Translator: “Ashita” Editor: “Weasalopes”
The large public square located almost at the center of the Royal Capital. Facing that public square is the headquarters of the Royal Capital’s Merchant Guild, a tall, three-storey high stone building.
In the guild master’s office at the uppermost floor, I am receiving instructions for my task.
「Is it Stone Golem extermination?」
The guild master nodded at my words.
「It is a hunt rather than an extermination. They have not become a threat, it is just that the Kingdom wants resources」
Resources besides mana are needed for repairing the Knights of the Knights Order.
And a golem’s body makes up a large amount of these other resources.
(Well, Knights themselves are golems after all)
This is only natural.
「The Adventurers Guild’s Knights have been hunting them up until now but well, all their pilots quit after that earlier event」
There were two pilots who belonged to the Adventurers Guild but both of them participated in the Knights Order’s Special Practical Skills Trial, which acts as their hiring trial, and passed.
By now, they should be in the midst of preparing for the upcoming Knights Order training.
Whether their dreams will be fulfilled will be determined by the results of the training.
They have no leeway to rest on their laurels.
(Even though they were working as pilots for the Adventurers Guild, in their hearts, they must have truly wanted to become pilots of the Knights Order)
A dream they had once given up on and that suddenly appeared in front of them. Furthermore, it was within their reach.
I understand their feelings of wanting to throw away everything just to have it fulfilled.
「And so the supply of golems has stopped. The supply from mining won’t be enough」
The guild master continued his explanation.
「Originally, procuring resources in such a way is not the job of the Merchant Guild but this is a task from the Prime Minister. On my part, I would like to be of help to him」
The Prime Minister seems to be standing up against the Knights Order, giving it his all in reforms and rebuilding. I have a favorable impression of him.
The guild master and I are in a supervisor and subordinate relationship. To be frank he is ordering me.
But perhaps due to his personality, he explains the background which makes it seem like a request.
With things being like this, I will take this in a way that makes me feel best.
(Indeed. Communication is important)
I feel that I should do the same if I were to become a supervisor.
The mannerisms of the guild master, who is the closest to my ideal supervisor, is one I should learn from.
I immediately headed for the hanger East of the Royal Capital.
Herbivorous Mechanic has probably been briefed. Old Lady is at the hanger, ready to head out at any moment.
「Tauro-san, if there is anything concerning, please bring it up」
Herbivorous Mechanic says. His words are kind but his eyes indicate that this is a strict order.
The Old Lady self-repair incident several days earlier was originally due to adding fuel to the engineer soul that already caught fire.
Unknowingly catching the prevalent cold, I continued to do my job leading me to collapse and be carried away.
The hanger’s investigation has already been done, there is no doubt that right now, new information about whether actual combat will take place is wanted and the wait in anticipation of being deployed.
I replied softly as I boarded Old Lady.
I then took out the report from the guild master and spread out the map attached to it to confirm the route once again.
(North-North-West from the Royal Capital. So the route is this main road)
After facing the area where the stone golems are said to frequently appear in, I launched Old Lady.
After camping for one night along the way, I reached my destination the next day.
Steep rock surfaces all around me, a desolate hilly area.
(They’re not here)
My first impression when arriving.
(So this is the difference between an extermination and a hunt)
In an extermination, I would find the magical beasts I needed to defeat at tje scene itself.
I guess that is only natural. I am deployed exactly because they pose a threat.
But it is a hunt this time. There is no certainty that they will be here.
(After all, this place is more noticeable comparatively)
I thought over the details of the task from the guild master.
He said he wanted at least one but three would be desirable if possible.
(Let’s put the target at four)
That number is alright, a little higher than what the customer requested for. Well, this is coming from someone who hasn’t found anything and is talking big though.
There is no fixed deadline so I went about it slow and steady.
(I should get a good view from there)
The huge rock mass on top of the hill just ahead looks just right as a hiding spot.
Staying alert of my surroundings, I had the Old Lady move forward.
Hiding in the shadow of the rock mass, I knelt down on one knee.
I searched for targets in this position.
(Hunting sure is troublesome)
After several hours of wait. I do not spot anything resembling a golem. Let alone Stone, not even Mad, Clay, or even Heavy Stone.
(It is possible to say that there is none)
My will grew weak.
And after another hour, I finally detected something resembling a stone golem.
(Is that it?)
The reddish-brown golems that I fought with at the mountainous terrain north of the Royal Capital. It looks quite similar. First things first, there should be no mistaking it.
(I thought it was a Clay Golem at that time though)
I remembered feeling that they were oddly tough as compared to the information I got beforehand.
Herbivorous Mechanic told me later that they were actually Stone Golems. And the fact that the dark brown golem that backed Old Lady and I into a corner was a Heavy Stone Golem.
(E-rank magic activate)
At the same time, I raised the resolution of Old Lady’s eyes to their maximum to accurately gain visual confirmation on my target.
Magic Missile is not affected by gravity. That is why I will aim the iron sight exactly at the place of impact.
Long-range fire made possible by the large amount of mana, high resolution brought forth by the high levels of mana control.
What terrifying sniping prowess, though I am the one saying this. It makes me think from the bottom of my heart that I do not want to make an enemy out of her.
The light let out at the tip of the rifle traveled in a straight line through the air.
A storm brewed around Old Lady’s surroundings, an aftereffect of the Magic Missile. A human in flesh would probably be blown away to who knows where.
I saw a large crack appear as the Stone Golem got hit by the Magic Missile. A little while later, I hear a heavy collapsing sound.
(One for starters)
At the desolate hilly area, it seems like there was no one other than the Old Lady that was hiding atop of a hill.
Old Lady and I left the Stone Golem remains as in while we waited for our next prey.
North-West of the Royal Capital, with its borders touching that of the Royal Capital’s, lies the nation known as Black Locust.
This nation is but one insignificant nation amongst the League of Small Nations that exists beside it.
But significant change is happening right now in this nation.
「It did better than expected. That really helps」
The only town in Black Locust built at its center is the feudal lord’s house.
The petite, weak-willed old man said that. He seemed overjoyed.
The modest man in his prime that was facing him seemed to be in a good mood too.
「It is as the minister says. My nation is profiting thanks him」
The old man known as the minister is the only minister in Black Locust country. The man in his prime is the king of this nation.
「Him」 mentioned by the king earlier referred to Lightning who became the nation’s first Knight pilot in decades.
「But to think that just having a Knight in active service would make such a huge difference」
The king shook his head with deep emotions.
Lightning and Barrel Doll, the nation’s Knight, have been constantly exterminating the small-type magical beasts inhabiting the forest regions.
Owing to this, the people can now do things such as cut wood, transport things, construct nests for beekeeping without any worries.
But the benefits did not stop there.
Due to the reduction of magical beasts nearby, the trade routes are deemed safe and merchants who refrained from using these routes now use them.
Bandits will appear with the arrival of merchants but the existence of a Knight keeps them in check. That also becomes a factor in attracting caravans.
「I would never have thought that my nation would have so many merchants visiting」
The king spoke, clearly overjoyed.
Black Locust does not have any noteworthy products and its citizens have low buying power due to how poor they were.
But the merchants look to reduce their travel time and expenses thus they pass through this land and take up lodging here. Right now, passing through Black Locust is a safe shortcut to their destinations.
As a result, trades take place between merchants and though little, the flow of money within the domain starts to move.
「The status of my nation has also risen quite significantly」
Black Locust country which used to be amongst the lowest in the League of Small Nations became an existence that now had a reasonable influence.
The minister smiled.
The king thought. How many years has it been since he saw such a smile without gloom. He then realized that he was also smiling in a similar way.
「He is probably in the midst of exterminating Lesser Tigers」
Lesser Tigers. As their name suggests, they are inferior in power to that of a Tiger. But unlike Tigers, they live in groups. They are a troublesome existence and are extremely dangerous to humans.
The king painted a picture in his mind of Lightning and Barrel Doll at the outer forest.
Outer forest of Black Locust.
Lightning and Barrel Doll have driven the Lesser Tigers into a corner. They have run rampant in the forest and become a threat to the cattles there.
A platoon of the nation’s soldiers were on standby slightly further away. They were not there for surveillance. They were there to support Lightning.
No matter how powerful a Knight is, only a single person pilots it. Human hands were needed for the many tasks of a mission such as Nighttime patrol, cooking, communications, protection of residents, etc.
Following Lightning’s fighting spirit, Barrel Doll skewered a Lesser Tiger with the fleuret in its hand.
(With that, there’s only one remaining)
He already killed two out of the three. Looking around him, his two round eyes seeked out for his foe.
Lightning feels fulfilled right now.
(It feels good to be of service to the nation)
Black Locust is a small nation. Most of the citizens are his acquaintances.
Protecting the smiles of the people he knew and making more people smile.
Lightning has found an even greater meaning to this.
(The time he is coached as a disciple. It is a shame that this has decreased.)
That is the only thing that tore at his heartstrings. But he has no choice but to give up on it.
He already understands that fighting in his Knight serves as a substitute for his training.
(To think that piloting a Knight would lead to bettering oneself)
It is a refreshing surprise but one he is satisfied with.
It is exactly because he refined himself up until now that he is able to move the Knight.
The same can be said for sword techniques.
He did not have any knowledge about swords but perceiving the fleuret in his hand with that of the fleuret at his nether region worked splendidly.
The compatibility even surprised him.
(There is no meaningless training in this world. That is a fact)
He took down the final Lesser Tiger while having such thoughts.
(Alright, that is it)
The soldiers approached after receiving the signal from Lightning. They started draining the blood from the Lesser Tigers and loading them into the cart.
Lightning in his pilot seat had a gentle expression. He reflected as he watched the tasks being carried out.
(I went a little too far out)
He had been too focused on chasing the Lesser Tigers that he went out of the forest. This distance probably became a burden to the soldiers.
Not noticing his surroundings when he is focused on something, that is surely his bad habit taking form.
Recalling his wife’s face as she scolded him on that, he subconsciously let out a bitter smile and dropped his shoulders.
(……What is that?)
But at that exact moment, consecutive low tremors caused Lightning’s eardrums to vibrate.
Something is clearly making its way here.
He got Barrel Doll to stand up and glanced in the direction of the sound. As he did that, he saw from afar black locust trees falling one after another in a straight line.
There is no mistaking that something is heading in their direction.
「Let’s get away from here!」
He shouted out instructions to the soldiers.
They stopped their work and hurriedly went away from Barrel Doll.
There is no doubt that the thing that draws the most attention here is Barrel Doll. Though it is not known who or why they are approaching, the chances are high that they will come here.
Lightning resolved himself as he took up the position to attack the enemy.
Immediately after that, a tree that is about twenty meters high collapsed as it approached, a reddish-brown giant figure entered his vision.
Lightning became terrified.
A body made out of hard rocks, peerless herculean strength. He knew of their existence but this was the first time he saw one.
It was out of his expectations for such a powerful existence to appear.
(I have no choice but to fight)
He did not know whether Barrel Doll was its target, whether it wanted the Lesser Tigers loaded in the soldiers’ wagon or whether it was aiming for the Black Locust town that is a distance away.
But whatever the case, he and Barrel Doll are the nation’s strongest. He decided that it was best to defeat the golem here.
(So this is your aim!)
It seems like the Stone Golem had approached even after realizing that it is Barrel Doll.
It swung its fist with every intention of destroying Barrel Doll.
In the next moment, Barrel Doll sank, its fleuret thrust into the golem’s torso. The Stone Golem’s fist was evaded as it cut through the air.
It could not pierce through.
High defensive power and arm strength. And from the looks of it, its agility was not low.
(What a formidable foe)
Sweat oozed out from his forehead.
There is no doubt that being caught spells the end.
From there began the multiple exchanges of sword and fist.
Fear and nervousness crept up Lightning.
Barrel Doll that is inferior in speed and power managed to barely hold on with Lightning’s defensive movements and sword techniques.
But taking one blow would spell their defeat. And unfortunately, the several attacks from Barrel Doll did not have any effect.
(What should I do)
The loss is set in stone if things proceed like this.
(I have no choice but to do it)
He has not tested it out in actual combat but he has trained for it. Furthermore, the results are favorable.
That is why he should rely on the technique that he had the most confidence in.
Shouting, he with Barrel Doll at its maximum acceleration, he imagined the image of a spiral and charged forward.
Making headway upwards for the Stone Golem’s body, it clashed against the body thrice.
(It got repelled!)
The fleuret stopped after making three small dents.
But at the same time, Lightning’s eyes saw a non-existent line coming from the Stone Golem’s body.
He let out his move again, thinking of nothing but his belief in that line being the golem’s weak spot.
Without even a moment’s delay, the tip of his sword hit above that line thrice in a row.
Directly in front, at the back and center.
When the tip dug in, *clack*, the top of the Stone Golem’s shoulder blew off.
That shoulder was smooth like a sharp blade had cut it off. It is not something a thrusting weapon could have created.
Even Lightning does not know the reason.
But now is not the time for worries. Damage enough to defeat his foe, just knowing that he could inflict that is enough.
The Stone Golem that lost one of its arms too sought a fight, it had not lost both. Its stout arm groaning, it swung sideways aiming for Barrel Doll’s torso.
Barrel Doll backstepped, barely avoiding it. It then took up the En Garde pose.
He shouted as he charged back in.
He thought nothing about defending, a charge with one swing of his sword. That is the true purpose of the school of swordsmanship Lightning learned.
An invisible line that transverses from the Stone Golem’s torso, he thrust at the top part of the line.
He thrust at the bottom of the same line.
He thrust the last at the center.
Along with the sound of rocks cracking, a crack ran across from its torso to its shoulder.
But at that moment, a high-pitched sound resounded, Barrel Doll’s fleuret broke and was blown away, unable to withstand the bending.
Though the Stone Golem’s body had a large crack, it did not break apart and still had some fight left in it.
On the other hand, Barrel Doll that was unable to make up for the loss of its tip, lost its balance as it was redistributing the weight.
Barrel Doll swam forward and crossed the Stone Golem.
Barrel Doll’s head turned back in order to gain confirmation.
Its two big round eyes were filled with the scene of the Stone Golem stretching out one of its hands to grab Barrel Doll.
(This is bad!)
With Barrel Doll being inferior in power, it will not be able to escape if caught.
Drawing blanks as to what he should be doing at this moment, Lightning froze. And as despair started spreading through his heart.
He heard this sound as the Stone Golem broke apart, its upper body blown away.
Pelted by the scattering pieces nearby, Barrel Doll crossed its arms in front of its eyes to protect itself on reflex.
He was dumbfounded as he looked to his surroundings.
It was not due to him or Barrel Doll. That he knew.
It was just that he could not find anything within his surroundings.
(What about them?)
Feeling the need to confirm their safety, he looked towards them
(So they are safe)
Breathing a sigh of relief, as he turned his head to face the Stone Golem, he sensed something that reflected the glimmering sunlight.
Barrel Doll looked upwards, searching for it in an attempt to figure out what that is.
It found something that is slightly further away and he tried to focus on it.
As it came into focus, he looked at the now clear image and subconsciously let his voice out.
There was a figure of a Knight approaching at unbelievable speeds.
「What is that!」
He was shocked by its movements.
It was approaching but it was not walking.
Without moving its feet, it was gliding on the ground while raising clouds of sand at its back.
He had never heard that such a movement was possible.
(Did that Knight save me?)
That was most likely the case.
He did not know how but there was no doubt that it lent a helping hand from afar.
That beige-colored Knight started slowing down as it came closer and eventually stopped near Barrel Doll.