After I entrusted Wight with the darkness dragons, I went to Aura’s orchard to talk with Kohaku on the topic of spy monsters.
Kohaku was a seasoned veteran so I thought there was a good chance he was well-informed about the topic.
After some walking, I finally reached where he was resting and that place was somewhere near the First Tree in the innermost part of the orchard.
There, I found Aura holding her hands over Kohaku while beads of sweat formed in her forehead.
In the meanwhile, Kohaku had his eyes closed. It was almost as though he was dreaming. Even though he was big, he still had that soothing cuteness peculiar to cats.
As I neared, he slowly opened his eyes.
“Oh, master. Welcome. I’ve already heard of your request.”
Kohaku informed me so with a somewhat drowsy voice. It seemed Aura had properly relayed my message.
“That’ll make things easier. But anyway, the reason I’m here today is to ask you about intelligence gathering.”
“Hmm, I don’t really mind but can it wait for a little bit? Aura’s treatment feels so pleasant, it almost makes me want to sleep. Besides, stopping now will only mean doing it all over again. This girl won’t look it and will just comply without ever frowning but since I know how dedicated she is in healing me and how precise that process is, I just can’t bring myself to ask her to do it all over again.”
“I don’t mind, really. We can’t let master wait.”
Aura seemed like she was about to stop her work.
“It’s alright, Aura. Carry on with the treatment. Your top priority right now is to heal Kohaku. Delaying it will not do.”
“Yes, certainly, master!”
Aura cheerfully nodded and returned to her work which was the continuous transfer of both magic power and vital energy to Kohaku. It was a process that was done to counteract the miasma that had gotten inside him.
After about five minutes like that, she slowly withdrew her hands.
“Kohaku-san, that concludes our session for today. We’ll continue this tomorrow. Please don’t forget to eat the golden apple.”
“Even if you don’t tell me to, those are apples are so delicious, I’m still gonna. That said, I want some meat in my meal though. If I eat too much of the thieves and lessen their strength upon their resurrection, Wight surely won’t let me hear the end of it. It’s such a hassle.”
Kakaka, Kohaku laughed.
It seemed like apple thieves still kept on coming despite the risks.
“You want some meat? Then, I guess as thanks for your valuable knowledge, I’ll have some delivered to you later. Which do you prefer, raw or cooked meat?”
“Hmm, I’ll go with a thick slice done rare. Don’t forget to season an ample amount of salt, now. That’s simply the best.”
I almost laughed at his human-like request. It was a little surprising that even though he’s a tiger, he still preferred to have cooked meals.
“Understood. I’ll have it brought to you later.”
“Mm, I look forward to it. Well then, you wanted to know about intelligence gathering but I wonder where I should begin.”
He then began to think. To advance the conversation, I decided to speak up.
“I would like to first know how an intruder has gone unnoticed by my monsters, monsters like Kuina and Aura who have good sensing capabilities.”
Aura is capable of gathering information of everything within a radius of a few kilometers that has wind. Due to that, I had regularly asked her to confirm whether or not a dangerous being had gotten into our city. Even if they were humans, so long as they had strong magic power, they were to be reported.
In addition, I had also asked Kuina who was often with me to tell me if she ever felt a suspicious presence. To be able to effectively gather information, the other party would have needed to be somewhere near to me, the central point of information. However, should they ever cast their focus toward me, Kuina—whose presence sensing capabilities isn’t anything to scoff at—would immediately notice.
“Hmm, very well. First of all, when talking about first class monsters, they’re able to completely prevent their magic power from leaking out. If there’s no magic power leaking out, appearances aside, they will be indistinguishable from humans.”
“I’m aware of that. But even if that’s the case, if they are often near, either Kuina or Aura would surely have noticed that there are humans acting strangely. I’ve asked but the both of them said there was none.”
All the more reason for me to be wary.
“Then, the answer is simple. There is a monster here that has an ability that lets him gather intelligence without even needing to be near.”
Kohaku nonchalantly said it like that.
“You don’t seem to have understood so I’ll give you an example: there are monsters that can synchronize their consciousness with the birds and insects. I knew someone that can even synch with a flea. You, Aura, and Kuina, wouldn’t go so far as to be vigilant against fleas, now would you? Anyway, a small amount of magic power leaks out when establishing a path to their target but once that’s established, their magic power would be completely undetected from thereon.”
“……I have overlooked that.”
I had been wary only of humans and monsters that got near. I couldn’t afford to pay attention to each and every insect that had no magic power flowing within them, after all.
“Additionally, there are also monsters with incredibly good hearing. These guys will be able to pick up any sound within a kilometer in the same dungeon room. So if they conceal their magic power and themselves, they would go unnoticed. After all, they just strain their ears as they go on their daily routines to gain intelligence.”
“There are even monsters like that, huh.”
There was no way to recognize the enemy and its patterns since they would not behave suspiciously at all.
“There are still some more. There are monsters that can hide themselves in another dimension and from there, make a window which they can use to peep. In a sense these would be considered the strongest. With their ability, they can peep and listen in as much as they want from that other dimension. If their enemy didn’t have any dimension manipulation ability themselves, these monsters will not be discovered and that enemy is pretty much done for. Although, they do have their faults such as it is hard for them to make their peeping windows on a place that has a magic barrier around it.”
“…they’re the strongest kind, huh. Or rather, in terms of performing surprise attacks, theirs go way beyond fair, right?”
On places they could construct their peeping window, they could observe from any which one and appear from there as well if needed.
I knew of only one such monster: Marcho’s [Monster of the Covenant].
To make me realize my naivety before heading out to the Demon Lord Palace, she made her Covenant Monsters attack me.
During that, one monster suddenly appeared from my shadow. He looked and felt like a ninja but it might be better to say his ability fell under the classification of dimension manipulation.
“Have I been staring at the answer all along?”
I cursed inwardly. Marcho had definitely showed that monster’s ability to test me and yet, despite that, I only connected the dots this late. So stupid, I thought as I pitied myself.
There was a high chance, I thought, that the monster she used to spy on me was either that one or the ones two ranks under it that she became able to buy when she made the former.
“Thank you. You have been greatly helpful. I guess what I should do now is to erect a barrier not only at my residence but also at Rorono’s workshop. I’ll also ask Aura to periodically suck out all the air in the important places so that all living creatures trapped in there will be killed. Additionally, I’ll prohibit everyone from speaking about sensitive information except when they’re in a completely soundproof room. That’ll be enough for now, I guess.”
“Hmm, that’s a really pragmatic response. However, that will only deal with the monsters I’ve mentioned. Moreover, if the barriers are too weak or if the enemy is too strong, they can just brute force the barrier and bring it down.”
“For the first point, we can only do so much but we must do it nonetheless. For your latter point, it doesn’t really matter since if brute force was indeed used, we would know that there is something strange going on and be alerted to the presence of a monster that has a dimension manipulation ability.”
Kohaku nodded as though he was satisfied with my answer, much like a teacher would at his student.
“Ah, you really are smart. Really worthy of my service.”
“I’m happy that you say that. And, I’ll be relying on you more from now on, Kohaku.”
“Yeah, I’m almost fully recovered too.”
“Good, that’s encouraging. Can I ask a question though? Have you ever thought of wanting to return by your former master’s side? Your master before [Steel], I mean.”
“I most certainly have. I have thought of my beloved former master, my important comrades, and my subordinates who look up to me.”
Kohaku nonchalantly said so.
“My former master has deemed it necessary that I be the one to be sent to test you. In the moment he gave me that order, I guess he had already predicted my defeat and death. No, he might have even foresaw that I would come to serve you. …that is perfectly plausible for him. But if that is so, being here and serving you, I can’t consider it other than my destiny.”
He really had faith for his former master. For that reason, I had come to a decision.
“As we agreed upon, I will not ask you to tell me anything about your former master but if by chance I run into him and we come into a negotiation, I intend to trade you back, for favorable terms, of course.”
“That, wouldn’t that be unnecessary?”
“I think that it is necessary for I can see that your heart yearns for your former master. And if that really is so, I think it would be for your best interest that you be with him. I would lose you but as I said, it won’t be for charity; I intend to get as much as is taken.”
“Kakaka, you really are interesting. I might someday truly, from the bottom of my heart, admire you as my master. If that happens, I’ll ask that those negotiations be stopped.”
“Oh please do. If your heart truly belongs to me, I will absolutely never let you go. I value you not only for your abilities and knowledge but also for your character.”
Kohaku and I both laughed.
With that, my task there was complete.
“Kohaku, Aura, I have decided that for the next monster to be made with [Creation], it will one with the ability to manipulate dimensions.”
“That’s great! After all, even I can’t deal with enemies that are in another dimension.”
Aura commented so.
Under the assumption that monster that can manipulate dimensions can only be dealt with one that can do the same, we were truly in deadly situation. It was though an unseen dagger was being pressed against our throats.
With that decided, all that was left was to figure out how to make that monster.
What medals should I use, I wondered. …don’t I have one closely related to other dimensions and is considered to be one of the strongest medals, I then suddenly thought. The identity of that medal was…
“I’ll be going now. Thank you, Kohaku, Aura.”
In order to not forget the thoughts in my head as well as to examine them further, I headed back home.
And so, I looked forward to monster that I was going to make next.
That then reminded me of the only [Creation] medal I traded away. I wonder how it was used, I thought.
The one I traded it to was the [Time] Demon Lord Dantalian, one of the strongest Demon Lords still alive.
I then wondered just how strong a monster could be when my [Creation] medal was used to its fullest potential by him.
That being said, it was still only one medal. Whereas I had four S rank monsters beginning with Kuina. I have nothing to fear, I thought.