44 Rock Lizards
Having lost the merchant group, 『Red Oath』 had made their camp further along the road, and decided to rise and depart early to hinder the other group from following them.
They branched off from the main road at noon there was no sign of the merchant group having caught up, but whether it was because they departed late or choose to leisurely travel while looking for the girls was anyone’s guess. As they entered the small path up towards the rocky mountain they could finally breathe freely, and Rena’s mood had also cleared up at last.
After that, Mile pulled out 「Gon Kobold」 from her 『Japanese Folktales』-series to pass the time and once again Rena was upset that she told such a story before a hunt.
Like that they eventually arrived at the mountain’s base but as it was almost sunset already they decided to just start preparing their camp as planned. It would have been nice to have some freshly hunted animals for dinner, but hunting in an unfamiliar area at dusk was dangerous, and being attacked by high ranking monsters because they were attracted by the smell would be unbearable. Bearing it with dried food was the common sense among Hunters.
A meal of only preserved food was over quickly. Especially for a group like 『Red Oath』 that can instantly make hot water.
As they had talked about tomorrow’s hunt a lot on the way here, there was no more need to discuss it detail either.
And it was still a little bit too early to sleep.
In times like these, there was only one thing to do.
「And now from the 『Stories from some World out there』-series, 『The three little Orcs』, and 『Kobold in Pumpkin Pants』 from the 『Mowgli』-series!」
As Rena’s face slightly paled Mile had to wonder whether her mood had not recovered yet after all.
「Hey Mile, I wondered about this before, but where did you hear all these stories?」
「Me too. I also found it strange. They were all stories I had never heard of before and they were all funny… if you would sell them to a bard I’m sure you would get a good price.」
Mile answered Meavis and Pauline’s question with a smug face.
「The secret scriptures of my family!」
Early the next morning, before the sun had risen completely, the four ate a small breakfast of hard bread and soup (the only put soup stock in hot water) before immediately starting their hunt. The plan was to continue hunting throughout the whole day without a lunch break.
Depending on their success, their return trip would either be tomorrow or the day after that. Even the time it took to eat was too precious to waste. It could wait until the sun had sunk and they couldn’t hunt anymore.
As the habitat of the Rock Lizards was a little bit further up the mountain, Mile and the others carefully climbed the path while keeping an eye on their surroundings.
The Rock Rabbits the found on the way were used as practice by Rena and Pauline, and then put into Mile’s Item Box disguised as Storage Magic.
Of course, they were saving their strength for the real deal. The only used magic that need just miniscule amounts of magical power so they would immediately recover the losses.
「Meavis-san, front left, Rock Wolf, one!」
「Leave it to me!」
Unusually for a pack animal like the Rock Wolf, a lone one attacked them. Reacting to Mile’s shout, Meavis’ stroke bisected the Rock Wolf.
The other three were silently staring at Maevis.
「Meavis! I told you that the fur of Rock Wolves it worth quite a bit! But if you cut it up like that it will be worthless!」
Meavis obediently apologized to Pauline, who as usual got strong willed when money was involved.
「B-But the cutting edge of this sword really is amazing… It somehow reminded me of the techniques I have seen my older brothers use…」
Murmuring these words with her face slightly flushed, Maevis had a strange eroticism about her.
Yes, the kind of charm that would have young girls around the world swoon…
「You can’t, Maevis-san! That is only there to cover for your weaknesses. You can’t rely on it and mistake it’s power for your own!」
Having almost fallen under Maevis spell, Mile hastily warned her.
「Yes, if I don’t have this sword I’ weak. Such a person can’t be called a knight. I’m aware that it needs to be I myself who has to get strong or it will be meaningless. Don’t worry, I won’t take the wrong path.」
Mile was relieved. That after all, Maevis was Maevis.
「Rena-san, can I ask a question?」
「What is it?」
「Um, Rock Rabbit, Rock Wolf, Rock Snake… why are they all such bland names?」
「How would I know!」
Somehow, I’m always getting yelled at by Rena, thought Mile.
「….There it is.」
As the biggest one of them and as she was walking in front of them, it was Maevis who discovered their prey the fastest.
Everybody looked where Maevis was pointing at and saw a single Rock Lizard lazily laying around. It either was waiting for the sun to raise its body temperature or was still sleeping.
「About three meters long…. It’s a little bit small, but it’s a Rock Lizard. As long as we get that one we don’t have to worry about failing the quest. Let’s do this.」
The other three nodded.
Even if it was a small specimen, at 3 meters it was still twice Mile’s height long. In terms of weight it had at least ten times hers. Definitely not something one can transport without a carriage or wagon. Even if you had a Storage Magic user, normally one would be the limit you could carry.
But if you only bring back a single one, the required manpower and time were too much compared with the reward. If you didn’t have a Storage Magic with a stupidly large capacity like Mile, then this quest was not worthwhile. Therefore this quest had been left hanging on the quest board.
The name Rock Lizard made it sound weaker than it is. In reality, it was more along the lines of a land-crocodile.
Though scales, a giant maw with sharp teeth. Its running speed is slightly slower than a human, but very agile during battle with its bites and tail swipes.
If it bites down and starts rolling around, even a muscular adult stands no chance. If the powerful tail hits you, leather armor or not, there will be broken bones.
Complicating it even further were the quest details.
As their name implies, Rock Lizards live in rocky areas, and thus elimination requests are very rare. Most quests involving them are material gathering quests like this one.
The meat is for food, the liver is part of some medicines or used in high class cooking. The claws are used as raw materials for weapons or other manufactured goods. And the hide is used for armor or bags.
In short, you can’t hurt them too much when hunting them, so spamming magic from afar and bombarding them to death is out ot the question.
「We’re counting on you, Meavis.」
「Okay, leave it to me!」
Feeling as though the magic-group was about to leave her behind, Maevis behaved like always while secretly being nervous. In such a situation, it was obvious that her heart would soar when she finally got to swing her beloved sword at full power without fear of it breaking, bending or chipping.
After speeding through the incantation, Pauline activated her magic with this closing word.
As it wasn’t an obvious magic where something flew out and hit the target the Rock Lizard didn’t seem to notice it was being attacked, but it started to writhe in discomfort as its body temperature was rapidly dropping.
Meanwhile Rena who had also been chanting also let loose an attack.
Ice Magic wasn’t her specialty, but she didn’t have much of a choice. If she burned meat and hide their worth would drop sharply.
She had aimed at the neck, a part that wouldn’t reduce the worth much if damaged, but the icicles bounced off the thick hide.
Even though Ice Magic wasn’t a strong point of hers, she could still use it on a useful level. Having thought that with her power and accuracy, she’d be able to deal quite a bit of damage, Rena was kind of shocked.
But it was if one stopped to think about it. If the hide is used as material for armor it can’t be that easy to penetrate. So Rena immediately began the next chant. Pauline was already chanting a second round of Cooling.
In response to Maevis voice, Mile energetically sprang forward.
This time Mile would attack as a swordsman as well.
It was the public opinion that the materials would become worthless if Mile attacked with magic. And public opinion for just four people meant that everyone besides Mile felt that way.
No matter how enjoyably the Rock Lizard had been sunbathing, it noticed being attacked by ice pillars and switched to battle mode. It tried to move its body towards the approaching Maevis and Mile, but its movements were slow and choppy.
Even for Rock Lizards who, aside from instantaneous attacks, were not very agile, these movements were slow.
(Mile’s plan is working?)
Meavis thought while closing in on the Rock Lizard.
(Not directly attacking it, but rather cooling it down to hamper its agility… how did Mile come up with a tactic like this?)
Rena and Pauline had no time to let their thoughts wander while chanting their spells, but somewhere in a corner of their mind, the similar questions were floating around.
Aim for the neck.
To keep its worth as merchandise, try to avoid damage to the torso as much as possible.
Therefore severing the neck, legs, and tail is no problem. But only the neck would lead to instant death while the other options would only cause it to rampage around harder. So, of course, one would aim for the neck.
Maevis got close, lifted her sword, and aimed for its neck when, unexpectedly, the tail came crashing down swiftly.
Meavis tried to parry the attack by instinct, but the tail’s powerful swipe wouldn’t be stopped by something like that, so she was flung away.
But now was not the time to cry out Meavis’ name in worry. There would be enough time for that after they had taken down the enemy.
Mile also aimed for the Rock Lizard’s neck, but the tail also raced towards her.
(An attack like, I’ll just….)
Since she had half the strength of an ancient dragon the power of a Rock Lizard should be a trifling thing. While Mile was thinking such a thing she was flung through the air in a beautiful arc.
Rena cried out when she saw Mile hitting a boulder about ten meters away. In comparison to Maevis who had simply been knocked back a little and fell on her back it seemed like Mile had suffered a lot more damage.
Rena then started running. Not towards Mile, but towards the Rock Lizard.
Pauline had already stepped forward when Maevis had been hit and was casting Healing Magic on her, and now was hurrying in Mile’s direction.
(No! I don’t want any more of my comrades dying! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!!!)
With tears running down her face Rena started chanting.
「Rise up, conflagration of hell! Burn even bones to ash!!!」
Crimson flames burst up and enveloped the Rock Lizard.
Leaving behind the Rock Lizard writhing in agony inside the sea of flames, Rena hurried to Mile’s side. What greeted her there was a stunned Pauline looking at Mile who smiled embarrassedly as though she had just been caught causing mischief.