Heading west, the Grinder subjugation team arrived at the area with the most sighting reports, before splitting up into the predetermined squads and started searching.
「Will they even be fine? 」
Facing the blue sky that spreaded above their heads, Ted said. The members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 have split up with the main unit and started walking around leisurely in their responsible search area to find the sighted Grinder’s shadow.
「Ahaha. That’s true. To think they can challenge a demonic being with that much……, what a bad joke. 」
Norris agreed while laughing.
It’s not just Norris, Ardis is also feeling the same. The Despairs that are crowned as the despair of the grasslands, Grinder had incomparably more strength than that.
Facing that overwhelming strength, the lord had sortied four hundred men. Certainly, that is not a small number. But, a demonic being as their opponents ――especially the ones that can fly, simply grouping up a bunch of soldiers wouldn’t mean anything.
「No magician, and half of them looks like some green horn with no battle experience, and that commander guy doesn’t look like he has the guts to fight in the first place. Taking out demonic being with that much is a bad joke. 」
At Ted who is counting on his fingers, Orphellia agreed.
「Really, they are really ignorant of the strength of a demonic being. 」
Numbers mean strength in battle, that doesn’t change even if the opponent is a demonic being. Even if the damage one can deal is little, if the numbers increase, the damage will definitely pile up.
But for numbers to be effective, it’s only possible for opponents that have strength below a certain degree. Even if you have countless people, if none of them can even deal a scratch to the opponent, then there will be zero damage dealt in the end.
Rather, the large number of people would just restrict their own movement.
As a mercenary, Ardis thought that not having a magician in the party while subjugating a demonic being is just too idiotic of a decision. Furthermore, there seemed to be many new soldiers that didn’t have any battle experience.
With that kind of formation in place, having more casualties is inevitable.
「If they plan to overcome quality with quantity, then they would need few times more than that? Seeing how the soldiers is, having three squads attack at once, if they can ignore the fact that half of them are getting sacrificed, then it’ll probably stop the Grinder for a while. 」
Ted said so but, Ardis’s thoughts were a little different.
If Ardis was the commander, then he would not give weapons like spears to the soldiers. Splitting one half of the soldiers as archers, and the other as shielder, and let them move in at least fifty people or about the size of a small platoon.
In the first place, the soldiers wouldn’t be able to deal any damage to the demonic being. Then the strategy of focusing on defense from the start and holding out for other squads’ help once they spotted the Grinder, all while minimizing the casualties would be best.
The mercenaries that are familiar with dealing with demonic being should be the Grinder’s opponent. There’s no need for the soldiers that aren’t used to battle to be wasted.
Even worse, the strength of the soldiers that Ardis saw, even a Despair would prove difficult for them.
「But everyone in the army seem to believe they can win. There were also some of the Corps Commanders saying that it’ll be more than enough even without borrowing mercenaries’ strength. 」
「Are their head already gone empty after training so much? With that much, even a Beast King will wipe them out! 」
Norris said it without a caring tone as usual, but Ted let out an angry voice.
「Well, it’s because that the numbers of Beast Kings decreased that it became like this in the first place. 」
Norris smiled as if ridiculing.
「Alright alright. I’m sure we still have many complaints but, since we’d accepted the request officially, let’s properly do our assigned work. 」
「We know that, Orphellia. Work is work. 」
Although their mouths were complaining, since they accepted the request, then they must properly do it. Ted took the frontline, while Ardis and the others took caution at the sky as they surveyed the grasslands.
Although the numbers of Despairs and Beast Kings had decreased, it’s not as if the grasslands are completely free of danger. There are still carnivorous beasts like 『Green Knife』, 『Coyote』, and 『Grass Wolf』lurking around.
「It went that way, Ardis! 」
Ted let out a warning. Ardis and the others, they are currently engaging in a battle with a pack of 『Coyotes』.
Coyote is a small carnivorous animal of the canine family. It’s less powerful than a Beast King, but its fangs are sharp. Another dangerous trait that sets it apart from a Beast King is that they will form groups to attack.
Ardis used his short sword and shot it towards the Coyote that is rushing here, swiftly taking its head.
There were another two Coyotes that circled for their backs. But Ardis didn’t even have to turn around as Nere had blocked their advances. Nere swung down with her arm, accompanying that, countless icicles formed, and punctured the Coyotes’ heads.
The Coyotes let out a rustle before falling over unmovingly. The eight Coyotes that came for them didn’t even have a chance to realize their disadvantage to retreat before they were obliterated by Ardis and the others.
「Heh――, as expected from someone vouched by Ardis huh. That’s some nice movements. 」
「This degree, it’s akin to child’s play. 」
Nere replied to Ted with a monotone.
「Eh, Wai―, wait up! You didn’t chant just now!? What!? Could it be that you can use chantless magic like Ardis!? 」
「Chant? What is that? 」
Orphellia and Nere crashed their question against each other.
Orphellia seemed like she couldn’t help but be surprised that Nere can use magic while completely omitting chants. While Nere seemed not understanding why Orphellia is being so fussy.
It’s because that the common sense of the both are clashing with each other.
Putting aside Orphellia who had started hugging her head, Ted said in a good mood.
「It’ll be a waste if it’s just a temporary party for this occasion only. How about it? Joining our party together with Ardis? 」
「I am only a servant. If my Master chooses so, I shall accompany. 」
「Ahaha. That Master Servant setting, ――she seems to be serious huh. My bad. 」
Norris said in a teasing tone, while looking at Nere. As soon as they’ve met, the woman introduced herself as, 「My name is Nere. I am a servant of my Master, Ardis. 」. With the surprising introduction, even Norris couldn’t speak anything under that awkward atmosphere.
Just like that, while scattering the beasts that came to attack occasionally, Ardis and the others continued the search for Grinder.
「There’re seriously nothing but small fries here. 」
Walking around the grasslands for half a day, the only encounters they’ve had were with Green Knife, Coyotes, Grass Wolf. There weren’t even any figures of Despairs and Beast Kings in sight. It just shows how grave was Ardis’s and Nere’s overhunting.
「Hey Ted, shouldn’t it be lunch soon? 」
「Nn? Aah, it’s already that time huh. 」
Till now, there wasn’t even any signs of the Grinder. It might be the other teams might’ve encountered it but, at the very least, there weren’t any news like that that came to their side. If there isn’t any news, assume that it is still undiscovered, is what they agreed on beforehand. So, it’s not like they can leave the site on their own.
Although it was like that, the subjugation this time had many problems in it. A team could be possibly engaging in a battle with the Grinder now but, if there’s no information, then Ardis and the others cannot go for help.
They had agreed to send a smoke signal when they spot it just in case for that but, in truth, if they were thrown into a battle suddenly, there wouldn’t be a chance for them to do that.
For teams that only have the average soldiers, then it’s possible for them to be totally wiped out in a moment as well.
Of course, albeit like that, it’s not like Ardis and the others have the authority to say anything about that. What they can do, is to fulfill their role without making a complaint.
「Then, let’s rest over at that shade. 」
Ted pointed to a nearby tree. Although it’s a grassland, there’re still some trees dotted around. The tree shade besides the highway is the nature’s resting spot, it’s a precious space for mercenaries who are hunting or travelling merchants.
「Say, Ardis. Sorry for the bother but can you put out some water? My bottle is completely empty. 」
「Then I shall. 」
Quicker than Ardis answer, water spawned from Nere’s hand.
As if frustrated, Orphellia stared at Nere. From her perspective, there’s now a second person other than Ardis who can use chantless magic. She probably can’t stay calm because of that.
「Hey, Orphellia. You too, quickly eat. 」
Of course Ted couldn’t understand something like the frustration born from the basic common sense of a magician. Beside Orphellia who was hugging her head with creases on her forehead, Ted and Norris bit into the roast meat sandwich leisurely.
「My Master, the food is heated up. 」
「No. I will just eat it normally, I said there’s no need to heat it up especially right? 」
「Albeit it’s in the wild, it’s shame for servant to be serving cold food to her master. Isn’t it a master’s vessel to just receive a servant’s offering without saying anything? 」
「Even though no one asked……」
During the break, Nere took care of Ardis meticulously. She would form a shade made of magic above Ardis. She would hand out bread that’s heated up, and occasionally offer him cold water. It was exactly like a servant who’s serving her master.
Ted who had saw it after putting away his bread muttered in a soft voice.
「Well, certainly she looks like a servant doing that……」
「But, it’s the first time there’s such a servant with that kind of tone, at least for me. 」
Norris gulped down the water after eating the cold bread.
「Huh? This water, it’s nice? 」
Norris said so while peeking into the bottle. In any case, he didn’t want to be the one complaining to Ardis who was being treated like a royalty. He thought, if he wanted to bother, why not direct that excess energy and leeway to something else.
Speaking reversely, it just means that they do have such a leeway in this occasion. In truth, if they wouldn’t encounter the Grinder, then this search might as well be considered a peaceful picnic to Ardis and the others.
As they finished their meal, it was Ardis again who lied on the ground and tried to take「A Blissful Nap after Meal」, but since Ted and the others were there, he wasn’t allowed that, and the search continues.
Even so, what they did after that isn’t much different than what they did during morning. While dealing with the Coyotes and Green Knives that they encounter occasionally, they leisurely walked around the grasslands.
Soon, Ardis and the other started seeing the highway at the front.
「Let’s head towards the highway and head south a little, then let’s return to the east I guess? 」
「Unn, let’s group up with the main unit and the commander after we head east, then the search should be over for today. 」
Orphellia responded to Norris.
「There’re quite some people on the highway. 」
As they approached the rendezvous point, Ardis realized there were more people that he expected.
「Since there’s the rumor with the Grinder recently. Could it be that they are just peddlers and caravans who banded up together to move? Since the army is scattered here too, the bandits and thieves can’t make their move as well. 」
Next to Norris who was saying while looking at the map, the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 were talking leisurely.
「Good grace, finally. Well it wasn’t any big earning but, a relaxed job like this occasionally is nice too huh. 」
「That’s true. The weather is nice too, and it was fun after all. 」
Ardis agreed to that too. But unfortunately, he has his reasons to not mingle with the army unnecessarily.
「For me, I really hope that the Grinder would come out or something. Well a day like this is nice too but, if we will be stuck in this job for who knows how many more days, then excuse me from that. And I’m sleepy. 」
「Sleepy is normal for you though. 」
Orphellia commented as if given up with Ardis’s personality.
「Well well, don’t say something like that Ardis. Hey, take a look. The warm sunshine, and the comfortable breeze, even the annoying Despairs or Beast Kings didn’t appear, looking at the clouds drifting in the blue sky, and the shadow of a bird flying by――An? 」
While circling his arm around Ardis’s shoulder, Ted who talked on his own suddenly furrowed his brows. His gaze was at, a single shadow with the shape of a bird flying high above the sky.
「It’s not a 『Killer Bird』 huh……」
「Not an 『Observer』 either right? 」
Behind the both of them who narrowed their eyes, Nere pointed out calmly.
「Couldn’t it be the Grinder? 」