a group. For even if one became a knight, if one only worked by oneself, their utility would be minimal.
Additionally, it was necessary to impress the weight of their future choices on the students. Even if they themselves did not intend to work for the Empire, if they had a friend that did so, they would naturally consider the option for themselves. And at worst, they would refrain from directly opposing the Empire.
Those that could not even meet these requirements were, put simply, too headstrong and individualistic for their own good, and as such there was the possibility that they could cause trouble for the future Empire. And so, it was better to cut them off in the beginning.
The second and third points had the same goal. Students were observed to see how they would act under unfamiliar circumstances, and if they would prioritise themselves. For even if the students were smart, they would be troublesome characters.
Next was to instill in them that the military was an attractive occupation, by having the students interact with the knights. The upper echelons of the Empire especially wanted the magic-wielding students to join the knights (as a full lifelong career). And so they were to interact with the knights.
Lastly, it was to evaluate the students, and identify who were the ones that they could not overlook.
They would split the magic users into those who had a sense for battle, and those who did not. Those that did would be exposed to high levels of brainwashing.
The Academy Part 8 (Side A)
The Great Forest of Tob.
In a world where the weak creatures called humans did not tread, and a plethora of monsters battled each other for survival, the earth was dyed a strange colour.
Not that far into the forest, the colour of dark brown earth saw daylight.
For there was a great crack in the earth.
There was a gaping hole in the earth, and the verdant green forest had disappeared from its boundaries.
It was both long and wide, as if gaia herself had opened her mouth.
Staring at such a location, was a man with a scarred face.
While many feared entering the large forest, for the aforementioned reasons, it was a treasure trove of herbs. And so adventurers would often receive requests to pick herbs within its depths. The rarity of such herbs, that few dared to obtain, skyrocketed, along with their price.
So, was this man an adventurer?
There was a strangeness about him. He seemed to have been trained, and disciplined, and few would think him to be an adventurer.
With a cold expression, the man stared sharply at the hole, and observed the tiny figures that repeatedly entered and left it.
The man’s face darkened with disdain, as he muttered.
That was the name of the figures.
They were a race thought of as demi-humans, and full grown, they would only be the same size as a human child. Their level of culture was low, and as they were weak, they were chased to far corners where there were small pockets of safety, like the forest, and some of them would sometimes venture out into human civilisation.
And so it was not uncommon for frontier villagers to be attacked by goblins.
In a certain sense, they were the first monsters that adventurers would face.
Not noticing the man observing them, a shockingly large number of them were passing through the hole. Their lack of tension and caution as they did so made it evident that this feature was a familiar one to them.
This was natural.
For this hole was the entrance to their kingdom.
There was a large network of tunnels hidden underneath the Great Forest of Tob, and sometimes, the ceiling would collapse, and one could enter inside. Many types of monsters resided inside, but the tunnels the goblins used were amongst the largest.
Their movements reminded one of an ant. And it was not a wrong impression. Those that left brought out dirt, and the ones that entered brought in the blessings of the forest.
Fruit, seeds, edible grasses, and bark—
The amount of food being brought in was massive, and while it was not clear the number of goblins living inside, but the amount of food they consumed daily was definitely enormous.
And considering the time of year, it was highly likely that this food would be placed in the reserves.
Hiding amongst the trees, the man looked away from the earth and glanced towards the cloudy sky. The thick grey clouds blocked out the sun, as if foretelling the world of the encroaching season.
“Winter eh…. If they starve to death, we won’t need to come here anymore. It’s a pity that it won’t happen.
When winter arrived, the food levels would drop, and monsters would starve to death. And so hunting during the winter was a life or death gamble. And even amongst the species that rapidly multiplied, goblins were at the bottom of the pack, and so many monsters would hunt them for food.
Many goblin hideouts would be destroyed over the course of a single winter, but this seemed to be unlikely for this group.
The man knew that.
The man silently praised them in his mind.
The goblins were currently doing what all wild beasts were doing: preparing for winter. However, some species would occasionally slack and fall behind. Typical brainless goblins would follow this course of action, but this tribe was different.
According to a different unit, that he was not a part of, they were cultivating mushrooms within the caves, and were also breeding edible insects. They were definitely not on the path to being destroyed by winter.
Considering the rate at which their emergency stores were increasing, they would definitely not conveniently fall short and starve.
“—We had to mobilise. And for there to be this many of them…. It makes me want to puke.”
When one poked at an ant’s nest with a stick, they would be greeted by a tsunami of ants. The man felt a similar sense of disgust.
He was extremely unhappy.
At both the goblins, and the Empire.
Since the forest was not within the domain of humans, calling this the territory of the Empire was a mistake. However, it was decided that the Empire would take the forest on the East side of the mountains. And so it was the Empire’s duty to cull the ever increasing number of goblins present.
However, as if telling the goblins that they were free to do as they pleased, the Empire did nothing.
Well, the man knew that the Empire was not truly at fault.
The Empire probably had not noticed that there was an enormous and growing amount of goblins building a kingdom within the forest. Afterall, this place was not the world of men. And so, it would be strange for any country to send investigative teams inside.
—Except for the man’s country.
And that was why he knew. That the Empire was making a poor decision.
Compared to humans, goblins propagated at a much higher rate. This was the strategy that the weak races used to survive in the natural world.
And so, the stronger species, monsters, would cull their numbers, and most of the time, goblins would not pose a problem.
However, sometimes, when all the right things were in the right places, there were times when their numbers exploded.
When that happened, it would become quite dangerous.
When their numbers increased, their ability to defend themselves would rise, and the frequency of monster attacks would fall. And so their numbers would increase even further. Like rabbits.
However, goblins were one of the weakest species. If their numbers passed a certain point, well managed countries, like the Empire, could easily fix the problem. The Knights could easily defeat simple goblins.
But, if there were no problems, the man, and his subordinates, would not have needed to come to this place.
So yes, there was a problem.
There was a clear problem, one that could severely impact a strong country like the Empire.
The problem was that the goblins had started to learn skills.
Goblins would sometimes leave their nests, a behaviour some monkeys also displayed. The young males would leave their tribe and visit several others, doing their best and risking their lives, and learning skills in the process. Such goblins would be vastly more dangerous than regular ones.
Especially those that learnt magic or martial skills. If such goblins appeared, their mere numbers would turn into a large danger.
If a knight fought a goblin, the knight would probably win. However, if a knight fought ten armed goblins, the balance of power would change. Even if they won, what if they faced a hundred, or a thousand—
This was the violence of numbers.
“Even if it’s the Empire, they still might face some difficulties. This is a forest, and it will be difficult to lead an army inside….”
There were an estimated ten thousand goblins within the tunnels. This meant that there were ten thousand warriors inside.
And if this situation was not handled immediately, the goblins that travelled would spread their skills to the surrounding tribes, and the small spark would transform into a roaring flame.
If such a large number of goblins gained strength, there would be a higher chance that goblin subspecies and goblins with strange powers would appear.
This wildfire might swallow up a small country.
And it could not be allowed to happen.
The man gripped the holy symbol hanging from his neck. And, almost as if he were waiting for that, one of his subordinates, silent up until now, opened his mouth to speak.
“Commander. Shall we begin? The others have finished their preparations.”
He was the commander of one of the special operations units of the Slane Theocracy, the Sunlight Scripture, Nigun Grid Luin. Nigun turned to face his subordinates.
Standing behind them were a line of summoned angels.
They were high ranking angels wielding swords of fire.
There were a total of fifty of them. Comparing them to the horde of goblins within the hole, they seemed completely insufficient, but their fighting ability was on a completely different level. Angels could kill the likes of goblins with a single blow. And they had resistance to everything except magical weapons, and so it was possible for them to come out without a scratch.
And even if they were destroyed, they were but mere summons. His subordinates could cast the spell and summon them again. So even this small number had the ability to exterminate the goblins. But—
“We need to maintain an utmost level of caution. And we are extending the maximum range to maintain the summons, yes?”
“Of course. The preparations have been completed.”
He asked his subordinates to confirm the preparations.
Normally, summoned monsters had a maximum distance from which they could separate from their casters. But, if the spell was strengthened, this distance could be multiplied many times over.
Naturally, this would drastically increase the mana cost, but to ensure that the summoners were in a safe location, this was the standard procedure.
While he knew that his experienced subordinates would not make such a simple mistake, he still asked to confirm it.
Once, a new summoner had made this mistake, causing a hole to appear within their net. Thanks to this, Nigun had gained a scar on his face— And ever since, he would always ask this question.
“And afterwards, that person will appear.”
Nigun’s gaze fell on a nearby camo tent.
Summoning magic had a time limit, and so normally once preparations were completed, they would engage in battle. And so it was strange to have summoned the creatures and wait for a person. That person should have arrived first, and then the summoning would proceed.
However, there was a reason why they could not do that.
The anxious face on his subordinates made the reason clear.
The master of the tent, was someone of much higher status than anyone present.
While certainly, as the commander of the Sunlight Scripture, Nigun was of a higher rank, for the master of the tent was but a mere member of their unit. However, that was only the case if one looked at rank.
Time slowly passed by, but no one complained.
Finally, the tent opened.
And from within, a single man stepped out.
And instantly, the atmosphere changed.
The air crackled with tension, as if a fight was about to break out.
And just from looking at the man approaching, Nigun gulped.
His presence was on another level.
It was like the difference between a human and a lion.
Nigun was someone approaching the highest level of humanity, but he felt like he could never defeat this man
It was not from his fierceness. For he was an extremely kind man.
It was not from his hostility. For he lacked any of such.
If asked, exactly, what it was that gave this man his presence, Nigun would reply:
His rank of humanity.
Within the Slane Theocracy, there were a total of six different special forces like the Sunlight Scripture. Each had their own speciality, but the scripture that this man belonged to, was composed of those who had shot past the limit of humanity, and had gained the power of heroes.
Its name was— The Black Scripture.
The Strongest Unit in the Slane Theocracy.
Belonging to this scripture meant that this man was strong.
The power of a hero who had broken the chains of humanity naturally made him so, but his class brought it to another level.
While certainly, in terms of mere strength, the First Seat, the Captain, the Tenth Seat, the “Strongest Human”, and the Twelfth Seat, “Tenjho Tenge”, were stronger. And in terms of special abilities, the Second Seat, “Time Turbulence”, and the Fourth Seat, “Divine Chant”, were more terrifying. However, in terms of extermination, there was no one better than him.
He was the Fifth Seat of the Black Scripture, the “One Man Army”, Quaiesse Hazeia Quintia, was the most suited to this mission.
“I have made you all wait. Everyone.” The man quietly lowered his head. “I have finished my preparations, and can proceed at any moment.”
“Commander Luin. Please, call me Quintia.”
Nigun did not show it, but he was quite conflicted. This might have been fine to him, but for Nigun, this was quite a problem.
In the first place, the Sunlight Scripture’s main mission was the extermination of other races. And so meeting Quaiesse who was essentially a better version of them filled him with ambiguous emotions. Despite the fact that they worshiped the same gods, this simple fact made cooperation difficult.
Making a self-deprecating laugh at the envy of man, Nigun spoke.
“Informally addressing a member of the Black Scripture, one who protects the Theocracy is….”
“I see. However, my Captain has instructed me to obey yourself to assist with the removal of terrifying demi-humans. And thus I believe that addressing Captain Luin with a sama is the proper course of action, given my orders. Of course, if there is a special reason for it, I do not mind though.”
Nigun silently pondered.
Quaiesse’s words were correct, if one thought of the group’s perspective. On the other hand, Nigun wanted to add ‘sama’ to his name for merely personal reasons.
And he saw Quaiesse’s firm expression.
Repeating the question would be a waste of his subordinates’ magic power, and would be a foolish act. But he had countless opportunities to handle this issue before now, and so he could think of this as punishment.
Nigun wrung out every bit of courage he had.
“Quintia. Please allow me to address you as such. Although, please allow me to speak formally to you, given that you belong to a different scripture.”
“Of course. Then, I look forward to working with you, Captain Luin. Now, your instructions please.”
“Then please show me. The power that has earned you the epithet of ‘One Man Army’.”
“Understood.Do you mind if I choose which monster to summon?”
Seeing Nigun shake his head, Quaiesse smiled.
“Then— Appear! Gigant Basilisk!”
From behind Quaiesse, a large shadow loomed forth. And slowly, it took solid form, becoming corporeal.
Nigun’s subordinates began to murmur amongst themselves.
If one used the metric adventurers used, this monster would have about 83 points.
Some amongst the Sunlight Scripture could use the 4th Tier of Magic, but only Nigun would be able to give this creature a good fight. No, while Nigun could battle it, earning a victory was an entirely other matter.
(Being able to summon and control such a monster…. So this is the power of the man known as the Strongest Beast Tamer….)
This was the source of the man’s epithet.
He was able to control at least ten powerful monsters that one would need to be a hero to defeat.
“I can call another two more. While Gigant Basilisks are large, they excel at slithering into narrow places like snakes. They are perfect for cleaning up the insides of tunnels.”
Hearing those words filled with confidence, Nigun was certain that this mission would end quickly, and perfectly.
“Apart from those, are you aware of any monsters that excel at keeping an eye on the surroundings?”
“I see…. You fear them escaping. I understand. I shall summon a Crimson Owl.”
With another flash of light, lining up next to the three Gigant Basilisks, a scarlet owl appeared. While it was roughly twice the size of a normal owl, compared to the Gigant Basilisks, it seemed extremely tiny.
However, its impossibly sharp beak and claws told everyone that it was a dangerous monster.
Deviating from normal owls, its malicious evil eyes glared at Nigun and the others.
“Could you inform me if there are any goblins outside the tunnels? Take flight.”
As expected of a monster, despite it being the middle of the day, the owl took flight.
“And so preparations have been completed.”
“Yes. And the Gigant Basilisks will lead the group with the angels in the back. The angels will eradicate the goblins that are hiding within the tunnels that the Gigant Basilisks cannot reach.”
Nigun’s subordinates replied in unison, and the angels began to move off. And as if waiting for this, the Gigant Basilisks slid towards the tunnels.
On the road that cut the grassy plains into two, Jet was sitting on the driver’s seat. The road was not paved, but rather was carved out of the earth by countless foot travel. And occasionally, there would be a furrow created by a past cart wheel, causing the cart to shake.
And every time that happened, the vibrations would travel through the thin cushion and into him.
(If there wasn’t this thing…. This would be perfect. I should prepare a softer one next time. But it’s not fair that no one would trade with me.)
Frowning at the pain in his butt, Jet looked across the plains.
Seeing the grass stretch out into the horizon under the blue sky left a deep impression on him.
This was a boring journey with nothing but the unchanging grass and the road before him— Or so experienced travellers would say. However, to Jet, even though they had already been on the road for two days, this was a new sight.
Most people in the Empire would not leave their village or city in their lives. In fact, for those living in towns, more than half would live their lives without leaving its walls. And this was because, the outside, even in grassy plains such as these, was filled with danger.
This might not hold true near the cities, but the further one got from them, the risk of encountering monsters, beasts and bandits grew exponentially. The Empire was safer than most other countries, and Jet would have probably spent his life entirely within the city. But—
—The sight of the raw earth continuing onwards infinitely, and the backdrop of the shadows of the Azerlisia mountain range grew gasps of admiration from his mouth.
He knew that the world was wide. And he had seen it from behind the walls that protected the capitol. However, all of this knowledge paled in comparison to when he was personally feeling it himself.
And that was why.
When he looked at the sky, it felt brighter than the one over the capitol.
And whenever a breeze flew by, he could feel his world expanding.
(That person can probably see this sky as well…. She’s probably travelling under this sky, battling monsters, exploring ruins and finding treasure…. Or maybe she’s seeing something more amazing. Like a waterfall that flows upwards, or an island floating in the sky.)
The noble lady who his mother worked for— she was the one who unearthed Jet’s talent for magic, and was the one who turned his life around. She was both a sister to him, and his benefactor.
Arche Eeb Rile Furt. Jet recalled her face.
She had excellent grades in the Academy, and would probably become an equally amazing adventurer.
Although he had not seen her for a while, Jet was confident that she was doing well.
(Well, of course. When she stopped studying, I think she could use the Third Tier of magic? Or was she close to it? ….She was a genius. She would definitely gain fame as a hero. When that happens, I need to congratulate her. And I have to tell Nemel too.)
Most commoners who graduated the Academy would be at the First Tier. Nobles would mostly be at the Second Tier. This disparity was due to the countless amount of funds poured into magic training.
It was a natural truth that those who received training in magic from a young age — with it being extremely expensive — would be able to graduate with a higher tier of magic. And even amongst them, that sister-like existence to Jet and Nemel had an outstanding talent.
Those who could reach the Third Tier were either talented or people who put in countless hours of hard work. Either way, they were the lucky few. They would reach a high position even in the civil service, and they had the ability to reach the Head of the Magician’s Guild in large cities. For most, this would be the end of their progression, and above them was the realm of geniuses.
And a young girl had reached that realm, and in the future, she could reach the Fourth Tier, or perhaps even higher. Or so the rumours said.
Then as a commoner, Jet being able to use the First Tier was also a genius — But even if not, it was clear that he was talented.
But Jet knew that this was not the case.
In his case, he had Nemel and Arche as teachers, and he was confident that he had no such talent.
(Arche-ojou-sama…. Nee-san eh? I wanna see her again. Coming to think of it, are her sisters doing well?)
Just as he was recalling her two younger sisters—
“Such a serious face. What are you thinking about, Jet-kun?”
Sitting next to him, the knight in full plate suddenly spoke.
His armour was fully and securely equipped, even up to his gauntlets. And he gripped his scabbard, ready to draw his sword at any moment.
However, there was no tension in him. His full face helm was removed revealing his tanned and surprisingly young and youthful face.
“No, nothing important. Bebene-san.”
The knight who seemed to only be a few years older smiled brightly at him.
“Is that so? I thought you were thinking about our journey. I said this earlier, but while you guys will be making the decisions, if you need advice, just ask. If there’s anything you’re worrying about, raise it immediately. Because sometimes we take a while to get back to you.”
“Thank you very much. I shall do so if the situation changes. But as of now, there’s nothing really.”
“Well, true. We’re still within the Empire’s borders. It’s rare for monsters to appear here. Or rather it’d be really bad luck.”
“Because the knights patrol, correct?”
“Precisely. As long as we are on patrol, there’s no way we would leave a monster free to roam. Although the borders are a bit hard though.”
He spoke with pride. After all, this was a result of his job. And in his blinding white teeth, for an instant, Jet thought that he saw the sun reflect off of his teeth in a bright flash.
The Imperial Knights were active soldiers, and were responsible for patrolling the country and the security of the cities. Repelling monsters was their job, causing the lower-ranked adventurers in the Empire to sigh. But the reason Jet knew about this was precisely due to this man.
(Personally, I’m not worried about this. With the number of low-ranking adventurers decreasing in the future….)
Jet pushed his worries aside, and focused on the conversation.
They had spent the last few days making their way to the Empire’s border, towards the Great Forest of Tob. In that time, they had broken the ice with the knights. Nemel and Ornesty had made their own friends, and the one that Jet had spoken the most with was the commoner who had become a knight, Bebene Bison.
He was a cheery man, and was so chatty that one would doubt that he was working as a professional soldier.
The image of a knight that Jet had was a strong and silent type, one that faced their dangerous work with a will of iron. However, he was made aware that this was nothing more than the fantasies of an ignorant idiot.
For a while, they talked about random topics, after a while, there was a break in the conversation. Taking the opportunity, Bebene lowered his voice, and threw in a bomb.
“So which one are you aiming for?”
Jet felt his face tense up. He took a glance at the two girls who were walking by the cart and chatting.
“The childhood friend over there? Or perhaps your other schoolmate over there?”
Nemel and Ornesty.
The reason why Jet was controlling the cart while the two were walking was because they were responsible for keeping an eye on the surroundings.
This was not commendable, but there was no other choice.
In an open space like a plains, it was easy to see anyone approaching. In fact it was possible to talk and make jokes while keeping an eye on the surroundings.
Moreover, the knights were surrounding them, protecting the cart and them. In this formation, how could one maintain caution?
Bebene was waiting for Jet’s response. However, he did not speak of the other woman in the group.
(That’s to be expected though.)
Bebene said nothing about her.
Apart from her name of Nabe, they knew nothing about her, and she was shrouded in mystery.
Or rather, not a single knight dared to approach her.
The Living Legend, the Great Magic Caster Fluder,
And looking at his reactions to her, one immediately understood her position. Shockingly, the Great Magic Caster, was respectful to her.
An unknown person whom the legendary magic caster was respectful to.
No one would be able to speak to her in a casual manner.
And so while Jet, Nemel and Ornesty were able to find conversation partners, and some knights could speak to Fluder, the area surrounding her was a storm of silence.
And she herself did not seem troubled by this, in fact, she seemed to desire this, worsening the situation.
“Hey hey, could you tell this Onii-chan? If you do, I’ll help you out. Did you know? This test is dangerous. And so there’s a high chance that she’ll give you a big hug after it.”
“Yup. One of my colleagues graduated as a magic caster from the Academy, and that’s what he said. Well, it seems that he did not manage to get a girlfriend from it though. But anyway this is your chance. Oh, but I won’t forgive you if you tell them. As a commoner—”
At that moment, as Bebene seemed that he could continue talking until the cows came home, the cart shuddered. Even through the thin cushion, he could feel it shaking underneath. Although it had a tendency to sway, this was different. It was a mysterious movement.
This was a strange situation. The question was, what caused it?
Jet faced forward. He saw nothing but the plains that stretched far out into the distance.
The shaking continued, causing Jet’s hopes that this would be nothing serious, to be dashed. He had to confirm this.
He pulled on the reins, leapt off the cart and spun around. And what he saw gave him a huge shock.
The back wheel on the ride had collapsed. This was naturally an emergency.
“Ah, the left side is fine.”
Bebene had moved past the left side of the cart, allowing Jet to feel some level of relief.
“Fortunately, only the right wheel is impacted. I don’t even want to consider that the axle is damaged….”
Bebene croached to inspect the wheel. Jet followed him.
“Look. One of the spokes is offset. Did we overload the carriage?”
“No, we did not. The weight we added is only slightly more than the recommended.”
“Is that so…. Fortunately it’s not completely broken, and so the probability that we can ignore it is ….”
Bebene did not finish his sentence, but Jet understood what he meant.
The damage would get worse and worse, and would eventually impact the entire cart. If the axel snapped completely, the cart would become completely unusable.
“Is it possible to reach the next town?”
“I’m not a carpenter so don’t take my word for it. But it’s not impossible….”
A map of the surrounding area appeared in Jet’s mind, as he recalled the location of the nearest town. But just like the knight, he was also not a carpenter, and so he too was unsure if they could make it.
“….We could possibly use our resupply points, so shall I bring over the map with their locations?”
To ensure that the knights could be rapidly deployed, there were several supply points within the Empire. And there, there was a good chance that they could fix their cart.
Leaving their luggage behind was a foolish idea, and so they had to somehow make it to a place where the cart could be repaired.
What should I do, he wondered. But then a soft yet confident voice reached his ears.
“There’s no issue.”
The one who spoke was the Great Magic Caster, Fluder.
He crouched down next to Jet and pointed a finger towards the wheel.
With the casting of the spell, the cart shuddered, for the damaged spoke suddenly shifted back into position.
“Since the <Repair> spell lowers the durability of the item significantly, I do not recommend using it on a regular basis, but for emergency situations like this, it is a useful spell. In fact, I am told that adventurers regularly prepare this spell in a scroll…. But anyway, there is no longer an issue. We can replace it once we reach a town.”
Basking in everyone’s gazes, Fluder thrust out a finger towards the magic caster of the knights.
“Do you not have a spell to rectify this?”
Seeing the knight’s silent response, Fluder smiled.
“Hmm, I see. So this is a problem with your personality. Since it has come up, Jet-kun, I shall give you all a lecture. Do you mind?”
Jet immediately shook his head. No human would ever refuse a lecture from the Great Magic Caster.
“….Asking the uninformed about their impressions of magic, and they will imagine something loud and flashy. The best example of this is attack magic. Indeed. Many enjoy seeing and hearing balls of fire and flashes of lightning. Especially when such spells are used to exterminate monsters who seek to harm humans. However, I personally believe that rather than those spells, spells that can assist in one’s daily life are far more useful. Or rather, finding occasions to use attack magic is rare, for they are only useful for harming others.”
Indeed, Jet thought.
The attack spell <Fireball> was famous, but no one would use the spell for heat, for such a thing was impossible to control. Even if one tried to use it to ignite kindling, if things went wrong, one would only leave behind a scorched corpse.
The same went for <Acid Arrow> <Magic Arrow> and <Lightning>.
“In comparison, there are spells that have a wide range of uses. Especially spells known as lifestyle magic. They have earned this moniker not because there is such a group, but because many use these spells for such purposes. Personally, I do not like these spells, and they are a mistake to— Cough. Excuse me. I was about to go off on a tangent. Umm, what was I saying…. Ah yes. Have you, Jet-kun, heard of the spell <Floating Board>?”
“Yes. Of course. I have learnt it as part of the curriculum for First Tier spells.”
“I see. It merely allows one to lift heavy objects, and is a common sight at construction sites. However, one can use it at times like these. While the maximum weight it can lift depends on the mana of the user…. Well, one could easily reach the next town.”
“It is just as you say.”
Fluder stroked his silver beard.
“Magic is a contract with the world, and breaking it even once requires tremendous preparation. However, only using attack magic is foolish. One can easily harm others even without magic. One can simply leave attacking to sword-wielding warriors. Then what is the reason why magic casters are indispensable— Answer me.”
Fluder’s gaze switched over towards the knight magic caster
For an instant, he was in a flustered state, but then, replied with confidence.
“To use the most suitable spell for any situation.”
“Precisely. For example, currently, a part of the cart was damaged. At these times, the warriors are useless, and it falls to the magic caster to handle the situation. And unless that warrior was the son of a carpenter and can fix it without issues, magic casters need to learn spells that can help in such situations.”
“I believe so as well.”
The knight magic caster continued.
“Although, it is very difficult.”
Fluder smiled. It was not one of kindness, but was one of a senior looking at the troubles of the young.
“While I said that it needs to fit the situation, there are various aspects to consider. And to do so perfectly is impossible even for myself. But for a magic caster that focuses on attack spells, this is even more so. Jet-kun can use several First Tier spells correct? Remember to not choose only attack spells.”
“Yes. I understand.”
“Nemel-kun as well. Remember to use your head when studying magic.”
“Y, yes! I understand.”
Smiling, Fluder looked around, and suddenly froze.
His gaze was focused on Nabe.
“O, of course, this does not mean that attack spells are useless. As there are many types of attack spells, one can easily defeat that monster. With such spells, one can easily defeat that monster, yes. Nnn!”
Fluder retched, as if something was stuck in his throat.
“Basically what I mean is—”
There was no longer the earlier proud figure. Instead, he was like a teacher on his first day.
Jet took a peak at the source of this trouble, the mysterious Nabe.
She was a complete unknown. While they were on the same team and have held conversations, Jet, Nemel, and probably Ornesty, had never turned the topic towards her personal information.
Because they feared her.
If it was a topic she could speak about, then she should have told them about it herself. And since she did not, that either meant that she had no intention to tell them, or that she could not tell them.
If it were the former, Jet was still fine. It was just a matter of building up trust.
But, if it were the latter—
Jet shuddered. Just by looking at Nabe, he could feel darkness surrounding him, and the world around him dim.
“Attack magic is extremely important. Simultaneously using the Third Tier spell <Fly> and <Fireball> to carpet bomb from the sky is an extremely effective method against those who do not have any anti-air measures. In fact, using this, my disciples and I captured a Death Knight—”
A loud and dry slap resounded through the air. Fluder had slammed his hand over his mouth.
Fluder, Jet and the knights all looked at each other.
The old man’s face crumbled. On his face was the wry smile of a child who had just played a prank, but surprisingly, it did not look out of place on his face.
“Apologies. I have just leaked classified information.”
For an instant, everyone had a shocked expression plastered on their faces. Wondering if it was a joke, they looked at Fluder. While he was making a wry smile, there was something there that prevented them from dismissing it.
“Hahahaha.” A dry and painfully fake laugh rang out from Fluder. “And so…. Everyone, could you please forget what I said?”
“—W, what about? I do not remember anything except for the magic lecture Paradyne-sama was giving us, right, everyone!”
The knight captain managed to catch on at a surprising speed. The other knights were just an instant late, but they raised a unified cry of agreement. Jet, Nemel and Ornesty also nodded their heads. Nabe nodded just a moment later.
“Sorry. I’m really sorry. This is the fault of my idiocy. Perhaps it was because I got back to teaching after a long time, and my tongue loosened. And to prevent any more mistakes from occurring, I shall end this here. Lastly…. Jet-kun. If it’s a problem of this level, I can handle it, so if you need me, just tell me.”
“Yes. Paradyne-sama. If something happens, I will be relying on you.”
As the morning sun climbed into the sky and lit up the world, Jet had just finished his preparations and was leaving the tent.
He took a deep breath in, and then out.
The cold air of the morning felt great against his anxious body.
Two days had passed since the cart incident, and they had arrived at the edge of the Empire. In front of them stood a gigantic forest that blocked out all sunlight, and had encompassed the entirety of their vision.
They were just about to enter it.
The dark clouds of unease welled up inside of Jet’s heart.
This forest was not the realm of men, but of monsters. There, humans would switch from the hunters, to the hunted.
Taking another deep breath, Jet looked up.
On the other side of the Great Forest of Tob stood the Azerlisia Mountain Range, stabbing upwards into the sky, like a row of fangs. On a good day, these mountains could be seen as shadows seen from the entirety of the Empire, and now, he was standing before them. That small insignificant shadows in the background was now imposing a great power on him, teaching Jet that humans were but tiny insects compared to itself.
Jet, wordlessly, shook his head.
“What’s wrong Jet? Are you feeling how large the world is?”
The sudden voice did not surprise Jet, for he had heard the clanking of armoured footsteps approaching him.
“Yes, indeed. You get me. Did you….”
The knight standing next to him, Bebene, nodded.
“Ah, yup. It’s just as you imagine. I felt the same thing you are feeling when I first went on large scale exercises as a knight. The world is wide, and humans that live on it are tiny existences. There are probably many sights and views that us humans have never seen before. The deep forest, the peaks of mountains, islands floating in the sky. In a way, I’m envious of adventurers who are stepping into the unknown.”
Bebene made a small smile, and shook his head.
“Sorry for saying weird stuff. We’re about to enter the Great Forest of Tob, and here I am saying stuff that I hoped will ease the tension.”
“No, it’s fine. I understand where you’re coming from…. Bebene, can I call you a romanticist?”
“Ah, how embarrassing.” Bebene blushed. However, his face immediately returned to normal. “…. While I said this earlier, you should not become an adventurer because it is very risky. Only a small handful attain success, and the death rate is high…. Dying inside of a monster’s stomach without anyone knowing about you…. I’d rather be unfilial.”
Bebene’s gaze slid towards the Azerlisia Mountain Range.
“But…. I feel like I can empathise with that guy….”
“Is that so.”
The two silently stared at the enormous mountain range. They felt a strange closeness with it. And while they did not do it for long, to Jet, it felt like an eternity. Two more sets of footsteps joined them.
“Why have you two been standing there for so long? Did something happen?”
It was Nemel and Ornesty. Since the two had joined them, they were done with their preparations. If Jet turned his head, he would be able to see that all they needed was to equip their large backpacks.
“Well…. It’s huge.”
“The Azerlisia Mountain Range? Yup, it’s big. With that size, I won’t be surprised if there is a Dwarf Kingdom hidden inside.”
“Or a kingdom of Giants, or a dragon, or other things.”
Ornesty did not seem to be as impressed as Jet or Nemel. Ever since they had started this journey, she had lacked the sense of tension and awe that they had. She was probably used to travelling.
“A dragon. I hope it won’t appear from the forest.”
“I’ve heard that it will be fine. The Great Forest is within the territory of the Frost Dragon Lord that lives within the Azerlisia Mountain range. Other dragons won’t dare to encroach.”
“Yes, or so I heard…. Stop it with the Oo-chan….”
“You can…. Drop the chan….”
“Hmm, I’ve heard other explanations for that.”
Jet was about to bow towards the white-haired Great Magic Caster, but he was stopped. Greeting me once in the morning is enough, he said, and then slipped into the main topic.
“Such as there is something very powerful being sealed in the Great Forest, preventing dragons from coming near. Some records say that there is a Dragon King of the Demon Tree there…. However, this information is from written compilations of oral legends, and there are only a few mentions of it and so it is not very reliable. I believe that Ornesty-kun’s explanation is more likely.”
“Dragon King of the Demon Tree… So it’s a Forest Dragon?”
At Ornesty’s question, Fluder replied with a grim face.
“…. I cannot say. That book has severely deteriorated, and it is extremely difficult to read its contents. In fact, I would like to poke around the brain of the idiot who did not preserve it with magic! ….Sorry, I got too agitated. Back to the point. There is nothing that tells us how to translate Demon Tree. If the word [Tree] is correct, which I believe it is, probably, it is a Dragon King with the power of trees…. So maybe it is a Dragon King with the ability to manipulate nature like a druid.”
Ehh, Jet and the others raised cries of shock.
“Ooh, that’s my bad habit. I always want to show off my knowledge…. The reason why I came is to report that the knights are ready to move off. We can do so at any time, but what shall we do, Jet-kun?”
“Then let’s go. The earlier we enter the forest, the less danger there is.”
“Indeed. Then, I will return to the captain. Since Paradyne-sama is around, I believe that there will be no problems, but please listen to our instructions while in the forest.”
“Of course, Bebene-san.”
Since winter was coming, the cold air of the forest felt great against his burning face.
Jet wiped away his sweat with a towel.
This was the moment when he learnt just how naive he was, underestimating the amount of energy stolen by a forest untouched by human hands.
As he looked towards Nemel, he noticed that she was moving her mouth.
She was probably whispering, I’m fine.
She was pushing herself, but from her footsteps, she was not on the verge of collapse, so Jet said nothing and faced forward.
On the other hand, Ornesty was showing a surprising level of stamina and so he paid her no heed. The same with Fluder and Nabe.
Nemel had the least amount of stamina, followed by Jet.
(Next is Ornesty, then Paradyne-sama. And lastly is….Nabe-san eh.)
Jet stared at the deep forest, where the thick air was emanating from.
He would occasionally catch glimpses of the ranger leading the group.
Being an Imperial Knight was a professional occupation, and unlike the Kingdom, the term did not mean a warrior who fought on horseback. While it was true that most were warriors, wearing metal armour and training to fight with sword and shield, there were some with other specialised skill sets, such as magic casters, priests and rogues.
For there were many roles the knights had to fulfill, and one of them was to patrol the Empire and fight with monsters. And since the Kingdom used adventurers to fulfill this role, the knights had to organise themselves in a similar manner.
For example, if a team was composed solely of warriors, it might be possible to eradicate goblins with overwhelming firepower. However, since there were many ways that monsters could attack, there was a need to be able to handle them. If paralysis poison was used, a priest was necessary. Attacking from a distance with magic to burn the creature would be the best. There were also intangible monsters that could not be damaged by physical weapons.
For the above reasons, defeating monsters only with those who could swing their swords would be difficult.
Jet refocused his efforts on his exhausted legs.
Don’t push yourselves, they were told when they had entered the forest. The possibility of them encountering monsters in the Great Forest was extremely high. And if his legs could not move, forget being able to help, he would not even be able to run.
(Even for a guy like me, this is hard. It will be the same for Nemel…. I should ask for a break.)
The captain had left the timing for resting to Jet. Of course, doing so in front of a monster nest was impossible, and so at that time, the knights could refuse.
Just as Jet was about to speak up, the ranger raised his open right hand and then clenched it into a fist.
Before they entered the forest, they were taught several hand signals, and this was one of them. Wait, it meant.
This signal meant that something was wrong. And so, everyone stopped moving.
The atmosphere changed.
While there was already some level of tension, the knights reached a new level of caution and hostility, to the point where they were warping the air around them.
The knights were strong. However, within this forest were monsters that could kill them in an instant. To survive, they had to find their opponents first, gather information and then decide on their course of action.
And if they were to escape, since the knights were wearing metal armour, the <Silence> spell had to be cast on them. Since this spell would erase all sound, they had to decide on the small details like how to escape and what to do if the enemy chased them, beforehand.
—Put simply, this minute would decide everything, including whether or not they would end up in a monster’s stomach.
The ranger slowly returned.
Even though he was passing through grass, his footsteps were silent, causing Jet to feel a sense of admiration. Even though this was not the time for that.
“I heard a large number of footsteps.”
“A large number? Around ten?”
The captain had responded back with a question.
“No, far more. There were around a hundred individual footfalls.”
“A hundred? What could it be…. Giant ants…. Could that be possible at this time of year?”
“Their nest might have been destroyed, but I find that difficult to imagine.”
The magic caster added.
“What shall we do?”
A simple question, but a difficult one to answer.
The captain looked around, and his gaze stopped on Fluder. He had completely ignored Jet, but he did not feel slighted at all. In fact, he felt relieved.
“What shall we do?”
Fluder’s gaze fell to Jet, but he unconsciously looked down. Honestly, this was a far too difficult thing to ask of a student.
“Jet-kun, could I please hear your opinion?”
His heart skipped a beat.
As he fearfully raised his head, he could feel everyone’s sharp gazes fell towards him.
“I believe that every second is precious, and that listening to my opinions will be a waste of time. I believe that we should first listen to those with more experience.”
“I want to hear yours. At worst, I —and Nabe-dono, will shoulder the responsibility for you.” Fluder turned to face the ranger. “If we remain here, will we run into the owner of those footsteps?”
“No, they will probably be a ways off, and so this place is relatively safe. However, we might make some noise, or if it’s a monster with a sensitive nose, we will be in serious danger.”
“…. I see. Then Jet-kun. You have gained some information. I would like to hear your opinion.”
Fluder was not going to change his mind. Until Jet spoke, they would not move. That would be bad.
Steeling himself, Jet looked back at the journey with the knights and recalled their capabilities, and spoke.
“First, we have to learn their identities. That has to be first.”
A quiet feminine voice replied.
For a second, no one knew who spoke. But, then they soon realised. It was the most mysterious person in their group.
“Did you not hear me? There are over a hundred goblins walking.”
Covering one eye, Nabe repeated herself.
Everyone wondered how she had that information, but no one asked. For, at some level, some part of her made it clear that this was the truth.
“That is strange…. Ah apologies. I am not questioning the validity of your statement, and instead I’m asking this because I believe you.” The knight magic caster spoke. “Normally, this period just before winter is chosen for the examination because the goblins who failed to prepare for winter would be out searching for food, and so it would be perfect. However, while goblins would appear, they would only number in the tens, and for this many to appear….”
“Then, when would over a hundred goblins be moving?”
“When they are moving nests, Jet-kun. Or if they have experienced a natural disaster…. But still, a hundred is far too large.”
Jet gulped. Could a mere student such as him handle such a situation? But, seeing Fluder’s smile, Jet felt confidence well up within him, and he spoke.
“Then…. Why don’t we negotiate with the goblins?”
There was a small cry of surprise. Fluder had a bright smile on his face, as if this was precisely the result he desired. And if he turned around, standing next to Nemel, Ornesty was unconsciously nodding her head.
“If over a hundred goblins need to evacuate their nest, it means that there is something extremely dangerous there. If it is a monster that is attacking the goblins, it might leave the boundaries of the forest. We first need to gather information.”
“But still, with goblins.”
“No, it is not a bad decision. Captain. We could offer them food, or threaten them for information.”
“Will it go well?”
“What do you think, Jet-kun?”
Fluder asked him again.
This time, the words flowed from Jet’s mouth. Partially because he felt that if he messed up, Fluder would say something.
“We cannot say for certain that we can directly fight them. While our individual strengths are higher, and with the knights and Paradyne-sama here, we can win, but we will have many openings as they overwhelm us with numbers. And so, I would like to first threaten them with numbers.”
“What do you mean?”
The captain came closer. He was interested.
“A common tactic is to use flags…. But shall we create sounds or illusions?”
“Then you should hide behind us and allow us to stand in front.”
“Umm…. Apologies. I don’t mean to sound contemptuous, but I believe that it will be better for Nemel and Ornesty to be behind to make noise…. While we stand in front. If there are too few of us we will not be able to make a threat.”
“Umm.” The ranger frowned and asked. “….There is a chance that they will not listen and attack us immediately. Will those behind not be separated and face a large risk?”
“I believe that we should prevent that in this situation…. There might be other goblins that we don’t know about. And…. If they are being chased by a monster, they would not send out search parties to go out far. And if they are stopped here and surrounded by monsters, it would be very dangerous for them.”
“I see…. It makes sense.”
The knight captain grimly muttered, and looked around to see if anyone had any objections.
Staring at Fluder, the captain read his intent, and nodded.
“Then let us go with group leader Jet’s suggestion. If there are no objections we will begin. —Good. Hurry!”
They moved out.
Firstly, they identified the route that the goblins were taking, and positioned themselves by the side, split into two teams.
This was a dangerous gamble, but if they did not do so, the illusion that they were surrounding the goblins would not hold. And behind each team was Nemel and Ornesty, holding ropes. When they pulled on them, they would shake the branches, causing the goblins to assume that there were more of them.
With the preparations over, Jet held his breath, waiting for the moment. Depending on how this went, this might become a deadly fight for one’s life that he had never experienced before.
His breathing became rough.
And a hand landed on his shoulder.
It was Bebene. With a bright smile, he patted Jet again. And he found that, slightly, his breathing had become easier.
And finally, they began to hear sounds. Panicked footsteps that were trampling through the undergrowth. And it slowly grew louder— as did Jet’s footsteps.
While he knew that this decision was made with everyone’s agreement, he could not erase the feeling that he was betting everyone’s lives on this gamble.
“Strange….” Next to Jet, the ranger muttered. Seeing that everyone’s attention had shifted to him, he continued. “Aren’t they migrating? Or rather…. Some of them are injured. It seems quite likely that they are being chased by monsters.”
“Even more of a reason why we need to speak to them.”
Jet could hear that the goblins were passing through right in front of them. They were crouching down low, but Jet prayed that they would not be noticed. Then, the ranger gave his signal.
More than half of the goblins had passed, and in response, both groups rose up in unison.
“Stop there, goblins!”
The captain shouted out, frightening many of the goblins, causing them to break out shivering.
“We wish to negotiate! I hope that we do not need to draw our swords, and simply end this with words!”
“Lies! You just tried to kill us earlier!”
The creature that shouted was a large individual amongst the goblins, as large as a human.
It was probably a relative of hte goblin, a hobgoblin.
At his angered growl, the goblins readied their shoddy weapons. Their hostility was surprisingly low. Exhaustion had racked their bodies, and they only defended themselves for they knew that if they did not, they would die.
“We have no idea what you speak of, but we have no intention to hurt you. In fact, if we did plan to attack you, we would have done so directly without trying to talk.”
The hobgoblin remained silent. Because he felt that this was the truth.
“We do not wish for pointless fighting. What will you do? Your decision will determine if blood will be split! However, do not think that this is all of us. We merely wanted to negotiate and did not want to provoke you, but we have many others hidden behind ready to battle!”
From behind, there was a burst of movement that could not have been made by nature. Naturally, this was Nemel and Ornesty’s work. However, the goblins would not understand that. As they planned, the goblins fell into confusion as they looked at each other uneasily.
It was clear that their will to fight was diminishing.
“….I understand! We will negotiate, human! However, as a show of trust, I want only you to proceed forward!”
“….This is to be expected, and so I have no objections.”
The captain slowly walked towards the hobgoblin, glaring at him all the way. The goblins parted away from the two of them, forming an open ring for the two to parley.
“Then let us begin. Firstly, if you agree to these two conditions, I swear that we will not attack you.”
The hobgoblin gestured for him to continue.
“The first condition. Listen to what we want to say, and then give us the appropriate answers.”
“Before that, tell us the next condition. Because there is the possibility that we cannot agree to it.”
“….Do not leave the forest. Or more precisely, to the west, outside of the forest, is our country. I do not want you to cause panic there. If you do so, we will kill everyone here.”
“….I see. Then I shall promise you both. However, the second one…. There might be situations where we have to leave the forest to avoid danger, but we will immediately return and will certainly not cause panic there.”
“….I understand. I shall trust you, and permit that much.”
“Excellent! We have reached an agreement. Then, the first condition. What do you guys want to know?”
“Firstly, tell us what you are running away from. From what you said earlier, is it humans?”
“Humans? ….Yes. There were humans controlling creatures with white wings.”
“White wings? Birdmen? No, are they not?”
The captain turned around and looked at them. No, to be more specific, he was looking at Fluder. Nodding, Fluder slowly moved forward.
It was a slow walk, but Jet could feel a strong pressure emanating from him. It was as if there were a giant wall standing between them.
“Are they angels? I shall summon one, but please do not panic.”
Fluder cast a spell, causing an armoured angel to appear, with a longsword of crimson flames in its hand.
At its appearance, the goblins cried out in fear, telling them more than what words ever could.
“I see. It seems that I was on point. A high-ranking angel of flame. Was one person controlling one angel? Then it seems possible.”
“There were many more of these angels, and similarly, there were many humans accompanying them.”
“I know who it is.” Fluder stroked his beard. A crease formed between his brows, and he seemed unhappy. “It’s them.”
“May I ask who you are referring to, Paradyne-sama?”
“…. There are not many people that can use the Third Tier of summon magic to control angels. It is probably the Special Forces of the Slane Theocracy, probably the Sunlight Scripture.”
The knights gulped. Jet had heard of the Slane Theocracy, but all he knew was that it was a large country to the south west of the Empire, but that was clearly not all. But more importantly, why were they killing goblins that were within the Empire’s borders.
(There are many mysteries in the world…. To the frontier villages, goblins are the enemy, but is the enemy of my enemy my friend? Is it okay for us to know this? I really don’t want it to be a state secret like the Death Knight.)
While Jet was grappling with his thoughts, the conversation continued.
“There were also Gigant Basilisks. They attacked us together, and the humans were probably controlling it.”
“Impossible!” Fluder was absolutely beside himself as he shouted. No one could believe that he, the Great Magic Caster, was this agitated. Jet could feel the tension shoot through the roof. “No, if that is true…. Such a powerful monster?!”
Jet was thinking about asking a nearby knight about Gigant Basilisks, but he sensed that this was not the time or place, and so he continued watching in silence.
“No, if it’s them…. No, impossible. No no, it would be foolish to disbelieve evidence that is right before you. If so…. Maybe…. It’s not the Sunlight Scripture? But Gigant…. Then! I see! The ones from the Black Scripture!”
“…. This seems to be an unnecessary question, but are they strong?”
“If it’s only one of them, I can win, but its leader…. The “ Black Scripture”…. I cannot win. It would be better to leave here as soon as possible.”
“I understand. Then may I ask why you were targeted by such—”
“— There is no need. Captain. I mostly grasp their way of thinking…. There were quite a lot of you right?”
“A, ahh. There were many of us.”
“That’s the answer. Then allow me to ask two things. Firstly, are you carrying any special treasures?”
The hobgoblins thought for a few seconds, but finally shook his head.
“Then the last question. What will you do now?”
“We intend to head south. According to the traveling goblins, there is a Great Goblin General that bathes in his enemy’s blood. We were thinking about joining his tribe.”
“A Great Goblin General to the south?” Fluder fell into deep thought. “Was there such a person?”
“Yes. According to the stories, he commands tens of thousands of goblins, controls golems, and can crush his enemies with his two hands, earning the moniker of ‘Bloodstained’.”
“Eh? I, heawd tat he cover in clothes….”
“Ya, no no, not beah?
The goblins began to talk about the rumours about the Great Goblin General.
It was not clear if it were truth or lies. However, since the hobgoblin seemed to speak with such confidence, even if he were only half of the rumours, he was quite the powerful goblin. Or perhaps he was a relative of the goblin, a terrifying malevolent species known as a Red Cap.
“Well, it is fine. So you will head south after this. We pray that you can reach your destination safely. Now, captain, we will leave now.”
With wariness in their eyes, the goblins left. As the last one disappeared from their sights, they regrouped. This was to guard against the possibility that the goblins made a false retreat, and that they intended to attack them.
“Now— We need to retreat.”
At Fluder’s words, the knights nodded in unison. However, everyone’s eyes fell on a certain point. They looked away and turned to Jet, choosing him as their representative. While this was a role that he did not want, in a way, this was his responsibility as the group leader.
“By the way…. Nabe-san. Those things sticking out from your head….”
He was cut off with a single word.
On the top of Nabe’s head was a pair of floppy rabbit ears.
It was clear that it was a spell, but he wanted to know what effects it had. But before he could continue, Nabe spoke.
“Unfortunate. The enemies are faster.”
For an instant, no one understood what she said, but soon after, their faces paled.
“Impossible! I can’t hear anything!”
The ranger had confidence in his ears. And if it were not Nabe speaking, they would be inclined to believe the ranger. But—
“That’s not important now! Nabe-san. Allow me to ask. Are they faster than us?”
“Yes. They are already on their way here. Whether or not the goblins will buy us time is up to luck.”
“Then we have to escape as fast as possible.”
If they had to fight in the forest, they would be at a disadvantage.
Fluder agreed. While casting <Fly> and throwing explosions was an extremely efficient tactic, he could not do so here. This environment was ill-suited to them, and was perfect for their opponent.
Obeying his commands, everyone broke out into a sprint.
At some point, the exhaustion that plagued Jet had disappeared. The fear of losing his life had probably chased it away.
But just after a few minutes, Nabe stopped.
And so did everyone else.
“And I’m saying that there’s nothing there.”
As if to suppress the ranger’s anger, the area behind them was completely silent. In this forest, with all of the foliage, it was impossible for anything to run through silently. In fact, there did not seem to be any creature that could be called a Gigant Basilisk. Of course, excluding the possibility that it was invisible.
Nabe pointed towards a tree tens of metres away. And as everyone looked—
Who was the one who screamed? Jet thought that it was Nemel, but it also could have been him.
A giant monster was coiled around the tree, silently observing them.
Since it was coiled around the tree, they could not make accurate estimations, but considering the side of his head, its body was probably over ten metres. The scales covering its body changed constantly from a bright to dark green as the angle of the light changed.
Despite having such a large body, no one knew when it had been there. And this fear caused cold shivers to run down their spine.
Having a body similar to a snake or a lizard, with eight legs and a crown-like crest. And so—
Fluder slowly stepped forward, protecting everyone behind him.
“That is a Gigant Basilisk. A petrifying gaze and poisonous body fluids. It is a monster that requires oricalcum adventurers to fight. Fighting it by myself is— Difficult. Doing a simple power comparison, I am stronger. However, I fear that a single mistake will lead to defeat. And I need to prepare something to protect against its petrification…. This will be hard.”
While protection against petrification and poison was the realm of priests, the skills required was out of reach for the one that came with them. And so they had to rely on items. Unfortunately, they did not bring any.
“Then please allow me to be your shield.”
While the captain had readied himself to sacrifice his life, Fluder’s response was cold and empty.
“No. That role is impossible for you. You won’t even buy time. And you’ll get in my way.”
Fluder’s words did not upset the captain. Oricalcum was one of the highest ranks of adventurers, and only a few humans would be insulted if one said that they were inferior to one.
“Instead, we will handle it, so you should protect yourselves and leave. Just as we did earlier, I cannot say for certain that they are not waiting for us elsewhere.”
And as if responding to Fluder’s words, Nabe stepped forward next to Fluder.
She was not a large individual. However, standing next to Fluder, she gave off the impression of an impenetrable wall.
Acknowledging their will to fight, the Gigant Basilisk began to slither. However, for an instant, it stopped moving. And it’s long neck spun 180 degrees backwards.
A moment later, the sounds of explosions came from that direction. And it was in a different direction than the one the goblins ran off in.
“This is your chance. Now, run!”
Spurred on by his words, Jet and the others started to run.
They felt no guilt leaving the two behind. Because they knew that if they remained, they would simply drag them down.
“Now…. What shall we do?”
“Shall we buy them time? Or—”
“It’s annoying so I’ll kill it.”
It was a simple task for Narberal Gamma.
Fluder knew her strength, and so obediently nodded and stepped away.
“By the way, what do you think of that human?”
“Not bad. In terms of ability, that kid is…. Well, barely passable. Although he is not an idiot. We can hold some expectations for his future growth.”
“Ainz-sama has his eye on him, so it would be a problem if he is just fine.”
“It is as you say. However, he simply needs to grow, and as I said earlier, we can have some expectations for him.”
“Then guide him well.”
With the conversation over, Narberal pointed towards the Gigant Basilisk.
Sensing hostility, it began to move. But. It was far too late.
Failing to resist the spell, its lungs began to fill with water.
It tried to cry out, but no sound left its mouth. It fell to the ground from the shock, crashing into the earth. Writhing and thrashing, but it was no use. Its fate was decided the moment it failed to resist.
If it killed the caster before it died, the magic would dispel, but the Gigant Basilisk had no way of knowing that, and so it wasted its precious last moments.
Finally, its body stretched out, and strength left its body, along with the spark of life.
“Amazing. Penetrating the defense of a powerful beast with just a single attack.”
“Hmm…. It’s not a strong enemy. So what shall we do? You seem to know who sent this monster…. Shall we kill them?”
“No, that will not be necessary.”
Narberal Gamma could probably easily kill most of the Black Scripture. However, the Captain was an exception. If the rumours were true, even she could not beat him.
And if she was killed—
Fluder could easily imagine his master’s rage. So he changed the subject, to avoid that small possibility.
“Firstly, we have accomplished what we came here to do. The killing of the Gigant Basilisk will raise the boy’s reputation. No one would believe it strange for master to invite him…. Well, those who know of us will probably laugh. But all we have to do is to manipulate the information to make sure this becomes a legend.”
“I will leave that to you.” Narberal pulled out her weapon from thin air, and began to walk towards the creature. “Can I bash that corpse off somewhere?”
The journey of the powerless. Or the lucky route.
Next is the journey of the strong. To some, this is the worst route. Or rather, it is to everyone except that person.
The moniker of the Captain of the Black Scripture is the “Black Scripture”. Basically, “I alone am the Black Scripture”. He is a character that goes like BAAAM.
By the way, in the books, he was trashed by another stronger character and was made to wash his face with horse piss, and was made to say that “I am trash”, and so he became a much more well-rounded character.