The Knight Order’s Dispatch
People had gone missing on it, but the road that lead to the northern village was still unmarred.
There were no signs that there had been a fight along it, not were there signs that something had attacked. For something like a group of peddlers to go missing, there should at least be fallen debris from the wagon or fallen baggage somewhere.
Commanding a group totaling seventeen strong while riding on her horse in the lead, Fiana sighed.
She was currently wearing her travelling clothes, causing her beautiful body to be hidden. Wearing an outfit similar to a white robe, she wore a chest protector that looked like it was meant to protect her chest and right shoulder.
A boorish sword hung to the left of her waist, held up by a leather belt wrapped around her slender waist.
Knee socks and a garter belt could be seen on her legs peeping through the slit in her robe. Due to her riding her horse, the knee socks being held up by her garter belt were easily visible even without straining your eyes, the small bit of her visible skin reflecting sunlight.
She was also wearing an over-sized red cloak, hiding her figure—although it was actually normal sized, Fiana was smaller than most.
“You do not need to find the cause of them going missing, but finding even a clue as to why would be good.”
According to the information they received from the Guild, the last adventurer to attempt investigating did so one month ago.
The first group to go missing was one led by Frederica, a mage. The next group missing was also led by a mage, this one by a man named Alfred, that searched for Frederica’s group. One month ago, an adventurer named William disappeared as well.
Although there were several people that went missing each time, they had practically no information other than that they had all went to an abandoned mine near the northern village.
No one had wanted to investigate any further since then, so this time they had gotten knights to participate as well in order to make the commission more appealing.
(Inside an abandoned mine—it can’t be bandits, right?)
Bandits weren’t skilled enough for something like this.
Although they would likely be able to handle something at the level of some peddlers, it was too much of a stretch for Fiana to believe that they could handle those adventurers.
Besides, the first victims had a mage with them. No matter how off guard they’d caught her, a mage wasn’t so weak as to be defeated by a bandit.
At worst, she would have been able to leave behind some information. However, the only things that remained were her staff and her comrades’ various equipment.
Generally, bandits would have sold the staff and equipment to get money. The fact they were left behind made everything quite strange.
(—I wonder… did a monster stray here from somewhere?)
Fiana felt that the possibility of that being the case was high.
Although the already small number of monsters was ever decreasing, back when there was still a Demon King, every kind of monster would flock to areas with large groups of people. When the Demon King was alive, Fiana was one of the knights who swung their sword at the forefront. She knew firsthand just how frightening monsters were.
Not limited to being just one species, a group of monsters would have many members of high caliber, each group requiring many humans and demi-humans to be defeated.
She wondered about how the cause of this disturbance might be due to a monster, and if it was, if there were more than one.
A large group of monsters would be too dangerous for them to handle, but she hadn’t received any report that would lead her to that conclusion. Was this monster acting by itself? Or maybe it was a giant beast?
(Well, there isn’t even any evidence that it is still in the mine though.)
A peddler fell victim to whatever it was two weeks after the final investigation a month ago.
In all likelihood, it had already moved to another location. Moreover, it was strange that it didn’t appear to be preying on people from the village at the foot of the mountain.
Some of the livestock disappeared, but that was all.
Everything about the case was strange. Fiana and her subordinates all felt the same about this. Even the adventurers thought something was off. However, they’d become a little timid due to their colleagues falling victim to whatever it was.
The adventurers were all stuffed into a small wagon so that they could keep up to the mounted knights. All of them wore sullen expressions. Fiana honestly felt that they shouldn’t have come if their morale was going to be that low.
A female knight rode her horse up next to Fiana. The woman was the only other female knight in their group, her name was Alfira.
Long enough to extend down to her waist, her violet hair was as smooth as silk. She had it casually tied up at the nape of her neck. Her black, sharp eyes portrayed her strong will. Her glossy lips were pursed, almost as though she were dissatisfied about something. It wasn’t that she was dissatisfied about this job though, Fiana knew that this was just this woman’s normal expression.
She was tall for a woman, enough to make it seem like she was Fiana’s older sister if they stood next to each other.
Fiana felt that when the woman wore her full armor and sat upright with her sharp expression, she passed as a beauty in male attire.
However, it wasn’t as though she felt the woman was not womanly. Her breasts, the pride of a woman, truly would appear when she took off her armor. They were large enough that she would have no need of feeling inferior to any woman at her age.
Despite having a well-developed bosom with the height of a man, her waist was surprisingly thin. Her trained abdomen was firm, yet further down was her sensual thighs and bottom.
That is the reason why she was so popular with the male knights despite having such a moody disposition.
“There’s a lake nearby, how about set up camp here today?”
Saying that to Alfira, she pulled out the map that was in the luggage on her horse.
As a woman, there was a great assortment of things in her luggage, but with Fiana’s nature of preferring to keep everything sorted and in their place, she’d found the map immediately.
Stopping her horse, she opened the map. As the leader of the group, everyone stopped moving when Fiana halted.
“There is a lake just ahead of us, so we will be setting up camp here to today.”
Fiana raised her voice so that everyone could hear her. Her dignified voice gave a feeling of reassurance to everyone that heard it. Here, she wasn’t a beautiful elf who was concerned about her short height. She was a respectable knight.
This lake wasn’t even a half day’s distance away from the northern village. The lake was very likely visible from the mine as it was at the foot of the mountain, but even so, they were all glad to be near a lake.
Even if they were accustomed to travelling long distances, Fiana and Alfira were women. They’d been on the road for five days since leaving the royal capital. Being able to take a bath was an attractive prospect.
After that, few words were spoken until they reached their targeted spot.
The knights gathered dry twigs and other scavengable wood from nearby to use as firewood while the adventurers unloaded the wagon and horses as well as set up the tents.
Fiana and Alfira went to help to unload the baggage.
Due to them being the only women amongst the group of seventeen, the adventurers wanted to try and help them with the physical labor, but the two of them refused politely.
They didn’t really like the whole ‘I’m a man and you are a woman’ thing.
Even so, the adventurers were glad to have just gotten a smile in return for their kindness. The calm and graceful Fiana’s smile and the strong-willed Alfira’s smile were plenty enough for them.
Once the baggage was unloaded and most of the tents were pitched, the knights that had gone out on patrol came back.
Sensing that the returning knights were in somewhat of a panic, Fiana’s long ears twitched.
As an elf, she was sensitive to subtle signs. She handed off the task of pitching that tent to an adventurer and headed towards the returning knights.
There were unfamiliar faces with them.
Two women, one with blonde hair, the other with silvery hair.
The blonde looked somewhat exhausted. She was only wearing a thick shirt and some trousers. It was male clothing, but Fiana thought they suited her well.
The other person, the one with silver hair, wore a black robe and had a large staff leaning against her shoulder. She was probably a mage. She looked sleepy and had vacant-looking eyes, but those eyes were firmly locked onto Fiana.
Puzzled, Fiana called out to the group of knights and women that had a strange mood about them.
Before the male knights could answer—
“These men peeped at us when we were bathing though?”
The blonde woman’s words caused Fiana’s gaze to sharpen.
Although Fiana usually had a gentle personality, she was scary when she got angry.
“N-no we didn’t…”
The men panicked in response, but their words didn’t sound too confident.
“… They peeped.”
The silver-haired mage also testified.
As that caused the men to fall further into a panic, Fiana believed that it was likely the truth.
Even the men that attempted to deny it held their tongues is resignation.
“Today, you three will be on the night watch.”
None of them complained. It was an act unbecoming of a knight; she was already doing them a service by not denouncing them.
It could be said that they were saved by Fiana knowing them.
If Alfira was told about this, they would have been finished.
Besides, the following day would be the real thing. It would have been troubling if their punishment was too severe and it impacted their performance the next day.
“For my subordinates’ unthinkable impropriety… I am very sorry.”
When Fiana bowed, the men rushed to bow as well. The men weren’t stupid enough to allow their pride to stop them from bowing to women.
An aristocratic knight may have complained about it, but these knights were mere commoners. They had enough common sense to say they were in the wrong.
“Oh well. I don’t really have the hobby of making things hard for people.”
“I am very sorry…”
Raising her head, Fiana apologized once again.
When she looked up at the tall woman who was about one head taller than her, she felt like she’d seen her somewhere before.
(Where have I seen her before…?)
Just as she was about to remember—
“Captain, these two are Frederica Rene-dono and Satia-dono.”
She finally understood who the two were after hearing the knight speak.
… They were two of the adventurers that had gone missing.
Even though she thought doing so was rude, she looked at the two’s faces closely again. Thinking back, these two truly did match the appearances that were described to her before she left.
“—Why are you here?”
A simple question slipped from her mouth.
According to what she’d heard, this woman had been missing for over a month. Why would she be found near the place she went missing at? Moreover, although she was a bit dirty here and there, why was she in otherwise good health?
It was the same for Satia. This mage with a doll-like expression and lifeless eyes was a missing person. Yet even so, the two were together and mostly safe. Fiana was suspicious of something strange going on.
Feeling Fiana’s questioning look, Frederica sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
“We went through a few troubles.”
“How about we find some place to sit first?”
—Hasn’t anyone told you to not be disrespectful to knights?
Fiana held back her words, guiding them into the camp. She wanted to find out how these two were safe, after all.