After leaving Lunatic Lake and passing through a grassland Southeast of it, the armored jeep finally started climbing up the mountain. In perfect form, Galet found a road where there was none, stepped on the acceleration and twisted the handle.
Avoiding obstacles by a hair’s breadth, the armored jeep sometimes flew in the sky as it berserked, but the inside of it was unexpectedly silent. That was, with exclusion of Galet who changed completely as he squeezed the handle.
In the middle of shaking that felt like an earthquake encompassing entire world, the two earnest young soldiers did not release any sound, desperately enduring as they clung to the black knight who wouldn’t even budge even in this situation.
Meanwhile, the armored jeep climbed up the mountain and finally arrived at the destination.
It was the area near the entrance to Ragedd Copper Mine’s tunnel. Lined up there were decayed stalls covered in dense greenery. It fairly long time passed since the mine was closed, which is why it was desolate and there was not a glimpse of its past flourishing.
Facing the tunnel opening its pure black mouth, the young members closed their lips tightly as they trembled. Sticking right behind them was a black knight who acted as their escort.
“Did you check the characteristics of the objective?”
After Galet finished locking the armored jeep, he spoke to the two.
“We have confirmed it!”
The two answered together.
“Do you have tools for collection with you?”
“Yes, we have it prepared!”
From here, the three were to enter the mine and search for Firefly-Blazing Light Stone. Its characteristic made it very easy to spot - when exposed to the air it started glowing red. However, about twelve hour since being exposed to air, it stopped reacting and became unable to open the mechanism of the Fool’s Wunderkammer. Therefore, it was necessary to collect only it right before using.
“Monsters don’t appear here, but recently there have been many irregulars happening, make sure to brace yourself as you execute the mission.”
“We shall brace ourselves and stay vigilant!”
The two were newbie soldiers and this was their first mission, their movements were stiff, and at a glance one could tell they were nervous.
However, even bigger reason than that, was Galet who stood in front of them. Galet who held the position of Arkite Kingdom’s Combat Vehicle division’s vice-commander, to newbies, was someone of a far higher standing.
Galet did not understand his rank too well, however.
“Well then, let’s go.”
Acting nervous on the first mission. There was a time like that for me as well… Or was there? Galet thought back at his past as he started walking inside the tunnel.
There was no monsters inside the mine; Galet’s team smoothly progressed with their search and safely acquired the Firefly-Blazing Light Stone that was the objective. Then when they left the tunnel in high spirits, it happened.
Suddenly a shadow leaped from behind the three. The shadow running at speed too fast to keep up with, was the Dark Knight who followed the them.
Wondering what happened, Galet and the other two looked at each other before they realized what was the reason the black knight rushed forward. The black knight was with them to guard them.
After calming their impatience, the three squeezed their weapons and turned in the direction the black knight headed to.
There, ahead of their line of sight a little distance away they saw a huge monster trampling over the greenery, and a black knight who confronting it.
“That’s...a magic beast!”
After taking a glance at the opponent, Galet gasped upon seeing the unexpected figure.
This beast that had a bear-like body a size or two larger than the armored jeep was called Arcas Glaug.
Unlike monsters who appeared pretty much spontaneously, magic beasts - wild animals permeated with magic - were very rare and possessed abnormally high physical abilities. Naturally, it was not an opponent that could be easily defeated, and from the perspective of the three who did not possess much fighting power, it was nothing but a menace.
Arcas Glaug who had a huge black body, opened its mouth widely and released a thundering roar as it assaulted the black knight.
Approaching at speed unthinkable of such a large body, Arcas Glaug displayed dark red fangs from its jaw as it struck the black knight’s neck with them.
There was an instant exchange of attack and defense.
A black greatsword has appeared in front the Arcas Glaug who approached right before the black knight, protruded right before the bear’s jaw. Then as sharp fangs and the black greatsword struck each other, a high-pitched sound rang out and the two started to struggle with abnormal strength.
However, the instant later there was a metallic sound that made one’s back tremble. The upper body of the black knight who was stopping the Arcas Glaug’s fangs with his weapon, was pulverized with claws.
With both legs still pierced into the ground, the black knight completely stopped moving. The magic beast in Galet’s and the other two’s sight, stomped the black remnants before it leaped at his next objective.
(“No way… For Mira-sama’s Dark Knight to lose…")
To Galet this was an impossible sight. A lot happened and when traveling together and Galet understood the strength of Mira’s Dark Knights very well, which is why he was at loss for his words now.
“Khh, we’re retreating to the tunnel, hurry!”
That was why he was able to make an instant decision.
That is why he gave instructions with a scream.
They had to avoid confronting directly an opponent that defeated a black knight, he thought.
With their current fighting power, it was not someone they could fight against. And luckily, behind them there was a tunnel that was smaller than Arcas Glaug’s body. If they escaped inside, they could avoid the worst possible outcome. That’s what Galet concluded.
Turning his back to the magic beast, Galet made the two petrified young soldiers escape. Screaming in panic, the youngsters broke into run at full speed. Their destination was a tunnel a few meters away.
However, as Arcas Glaug’s jaw approached him, its breathing started to reach his back.
——Meanwhile, in the Arkite Castle’s dining hall.
While chatting with her best friends and lying on the sofa due to eating too much, Mira suddenly felt something and stood up.
“What happened, all of a sudden?”
Seeing Mira make a tense, alarming expression, Solomon asked with a mystified look on his face.
“This sensation, can it be…"
Closing her eyes slowly, Mira turned toward the heavens as if she saw through something that could not be seen normally.
“No way, now of all times…?!”
Standing up together with these words, Solomon stared at Mira with shock on his face before he continued “So, which one is it?”
Receiving these words, Mira suddenly opened her eyes wide and,
“The big one.”
yelling like that she dashed out of the room, heading to the toilet.
“It’s been thirty years since we had this exchange, heh. How nostalgic. But, I’m not sure what to think about her saying “big one” in her current appearance.”
After Solomon saw off Mira’s lovely back, he smiled with satisfaction and sat back down on the chair.
“Hey, just how many of those “exchanges” do you guys have?”
Looking astounded but also having fun, Luminaria asked Solomon. In response he thought for a moment and “no clue”, he responded with a smile.
——Returning to the entrance of the Ragedd Copper Mine’s tunnel.
A ferocious roar sounded and a breathing that engraved an illusion of death on Galet’s instinct, had enveloped him. Feeling tremendous fear, Galet confirmed the appearance of the two young soldiers who escaped into the tunnel.
Looking relieved, he raised the ends of his mouth. Behind him, Arcas Glaug’s dark red fangs approached. The illusion turned into reality, it was then.
“Wait a MOMEEENT.”
When a high-pitched voice of a young girl unfitting the place rang out, following it a loud groan and a blunt sound reached Galet’s ears. That instant, he felt the fear dominating his body weaken, thinking “it can’t be” he turned around.
Galet knew this sensation. It was unwavering sense of security, and it was something he learned just recently. Yes, it was what he felt when he was by Mira’s side.
This person had quickly jumped down from a tree to stand in front of Galet.
It was a different person from the one Galet had imagined. A young girl that had a somewhat oriental atmosphere to her and a characteristic hairstyle with hair tied on both sides drawing rings. She was wearing an outfit that was known as china dress, it had a standing collar and a deep slit on the sides. This outfit had vivid coloring and rather than looking like attire for combat, it was more like a dazzling outfit for wearing at some celebration party. However, on this battlefield, the girl’s refined silhouette granted Galet and indescribable relief.
“I was looking for this magic beast all this TIME. I will give up LOOT. I want you to let me fight IT.”1In original, she’s putting emphasis/accent on the last syllable of each sentence usually ending it with "-ne" (ネ) or "-yo" (ヨ) in katakana. I also emphasized on the ends of sentences to match it.
With sparkle in her eyes, the girl joined her hands and pleaded Galet.
Before he realized, Galet shook off the presence of death and realized that the figure of the Arcas Glaug stood quite far.
“Please go on, give him a good one.”
After a glance at the current situation, Galet replied instantly. Either the girl did something, or maybe the magic beast felt something from her. While he could not tell which was it, there was one he did understand. It was that the girl said like it was natural that she would give up the loot, showing unshakable confidence.
“Ohh, you have my GRATITUDE.”
The girl said and smiled cheerfully, then the next moment she closed onto the magic beast, appearing right under his nose.
“Ohh, that was…!”
This movement which looked like she had disappeared, was something Galet knew well. It was 【Dao Way - Movement: Shukuchi】, something that Mira - also an excellent Daoist - showed to Galet before.
In other words, the girl appeared to be a Daoist.
Along with a fierce sound of explosion, there was an ear-splitting roar.
The girl’s strength was above Galet’s expectations.
At the same time the curtains of combat were raised, the huge magic beast received a powerful leg strike and broke its posture, but braced itself on two legs and swept its thick foreleg in front of itself.
Arcas Glauge’s claws sharply cut through the air. However, right before its forelegs captured its prey, they froze still.
Looking carefully, they saw that the girl’s hand holding the magic beast’s foreleg.
It was overwhelming. Therefore, the magic beast Arcas Glaug whose instinct still remained, had realized the opponent’s strength and immediately changed its target.
This target was Galet.
Breaking into a run with an explosive instantaneous force, Arcas Glaug set his red eyes straight on Galet. As for Galet himself, this overtly sudden change in situation left him astounded for an instant.
One of the young soldiers called out to him in panic. However, Galet did not move. There was no need to move.
It was because the girl in china dress already stood in front of him.
Like some kind of trick she instantly moved from a distant place. Seeing the girl appear, the young soldiers displayed shock.
But even more astonished than that, was the magic beast. However, due to its high speed and large mass it was unable to easily stop. Therefore, Arcas Glaug leaped high to avoid the girl.
Seeing this incomprehensible phenomenon, Galet wondered what did she do and turned his gaze in the girl’s direction.
With a fist protruded into the sky, the girl in front of him fixed her eyes on the magic beast, before opening her eyes wide the next instant.
That moment, an explosion of flames filled the sky.
An impact shook the ground, the trees and the air itself before dying down soon after leaving only sparks to be carried away by wind as they burned out.
The surroundings that were filled with dark thirst for blood had returned to silence and peace, then before long the sound of birds and insects singing had returned.
“It wasn’t as strong as RUMORED....”
While looking at the magic beast’s body burnt black as it lied in a grassy corner, the girl muttered with disappointment.
“Dear god, we were saved thanks to you.”
You saved my life right before I was about to lose it, Galet said as he thanked the girl. However, hearing his words the girl tilted her head puzzled and “what do you MEAN?” she said.
“Oh, no, I guess. It’s nothing. It was splendid.”
Thinking that the girl’s attitude was caused by the fact she acted humble, Galet rephrased himself while thanking her in his heart. But, the next moment he would learn the true meaning behind the girl’s words.
“It was nothing BIG. More importantly, I feel amazing power from that KNIGHT. It looks like much better training than that magic BEAST. I would like to have a MATCH.”
As she said so, the face of the girl who turned her gaze behind Galet’s back was filled with expectation and will to fight.
Behind Galet there were only the young soldiers who escaped to the tunnel. Far from being worth being called “knights”, neither of them who could act as a training partner for the girl who led a magic beast by its nose.
Thinking so, Galet turned around wondering what was this about. What appeared in his sight then, was a black knight standing there calmly without a single scratch on him.
After being pulverized, the Dark Knight who was adjusted for escorting before it was summoned, had immediately regenerated with mana inside him. And when Arcas Glaug was about to reach Galet with his fangs, a black greatsword was on the verge of cutting the magic beast in two.
Impressed once again by Mira’s unknown abilities, he deepened the respect he felt for her, then a little boastfully,
“This knight is something that was lent to us, we cannot undertake your request without the owner’s permission. My apologies.”
he said and bowed to the girl.
“Mmhh, so you are not the SPELLCASTER. Then it can’t be HELPED.”
The girl hung her head disappointed from the bottom of her heart and murmured, but being unable to give up she glanced at the black knight.
“Umm, if you would like to fight it no matter what, you could come with us to Lunatic Lake. There, is the person who summoned this Dark Knight.”
Other than gratitude, Galet who also felt familiarity toward the girl proposed so, and looked up at the Dark Knight who stood imposingly.
“Lunatic Lake, is IT. Mmhh, it’s too early to RETURN. I will come another TIME!”
The girl said so and discarded her regret, then jumped on a tree and moving from a branch to a branch, disappeared into the forest as if to escape.
Who on heavens was that? While watching the girl’s back disappearing in the forest, Galet and others thought of the same question while also feeling gratitude for being saved.