One bag per person.
They were not large, these separate bags that the group carried as they set off, the morning sunlight at their backs.
“They are heavy for being so small…”
“Is your one powder? Mine is very coarse like it could scratch up my armor.”
“My bag looks like…meat?”
The soldiers talked with hushed voices as they followed the knights who rode in the lead.
I understood why they would want to talk. We had explained how they would use it, but they were still marching with strange things in their possession.
On top of that, we were headed for a place in order to fight monsters and magicians. These were enemies much more dangerous than humans…
Those that were used to just slaying monsters would look at the bags in their hands and wonder how this was going to help them.
Even for me, this was a strategy that I would be surprised if it went smoothly. We couldn’t say anything for certain, we couldn’t do anything to remove their suspicions.
As for me. I had borrowed some men’s clothing and was now riding with Cain on his horse.
I was clutching the pendant in my hands, the chains wrapped around my wrist, as we searched for the direction the magician would be in.
“Straight this way…”
Cain hears me and immediately relates it to the other knights as we change our course.
It was near a town road several hours away from the castle that I finally felt that it was close.
As I only knew the general direction, we ended up having to take a route that went straight through the forest, but this ended up being to our advantage. We were able to catch sight of the enemy from the top of a small cliff.
The soldiers told each other in whispers. They lined up into a formation as they readied themselves to attack.
The reason that the enemy were going down this road was probably because it would be difficult for the old magician and the five soldiers that surrounded him to travel otherwise. It was incredibly hard to move through the forest. There was even the possibility of encountering monsters they had no control over.
But there were also many monsters here.
Usually, there would be around thirty, but this time it looked like there might be as many as fifty. There was about an equal number of wind wolves as sky jellyfish in their ranks. Perhaps he had only been saving his power up until now, and controlling fifty monsters was his actual limit.
However, perhaps because it was a mixed team, the monsters would occasionally fight amongst each other.
…It looked like the magician was keeping them in line, but these monsters were still natural enemies. And there were times when their instincts to chase off the others would explode.
Eventually, the magician had the wind wolves take the lead and then positioned the sky jellyfish towards their back. The human soldiers took formation even further behind them.
We have this one. I think.
I turn around to look at Cain. He too seemed to have guessed at how the scene would now play out. He pulled on the reins of his horse and we started to move away from Alan’s company.
Alan called after me.
“Take ten men with you.”
That meant that he would have ten fewer men to fight. This small cliff would hardly be an obstacle for those wind wolves and sky jellyfish. This fight was likely to become close-quarters very soon. Would they be alright fighting a larger number of monsters than ever before?
“Knights would be best if you are going up against human soldiers. They are also more likely to be able to deal with magic attacks.”
Indeed, Alan was right about that.
“We should gratefully accept this offer, Miss Kiara.”
“It would trouble me greatly if you refused… Who knows what Reggie will say to me.”
Alan added even further. Hearing that one name, Reggie, made it suddenly very difficult for me to refuse.
In the end, Reggie had not been happy that I was to go out like this. He would be even less pleased if I returned grievously wounded.
As two sides that did not want to be on the receiving end of Reggie’s wrath, we agreed. However, I asked him to reduce the number of borrowed knights to five. The magician also had five soldiers protecting him, so an equal number of knights should be more than enough.
We quickly moved around the side of the cliff and came out near to the road.
In the meantime, Alan prepared to attack.
One soldier spread out a bag onto the ground and the archers picked up their bows and arrows.
Then they fired them all at once.
The arrows drew lines in the sky as they descended onto the monsters.
The wind wolves immediately started to run towards Alan and his company, the sky jellyfish also began to float in their direction.
(They were cautious as expected…)
The soldiers were alert but did not leave the magician to chase the others. They must be wary of us, as we had once surprised the magician and captured him before.
There was a need to wait for the right moment to attack in order to get the upper hand.
We got off of our horses a little ways away from them and watched from the shadows of the trees.
The shadow wolves in the lead were already at the base of the cliff. Just as they were about to climb up the cliff, they suddenly hesitated and started wandering around in the area.
What they had smelled and been distracted by was meat.
Something that the soldiers had been made to carry and that Alan had just scattered on the ground.
Eventually, the wind wolves prioritized their dinner over making their way to Alan and his men.
“Hey, why are the wolves not moving?”
“I am doing what I can!”
The old magician and one of the soldiers who was dressed as a traveling merchant began to argue.
So far so good. I think as I witness this.
Now that we knew that the monsters were being controlled, I had tried to guess the reason.
They must have been made to drink the same red liquid as the failed magicians. And now they were bound to the magician in the same way that a master and apprentice would be.
But then, why didn’t they turn into sand like the failed magicians? I suspected that it was because these monsters were already a similar sort of being to magicians, to begin with. They had bodies that could use magic even without having the stone in their bodies.
And so they would not turn into sand and die. But shouldn’t they only listen to the orders of a magician who had ingested the same stone?
But it was supposed to be difficult to create such a powerful force like that master and apprentice relationship with only a small portion of the stone. In that case…maybe they would not be able to overcome a hunger for things they needed to survive?