Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 7: Battle on the Bridge
“Oi Iris!! Don’t run off by yourself!!”
“That’s right! Did you forget we’re supposed to be guarding you!?”
Toslin and Yuhanna-sama’s voice echoed out from behind. But, I didn’t stop Unicorn.
And then a second later, the both of them started shouting something else.
The landscape running alongside the highway flew past me like the wind. We were already a week away from Soletta, and as such, nearly all the snow had disappeared.
On my right was a vast, grassy plain stretching out as far as the eye can see. On my left was the Anne Libretta, the clear stream flowing through the countryside all the way from St. Noglint.
The both of them race past from just outside my field of vision as I continued to rush straight through, the other Shirayuri knights popping their heads outside their carriages while trying to see what was going on.
“So we just keep following the road like this then?”
And then just as I passed the carriage at the very front of the line, I heard Carol’s voice.
“Yes, I’m Carol-san. And that’s a bad Iris. Don’t go running off on your own.”
“S-Sorry, but! Peachseed-san is being attacked!”
“Peach? Oh~, it must be someone you know. Well then it can’t be helped.”
Carol was talking to me while running alongside Unicorn, but with the way she was talking, it sounded like she could easily run even faster if she wanted to.
Each step she took was completely silent, and she wasn’t leaving behind any footprints in the mud either. Carol is still as amazing as ever, but I’m a little relieved that she isn’t angry with me. It’s definitely not good for me to try and do things on my own. We’re a party after all.
“A cute face and an unexpectedly passionate demeanor. Not a bad combination by any means.”
This time, it was Litzreich’s voice that popped out from beside me.
“Aah!? You scared me! Litzreich!? You……what’s going on!?”
She was wearing the same set of magical armor she had brought out at the forest outside of Soletta Ritta. The only difference was that last time she had brought out the arms while this time it was the legs.
“With my masterpiece the Magic Shell, traversing something as mundane as a bad road couldn’t be easier!”
She looked to be telling the truth. I don’t know what the principle behind it is, but Litzreich was gliding through the air with her feet slightly off the ground.
“So this is the kind of stuff a witch can do? I’m so jealous. I wish I could use magic like that too.”
“I would already think of you as relatively otherwordly already. Also, I am only capable of flying like this for a short period of time. So scooch over Iris. I’m hopping on.”
Litzreich jumped, straddling Unicorn’s back as her Magic Shell dissipated in thin air.
“Ah, you……I told you not to get close to Iris!”
“These are special circumstances. It can’t be helped.”
“Tch…….fine. I’ll forgive you this time. But don’t think that means you’re free to do anything weird!”
“So untrusting. Sure I’m interested in Iris, but I am not lacking in reason. I am fully capable of understanding that this is neither the time nor place. Although……..hohoho, so very fast. Unicorn, was it? She might be faster than our knight company’s fastest horses.”
“You might accidentally bite your tongue if you don’t close your mouth!”
Our line of carriages is already far off behind us. I no longer have to worry about anyone accidentally stepping out in front of us. So after giving Litzreich a word of warning as she began happily muttering something to herself, Unicorn sped up, racing down the road faster than ever before.
The tumultuous sound of clanging swords still rang through the air by the time we got there, a din only overshadowed by the occasional screams of the people.
“Ah, this is……it might get dangerous if we drop our guard.”
“Hmm, water slimes and cavalry fish? And a large number of them both.”
The fight was taking place on a bridge, at a spot where the road extended across the Anne Libretta.
Dozens of silver scaled fish were flying out of the water and landing on a bridge big enough for several carriages to easily cross at the same time. Each of these fish had a hard outer shell around their torso and teeth as sharp as the spears they carried were lined up inside their open maws. These dozens of monsters were forming up, jumping out from the river for the express purpose of assaulting the merchant caravan. Their formation and attack really did resemble the charge of a cavalry unit. Hence why they’re known as cavalry fish.
But, they weren’t the only monsters present. A number of colorless, jelly-like creatures were gathered along the parapet of the bridge. Their bodies were twisting and wriggling as each of them tried to make their way towards the injured horses and broken carriages.
These slimes live inside the river. They’re a relatively common monster for this area that usually subsist off of fish that unknowingly swim into them because of their transparent bodies.
These slimes hibernate in the nearby grasslands during the winter when the river freezes over. Usually villagers in the nearby towns use the opportunity to thin out their numbers and kill them in their sleep, but because of how heavy the snowfall was this year plus the added fear of the dragon, I’m guessing a lot of them were left alone.
Most unusual here would have to be how big these water slimes are though. The ones I’ve seen before were all about as big as a bucket of water, but these are all at least three times that size. Moreover, there was one slime in particular that stood out from the rest, with a body twice the size of a horse.
“Hey, what do you want me to do?”
I heard Carol’s voice coming from right next to me, drawing back my attention after it had been absorbed in the battle unfolding in front of us.
“And what would you have me do?”
Litzreich’s voice came from behind, asking me the same question. That’s right, Carol and Litzreich are here with me. It’s be much too inefficient if we each recklessly charged ahead without any form of cooperation. But, I don’t have very much experience when it comes to battle. I have no idea what the best course of action to take here is.
“……I’m sorry. I don’t know. What do you think we should do?”
I fought back against my instincts to immediately jump in and decided to ask for their opinions. And Carol came back with an immediate answer as a result.
“It’ll take me too much time to kill any of those slimes. But I might be able to do something about all the fishies.”
“Then leave dealing with those slimes to moi.”
Litzreich had descended down Unicorn’s back without me noticing. She had also already brought out her Magic Shell although it was the arms this time instead of the legs.
“T-Then I’ll protect the injured and the rest of the carriages!”
“Okay. Then let’s go.”
“Will you watch me Iris? I shall you show you the results of my research, the power of my Magic Shell!”
Carol and Litzreich ran as fast as they could to the center of the bridge. An orange rank theif, Carol moved a few dozen meters in the blink of the eye, skewering one cavalry fish with her dagger while kicking some others away before they could kill a horse.
Although Litzreich loses to Carol in terms of speed, the destructive power of her arms was capable of delivering crippling shockwaves, one of which had blown one water slime to bits before it could completely swallow another horse.
“All right, me too……”
Unicorn kicked its hooves off the ground, propelling us to the center of the bridge as well.
“Are you hurt Peachseed-san!?”
“What, Iris!? Why are you here!?”
Peachseed-san had her shield raised, protecting a male merchant sitting behind her who had injured his leg. But as she turned to look at me, a cavalry fish that Carol had kicked away rolled across the ground and leapt at her feet.
“Don’t lose your focus Peachseed!!”
Kutuna-san came from behind, driving the tip of her sword downwards into the cavalry fish’s head.
“I’ve come to help! Where’s Plumseed-san!?”
“Gather together scorching memories, spirits, burn away their very shadows!!”
I could hear someone chanting a spell from the direction Peachseed-san pointed at with her sword.
A water slime creeping across the bridge’s parapet was immediately swallowed by flames afterwards. A white film spread across the water slime’s outer layer as the dancing flames burned it away. Right now isn’t the time for this kind of thing, but I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking about fried squid from its smell.
“Thank goodness. You’re all three safe. There is a group of knights nearby. We just need to hold on until help arrives.”
At that moment, there was a loud splash from further upstream.
“No way, they’re coming from the other side too!? That’s unfair!”
“Make a powerful shield that cannot be broken!!”
Unicorn’s mane lit up, transforming form purple to white as magic power coursed through each strand of hair.
The porcelain white ring on my pinky finger shone with bright, white light at the same time, transforming into a grimoire as a magic circle barrier formed between Carol and the newly appeared cavalry fish.
A hard sound rang in my ear as the cavalry fish’s spear broke in half after smacking against my barrier and fell to the ground.
“Fu, you saved me. Thanks Iris.”
“No. You’ve already done a great job thinning them out Carol. Kill as many of them as you can.”
“You got it. The princess’s wish is my command.”
“Hey Iris! Are you watching my great efforts?”
“Ah, yes, of course. Keep up the good work Litzreich”
Litzreich is being so flashy in her fighting that I couldn’t not see her if I wanted to. Ordinarily physical attacks aren’t very effective against slimes because weapons will start to deteriorate as soon as they’re exposed to the slime’s inner acid after breaking through the outer membrane. Litzreich’s arms aren’t breaking the outer membrane though so much as they’re just squashing the whole slime with a single punch. Occasionally a group of cavalry fish will try and rush her, but the splatter of each crushed slime is throwing acid all over the place, dealing with the fish before they can get too close.
“Hohoho! The words of a lovely maiden are all this knight needs to fight on!”
“I refuse to recognize you as a knight.”
“Ku-chan, Peachseed!? There’s a girl who keeps killing those fish, and I think she’s…….Iris-san!?”
“Good to see you Plumseed-san. Let’s talk more later.”
I took a deep breath. Starting with those goblins, I’ve experienced a few intense battles with the golem, dragon, ents, shadow spirits, and the carbuncle. Even after all that, I’m still not used to that tingle in the air when there’s a fight.
No, I shouldn’t get used to it. The second I ignore this tension is the second I get killed. I learned that lesson all too well during the fight with the shadow spirits.
“Okay. Then we should prioritize clearing the area.”
“Lapris, watch our backs. Kutuna-san, are there any injured here other than the merchant?”
“N-No, everyone else has escaped, so he’s the last one left.”
I raised my right hand towards the sky.
A bright red bird hovered above us in the cloudless blue sky. Phoenix was patiently waiting for her orders.