Going back in time a little bit


  The defense line that was set up north of Ishka continued its tenacious resistance despite the frequent monster attacks.


  The defense force that was made of Canaria Kingdom’s regular soldiers and adventurers was doing a remarkable job.
With the exception of some flying types, the swarm of monsters has not been able to reach Ishka’s gates.


  In response to the situation, Ishka’s government office and the adventurers’ guild had sent out a supply team full of supplies and words of praise to the frontline. 


  The two receptionists who had received a secret order from the guild master went with this supply team to the frontline. 


  「Since master looked so serious, I was wondering what kind of important mission he was going to give us…but surprisingly, it seems like it’ll be a piece of cake, senpai」


  Lidelle frowned at the optimistic words of her junior who was sitting next to her in the driver’s seat of the carriage as they headed to the first bulwark.


  As the head of receptionists, in other words, a person who represents the guild in public, Lidelle could be relaxing and having tea as she heads to the frontline if she wanted to, but since she’s not that type of person, she took the reins with her own hands to take on a role in the supply team.


  And Parfait had taken a seat next to her cleverly to take the easy way out.


  Lidelle then opened her mouth to reproach Parfait’s optimism,


  「Don’t let your guard down, Parfait.
Master was also saying this, right? That a stampede come in waves.
And as far as I know, most of the slain monsters until today were from the outer parts of the forest.
Monsters from the deeper parts had hardly been sighted」


  「Ehhー, but there were corpses of scyllas, genrons, and manticores, no? Those monsters were from the depths of the forest, right? But despite that, the defense line still had never been broken once.
The second, third, and fourth bulwarks in the rear are fully ready as well.
I think we’ve pretty much won already!」


  「Listen here……」


  Lidelle let out a big sigh after Parfait spoke with her chest puffed out.


  Indeed, Parfait had a point.
That is something Lidelle agrees with as well, but if people hear a guild employee say something like “We’ve pretty much won already!”, they will definitely start to get careless. 


  Nothing good will come out of taking things carelessly.


  As guild employees, even if the odds are in their favor, they are required to have the discretion to hide that carefully――Lidelle wanted to say that to her junior, but since Parfait is also aware of that, she was only saying those things when they’re alone together.


  Even now, they are the only people sitting in the driver’s seat.
The cargo was packed full of barrels of wine, so there was no one else riding with them.
Other than Lidelle, what Parfait said just now was only heard by the horses that are dripping with sweat as they trot.


  It was hard for Lidelle to complain in this situation.
She could not help but sigh in front of her junior who was teasing her senpai’s seriousness on purpose.


  「Still, it was my first time seeing something like a genron! Have you ever seen one before, senpai?」


  「I have, two times.
Both times were more than three years ago though」


  The sword beasts called genrons that Parfait is talking about are a type of dragon just like how wyverns are, and they are regarded as demonic beasts.  


  If wyverns are demi-dragons that specialize in their flying capabilities, genrons would be demi-dragons that specialize in defense with their sharp,  protruding sword-shaped scales that cover their back tightly.
Their massive bodies are over ten meters tall; they are demonic beasts that take pride in their stature that’s literally the size of a small hill.


  The scales of these sword beasts are high-quality materials for crafting high-grade weapons, so if one can do a good job hunting them, they can get their hands on a fortune that could probably last them a lifetime.


  However, genrons are hard to run into since they are a rare species that is rarely seen even in the depths of Titis forest, and mediocre weapons and magic would not be able to penetrate their scales.


  Moreover, since their temperament is neither docile nor stable, they will use the scales on their back to attack aggressively in an encounter.
Their charge that makes use of their sturdy bodies has the destructive power of a battering ram and one hit could easily smash a human body into pieces. 


  They are also quite agile despite their large size.
One would have to worry about their life before they can dream about becoming rich when they come face to face with a genron.


  It was a few days ago when two of those sword beasts appeared at the same time.
At that time, the first bulwark was on the verge of falling.


  The ones who saved the day were――


  「The rumored trio that defeated the genrons, I wonder what they’re like? I heard the one called Gozu smashed through their scales with sheer force.
I think he’s definitely the muscular type that I like.
Heheh, I can’t wait to meet him」


  「…It was Sora before, and now it’s Gozu.
You have a lot going on in your mind, huh?」


  「Ah, senpai, the way you word that is so mean! I have no other choice, do I?! The『Falcon Sword』guys that I’ve been relying on had pretty much disbanded their party.
If I don’t secure a substitute soon, my next salary, and even my summer bonus will be affected, you know! I can’t choose my methods! I can’t buy food with pride!」


  Lidelle kept her mouth shut as if she was overwhelmed by Parfait’s strong words.


  Coming from a middle-class family, Lidelle has never starved before.
However, Parfait is no stranger to that since she was born in a rural village in a remote region.  Lidelle also knows that Parfait can’t afford to stop sending money back to her family even now――She didn’t hear that from Parfait though, she learned that from a letter that Parfait’s parents had sent her before since she is Parfait’s superior.


  When she thinks about that, Parfait might be the more grown-up one between them.
She lowered her head to her junior after reflecting on it.


I was definitely being a bit mean」


  「It’s your honesty that I like about you.
I’ll forgive you, of course!」


  Lidelle could only make a bitter smile when Parfait said that to her playfully.


  Then, what looked like a wooden watchtower came into Lidelle’s view.
They have arrived at the first bulwark.




  After Lidelle came face to face with the said trio――Gozu, Claira, and Klimt, she quickly spoke to them about the business that Elgart entrusted to her.  


  It was an offer to bring those three under the guild’s command.
Of course, with extraordinary set terms.


  To put it simply, she was scouting for new fighting forces.
However, the guild didn’t come up with that decision alone.
Ishka’s government office has a part in the operation as well.


  So what does that mean?


  During the stampede crisis, this group of three had suddenly appeared from out of nowhere.
Their powers were peerless.
When Ishka’s upper echelon caught news of that, they were more suspicious than happy.


  In short, they were afraid that those three were Ad-Astera Empire soldiers who were using the stampede as a chance to sneak into the Kingdom of Canaria.
And the mess in the capital happened not too long ago as well.
They were right to be cautious.


  The adventurers’ guild’s invitation is something like bait.
Depending on how the trio will respond to the guild’s offer, they would be able to see what the trio is after to a degree.
Ishka’s government office and the guild both had that idea in mind.


  And that motive from Ishka’s side was read by Gozu Cima accurately.


  For Gozu, he had no ulterior motives in his assistance this time; he just wanted to make up for his peer, Jijinbou’s evil doings.


  That being said, it’s not unreasonable for Ishka’s side to have their doubts.


   In truth, Gozu should probably apologize for Jijinbou’s incident first, and then offer them assistance again after. 


  However, the matter is related to the empire’s national policy.
Since the empire still wants Prince Azar to marry Princess Sakuya, Gozu had decided that he can’t come clean.


  In that case, he could only make up by taking part in the defense against the stampede.
He wanted to say that there was no need for any rewards, but if he said that in this situation, the suspicions from Ishka’s side will no doubt deepen even more.


  “So let’s simply take the exceptional rewards from the guild here”, he thought.
He can just give the rewards to the royal capital incident’s victims and their families.


  After Gozu heard everything from Lidelle, he organized his thoughts in his brain in no more than a few seconds, and then he told this receptionist with braided hair that her offer was the best he could ask for with a broad smile.


  After that, he even looked pleased as he responded to the female named Parfait when she congratulated him flirtatiously on their achievements in taking down the genrons.


  He knew that the Berch siblings were looking at him from behind, but he wouldn’t be fit for the Shiba position of the Mitsurugi family if he can’t at least put up an act like this.
Gozu’s behavior appeared natural in Lidelle’s eyes as well.


  On the other hand, the attitude of the two behind him, especially Klimt’s attitude had caught Lidelle’s attention.
With dissatisfaction in his right eye and disdain in his left eye, Klimt’s attitude could not be called friendly at all. 


  “If anything, he’s the one who I should look into”, Lidelle judged. 


  It’s true that Gozu’s attitude wasn’t suspicious at all, but when it comes to big shots who can beat the monsters from the stampede with ease, it was totally unnatural for them to not have any attendants serving them.


  There’s an implicit understanding in the guild that you don’t ask an adventurer about their past, but since they could be spies from neighboring countries, it’s also the job of a guild receptionist to look into all that’s possible.


  「It was impressive how Mr.Gozu defeated the sword beasts, how Ms.Claira took down the scyllas, and how Mr.Klimt beat the manticores.
And you guys defeated them all on your own too.
With such truly impressive deeds of arms, even guild master Elgart was completely in awe」


  「Hmph, it doesn’t matter if there are five or ten manticores, killing those things isn’t anything to boast about.
Ishka’s adventurers must be pretty weak」


  「Klimt, you’re being disrespectful」


  「I’m just stating the facts, big sis.
The guild master admires us for that? What’s there to say about just taking out small fries like manticores and scyllas? 」


  After she saw Klimt spit out words like that, Lidelle squinted her eyes slightly in an almost unnoticeable way.


  Then, she continued to speak while keeping a smile on her face.


  「That’s harsh.
Indeed, to Ishka, manticores, scyllas, and of course, sword beasts are all considered dangerous demonic beasts.
Moreover, a party is always needed when subjugating them.
So from your point of view, we would be pretty weak」


  「Hmph, so you know.
We’ll assist you since it’s something our Shiba decided on.
However, don’t even think for a second that you can tell us what to do.
Let that Elgart guy know too」




  After Lidelle nodded without talking back, Klimt snorted and stopped talking.
His words were rude, but he wasn’t insistent on not shutting up.
Lidelle has seen lots of his type in young adventurers where they would be satisfied after they let out what they want to say.


  The older sister Claira showed her gratitude with an apologetic look.
As Lidelle smiled back, she started to get an idea of the trio’s relationship and their personalities.


  Klimt would be too straightforward as a person to be doing spy work.
Gozu and Claira are more mysterious, but the way they talk and act seemed honest, so Lidelle thought that they wouldn’t be involved in shady spy work.


  However, guessing from the three’s power, even if they aren’t spies, they definitely hold some kind of secret.
She wondered if she should give more effort and try to figure them out some more later for the sake of a better report to Elgart as well.


  Then, Parfait opened her mouth as if she read Lidelle’s mind.


  「……Senpai, senpai! We have someone here who can defeat monsters on their own too don’t we? Things like scyllas and gryphons!」


  Parfait spoke with a lower voice――But actually, she made sure that all of them heard her.


  Even though Parfait noticed that Klimt’s cheek twitched, she turned to Gozu and continued to speak as if she didn’t notice.


  「Ishka’s adventurers aren’t that bad either, you know? Maybe Mr.Gozu’s group saw him too.
Have you heard of the dragon rider called “Indigo Dragoon”?」


  「No, we haven’t.
We heard about the term dragon riders many times…but judging by the name, it’s a certain someone who is associated with the color blue? Although he’s borrowing the power of a wyvern, he must be pretty good to be able to take down a gryphon」


  Gozu sounded like he was impressed, but he actually wasn’t interested at all.


  The humans of this country make a fuss about dragons and dragon riders, but in the first place, their so-called dragons are just a sub-species called wyverns.
And to borrow the words of Klimt, a wyvern is just a small fry to phantom blade-style users.
There was no need to be afraid of those winged beasts and there aren’t any reasons to be impressed by the people they obey.


  That’s not just how Gozu thought, but Klimt, no, even Claira thought so as well.


  Noticing the weak reaction of the three people, Parfait realized that she failed in choosing the right topic.  Even though she frowned inside, it would probably be unnatural if she changes the topic here, so she continued without minding it.  


  「That dragon rider is called Sora, and he’s probably the most famous person in Ishka right n――」


  When Parfait was finishing her sentence, Gozu interrupted with a sharp voice.




  「Ueeh?! W-what is it?」


  「……Just now, you said Sora?」


  「E? Ah, yes.
That’s the name of that dragon rider……」


  「Sora… as in that Sora? (“空”) What’s his age? How old is he?」


  「Ermm, He’s probably around the age of Mr.Klimt here」


  When Parfait responded, Gozu let out a grunty tone.


  「What’s his hair color? Does he have black hair?」


  「Yes……Um, do you guys know each other?」


  「……We might.
I’m sorry, I would like to hear a bit more about this person.
Like how he became a dragon rider and how he was able to kill scyllas and gryphons by himself」


  With a jerk, Gozu leaned forward and asked Parfait.


  His eyes were anchored on Parfait’s face with a piercing sharpness, and it seemed like no amount of force would be able to pull them away.





TLN: Changed term – dragon knights to dragon riders

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