48 – An Unfortunate Encounter
After hearing the rumour, the girl — Miloulle and her comrades offered their prayers to the God of Evening Moon, Gavavi for the unexpected good fortune.
Incidentally, Glavavi is the guardian deity of the night and is primarily worshipped by those active during the evening such as prostitutes and minstrels.
For the same reason, Glavavi is said to be the guardian deity of gambling dens which open at night, thus from that connection, is also known as a god that bestows good luck.
“H-Hey, Tadd. Is it really true?”
“Yeah, it’s true. It seems like a small pack of snow lizards have been sighted near the royal capital.”
Tadd, Ganz, and Kuoran. These three young men of the same generation along with the 16 year old Miloulle were a 4 man monster hunter gang.
With shoulder length brown hair and eyes of the same colour, her lean but flexible body somewhat reminded you of a cat. Her large, sharp eyes strengthened that cat-like impression even further.
Her looks were good too, and she herself, was aware that her companions would sometimes look at her mesmerized.
But rather than being concerned with romance, she was more interested in spreading her name as a monster hunter. That was Miloulle’s wish.
Born and raised in the same village, the four of them were always together no matter what they were doing. It hadn’t been even one year since they had left their home village and come to the capital in order to become monster hunters.
After arriving in the royal capital, they earned their daily wages by taking on various jobs by the day as they learned how to fight at the temple of the Sun God, Golaiva.
After working hard for half a year, they finally managed to save enough funds to buy sets of used weapons and armour for everyone, and finally began their lives as monster hunters.
They started off with simple requests such as gathering herbs. The snow was already starting to pile up, so the reward was higher than usual, but finding the targeted herb was not very easy. Even so, the four of them frantically dug up the snow to complete the requests, and just when they were starting to save up a little money.
The inn and bar they were staying in was called West Wind’s Embrace. It was a place where many new monster hunters like them stayed. Today, they were discussing what the next request they take should be.
Tadd, who just heard the rumour, excitedly returned to where his companions were.
“Speaking of snow lizards, they aren’t that strong of a monster. Even novices like us should be able to handle them. How about it? Why not give it a try?”
“Aye, why not? I’ve been getting sick of shoveling snow all day for herbs lately.”
“Yeah, finally it’s time for us to show our skills.”
Tadd, Ganz and Kuoran were eager to go.
Of course, Miloulle was also in the mood. By hunting these snow lizards, she wanted to give a jump start to her life as a monster hunter.
“But… Can we really do it?”
The one who said that was Ganz who was the most cautious of the bunch.
“It’ll be alright. A bunch of snow lizards shouldn’t be a problem if it’s the four of us.”
“From what I’ve heard, even though it’s a pack, the size is quite small. And also…”
Tadd looked at Miloulle.
“We have… Miloulle. If we have her magic, there is no reason to fear some snow lizards.”
“Y-Yeah! That’s right! We have Miloulle and her magic!”
“Also… When Miloulle uses her magic… Hehehe.”
Following Tadd, the other three looked at her as well.
There was also lust mixed into those gazes, and when Miloulle noticed it, she frowned in displeasure.
“Hey! I won’t use magic so easily, you hear! I’ll only use it as a last resort after all! In the first place, my magic is completely self taught, the system seems to be a bad one, and has a very short duration!”
“We get it.”
“Even so, just having your magic on hand puts us at ease. We’re really lucky having you as our comrade.”
“Oi, Kuoran, didn’t you say something before about, if we get comrades, then they might be as beautiful as one like the Savaiv Temple Holy Maiden?”
“Wait!! You and Ganz also agreed with me!”
“Hmh! I see how it is you three. Then I’ll kindly leave you all so you can try your luck getting the Savaiv Holy Maiden as your comrade!”
“He-hey now, it was a joke. Just a joke. After all, there is no way the Savaiv Temple Holy Maiden would join a bunch of novices like us.”
In response to Tadd who tried to smooth it over in a fuss, Ganz and Kuoran nodded frantically.
Of course, Miloulle wasn’t actually angry, nor did she also intend to separate from them.
However, she also judged that she couldn’t forgive them too easily, so in the end, in exchange for each one of them treating her to a meal, she calmed her fake anger.
Once things were decided, they had to hurry.
The rumour about the pack of snow lizards would continue to spread. In which case, they needed to hunt them down before any other monster hunters get to them.
Since the rumoured location was in the vicinity of the royal capital, after preparing a few days worth of food, they quickly departed as the sun was rising the next day.
With their preferred weapons in their hand and wearing hardened leather armor, the four of them follow the path according to the information Tadd had obtained.
Before long, Miloulle, who had the best eyesight among them, caught sight of the footprints of several animals.
“Hey, take a look at this.”
“These are…snow lizard footprints?”
“I’ve seen them before, so there should be no mistake.”
“Alright, the footprints seem fresh, so let’s follow them.”
Nodding at Tadd’s words, Miloulle and the rest advanced through the snow field to follow the footprints.
Following the footprints, they left the meadows and entered the forest.
While clearing away branches and pushing their way through bushes, the four of them cautiously followed the footprints.
Before long, they caught sight of a large lizard with white scales.
They had finally caught up with it!
The grip on their weapons tightened unconsciously.
They renewed their determination for the hunt.
However, the scene that laid before them was not what they were expecting.
Before them was a single gigantic snow lizard.
They had heard before that a boss that commands the pack would occasionally appear within snow lizard packs, so although this was unexpected, it wasn’t something to be surprised about.
This pack had a boss? Thinking that, the four raised their vigilance. But the situation was strange.
The gigantic snow lizard; great snow lizard ignored Miloulle and her friends who were approaching, engrossed in its meal.
There was no way the giant snow lizard didn’t notice Miloulle and her friends approaching. That was because they had their weapons in hand as they slowly approached, as if encircling it.
However, the giant snow lizard didn’t stop eating.
Tadd, who was at Miloulle’s right, pointed at ‘it’ with his trembling finger.
Around the giant snow lizard, the bodies of other snow lizards which appeared to be from the same pack were lying around. Their body which was usually white in colour were dyed deep crimson in many places.
“Is, is it…eating its own pack…?”
The thing that the great snow lizard was mindlessly eating. That thing was likely other members of its own pack.
“I-I never heard of snow lizards… eating their own kind.”
Miloulle wasn’t able to tell who had whispered that.
That was because she saw it.
As the giant snow lizard was deliciously devouring the internal organs of its own kind, its eye alone turned around and looked at her.
The giant lizard’s eye which shone a deep crimson.
Miloulle clearly saw the crimson eyes narrowing in a manner similar to when a human would snicker at someone.
Finishing her story up until to that point, the girl that Tatsumi had saved, Miloulle, shut her mouth.
She was currently sitting up on a bed in one of the rooms of The Elven Resthouse.
Of course, she was wearing clothes; simple ones borrowed from Eru. With her mouth shut, Miloulle hung her head and didn’t move.
But Eru, Tatsumi, Calcedonia, and Jadokh who watched over her noticed that her shoulders were slightly trembling.
She was crying.
She cried while stifling her voice and desperately held her tears in, so only her shoulders tremble slightly while she cried.
From that, Tatsumi and the others understood what had happened to her comrades.
Miloulle’s shoulders continued to tremble. Looking away from her, Eru turn to Calcedonia.
“As you have heard, the situation is severe. A demon beast possessed by a devil… A monster has appeared near the royal capital. Though I doubt it will enter the royal capital, the possibility of travellers along the main road being attacked is extremely high.”
“That’s right, I will quickly report to the temple and request for the dispatch of a devil sweeping master. Of course, I will also move out too. Master-”
Calcedonia’s ruby-like eyes looked straight toward Tatsumi.
“–I have been fighting ‘devils’ together with Morga up until now. That Morga is currently not here… Master. Will you fight together with me?”
Compared to Morganeich, the “Freedom Knight”, the current Tatsumi wouldn’t hold a candle against him.
And perhaps he would only slow Calcedonia down.
However, he noticed a swaying flame of anxiety deep within the gaze of Calcedonia. He had noticed it.
Even she felt anxiety. Toward the prospect of fighting demon beast with someone other than Morganeich.
Of course, Calcedonia trusted Tatsumi and believed in him.
However, she had no experience with fighting monsters together with him. Even if she trusted him, it was still different from pairing up with Morganeich.
Tatsumi and Morganeich were completely and utterly different. Even their strength as a devil sweeping master were vastly different. Even so, Calcedonia still asked him to fight with her.
That made Tatsumi extremely happy.
That’s why Tatsumi replied immediately. While wishing for the anxiety of the person precious to him to blow away.
“Of course. If you are fine with me, I’ll fight together with you anytime.”
He didn’t think he could fight like Morganeich. However, if push came to shove, he could at least get Calcedonia away from danger.
“…Thank you very much. I believed master would answer like that.”
Calcedonia smiled as her cheeks flushed.
Her smile made Tatsumi’s chest feel warm. At that time, some more reliable words were added into the mix.
“Aran~ If Tatsumi-chan fights then of course I would also go. While I have also no experience fighting against a “devil,” I can at least become a shield for you two.”
The one who grinned broadly with an intrepid smile on her graceful countenance was of course Jadokh.
“Is that fine?”
“Of course. We are comrades, right?”
Jadokh winked playfully.
“Alright. I will count on you then.”
“Leave it to me!”
Bam. She patted her chest and nodded, full of confidence. Tatsumi fist bumped with Jadokh.
“Then, Master, please go to the temple and tell grandfather about this case. I will head back to home and make preparations. After that let’s meet up again here.”
The was a considerable distance between Savaiv temple and ‘Elven Resthouse,’ but for Tatsumi who can use teleportation, it wouldn’t take a lot of time.
Tatsumi and Calcedonia nodded at each other. Just as they, Jadokh and Eru included, were about to leave the room.
Miloulle who had kept silent up until now called out toward their backs.
“Wa-wait…!! Ple-please, …let me go together with you!!”