I’m technically the oldest one, but here I am, conversing with two elderly men… and Irene.
Doesn’t this imply that she is also around their age?
“Are you perhaps curious about our acquaintanceship, Asley?”
“Oh, I’m just wondering about the Faction competition, that’s all.”
“It’s something called the Magic University’s Old Boys and Old Girls. Irene and Billy were classmates, you see. They used to be at each other’s throats during that time.”
You made it sound scary there, sir.
“Everyone except me has grown all old and cranky, though.”
Irene groaned loudly.
“No need to deny it. You’re old too, lady. You got lucky, finding a way to stop your growth and optimize mana circulation back in your school days…”
“What are you saying? I’m every bit as youthful now as I was back then, just like how the world still doesn’t consider me old after all this time.”
“Hmph, have you ever considered that you’ll die looking like that? Just thinking about it is amusing.”
“Oh, but I won’t. I only have to successfully distill the Drop of Eternity before then.”
Uh-oh, now that’s a topic I don’t want to be involved in.
But still, from how he talked about optimizing mana circulation and how “old” she is, her body isn’t immortal yet.
“Now, now. You two, aren’t we supposed to be exposing Asley here?”
Irene and Gaston promptly turned to me.
Uh, I’d prefer not being stared at so much.
“Well, I’d planned to leave this talk for later, but truth be told, I have a question for you, Asley. Forget about the ‘exposing’ thing they’ve been on about.”
“A question? What is it, Sir Billy?”
“Last time we went on a hunt together, you said something about researching Ogres, right?”
The one who asked it wasn’t Billy, but Irene.
Right, I remember saying something like that. I had talked about how Ogres occasionally act in groups, which had taken Irene by surprise since no such information had been published yet.
“So, young man, you discussed with Irene how Ogres sometimes work in groups?”
“Yes, sir. I didn’t have concrete information, though…”
“Just a hypothesis, then… Keh heh heh, no matter. I’d still like to hear it in detail, if possible.”
“Well, it’s not that interesting–“
“It’s fine,” Gaston interjected as I said that.
There’s plenty of intimidating air going around here. Billy aside, Irene is taking this seriously, too. It’s like I’m with some of the Royal Capital’s Magic Guardians.
“…All right, to make it quick, I’ll omit some unnecessary details. First of all, The C-ranked monsters, Ogres, originally weren’t observed to act in groups. The same went for the B-ranked Ogre Fighters and the A-ranked Imperial Ogres. They were all expected to act alone.”
“So you’re proposing that there are exceptions?”
“Yes, I am. There were some cases of irregularity, of course, but for most of the ones I’m referring to, were observed to have a ‘commanding unit’ over them.”
“A commanding unit, I see…”
Billy scratched his chin as he thought things over.
It seemed like he was planning to present his opinion, but his eyes suggested that he expected further explanation from me.
“It’s worth considering the S-ranked Ogre Queens and the SS-ranked Ogre Kings, the latter of which has some natural commanding capacity… My hypothesis is that if those two were together, all other Ogres would form factions and cooperate with each other to achieve a common goal.”
“I see, I see. So there’s always a possibility of there being a chief among the Ogres… What do you think, Billy?”
“Well, I haven’t observed that being the case during my investigation thus far.”
Huh, what’s he talking about?
“Um, what might you be referring to, sir? An investigation…?”
“Billy encountered some Ogres while you were away, you see.”
“To be precise, an Ogre Fighter and an Imperial Ogre… Heh heh, I was quite surprised to see both of them act at once.”
“Whaa — Is that true, sir?”
From the look in Billy’s eyes, it was.
I think we should be on high alert from now on. With Ogre Fighters and Imperial Ogres appearing in the region, it’s now entirely possible that they’ll surround Beilanea… and even initiate an attack.
“Hmm, it seems like you understand. I don’t have the slightest idea how large a scale this may turn out to be, but one of these days, we’ll form a subjugation party under the Six Archmages. Gaston will take the command, and I’ll be the adjutant.”
“I’m worried that it’ll conflict with my vacation time. But no matter.”
“I plan to go with them as well.”
“I’m glad to hear that… Oh, that reminds me, what of Beilanea’s defense? And is there a plan for the case of there being split forces?”
“Not to worry, young man. We’ll entrust the town’s defense to the Warrior University. Besides, Billy will do the reconnaissance. With the targeting ability of his Familiar, the Eye-Dorr, we can easily locate their stronghold, if there is one.”
“By Eye-Dorr, you mean…”
“Hahaha, it was difficult to tame, that’s for sure.”
Billy laughed to stave off the embarrassment.
The Eye-Dorr… It was a monster nicknamed the Devil King’s Minion. A countless number of them dwelled in the Devil King’s Stronghold, serving to report the whereabouts of intruders to the Devil King and his subordinates.
“Tomorrow, we’ll be posting a notice to recruit volunteers for the subjugation party. We’ll depart as soon as we have recruits up to a fixed number. You two should come as well.”
The one to react along with me was my high-quality fur, Pochi.
As we turned to look at each other, Irene went on with her proposal.
“A Magic University Student Council Clerk well-versed in Ogre behavior and with a level-100 Familiar… and on top of that, a B-ranked adventurer. You’re plenty qualified, don’t you think?”
“No, I mean, it’s not about my qualifications, but willingness–“
“Now, young man, can you put willingness out of the equation just this once?”
I’m not even sure if these three are pressuring me or not…
But after all that, I no longer had any intention or courage to decline.
Two of the Six Archmages and the Nation’s authority on Recovery Magic… After finishing my meal with them, I went back to my room and plopped down on the bed. It was beyond exhausting — in ways other than physically.
It was quite rare that my body had been able to endure as much mental strain as it had back then.
“You got to meet with three of the super big shots, sir! You’re already familiar with Miss Irene, but with Sir Gaston and Sir Billy there as well, it really feels like you’re one of the Six Archmages!”
Pochi said as she sat down in front of the bed.
“Now wait a sec, Pochi! You didn’t say anything the whole time we were there!”
“It’s a Familiar’s duty to keep watch one step behind her Master!”
“Like hell it is! You were looking at a threat back there! A Familiar is supposed to stand in front of the Master in that case!”
“Ah, now you’re talking like a Familiar slavedriver! A Master is supposed to keep his Familiar safe, too!”
Bah, this Familiar sure loves to talk back. I had heard a long time ago that Familiars were supposed to resemble their Master personality wise, so I’m sure she’s an exception. She’s so far from resembling me.
Still, how come the Ogres’ activities are increasing as of late?
Perhaps it is another sign of the Devil King’s resurrection after all. With there being no way for the Holy Warriors to be born now, I suppose making some connections with the Six Archmages and the Six Braves doesn’t sound too bad. Although they may be obligated to cooperate in the case of the Devil King’s resurrection, I’m sure they aren’t prepared enough to face it.
Right now, I know Irene, Dragan, and Gaston… Considering that, it’s also beneficial that I got close to that Black Emperor boy, as far as long-term results are concerned. With him being the most likely candidate for one of the new Six Archmages, he’s definitely an important one to befriend.
After my back-and-forths with Pochi was done, I shut my eyes on Pochi’s pillow. In the time that no light cast over my eyelids, I could only hear breathing sounds from myself and from Pochi in a corner of the room.
But I’m not hearing Pochi’s sleep-breath, so she’s probably still awake.
So, on top of S-ranked monsters, we might have to deal with SS-ranked ones, too, huh.
Once upon a time, the Holy Warriors had faced the Devil King, who naturally had been surrounded by such S-ranked monsters, charging at them with dauntless courage. This shows just how powerful they were. The Adventurers’ Guild’s highest rank is “S,” as determined in proportion with monsters’ ranks. Therefore, S-rank adventurers are evaluated as capable of dealing with or fighting S-rank monsters. The three I had met with today were all S-rank, of course, but would they be able to defeat an SS-rank monster if they were to be put against one? It’s worth considering that their abilities may far surpass the average Rank S, and I hadn’t observed any sign of them thinking that they may have difficulties doing so. While one person may have their hands full, that might not be an issue if several were to fight together…
“…It’s fine, Master. We won’t have any trouble dealing with some Ogres.”
“What, you actually understand what I’m thinking?!”
“Hu hu hu, how long do you think we’ve been together, sir? 800 years isn’t short, you know.”
“I see, I see… that’s how long it takes for you to read someone’s mind, huh?”
“You already understand enough, so don’t concern yourself with that, sir. And didn’t you do some research on that? In the duration of a person’s lifetime, partners who could understand just 1% of each other were the greatest companions, you said.”
“Ahh, I remember doing something like that. One’s likes and dislikes, habits, and general train of thoughts make up 0.003%… and there is a lot of other stuff that just can’t be easily understood like perceived temperature, feel of clothes, and opinions based on the available information… and without those, one couldn’t say that they fully understand their partner. That research was a pile of nonsense, if I say so myself… Recently, I’ve been feeling that the days are very long, yet I don’t even have much time for myself…”
“Hu hu, looks like you’ll be kept busy from tomorrow on, too…”
“…Yeah. Goodnight, Pochi.”