Lone Wolf Against Three
I used Legs of the God Wolf to walk in the air as I looked down. And while I was quite high up, it was oddly easy to breathe. Perhaps it was because of all the trees and plants creating oxygen. You would think that a place surrounded in mountains like this wouldn’t get much sun…
“…Hmm? What is…”
I saw the lake that Daniela had headed to. There was nothing there. I had assumed there would be a temporary settlement there. Something like Cath Palug maybe… Where was Arthur?
I saw Daniela as I got closer, and so I raised my speed. However, there was something strange going on. She was standing still and holding her weapon.
“Be careful, Asagi! There’s a monster!”
I grabbed my spear and landed down next to her. Then I spread out Presence Detection around us, but there was nothing.
“Sharpen your senses. Even I can only sense it faintly. It has Presence Block.”
“So it wasn’t just the snake…”
I nodded to her and increased the range of Presence Detection. But I still couldn’t sense anything. And so I decided to concentrate on a certain point in the forest that was in front of us. And then I could sense it. Very faintly… It was not enough to determine its species or whether it was weak or strong. The only thing I knew was that it was a monster.
“I sensed that something was watching me, and so I used Presence Detection towards the forest and found it. It is watching us even now.”
“Damn it. It’s so dark in there…”
I squinted, but could not see very far. And Presence Detection gave us very little information. This monster had a very advanced level of Presence Block.
As we watched, a low, moaning voice suddenly entered our ears.
“What? I just heard something.”
“…I can’t hear what it’s saying. It sounds like the moaning of someone who is wounded…”
“Shh. There it is again…!”
Daniela put a finger to my lips as we held our breath.
“…scent…the scent…of my kind…”
Yes, I could hear the voice now. But I didn’t know what it meant. But if this person could talk…
“The scent…of my younger brother…!!”
“Here it comes!”
I had gotten lost in thought for a second. And so as I turned to the forest in surprise, a giant wolf with three heads came flying out of the forest.
I jumped back as the claws came cutting through the air where I had stood. A huge chunk of ground was gouged out and the air was filled with a storm of dust.
“What is this about! We know nothing of your kin!”
“Foolish woman! The smell is all over that man! How can you hope to lie!?”
So, it was me. However, how could I explain… I was sure it would only make things worse.
This thing looked like a Cerberus. As for this ‘younger brother’… I was quite sure this was about the sword I received from the emperor. The Orthros. He was bound to get it twisted. But if I didn’t try to explain it, we would end up fighting until one of us died. What could I do?
I spun the spear around me and blocked the claws as they came slashing again. But just blocking wouldn’t bring an end to this fight.
I had to make up my mind…
“Daniela, leave this to me.”
Daniela jumped back and moved out of range. And so with a sense of relief I faced the monster and shouted.
“I want to talk to you!”
“I have no use for excuses!”
“It’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation!”
I thrust my spear into the ground and folded my arms to show that I meant it no harm. Even when it bared its teeth at me, I did not reach for my weapon.
Daniela shouted. I told her to be calm with my eyes. She looked reluctant.
“Those are your last words?”
“When did this tragedy occur to your younger brother?”
The three-headed creature looked surprised by this question.
“I’m asking you when it happened.”
“A long time ago! He was…killed by humans!!”
“Do I look like I’ve lived that long?”
The emperor had said something about it being ‘a long time ago in the southern forest…’ I wasn’t the one who killed this brother, Orthrus. It should have been obvious enough, but perhaps he was too angry… Besides, the races with long lives seemed to have very different perceptions of the passage of time. Like Daniela. Yes, Daniela.
“And yet, his smell is on you…”
“There is a reason for that. I know about your brother.”
I unfolded my arms and took out Orthrus from the hollow bag. Then I slowly placed it on the ground.
“Here…is your brother.”
He sniffed the blade that was on the ground as tears quietly streamed from his eyes. I didn’t know what to say.
After all, I had done my share of killing and turning monsters into weapons and armor. That included what I was currently wearing. Almost all of it was made of monsters. I had done it to survive, but still…
One might argue that there were other ways to live. But I had my reasons. And there were times when I didn’t have a choice.
That was why humans and monsters didn’t get along. But I had wanted him to understand me and to be able to talk to him.
“While it was something someone else did in the past, I am sorry for your loss. And I would like to return your brother to you.”
“Returning him as a sword…”
“But he’s family, right? Then he should be close by.”
Daniela muttered quietly. She knew that I could not be close to my own family ever again… And so it was something that I felt rather strongly about.
“…I understand now that you are not the human who killed him. However, my heart cannot forgive. There will be no peace with humans.”
“That’s fine. I wish that it wasn’t the case… Especially, given my connection to wolves.”
“Indeed… There is something…you have the smell of a wolf on you.”
“It’s because I’m a thrall of a God Wolf.”
Rachel Vanargand. Born as a wolf and lived as a monster before turning into the God Wolf.
“God Wolf… I see. Her…”
“You know Rachel?”
“She helped me a long time ago… On the night that my brother was killed.”
I waited for a moment, but it seemed that he had no intention of continuing. It was the day that he lost his brother. If he wanted to talk about it, he would do it with someone else.
“I too was helped by her in many ways. So I think I understand what you mean by saying I smell like a wolf.”
“You address her by her first name. Who are you?”
“I told you. Her thrall… Well, we treat each other more like comrades.”
When I had told Daniela I didn’t want to be a thrall, she had told me to think of being a comrade instead. That was when we were helping Lehaty. And while Rachel did use the word ‘thrall,’ I believed that she saw me as a friend.
“I see… If you are a comrade of a God Wolf, then perhaps I must compromise.”
“Really? But I’m human.”
“You are both human and wolf. A strange creature indeed.”
He treated me like some kind of mysterious animal… Which was odd, since he had three heads. In fact, all three of them were talking together.
“I shall introduce myself then. My name is Pochi. Now tell me your name.”
“I’m Asagi… Wait a minute.”
“What? Introductions are an important ritual…”
“Yeah, I know. But…Pochi?”
“Yes. It is an honorable name granted to me by the God Wolf.”
That woman. She clearly didn’t give it more than a second of thought! This is a Cerberus!
“Uh, sorry… Rachel is really…”
“What are you mumbling about?”
I shook my head and started from the beginning.
“I’m Asagi Kamiyashiro. A friend of Rachel Vanargand, the God Wolf.”
“Allow me to introduce myself as well. I am Daniela Villesilf. I have no contract with Rachel. She is just a friend.”
“Asagi and Daniela. I see, you are not her thrall, Daniela.”
“I am an elf. I cannot be a thrall.”
“I see… Well, I would be very pleased to be your friend.”
Daniela and Pochi were able to become friends really quickly. We had been at each other’s throats a moment ago, but the misunderstanding was resolved. If you put in the effort, it was possible for humans and monsters to become friends.
“As we are connected to the same God Wolf, perhaps we should be friends as well?”
“I have no objections.”
I was already friends with a forest wolf and the thrall of a God Wolf.
“I am grateful. Now I, Pochi, the Cerberus, declare my friendship with Asagi!”
“Hehe…kind of overblown…huh?”
As Pochi made his ‘declaration,’ silver and black particles began to rise from his body. They continued to increase and shine like the night stars.
And then they rained down on me all at once. They went through my clothes and absorbed into my skin.
By the time that the last of them had entered my body, I had gained a new skill.