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Chapter 9: Hippogryph

Hippogryph

In the central station of the village, I deployed Porter's Shield to form a roof.

On the paper laid over the table, a simple map had been drawn.

And there, I confirmed where the defenses would be stationed, and the traps be set.

I scribbled over the map, and filled in the placement and assortment of the new traps.

After breakfast, I found Miranda-san close to me.

Next to me, Luka looked over my work.

Seeing the map, the village chief was quite surprised. But Clark-san's amazement was the greater of the two.

"Lyle-kun, you thought this up in a single night?"

The chief was...

"Defenses and trap placement... no, but with these numbers..."

He was thinking over whether the positioning I had scribbled down was possible.

Seeing that, Norma-san spoke to me.

"What are you all so surprised about? Anyone could have thought up that one. If it were me, I'd add on a trap here, and here, and fortify defenses here."

She said that simply brimming with confidence, but hearing that, the Second burst into laughter.

[What's with this girl. Totes incompetent.]

The Third also gave a large laugh.

[Yeah, I'll bet anyone could have drafted it out. But putting it to practice is a different problem.]

To Norma-san, Clark-san shook his head, and explained.

"Captain, we're too shorthanded for that. At the very least, we have to finish these preparations in the next few days. In that time, I'm sure a Hippogryph will launch an attack or two, so we have to finish the traps and constructions before the Gryphon decides to show its face."

The village chief looked at Norma-san with an unpleasant face.

"... It truly would be troublesome if you stationed a trap there. Even if you're to revert it to normal later, there's a house there."

Norma-san took a step back. She was making an irritated expression.

(Well, she was thinking of laying more traps at least.)

The Fourth spoke.

[While it does look like there was some thought behind her placements, this is the limit.]

The Fifth urged me to issue the next orders.

[Lyle, don't just say silent, proceed things forward already. From here on's a battle against time.]

I ended up issuing orders to the gathered faces.

"Well then, Norma-san, you'll be on standby here. If you send someone running to report to me, I'll issue further orders. Clark-san, please continue to train the soldiers. Chief, lead the structure reinforcement. Miranda-san..."

Miranda-san gave a reply, saying she already knew.

"Setting the traps, right? I think I can do it, but based on the necessary size, I'll only be able to throw out orders for now. I have my tools, but preparations will take a day."

I did take that into consideration, and it wasn't a problem.

"Traps will be set on the second day... just make sure you finish up before the Gryphon appears."

It would likely use a Hippogryph to attack the village first.

A Hippogryph would probably come leading some monsters soon.

This mental attack to drive us against the wall bit by bit made me think of the beast as quite an unlikable fellow.

Of course, if it were a dragon, Johnny Village would be long gone by now.

Perhaps the Gryphon wasn't moving around itself because it was storing up power.

"I'll have Novem and Clara help out with reinforcement as well. Monica will be charged with food rations, let's have her on rotation between cooking and break. Any opinions on the matter?"

I looked over those gathered, and one of the knights timidly posed a question.

"Ah, no... well... whose orders should we be following?"

They took some fleeting glances at Norma, but I had to make a clear declaration.

"As representative commander, I will be giving the orders. Report to me."

The knight nodded, and seemed a little relieved.

The Sixth spoke.

[... Could it be this one's no good as a commander?]

The Seventh was of the same opinion.

[Well, she's proficient in a different way. It's just that, it doesn't seem she's putting that to much use.]

It would likely be much easier to get promoted if she went about it a different way...

While thinking that, I continued to answer questions.

There were some questions I cared not for at all, and some that indicated their questioners didn't understand what was going on in the slightest.

And looking at the meeting, the Second spoke.

[Uwah... now I'm worried.]

While he was speaking of his worries, I wonder why it is he sounds so happy? That's all I could think of the Second's bright tone.

-

-

-

Borrowing a horse, I used my Skills to check the entirety of the village.

I observed the villagers proceeding with their work, and came in to resolve a problem whenever it surfaced. That's the style with which I went about it.

I could have just waited for reports in the center, but since we had just begun to move, there was quite an amount of trouble.

Confirming a quarrel, I urged the horse to run towards the scene.

Outside the wall constructed of thick logs, a trench was dug to create a tactical height advantage.

The dug up earth was brought to the inside of the walls to serve as fortification.

It was power-related work, but the cause of the argument was Novem.

Seeing her magic, a villager was acting up.

"If you can do that, then why won't you do the whole thing!? We're in a hurry here, so that's the least you could do!"

A slender man wearing tattered clothing was the one shouting out, and the surrounding people were looking on with tired eyes.

Novem explained.

"As I was saying, I won't be able to use up all my Mana here. After this, I have to be put on standby for healing, so I have to conserve..."

"So you plan on having it easy all by yourself!?"

Seeing the man making a racket, I couldn't see him as anyone decent.

There, a man of small build walked up.

Oh, that's a gnome, is it not?

"Hey, you haven't even been working for a while, so how about you cut with the noise, and pick up your shovel? Also, if you don't work, I doubt you'll receive any pay for it."

The small gnome was one hundred and fifty centimeters, fully grown, and tall for his race. The slender man looked at the gnome, and let out a loud voice.

"Don't screw with me! You damn gnome midgets should just shut up and get to work! Thinking of standing up to us human race now, are ya!? As long as this woman can end the job quickly, then my pay is..."

To the man letting his saliva fly as he shouted, I approached with my horse.

"No, I doubt you'll be getting any pay. I'll just throw this out there, but Novem is just here to guard you guys. As long as you properly work, I'll pay out the compensation, and if you show splendid results, I'll even throw in a bonus. But the opposite will just cut down your pay, you know?"

The slender man looked at me, and became docile all of a sudden.

And the gnome young man mumbled about how dirty the saliva on his face was, as he began wiping it off.

"I was just seriously... but this woman... the gnome..."

The man muttered out some complaints, and I raised up a loud voice.

"If you've got complaints, then bring them to me! If you don't plan on working, then go shut yourself up somewhere, and don't get in the way of work! Also, the progress here is the one falling furthest behind. If it stays this way, there won't be any bonus."

When I said that, the onlooking villagers swiftly restarted their digging.

There was a slight competition going on to see which area would finish up work first.

Normally, I would have placed a heavier emphasis on work quality, but right now, speed was the priority.

"I deeply apologize, Lyle-sama."

I dismounted the horse, and checked over the progress with Novem.

"No, this one was one of the tolerable ones."

While I said that, I looked at the gnome young man. I heard that they were skillful with their hands, and often found work in carpentry.

The blacksmith dwarf was helping Miranda-san dig holes to install the traps.

"If only that blacksmith that took a liking to you was here."

As I said that in jest, Novem made a slightly troubled expression.

"Rather than here, I'd like it he worked on the pitfalls. Also, we also have to let him forge weapons."

Crossbow bolts.

Spears.

We planned to have him prepare them.

"If the enemy appears here, run inside at once. At present, they haven't shown any movement, but according to the village chief's intuition, they'll be coming in the near future."

"I'll take care. Make sure to be careful yourself, Lyle-sama."

"I know."

Saying that, I mounted the horse again, and used Skills to confirm the surrounding situation.

The next place a problem occurred was at Clara's station.

(It's problem after problem after problem...)

As I let the horse gallop, I heard the Third's voice. With a cheerful voice of one enjoying life, he provoked me.

[Now onwards. When you're on the observing side, these scenes become quite fun to watch.]

The Fourth agreed.

[It sure is easy when you don't feel any responsibility for it. With the extra composure, there's a lot more to see.]

The Fifth as well.

[Ah, I really get you, man.]

(These guys...)

I ignored the happy ancestors, and headed off towards Clara.

-

-

-

Work had commenced, and the sun was just starting to fall.

Returning to Porter's side, I got off the horse, and called out to Norma-san, who had been put on standby there.

"Did anyone come to you?"

In truth, I knew that no one had come to report, but I wanted to try talking to her.

In an ill mood, Norma spoke curtly.

"No one. That maid with a head full of flowers did bring me food, though."

The wooden bowl put aside probably contained something soup-like when it was brought.

Having finished her meal, and sat in her chair the entire time, Norma-san seemed quite bored.

The Third spoke.

[Hey, this girl... just station her somewhere already.]

The Seventh refused.

[We've already decided to use her as a shortstop, right? Rejected. And Lyle is moving around more than expected, so having her here as a representative is plenty, isn't it?]

I was a representative myself. And the representative of the representative was the real captain being represented...

I'm starting to lose track of it.

While we were doing that, Monica came over with my meal. A plate was placed on a tray, and with a smile, she ran over.

I was a little worried whether or not she'd fall like that, but when she got close enough, Monica declared.

"You thought I would earn points as a clumsy maid by tripping? Too bad! I am programmed to be unable to waste food."

Her attitude, as if she was seeing right through me, was quite irritating, but I accepted her meal.

I had been riding around all day, so I was eating late.

Seeing my meal, Norma-san spoke.

"Oy, the contents of that plate are completely different from what I was served!"

Monica collected Norma-san's silverware, as she scoffed.

"And so? The ingredients are all things we brought ourselves."

I ignored Monica's smirk, and Norma-san's dejection, as I agilely went through the plate. Seeing that, the Seventh...

[Lyle... and he was such a well-mannered child back then.]

The Second was fed up.

[Just consider the time and the place. This is a battlefield.]

The Seventh shot back.

[Battlefield or not, the Walt House is a Count House! Such conduct is essential!]

To finish it, the Third...

[... But the current Lyle isn't even a noble.]

While listening in on their conversations, I finished my meal.

Monica said something like, 'such a grand way of eating... I also like that side of...' but I ignored her, and used the Skill.

Unless I put in some breaks between each use, I would tire myself out.

I saw off Monica's back as she took the tableware, and returned to her post.

I confirmed the state of the village, and the nearby forest.

And scratching my head, I stood up.

"... Can't they at least let me take my breaks in peace?"

When I drew my sabre, Norma-san stood from her chair, alarmed. She took some distance from me.

I banged on Porter a few times, and out came Shannon.

She emerged while yawning, so I gave her a light flick.

"That hurt!"

"Prepare the signal. Hurry!"

Clumsily, Shannon lit fire to the device to raise signals installed close to Porter.

She used a simple magic to ignite it, and after a while, a thick smoke rose into the sky.

"Wah! I can't breath!!"

Seeing Shannon cough as she retreated back into Porter, I thought.

(Truly, what wasted beauty.)

Norma-san was quite flustered, but there was no doubt she was a knight. The moment the signal was prepared, she had already prepared her weapon.

"They're coming in numbers of approximately thirty. A Hippogryph is leading."

Their numbers have risen from before.

I heard that they last attacked in only numbers of ten.

(Attacking humans, and building up power. I think I've read of it in a book...)

There were many mysteries regarding the nature of monsters.

The fact as to why they held magic stones within their body was the same, but their food habits were just as mysterious.

They did assault man and beast, but in comparison to their body mass, the time between their meals was long.

(But that isn't something to think over here.)

I called over to Norma-san, and mounted my horse.

And to the runners that ran up, I gave an explanation of the situation.

Where were they coming from?

Their numbers?

Their variety?

Informing them of every detail, I issued orders of how to move.

To the knights and soldiers, it was their time to pile up some coins.

Rather than nervous, it seems they were wishing for the monsters to come over to them already.

"You'll be taking on the ones besides the Hippogryph. If you do get attacked by it, fight back. Retreating is also fine."

After I finished giving orders, the runners returned to their respective corps.

The expeditionary force had quite a few uncertain factors when it came to fighting a Hippogryph, but they had become a bit more decent than before.

Marcus-san and Breid-san ran up to me.

"Lyle! Have monsters appeared!?"

Marcus-san had his spear held high with the intention to fight.

Breid-san was also making a serious expression.

Seeing them, Norma-san disinterestedly muttered.

"... Hm, as if you lot'd be able to win."

The party of three we saved gathered, so I issued order.

"The Hippogryph will enter the village. If it gets dangerous, evacuate yourself to a space nearby Porter."

Breid-san spoke.

"I cannot run away here! I have to get merits no matter what!"

He did seem quite desperate, so I didn't say any more.

Reaching a hand to the bow on my back, I produced an arrow from my quiver. Since we were low on their stock, I was the one in possession of the exploding arrows.

I did think of giving them to Clark-san, but there wasn't the time to waste testing if they would work on a crossbow, so I left it at that.

Looking in the direction of the forest, I watched as the beast sprung up from it.

From between the trees, goblins poured out, and followed its lead.

"It'd be easier on us if they sent out the orcs too."

I wanted to whittle down the enemy's forces as much as possible, but it doesn't look like it'll go so smoothly.

The village became rowdy in an instant.

It seems there were some in doubt when the signal was raised, but seeing the real monster made some frantically take shelter for real.

"With this, I hope the real deal will go down fine."

Marcus-san looked at me, and spoke.

"Real deal... this is as real as it gets."

I shook my head.

"Based on how much we manage to win by here, our future battles will change."

Hearing my words, the Sixth called over to me.

[So you've learned to talk. But don't be negligent.]

I gripped the Jewel, and observed the movements of the monsters.

(From their location, it'll be Aria's turn.)

-

-

-

... The monsters attacking Johnny village weren't able to breach the wall.

There, soldiers and knights with spears and crossbows worked to whittle down their numbers.

But such things were irrelevant to the Hippogryph flying through the skies.

It dove straight into the village, sending a single soldier sprawling, as it looked around for its prey.

Its front feet held the talons of an eagle.

Clasped around that soldier, they didn't seem like they would be letting go.

That man, upon being brushed off his feet, and gripped strongly, those claws digging into his flesh, began vomiting up blood.

Around, knights held up their spears, and surrounded it.

Its form, more than twice the size of a horse, was enough to make them lose strength in their knees despite the financial prospects of taking it down.

Within that, the one to rush forth was Aria.

Gripping her spear, she unfastened her buckler, and leapt at the Hippogryph.

"Now try flying without a wing!"

She instantly closed the distance, and thrust out at it.

But perhaps it had good eyes, as the Hippogryph leapt back, and swiftly lifted itself into the air.

It tossed the soldier in its claw aside, and the man's comrades rushed over to his aid.

Aria quickly tossed a knife at it, but she didn't have skills on Miranda's level with it, and the Hippogryph was easily able to dodge it.

It spread its wings, and rose up, opening its eagle beak to let out the shrill voice of a singing bird.

It set her in its sight, and tried to swoop down, but Aria smiled.

"Don't be underestimating humans."

The moment the monster began to gain momentum, everyone evacuated the area.

The net didn't make it in time.

But it's not like there were no other methods.

She tossed ropes with rocks attached at both ends at its eyes.

Thrown taking advantage of its centrifugal force, while most of it was off mark, a single one of the rocks came down on its head, and the next rope wrapping around its left wing was all it took to drop it to the ground.

The Hippogryph instantly shook off its bindings, but Aria didn't let such a chance escape her.

Her red gem let off some light, and she used a Skill.

As the end of her spear pierced through its head, the struggling Hippogryph was shot down, and pinned to the ground

Such a display of power didn't seem to be something of a girl.

Extreme strength.

"With that cute face of hers..."

"Yeah, I think I'll give up on her."

"The blood spurt's dyed her bright red."

With her lance still stuck in, the blood pouring out of the flailing monster soaked her entire body, causing those around to pull back.

(God, for them to be of this level... the knights of Centralle sure are frail.)

Confirming that it had stopped moving, Aria took out a towel, and wiped off her face.

Collecting up the tools she had thrown, the soldiers and villagers checked in with her.

"U-um... what about our work?"

Aria answered with a smile.

Even so, the soldiers raised scared and alarmed voices.

"Don't worry about it. I'll be sure to notify Lyle. I'll be counting on you next time as well."

"Y-yes!"

Recovering the tools, the knights and soldiers confirmed the Hippogryph's corpse.

After feeling certainty in its death, one of them ran out to report.

"Now then, about the situation outside..."

Saying that, and surveying her surroundings, she found that the ones stationed at the walls had already gathered to see the Hippogryph.

(So it's already over. We have one injured...)

With a door taken off its hinges to make a sort of stretcher, the soldier was carried off.

Based on his conditions, Aria determined Novem would be able to do something about it. She pulled her spear out of the monster's body.

Seeing the body of an eagle stuck onto a horse, she found some satisfaction in her own growth.

(But if it comes to a Gryphon, it really will be tough.)

From the feeling she felt when she thrust in it, she surmised that if its skull was only a little bit harder...

Or so she thought to herself.

She could no longer be called a noble Lady.

As Aria looked over the state of her own weapon, Lyle came racing on a horse.

Behind him followed Marcus and Breid, and when they saw the battle had already finished, they dropped their shoulders.

(Perhaps they didn't catch sight of the injured.)

Lyle got down from the mount, and addressed some thankful words to her.

"It looks like this one finished without much injury. I'm relieved that you're alright. Even so, that was pretty much a single blow, wasn't it?"

Aria wiped off the blood as she spoke.

It was a short response, but her voice seemed happy.

"R-really? Well, I'm still growing."

Lyle surveyed the surroundings, and ordered the injured knights and soldiers to fall back.

And he left Marcus and Breid to fill the gaps.

Both of them seemed quite reluctant.

Seeing the two of them unwillingly walk off towards the wall, Aria spoke.

"... Lyle?"

"Hm?"

"Was I like that as well?"

Lyle smiled.

"That's right. You kinda kept saying that keeping watch was an easy job, and were unhappy all the way. You kept saying you wanted to do something more important, and that came up in your attitude. Well, you weren't that frank with it, though."

At Lyle's laugh, Aria grew angry.

"Don't put it so bluntly! Even like this, I'm sure I'm repenting for it!"

Lyle's smile turned to a gentler one.

"Then isn't that fine? Now we can just look back at it as a funny story. Well, I've no idea what's to become of those two."

Perhaps they'd never be able to laugh at it. Perhaps they'd think back, and regret that they hadn't been more serious at the time.

Lyra, who had lost her arms, and suffered such burns... remembering the second adventurer who had instructed her, Aria's expression become serious.

Before she had undertaken her training, Lyle had always made a slightly sad expression around her. Aria hadn't let that escape her eyes.

And Lyle spoke.

"We've prepared a bath for the injured, so you can wash down your body there. Ah, also..."

"Also?"

Thinking there was something more, she peered into Lyle's earnestly worried face, and...

"... We aren't just among party members here, so I recommend you don't loiter around naked like you did in Arumsaas."

"I-I won't!"

Seeing the two flirting like that, the surrounding knights, soldiers, and even the villagers...

"I... don't think I can get it up for a girl soaked in blood."

"That woman's strong, but that man's quite strong in a different sense."

"Adventurer, and knight, and soldier women are definitely a no go for me..."

When Aria glared at the people saying such things, they immediately scampered off...