After the Hippogryph was defeated, the monsters hiding in the forest showed no signs of movement.
Lying down in Luka’s house, I kept the blanket over me as I woke up time and again in the middle of the night to check the surroundings with the Skills.
I would periodically wake myself every few hours to observe their activity.
“We shaved away around thirty. But close to two hundred remain… they’re increasing.”
I did find the monsters, which had risen to an even greater number than they had from the start, to be a threat, but our reinforcement work was even proceeding through the night.
Novem was dispatched to the center of the village to devote herself to healing, and I had Aria and Miranda-san rest at night.
The only ones awake were likely Clara and Monica.
I suddenly had to pay close to forty gold coins, but I made sure to show off a posture as if I’d always be able to pay out such an amount.
I thought about falling asleep again, but there, the Sixth called out to me.
『What, you can’t sleep? Better get used to it. Rest when you have time for rest! It’ll be the worst if your body won’t move when it comes down to it.』
Around, Luka and his mother were asleep, and Shannon was also lying down.
Miranda-san and Aria were fast asleep.
Confirming no one else was awake, I gave the Sixth an answer.
“I’ll be fine without some sleep to an extent. It’s just that whenever I think that something might happen, I end up waking up.”
And the Sixth…
『Well how about you trust the others a bit more? You saw Aria’s abilities, right? Leave what you can to them, and take care of what you have to do yourself.』
The centerpiece this time, the Gryphon…
The one to take it on will likely be me.
Practically, I’d like to surround it with my party, and beat it down, but in that case, we’ll be short on hands in protecting the village from the other monsters.
Sensing someone move their body, I shut y eyes and mouth.
(The one who stirred is Luka, I see.)
(His father was assaulted by a Hippogryph. In that caes, it’s already…)
During the monster attack, we did force him to evacuate, so Luka was quite discontent.
I’ll be he wanted to avenge his father.
From how he resembled the Second’s eldest son, I did promise to look after him when I had some free time.
Seeing that the night was coming to a close, I raised the top half of my body. I stood, stretched, and woke up Luka.
When I rocked his small body, he opened his eyes.
“Think you can get up?”
When I said that, heroes with sleepy eyes.
“What? C-could it be…”
As he seemed to be under the misunderstanding that an enemy had arrived, I put my index finger to my mouth, and shushed him.
He held both hands to his mouth, and I spoke.
“Come outside, I’ll train you a bit.”
Saying that, I took Luka out of the house.
That place in the village with targets set up had been prepared in order to practice with crossbows.
From all over, I could hear the voices of men working to fortify the place.
“At this rate, we’ll finish what’s been planned by noon.”
I can’t say for certain the Gryphon won’t pop out by them, but even so, preparations for our victory were proceeding steadily.
And I watched Luka loose arrows as he aimed at the mark.
They didn’t land anywhere close. They went off in a completely different direction.
“Huh? That’s strange…”
He was borrowing the small bow I carried around with me.
As I bought it to use in the labyrinth, I had it made smaller than usual.
But to Luka, it must have been quite large.
“Look, set your aim. You have to keep your eyes on the target up to the end.”
His strained face had been averted, to the arrows were shot without a mark.
“Definitely don’t pull it back past your ear. Right, just like that.”
The next arrow didn’t hit the target either.
“You sure this isn’t broken?”
I made a wry smile, as I took the bow from him, and took out a single arrow. When I took a stance, and released it, the arrow stabbed into the very center of the target.
“Make sure you get a firm grasp on the fundamentals. This isn’t my specialty, so I can’t teach you any of the finer details, though.”
There, Luka looked at the sabre hanging at my waist.
“Lyle-sama, I’d prefer that one as well. Or maybe a spear like that red neechan’s.”
I patted Luka’s head.
“Today’s the bow. If I find some more free time, I’ll teach you other things. More importantly, are you able to read and write, Luka?”
He averted his eyes.
“… As long as the chief and important people can do it, there won’t be a problem. I mean, it’s hard.”
“But there’s nothing to be lost in learning it. The three Rs are important.”
Frowning, Luka took back the bow, and pulled it again.
“I’m going to become strong, and avenge my dad!”
As he said that, the arrow once again failed to hit its mark.
Seeing the scene, the Second let out a voice of which I couldn’t discern if it was happy or sad.
『He sure cares for his father.』
The Third seemed worried.
『It’s a nice thing to have, but at his age, that’s a little… Lyle, make sure you check in on him every now and again.』
And just like that, I continued training him in the art of the bow until the time came.
The reason I decided on the bow was… because I felt like it.
After finishing my lesson, I ate breakfast, and entered into work.
And whenever something happened, I would head to the scene, and issue orders.
The planned reinforcements and traps were finished before noon had passed.
As I thought, it really was different when there was a reward in sight. The villagers worked quite fast.
I borrowed a horse to circle around the stations, looked for areas that needed even further modifications, offered up bonus pay, and allotted work once more.
I did prepare a large amount of funds from the start, but it wasn’t going as calculated.
Because the ancestors had planned it out some we would have some to spare, we did have the minimum amount or preparations in order.
Gathered in Porter, we confirmed the current situation after lunch.
Clark-san, who had been training the soldiers, explained it out.
“We are having crossbow bolts be made, but quite a few of them are being ruined in training, so I’d like it if they were procured en masse. Even so, we’re dividing into two man teams of one to aim and fire, and the other to load the crossbow… If they were close enough, they’d likely hit, but setting aim on a flying enemy will be difficult for them.”
I nodded, and heard out the report from the village chief.
“The reinforcement of the village has finished, and right now, additional measure are being carried out centered on those that had been resting up to now… Those that had worked through the night are resting at the moment.”
I filled out the places that were still being worked on on the map, and received Monica’s report.
“Our food expenditure is fast. To put it bluntly, if we’re to continue fighting while holed into their village, we don’t even have two weeks left. If you go any longer, even if you manage to exterminate the enemy, the village will be left without any supplies.”
The harvest had already passed, but with this great increase in numbers, it couldn’t be helped there was an increase in the number of mouths to feed.
“I’ve finished treating the injured. I think it will be difficult for the soldier who suffered heavy injuries to participate in the coming battle, but his life isn’t in danger. I think he’ll be able to move just fine by the time we’re to return to the capital.”
There were some injured during work, but also soldiers getting into fights over who defeated what.
There was a plainly large amount of unnecessary trouvle like that going around.
At present, all we can really do is wait for what’s to come.
It would be bad to tire ourselves out by prioritizing work, so we set up a watch, and had them take breaks on surveillance.
There, the chief asked me for my opinion.
“U-um… there are some whose houses and fields have been destroyed. Once all work is done, would you perhaps be able to direct some manpower towards that area?”
Hearing that, Norma-san dismissed the issue.
“Fool. When we’re trying to give the troops and civilians some well-deserved rest, any more extraneous work will…”
While Norma-san was making a sound argument, Clark-san looked to her with his head in his hands.
The Second quickly spoke to me.
『Take it up. Also, send out some assistance from our side as well. Right… dispatch Clara, and have her help with village maintenance. Marcus as well.』
I want to let them rest, but following the Second’s opinion, I took up the chief’s proposition.
“I’ll allot some hands myself. If there’s anything in need of assistance, please bring it to me. But please don’t try for too much.”
When I looked at the village chief’s relieved face, I noticed Norma-san glaring at me.
She likely had something she wanted to say, but as I was the commander at the moment, she kept quiet.
She was surprisingly level-headed.
The Third spoke.
『… If this girl had properly learned under another, perhaps she could have become an excellent knight.』
If looked at in a different sense, perhaps she already was.
I continued the meeting with the chief, asking what areas needed extra assistance, and considering who to send.
Seeing that, Clark-san seemed quite relieved as well.
On the third day without a monster attack. When evening arrived, Clara came to my place to give a report.
Having slept from morning to noon, she had begun using magic as soon as she awoke to set about maintaining the village.
She used magic to assist with work, and it seemed she was thanked quite a bit.
“… Are you alright? You seem a little unsteady on your feet.”
Receiving my worry, Clara sat in a chair, and poured herself a drink.
Stem arose from the wooden cup.
“No, being relied on and thanked to that extent is just a little…”
She had only used simple magics to help out a little. But even so, having been applauded to such an extent, Clara didn’t really know how to feel.
Normally, she would probably have been able to do something greater, but to limit her mana use, she only did small favors.
I wonder what she had to think of it.
“Well isn’t that fine? You’ll be working hard tomorrow. Also, when it comes down to it, I’ll be having you operate Porter.”
Looking at Porter, I determined it would have decent power just smashing into enemies.
(… If I added on arms, perhaps I could have it hold weapons.)
A new modification plan surfaced in my head, so I looked to Clara.
“It’s because I was never received this much gratitude in Arumsaas. I mean, there were planty of magicians out there of my measly level.”
She hung her head a little.
“… But you’re happy that you’re being of use, so shouldn’t that be enough? For me, I tried my heart out just to get recognized, and it never worked out all the way to the end.”
When I said that, Clara made an unexpected expression.
“You did, Lyle-san? Even if I were to give a reserved evaluation of you, you’re at a level where you could aim for the top ranks of adventurers. I think there’s even the possibility you’ll leave your name in the records of history.”
I smiled as I responded, but Clara looked serious.
“Less than a year since you became one, you breached the fortieth basement floor of Arumsaas’ Labyrinth. That’s an amazing achievement, Lyle.”
I remembered back to when I cleared the fortieth floor of the labyrinth at Damien’s request.
“I wonder. We had Damien with us back then. And I’m just a kid kicked out by his family.”
Clara seemed perplexed.
“They drove you out, Lyle-san? From my perspective, I can’t see you as having many problems.”
“… Not that I’ve none to speak of.”
When I said that, she nodded expressionlessly. Seeing me, she declared my no-good parts.
“Yes, I think there’s quite a bit. In truth, you did consult with me at Arumsaas a lot. Since it’s been a while, I’ll say it, but I was quite surprised back then. You started worrying about what a new-comer adventurer of a few months should worry about only after you successfully cleared the fortieth floor.”
With a restriction on my Skills, I tried challenging the Labyrinth of my own ability. At that time, I asked what was necessary of me from Clara.
When I made a cynical smile, she laughed a little.
“But I’m also thankful, you know. I’m sure I would have been fine staying in Arumsaas, but having come out, I can experience so much more.”
Saying that, Clara drunk the contents of her cup dry, and walked into Porter with her face a little red.
The Fourth judged me.
『Hey, right there… that’s where you should be saying, ‘And I’m happy to be able to travel with you as well!’』
Just what is he trying to say?
When I thought something like that, Clark-san called out to me.
“Oh, are you alone?”
He shouldered his crossbow on his back, and made a tired face.
He was carrying out training in preparations for when the monsters were to attack next.
“Looks like you have it rough too.”
When I said that, Clark-san smiled.
“It’s because real battles are all about how much of your training you can pull out. Exhibiting such power in a single night like a hero isn’t something for us ordinary folk.”
Saying that, he sat down in a chair.
There was an open air fire close to us, and from the pot hanging over, I poured some soup into a cup, and handed it to him.
With his modest disposition, I felt he had something he wanted to say to me.
“Something the matter?”
“… Lyle-kun, could it be you’re a former Noble? I don’t think you’re an imperial noble, so you must be a provincial one… ah, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
A little surprised, I decided not to speak so deeply into it, and nodded.
“I was thrown out.”
“That so. Then it’s best I don’t ask your circumstances. But to be honest here, you’ve really been our savior. If someone accustomed to it like you wasn’t here to give orders, I doubt I’d ever be able to do that much… and Captain Norma would never have conceded the right to command.”
“I’m pretty sure she handed it over quite easily, though?”
“It was surprising to see that person do such a thing. Perhaps that magic, and that mountain of gold had an effect on her.”
Smiling, Clark-san explained how he was able to understand I was a former noble.
Apparently, it wasn’t because I had used magic, but from my bearing and manner.
“I’ve been in this job a while. It lets you see quite an assortment of people. The reason I thought you were a provincial noble was because you took the villagers’ feelings into consideration, perhaps?”
He was likely referring to how I listened to the chief’s request, and dispatched people.
“Is that really so rare?”
“… The Imperial knights always seem to be a little dense in that field. If played poorly, they’re never able to get cooperation, and the air often turns quite awkward. Like that, work never moves forward. The ones with the best understanding there have to be the Provincial Nobles.”
Looks like he had his share of troubles.
The Fifth spoke.
『This guy’s that. He likely thinks Lyle was the heir to a small territory at most.』
The Seventh agreed.
『I’ll bet. I would never be able to put out opinions like the Second.』
Both of them seemed to be praising the Second.
But the man himself…
『… Don’t compare me to real nobles like yourselves. Just how to expand a miniscule territory, just what would be alright to do? I had to put some thought into various things from bottom up. Well, I only ever had that way of doing things. 』
The third spoke.
『and because of that, I sure had it easy. Man~ it really was a blast. The Second had everything prepared in advance, so I just had to move as planned.』
While listening to the Third’s cheerful voice, I continued exchanging some idle banter with Clark-san.
The third day came to an end. And the fourth. Finally, we welcomed the morning of the fifth day.
Waking up early to teach Luka the bow, I saw that the village that had gotten together its preparations to intercept the enemy had grown much brighter.
There, I heard the sound of an arrow hitting the target.
“Yay! I hit it!”
Seeing Luka’s display of joy, I offered some praise.
“That’s great. Being able to hit it on only the third day of training is amazing, isn’t it?”
The distance wasn’t long, and the target was only hit on the edge.
But even so, considering his performance up to now, his rate of improvement was considerable fast.
Seeing that, the Second spoke.
『Perhaps this is the influence of your own Skill, Lyle. Next show him to draw it further and fire.』
The Second spoke up in regards to Luka’s bow training.
He seemed quite happy.
(My Skill, 【Experience】’s power… I can’t really say.)
It was a perpetually active Skill that just stated it let one attain a large amount of experience, but even up to now, I have absolutely no idea what extent of effect it could display.
It did constantly drain my mana, so it was more of a shackle to me.
“Hey, teach me the sword next!”
“Nope. And even when taught, you weren’t able to use one, right?”
“Don’t be like that, I’m beggin’ you here~”
While behaving mildly spoiled, Luka smiled, and took a stance with the bow. But I immediately turned to the direction of the forest.
He seemed quite anxious.
I directed a smile, reclaimed the bow and arrows from him, and spoke.
“Please go and rouse everyone, Luka… today’s going to be a busy one.”
The monsters moving around in the forest weren’t coming out in such small numbers as before. It seems everything that could move was moving.
With my Skills, it looked as if the forest itself was wriggling.
“I-I’ll fight too!”
Saying that, I cautioned him.
“Listen here, make sure you protect your mother. The adults will take on the monsters.”
Like that, I took Luka back to his house, woke up Shannon, and had her raise the signal.
… Woken by the sound of a bell struck again and again, Breid jumped up, and took his equipment in hand.
Those around him were also panicked, and they frantically tried to collect up their own armaments.
There, Breid stuck his glare onto a hand reaching in from the side.
“That one’s mine!”
The knight beside him clicked his tongue, as he moved his eyes to find another someone to try stealing from.
With his armor covering his body soon enough, he ran outside, and called out to Marcus, who also had his equipment at the ready.
“Oy, we’re heading out to the center immediately!”
“I’d have done that without you yelling at me!”
In the past few days, he had only been used for work mending the village.
(I’m not even getting much a reward lately. I have to get a large achievement here.)
Breid-san was impatient.
His father wasn’t a knight granted the position to pass on his knight position by heredity. He was a knight for his generation alone.
Breid’s brothers had given up on reaching knighthood, and had left the house in search of work.
In the house left with barely anything left to inherit, he alone resolved himself to become a knight, staying behind, learning letters and mathematics.
He learned swordsmanship from his father, and swung it around every day.
When he was putting so much work into it, the fact that effortless knights who couldn’t even read existed out there served as nothing but to irritate him.
What he couldn’t forgive more than anything, was Lyle, who left himself to become an adventurer.
Even when he had lost his status, he had succeeded in earning a large sum in another field.
He was undoubtedly the one contributing the most to this time’s Gryphon subjugation.
And yet, Lyle had said he didn’t need any merits.
It was as if he were stating that all Breid had been striving for his entire life held absolutely no worth.
And that, he couldn’t’ forgive.
When he raced forward, the party of three he had become acquainted with during the march approached.
The Leader-ish man spoke up.
“Oy, could this mean…!”
“You don’t have to spell it out! Just look at the sky!”
The sound of bells, and the rising smoke.
It was the signal that the monsters had begun to move.
“If I do well here…”
Because he had been by Lyle’s side the last time, he wasn’t given an opportunity to do anything during the first attack.
Form his point of view, a miscalculation would be a blessing.
Marcus spotted Porter, and found that a number had already gathered there.
Lyle got the preparations in order, and issued out directions.
(This time. Surely enough merit to become a knight!)
An enthusiastic Breid arrived before Lyle.
I gave a sequence of orders to the platoon gathered near Porter.
“We’ll be the ones to defeat the Gryphon and Hippogryphs. Please be careful so as not to suffer injury. Also, while they still have their momentum, we’ll be making use of traps. Knights, prepare yourselves to defeat the monsters that get through!”
The Second also issued orders.
『There’s still some time. Have them face them after a meal. Because power can’t be exhibited on an empty stomach.』
“A little is enough, so please head out after eating some! Monica!”
When I sent a glance to Monica, she lined up bread with ingredients stuffed in between, and cups of warm soup she had prepared in advance.
“I, Monica, am always ready for anything. Now thank me in tears afterwards.”
“I’ll legally change your name back to Poyopoyo! When you’ve finished eating, move to your station! And to the runners…”
When I was giving orders, Marcus-san and the others ran up.
“Lyle, what should we be doing!?”
Looking at them, I gave out orders.
“When you’re done eating, wait on standby near Porter. I’ll have you earning your keep on backup and ambush.”
Really, just by participating in the battle, they’ll be racking up achievements.
I’m fine with including whatever I’ve defeated in their numbers as well.
They are our targets to guard, so if possible, I don’t want them anywhere too dangerous.
But Breid-san shouted out.
“That can’t be… we’ve come to fight as well, you know! Even if you just deployed us at the front, then merits are…!”
I didn’t want to station them in the most dangerous spot, so I spoke.
“I’m not throwing you into the most dangerous station, you’ll be remaining here! Aria!”
With a piece of bread in her mouth, Aria looked at me.
“Fwa fhwifwhi?” (What is it?)
“The front lines will be rough. If you’re up against the Gryphon, I don’t mind if you run.”
Aria washed down the bread with soup, and wiped her mouth.
It was quite a manly gesture.
“I know. I’ll leave it to you, Lyle. Make sure you deal with it properly.”
As I gave out order after another, I made sure everyone headed towards their station before looking towards the sky.
“… So it’s come.”
Time-wise, we had some to spare.
What soared through the skies were the bodies of thee monsters.
One of them was conspicuously bigger than the other two, and it let out a cry I could hear, even from here.
From the forest, goblins and orcs began to emerge.
The number I confirmed with my Skill exceeded two hundred.
The wings and head of an eagle.
And from neck down, the body of a lion.
Bearing sharp claws, its form flying through the air was quite gallant.
Someone in the area called out.
“… It really is a Gryphon.”
The boss of the monsters, who hadn’t show his form ‘til now, spread out its wings, and headed in or direction.
The Gryphon battle was about to start.