Weekly chapters (2/2)
A long chapter.
Episode 31 ~The Mystery Shrouding the Flood Thickens~
After sending back the soldiers to the capital, Marl and I were staying outside the capital’s wall, an area that was originally the 『outskirts』 of the capital.
Many tents had been set up on the outskirts, which now became the campsite for the Royal Army and volunteers. Naturally, those who just came back from Glaudis would also stay in this encampment.
The debris and ruins had been cleaned up somewhat while I went around the province as a relief force. The wind blowing across the devastated land felt somewhat cold.
[Taichi-san, how is your magic power?]
[I still have about half.]
I ended up creating multiple Transfer Gates to increase the efficiency of the army’s movement, but that consumed quite a lot of my magic power as a result.
But even so I still had sufficient enough power to move to Crossroad and fight right away.
[In any case Marl, you need to have your armor repaired. I’m not going to let you keep up if you are to wear an armor that you aren’t familiar with.]
[There is still troll hide armor…]
[If they could hurt you while you are wearing mithril meshes and layered mithril chain shirt, I’d imagine your arm would’ve been torn off if you were wearing troll hide armor. Rejected.]
I denied Marl from going along with me.
Either way the great flood of Karendil kingdom is nearing its end. I don’t want Marl to risk herself unnecessarily.
I leaned myself on a nearby shelf. I want more experience points.
[I’m just going for a recon first. I need to decide where we should field the soldiers.]
[Yes, please take care.]
I nodded and raised my bonded sword, activating long range transfer. The destination… let’s go to the adventurers guild.
My vision distorted for a short moment, before the fairly nostalgic scene of adventurer guild became entered my eyes.
It’s currently sparsely populated. Probably because most of the adventurers are out fighting monsters.
The clerk at the guild counter was terrified seeing me appeared practically out of thin air. Apparently the oldman Ulz wasn’t present.
[Yo, it’s been a while. I’d like to meet oldman Ulz, Crossroad Knights leader, or the first squad captain Walls. Where can I see them?]
Apparently I can see Twanich-san if I go to the west gate. So I borrowed the emergency message emblem and promptly headed to the west gate.
Armed adventurers and soldiers alike gathered near the west gate, while the clerics and alchemists busied themselves treating the wounded. Other than that, I also spotted an old lady cooking something on a large pot.
Getting ahold of one of the soldiers, I told him that I got an emergency message and needed to see Knights leader Twanich.
[I was wondering who might it be… turns out it was you, Taichi-dono. Or should I call you Yuusha-dono now?]
[Call me however you like. What is the situation?]
[Not bad, but not good either.]
According to Twanich, despite the monsters low level, they came in such large numbers that the defending forces had trouble coping with them.
Their numbers discouraged the defending forces from engaging the monsters in a field battle. Meanwhile retaliating from the wall will only reduce their numbers by a small amount at a time.
Several times a day, winged red monsters would attack the wall in a fairly large group. Not only these monsters were high leveled, they were also capable of flying, which made it harder to deal with.
In fact, most of the injured here were the victim of said red monsters. If nothing is done, the battle lines would eventually collapse, as the number of victims kept increasing.
[Red monster huh?]
The types of monster I have fought up until now weren’t that many actually.
The 『Great Flood』 is known for the appearance of monsters that don’t normally sighted around the area. So chances are, I’ve never seen some of the monsters before. But the question is, from where does this unusual monsters appear?
What came to my mind was that pitch darkness thingy I saw at the capital. My guess was that it’s some kind of a transfer gate.
Maybe it opened up somewhere outside the city and continuously spouted out monsters one after another.
Like that, I honestly don’t want to imagine what lies on the other side of that darkness.
However, given the situation at the capital back then, something on the other side of that darkness must be responsible for causing the flood.
U~n, should I investigate this matter regarding the origin of the unusual monster?
In any case, that kind of talk must wait until the great flood is truly over.
I climbed to the top of crossroad city wall to memorize a transfer point before returning back to the capital.
After a lengthy discussion with the army commanders, it’s decided that the transfer point will be at the hill just outside Crossroad.
There was also a plan to deploy directly inside the city, but Crossroad city gate could not accommodate large amount of soldiers pouring out at once just like the capital city gate. With that kind of hindrance, deploying inside the city is out of the question.
Given the low level of the invading monsters, it’s deemed more effective to directly strike them on the field to reduce their number before.sweeping the survivor out.
I started transporting soldiers once again.
The reinforcement this time consisted of 2000 combined force of soldiers and volunteers. One drawback I’ve noticed, is that the volunteer marched slower than the regular soldiers, making the entire process to become longer and thus taxing.
By the end of the deployment process, I had less than 1000 remaining MP left.
[Alright then, what now?]
Transporting above the hill, the sight of the mixed reinforcement forces lining up entered my eyes.
It seemed that they are preparing to engage the monster in a field battle, as each one of them had their weapons drawn.
Sunset should in an hour or so…
Will we be able to finish up before sundown? Judging from the pacing so far, I suppose it’s not entirely impossible to do.
Though I’m a bit worried about my current remaining MP. Guess I have no choice but to tone down the MP guzzler Explosion Magic and rely more on the low MP cost bonded sword attacks.
Normally I would want to start the fight tomorrow morning, when most of my MP would’ve already been restored.
But considering Crossroad declining defense, and the risk of reinforcement army suffering heavy casualties… It’s hard for me to stand down.
The monsters would have the advantage at night. How many will become their victim by then?
I stopped thinking about it. Mulling over it too much won’t get me anywhere. I just needed to act.
It’s not something that can be decided easily in the first place.
But I’m sure that I’ll regret this one way or another.
The monsters will continue to attack Crossroad regardless of what I do, so all I need is to reduce the damage as much as possible.
If I’m on my own, then I could just charge in alone. Un, if I rushed in first and fight to draw out the monsters’ attention, both Crossroad and the reinforcement should receive less damage.
Yosh, it’s decided.
I told the commander of the reinforcements about my intention, and that they should wait for the best opportunity to strike.
The commander couldn’t give me his consent since he only saw me fighting back at the capital. But an officer vouched for me since he was also there at the battle of Glaudis.
[Please be really careful. Morale will plummet if you fall.]
[It’s okay, I’ll just escape when the situation becomes too dangerous. I promise!]
As I shouted at the end, I kicked the ground and jumped over the reinforcement army. Heading straight toward the monster horde.
Goblins made up the bulk of the monster horde. There were fairly large number of medium sized monsters such as trolls, but otherwise very little strong enemies here.
The quality of the monsters here was like dirt compared to those appearing on Glaudis. But their number somewhat made up for the gap in individual power.
Swinging the bonded sword and occasionally kicking the small fries, I broke through to the middle of their ranks.
Because of how crowded it was, one would only be able to see me cutting through the horde if they look from the sky above.
I kicked the troll standing on my way. Cries of goblins getting caught in the wake of my kick could be heard.
The path I’d cut open behind me was already closed. I was surrounded. The eyes of many monsters were focused on me who kept fighting at their center.
Don’t stare at me like that, you’re embarrassing me.
I crushed the goblin attempting to ambush me from behind with a backhand, and kicked the large wolf-like monster trying to jump at me, blasting it into mince meat.
The density of the monsters attacking me kept increasing. I guess it’s time.
Circulating the magic in my body, accelerated it, then compressed.
[Crossroad! I’ve returned!]
Since I compressed a lot more magic than usual, the resulting explosion when I finally released it was not to be trifled with.
The explosion was even larger than maximum explosion magic AoE. The convenient part was that I don’t need to control it.
Of course, large amount of monsters were blown away by the shockwave of the explosion.
Yosh, with this――hnn?
The next moment I sensed a chilling sensation that was similar to what I felt when that darkness thingy showed itself on the capital.
That thing is coming? This is bad. I only had 800 MP left. Uun, let’s escape.
[Maximum! Great! Explosion!]
I generated four light bullets and launched it toward the darkness in a quick succession.
The light pierced through the darkness, producing loud tearing noise as they sped up. Following that, I could hear one, two… only two explosions!?
The darkness melted, no, it spurted out something.
Something like miasma gushed forth from the darkness, as if trying to cloak itself from me.
An alarm began ringing at the back of my mind.
Wrapping my feet with magic, I immediately retreated. Just in time before something loudly landed on where I was standing just now.
Then I felt something swishing towards the back of my head, so I promptly ducked to avoid it.
This shroud of darkness is really dangerous. I need to escape somehow, all the while evading all these unidentified adversary attacking me repeatedly.
When I thought I’ve gotten away, something sharp jutted out from the darkness.
I immediately swung my bonded sword to block it, and realized that it’s some kind of spear.
Checking on myself, I found out that my mithril plate had cuts all over it. If I didn’t repair the armor the other day, I would’ve taken all that cuts directly.
『Scan――Magic pattern, found match with the Unit 343’s killer data. Magic Power level, double X.』
Unpleasant voice like it’s coming from a broken speaker could be heard from behind the shroud.
What’s with that voice? As if it’s coming from a robot or something.
『Kill order from High Command received. Eliminating.』
[Oi oi what the hell? That’s so one-sided.]
The darkness shrunk into one being.
A jet black lion with glowing red eyes.
Parts of its mane and flank were missing, probably because of the maximum explosion I launched at it earlier.
『Those who upset harmony must be eliminated.』
The black lion then pounced at me soundlessly.
Such an unexpected speed caught me unprepared.
And that was enough opportunity for the lion to land its attack.
The lion’s full body ramming knocked me away.
The attack went through the mithril plate defense, causing sharp pain throughout my torso as if it was stabbed by numerous knives.
Red substance scattered along the flight path of my body. Blood.
What the hell was that? Did it just erupted blades out of its own body?
My breathing became haggard as more blood dripped down from my wounds to the ground. The dark red fluid also came out from my mouth when I coughed.
Did one of the stabs hit the lungs or airway?
I casted healing magic while struggling to keep my consciousness. Then I quickly rolled sideways because I sensed danger coming from above.
A jet black lump landed soundlessly but heavily on the spot where I was on… wait a moment, soundlessly?
[Gefu, no wonder. My timing became off because of that.]
Its movement didn’t produce any sound. And now I realized that it didn’t even raise any dust up when its feet kicked the ground.
So this is why I felt weird earlier. Now that the mystery had been solved, I can devise a countermeasure against it.
The black lion wag its tail at me while recovering back to its feet, but I slashed it with bonded sword.
That thick tail was severed along the middle, the severed parts flying in the air. My attack went through. In that case, I can come up with something, I guess?
The healing magic started showing its effect. My breathing was no longer haggard, and my HP had returned to 80% when I checked.
I then tried to cut down the black lion while it’s still facing away, but it immediately moved away before I could, probably sensing danger.
Countless amount of bolts rained down on the black lion’s body.
It seemed that the reinforcements had chosen to join the battle.
The militiamen had shot their crossbows to assist me in fighting off the black lion.
Although, about three bolts struck me at the back in the process. Damn you, militiamen… Did you guys secretly want to assassinate me?
Taking the chance that the lion was currently distracted, I lunged in and stab it on its chest. At the same time I also began circulating my magic power.
The lion’s chest caved in, but it counterattacked by jutting out countless spears from its body. So I activated something I’ve been secretly casting while I attacked.
My vision blurred for a while, as I instantly moved 3 meters away due to short-range transfer.
In response to that, the black lion extended its black spears even further to reach me.
I was able to cut down the advancing spears with magic infused bonded sword. Those spears nearly stab me by paper thin margin.
The black lion sidestepped the cutting wave, jumping over 10 meter distance soundlessly in a single bound.
However, there was no point to do that against me.
I immediately cut the distance between us by using 『Short-range Transfer』 . I saw the black lion’s eyes widened for a moment there.
Feinting an imposing horizontal slash, I managed to grab the black spear that the black lion produced to counter my attack. Using that as a handle, I swung the lion around before tossing it as hard as I could to the ground. Strangely it still didn’t make any sound.
I tried attacking it before the black lion could get up.
But I realized that the place I could strike was diminishing. The black lion’s body was shrinking.
It still tried to retaliate with its spears, but that’s pointless since I’ve already become used to it.
I simply need to swipe the spear with bonded sword and it would disappear.
The black lion had lost most of its body, leaving only its head.
And it can still attack even in such state. What a strange creature.
[Oi, answer me. What creature are you exactly? And what do you mean by ‘high command’ and ‘harmony’?]
『Sending in battle log……cease all functions.』
The black lion didn’t answer my question. It instead melted down into a black puddle on the ground.
I blasted the puddle with explosive light bullet just in case it could regenerate back from that state.
Looking around, I noticed that the number of monsters had gone down significantly.
While I was busy fighting the black lion, apparently the reinforcement army did their work.
Looking at my armor, it was in complete mess. Shredded here and there, with dried blood sticking on the surviving parts.
I’m still alive even after receiving such a grave wound. Guess I have to thank my four digits VIT for doing its job properly.
Thinking back, I should’ve died almost instantly after having my heart, lungs, or other internal organ shredded.
[At least I somehow got through.]
The battle was nearing its conclusion.
I put bonded sword back into its sheath while thinking about everything that the black lion said.
It certainly mention something about my 『magic pattern』 matched to those who killed 『Unit 343』.
I don’t know what magic pattern means, but I suppose it’s a type of unique identification data just like a fingerprint. The fact that the black lion knew about it also means that those 『hand』 thingy which appeared on the capital also shared the same database.
It also mention something about the high command. That means, the 『hand』 and the 『black lion』 were probably 『units』 acting under the order of the same 『High Command』.
And judging from the situation around, these『units』are responsible for directing and controlling the flood in each region.
[And that ‘harmony’ it mentioned…]
The 『High Command』 must have a certain intention by causing the Great Flood.
And it’s probably this 『Harmony』 that it tried to achieve.
Attack each country with the flood, achieve 『harmony』 by reducing the number of humans. No, the number of monsters would reduce as well.
Harmony obtained by reducing both the number of human and monster.
[To prevent war between humans?]
That’s just a simple guess. I can only think so far.
If monsters are generated regularly, humans will have no time to even think about warring with their own kind.
But it was also at the cost of many lives. Could there be some other reasons?
[Whatever. This is so tiring.]
Maybe because I had only 200 MP left, or because the healing magic forced my body to recover from such a heavy wound in a very short amount of time, but my body ached all over.
Ah!? That asshole of a black lion didn’t even drop a single mats at all! BUT my level went up by two……gigigi.
Dangit, the dragon I encountered at Glaudis was certainly the biggest harvest I got from this Great Flood.
I was warmly welcomed when I returned to Crossroad after dragging my aching body all the way in.
Apparently the defenders witnessed everything, from me cutting through the monster horde and up until I fought against the black lion.
[Are you badly injured!? Oi, get him to the clinic ASAP!]
[Oi stop, I’m not hurt or anything]
[I always heard that from an injured person! It’s alright, leave it to us!]
I was carried forcefully into the field hospital. My armor, or what’s left of it, was quickly stripped by the men in charge.
Alright alright, don’t push me down like that, I’m not hurt here, oi stop, I’m a straight. Don’t touch my chest like that!
[What? Despite how he looked there is actually no wound or bruises?]
When seriously thought to resist with all my might, turned out it was Lynette.
Apparently someone mistook me for being heavily injured, so I was carried here.
[I’ve healed myself with healing magic.]
[Anyone would misunderstand your condition with all that blood sticking on your person.]
Lynette smiled as she nudged my chest. The dirt and blood still sticking on my body was cleaned up in a blink of an eye.
Speaking of which, there was indeed cleansing magic on Life Magic branch. I kept forgetting about that due to my battle oriented line of thought.
[Is the first division fine?]
[Captain Walls was injured, but his life is in no danger. Overall, I think we had no casualties.]
[Thank goodness… Haaaー, I’m tired and hungry]
Putting my shredded armor to my inventory, I changed into a more casual clothes.
I also put the secondary equipment away, as I have no intention to fight again today.
[Few months ago we were still going out together to kill some trolls, and now you’ve become such an important person. Who knows you’ll become this awesome since our last meeting?]
Lynette muttered such a thing as she helped me got up from the bed I was forced to lay down on.
[I’m not all that different regardless of what people made it to be. Well, I’m definitely a lot stronger now. Ah, and lot richer too. Gehehe. Maybe I should try buying Lynette with the power of gold.]
[What are you saying? Are you trying to incur Marl’s wrath?]
[Ah probably it isー! Marl’s sword skill has been developing well recently. If someone did something stupid, she might just stab them in the back.]
Realizing that I was messing with her, Lynette laughed, and I too laughed as well.
I had to leave the site afterward because the people started to bring in the injured members of the reinforcement army.
Meeting oldman Ulz can wait, so I decided to visit the Burning Golden Bed first.
[Welcome… ah, it’s been a while. Rumour of your successes have reached even here at Crossroad.]
The receptionist of the Burning Golden Bed greeted me amicably just like he’d do to a first time visitor.
Now that I think about, I didn’t get to know his name yet. At the very least it’s not that much of a problem.
[Working really hard outside really make me starving. Can I eat on the dining hall?]
[We are actually still preparing, so Oi Pinea!]
The receptionist went to the dining room and called for Pinea. I simply followed along.
When we entered the dining hall, I was presented with the figure of Pinea in the middle of processing some innards by soaking it on some sort of sauce.
[What is it? Can you see that I’m busy… Ey if it isn’t Taichi-san. Long time no see. How is Marl-chan?]
[She’s acting as my answering machine on the capital while I the hero went on a business trip to Crossroad.]
I sat on the counter as I said so. At the same time, the receptionist brought out a glass of ale for me from the kitchen.
Yeah, ale fragrance smells nice when our body is tired.
Perhaps because they are still busy with preparing foods and whatnots, there was no customers other than myself.
[Ara? You say the monsters outside have been cleaned up?]
[Yep, and I think I brought down nearly half of them. That’s why I’m famished and need to be fed]
[Okay okay, it’ll be 5 copper coins.]
I handed over 5 copper coins to Pinea, who seemed to have no intention to act professional with me, then relaxed myself down.
The dishes that came out after a while were still on large servings, just like how I had it when I was still staying at this inn.
I don’t know what meat is this, but the thick steak had crispiness in it. The pot-au-feu also had a lot of vegetables in it. Not to forget the large servings of pasta and fruits.
[It’s a special service, you know?]
[Pinea-san really is an angel.]
[I know I know.]
As Pinea went back to the kitchen, I let my eyes feast upon her rear view before finally started moving my knife and fork to eat the steak. Meaty juice came out when I sunk my knife on it.
The surface was well grilled, giving it crispiness. A perfect example of medium rare steak. Not only that, they probably seasoned the meat as well. There was a taste of spiciness in the sauce that really goes well with the steak.
The pot-au-feu was full of tasty carrots, potato-like vegetables, cabbages, and many more. The mild salty taste was refreshing.
The large serving of pasta was deliciously salty, had plenty of garlic and what reminded me of peperoncino. Although instead of red, the color of the pepper is green in this world.
It was hot and spicy overall, a direct opposite to Jack-san’s elegant and delicate dishes.
However, I do think that such type of seasoning fits well with dishes that make use of innards as ingredients. I’m very satisfied with the dishes.
[Haaー, I ate them all.]
[Good if you enjoyed it. Are you staying in for the night?]
[Nope, I’m going back home. But I’ll come back with Marl to eat here again.]
After finishing the meal, I bid farewell and left.
Now that my MP had recovered to an extent, I’ll say hello to Twanich-san before heading back.
[How is Hero-sama doing?]
[Uーn, he’s doing okay. It’s getting a bit dangerous, but special is special after all.]
[Wait a minuteー, can you at least, wear something less revealing!]
[I’m used to being naked in front of someone else of the opposite gender. I consider it some sort of remedy.]