I’m trying to remove all honorific, which didn’t work well for how Julia calls Belhart since I can’t find any english equivalent. Either everything use japanese honorific or not, and it seems that I’m losing the war.
Year 1300 month of Midnight Swallow (2nd month) 3rd day.
The indiscriminate murderer, The Ripper, was the talk of the town. But today, at least in the Chrebl household, the main discussion for today was my birthday.
The bell door rang, announcing the incoming visitors.
I happened to be in the entrance hall and came across the entering person.
「Yoo, little brother. Happy birthday to you」
My older brother Belhart greeted me with a smile.
Once a former imperial knight, he currently worked as a dragon knight. I hadn’t had much opportunity to meet him since he lived in the dragon knights’ barrack. But once in a few months, he went home to visit.
He was currently 24 years old. His blond hair that he inherited from father was cut short and his face was a little sunburnt. As a knight, he had a firm build, but not to the extent of being huge. From what I heard, the knights with smaller physique tended to be favored more by their dragons because they were lighter to carry. However, that was if he was compared to other knights. In reality, he was at least as tall as my older brother, Chester, and just a little shorter than father.
However, this person has a greater presence than his physique.
That was because he had great eyes. His thick eyebrows and long eyelashes really made his face looked a bit oppressive even though he was feeling the opposite. That wasn’t because he was trying to intimidate other people, it was just his normal face.
「Thank you, Brother. Did you come all the way here just to congratulate me?」
「I wish I am, but I had some work from the dragon knights order. Is Julia here?」
Starting this year, Belhart was working under Prince Ilfreed, the leader of the Dragon Knights.
There was certainly a potential to be promoted as a vice-captain, but with father’s position as the leader of the Royal Guards, some nobles were worried that Marquis Chrebl’s family influence was growing too strong.
「Eh? You’re not looking for father?」
「Yeah, I have a business with the Royal Capital Adventurer’s guild A-ranked individual, Julia Chrebl. Ah well, having the old man coming along would be good too. Can you call whoever currently available?」
「Can I come and listen too?」
「Come to think of it, you’re also Julia’s partner as an adventurer too」
「Un. Although I can’t get past the age restriction, so I’m still stuck as an E-rank adventurer」
「Becoming a high-ranked adventurer at the age of 6 would draw out too much attention for you, isn’t it? You certainly love your bad jokes, as usual」
「Ugh, then I’ll go get them right away」
And so I called both of my parents.
The usual people from our family gathered in the dining room.
Not only father, mother, Elemia, and I, but Steph was also present to serve tea.
「Long time no see, Belhart」
「Yeah, you too look lively as always, old man. It’s weird that we don’t get much chance to meet even though we are working in the same castle」
「Certainly. The dragon knights spent most of the time in the dragon’s stables anyway」
「I guess that’s that. It’s not like you can just enter the castle even though I worked directly under Prince Ilfreed」
Mother added a remark to father’s greeting.
「Bel-kun, long time no see~ So you still won’t call me 『mother』?」
「Long time no see, Julia. Please spare me from calling you like that……」
Despite their status and step-mother and step-child, their age only barely differs about 1 year. In my previous world, it won’t be strange if they had a senior-junior relationship. Even in a fantasy world, it must be hard to call her 『mother』.
I didn’t know if it’s because mother was a natural airhead or something, but she didn’t seem to mind having a son with only 1 year age difference.
「It’s been a while too, Elemia」
「Aww… You know it’s fine to call me without being so formal」
「A- certa… no… un, sorry…」
Belhart also greeted Elemia.
「Don’t hold back, kay? Both Chester and I love to have such a cute little sister like you. I don’t know about David, though. He’s as arrogant as ever」
「I am doing well with… ah no, Big brother David is very kind to me. He invited to join him as a child librarian」
Putting me aside, since I was a special case, Elemia was pretty sharp for her age. She also loved reading and often sit back to back with me to read books.「I’m not tired when I’m with Edgar」 she said. Personally, I really appreciate having someone like Elemia who didn’t get tired easily.
I was only a baby when I was reincarnated into this world, but I still have my memories from the previous world, so I kind of knew how to limit my untiring self. It had been 5 and a half years since I woke up in this world. Recently, I was starting to forget what it feels like to be tired. For this reason, I might work the people around me too hard if I wasn’t being careful because I wasn’t aware that they were too tired.
In that respect, Elemia won’t get tired if she went along with me but will get tired if she was left alone. Thanks to that, she knew when I was overdoing something and stopped me.
Anyway, Elemia was certainly smarter than her peers. No wonder David scouted her.
Belhart raised his thick eyebrow.
「Heee, that’s amazing. He’s quite strict, you know? He’s not the older brother that will be so kind as to invite you just because you are related by blood. If that guy personally scouted you, then Elemia really has that kind of qualification. So what did you say to him?」
「Un, I do like reading, but I don’t know if I want to be a librarian」
「I see. Ah well, your life is your own. Today is Edgar’s birthday, but Elemia had also grown. Though you still don’t have much meat under that skin」
Belhart said while patting Elemia’s head.
Today was my birthday, but the people around me were also getting older.
For example, mother was now 26 years old. (TL: Yes I know that 26-24 is not equal to 1 year age difference) The air around her didn’t change much, but she looked more like a married woman now.
Elemia was now 12 years old. When I first met her, she was still 7 years old. Now she was looking more closer like an adult and her height also grew according to her age. If people comparing her with me, a 6-years-old with a body of a 9-years-old, our body height only differed for about half-head tall. She was pretty enough already, but she would definitely become even prettier as a teenager. Coupled with the sense of translucence common to girls her age, she brought out beauty like a delicate art that might be broken when touched.
(TL: 二次性徴に差し掛かるような時期に来て、美少女ぶりにさらに磨きがかかっていた。When it’s time nearing the 2nd sexual characteristic to grow, her added bishoujo manner would polish her even more)
「The tea is ready~」
Steph came into the dining room with a tray of tea set.
My personal maid, Steph, was now 20 years old. She grew a little bit taller and her cherubic-looking face had now gone. She was now a veteran among the maids. Currently, her position was to train new maids whenever the older generation maids left. Her clumsiness, which was her only trait that stood out, was becoming less and less, and I didn’t feel lonely about it at all.
When I think that I will never drink another super-salty tea is……
No, given the chance, I’d still not drink it.
Steph poured the tea and served them to everyone without making a sound except the clattering noise of the teacup being placed. Her movement, polished by her training as a 〈Spellsword〉, was recently earned a lot of praises by the nobles who happened to visit our residence.
On the other hand, someone hadn’t changed much.
Take father for example.
He was currently 44 years old. Next month, he would be 45 years old. However, he still maintained the cool handsomeness that you would see on someone in mid-twenties. It seemed that he garnered a lot of fans among the female nobles and their daughters even though he was already married. Of course, since father only had his eyes on mother, he even didn’t give his pursuers a second thought, but his action raised his score in their eyes even more! I heard that it turned into a vicious cycle where he was getting even more popular as a result.
But looking at his unchanging appearance, I couldn’t help but thinking 「It’s no fair」. Discrimination against elves on human land may be related to human’s jealousy to the elves’ youthful appearance. Well, that didn’t mean that we allow discrimination…
「So what’s the business today? I heard you have something for Julia」
Father finally asked Belhart.
「……Shall excuse myseー」
「Elemia, you can stay here. Elemia is Julia’s party member. And even more so, Elemia is our family. Even Edgar asked me himself if he was allowed to listen. So, acting a little more brazen should be alright, isn’t that right?」
Elemia, I’m sorry for how brazen he is……
「In that case, Steph should sit as well. Considering that Steph is also Ed’s party member」
Steph shyly sat on a seat at the end of the table. Belhart cleared his throat and start speaking.
「I’ll say it straight to the point. A strange group of monsters appeared in the outskirts of the royal capital. I would like Julia to either investigate or kill that group. Considering the size of the group, the main objective is to investigate them」
「What kind of monsters are in the group? If it’s something that we cannot beat, is it a group of firedrakes or something?」
My sides twitched when I heard the word 『Firedrake』.
It had been 5 years since my encounter with the fire dragon that built a firedrake nest under the 〈Yatagarasu〉’s headquarter, but my nerve hadn’t subsided yet. I had got stronger in these 5 years, but I couldn’t say that I had the confidence to win against Agnia.
「Ah no, there weren’t any dragons, though if we add a dragon among the monsters, we won’t be able to do anything to them. That’s the kind of situation we’re in」
「What’s so weird about them?」
「………Maybe I should switch and explain it from start to end, after all. The dragon knights order regularly flies around the royal capital to see if there were any threats, such as swarms of monsters. We simply called it periodic patrol. It was both an important mission and combat practice. So in the middle of this periodic patrol, we found a group of monsters」
「Stop beating around the bush, what kind of monsters are they?」
Mother sounded somewhat impatient.
「The first thing we identified was wicked giant spriggan」
「Wicked giant spriggans are C-ranked, aren’t they? They should be just a little bit weaker than ogres. How many of them are there?」
「No, the wicked giant spriggans are just a small part of the group and there are about 10 of them」
「Hm? Then shouldn’t it be easy for the dragon knights to sweep them from above with diving attacks?」
「That’s right. Just 10 giant spriggans are no match for a squadron of highly-trained dragon knights. In fact, a small scouting group of 4 dragon knights tried to make a diving attack against the wicked giant spriggans」
A platoon of dragon knights consists of 4 members. Because each of them rode a dragon, any more than that would cause a mess in their cooperation.
Wicked giant spriggan was a skinny giant monster with bluish black skin. It attacked by swinging its tree-branch-like arms. Their arms were stronger than it looks. They could break the human spine in a hit, let alone limbs.
However, they shouldn’t be able to match the dragon knights that attacked them from above. The dragon knights could simply swoop down, attack with either their spears or magic, then quickly return to the sky. The basic textbook hit and run tactic. The wicked giant spriggans would have no chance to attack them.
「And at that point, a flock of harpies attacked」
「Eh? A group of harpies together with a group of wicked giant spriggans?」
Belhart nodded to confirm mother’s surprise.
「Anyway, for a platoon of dragon knights, harpies are just as annoying as random flying bugs. But the thing is, those harpies are obviously working together. Their tactic was to divide themselves to several groups to pressure each knight individually」
「Was it… Harpy Queen?」
「We couldn’t confirm whether there was a queen among them or not. Continuing the story, although the harpies tried to pressure the dragon knights, the harpies aren’t that strong to begin with. Also, they’re not fast enough to follow the dragon knights when we’re doing our diving attacks. So they decided to ignore the harpies and swoop the wicked giant spriggans from above. The dragon knights rushed down at once, readying their sharp lances on the wicked giant spriggan. Butー」
「……And then, they were attacked by Ifreet」
「I’ve seen one of them on the burning continent but…」(RAW: 炎熱大陸)
「Actually, it wasn’t that weird at all. I asked the librarians from the Royal Library to check it for me. What they found was that although it’s rare, there were several sightings of Ifreets around Monokans. I don’t know why, but there were also some sighting around the belt near valleys」
「So what’s so strange then?」
Father prompted for an answer.
「 The problem here was that the Ifreets attacked the dragon knights as if trying to defend the wicked giant spriggans. To fight A-ranked monsters that can shoot FlameLance-equivalent fireballs without any chants would put dragon knights in a bad position. The scouts flew around the rocky areas and managed to avoid Ifreet’s pursuit. Flying back home for the sake of their lives」
「Ifreet with wicked giant spriggans……? And they also went as far as to travel together with a flock of harpies…」
「The other dragon knights are also saying the same thing. And so, the dragon knights order went on several occasions to scout the group. About the species in the group… we didn’t actually get everything from our scouts, but we have gathered quite enough data. The result was terrifying」
Belhart took a sip from his cup of tea.
Then he said with a stern expression.
「ーSeveral monsters of different types are teaming up. There were also several gigantic B-ranked monsters among them」
It was said that the monsters which are strengthened by the evil god tend to not go along with each other.
If it weren’t for that, all monsters would’ve united and headed towards humans. Humanity would’ve perished since a long time ago. Although there are various theories as for why, but according to David, 「If we define the act 『Doing something for the sake of others』 as good, then evil is the exact opposite. The forces of good tend to help each other, but forces of evil tend to compete with each other」 or so he said.
「Even if there’s someone controlling this group of monsters, there should be only one type of monster」
Back when Steph and I dived into the Abandoned Ancient Firedrake Nest, we encountered a mutated variant of ogres.
The danger of the mutated individual was not only their higher combat ability, but some of the mutated variants had the ability to command the normal variants. A usual monster group wouldn’t even know how to cooperate with each other. They were mostly a bunch of individuals taking collective action. To illustrate, a normal adventurer party will have someone that acts like a tank and carries a shield. The others will attack from the rear and annihilate any monsters. However, against a mutated variant with its ability to command other monsters, they might even defeat an adventurer party even though they employ this strategy. For that reason, the adventurer guild advised every adventurer to withdraw immediately if they ever see a mutated variant, regardless of the original threat level.
However, it had been known that the ability to command other monsters, which also known as 『Command Species』, didn’t extend outside the monster’s species. For example, a Harpy Queen should only be able to command other harpies. It shouldn’t be able to command other monsters such as wicked giant spriggans or ifreets.
「Even if there was a monster with 『Command Species』, the commanding ability should remain the same. Also, from what we had observed from the sky, we couldn’t confirm the existence of a mutated variant among the monster group. Since we located them near rocky mountains, they might hide themselves inside caves. But even if that’s true, I don’t even know if they can even issue a command from that far」
「Specifically, what monsters were there?」
「I have a list here, so I’ll read it out loud.
First are the C-ranked. There are kelpies, wicked giant spriggans, hell hounds, and bone eagles.
The B-ranked are Cockatrices and Armored Tortoise.
And for the A-ranked are Griffins and the previously mentioned Ifreet.
Those are the ones that we had confirmed」
We were at loss for words.
What the hell with those many monsters?
「And the ones below D-rank?」
「There are slimes, but they always appear out of nowhere naturally. Aside from that, there doesn’t seem to be any goblins or orcs. And for the one that stood out the most was obviously the harpies. Moreover, because they were keeping watch from the sky, the dragon knights had been fighting tons of them many times」
Belhart answered father’s question.
I muttered while thinking about the harpies.
We already knew that the harpies were acting weirdly around 5 years ago at the northern part of the Fauno City. In the end, we didn’t find any correlation between the fall of 〈Yatagarasu〉 and the harpies abnormal behavior at the time. Considering that the harpies didn’t show any abnormal behaviors in the following years, the possibility that they’re related couldn’t be easily dismissed.
「Frankly, these monsters are definitely not normal. The strength of each of them was also a problem, but with them working together, I think they can fight on par with an A-ranked adventurer party」
「Aren’t we also an A-ranked adventurer party?」
「Julia has a several wide area-of-effect fire attribute magic at her disposal. Steph’s ability as a magic swordsman is even approved by His Majesty and Prince Ifreed. Also, Elemia’s skill as a scout is top-notch and Edgar is a reincarnator. I can say without any doubt, you’re the strongest adventurer party in the whole royal capital. Assuming it’s true, I heard that they might promote you into S-rank and keep you in the country as a war potential」 (TL: This is as close as I can get. The raw is 本当なら、Ｓランク指定して国に囲い込みたいくらいの戦力だと聞いている)
「All of us? That’s a bit…」
「I know I know… We still need to keep Edgar’s ability a secret. In any case, as the 《Lord Protector》Marquis Alfred Chrebl’s direct relative, Edgar won’t be tied so unreasonably to the Kingdom or anything」
W-was there a certain negotiation happened without me knowing it?
「In any case, has there been any sort of damage that the monsters have done?」
「…One of the nearby small villages was swarmed and now gone. It was done before the dragon knight noticed the group. We can’t predict how the group move, but if they’re heading towards the royal capital, it would be really difficult for us」
Mother showed a troubled expression, which was one of her habits.
『Even if you were to accept the offer, you must at least pretend to think about the offer for a bit』 That was what she taught to me. If you looked too eager about taking the job, it might put you in a disadvantageous position during the reward negotiation.
「In any case, the dragon knights order will also come along and provide aerial support.
Also, in order to hide the true strength of Julia’s party, this mission will only be entrusted to your party. Normally, we should be gathering as many adventurers as possible, but since the initial goal was to get Julia’s party’s support, we can take the adventurer rank restriction as just a pretext. Ah, and of course, the dragon knights will keep their mouths shut about Julia’s party’s true strength. I understand if you can’t go all out and show all of your cards, but it’s fine to use your strengths to a certain extent.
And so, this designated quest was requested by the 1st Prince Ilfreed, the leader of the dragon knights order. Will you lend your hands to the royal family?」
「I don’t really care about lending my hand, but if we left the group alone, it will probably turn into a much bigger problem. It will also make a good experience for Edgar and Elemia… We’ll accept the quest, Bel-kun」
「Thank you very much, Julia. But can you please at least stop calling me like that? 」
「No~pe. Then should I add one more condition to the quest? Let’s say… Bel-kun must call me 『Mother』 properly. How about that?」
Belhart got his tongue stuck.
Putting that condition aside, our party accepted the designated quest from Prince Ilfreed.
ーーStrange group of monsters, is it…?
It’d be great if it’s not the evil god’s doing but……