A single shadow flew directly at them from the sunny blue sky. Behind Ted and the others who were narrowing their eyes from the dazzling sun, Nere said calmly.
「Couldn’t that be the Grinder? 」
A sudden silence as they all focused on that single point in the sky.
There are various sizes of bird that normally appears in this grasslands, more than ten species’ appearances are recorded. But other than the carnivores, 『Killer Birds』 and 『Observers』, the others are smaller than fifty centimeters.
The shadow reflected on their eyes didn’t look like a small bird’s, but the silhouette was different than Killer Bird or Observer. In other words, it’s not a shadow seen usually in this grassland.
The next moment, Ted broke the silence.
「Prepare for battle! Norris! The signal!? 」
「Already preparing! 」
「Orphellia! Keep your eyes on it! Ardis and Nere prepare to engage! 」
Suddenly the entire party became a strained atmosphere.
「Ted, the others already have the smoke! 」
Orphellia noticed the smoke signals that had already lighted from other locations.
「Tch! The discovery compensation is taken huh」
The smoke signal of discovering the Grinder had already been lighted by another team, as two streams of smoke rises from the north side. There were smokes starting to rise from other places as well. The news of discovery would definitely be noticed by other squads as well.
「The problem now is, where will it descent……」
Just in case, Ardis had deployed his short swords. As Ardis and the others nailed their gazes on the shadow, it ignored them and flew further east, as the shadow became smaller and smaller.
「It’s the direction of the main unit. 」
Like what Ted pointed out, the shadow is heading straight for the main unit. Since the main unit are made with three squads, they had more people than the other squads. But with their strength, it didn’t seem likely they can manage it.
「What should we do? It’s probably too much for the peace-raised soldiers. 」
Orphellia hushed Ted’s judgement.
「The instructions from before were 『Head to help the squad in battle swiftly』right……」
The problem is that they are very unlikely to be in time. If the Grinder was aiming for the squads near them, then they might’ve been able to make it in time. But, if it was flying towards the main troops, then it will be very difficult to make it in time from here.
「I guess there’s no choice but to chase after it now! 」
It’s still not confirmed where the Grinder will attack. Ted and the others started their swift movement in the direction of the new smoke signal that’ve been raised.
「Ted, I will go first. 」
Reporting shortly, without even hearing for an answer, Ardis started his 『Floating Strides』.
Leaving behind the distant angry yell of Ted behind, Ardis headed east with an extraordinary speed. Of course, diagonally behind Ardis was Nere who used her own variant of 『Floating Strides』.
The both overtook two squads and caught sight of the main unit in about thirty minutes.
「There’re victims already. 」
Nere uttered with a straight face.
The main unit had already engaged in a battle with the Grinder, as they saw the scene of racket from far away. There’s neither formation nor order, there were only soldiers who swung their spears panickily.
The commander on the horse that couldn’t give out proper orders. In such a close-range fight, the archers who couldn’t shoot arrows which accounted for half of the corps were totally useless.
As Ardis and Nere got closer, there were figures of the soldiers falling one by one. The Grinder which had a gigantic height of three meters was standing leisurely in the middle of the massacre.
With the two majestic horns like a buffalo on its head that looked like bird of prey1. Its upper body is covered in feathers, with the two pair of sharp claws on both its front limbs, and two gigantic wings on both sides of its torso. Its lower body was supported by four tough horse legs, and a tail covered with fluffy fur was hidden between them.
The Grinder spread its wings as if intimidating. The size of its figure doing so made the soldiers who were holding spears look like dwarves in front of it. As the winged demonic being set its next spearmen as its target, it swung its sharp claws.
「That’s bad. 」
He had already reach in range of his sword magic but, Ardis didn’t want to use it in front of the soldiers.
Of course, he would prefer to prevent useless deaths but, honestly, for the sake of soldiers that he didn’t even know, he didn’t want to show his hand with one of the Corps Commander around.
While Ardis was still in the moment of hesitation, a single dagger was thrown diagonally towards the Grinder from his back. It was Nere.
Ardis conveyed his appreciation shortly, before diving towards the Grinder with a fierce momentum. The dagger thrown by Nere stuck into the Grinder’s arm, stopping its movement for a moment.
And that’s when Ardis leapt into it, deploying his physical barrier chantlessly, while matchingly chanting offensive magic.
「The fierce crimson that is the miracle of flames born of the ancient dragon’s breath ―― Ferno ・ Resta ・ Ganov! 」(Flames of Purgatory)
Flames manifested from Ardis both hands, released towards the Grinder.
Unfortunately, the Grinder kicked against the ground strongly with its four horse legs and retreated to the side with a huge distance, avoiding the trajectory of the flames.
Feathers of its wings covering its upper body were burned to cinder by the aftermath of the flames.
Ardis clicked his tongue unconsciously. To not drag in the surrounding soldiers, he limited the area of effect and shot it upwards, but now that had backfired.
The Grinder who took the damage for the first time acknowledged Ardis is a dangerous enemy. As it slowly retreated back into the air, it blew up a tornado surrounding Ardis with its mana.
The wind pressure that was comparable to 『Fierce Swift Blades』 casted by a high-class magician assaulted the soldiers. Ardis who tried to deploy his own magic barrier realized that a strong barrier is already deployed in the surrounding.
「It’s Nere huh」
During the time Ardis was facing against the Grinder, she had probably toughened up their defense. He immediately changed his mind and looked at where the Grinder was heading.
But when Ardis saw the figure of Grinder, it was already high in the sky. If there weren’t eyes watching right now, then there’re countless ways to deal with it. After giving a last glance at Ardis and the others, it flew towards the west.
「That is even worse……」
Where the Grinder headed was Ted and the others. If it would retreat to Canobis Valley peacefully, then it would be great. But, the west is where Ted and the others, other mercenaries, and even the peddlers and travelers on the highway.
「Nere! We will pursue! 」
If it’s now, the Grinder is still in sight. If he can chase it to somewhere where’s no people, a demonic being at that level, Ardis can take care of it with no problem.
But just at that moment, Ardis who was about to pursue with his 『Floating Strides』 was called out from behind.
「Wait! Treating the injured is highest priority! You guys are magician right. Can’t you use healing magic? If you can’t use it then medicinal herbs on the heavily injured soldiers! 」
The man presumably the commander who was on the horse yelled to Ardis and Nere.
「There’s no way you can chase after something that flies any way! 」
Ardis clicked his tongue while pretending not hearing him.
Certainly, it will be impossible for anyone to pursue a flying demonic being normally. But, Ardis and Nere can do that. Perhaps they can catch up if they pursued now.
「Hurry up and start treating the injured! Squad leader reform your team! After getting our formation back we will track its whereabouts! 」
Are you stupid, Ardis who wanted to blurt that swallowed back his words.
With the main unit that has the most people already in a state of ruin, reforming the subjugation team now doesn’t accomplish anything. Even if they manage to regroup with the other squads, it would just get ruined to an extent like the main unit.
In the first place, everyone is too spread out. Grinder is not an opponent that’s easy enough to be dealt with with ten or twenty soldiers. That commander probably has no idea that retaining Ardis and Nere here would just put more soldiers in danger.
「What are you spacing out for! Quickly treat the injured! 」
The commander-like man yelled in a loud voice.
In the first place, 『Bright Stars of White Night』 had participated while trying to not stand out in front of the army. Making a bad impression with the commander now would just make that effort pointless.
「My master, how should we proceed? 」
Nere who came beside Ardis asked.
「No choice. While helping to treat them, look for gaps and pull away. 」
Looking around, there were many soldiers who were injured and collapsed on the ground while waiting for their help. There were several people who are already too late but, there were also some that seemed savable if they worked quickly.
It wasn’t guaranteed the Grinder that flew away would attack other humans. Since it was injured as well, there was a high chance it would return to its nest.
On the other hand, there’re lives here that would be lost if not treated quickly. The unguaranteed possibility of danger and the heavily injured in front of his eyes, while putting both on the scale, Ardis proposed the compromise.
They would provide medicinal supplies and take part in treating the injured while not standing out and finding a chance to slip away.
Eventually, when the unit began to restore order, they quickly left the spot without getting spotted by the commanders and began to run westward on the grassland.