「They’re my subordinates, on the same guard team in the duke residency. 」
Seeing the two’s breathless state, Moore said so in a painful voice to Minerva.
Minerva recognized the insignia carved in their equipment, it was the emblem of the royal army. Moore also recognized their faces, they’re undoubtedly soldiers of the Kingdom.
They both had already ceased breathing. The reason why they’re being attacked by beasts here isn’t known but, they might’ve suffered the same fate as the two. It’s probable that the others in the duke residency might be near too.
「Mourning is the least I can do……」
Moore muttered without energy towards no one, offered a prayer and lit the corpses on fire. Without time for a proper burial nor digging a hole, they had no choice but to perform a cremation.
「Ojou-sama. Please use this, the stench of blood might be intense but please endure it, it will be better than what you are wearing. 」
Moore tossed the jacket of the deceased female soldier to Minerva.
As someone who is here with an appearance of sleepwear, Minerva who is a noble lady――or rather, it is a problematic appearance even if she wasn’t a noble.
Although she felt sorry for the original owner, she wasn’t disgusted, Minerva covered her thin clothing with the jacket.
「Now we’re back to square one. 」
In the end, they obtained a jacket for Minerva, and the prospect of other soldiers could be in a similar situation. They were still same in the regards that they didn’t know the way back to the capital, and having no supplies.
「Hey Rona. Won’t you know a place with water? 」
Though Minerva asked simply, with an expression of good graces, Rona turned around silently.
「Oi oi, don’t tell me that guy really knows? 」
Moore was surprised seeing Rona’s gesture of indicating follow him.
「They say beasts has better smell than human, Rona might know something we don’t know either. 」
「Well, there’s no clue to go on anyways. Let’s follow him. 」
Moore and Minerva decided so, and followed after Rona walking westwards with a slow pace.
Thirty minutes of walking, Minerva and the party arrived at a small river that passes through the plains.
「Ah! It’s a river, Commander Greystar! 」
「That’s great. Finally, something else other than grass. 」
The width of the small river was about three meters. Though the volume of water flowing through isn’t immense, it’s more than enough for the two people.
The two recalled their thirst after walking so far without a drop of water.
「It seems alright. 」
Moore called Minerva over as there didn’t seem to be any beasts around.
「Fuu……. It’s refreshing. 」
Using two hands to scoop the water to drink, Minerva had a smile.
「Is there any kind of container……」
Moore who was similarly rehydrating muttered.
「Let’s take a rest first. Since we were just walking till now, Ojou-sama is tired too right? 」
「I suppose. It’s better we don’t push――what’s the matter, Rona? 」
Minerva who was answering Moore noticed Rona’s change.
Rona who was drinking water from the river suddenly looked around as if looking for something. The ears covered in golden fur piqued, and moved according to the sound of the grass waving in the wind.
The look of being anxious while looking around was as if danger was approaching quickly.
「Is there some beasts nearby? 」
Moore who noticed Rona’s behavior became alert.
「The beasts like before? 」
「Don’t know. But we’re not the only one that needs water. If there’re no other water sources nearby, then it’s not strange to have beasts come. 」
Although they aren’t fully aware of their surroundings, they didn’t see any human settlement, rivers nor pond on the way here. This small river is likely a precious water source for the surrounding living beings.
And of course, there’re many aggressive beasts among them.
「Let’s get away quickly. 」
「Yes. That’s a good idea. 」
Minerva who agreed to Moore immediately stood up, and then from somewhere a voice of an old man was heard.
「Oya oya, there’s no need to be so hurry on your way. 」
Their body jumped at the sudden voice.
Moore quickly drew out his sword and took a stance and hid Minerva behind.
「Hohoho. Coming to my territory and ask 『Who』? How laughable, do you think my guard is down because the rainy season is not close? Did you think I wasn’t awake? 」
The voice continued reverberating. There wasn’t any creature that is in sight.
Minerva found Rona glaring at a single point, as she followed Rona’s gaze, there was something strange that she saw. A slow flowing small river. Something is moving in the middle of it.
A part of the water is evidently increasing in viscosity, and then slowly becoming dark blue. The dark blue water expanded gradually, and then eventually filled the entire width of the small river.
After expanding about five meters upstream and downstream, it finally stopped, and then it stretched upwards.
It was like the water coming out from a fountain spout aiming upwards. Of course, there wasn’t any fountain, nor was there any spouts. The strange mass was about two meters wide and three meters tall when it stopped growing.
「What the heck is this guy……? 」
Moore was questioning the strange creature in front of him…
「I see, this is what it means to be oblivious huh. 」
The dark blue mass of water trembled as if laughing. Minerva heard a voice akin to an old man along with the movement of the water.
「A demonic beast speaking human language……」
It was obviously outrageous. Something that looks like this and can speak human language couldn’t possibly be a beast, nor a human, there’re no other possibilities but a demonic being.
「But not knowing shall not be your excuse. A punishment befitting your lacking knowledge. A suitable punishment for being rude. Present yourself as my food and be grateful. Becoming a part of me, let there be meaning to your foolish life. 」
The dark blue mass of demonic being declared from a superior way.
「The four legged there. I shall let you away apart from those two legged. I believe you have the intelligence to avoid a pointless fight? 」
There wasn’t a mouth or anything alike on the mass. But if the demonic being had eyes, it is definitely looking at Rona right now.
After all, the only four legged here was Rona. A silence, or a cry that was supposed to answer the demonic being’s question came out in a form that Minerva didn’t expect.
「……Sorry but I will refuse respectfully. Well, leaving aside the man, I won’t have any face to meet Al if something happened to Minerva. 」
The clear words that came out of Rona shocked Moore and Minerva.
「I-it talked……! 」
「Rona, you……! 」
On the other hand, the demonic being didn’t seem surprised at the fact Rona spoke, but only treated it normally.
「Hou. Standing your ground, four-legged? Though your thinly body couldn’t possibly stand against the great me. 」
Rona answered calmly at the demonic being that spoke with an overwhelming atmosphere.
「If that’s really the case, you wouldn’t offer me to get away by myself right? It’s obvious you didn’t want to face me, isn’t it right, acting like a sage sewage-san? 」
Rona’s answer was only full of provocation.
The dark mass of water that was shrouded in silence suddenly trembled. It was a display of anger that it hadn’t showed before.
「……You said it! You dare speak of the forbidden! Insulting my pure and prestigious body! What a hateful four-legged fur ball! I won’t even leave you the chance to beg for your life! I will make sure not a single drop of blood, not a single strand of fur remains! 」
「It’s easy to say. Well, no matter how you try to cover it up with pretty words, you’re nothing more than polluted water that is only getting more polluted. Don’t you think you might have a chance of getting purified if a hundred year passes? 」
Rona further provoked the demonic being.
The shaking body already manifested multiple sharp ends like needles. The needles that stabbed into the ground in front of Rona lost its shape and soaked the ground quickly.
「You, stop dodging! 」
「You two, get away quickly! 」
Giving instructions to Minerva and Moore, Rona easily dodged the needles that came his way constantly.
「Annoying bug! 」
Then the demonic being changed its shape. A portion became mist-like, and as soon as it covered Rona, they condensed and formed needles again.
Minerva yelled seeing Rona surrounded by needles.
Countless needles came from all directions towards Rona. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid.
「I’m bothered if you think that much is enough! 」
Just as Rona’s right paw hit the ground, there was a strong gale manifested with him as the center. The needles were caught up in the rampaging tornado, and were torn into pieces, vanishing into nothingness and blown away. The shockwave had even reached the two people a distance away.
「That’s absurd. 」
Moore was impressed.
Minerva was the same in that regards. Minerva didn’t understand magic or arts yet, but the phenomenon that just happened was something that couldn’t be performed just by normal physical laws.
The winds that Rona released couldn’t be natural. It was obvious it originated from arts.
Minerva had never in the slightest thought that Rona who would happily eat sweets from her feeding hand could actually understand and speak human language, and is smart enough to control and cast arts.
Ahead of the confused Minerva, Rona’s battle with the demonic being continued. Rona who repelled the needles surrounding him went on the offense.
With a force that seemed to split the ground, Rona leaped and closed the distance. While avoiding the needles that came from two sides, Rona quickly closed the distance towards the root of the demonic being.
Then the triangular ears piqued again. Just before the demonic being could take a defensive measure, his right paw covered in flames hit into the dark mass of water.
「A little brat dares to! 」
The demonic being had a hateful yell.
「Even though nothing would happen if you slept soundly, this is your punishment for waking up early without any reasons! 」
Rona who dealt a blow immediately retreated and took a distance.
「I will not hand it over! My dwelling of high mana purity, I will never hand it over! 」
Although they couldn’t see its expression, from what they’ve heard, it’s obvious the demonic being is enraged.
On the other hand, Rona is calm. In the midst of that, Rona’s eyes that didn’t show any mercy while facing the demonic being without taking a step back narrowed at what the demonic being said.
The demonic being’s attack increased in power. The lump of water became like thin whips, and swung at Rona’s sides.
Though, even Rona who had a calm face couldn’t dodge all of them. With the onslaught of countless needles and whips, it’s inevitable Rona will be hit.
「Commander! Rona is! 」
「……I know. 」
Moore who stepped out one step with a serious face seeing Rona’s difficult fight was immediately stopped by Rona’s yell.
「What are you two still doing! Didn’t I told you to quickly get away! 」
「I can’t leave Rona here alone! 」
Minerva who didn’t back off was met with Rona’s merciless stab.
「You two are being a bother here! 」
「No way……! 」
Minerva became speechless at the cold rejection. Moore placed his hands on the shoulders that were facing down.
「……Ojou-sama. He’s right, we’re being a bother right now. It’s vexing to say, but we can’t do anything with the speed of their fight. 」
Moore was in pain understanding his own powerlessness but, deciding that he should prioritize Minerva’s safety, he convinced Minerva. As for Minerva, she could do nothing but listen.
They had no roles in this fight. Even so, Minerva didn’t feel right to leave Rona alone to fight the dangerous demonic being. And the hesitation became a question for Rona.
「Will you……, will you really be fine alone!? 」
「As―I―said! You’re really not understanding! It’ll be less dangerous for me too if you two quickly get away already! 」
Rona complained as if he had enough, all while the needles and whips scattered more fur.
「I, understand. ……Rona, please don’t push yourself. 」
Affirming to Rona’s words sadly, Minerva left those words behind and turned around.
「Don’t leave my side, Ojou-sama. 」
Leaving Rona who was fighting behind, Moore led the way and fled together with Minerva.