Inside the forest.
I stood before the earth colored Land Dragon as it brushed and trampled trees aside, coming for me.
A large head.
In contrast, its lower body looked small in comparison to its top.
The land dragon of the First’s memories had been of ashen skin, but the ones here were the color of the dirt, and looked a size or two smaller.
We had the adventurers that’d guided us return, and we took on the multiple Land Dragons… four in total.
I held up my sabre in my right hand, and confirmed the surrounding situation.
“Aria and Miranda don’t have a problem. May, Eva and Clara as well. Novem and Monica… it looks like I didn’t even have to worry about them from the start.”
The party split in four, and each team took on one of the Dragons. With those four bodies, they had likely worked up their coordination to take on the adventurers and knights that came for them.
And their movements did show signs of cooperation, making them quite troublesome foes.
Behind me, Shannon…
“I could’ve just stood on standby in Porter! Why did you have to take me along!?”
… Was bawling.
I didn’t want to bring her along, but Miranda told me to. It seems she thought some sort of change would come about if we kept piling the girl with all sorts of life experience.
She did have Demon Eyes, but Shannon wasn’t a fighter. She was the intellect type that was supposed to manipulate people from the back stage.
Having been pulled from her comfortable back seat, she was more of the party’s mascot than anything else.
(Mascot… between Monica and Shannon, would it have to be Shannon?)
While I thought that, the Land Dragon before my eyes, turned its head up, and was about to let out a roar. Perhaps it was an attempt to regroup with its comrades.
In the dark forest of crowded trees, only the places the Dragons rampaged about were becoming wide open space.
Thus, after entering the forest, finding them was easy. But we hadn’t heard anything about there being four.
“My ears are going to start hurting, so could you pipe down? Lightning!”
I turned my left hand to the Land Dragon, discharging electricity right at its head. My output had risen from before, and after a large sway, it took a step back.
From behind, Shannon…
“Just keep on hitting them in! That’s all you got to do to win!”
Naturally, if I did that, I would win. But at present, I was…
『Lyle, don’t forget to send orders around as you fight.』
『Look, May-chan’s party is troubled. Clara-chan is remaining stationary, awaiting order.』
『Look at the big picture. If precise direction is impossible, broad orders are fine. Take in the surrounding situation, and convey it with your Skill.』
『You’ve got to train yourself up as a commander as well. And this is a perfect opponent for that. Go do your best, Lyle.』
I don’t think a Land Dragon is a perfect opponent, but certainly, as we were, we could take on four of them.
That’s the fighting force we possessed, however, giving out orders as I fought the enemy before me was difficult. What’s more, my comrades were fighting quite a ways away.
Making a gesture of touching my left hand to my ear, I verified the state of my other comrades.
I verified it, and gave orders.
“Clara, there are small fries gathering around. I leave Eva and May’s support to you; don’t let those peons get closer.”
After taking her handgun from the holster at her waist, she held it towards the direction of the approaching monsters. The gun she got from Vera was smaller than the one given to me, but it was an easy-to-use model.
“Miranda, you need not push yourself, attack after restraining it. When my hands are free, I’ll come over to support.”
『Ye~ah, it looked like it’ll be over before that.』
Looking through Miranda’s field of vision, I saw the Land Dragon was unable to move a muscle from her new Skill.
It was as if its movements were sealed by countless spider webs, and the Land Dragon frantically writhed to free itself from those sticky threads.
Aria cut at it, shaving away a thick chunk of flesh.
“… I see. Then onto the last one. Monica… Novem… fight properly, won’t you?”
After finding there were no problems on Miranda’s side, I looked to Novem. The Land Dragon in front of me warily took some distance.
I stuck my sabre into the ground, and pulled a gun from the holster on my back hip. When I turned the black revolver towards the Land Dragon and fired, the bullet missed the massive target, and sunk into one of the trees behind it.
Behind me, Shannon covered her mouth.
And from my comrades connected to me…
『Lyle, did you even practice? Quite trying to look cool, and get yourself together!』
Hearing Aria’s irritated voice, I sent my mind back to Novem’s station to give orders.
“Monica, you should at least try to coordinate attacks.”
『Even if you tell me that so late in the game… and I am discontent with my deployment. What are you trying to do by putting me alongside that vixen? If I, Monica, am not beside my Chicken Dickwad, I cannot muster up any power.』
Novem, on the other hand…
『Monica-san, I’m going to use some magic, so could you keep it in one place?』
She was taking it easy.
The Third told me there was a problem with my personnel assignment.
『Lyle, be careful with formation. Novem’s side has excess war potential. You should have stationed Monica there alone, and have Novem-chan circle around to support the others or you.』
The Fourth agreed.
『And there’s that splitting your party in four business. Would’ve worked better if you split into three or two, and had each group work together to pick them off one at a time. 』
As they continued finding fault, I finished giving orders, and with the revolver still in my hand, I used my left to pull my sabre out of the ground.
“If I can’t hit, I need only get closer!”
I kicked the ground to approach the Land Dragon, getting into point blank, before pulling the trigger again.
When the bullet hit its tough skin, its output was surely enough to pierce it. But it didn’t have much an effect on the Land Dragon’s large build.
It swiped at me with its large forelimbs, so I jumped over, and tossed my sabre, piercing through its left eye.
After landing, to stay out of its field of vision, I circled around to the left, held up my gun, and aimed for its remaining right eye.
One shot. Two shots.
The bullets that missed hit the Land Dragon’s ferocious lower jaw, but they didn’t pierce through.
(If I used it with the Second’s Skill, perhaps I could hit, but…)
To get some practice, I was firing without using the Skill. Thanks to that, I couldn’t hit a thing.
The Fifth observed the gun’s output.
『No wonder they’re not catching on. Even if it may be a Dragon Subspecies, if it would be this ineffective, I would never think to pay a fortune for one. And while its usage is easier than a bow, just how inaccurate could it possibly be… as I thought, guns are out of the question.』
The Seventh refuted that opinion.
『That’s because it’s a Magic Tool, and we’re not using it as one! If you used the Skills engraved on it, its firepower will rise!』
They interfered with the Jewel’s Skill, so my affinity with Magic Tools wasn’t the best. There wasn’t a problem in using it as a revolver, but if I was going to use it as a Magic Tool, I would have to cut off my Jewel’s Skills.
The Fourth spoke up as well.
『Isn’t its very premise off? I do think it’s a convenient tool to carry around, but at this rate, it’s a bit… I would never think of assembling a number of them.』
Finally closing in, I destroyed the Land Dragon’s eye, jumped back, and put the gun back in its holster.
Holding up both hands…
Lightning fell from the sky. Shannon’s body trembled as she hid behind a tree.
But the lightning hit its designated mark, and slowly falling to the ground, the Land Dragon let off a burnt scent.
The Third evaluated the battle.
『Using a powerful magic strike after robbing it of its vision… not bad, but as I thought, against hard-skinned opponents, you don’t have enough means of attack.』
If I used the Jewel, and took out the giant sword, the battle would be over in seconds. But it was bad that I didn’t have any other choices.
The Sword, Bow, and Halberd had large Mana expenditures.
If I met a powerful foe while I was low on Mana, my present state was one where I could only run away. Of course, I had my comrades with me, so the probability of that happening was low.
The Fifth put a simple strategy to mouth.
『… It’s weapons. In Lyle’s case, he has a bad affinity with Magic Tools. In that case, he should get a few Skill-less sturdy weapons to carry around. There are some weapons out there that can cut iron in their base state. It looks like the time has come for him to carry such a thing around.』
After the Fifth said that much, the Fourth agreed. It seems he had been thinking my mass-produced sabre expenditure was a problem for quite some time now.
『You run through a few disposable sabres every time. Thinking of the future, it’s right around time you looked into some finely crafted pieces, and analyzed cost/performance.』
On both an ability and financial level, the time had come for me to look for such a weapons.
Turning around, I called over to Shannon.
“Shannon, the others should finish their battles soon. Until then, we’ll stay on standby here.”
I hesitated over whether or go to their aid, but the battles were already nearing their ends.
Shannon came over to me, and…
“… Onee-sama slaying dragons… I would never have even imagined it before. How did she get to be like that, I wonder. ”
As she hung her head, I…
“That one’s your fault, you know.”
Saying that, I waited for everyone to gather. It was at that moment.
I felt something suspicious, and turned. Shannon looked at me, turned her eyes in that direction, and narrowed them.
There was nothing coming from my Skills. Too little of anything, really.
The Fifth sounded a little nervous.
『Our Skills can’t pick them up? No, do they have a Skill that prevents it from being picked up? Lyle, on your guard.』
As Shannon and I continued to stare, it seems we made them wary, as they took some distance.
“They’re somehow floating a bit from their surroundings, but do they think that’s actually hiding them from anything?”
She tilted her head, as her eyes followed the fleeing group.
… Miranda looked at her Skill 【Wire Net】 stretching across the trees.
Even if it was only a subspecies of dragon, one mustn’t make light of a Land Dragon’s power. Yet such a beast was entangled in her threads, with Aria sitting on top of its head. She was short of breath.
Blood flowed down its neck, and it was forming a red pond on the ground.
Miranda remained wary of her surroundings.
“Well that was needlessly violent. You’re like a hero from some storybook, Aria.”
As Miranda said that with a smile, Aria used her hand to wipe off the blood splattered on her, and spoke regretfully.
“Well thanks for that. More importantly, any contact from Lyle…”
At that moment, perhaps the two of them heard Lyle’s voice, as they let out sighs.
Miranda verified her location.
“Looks like no one needed his help.”
Aria jumped down from the head, stood on the ground, and turned to looked at the strung-up Land Dragon’s body.
“… We surely didn’t need any here, but I’ll bet the others were fine too. Even so, you Skill sure is a nasty one, Miranda.”
Without letting her smile die out, Miranda spoke.
“Why thank you. Your Skill is manly and cool, Aria.”
They shared some cynicism, before checking over their equipment, and returning to Lyle.
With the information they could perceive from Lyle’s Skill, they were able to proceed through the forest without getting lost…
… A small-built girl used her slender legs to kick away the Land Dragon’s massive forelimbs.
After letting her body spin in the air, May kicked up the approaching Land Dragon head as well.
The difference in their body sizes was much too great, yet it looked as if she was playing with the monster.
“Hah, it would be easier to do in quilin form, but Lyle won’t permit it.”
The Land Dragon tried to attack, so she swung her horn, and its large arm flew off.
Watching over her, Eva held up her bow.
“Hey, hurry up and end it! We have to deal with other monsters too over here!”
She shot through an approaching Frog-like monster.
Clara also took some on, to test out the gun she had just received.
Looking at them, May…
“Aren’t you pulling them so they don’t wander off to the others? And we have the most people at this station, so please bear with it.”
Confirming Lyle had finished his battle, May swiped her right hand, and lopped off the Land Dragon’s head.
Without being hit by a drop of the blood spatter, she got onto the collapsing dragon’s back, and feeling the response of something round her, she twitched, and turned in that direction.
There wasn’t any info coming from Lyle’s Skill, but her five senses told her something was there.
When she sent a glance that direction, the other party stopped, and slowly began to retreat.
May addressed Eva.
“Hey, could you try shooting an arrow over there?”
There, Eva was busy dealing with the other monsters, so it wasn’t happening.
“Can’t! So won’t you help out over here!?”
May was curious, but if they were just going to go away like that, she thought it would be fine for now, May rushed over to Clara.
There, Clara spoke.
“Wait a moment… Lyly-san said to be wary of our surroundings. Stay together as much as possible, and don’t stray, he say. There’s something he cannot detect with Skills out there.”
She spoke as she opened her revolver’s cylinder, and swapped out its cartridges.
She wasn’t accustomed to the motions, so she was moving quite inefficiently.
Eva turned to the environment, before inclining her ears, taking out an arrow, and notching it.
“Wait, even Lyle can’t detect them? Looks like it’s no good if we rely on his Skills too much”
And hearing a sound, Eva shot the arrow towards it.
Even when there was nothing there, the arrow was hit aside, instantly putting the three of them on guard.
May stood up front as if to protect the other two.
“It’s not a monster? Maybe a human.”
They left their backs to one another, as the presence continued distancing itself…
… Monica placed her large hammer on the ground, and looked at the Land Dragon she’d crushed.
While Novem’s magic had stopped its movements, she had circled to the back, and lowered her giant weapon.
Its lower half was in a horrible state, but even so, it could be dealt for a high price, so Monica pat her chest in relief over her household’s finances.
“Hah, with this, we will easily be able to clear the sum we were aiming for. Even so, I cannot accept being paired with that vixen. I am an existence that glimmers precisely because I am serving my Chicken Dickwad. As a supporting cast, my role is to stand diagonally behind that Chicken!”
Looking at Monica riling herself up, Novem gave a bitter smile.
But hearing Lyle’s voice, she inclined her ear to it.
Seeing her gesture, Monica spoke in jealousy.
“God dammit… he even kissed me atop the ship, but when he returns to normal, he says I don’t need one, and chickens out… Hah, just when will his next Fever Time come, I wonder.”
There was already a line between Lyle and Monica, and because of that, using his Skill… Connection… didn’t require a kiss.
Disappointed over that fact, Monica looked over the other members with envy.
“If that how it’ll be, I’ll increase their calorie intake little by little every day, and bring anguish to their scales.”
After grinning over that flight of mischief, Monica opened her red eye wide, and picked up her hammer.
She took her left hand off its shaft, took a small knife out of her sleeve, and threw it at the spot that was bothering her.
Her eyes could clearly take in the existence Lyle’s Skills couldn’t capture.
Novem held up her staff, and aiming at the place Monica had thrown her knife…
Arms emerged from the soil with the intent to bind, heading for the invisible enemy. Monica’s knife was floating in the air, and it looked as if it had stabbed into something. From its floating tip, red blood was flowing.
And slowly, both the knife and the blood disappeared.
The Earth Hands made of magic were suddenly torn apart in the air.
Seeing that, Novem surveyed the area.
“Vixen, step back!”
Monica called out, but Novem didn’t dodge.
She changed her staff’s shape, formed a scythe, and blocked the attack of the invisible enemy. Perhaps that surprised the enemy, as they immediately retreated.
Monica was about to give chase, but Lyle gave an order not to follow, so she stopped in her tracks.
Novem looked into the woods, as if to watch the fleeing foe’s back…
“Consarn it! Because of all the information coming in, keeping it on Search backfired.”
When my comrades had all gathered, I severed Connection, and used the Sixth’s Skill… Real Spec… to take in the surrounding situation.
They were hard to see, but surely enough, there were multiple red signals around.
Unaccustomed to it, the others weren’t able to process all the info from Real Spec. It caused headaches, and it was a burden, so I hadn’t made use of it.
Switching to it part-way through would get in the way of the others’ battle, so unable to do that, I could only wait for my comrades to come.
Miranda looked at me as she asked my plans.
“What are you going to do? I don’t think we’ll lose, but we used quite a bit of time coming to this forest. We don’t have much time to waste on playing cat and mouse.”
I thought of what reason the enemy may have to attack us.
(Is it Celes’ doing? Did she or someone around her finally send assassins? But we’re in Cartaffs. If they were going to do it, it would be more efficient to wait in Beim.)
My thoughts wouldn’t come together, but I looked around.
“The forests’ monsters are beginning to act up. After collecting up the materials, let’s return to the Guild. We can’t waste any more time on anything that won’t make us any money.”
Irritating as it may be, we didn’t have the leisure to chase them down.
And the movements they displayed were onlt those to search us out.
On my opinion, the Third in the Jewel agreed.
『You don’t have time, so any more is impossible. But make sure you’re prepared to deal with them if they attack. Nights will be troublesome.』
I immediately began assigning roles for night watch.
… In a place separated from the forest, Larc pulled out the knife stabbed into his arm.
“That woman… even my Skill was ineffective? Good grief, if I was going to attack, I should’ve chosen a different group. Maybe get the guy out of the way first.”
Observing skilled adventurers.
Their original goal was just to know their war potential, but having felt an urge to try obtaining them, Larc had ended up raising his hand. His approach noticed, he ended up meeting a counterattack.
A female comrade of his apologized.
“I deeply apologize. For them to have one by their side able to see through our Skill…”
“No, they’re just making me want them more. Don’t need the guy, but the rest are a treasure trove. Though I really didn’t know what to think about one of them. If she’s strong, I don’t mind keeping her at my side.”
They were all wearing expensive robes, and each robe had a Skill engraved onto it.
Magic tools to prevent detection by Skills, and by eye sight.
“Larc-sama, let me heal your wounds.”
Larc presented his injury to a woman specialized in healing magic, and glared at the one who’d produced the Magic Tools.
“Oy, the magic tools you made actually worked, right?”
The woman nodded a number of times, fearful of his rage.
“I-I’m sorry. B-but… you were able to get close, so they surely had an effect. T-they’re my originals, so they s-shouldn’t be known to the general public.”
He turned his eyes from the cowering woman to the forest, and looked at his fully-healed arm. The wound had closed, and it hadn’t left a scar.
“… I thought my Skill would charm one or two of them, but it was no good. In that case, it would’ve been better to go after the Trēs House’s princess. Dagnabbit! I’ve needlessly wasted some time.”
An annoyed Larc had been able to see the power of Lyle’s forces up close. And once he deduced he would never stand a chance upfront, he immediately went into trying to draw away one or two of their ranks.
A Skill to infatuate the other sex, 【Charm】.
Possessing such a skill put Larc at quite an advantageous position when dealing with women.
But that Charm had its limitations.
All it really did was make it easier to get their attention, and if he really wanted to make them his own… he would have to use his Second Stage Skill, 【Temptation】.
However, that Temptation had a weakness in that after using it once, he wouldn’t be able to use it for a while.
“… They’re not opponents where the same trick will work twice. We’ll concede defeat for now. I thought that if we could snatch up some Land Dragon materials, it would give us a chance at an audience with Ludmila, you know.”
The surrounding women listened to his words in fascination.
The robe covering his body lost its effect, and when Larc tossed it aside, a few competed to scramble for it.
With a large black sword over his back, Larc…
“Well, I’m sure the chance will come someday. I’ll just wait it out until then… until the day I become king of this country. As long as I can get Ludmila to fall for me, the rest is all mine.”
Larc walked off towards where his horse was tethered, and his women followed along…
… Inside the Jewel.
With the appearance of attackers, there were four gathered to think over their goal.
Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh. They surrounded the round table, giving their forecast on the enemy.
『Personally, from the information Lyle received, it’s probably that young adventurer, isn’t it?』
On the Third’s opinion, those around nodded. The Fourth removed his glasses, and began wiping off the lenses.
『I’ll bet. He had some sort of Skill to charm his opponents. No, I do get the feeling it’s limited to the opposite gender, thought.』
The Fifth, even knowing that, didn’t seem to have any interest in the young adventurer himself.
『Did he move by Celes’ orders, or someone around her? If he’s doing it on his own, that makes it nice and simple.』
The Seventh sounded annoyed.
『If we only had the time, we would be in the middle of beating him to a pulp. But we’ve sure found a troublesome one in Cartaffs. I do think it’s best we take him down while we’re here.』
Rather than troublesome, it was a dangerous Skill. What’s more, no matter how they looked at it, the one possessing it was a dangerous one as well.
As they wanted to gain Cartaffs’ cooperation, they were thinking to get rid of any that would get in the way.
『But we don’t have any proof this time around. If Lyle gets rid of him, it’ll become a problem. We’ll have to get some evidence, but…』
After the Third had said that much, within the Jewel… the conference room, came the sound of an opening door.
Everyone looked around. At that very moment, all the members were already gathered. It wasn’t thinkable that anyone would be opening the door to their memories.
And their four sets of eyes turned to Lyle’s room of memories.
From it, a single woman stepped out.
It wasn’t Celes. The woman more mature than Lyle’s sister looked to be in her twenties. The first to react was the Fifth. He stood from his seat, looked at the woman, and opened his eyes wide.
『… Milleia, why are you here?』
Seeing the Fifth wipe off his sweat, the remaining three stood, and strengthened their guard. As that was happening, the woman with long, wavy, violet hair sent a look from her golden eyes around the room.
Clothed in white, she raised the hem of her skirt to give a polite greeting.
Milleia Walt… or perhaps Milleia Circry was not an owner of the Walt House’s Jewel.
It was strange of her to exist in this space.
Milleia opened her mouth.
『It is a pleasure to be of your acquaintance, Third Generation Head Sleigh-sama, Fourth Generation Head Max-sama, and Seventh Generation Head Brod-sama. It has been a while, father.』
An appearance similar to Miranda.
But an atmosphere more mature and calm than even her. The woman’s golden eyes were the same Demon Eyes that Shannon possessed.
『I am Milleia. Milleia Walt. Since this room’s owner, Lyle, has yet to even attempt to step inside, I am the one called forth to guide him. Among those of the Walt House, I was deemed most worthy, it seems.』
The ancestors within the Jewel were beings of memory, without exception. They had wills, but it’s not as if their souls were sealed inside.
And Milleia standing before them was the same. The woman herself had died, and this was an entity made of memory…
But that was strange. Milleia and the Jewel… it was a blue gem at the time, but the two had never once come into contact.
The Seventh opened his mouth.
『A guide, you say? Coming out of the room of memories, something like that is…』
Completely ignoring their confusion, Milleia spoke with a smile.
『There is a need for Lyle to know everything. That is the Jewel’s will. It will be troublesome if he continued to neglect it.』
When she spoke of the Jewel’s will, the ancestors’ confusion only grew.
The Third muttered.
『The Jewel’s will? What could that…』
Milleia (ノ´∀｀*): “I came out.”
Fifth Generation Head (；゜Д゜): “I-I see?”
Fourth Generation Head (；-@∀@): “W-what about my wife!? She’s not coming out, right! Right!?”
???|д゜) *Stare* : “I came.”