Side Story: Meanwhile, In Rirland
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
While most of the dungeon’s residents were off on an airship, Rir, or Fluffrir, as he was officially christened, was sitting around in the Wicked Forest, relaxing alongside the demon lord’s other pets. Frankly, relaxing was a bit of a generous term. The wolf’s current state was much more akin to outright boredom.
The five of them were still going about their usual duties and eliminating any monsters that wandered into the dungeon’s territory, as per usual, but not having the somewhat unreasonable master and his family present left them feeling forlorn. It was a bit weird to think, but there seemed to be no in-between. Things were either too noisy when they were present, or too quiet and desolate when they weren’t.
A voice, a startled bark, led Rir to direct his attention to a scared-looking wolf, who had approached them as if to bring a message. It was technically one of the Wicked Forest’s natives, but like almost all the wolf-type monsters that lived outside the area that Yuki denoted as the forest’s western zone, it had ultimately joined Rir’s pack. Canines weren’t the only ones that had chosen to side with him. Many of the other less aggressive and more intelligent species had done the same. All in all, the pack was the size of a veritable army.
Rir had never explicitly tried to make any of them his subordinates. They had all just started treating him as their master of their own accord. And as he had failed to push them away, the status quo had eventually settled into its current state.
It was not by any means his intention, and if anything, the wolf wanted to cradle his head in his paws and ask where everything had gone wrong, but in the end, hard-working as he was, he decided to look after them as would any other responsible lord.
The wolf wasn’t as intelligent as the monsters that Yuki summoned, but when asked what was wrong, it was able to squeeze out a series of barks that provided a rough idea of the situation.
It had found a pair of injured humans.
It was not common for Rir or any of the other pets to attack members of the races, in part because they were instructed not to, by their master, and in part because they were reluctant to attack his kind to begin with.
Naturally, they would fight back if assaulted, but they often did little beyond chasing them away. Likewise, other members of Rir’s pack would also outright avoid them. They knew full well that their master was rather fond of the humanoids, so they tried not to harm them, as to avoid getting on his bad side. Upon seeing the injured group, however, they were left confused with no real idea as to how they were meant to handle the situation. Some thought that there was no point not attacking them, because they would die if simply left as is regardless, while others were more keen on respecting Rir’s will.
Normally, when Rir or the other pets found an injured member of the races, they would drive off any nearby monsters and contact Yuki for help, but a critical component required for that particular approach happened to be missing.
Taking a moment to consider his options, the fenrir decided to order the wolf to take him to the wounded.
“Stay behind me, milady! No matter what happens!”
When he arrived on scene, Rir found himself facing a young girl in a set of fancy clothing, protected by a woman dressed in armour, a “knight” as they were so often called by members of the races. They seemed troubled, nervous by the fact that they were surrounded on all sides by monstrous wolves.
They seemed to think that the wolves were hostile, but were too bewildered by the situation to attack, given the abnormal circumstances.
Whatever the case, Rir decided to deal with the situation rationally. He started by ordering his pack to back down. The canines abandoned the encirclement and instead gathered behind him.
“That must be the pack’s leader! It might be possible for us to escape if I defeat him!”
The knight raised her blade, took a stance, and started getting fired up for some odd reason, but Rir ignored her aggression and sat down where he stood.
With a quiet bark, he patted his tail against the ground, as if to urge the other party to join him.
“It’s… not attacking?”
“U-uhm… Leighn? I think he’s trying to tell us that he wants to talk.”
Barking again, Rir nodded, leaving the knight staring in shock. After a moment of thought, she slowly obeyed, lowering her hips to the ground, but she didn’t completely drop her guard. Her hand was kept on her sword, so that it could be drawn at any given moment. Not that it mattered. She was so weak that Rir could slay her in an instant, armed or not.
As far as he could tell, the pair had only entered the forest because they had been chased. Their clothes were torn, their limbs covered in scratches, and their bodies slathered in dirt. The girl’s foot was red and swollen, as if sprained or broken. His first thought was that they had likely been attacked by some sort of monster while en route to one location or another. Either that, or they had escaped from a conflict involving other members of the races.
But like the woman’s weapon, that too was something that Rir cared little about. Fortunately, all four pets had come along with him, in their everlasting boredom. And Wsprit had just the right tools for the job. Calling the undine forward, he asked her to heal the girl’s wounds.
With a lazy nod, the water-coloured monster walked over and took the girl’s leg inside her own body.
“Huh? What’s going on!?”
“I knew it! Monsters are not to be trusted!”
“Wait, Leighn, stop! I think it’s healing me.”
The knight shot to her feet immediately, but the girl restrained her before she could get any more aggressive.
“W-what!? The monster knows how to heal!?”
Rir didn’t really feel like going through all the motions and explaining everything, so he ignored the two humans in favour of grabbing a stick. Holding it in his mouth, he pressed its sharpened end into the ground and began to write, just as Yuki had taught him.
As a dungeon monster, he was capable of fully understanding his master, which in turn provided him the ability to learn the writing system with surprising ease.
“What’s it doing?” The knight squinted. “Are those… words? ‘Fighting humans = bothersome.’ What!?”
“Wow, a wolf that can write!?” exclaimed the girl.
Without bothering to nod, Rir continued to scribble.
“Let’s see… ‘City nearby. Can escort.’ You can!? We would… appreciate that. We were forced to flee into the forest because our carriage was attacked by monsters. All my coworkers have already die—why am I telling a monster this? I’m not even sure it can understand me…”
After writing “I can” on another patch of dirt, Rir had Orochi approach and instructed the pair to ride him. The giant snake slithered over, and made a “sssss” sound as he lowered his body for them to get on.
The humans seemed a bit perplexed, but eventually boarded him nonetheless.
Making sure that they were firmly in place, Rir led the pack to Alfyro, the city that he had visited so many times before.
“Wow! We’re going so fast!” exclaimed the girl.
“This is… more nerve-racking than I expected,” said the knight.
As there weren’t any monsters reckless enough to challenge the pack, they made it to the city in just about an hour.
“T-thank you,” said the knight.
“Thanks so much, Mr. Wolf!”
Dropping them off, Rir and his subordinates rapidly retreated back into the Wicked Forest.
Finally left alone, the girl and her knight cast their gazes behind them as they spoke of the seemingly miraculous event.
“Maybe the reason that we’re not meant to ever enter that forest is because the government’s higher ups know of those wolves,” said Leighn.
“You mean they don’t want people trying to do anything to the wolves because they help people?”
“I think so… Though they do say that the Wicked Forest is home to a lot more… There’s supposed to be an army of dragons, and even a demon lord.”
“Well, either way, I think we should be thankful to the wolves, since they were really nice to us.”
“I agree. They’re the only reason that I was able to avoid failing to protect you, Milady.”
After giving the forest an honorary salute, the kind that knights only used to indicate the greatest of gratitudes, Leighn stepped back in front and escorted her master to the city laid before them.
Upon their return, the pair celebrated their survival. And in doing so, spread tales of the mysterious wolf they had encountered in the forest.
Many thought they were liars, but others seemed to suspect the tale was true, given that they really had returned from the Wicked Forest alive. The story was passed from one ear to another and eventually adapted by a bard into a song titled “The Wolven King.”
And that was how Rir was made into a legend among the races, a legend about a mysterious literate wolf that led a whole legion of monsters.