“As a matter of fact, that monster… the chimera, I don't know where it dwells. To be honest, it may not even have a dwelling. It always appears in a different place. Afterwards, we go around patrolling there. Even now, a number of people have been charging into the forest, but its size can't be helped. If everyone were to go in, we wouldn't be able to keep track of the town's safety nor notice the signal announcing its discovery.”
“Of course, it would be great if you all could find a way to communicate with each other, but accomplishing that seems terribly difficult. Will you also be patrolling, and looking for me, Eos?”
“Yeah, but not when I'm on duty. I'll go around when I'm on break. Captain keeps a bird that can notify me wherever I am, probably because it hates Lazool's scent . It even hates the chimera's, so it's very good at searching.”
As we approached the entrance to the forest, Eos slowed Lazool down.
I said. “Come to think of it, Lazool's stamina is amazing considering his speed. He's also bigger than any horse I've seen till now.”
“He's a good kid. He just doesn't like letting other people ride on him. Still, he also knew we had to save you. He's smart.”
“Is that so? I just thought he was friendly, but… That's besides the point. This is different from where you met me, right?”
“Yeah. The soldier on duty should be patrolling nearby, so I thought it would be okay for me to explain things before I introduce you to him.”
On top of saying use me, Astraea also couldn't say no to it.
But she didn't know how she should greet him. For Sphale, her actions were suitable so he didn't seem to mind her but… to introduce herself again– that honestly troubled her.
Would it be fine to say, I'm just a witch that happened to pa.s.s by?
“But wait, I didn't exactly… happen to pa.s.s by, right?”
If I don't say anything, would it be okay to just say I'm here to help out? After that, everything else is up to Eos… Thinking so, Astraea looked at her surroundings.
The road didn't seem like a road, so the wagon might not be able to pa.s.s through. That said, seeing as there's no place there where a horse can't go through, the search will have to be continue on horseback like this.
“But the battlefield is a harsh place. If the chimera rampages, all the trees will be mowed down… Seeing as a part of it was burned down, was there a battle here before?”
“Yeah. The first battle took place here ten days ago. I heard they couldn't deal the finishing blow.”
“You weren't able to make it, Eos?”
“When it appeared, we received a message saying a monster appeared on the opposite side of the fortress so I separated from the Captain and headed over there. It wasn't that formidable of an opponent, but it just appeared with the worst timing.”
Astraea didn't say anything to Eos' regrets.
For a strong monster to show up in the forest while another escaped and rampaged in another place, it's always been like this since long ago. Why Eos hasn't encountered the chimera yet might stem from unlucky circ.u.mstances, not just last time, but every time.
She hopped off from Lazool and touched the scorch mark. Afterwards, she examined the area around it.
“…As expected, this mark is from a chimera. Coupled with its appearance, there's no mistaking it then.”
“You can figure it out from that?”
“Yes. It's something that was left behind with a smelly magic. This may sound disgusting, but it's similar to an animal's excrement. Those characteristic are enough to figure it out.”
Though she hasn't touched excrement even once, Astraea thought to herself, wasn't there a better metaphor I could have used for that? Based on that parallel, she would have to touch that dirt with her bare hands.
I mean, it's really smelly! Ah, but I don't think the same applies to human magic though…
It would have been better if I used a different metaphor, Astraea wiped her hand on her clothes, and cleared her throat.
You can't, don't think about it. This isn't the time to mind that kind of thing.
“Although I myself don't know either as to what kind of place a chimera pa.s.ses its time. It depends too much on the individual monster. So I too am unable to provide a hint we could use to find it. We'll just have to steadily look for it and attack it.”
“…Uhm, can I ask you something?”
“What is it?”
“You said that you've read about a chimera in a book, right?”
Astraea could only retort, I completely neglected that, and grimaced. Can you differentiate the smell of magic from a book? …That's impossible, no matter how you think of it. If I said it was an example, I might be able to… No, I've never seen an example about magic remains written in a magic book.
This mouth of mine was too careless…!
She had been so careful, but good grief, she easily slipped up.
Because I don't talk to others much, just now, I suddenly… It was no use even if she made excuses to herself. It was no use, but the situation is still troublesome. What kind of lie should I run with… She thought, and before she knew it, Eos had alighted from the horse and touched her head with his hand.
It lightly touched her head, making several patting sounds, and then Eos removed his hand.
“You know so much about other things. Would it be okay if you could, for my sake, tell me more about the chimera? If it'll make the battle more advantageous, I'd like to know. Besides, I can speak well.”
Where did you learn this from? Eos didn't pursue any further.
He can sense that I'm hiding something. Thinking that, I should be grateful but it also feels somewhat mortifying.
When she tried to firmly push Eos' body with her hand in a burst of anger, Eos let out a surprised voice but didn't entirely lose his balance. I figured his training is good, but I wish he'd have staggered just a little bit — Thinking that, she felt extremely mortified. She wasn't able to do that much.
But I'll put that off for later.
“A chimera's flame isn't just a simple flame. It's toxic… Do you know what that means?”
“Yeah, even if the wound it inflicts is small, the burn will worsen it into a serious injury. The person inflicted will eventually break with a high fever.”
Astraea nodded at his words.
“That doesn't mean there's no cure against poison, but since there's no readily-made medicine, it will take time. Another is… their mind might turn negative as well. That's why you can't neglect on monitoring the progress of the victim's wound. Finally, as you already know, for attacking it, you can't carelessly and loudly approach it. The chimera's skin is strong like steel… But its neck should be softer than you would imagine.”
“Yes, the chimera is immune to its own poison, and yet, I think that because of continuously spitting out poison, its throat has turned incredibly soft. From there, if you have a sword, you can stab it from the front straight to the heart .”
Astraea explained to Eos with a drawing on the ground.
“It's not like you can't strike at its neck, but it'll turn slightly soft, and will easily run away. Which is why it's dangerous, but you could win if you charge at it from the front when you get the chance. The only problem is that you can't just simply get close to it.”
“I heard that its flames are troublesome, but that its tail is equally annoying.”
“That's true. Using a decoy would be ideal.”
“A decoy, huh…”
Eos didn't seem to agree with her that so much that it was more likely that he had thought of such a strategy deep down as well.
She didn't receive a word of acknowledgement from him, but Astraea continued her words.
“The chimera might attack a weak-looking or even a weakened soldier, but it's incredibly easy to provoke so it would easily target an annoying soldier. If we skillfully utilize a decoy, it would be better to use an elite few rather than fighting with the whole army. If there's a lot, the decoy wouldn't be able to attract its attention.”
“It's easier said than done, but there's nothing else we can do.”
Which means I'll be the decoy — Yes, Astraea thought this.
Even if I get hit by its poison, it would really only amount to an ouch for me.
If she said such at the moment, he would grimace again so she'll actually tell him so in the confusion after the battle has started. She could somehow see that Eos was the type that didn't yield.
But this time, she didn't mind.
Eos had yet to confront a chimera, so Astraea would be a better choice even if he was able to memorize its attack pattern. Even if there are other suitable knights, she still planned on taking the role. It would be better in the first place to make sure that the chimera doesn't show up a second time.
“There is one other thing I would like you to know. Even when we're able to repel the chimera, it won't leave this forest. Just that, it refuses to remain within one area of the forest. Do you know why that is?”
“…That's because it has food in front of it. Wait, rather than food, it treats everyone more like snacks.”
From what she remembers of 400 years ago, there were several people she knew in her hometown that were attacked by a chimera. While they were at a loss on what to do, it mercilessly ravaged the town… She was mortified. She only heard about it, but just remembering it was painful.
Astraea heaved a sigh as Eos expression that turned stern.
This expression of his… He can also guess from his own answer.
It's because of this that they're frantically searching for it when they have the time.
“Even if you persistently drive it off, it'll only result in wrecking more havoc in another village. It's better to just finish it off quickly.”
Because of this, when the chimera is found, they have to remember the atmosphere of the forest that will turn into a battlefield. After that, Eos will join up with his comrades, and think up of a full-blown strategy— The moment she thought that, a chill suddenly went up Astraea's back. After that, Lazool roughly neighed.
Something woke up close by.
It wasn't just Astraea who felt that, but also Eos.
Astraea looked around, and after that, slowly closed her eyes.
In which direction is this something… With that in mind, she separated her spirit from her body to search for it.
When she did so, a terrible scene flashed in the back of her eyes.
“Two people– they have severe injuries…! The chimera caught up to them while they were escaping…!”
As soon as he heard her words, Eos moved Astraea onto Lazool.
“Over there! Just straight ahead!”
“Let's go! Don't bite your tongue…!”
What a thing to sa—
She did think it was urgent, but this happened at the worst timing.
Additionally, she couldn't help but sigh for the worst situation to happen.
Hi guys! Off to battle the chimera I guess. So as a heads up, I did say last time we were going to do two chapters a week because I thought I could do it, but I won't be able to seeing that I'm in school so I've got a lot of studying/homework to do and it's November already. Sorry about that, but I'll try and stick to one chapter a week! In this case, since weekends are days off for most people, I'll post it at the usual time on Sat.u.r.days instead.
Also sorry this was late. I had to do some homework.
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