Chapter 7: Fortress Battle (2)
She was happy; today was sunny.
“Should I fly for a bit?”
If it was raining, she would have had to use a lot of magic. For just flying, she’d only have to manipulate some wind.
In the current era where there were few witches, people who flew through the sky stood out a whole lot.
Hence, as long as she flew outside of anyone’s periphery, she didn’t have to worry.
She’d be more worn out than with walking, and yet, it would allow her to reach her destination faster. Also, getting tired was nothing compared to saving a life.
Astraea closed her eyes, and then called for the wind, please lend me a bit of your power.
And just like a bird — as if she had wings — she expanded on the image in her head.
At the same time as she opened her eyes once more, Astraea flew towards the sky with its white clouds floating about.
Astraea had never visited the town of the fortress Eos had been appointed to.
But when she flew, she was able to see where it was.
“It’s pretty big, huh?”
She guessed correctly that calling it fortress was a thing of the past. Nowadays, they’re called city fortresses.
Despite its proximity to a national border and its terrain, the fortress should hardly receive any surprise attacks.
“In the first place, guessing from the rumors I incidentally heard while I went out shopping the last time, the neighboring country doesn’t have even the slightest bit of time to invade. Looks like it’s now a shadow of the former empire.”
Murmuring such, Astraea faced the fortress and began to slide through the air.
The first time she flew, she thought, It’s like I grew wings made out of wind on my back, and that sensation hadn’t changed even till then. It didn’t mean she flew high, but nevertheless, Astraea proceeded in a straight line towards a height higher than all of the trees.
She looked through the forest once to make sure she didn’t pass by Eos, but she didn’t see any signs of people.
For some reason, worrying about him was vexing for her. Therefore, even if by chance she did pass Eos by, she would think, It’s his fault.
After flying to the edge of the forest, she walked on the main road for a moment. Then, she once again flew from a place where people didn’t walk by.
Coming out of the forest, crossing a mountain… This was able to shorten the time it took her.
…So Eos would walk this long of a road.
There’s a huge difference between have gone and trying to, Astraea once again realized. She knew it was far, but she didn’t know just how far it really was.
When Astraea finally saw the castle walls, she slowly alighted into the forest.
From there, she went down the main road and headed straight to the castle walls — suddenly, she realized.
“There’s way too little people around.”
This fortress is a huge one, so there should be a bit of people coming and going.
Regardless, Astraea couldn’t see a wagon, much less a single soul around her. Did something happen? And so, when Astraea hung her head to think, she noticed the sound of hooves from far away get closer.
When Astraea unconsciously turned around, what she saw was a familiar brown horse, Lazool, and–
“Why are you here…!?”
“…Eos, what’s with… that appearance of yours?”
Different from usual, as if he was actually working.
Wait, she knew that he would always choose to wear a clean uniform. But, he actually looks like a soldier.
“Wait, I do know you’re a soldier though.”
“Let’s talk later. It’s dangerous here, quickly come inside the castle walls.”
What’s dangerous about a normal main road? As she hung her head, pondering, she was hauled up onto the horse by the time she realized it.
And before she noticed, they passed by the castle walls, and moreover, the town, and after that–
“Where is this?”
When she looked around, it was obviously a military base… In its own way, entering the fortress, alighting from Lazool, and getting pulled along just like that was an excellent way to get out of there, but it was just a room with an old sofa. Still, despite its age, it was quite comfortable.
“This was once the conference room.”
“Is it okay for me to come here?”
“This is generally where we consult with the citizens, so it should be fine.”
I see, so that’s why the sofa isn’t so brand-new anymore? It must not have been in the budget either… Astraea began to think so, but halfway through, she retorted to herself, No, wait, that’s not the problem here.
Moreover, she has yet to answer Eos’ question: Why are you here?
“Eos, you went home and forgot your charm, right? I have it here.”
“…Don’t tell me you came all the way here just for this?”
“Just for this… It’s your fault for leaving this, and not coming back to pick it up, right?”
Astraea raised an eyebrow as Eos’ voice turned flat.
When she did so, Eos put his hand on his forehead, and heaved a sigh.
“Actually, thank you. But for you to come at this time… Nothing’s happened, which is good, but…”
“At this time?”
“…For the first time in about ten years, a huge monster showed up. The army was moved out in order to subjugate it, but we told the citizens not to leave the castle walls. It also looks like several monsters also showed up in the capital, so we can’t really expect any reinforcement.”
Huh, so that’s why there wasn’t anybody around, she agreed, but… she got stuck on the word, monster.
Monsters weren’t unusual during the era where witches were once around. But she heard that the appearances of monsters lowered as the number of witches decreased.
But wait, why did he say for the first time in ten years…
“What does the monster look like?”
“I haven’t seen it myself, so this is just from a report, but it had a head of a lion, body of a sheep, a snake’s tail, and breathes fire. We’ve managed to drive it away several times, but we haven’t attack it with the finishing blow.”
“If that’s the case… Is it a chimera?”
Based on the monster’s features as well as the difficulty soldiers have with it, there was no mistaking it.
Still, the chimera is an extremely troublesome monster.
The chimera was a difficult monster even during the time when many witches were around.
But for a world without the monsters it once had , that kind of monster would– It’s only natural that they would have a hard time with the lack of information, she thought.
“You… know about it?”
“Huh? Y-Yeah… I’ve read about them in books.”
Come to think of it, it would look weird for me to know about chimeras, Astraea was slightly annoyed. If they’re unable to identify the name of the monster from the country’s organization that records its history, then for a book to record it before it appeared would make it incredibly old.
…Wait, that’s right, if that happens– What kind of old books do you have? That’s what I would look like to him!!
But there was nothing she could do now that she’s said it.
Astraea calmly pretended, let’s just go with that as much as possible.
“Does this fortress have a magician… a witch, or a magic user? In the book, it’s said that magic protection would be best.”
“We only have one person whose forte is magic. But… there was an injury. The injury is severe and we’re not sure if he can even mentally recover from that battle.”
Saying that, Eos slightly lowered his gaze.
To say, whose forte is magic — It might be on a different level from when they said it in Astraea’s era.
“…I haven’t gone to the place where the monster happened to show up. So I thought, I have to quickly find and kill it, to keep victims from increasing anymore than this.”
Astraea also lowered her gaze at the frustration in his voice.
He wants to protect them, huh? He’s the very picture of a soldier.
He thoughts weren’t out of sarcasm. They were just her sincere feelings.
There are a lot of people that can say model things, but as for saying it completely it from the heart– well, how much of them could?
Eos slowly stood up in front of Astraea as she thought that.
“It’s really dangerous here right now, so it’s best if you also quickly go home. I’ll see you off halfway, enough until I think you’ll be safe.”
“…Wait a minute, why does it have to be like that?”
Having had an extremely serious face on, Eos’ eyes then turned round at Astraea’s words.
But Astraea let out a long sigh at his face.
This isn’t really the time to be choosy. Not if he wants to protect everyone from a powerful monster.
While thinking that, Astraea extended her arm, and grabbed Eos’ collar from across the table. She glared as she informed him, “Hey, did you forget? That I’m also a witch?”
Eos’ eyes widened at Astraea’s words.
Ayeeeeee time for Astraea to kick some ass!