The Morning After
As dawn broke, the light of the sun seemed to illuminate the mountain where the Jewelsaad Mine lay.
Piercing the ground around the dragon pulling the wagon with sacred nails, blessed by the church, Asterios rang the bell that hung around his neck.
A refreshing timbre rang out. This is his magic, that allows him to bend natural laws.
The fifteen nails in the ground were connected by light and began to form a surface. In this way, a barrier was formed.
“With this, it will be impossible for the dragon to be attacked or escape whilst we’re inside the mine.”
In order to maintain magical phenomena, energy must be consistently applied to it.
If the magic user simply leaves and the supply of magical energy is cut off, the magic will soon lose its physical form and be scattered to the wind.
In order to prevent this, a number of magical tools and implements have been developed, included among these are the holy nails.
“From here on out, we will start the subjugation of the monsters in Jewelsaad Mine. I want everyone to double check their equipment and weapons. We’ll begin to move as soon as everyone is ready.”
Everyone nodded, and Asterios, Kyle and the other E-Rank adventurers began to inspect all their equipment thoroughly. Shirley, meanwhile, simply gave her pouch a quick look over and then turned her attention back to the mine’s entrance.
“Miss Shirley, don’t you need to check your weapons?”
“You say that, but isn’t she unarmed?”
To satisfy Cudd and Leia who were looking at her dubiously, Shirley extended an arm and grasped in that hand that had held nothing just a moment before there was now a curved sword.
“You don’t have to worry about me, I’m well prepared.”
“Ho, what an unusual sight. Is that some kind of spatial magic?”
Standing next to the two young adventurers, Asterios looked at the rare display.
“I’ve heard that there were only a few practitioners of that magic in the world, is Shirley one of them?”
“No. This is just the application of that magic tool the witch gave me. It’s helpful since swords can lose their edge so quickly if they get wet with blood.”
“Application… I have plenty of questions, but somehow I doubt you’ll be giving me any answers.”
“True. ‘Only a fool boasts about the hand that is dealt to them’, as the saying goes.”
A popular saying amongst adventurers. Asterios decides not to push her any further on it.
“But, really. To borrow the power of that witch, you must have offered something excellent in exchange.”
“Hey, I’ve been wondering for a while now, but by ‘witch’ you couldn’t possibly mean the Guild Master, right?”
Leia asked doubtfully.
“Exactly right. Even though there are many female adventurers who can use magic, she’s the only one referred to as a ‘witch’.”
“Hmm… Well, it sure is a strange thing to use as a weapon.”
“I can say the same to you as well.
Compared to Cudd with his single dagger and Kyle with his club studded with metal nails, Leia takes great pride in maintaining her dwarven crossbow.
“Even if you’re not a purebred, I thought elves were supposed to be very attached to the regular bow – it’s strange to see one use a machination of the dwarves, a race they seem to constantly be in conflict with.”
“Well, since I was raised in the Kingdom, I’ve never really met many dwarves. But Dimros is really kind to me.”
“Leia, you’re also a customer at Dimros’ shop?”
“Yep. He’s been really nice to me ever since I first came to town… Wait, Shirley, you also go to his shop!?”
The two girls had found something in common, unexpectedly.
“There are many blacksmiths in the city, but he’s the most skilled among them.”
“I agree! I also have a bow, you know, but I prefer using this crossbow.”
“Because your arms are too tiny to draw a bow right.”
Leia kicked Cudd in the shin without saying a word. Although a regular bow can probably outrange a crossbow, with her childlike body she likely doesn’t have the strength necessary to do so.
“One more thing, Shirley. If possible, before the young ones enter the mine, I was hoping you could retrieve the corpse of a bad bonobo.”
“I don’t mind, but why?”
“Well, I want to lure the rest of them out with 《Hate Area》.”
A type of magic used as a strategy against large groups of enemies. 《Hate Area》is one of these spells, but the ritual requires a dead body of one of the enemy group.
But, this kind of magic is considered to be entirely unethical by the church and its practice is nearly taboo, something a monk in the service of the church shouldn’t ever be seen doing.
“…By any chance, has anyone ever called you a rebellious monk?”
“What are you saying? Yes, this technique is unethical, but I would rather use such a thing than see an ally killed simply because I decided not to use it.”
“I agree with you.”
Whilst using such a ritual is an affront to his faith, letting others die on his account would be an even more grave offense in the eyes of the Goddess.
Not every battle can be won cleanly. Even if the priests in their lavish churches might be offended by the idea, it is the warrior monks who have to bear these hardships for the sake of their comrades.
“Well then, if I’m doing this, I’ll take the scout with me. May as well do some rookie training whilst we’re at it.”
Cudd, who was busy fighting tooth and nail with Leia, suddenly looked up.
“Before I go, I just have one question. Are you able to use the magic called《Silence》? I know it’s very useful for a scout.”
“Ah, yes, I can.”
“Then there’s no problem. Follow me.”
Shirley turns her back on the group and heads toward the mine. After looking at Asterios doubtfully and receiving a hard to discern expression from that cow-like face, he chased after the white-haired woman.
They went up the side of the mountain climbing up moss covered craggy rocks, with faint voices from inside the mine carrying on the wind.
They are the shrieks of the monkeys that swarm the mine, and just the thought of a dragon being behind all that is enough to make one’s skin crawl.
“All we have to do is kill one of those monkeys and bring its body back. But, if we cause a commotion before our real attack, we’re going to be in trouble. We need to collect a corpse without alerting any of his friends nearby, but do you know how we’d do that?
Weren’t you supposed to know? As Cudd stares at her in confusion, Shirley keeps talking.
“Imagination is the adventurer’s strongest weapon. You have to constantly imagine what your opponent can do, and what you can do in return. If you stop thinking, you will die.”
“I’ll follow your instructions, so you should make use of your skills and gear to do what you can.”
Apparently, Shirley teaches by making others think for themselves. Although he wants to argue, there’s not really any way he could say that’s she’s wrong.
(It’s just… These enemies are never in groups of less than three…)
He knows that much, but he still hasn’t been able to see the situation inside the mine. For now, he’ll scout it out.
An invisible magical field surrounded him as he muttered that small chant under his breath. A type of scouting magic, 《Silent Field》seals all sound made within that magic field.
With Cudd’s current magical power, he can only extend the field 25 meters around him, but that’s enough for the current party.
But for now, it doesn’t need to be that big. Making the field big enough only to cover himself and Shirley, they begin to explore the cave.
(There they are!)
It didn’t take much exploring to find the monsters they were after. From the back, they looked like normal monkeys, but the four bonobos with jet black fur had three horns sprouting from the tops of their heads and sharp fangs.
(Alright, they’re not looking at us… Stay calm… Wait, that one… why does it have a staff?)
Different from the three other monkeys who held slings, one of them held a staff. It seems like something he was told about, but he just can’t remember exactly what it was.
Cudd frowned as he tried to remember. Meanwhile, Shirley took a dagger that had appeared in her hand and sliced up a nearby rock.
Whilst enveloped by the silent space, she cut characters into the stone as easily as if she were carving it into a wedge of cheese.
“Stone slingers, three. Magician, one.”
She must have read his worried expression But thanks to that, Cudd remembered that the staff-wielding bonobos were capable of magic.
(The question is, how do we get one without it screaming out?)
He thought of sneaking up on it and eliminating it within his 《Silent Field》.
But, the problem is that if he failed and it escaped his field, it would cause a commotion and alert all its friends.
Since Cudd can’t guarantee that he can eliminate the magician in the silent field, he scribbled a question to Shirley in the notebook he kept in his pack.
“If I attempt to eliminate the magician within my《Silent Field》, is it possible for you to deal with the other three enemies at the same time?”
It would be incredibly difficult for Cudd to envelop all of the monkeys within his silent field without being noticed.
Since he would be noticed if he approached closely enough to envelop them all, he can only go after one. And since the most dangerous one is the magician, he’ll target that one.
So, he will leave the others to her. Although he’s frustrated by his own lack of ability, he decided to rely on the veteran adventurer with him in order to complete the mission.
However, he realizes that he’s also asking for the impossible. It really is a ridiculous request, how could anyone kill all three monkeys quickly enough that none of them would be able to make a sound-?
“No problem. Let’s go with that plan.”
Cudd is genuinely surprised when he saw that carved into the rock. Although he didn’t think it was possible, at Shirley’s approval he took 30 seconds to expand the range of his 《Silent Field》.
The very moment that the magician monkey was caught in the silent field, a curved sword appeared in Shirley’s hand and she began to move.
A sudden attack on the bonobo in the blind spot of the magician. Cudd couldn’t even grasp her movement, to him it looked like a whirlwind of white flashing across his vision.
The moment that blur of white hair passed by the first monkey, it was already gushing blood from the stump that remained of its neck. The other two monkeys apart from the magician’s eyes grew wide and they were about to scream out, but the blade flashed twice again and once more blood gushed from two stump necks.
(I’m not even needed at all here!?)
The magician monkey still hadn’t noticed Shirley who had dispatched its fellows within half a second.
In fact, it seems as if Shirley has intentionally left it for him, as Cudd approached it stealthily.
Cudd jumped out from behind an outcrop of rock and rushed the magician monkey, still somewhat in shock that his reckless plan was actually working.
“…!! …!? …!!”
Seeing Cudd rush at him, he attempted to scream for help, but his voice does not carry inside the silent field.
It attempted to chant magic to defend itself, but not being able to talk at all it ends in failure.
For a magic user who can activate magic using tools or their mind, this wouldn’t be an issue, but for a magician that relies on their voice, 《Silent Field》 is a deadly counter.
Completely confused by the situation and unable to use magic, the bonobo tries to turn to flee, but Cudd manages to grab it by the back of the head and uses his dagger to slit its throat.
“Even if you were a bit slow to act sometimes… I guess that caution isn’t always bad. You have the making of a good scout, once you get more experience.”
Once he exhaled and released the silent field, he heard Shirley talking to him.
Being praised by the only person who made his impossible strategy possible, Cudd’s cheeks turn red with embarrassment.
“But, there’s one thing I can’t overlook. You need to stop using your voice to activate silent field. You need to be able to activate it within 2 seconds without verbalizing it. Also, you need to be far more precise with your movements.”
Just as soon as he was given the carrot, he’s hit with the stick. It’s true that he spent far too long expanding the range of his field since he couldn’t verbalize his spell.
“Well, anyways, we can’t afford to let the other corpses fester for too long. Let’s bury them before the other bad bonobos find them and make a ruckus.”
“Oh, then, I’ll use my earth magic.”
Like the swords beforehand, Shirley seemed to pull a shovel out of thin air. Once they had finished burying the other three monkeys using the shovel and earth magic, they returned to where Asterios and the others were with the remaining corpse.
I want to try and be more regular with this series.