Chapter 38 – We Were Attacked at the Castle!
Mmm…it felt good.
This soft, fluffy sensation…Mope wool had exceeded my expectations.
Not only that, but there was something else there as well.
It wasn’t exactly like Wiz, but it was soft and supple.
I heard a gasp, and then I opened my eyes.
And then I realized that my hand was touching…the udder of a sheep.
“Baaahh! That’s my udder you’re touching, Sir Joshua! You deviant!”
Celes said as her cheeks flushed.
“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t realize.”
“Baaah… I understand that you want to drink our milk, but there is an order to how things are done! Well, a promise is a promise…”
Celes closed her eyes and seemed to give a silent order.
And then her body was enveloped in light.
But when the light faded away…
Said Mette. All the shouting had woken her up.
Where Celes had once been, there was a human… Well, a demihuman, who looked like a girl with horns.
She appeared to be the same age as me.
Her hair was purple, short, and with waves.
As for her chest…well, she was a sheep.
“We have the blood of demons in our veins. And so with some practice, we are able to turn into them!”
So she was like Melk and the werewolves.
Demons were monsters who were similar in appearance to humans.
And the strongest among them became the Demon King.
Mopes were creatures that were the result of turning sheep into monsters.
Apparently, the blood of demons was used when changing them with magic.
But I had never heard anything about them being able to turn into demons…
“Since demons and humans are similar, this should make the process more comfortable, shouldn’t it, Sir Joshua? Now, drink up! …Ahh!?”
Iria was now standing in front of Celes.
“Celes. There is an order to how things are done. Those were your very words, weren’t they?”
Iria said with a smile.
“Baaa. Tha-that is true… Uh, have I done something wrong?”
“No, I do not blame those who are ignorant… Sir Joshua. I will now discuss the future of the Mopes with Celes. There are things to decide regarding the milk and wool.”
“Ve-very well. I hope we can continue to be civil.”
“Why, of course.”
Iria smiled gently and then she and Celes headed outside.
“I hope Celes is alright… By the way, I don’t see Melk anywhere. I thought she was here when we went to sleep.”
So it was now considered normal for everyone to sleep here…
“Now that I think about it, you’re right. In fact, last night, she had said something about checking up on Cobis in the morning.”
Melk wanted to find out if Cobis had left, or if he was still in the castle.
As I had been thinking of exploring the area around the castle, I wanted him gone as soon as possible.
“Mette. I’m going to go and take a look as well. If they are gone, we might be able to find something in the area that we can use.”
“Then I’ll go too. Our defenses here are sound, and I want to see what a real castle is like.”
“I see. Well, I’ll feel safer if you’re with me.”
“Aye! You should always take me if you need a guard! The princess should stay behind, as princesses do… No, I won’t say more, as she might be listening.”
Mette said with a chilled expression, and then closed her mouth.
After that, we rode on horses and headed towards the castle.
As we rode through the forest, a small wolf came dashing towards us like the wind. It was Melk.
She then started to run alongside us, and looked at me with a serious expression.
“Joshua. Something is strange with the castle.”
“Strange? What do you mean?”
“The merchant from yesterday is dead. Someone must have killed him.”
“Merchant… Do you mean Cobis?”
Was he betrayed by the mercenaries and killed…? After all, he would be in no position to pay them after releasing all of the slaves. It would not be surprising if they were discontent.
But Melk continued.
“Yes. But the other humans were killed as well.”
“The others? So it might not have been a betrayal… In any case, we should go and see.”
And so we continued on to the castle.
Once we were out of the forest, a sight most strange awaited us.
White pillars of smoke were rising from different points in the castle.
While the fires had gone out, there was still a charred smell in the air.
“The gates have been torn down… They must have been attacked by someone.”
As we moved closer to the castle, I questioned Melk.
“Do you think there is anyone still in the castle?”
“No. I went in earlier, but there was no one. And I don’t smell anyone now, so I think it’s fine.”
“I see. Then we can go inside… What is…”
When we entered the castle, we were greeted by a horrible sight.
While all of the buildings had been burned down, in the central plaza, several crosses had been erected.
And on these crosses hung the bodies of Cobis and the slave hunters.
Cobis’s head was on the ground, and his body bore numerous lacerations.
“The way they were killed…the enemy must have harbored a great hatred for them…”
“Aye. Perhaps it was other demihumans then.”
There would be countless demihumans who hated Cobis.
“Perhaps nearby demihumans saw an opening and attacked…”
But judging by Cobis’s wounds, the attackers were wielding weapons.
They had tools to destroy the gates, as well as crosses.
I somehow doubted that there were demihumans in this area who could prepare such things.
“And the houses were burned. There is nothing here now but walls of stone…”
I had been hoping that there would be something that we could use, but we wouldn’t even be able to take wood materials now.
“Well, there are the fields in the north…perhaps there are some crops left.”
However, when I climbed up to the north ramparts and looked down at the fields, I saw white smoke rising.
The fields had been ravaged, and the storehouses burned down.
“So the fields too. I only hope that there are some seeds left… Hmm? What is it, Melk?”
Suddenly, Melk’s ears had pricked up.
“Joshua… Something is coming?”
But before we knew what was happening, we were surrounded.
…They were faster than Melk and the werewolves. Not only that, but she hadn’t been able to detect them until it was too late.
The people who surrounded us had yellow ears and tails, just like a tiger, and brown skin.
They were now pointing scimitars that looked like crescent moons at us.
To the far west of this place, there had been a territory known as the Grank state.
And the demihumans that lived there were the weretigers.
But they had been attacked by the slave hunters, and were driven from their homeland.
However, the Demon King’s army rated their speed and strength highly, and so they had been welcomed as mercenary soldiers.
And that was how they acquired gold and weapons.
However, even after they became more powerful, they were still considered impure demihumans from the other monsters.
And so they were not able to acquire a safe home, and the weretigers eventually left the Demon King’s army. And now, it was said that they cooperated with humans. This was in order to earn gold.
Or so people thought. As they soon cooperated with the Demon King’s army again… They switched alliances in order to survive in the south as the Grank Mercenaries.
I muttered, and one of the weretigers, a woman with long golden hair, answered.
“So there was a survivor. Raise your hands and surrender to us.”
I answered back.
“I am not your enemy. In fact, we were fighting against these people up until yesterday.”
“As if we can believe such words! You are clearly one of the slave hunters who has been hiding!”
And then, Mette, who had suddenly unsheathed her sword, stood in front of the woman.
“You are mistaken. Now, move out of our way.”
“That horn… Are you a Kijin? Why are you siding with a human? Or has he enslaved you…how pitiful indeed!”
And then the woman tried to cut Mette with her scimitar.
However, Mette blocked the attack and raised her sword.
Upon seeing this, the woman jumped back.
“You’re not bad for a slave!”
“How many times must I say it? I am not a slave! Melk. Guard Joshua!”
To the back, Melk kept the other weretigers in check, so they could not get any closer.
What to do… Currently, Mette and Melk were able to hold their own, but they were avoiding going out on the attack.
It seemed like they were waiting for my order.
When I looked down from the ramparts, I saw that other weretigers were headed our way.
Perhaps we had no choice but to fight… But I really didn’t want to make an enemy out of the Grank Mercenaries.
I knew what they had been through, and there was no reason for us to fight.
In that case, I had to disarm them…
And so I absorbed the stone from the ramparts and shouted at Mette.
“Mette, fall back!”
Mette quickly drew back from the woman who swung her scimitar.
At the same time, I created a wall of rock in front of the woman.
The sound of something shattering echoed from behind. Her sword must have broken.
So I had succeeded in destroying her weapon.
At the same time, the swords of the other weretigers bent against the wall.
However, the woman immediately started to climb over the wall and come towards us.
Just then, I heard a man’s voice shouting from behind.
“Neia! That’s enough!”
It was a tall, thin, tiger man.