Chapter 14 – Werewolves Came From The North!!
“What!? W-what is it?!”
Mette sat up next to me.
“It’s from the north…the forest.”
Iria said with a cool expression, as she too, sat up.
Uh, why were they both sleeping next to me as if it were the most natural thing in the world…?
No, that’s not what is important right now.
“…Perhaps the slave hunters have a detached force. Let’s go and see.”
And so we headed to the watchtower.
And then, the watcher noticed us and raised his voice.
“I saw something in the forest! It was faster than any beast! It’s coming from the north and heading our way!”
“Faster than any beast… Maybe it’s their cavalry.”
I suggested, and then Mette immediately raised her voice.
“Prepare to fight at once! Those with crossbow and iron spear training, head to the north!”
The Kijin immediately started to act.
“We should go north as well.”
“Yes, Sir Joshua!”
Iria answered as her hand gripped the handle of her sword.
And so we went to the northern side of the village in order to meet whoever was coming from the forest.
Mette held up her crossbow and muttered.
“I can hear something…dozens…no, hundreds!?”
“Yes. Not only that, but their footsteps are coming closer at such a speed…”
Iria said as sweat dripped down from her forehead.
My guess was that it was their cavalry.
The Knights Order might have sent them after hearing of Gaius’s death.
However, the order had a thousand knights in all.
But the majority of them had been sent on expeditions to the west in order to defeat bandits.
I doubted they could come down south so suddenly.
Could it be that the slave hunters had their own cavalry…
If they were only going to charge, we could use the same tactic as yesterday.
Besides, we had fifty crossbows and thirty iron spears wielded by Kijins.
That would surely be more than enough to fight off the enemy.
However, the sounds that came into my ears was not that familiar sound of horses trampling the earth.
It was much lighter and quieter.
Mette had her own ideas of what it could be.
“This sound. Werewolves!?”
Werewolves were people who had the features of wolves.
They usually looked like normal people, but transformed to be very wolf-like when fighting or hunting.
And there were many demi-humans living in the southern territories.
And I had heard reports of werewolves living here.
“Iria. Are the Kijins and Werewolves on bad terms?”
“Well… It is said that we often fought over land, but that was over a hundred years ago. We have nothing but this small village now, and so I only hear of them when they are sighted in the forest.”
Mette nodded at her words.
“I’ve seen them in the forest too, but we went our separate ways without incident. Someone else from the village said that they once got into a fist fight with a werewolf over their prey, but it did not lead to any large-scale battle.”
Both sides had small territories, and so there was no reason to clash… And if they were fighting with fists, these werewolves likely didn’t have good weapons either.
They must be living the same kind of lives as the Kijins.
“However, why are they here now?”
It could be that poverty had led them here to loot.
“In any case, we must be ready to shoot them as soon as they appear!”
Mette shouted, and the Kijins shouted in reply as they held their crossbows ready.
At the same time, dark shadows jumped out of the forest.
They were gray wolves.
But not just any kind of wolf. These were huge. There was no doubt that they were werewolves.
And just like the Kijins, they looked thin and weakened. However, something else was wrong.
They were all covered in blood.
Some were even carrying other werewolves, who were limp, and in human form.
I then remembered the words that Gaius had said last night.
Something about capturing someone with beast ears…and killing her.
“Iria. Perhaps they…”
“Were also attacked by the slave hunters.”
There was one wolf who was smaller than the others, but ran in the lead. It then stopped when it saw us.
The other wolves stopped as well, and then the small wolves walked towards us alone.
“Mette, wait. I think that werewolf wishes to talk.”
So saying, Iria took a step forward.
And then the small wolf bowed in front of Iria.
“You must be people of the Fendel tribe… Please, can you let us pass through to the south?”
The voice was young and seemed unpracticed when it came to talking formally.
Iria nodded and replied immediately.
“We too have no intention of fighting you. You can pass if you wish. But, what happened?”
“Humans attacked us… If you stay, you will be attacked as well. You should run as…”
But before the werewolf could finish, voices rose from the back, where the forest loomed.
This time, I could hear the definite sounds of horses.
“All of you, come this way for now!”
Without hesitation, Iria shouted at the werewolves.
Mette was quick to protest.
“B-but, princess! They are…!”
“Some of them are wounded! We cannot turn them away now!”
Even the small werewolf was astonished by this, but it lowered its head with a ‘Thank you,’ and ordered the other werewolves to come forward.
Just as the last of the werewolves entered the village, I heard the shouts of ‘Hya-ha!’ as riders burst out from the trees.
They really were mounted slave hunters.
And there were around twenty in all.
“There is no escaping from us! Dogs should obey their human masters!! Huh?”
As they rode their horse, the eyes of the slave hunters widened.
It was no surprise. After all, they were greeted by a row of crossbowmen.
And since they were riding at such a great speed, the horses could not stop immediately.
“Mette, we can use those horses. Try and target the riders alone.”
“Understood! Aim at the riders and not the horses!! Fire!!”
In that instant, the Kijins pulled the triggers of the crossbows, and the bolts shot forth.
And like that, the Kijins took down the slave hunters one after another.
Once all of the slave hunters had fallen, the Kijins raised their voices and cheered.