Every branch of the adventurers’ association is different in scale and has different features. The main point is that it exists in every town as a network of the town.
Because the escort job didn’t pay that much in the end, Gaviik’s party was looking for some random jobs they could do before moving on to the next town. The merchant noble that they escorted to this town had introduced them to a big job.
“Getting rid of a gang of bandits you say…”
“Yeah, well, it might not be what you guys specialize in, but it’s not as if you’re doing it alone.”
A request to subjugate the bandit gang that has been going around settlements. Lately, bandits and such who have been chased out of places have finally started to form a gang. It has been discovered that their hideout is in the ruins of a shrine near this town. From the adventurers’ association’s information, they’re a gang of nearly fifty bandits.
Those that will participate in this operation are the city guards as the center, hired mercenary groups and adventurer groups, though there are a number of solo mercenaries. Anyway, they’re just a nameless bunch, that’s why he eagerly welcomed Gaviik’s party’s participation since they possess the medal of ‘War axe and Serpent’.
The same day, the members of Gaviik’s party had gathered in a room from the inn they visited last night. They were talking about the job’s details and their plan of action. Because fighting against other people is more dangerous than fighting monsters, it’ll be necessary to assist the younger members who aren’t used to it.
Especially this time, they can’t take along the apprentices, since the gang of bandits they have to fight this time is reasonably large.
“It has been decided that we’ll use the city guard’s carriage to go to the location. Therefore the group of apprentices and the group that does the odd jobs will stay in the town.”
“We’ll have Viido and Franch stay behind as leaders. I want all the others to participate, any questions?”
“Questiooon~, are we taking Kuma-chan along?”
At Karen’s question captain Gaviik and vice-captain Mandel looked at each other, for now they decided to separately talk about ‘Kou’ in the afternoon. Leaving aside its mentality, on the outside, the Hornbear is a genuine monster. They also can’t just leave him to hide in the forest near the town forever.
If they were to work together they would first have to prepare a good reason for bringing a monster along, it also has to do with the trust they have in their party.
After discussing the bandit gang subjugation request with the related parties, they checked everything, they inspected and did maintenance on their equipment, and bought what was necessary. Then the main members ate some food and went towards the forest.
There was a question whether the Hornbear Kou, which their party cautions over, will be taken along or not. Since they didn’t have any better ideas they decided to ask the person in question himself about it.
Kou had shown them a simple acceptance of their request with some words written on a piece of paper. Getting such an easy answer, Gaviik’s party became exhausted. By the way, Karen was riding on the Hornbear Kou’s shoulder again.
In accordance to taking Kou along, they began to discuss about some kind of mark the Hornbear Kou would wear to show he wasn’t a normal monster. Kou suggested that he could use his trademark which is the gem on his forehead, but since it didn’t stand out because of his large body it was rejected.
In the end they decided that they would adorn him with a piece of horse-armor the horses of Gaviik’s party wear, in order to show his affiliation with them. The result, they got a Hornbear wearing armor which ended up having a strange appearance.
“Kuma-chan, isn’t it heavy?”
“Vu~oolf”[Nope, it’s okay.]
The one in question, Kou, became aware of the fact that he was part of a group after wearing the armor with Gaviik party’s crest. In other words, his tension began to rise. An unusual group was formed between monster hunters and a monster.
“Anyway, with this, one of the problems has been resolved.”
“Yeah… Ah, by the way Kou.”
Just where did that amount of potions come from, Gaviik tried asking Kou about it after remembering it. Kou answered him by saying he picked them up in the dungeon. Because he now sees them as his comrades, Kou didn´t think about hiding anything. He told them about how he stored things he picked up in the dungeon in his interdimensional storage.
“Vuwoo~vuwoolf.” [I also have things like this.]
From his interdimensional storage, he takes out a big battle axe and a wide shield for warriors and shows them to him. Everyone from Gaviik’s party involuntarily stares at him. A monster nearly three meters in length armed with a battle axe and a wide shield. The only thing he made them, who are specialized in taking on monsters think, was ‘We aren’t going to fight this right?’ That was the kind of monster that had appeared before them.
Anyway, Gaviik, who had once again recognized Kou as that demon dog, said the one thing that had to be said as the representative of the party.
“Well, sorry for that.”
Kou wholeheartedly accepted captain Gaviik’s apology. From the beginning Kou didn’t think of himself as a victim because he was killed by adventurers who specialize in killing monsters, he had possessed one after all.
n order to inform the other adventurers of the Hornbear Kou’s participation in exterminating the bandit group, the main party members from Gaviik’s group went into town together with the Hornbear Kou. After they had met with some of the influential people in town and the noble merchant from a while ago, they made sure that the servants and others wouldn’t speak a word of what happened on the mountain road.
At first the gatekeepers and the pedestrians were afraid. But because it looked rather more intelligent than feral, because of the armor he had equipped, people began to touch the Hornbear’s fur. Because it was such a strange happening people eventually lost all wariness they had toward him.
It seems that Karen riding on the Hornbear Kou’s shoulder helped lessen the wariness.
The other mercenary groups and adventurer parties were also alright with it, mostly because of Gaviik’s ‘battle-axe and serpent’ party. On the surface, nobody fervently objected to the Hornbear Kou joining them on this job, but a group of three nomad mercenaries came over to annoy them.
“But it’d just be weird ya know! Last time we saw it, it wasn’t wearin’ no armor. In tha first place why’d ya hide it in the forest?”
“Today you suddenly said ‘actually our group had tamed it’ that’s what’s bothering me ya know. I ain’t ever heard of someone tamin’ a Hornbear.”
“It’s a monster right? We dun’ even know when it’ll bare its fangs. Ya should at least put some chains ‘round it.”
Unlike the mutated ones, that have a part of their animal self remaining, monsters are beings that suddenly come into existence and because of that, they understand that they are impossible to control. In the first place, it is said that monsters don’t get attached to humans.
It’s too dangerous so we can’t trust him, or so the three say. Certainly, ‘why did they hide it in the forest until now’ or ‘just how did they tame an untamable monster’, questions like those were still left. There was a minority that totally trusted them on this matter.
However, there was still the elite group of Gaviik’s party. They know how to handle or dodge these kind of situations. Since they are specialized in killing monsters they would also know a lot about biology of monsters. They know a method to tame monsters which hasn’t been released to the public yet. But there is no way they would just give out such valuable information.
—– Or that’s how they’re going to fool the world.
“Not having it immediately enter the town, or letting it stay in the forest, both of them are top secret so we can’t tell you.”
By giving a certain answer to any of their questions and using the trust the others have in them as high ranking medal holders, they can contain this. The three mercenaries are just small fry, so taking that into account, they have a hold on their weakness, so why not take advantage of that.
“By the way, one of our members went to feed the bear, but I heard that you guys tried to mess with her… Karen, there’s no mistake it was these three right?”
“That’s right~, Even though I said I didn’t do that kind of work, those guys groped my boobs y’know~”
Karen visibly showed her anger by going ‘punpun’. At that time, it was dark so they couldn’t see well, but there’s no mistaking it that Karen was the girl of that time. Knowing that, the three of them froze.
“And then, they tried to force me into the bushes, but then kuma-chan appeared and they ran away.”
That night, after the Hornbear went outside, the bar became noisy with what had just happened. The three who were being bathed in the cold stares of those around them were uncomfortably silent.
The date of the mission.
After the evening had passed, the city’s army’s carriages left. The raid on the bandit gang’s hideout is planned for midnight. The leader of every group was together in a single carriage heading toward the location. It was decided that Gaviik’s party and the mercenary group would break through. The adventurers and the nomad mercenaries would patrol outside.
“Still, it really is troublesome that we don’t know the exact number of enemies.”
“A number of mages have already tried to confirm it. Since the group is fairly large it would be good to think they would be about even with the city army.”
“Them having hostages just adds to the worries doesn’t it.”
“Well, according to the contract it’s something okay to ignore…”
Since it isn’t something that easy to do or so he says, the different captains thinking of their subordinates. It seems like there are a few who have been kidnapped from nearby settlements, even if they find them alive, they don’t have any obligation to save them. It had become a plan where they should focus on the extermination even if sacrifices did appear.
Be that as it may, even among those that specialize in killing, there aren’t that many among them that would mindlessly follow an order like that. This time those that have joined up for this mission have agreed to this plan after they had made sure there wouldn’t be any penalties afterwards.
The group of carriages of the city army with the punitive forces riding them in the night on the highway. Behind five carriages there was walking a giant figure.
It is the Hornbear Kou who was added to the line of carriages. In the carriage in front of him a spiritualist affiliated with the mercenaries was casting movement spells on him. Like that he was able to keep up with the carriages that were going relatively fast.
Even if accidents, like the carriage wheels getting stuck somewhere happened, with the Hornbear’s physical strength, they can easily get it out. Most of the participants of the punitive force were looking at the Hornbear Kou with vigilance, but when they were more than halfway to their goal he had already gained their trust.
[Oh my? someone’s there.]
The Hornbear’s own vision is only so-so at night, but Kou can see well even in a place like a dungeon where there isn’t any light.
Kou, who had found out about a number of presences a little further down the road, where the group was going to hide among the rocks, ran next to the carriage where Gaviik’s party was. He sent a memo paper through the window informing them. From within the Carriage he could hear Karen’s sweet voice saying ‘Kuma-chan’ but then someone reprimanded her by saying ‘leave it for later’.
The group of carriages slowly lowered their speed. When Gaviik’s group went to the first carriage which belonged to the commanding officer of the town’s army, it seems like it was the reconnaissance team which returned.
Since they were close to the hideout, they would walk the rest of the way. While everyone was getting off the carriages, the commanding officer received the report from the reconnaissance team.
“Good work, what’s the enemy doing?”
“There weren’t any important moves in particular.”
The remains of a temple’s ruins was now the bandit gang’s hideout. According to the reconnaissance team they didn’t spot any of the enemy’s patrols. It seems like a few days ago an armed group went inside, and since then it had become eerily silent.
—— What to do next. Gaviik’s group and the mercenary group think it’s a trap. Some of the nomad mercenaries were also thinking the same. However, the decision lies with the town’s army. For now, they decided they would go towards the vicinity of the hideout and look around.
“Is that it…”
“Though I had heard of it, seeing it now, it really is a troublesome stronghold.”
The temple ruins were completely carved into the cliff. According to old tales it is said that it was made from expanding an already existing cave in the cliff with magic. From the terrain it could be seen that it is a natural fortress. The only entrance is in the front, and the only way to get there is to find a gentle slope and slowly walk towards it.
“You didn’t find a secret pass leading to the inside somewhere did you?”
“From what the old records say, a secret pass like that hasn’t been confirmed. Though the guys inside might have made one.”
These past few days the reconnaissance team haven’t found an entrance like that. Since they can’t stealthily close in from behind, they don’t have any other choice but to go in from the front, but it does raise suspicion that there isn’t a single bonfire or patroller around.
“Because they’re hiding inside, isn’t it something like that?”
For the commanding officer the objective of this force is to exterminate the bandits so even if there may be a trap they just have to break through it. Then a part bear suddenly decided to show his face making the group leaders look at him. Hiding his wry smile Gaviik asked if there was something wrong.
“What’s wrong? Kou.”
While ‘pretending’ to answer him with gestures, he pulls out a memo paper in an angle only captain Gaviik can see it. Around the middle of the cliff, where the roof of the temple would be, Kou saw a lot of human forms there. About a dozen of them equipped with something like a bow.
“As expected it’s an ambush —–”
And at that moment, ‘hyuu hyuu’ the sound of wind being cut was heard. Gaviik warned them of the ambush.
“Everyone hide! The arrows are coming!”
At the same time, all the members of the punitive force either hid behind rocks or readied their shields. Although the arrows were hitting the Hornbear Kou who obviously stood out, because of the strong fur and sturdy skin they didn’t pierce deeply and just fell to the ground. For now, Kou just secretly picked them up and put them in his interdimensional pocket.
“They have a grasp on our movements don’t they.”
“Damn, no other choice, everyone charge!”
“Hey, hey, you seriously wanna pierce through.”
The commanding officer splendidly gave out a reckless order. Those that are experienced know that if they were to retreat now, less blood would be spilled. Having been had by an enemy which you have little information on and even going into their territory is just suicidal. It’s just like jumping into a trap on your own.
“It’s dangerous if we stand still for too long! I propose that we retreat for now.”
“We agree with Gaviik’s group, if we try to rush in now it would only increase the number of victims.”
“The right to command lies with us, I will have you obey the contract here.”
Whether he was just being impatient or he’s just an idiot who loves to rush in, to the commanding officer who tells them that they should’ve been prepared for this and that he wouldn’t let them weasel out now, both Gaviik and the mercenary captain gave up thinking that this guy was the type who wouldn’t listen no matter what they said.
These kinds of things also happen in real life like when a superior gives you some annoying jobs.
In a corner of the plains dyed in the dark, he is in a way defending himself by putting both his paws over his head while arrows just keep hitting him? To that figure which just stood there calmly, captain Gaviik got an idea to overturn this situation.
In order to tell him the plan, Gaviik beckoned the Hornbear Kou over.