As a result of Second Prince Astor’s grand performance, Katia lost face in front of everyone, and to restore her good name, Katia and Hermes were headed east as per one of the request papers from Jurgen.
Their destination was a small village in the countryside.
As requested by the village, they were to exterminate a pack of monsters devastating the village as of late.
“But the village we’re heading to is part of Viscount Norcia’s territory, right? Why won’t he just settle things himself?” Hermes asked.
“Who knows… I’d like to assume that the monsters are too powerful for the viscount to deal with, but…” Katia replied.
Their carriage would momentarily reach the aforementioned village, but just then—
—they heard the shrill scream of a young girl.
They immediately looked out of the carriage, checking to see where the voice came from.
There, they saw several black silhouettes resembling monsters chasing a young girl around 10 years old.
“Roger. I’ll hold them at bay, so prepare your chant in the meantime, Miss Katia.”
Those black silhouettes must be the monsters described in the request—our targets.
The two of them sprang out of the carriage in unison. Prioritizing her safety, Hermes leaped straight toward the girl being assailed, augmenting his physical capabilities using Enhanced Generic Magic.
He took the girl in his arms, rescuing her from the monsters’ attack by a hair’s breadth. Then, he deployed a barrier, utilizing Enhanced Generic Magic once again.
After stopping their advance with his barrier, Hermes got a clear look at the monsters in question, revealing their true identity at long last.
“Hounds, huh. That explains a lot.”
Hounds were monsters with ferocious-looking faces, and they were around a size smaller than your average wolf.
They were most notably known for two things: their tendency to move in packs, as well as their extreme cautiousness.
They moved with utmost coordination and always hunted in groups, making sure never to split up; as such, the more their numbers grew, the more troublesome they became to deal with.
But while they were fearsome creatures, they refrained from doing anything rash as a result of their own cautiousness, which could explain the relatively little damage the village had suffered thus far.
Looking up at Hermes from his arms, the girl let out a small shriek after seeing the Hounds on the verge of shattering the barrier. “U-Um…!”
“Sorry about this. Just hold on a little while longer. Look the other way, it’s gonna be alright,” Hermes said, stroking the girl’s head to reassure her. He then proclaimed:
“My Lady’s gonna defeat those monsters.”
“Bloodline Magic: Messiah of the Underworld, Steria Tryvia!”
Katia’s voice resounded from behind. Having finished chanting, her Bloodline Magic activated, and spirits swooped down on the monsters one after another.
Katia’s Bloodline Magic was heavily influenced by her emotional state.
Unaware of that, she found herself unable to utilize her magic to its fullest potential; however, with Hermes’ guidance, she’s managed to improve her mental control during casting, and she’s overcoming her shortcomings faster than ever before.
As she is now, I reckon she could measure up to the higher-end of Count-class Bloodline Magic.
The Hounds took a direct hit of her spell, their cries of death echoing through the air.
However, in rather commendable fashion, a few of them managed to avoid a direct hit, and despite sustaining injuries, they immediately attempted to retreat.
—But I won’t let that happen. Finishing all of you off is my job.
“Herm! I’ll leave the rest up to you!” Katia exclaimed.
In response, Hermes prepared to activate his Enhanced Generic Magic.
“…Actually, this is a good opportunity. Let’s give it a go.” Flashing an impish smile, he reactivated The Emerald Tablet, and a terminal appeared by his hand.
Taking a deep breath, he proclaimed:
“Peace be with you on the eve of Apocalypse; No longer will the light of dawn shine upon these lands; Your Salvation is written in the sands.
Technique Reenactment: Messiah of the Underworld, Steria Tryvia!”
“!” Katia gasped from behind.
Hermes let loose a clump of spirits, replaying the same scene from moments ago.
Unerring, it struck the fleeing Hounds, delivering the final blow for sure this time.
“…Hmm… Like I thought, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original in power…” Hermes muttered. He stared at his palm, remembering the feeling of the spell.
He’d been continuing his analysis on Katia’s Bloodline Magic for quite some time now, and he’s seen steady progress. As of now, he’s capable of activating Steria Tryvia despite it being incomplete, as demonstrated just now.
But nevertheless, it’s still incomplete. Either I don’t have a strong enough grasp of its formulas, or…
“Steria Tryvia works by summoning the souls of the departed via their lingering attachments and converting that into a cluster of mana… but is that really what it does?”
Having spent countless hours researching and theorizing, Hermes felt like there was something… missing. Just as he was on the cusp of piecing things together—
“Herm, are you really doing your magic research now?” Katia jogged up to Hermes, looking exasperated. “I appreciate the enthusiasm, but we’re in the middle of a mission. Defeating our enemies takes top priority… but I suppose we’ve already done that, so I’m not complaining.”
“I apologize. I thought this would be a good opportunity to put my research into practice.” Hermes replied with a wry smile after hearing how dedicated she was.
Then, they both heard something rustling in the bushes behind.
They looked over to the noise, and there in the forest, they saw a pack of Hounds several times larger than the last. The Hounds regarded the two with caution, but showed clear signs of hostility.
“…Ah, they must’ve noticed the ruckus we made.”
“Seems like it. But this is quite convenient for us. Hounds are quite cowardly, so I believe this is our golden opportunity before they get cold feet.”
“True. Wasting hours giving them chase would be a huge pain, so it’d be best if we got rid of them all while we still can. There’s just one problem…” Katia said, shifting her gaze to the young girl in Hermes’ arms.
If they were to engage in combat right this instant, they wouldn’t have any time to get this child somewhere safe.
Those Hounds had just attempted to attack this girl, so who knows if they’d try it again—is what Hermes thought, but…
“W-Wow…!” Contrary to their expectations, the girl marveled at Katia and Hermes with a twinkle in her eyes.
“…It seems like someone’s a fan of your magic, Miss Katia.”
“T-That goes for you too, so don’t tease me. But I suppose it should be fine now.”
“Agreed. Hey, sorry about this, but can you hold on tight to me? We’re gonna defeat those monsters now.”
“O-Okay!” The girl nodded up and down, seemingly excited to see their magic again.
Hermes gave her a wry smile. Facing the approaching Hounds, they activated their spells.
It wasn’t long before the Hounds were completely wiped out.
By a curious twist of fate, they had completed their mission before they took a single step into the village.
“Thank you so much!”
Hermes and co entered the village, albeit a little behind schedule.
They went to the village mayor’s house to give their report and confirm the contents of their request. It turns out those Hounds were the monsters they needed to get rid of, after all.
“You even saved Rina… I don’t know how I could possibly thank you for everything you’ve done…!” the chief said, bowing deeply.
Similarly bowing next to the mayor was the girl from before. Apparently, she was the mayor’s granddaughter.
“Miss and Mister were super amazing! They said a bunch of difficult words, then I saw some purple lights go boom and bam!” Gesturing with her arms, the girl described what she saw for the nth time, unable to contain her excitement of seeing a real battle.
Hermes found her to be quite adorable, but Katia ignored her, inquiring the mayor with a sullen expression, “…May I ask one thing, Mayor?”
“B-By all means! What is it?”
“While I believe you’re more than aware, this village resides in Viscount Norcia’s territory. It’s safe to assume you requested assistance from the viscount before all else, right?”
“I-Indeed. But you benevolently resolved things in the viscount’s stead…”
“And do you know why we ended up having to step in for the viscount?”
It’s true that Hounds, including the ones we just exterminated, are troublesome monsters to deal with. There were quite a lot of them, too.
But nevertheless, a user of Bloodline Magic should be fully capable of exterminating those Hounds without much trouble.
In other words, Viscount Norcia did not pass this request onto us because it was too much for him to handle, a possibility that Katia brought up earlier.
So then, why?
The Mayor began answering that question with a bitter expression, “About that… The truth is, Viscount Norcia originally said he would take the time out of his busy schedule to come to our aid.”
“?! Then why…”
“That was around a week ago. However, I received a letter the day before he was scheduled to come… Ah, it’s right here.”
The Mayor retrieved a letter from a shelf and showed it to Katia and Hermes.
The letter was short and to the point: Urgent business popped up at the royal capital, so I’m unable to provide assistance. Figure out something yourselves for the time being.
“Aah, I see now.”
They both pieced things together in unison.
A week ago—that was right around the time when Katia’s party was being held.
“…If I’m not mistaken, Viscount Norcia had been present at that party.”
In fact, if my memory serves right, he was among the most persistent in asking for Katia’s hand in marriage.
In short, the viscount’s thought process was as follows:
Strengthening my connections with distinguished households is much more important than saving some village out in the sticks.
And as a result of his decision, this village had been exposed to significant danger—someone’s life was on the verge of being taken.
This village must’ve spared no effort to defend against the monsters’ attacks. All the villagers I saw earlier looked like they were running on empty.
“Protecting one’s people is the duty of a noble. And yet, he…!”
Katia, having arrived at the same conclusion as Hermes, was visibly enraged.
Hermes placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her down.
She seemed to have regained her composure some, as she took a deep breath. “…My apologies. I lost my cool.”
“It must’ve been difficult until now. I commend your perseverance through this ordeal. I will do everything in my power to prevent this from happening again… I swear it.”
“Agreed. I believe you should report this matter to the Duke. I’m sure he’ll see everything through to the end.”
“Indeed. As such… if anything ever happens again, go straight to the Trakia household for assistance. We would never abandon you all,” Katia declared unhesitatingly, staring straight at the Mayor.
Seeing her, the Mayor dissolved in tears, freed from the stress and tension that loomed over him until now. “…Thank you… so much…!” he uttered, falling to his knees.
Gaining the village’s trust, Hermes and Katia finished their first request from Jurgen successfully, all the while making it painfully clear that this country was in desperate need of change.
Hey guys, been a while since I last posted. Been very busy with school for most of november/december because of finals and whatnot and got COVID during winter break after getting back from a trip (fully vaccinated, was omicrom). I’m doing fine now though, will be back to regular posting, though might change the schedule a bit depending on how much time I have. Probably should’ve made an announcement that I wouldn’t be posting but oh well. Gonna upload magic arrow tmrw, see you guys then.