While feeling slightly choking, Minerva woke up.
「Are you awake, Ojou-sama? 」
Slowly opening her eyes, she saw the figure of Moore sideways. Of course, it wasn’t Moore that was standing sideways, but Minerva who is lying on the ground.
「……Here is? 」
She raised her heavy body and looked around.
The thin and tall grass that stretched without ends, the strong sunlight from the sky, and then the dry grains of sands on her palm. With the smell of grass filling the area, it’s obvious that they are outdoors.
「Where is this? 」
There wasn’t a single building around. At the very least, they aren’t in the capital, Minerva who thought so asked, but Moore’s reply wasn’t what she was looking.
「I was on the ground here when I noticed. Thirty minutes had passed since then, and the sun is like that. 」
So, she looked up at the sky.
Minerva who looked up saw the sun lighting up the blue sky. It’s the day, and the time is just a little past high noon.
Minerva was about to ask how much time had passed, but she stopped. After all, Moore said he just woke up about thirty minutes ago, so he probably wouldn’t know much either.
「Who knows. I’m not sure but, I don’t think much time had passed. 」
「How can you know? 」
「I mean, I’m a former mercenary, and a soldier now? I can at least gauge about how much time had passed since I passed out. And speaking from that experience, it shouldn’t be long since then. Longest would be ten minutes――it definitely wasn’t half a day though……but there. 」
Moore who answered Minerva’s question seemed to doubt himself too. After all, it was in the night when they were being attacked in the duke residency.
Now that they had woken up, the sun had passed overhead and is leaning towards the west. It’s normal to think that half a day had passed since then, but Moore’s senses told him it wasn’t like that.
「Well, there’s nothing to be done about the time now. The problem is where are we. At the very least, it doesn’t look very safe here. We should look for some village or town, and then think about returning to the capital then. 」
Moore suggested such. Minerva answered 「Yes」, but then recalled another presence.
「Come to think of it, where is Rona? 」
「Aah, Ardis’s partner? He’s there. 」
Where Moore pointed, there was Rona’s figure standing gallantly on four feet on top of a slightly elevated boulder. Minerva’s face loosened seeing that.
Rona who had noticed Minerva’s yell came down from the rock.
「I’m glad. You’re with us too. 」
Welcoming Rona who is running here, Minerva bent down and hugged the golden beast.
「Well then, we should be looking for a highway now. Since this is a remote place, that should be easier……」
「That’s right. Everyone is worrying. 」
Hushed by Moore’s words, Minerva raised her short sword in her hands.
An hour after that. Minerva and the other two were walking due south on the grasslands.
If they’re around the Kingdom’s territory, then south will be where the seacoast is at. If they were transported north of the capital, then heading south will get them closer back, if not, seeing the sea will tell them their general location to some degree.
Of course, finding a highway or a town before that happens is much more plausible.
「And, that was what I thought but. Was I underestimating our predicament? 」
Moore stopped walking with a frown on his forehead.
They had been walking for quite a while now already but, not even a settlement, a highway can’t even be seen. And of course, there wasn’t any people they could see either.
With Moore’s one hand on his face looking into the distant with some impatience, he was about to groan 「To think that there’s not even a highway――」 when his face hardened.
「What is it? 」
「……There’re people being attacked by beasts. 」
Minerva who followed Moore’s gaze found several silhouettes moving in the distance. With them moving around like jumping and running around, it certainly looked like people being attacked by beasts.
「W-We need to help them! 」
「But, Ojou-sama’s safety is……」
「It’s not a time to worry about that now! I can look after myself somewhat, and Rona is here as well! 」
They needed information to return to the capital right now the most. If they help those people, they might be able to get a hold on their location, and find a way to return.
In this place where even a highway can’t be found, people are an important source of information.
「……Alright. It’s true that we need information after all. Don’t get too far away from me. 」
Moore agreed to Minerva after some thoughts, and started running with his sword unsheathed.
「Rona, we should hurry too. 」
Holding the short sword in her hands, Minerva chased after Moore.
As they went closer, the silhouettes became clearer. There’re two people who are equipped that is being attacked. And there were six-legged beasts with dark blue fur surrounding them.
A total of four beasts. The beasts that looked like large sized cat bares its fangs and bit down on one of the human’s legs and arms, and immediately retreated before the counterattack came.
The wounds are definitely not critical, it was as if they’re toying with their preys and slowly hurting them.
「Tch! We won’t make it in time! 」
They’re late by a few moments. The two people who showed resistance so far collapsed on the ground, and the four beasts surrounded them.
「Shit, at this time! 」
Moore cursed at the timing.
He could’ve probably helped them if he was earlier by three minutes. On the other hand, if he was late by three minutes, he would’ve chosen to abandon them to prioritize Minerva’s safety.
But now he’s stuck between the two choices. The beasts probably realized their presence here as well. The beasts weren’t satisfied by the two, and started looking at them like preys.
The four beasts directed their gazes here. It seems like they’re fully intent to attack them.
「Ojou-sama! Don’t stray! 」
Moore who had a sword in his hand stood in front of Minerva.
Minerva as well at the back drew her short sword. Even if she couldn’t take down the beast, she could at least buy some time.
「Even I can……」
What Minerva hoped now is just to not be a baggage. Of course, she is fully well aware she is being a baggage no matter what, at the very least, she didn’t want to cause any more trouble to Moore.
The dark blue beasts leapt at Moore.
「Don’t look down on me! 」
Moore had climbed up the ranks in the army with his swordsmanship. There’s no way he would be troubled by just four beasts. The moment he thought he can easily sever the head of the coming beast, Minerva along with Moore both opened their eyes wide in surprise.
It turned around in midair, and as if there was an invisible wall, the beast kicked against it and landed backwards. Leaving aside if they’re on the ground, it was an absurd movement that was performed in midair.
「Commander, on the right! 」
Minerva warned. At the same time the front beast retreated, this time, another beast came from the right.
Their speed was faster and sharper than normal beasts. The beast’s fangs were nearing Moore’s right arm.
It was because he judged that it wouldn’t be in time even if he tried withdrawing his sword. With a half-turned body, Moore tried his best and swung with the handle against the beast’s head.
But that didn’t reach. As if a glass plate was broken, Moore’s arm was blocked by something.
「What the actual!? 」
While confused by the sudden discomfort, Moore put his all in his knee kick towards the beast that had stopped moving for a moment. But the beast swiftly turned around and tried to evade, however the blade reached earlier.
The moment he thought the sword would cut through the beast――.
Moore is once again surprised.
It was just like his sword slashed against a full metal armor, Moore’s sword was deflected away without dealing a single scratch on the beast.
「What is that toughness! 」
While cursing, Moore followed with attacks yet his second missed, the third that landed somehow didn’t deal any damage as expected. While exchanging blows like that, Moore’s breath started to become ragged.
Minerva couldn’t believe what was happening in front of her eyes. Moore・Greystar is one of the top ten swordsman that could be counted within the royal army.
And that Moore was struggling so much against beasts was unbelievable. But since Moore was struggling that much already, it just meant that Minerva is in more danger.
One beast slipped past Moore’s guard.
Minerva’s ears heard the warning, but her body didn’t move.
The short sword in her hand felt like it was distant, and it felt like her body wasn’t her own and just froze in place.
Just at the moment when the beast was approaching at a fast speed and her head was all blank, she saw a golden shadow leaping out from the end of her vision.
Realizing the shadow, Minerva shouted his name. Rona who suddenly leapt ahead from the side bit into the beast’s throat.
Suddenly, a death cry came out of the beast. Then, without waiting, Rona ripped apart its windpipe and cast aside the beast, then moved onto his next target. Ripping apart one of them with his claws, and then kicking one away, the last one was hit into the ground. It was a short period.
Moore lost his words at that overwhelming strength.
「A-Amazing! Rona, you’re so strong! 」
On the other hand, Minerva was genuinely amazed by Rona’s display of strength.
「……So, the partner of Ardis isn’t just for show huh. ……Good grace, what am I even here for. 」
Moore who stood back from the shock was praising Rona in his own way. He might be happy that he has such a strong companion but, since he was supposed to be Minerva’s escort, he felt painful at his own powerlessness.
But with the current situation like this, it’s not a place where bothering over his face will help. In fact, if Rona wasn’t around, something would’ve happened to Minerva.
Even if Minerva wasn’t around, Moore himself probably wouldn’t have been able to handle four of them.
「Anyways, how about the people……」
Moore who had regained himself walked towards the two that had collapsed because of the beasts just now.
They might’ve been too late but, if they’re still breathing, they couldn’t possibly let them die like that. But it’s not like they knew how to use healing magic, and having no treatment tools, there’s no chance they could help the two people.
But he thought that he can at least mourn for them, and as a reward, he could take their food or water on their body, Moore thought so.
Moore’s legs stopped, and his voice was swallowed.
「What happened? 」
Minerva who caught up to Moore from behind took a peek at what had concerned Moore, and swallowed her breath. A pair of man and woman in armor were on the ground.
「T-This is ……」
Both of them wore similar get-up as Moore, and Minerva noticed a familiar insignia on part of their armor. While Minerva was stuck for words, Moore who was looking at the collapsed people in stun spoke.
「They’re……my men. 」