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KENS Chapter 72

Chapter 72 King of Griffins (2)

While being looked down at from up high in the sky, I gripped the Mithril sword in my right hand more tightly.

How should I pull them down to the ground?

While I was thinking that, before I could come up with some strange plan, one of the Griffins came down to the ground fluttering its wings. It looked very heroic as it stood there.

I have seen the Dragon King Fafnir up close. A dragon, that is considered one of the strongest life forms in this world. Yet, while seeing this Griffin which was much smaller than that dragon, was it because I am a man that I still felt awed and found the griffin to be looking really cool?

As it landed on the ground with a heavy sound, it calmly stared towards me.

“——Wha.”

[Hmph. Looks like you’re being looked down on Renji.]

From its gaze I didn’t even feel any sort of animosity or hatred for having killed its comrade. It just acknowledged my presence, as a fodder, as its prey, I stood here.

It didn’t even consider me as a threat let alone a worthy enemy or foe. It came down to kill this living fodder. That’s what its gaze seemed to imply to me.

Not that I can actually read its thought but that’s what it felt like. But Ermenhilde seemed to have sensed that as well because in her voice, I could clearly sense a slight irritation and definite anger. Seeing such a reaction from my partner, it instead made me more calm.

“now then,”

The other one was still in the sky. Does it intend to remain there? Or will it support it from the skies? In either case, what I have to do is already decided.

It’s gaze was still fixed at me and had not yet noticed Ms Francesca and the others. Then, I’ll have it struggle around as much as I can. So that my comrades can move and act easily.

“I’m gonna start, Ermenhilde.”

[yeah, go for it.]

In a straight line, I headed towards the Griffin. As soon as I was in range, I swung down the mithril sword on it. Griffin didn’t move at all. It continued to look down at me and the attack coming towards its defenceless body——-but just before the sword could reach it, it jumped its huge body back in an unbelievable speed and movement to dodge it.

Before my sword, having lost its target, could hit the ground, I took another step forward and swung the sword back up towards it. This time, the attack reached it slightly and its hair flew in the air.

Under the blue sky, its light brown hair fluttered. Without looking at that for even a second, I stabbed my sword with great momentum towards the place where the hair were falling.

But before that attack could reach, the griffin turned away even faster to avoid that attack aimed at its vitals…….the next thing I knew, I flew in the air. An impact came from the right. Without understanding why, I flew in the air, and the next instant I fell to the ground.

While rolling down on the ground, I confirmed what had blown me away. It was its wings. Unfurling its giant wings, and with the momentum of turning its body, it had knocked me flying.

I had been blown away from just that…….as usual, a demonic beast’s power, its physical ability, is truly monstrous. Well, I guess it is an actual monster after all. Rolling away like that and creating some distance from it, I stood back up as soon as the momentum of my rolling died.

[It’s coming!]

The instant I heard Ermenhilde, I jumped to the side. The next moment, the ground I was standing on before was torn apart. After a slight delay, the wind blew my mantle strongly.

A blade of wind. You could call it a kamaitachi as well, a sharp invisible blade of wind. With a glance I confirmed where Aya, Mururu, Ms Francesca and Feirona were. For the time being, let’s make sure not to unknowingly drag them into this as well. Well, Feirona and ms Francesca are on top of trees and Mururu has Aya beside her. If its Aya, she should be able to defend against such an a attack easily.

Drawing one of the daggers from my waist, I threw it at it. Even without concentration, I could hit sucha  big target easily.

But even though it headed towards the griffin, midway it made an impossible movement and missed. The [Arrow deflecting Ward]. A barrier of wind that could easily avert such light thrown weapons. Witnessing that barrier once more, even though I knew about it, I ended up clicking my tongue. Seriously, what a troublesome barrier.

“return!”

I was surprised the first time I saw it but after knowing how to fight and deal with it, it’s not surprising anymore. The deflected dagger reacted to my voice and this time attacked the griffin from behind. At the same time, I charged towards the griffin from front.

It must have come to the conclusion that the barrier would take care of the dagger as it aimed directly at me. As it raised its right foreleg to attack me, I made a horizontal slash to face it. The mithril sword clashed with its claws as sparks flew. But the impact that came with it shocked me. My right arm went numb and unable to kill the momentum, I ended up retreating backwards. Clicking my tongue at the usual physical strength it possessed, with my left arm I grabbed the dagger that flew towards me which had been unable to penetrate the barrier as expected. Jumping backwards and creating some distance between us, I took a stance with the mithril sword in my right hand and the dagger in my left. It was an impromptu two sword stance but, seriously, what should I do next?

If I could use magic, there were many things I could do but there’s a limit with just a sword. Now I have felt this countless times before as well but that doesn’t change the fact that my options are limited. I possess no magic and my cheat was weak. For me, fighting such a monster head on and wounding it was really difficult.

[What are you going to do now?]

“What should I do indeed.”

At the same time, a blade of wind was released as it headed towards me while gouging the earth. I can’t see it directly but since I could see its path as it gouged the earth, I could dodge it without much difficulty.

Jumping out of the range of the wind blade, I once more rushed towards the Griffin and pointed my blade at it. Did it finally start getting irritated of me being a hindrance, the griffin’s attacks started becoming more fierce. But that also meant that every attack became cruder as well.

Forelimbs, beak, wings, wind spirit magic. I averted, received and dodged all of those.

This is troublesome. Without disrupting my concentration, I sighed within my mind. As expected, when it’s not a surprise attack, it’s difficult to take it down instantly. I realized that my breath was becoming rougher as well.

While I was in such thoughts, a sudden impact blew me away. Rolling on the ground again, I quickly looked towards the sky. The one griffin that had remained in the sky was looking down towards me. It must have been its magic that blew me away. Did I hit my head as I fell? I shook my paining head as I stood up.

“Where’s ms Francesca?”

[Still atop the tree.]

Then, it’s fine. It’s about time I have her do some work as well.

After the last attack, both of the griffin’s awareness was concentrated on me, or rather, they’re currently seeing only me and nothing else right now. I went through quite a bit of pain but finally I have both of their attention. While gazing at the two griffins simultaneously, I moved towards the mountain of goblin corpses.

Like this, at least one of them can be taken down with an ambush attack I think. Well, it is her first time facing a griffin and I am a tad bit worried whether her short sword would reach the griffin’s heart though. But from what I saw in the battle against those goblins, she can use magic to create a blade of ice or rock as well so she should be able to handle that.

I am a bit uneasy but if I keep thinking that way, we won’t be able to do anything. Breathing out, I resolved myself. Let us have some faith in her.

“Ermenhilde. Tell Aya and others to take down the one in the sky as soon as Ms Francesca takes action.”

[Got it.]

Really, at such times her [voice] is so convenient. I doubt griffins can understand human language but they would get curious of who else was here if I shouted something out.

While being cautious of the griffins, I retreated and reached the corpse mountain at exactly the same time when Ermenhilde finished her explanation to others. Taking a deep breath, I smelled so much blood that I almost felt like vomiting. I took a deep breath to calm myself but instead it made me more sick. Sighing, I loosened up my body that had started growing stiff from tension.

“Well then, let’s do this.”

[Yeah. The hunt has just begun, let’s hurry this up.]

Hearing her, I pointed my sword towards the griffin that seemed like it had begun to drool.

“Come and eat me if you think you can. Don’t cry when you wreck your stomach later though.”

When that happens, I’ll stab you to death from the inside.

Muttering that in low voice, I ran. And predicting as I felt a slight wind behind me, I slid on the ground to dodge the wind blade. I felt the strong wind pass by and saw the tree behind me get a  deep cut on it. Without hesitating from that attack, I jumped in towards its bosom and slashed with my sword. At the same time, I used my dagger to stop the swing from its right forelimb made to drive me away.

Even if my own power wasn’t enough to pierce its skin, all I have to do is use its own power against it. The dagger stabbed into its leg and I felt a wet and warm sensation on my left arm. The next instant, I was blown away from the violent and brutish swing of its limb. Again? Such a though came to me for a second. Blown away like a pebble, for the Nth time today, I rolled on the ground. And I ended up right underneath the tree in which Ms Francesca was hiding.

Seeing it all go as planned, even though in pain, I ended up smiling. While acting like I was dead laying flat on the ground, I gave a glance upwards in the tree to see Ms Francesca look at me worriedly. Also, since she was in a skirt I think I saw something totally unfitting that of a battlefield but let’s ignore that.

“Ah, that hurt.”

[Obviously. Even when knowing it’d hurt that much, it’s amazing how you still can decide to act as bait anyway.]

“used to it. I’m just used to it. Humans can really do anything once they get used to it.”

[yet I feel that avoiding painful things is what makes one human though.]

I guess that’s true as well.

Encouraging my own hurting body, I stood back up. Well, my consciousness is still fine and the pain isn’t that bad. Only some light hits and lacerations. I don’t think I have broken any bone either. Like that, I moved a bit. I moved just enough to make sure that when the griffin moves it’ll come directly below ms Francesca.

And maybe thinking that my movement was me trying to get away, it rushed towards me. Probably thinking of ramming me or clawing me down. To face it, I lowered my waist and gripped my weapon tightly and—-

“Ms Francesca!!”(renji)

“Yes!”

With a loud woman’s shout, just like me before, she jumped down from the branch with her short sword. There was no way that griffin could react in time and she landed on its back and stabbed the short sword into its back. The next moment, the griffin rampaged from the pain. Raising its front limbs like a horse it struggled and tried to throw ms Francesca off itself. Judging from that I can tell that her sword did not reach the heart after all.

Ms Francesca on its back screamed.

“Don’t move——”

I gripped my mithril sword tightly and holding it like an arrow knocked on a bow—–

“——-Yoh!!”

This time, without any interruption, I stabbed straight into what should be its heart. The sword went deep into its body and the griffin stopped moving.

The next instant, I felt another presence behind the griffin’s body. It was the other griffin that had landed on the ground. Seeing it, I lightly tapped my pocket.

“Now.”

[Aya, do it.]

Immediately, multiple grassroots grabbed the hind legs of the griffin stopping its movement. Each and every one of those grass was as thick as my finger and were strong enough to not break even as the griffin struggled violently to break free from this sudden trap. And as it tried to struggle and fly away and the grass seemed like it’d bend and break, it was suddenly blown away to the side. With a loud noise, it crashed into the trees and after taking down a few trees with it, it was released. No matter how strong body the griffin might possess, there’s no way it could endure something like that. After getting released from the grass, it’s wings were broken and its beautiful fur was stained with blood. It was a cruel sight.

But still, it had not died and was trying to stand back up. Its stamina amazed me but——before it could stand up, Feirona jumped down from his tree and skewered its head.

As usual, he’s nimble. Since I could never move as nimbly as he does, I could only honestly admire him. If I tried that, I would have probably fallen down head first. Thinking that, I withdrew my mithril sword from the griffin’s body. As I wiped the blood of it with my mantle, Ms francesca climbed down its back and ran towards me.

“Are you hurt somewhere!?”(fran)

“Hm? Ah, this much is usual.”

[……though I don’t consider getting used to pain a bad thing, the way you said it doesn’t sound right.]

Did I say something weird?

While I was thinking that, Aya, Mururu and Feirona who took down the other one with ease also came towards us. Well, Mururu didn’t do much this time though.

“You did pretty well.”(renji)

“I was really surprised when you suddenly jumped right in front of the griffin.”(elf)

“Sorry sorry. Well, it’s great that you understood what my intention was though.”

When I said that to Feirona, he gave a deep sigh. If it was Aya or Feirona who had gone out instead of me, that griffin would have died before it could be led towards Ms Francesca. Saying thanks for understanding without me having to say it out loud, I turned towards Ms Francesca.

“Oh, right.”(renji)

“Yes?”(fran)

“open your right hand.”

I showed my own open palm to her as example. Unable to understand what I meant, she still imitated me and showed her palm. When, I lightly smacked my own palm against her. Basically a high five.

“Wha?”

Ms Francesca spoke up confused. Finding her reaction amusing, I laughed. Seeing me like that, then looking at her own palm next, she looked back towards me. Seeing us like that, Aya giggled while hiding her mouth.

“Eh, umm?”(fran)

“When things go well and as planned…….how should I say this? It’s kind of a ritual?”(renji)

“I don’t think its as formal as you’re making it sound though.”(aya)

Since I couldn’t think of better of a word for it, it ended up becoming a question instead. And Aya gave a tsukkomi at that.

Among us, we do it quite a lot. When things go well, when we end up safe like this without losing anyone, that is.”(Aya)

Saying that, she raised her palm towards me as well. When I high-fived with her as well, her smile deepened. But the next moment, her eyes narrowed again.

“But, Renji-san, you were being reckless as usual I think.”(aya)

[Seriously. He doesn’t listen when I tell him that so scold him more for me as well Aya.]

“What? I wasn’t forcing myself at all.”(renji)

“It may not seem as forcing yourself to you Renji-san but that doesn’t change the fact that it was reckless.”(aya)

‘Especially when I’m here as well’ I’ll just act as I didn’t hear that last part. Even if I could just rely on her, it just seems too uncool to me.

While I was talking to Aya, I heard another *clap* sound. Looking that way, Mururu and Ms Francesca did a high five as well. Both were smiling making me feel pleasant as well.

“Ah, but.”

But soon, Ms Francesca’s expression clouded again.

“What’s wrong?”

Wondering what happened, I spoke up as she turned towards me along with Mururu.

“No, it’s just that in the end, I couldn’t kill the griffin so……..”(fran)

“Aah.”

That, eh?

Well, it’d be impossible with that sword. I was thinking that she might create a weapon out of her magic to attack but that wasn’t bad either. She did accomplish her job after all.

“You shouldn’t worry about that too much. Since at least you were able to take action properly.”(renji)

“…….Is that so?”(fran)

[yeah, I think so as well.]

“Yes, you were able to jump down from the tree perfectly as well.”(aya)

“See?”(renji)

Feeling relieved, she sighed with her hand on her chest. I can’t have her fight being worried about each and everything either after all.

Only two griffins remain. And including that Arch Griffin, only three remain.

(Part 2)

“Though I joke around a lot, I don’t like lying.”(renji)

“Then you should have just praised her honestly.”(aya)

“But I’m bad with serious stuff like that too.”

“Fuh, well that’s true as well.”(elf)

Aya spoke in a fed up voice as Feirona agreed to my comment. Is that much fun to tease me eh? As my glass heart was getting wounded, Mururu pulled at my mantle.

“Did Fran do well?”(mururu)

“Yes, she did.”(renji)

When I honestly answered to Mururu’s question, Ms Francesca held her hands together in front of her chest in relief. Looks like she’s happy now. But because seeing such a reaction is embarrassing is why I didn’t speak this directly before though.

I really have a troublesome personality if I say so myself.

Mururu seemed satisfied as well as she muttered ‘I see’ with a smile.

[You really need to learn being more honest Renji.]

“But wouldn’t such a me be too off putting?”

[I don’t think so?]

“………You are a tad too honest you know?”

I sighed at my partner reacting so honestly to my joke. Seeing us, Aya giggled. Mururu and Ms Francesca as well.

Even though we’re still in the middle of the job, these guys sure are carefree.

“Here.”

“………With me as well?”(elf)

And finally, I pointed my palm towards Feirona. He must not have expected it as he spoke that curtly. Since he’s normally acting all cool and calm, something like this might be embarrassing to him.

His reaction was so amusing that it showed on my expression as Feirona just narrowed his eyes.

“There are still a few griffins left. Let’s hurry up and take care of them as well.”

“Sure………..”

Did he resign himself to it as Feirona finally raised his right hand as well.

And the sound of a high five resounded in the air.

.

.

.

The bare mountain near Merdiore wasn’t some sharp cliff but actually even had a proper paved path leading to the very top of the mountain. If I had to compare, it was similar to Mt Fuji of Japan. Though it is definitely not as tall. But as compared to the scenery around it, the mountain didn’t have even a speck of greenery on it. Years ago, it was supposedly very lush green or so I’m told but due to the effect of the Demon God’s descendant that had been once living on this mountain, all greenery had slowly died away. By the time we had been summoned to this world, it had already become a bare mountain but from what I’ve heard from the people who had seen the green mountain before, it was apparently a very beautiful place to see.

Everytime I recall this, I think how much I wanted to see it that way. In this world where science and machines didn’t exist, the nature was pure and air was clean. It’s a beautiful world. And even in such a beautiful world, a place that the inhabitants called beautiful, I always wondered how pretty that place would be. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this thought either.

While walking through the gravel path, so as to fix my slightly ragged breath, I slightly turned my neck around.

“fuu..”

Now then, I wonder how tall this mountain truly is. Unfortunately, there were no accurate markings either so I couldn’t tell but I think we have climbed at least a third of its height now.

Originally, there was no plan to be climbing mountains. The plan was to use goblin corpses as bait to lure out the griffins and ambush them to kill them all. It was the safest  and the easiest way to complete the subjugation in my opinion and if possible, I wanted to take out the remaining griffins and the Arch Griffin like that as well. But looks like it won’t go that easily.

After that, we were able to take down one more griffin but the remaining didn’t show up at all even after waiting for a long while. I had asked Dagram and minimised public travelling on the highway, but that was only till noon. And currently looking at the sky, in the cloudy sky, the gloomy sun was almost reaching its highest. Meaning, we didn’t have much time left.

Though I know rushing things won’t get us a good result but if we cross over the time limit, there really might be casualties.

So, though slightly dangerous, we decided to head towards the griffins’ nest ourselves. Even if Griffins were bird-type demonic beast, with their huge size, they won’t be able to make a nest on some small cliff or some weak tree top. If they did, they’ll be the ones to wall due to their own weight.

So they make their nests in wide flat open areas, where they could see any enemy approach from afar. Having already looked up the map of this mountain beforehand, it was all in my head right now.

“Renji, we there yet?”

“A little more to go. What, getting tired?”(renji)

“uun.”

When I asked that back, Mururu shook her head. She probably asked that not because she was tired but because Ms Francesca was clearly looking more and more fatigued.

I glanced towards her who was walking slightly behind us. Aya was walking beside her as well. Though far, I could hear her ragged breath here as well. Looks like its her first time climbing a mountain so her stamina was running out faster than usual.

“What’s wrong?”(elf)

I stopped for a while and waited for her when Feirona came back. He didn’t seem tired in the slightest as he climbed down from a few rocks with light steps.

“Got tired, so we took a break.”

“……I see.”

His gaze turned towards Ms Francesca instead of me. Looks like he understood who I meant when I said ‘tired’, so he didn’t say anything further.

“So, how was it?”(renji)

“Yeah. Like you had said, in an open spot slightly away from here, the griffin’s nest is there.”(elf)

“Then, we’ll be done once we kill those as well?”(mururu)

“Yeah. Let’s finish it up quickly and go back to our inn to sleep.”(renji)

“I’m hungry as well.”(mururu)

“……..You two, really don’t change do you?”(elf)

[Haah, could you be more focused……..How deplorable.]

Both Feirona and Ermenhilde spoke up in astonished voices at the same time.

While we were talking like that, finally Ms Francesca caught up to us as well. Her breathing was rough and heavy. And her hair was sticking to her forehead from sweat.

“You okay?”

“Ye, yes. I’m still…fine..”(fran)

As she gave a forced smile, I looked towards Aya who was walking with her supporting her.

She just gave a wry smile and shook her head. Looks like she won’t listen even if I told her to wait at the foot of the hill it seems.

“Well, let’s move ahead then.”(renji)

“Yeah. I found a place where we can see the enst without getting noticed as well, I’ll lead you there.”(elf)

“I leave it to you.”

I’m sure he’s also showing his concern by finding a place where she could rest while we can confirm the griffins nest at the same time. Seriously, this guy really knows how to take care of everyone. Once again, I looked up to the sky. The clouds were getting thicker and though the weather shouldn’t go bad out of nowhere, we still don’t have much time left. Well, if it rains, it actually would be advantageous to us since we’re fighting griffins.

“Is something the matter?”

Since I just stood there in a daze, Aya spoke up to me.

“Nothing. Looks like the weather could worsen anytime now.”(renji)

“So it seems. It’d make things easier if it rained though.”

Rain——-or rather, when the world is filled with water droplets, it was a situation fatal if trying to manifest Wind spirit Sylph’s spirit magic. The wind blade, and the wind barrier, both are very difficult to see from the naked eyes. But when its raining, you can see that invisible wind as well.

Just the difference of seeing and not seeing an attack makes a huge difference and would lessen the burden on us during battle. But………

“Ms Francesca, keep working hard for a bit more okay?”

“Ye-s.”

If it rains means that our bodies will get colder as well and you’d drain stamina faster.

And not just Ms Francesca, even Mururu and Feirona, though they weren’t showing it, they are pretty tired as well. Of course, it was the same for me and Aya as well. Fuumu, while putting my finger to my chin, I began walking.

Though fighting against an Arch Griffin is great experience, I don’t want her to overexert herself either. If things look like they’re going bad, It’ll be better to just ask on Aya to end it. The first attack will be a lightning strike. Literally. And that would end it.

While I was in such thought, we reached the place Feirona found where we could stay unnoticed while checking the griffins’ nest.

“Let’s rest up a bit.”(renji)

“Eh, but……”(fran)

“It’ll be noon soon. Here, drink some water and fix your breathing.”

Handing over the water bag on my waist to her, I put down two other bags on the ground. They contained some provisions, potions and medicinal herbs. Since I didn’t bring it in bulk, I divided the crackers and the dried meat between Feirona and Mururu.

Knowing that it wasn’t tasty, Mururu frowned but I can’t help that. If we even tried cooking something, the griffins would instantly smell it after all. Splitting some food with Aya as well, we tried to confirm the positions of the griffins.

2 remained. One was the same as the ones we had killed till now, with brown fur.

And the other one, was almost twice as bigger than the one by its side and its fur wasn’t brown but black. And though we’re pretty far—–

“It’s a female, eh?”(renji)

“So it seems.”

Underneath her black furred body, was a pure white……egg. The egg alone was bigger than any human and was placed right in the centre of the nest made of grass and branches.

I see. This is why me and Mururu didn’t get to see it no matter how many times we scouted out. It was always here at the nest, warming the egg.

That means, the other griffin must be her male partner.

“Seriously, it’s pretty depressing.”(renji)

Leaking a sigh, I looked up towards the sky. The dark clouds that seemed to have gotten even thicker felt like they were expressing my current feelings.

After killing so many monsters, and even killing many of them without feeling anything just a while ago, I still felt disturbed just by seeing a mother warming its egg.

I could only smile bitterly. How absurd.

Even though I’m about to go kill the mother, how can I hesitate over just an egg now?

“Aya, could you go back to Merdiore with Ms Francesca?”

“…….you know I won’t.”

“I see.”

Her voice seemed slightly angry because I asked such a stupid thing at such a moment.

I guess it was obvious. If she didn’t have even that much of a resolve, she won’t be travelling would she? The resolve to fight is the same as resolving to live and to kill. Even though I already know that Aya has it, I still asked such a thing.

That’s probably because I’m still treating her as a kid.

[Renji.]

“Hm? What is it, Ermenhilde?”

[…….Can you fight?]

Instead, I ended up getting worried for by her.

Giving a wry smile at that, I brought out the medal from my pocket.

“A little too late to ask that, don’t you think?”(renji)

I’ll fight.

Flipping the medal with my thumb, it twirled in the air with a dry sound. And I caught it with my right hand.

It was, Heads.

“It’s Heads. I’ll manage somehow.”

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