Two at Sunset
When we arrived at the south gate, the whole hunting team was fully prepared and waiting for us. Only the captains were on horseback, the rest were on foot. There were five captains in all. Each captain commanded twenty men. And so we would be a party of over one hundred.
Saragi, I and the guard…who I learned was called Kanatsuki, took the lead as we advanced through the forest. It almost felt claustrophobic when there were so many people around you.
“I think we should take a break…”
Saragi suggested after turning around to look at the faces of the men. We both wanted to hurry on, but it was best to arrive in optimal condition. And so I said nothing and dismounted my horse.
According to the spirits, the monster was nowhere to be seen. I could not even hear any birds. What I could hear was the sounds of leaves in the wind and the clinging of armor. It was a very quiet forest.
I disliked forests when they were like this. I always felt that something dangerous was about to happen.
‘Phew…that was scary…’
A spirit floated by as I was drinking. I could feel the breeze as I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
“Ah, do you have a minute?”
“There should be someone in this forest who is fighting a large, black wolf. Do you know where they are?”
It had moved away, and so there was no point in returning to the same spot. Besides, it had sounded as if the spirit had seen something.
‘I saw them by the river over there. It was quite the fight…’
“It was? So it is finished?”
‘I don’t know… I left because I was scared…’
Hmm…that was worrying… But at least I knew the location now.
“Thank you. Be careful.”
It waved its small hand and flew off towards the town. Yukka seemed to be quite popular with the spirits…
“Miss Daniela. Who were you talking to…?”
Kanatsuki looked at me if I were crazy. Hmm, while she did not know better, it was rather irritating.
“I was asking the spirits about Asagi’s location.”
“Oh? You can speak with spirits, Miss Daniela!?”
Kanatsuki started to get very excited and my annoyance faded. She lacked a sense of nervousness that you would expect on such a mission…and I found that amusing.
“I have a general idea of where he is now. He should be by a river near here. Do you know of it?”
“Yes, there is a river. It’s called the Iris.”
“That is where Asagi and the Loup-garou are.”
“Then I will go and tell the captain!”
She had been drinking water, but she now got up and rushed towards Saragi, who was resting under a tree. Saragi listened and then looked at me with surprise. Then he got up and informed the captains.
Our short rest ended there and we continued our march. Still, the path was mostly the same, as we still had to go through the abandoned village to reach the river.
In other words, we would pass through the place that we were attacked and where we had split up with Lehaty.
With a precise destination in mind, we picked up the pace. I had my own reasons for wanting to go faster, but the captains also seemed to have been roused.
“All of you! I understand how you feel, but follow my stride!”
He shouted, and the pace slowed down again. Though it did not take long for the pace to pick up again…it was clearly no use.
After a while, we arrived in the abandoned village. It was still before sunset.
The men scattered and prepared to set up camp. A tent was pitched in the center and here, a small meeting was held.
“I’m going to send scouts to the river now.”
“How close are we to the river?”
“It is about twenty minutes on foot.”
That was strange. I could not hear anything. Not the cry of a wolf or even the wind.
“…I will go with them. Something is not right. It is too quiet.”
“I knew you would. …But Daniela, you’ll be moving with me.”
“I came all this way here and you want me to stay?”
Asagi should be close by. Why should I stay here?
“Who knows what could happen? I think we should hear a report first. Then you and I and Kanatsuki will return with the scouts.”
“Tsk… Very well. But hurry.”
As part of the hunting team, I was under the command of Saragi. Adventurers often joined soldiers in emergencies like this. But I had usually traveled alone, so situations like this rarely happened, but I did experience them.
A long time ago, when I just happened to be stopping in a certain town, I was forced into a hunting party by the rules of the guild. It was to hunt a wyvern. Back then, my fear of all dragonkind was much more severe than it is now. I had really not wanted to go, and so slipped out when I had the chance. I was that much afraid…
I sighed. In general, I did not like to receive orders from others… I tried to be cooperative when Asagi was around, as it would affect both our reputations, but Asagi wasn’t here now.
Still, disobeying now might affect us later.
As irritating as it was, I would have to wait… Had I wanted to, I could use Asagi’s little wind trick and fly away…but I wouldn’t.
Now that I think of it, I was quite hungry. Perhaps it was all that thinking…
That sigh was due to hunger. A Hero once said that you could not fight on an empty stomach. And so I rummaged through the hollow bag and found something that had been especially tasty but was from a bar with a name I had long forgotten. Asagi had ordered fifty of them to take back with us…
“Yes, this is good.”
Very good. Knowing that such food would be served was enough to make me go to those rowdy places. Wait a minute. I could just buy it and leave as well?
Hmmm. Perhaps it would be rude to go to a bar and ask for a takeout…
I felt eyes on me. I used Presence Detection and saw that someone was peeking from the tent. I glanced casually and saw that Kanatsuki was staring at me and drooling.
She looked at me with wistful eyes. Hmmm…
“Come here. You are making it very difficult for me to enjoy my food, you know?”
“Oh! Did you see me?”
“I would really like to know how you could be so confident that I did not…”
Kanatsuku quickly sat down next to me and I handed her a box of the mysterious food.
“Ouch. It’s hot!”
“Do not drop it.”
“Yes. Thank you!”
I saw her bite into her food and I returned to mine. It had been a while since I ate with someone like this other than Asagi…decades even.
The two of us finished off ten skewers. Perhaps it was a little too much. We might have to fight after this.
“Phew. That was delicious…”
The scouts would be back soon…