Wailing cries of mad dogs
The next day, we went grape harvesting from early in the morning with the residents of the Heart Family. Roxy-sama quickly finished her breakfast and returned to her room. As I did not need to change or prepare anything, I simply waited for her at the front door.
After a while, Roxy-sama appeared with her golden hair tied up behind. Her outfit was different from the ones she wore in the mansion and seemed to focus more on being functional. Her appearance was that of a beautiful village girl.
Roxy-sama had previously disguised herself as a town girl when she secretly snuck out to the Commercial District. Compared to that, she was currently wearing a mature and modest outfit. Regardless, it seemed that these plain clothes only enhanced her beauty.
"Thank you for waiting. Then, let's go. Everyone is waiting."
Having left Greed to watch over my room, I accompanied a highly spirited Roxy-sama. Since his primary purpose was for monster hunting, he would be cumbersome while I picked grapes. Besides, the Heart Family's territory maintained great public peace and order so there were no worries about being attacked by bandits.
The weather today was nice and sunny. Walking through the vineyards, I saw the residents had already begun harvesting. Roxy-sama called out to the most elderly person.
"Thank you for always working hard. It seems like we will have a fine grape harvest this year too."
"Ahh, if it isn't Roxy-sama…"
The elder bowed his head deeply in respect. Then, the others all gathered around at the appearance of our master. Their hands were full of plump grapes that they had just picked. Everyone wanted to show off the grapes that they had proudly grown with great care.
"Well, they turned out great this year too. I could see this even from the grapes that had previously been sent to the residence at the Royal Capital."
"Thank you for your praise."
Having become the representative, the elder happily presented the freshly picked grapes to Roxy-sama.
"Then, I'll have one… It's very sweet and delicious."
The residents were delighted when they heard this, so much so that they jumped up and down with joy. It was clear just how much these people adored Roxy-sama.
When they finished welcoming Roxy-sama, the elder told the people who had gathered to return to work. At that moment, they saw me standing next to Roxy-sama and grinned.
"You must be Fate. I've heard about you. Anyway, it seems like you've already worked hard harvesting grapes yesterday. As expected of Roxy-sama's servant."
"It's not… that much."
I just blurted that out since I was still unused to being complimented. On the other hand, Roxy-sama had a satisfied expression.
"It's because Fate is a servant of my choosing."
"That's Roxy-sama for you. Well then, shall we get started?"
"Yes. Let's do our best Fate!"
I worked enthusiastically. It was not like I wanted to show Roxy-sama my good points… Well, even though that was partly true. Being a Holy Knight, Roxy-sama's status spoke for itself and she was able to carry several large jars filled with grapes by herself. Each time she did so, a round of cheers would sound off around the territory.
It was such a pleasant environment, yet I was unexpectedly unsettled. Until when would I be able to stay… I was afraid of whether I could stay or not. With my Gluttony skill, I had to continue fighting from this point forward. Was it alright to for someone like me to be in such a peaceful place? Was there any need for someone who might invite a battle? Thinking about it like this, I felt a premonition that the time I would have to leave Roxy-sama's side (haven) would come one day.
The rest of the grape harvesting went by uneventfully and when we finished, I walked home with Roxy-sama. I asked her something that I had been curious about ever since arriving at the territory.
"Even though it's a vineyard, why is it all concentrated on the south side? It's very sparse up north."
"Ahh… That's because the northern vineyards were all ruined from the damage done by Kobolts a long time ago. I think it was around my great grandfather's time?"
It was so long ago that there should have been enough time to rebuild the vineyards. Yet, why was it not possible to do so?
"During that time, it was said that a dangerous Kobolt with a silver coat invaded the territory from the northern valley. Unfortunately, it appeared when my great grandfather was away which lead to the vast amount of damage done. A lot of blood from the residents was spilled in the northern lands."
Roxy-sama simply looked towards the northern lands. Following her gaze, I observed closely and saw many colourful flowers planted there. Ahh, I see… It was no longer farmland, but more of a mass graveyard. There was no way such a place like that could be turned into a vineyard again. Roxy-sama said she did not want to make the same mistake…
At night, I again slipped out of the darkened mansion. It would be a lie to say that I did not feel guilty. However, this was absolutely necessary for me to live on. If I failed to defeat monsters and eat their souls, I would fall into the state of starvation in less than a week. Should that happen, the worst case was that I would attack people randomly. In order to not become a monster like that, it was inevitable that I hunted monsters.
Despite the clouds obscuring the moon and dimming the light, my <Night Vision> skill gave me a good field of vision. As I rushed ahead, Greed spoke to me.
"What's wrong, Fate? Your mind is distracted today."
"How do you know that? Even though Greed doesn't have a Mind-reading skill."
"I can feel it from the pulse in your hand that's holding me. So, what happened?"
I did not want to say it, that one day I would have to leave Roxy-sama because of my Gluttony skill. I could not erase this thought from my mind. It felt like if I voiced it out loud, then it really would happen.
"If you don't want to say it, it's fine. More importantly, that Holy Knight will start driving away the Kobolts tomorrow. So, you have to eat as much as you can today."
"That was my intention from the beginning."
There had only been two yesterday. If I did not eat my fill today, there would be no souls to consume after Roxy-sama chases them all away. Besides, even after the Kobolts had been fended off, we would continue to observe the situation in the territory for another two days during which I would be fasting.
Well, even if I managed to endure it, I would need to hunt Goblins and satisfy my hunger once we returned to the capital so it would still be quite a risk.
"I bet Fate won't be able to withstand the hunger and will turn mad on the way back to the capital."
"Don't say unlucky things like that!"
While complaining to the ill-mouthed Greed, I arrived at the same place as yesterday. Here, I could look over the north valley and because it was downwind, the Kobolts would not sense anything.
A long time passed. Perhaps they were still wary since I had defeated the scouts yesterday. In spite of myself, I almost yawned.
At Greed's words, I turned my eyes to the valley. Then, two Kobolts with blue fur appeared and descended, vigilantly watching their surroundings. They were scouts. If I killed these two like I had done yesterday, the rest of them would not appear.
I held my breath and waited. It seemed like the two Kobolts confirmed that it was safe and climbed back up the valley.
"Will their main forces come?"
"Yeah, without a doubt."
Just as Greed had predicted, the Kobolts swarmed down the valley like a river of blue fur. There were around 50 of them. Mostly Kobolt Juniors, although there were five with distinctly larger physiques. Among those, there was one who was the largest with a silver coat, not blue.
Instantly, Greed recognised the gravity of the situation.
"A dangerous one came. That one is a Crown."
"A monster with his own special identification. For that kind of thing to be born, a considerable amount of hate must have accumulated over the years. It would be faster for you see this through the Appraisal skill."
As Greed prompted, I used the <Appraisal> skill. Ehhh?! This status… had six digits.
[Harbinger of Grief]
Assault Kobolt Lv 50
HP: 200 000
Strength: 200 000
MP: 125 000
Spirit: 135 000
Agility: 125 000
With its prominently high status and unique [Harbinger of Grief] title, this Assault Kobolt stood out from the others. This was the Crown that Greed mentioned.
"Fate, it'll be bad if this guy invades the territory. Moreover, he brought along four more Assault Kobolts. This will be too much for the one young Holy Knight."
"So then, you mean?"
"If you don't control the situation here, they will lay the territory to waste."
I checked my current status and gulped.
Fate Graphite Lv1
Skills: Gluttony, Appraisal, Mind-reading, Concealment, Night Vision, One-handed Sword Technique, Two-handed Sword Technique, HP enhancement (small), HP enhancement (medium), Strength enhancement (small), Strength enhancement (medium), Auto-recovery
I tightened my grip on Greed… and prepared myself for the worst. The residents of the Heart Family were all people who I must protect. I will devour them, leaving nothing behind.