Weekly chapters (1/2)
Eris, Fate, and Roxy (manga version)
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Chapter 151 – A Destroyed Town
We parted with the convoy of refugees, and once again sped on our magic bike. After a while, a green patch of land came into view.
Things seemed to be the same there, and yet I sensed something different.
When we entered the area, a faint sweet scent entered my nostrils. This was quite normal.
But there’s something odd…
[There should be some people living around here, but now there are none.]
Roxy spoke from the backseat as we passed through some houses.
It’s exactly as she said. People used to live around here. But with them evacuating, the original liveliness had gone.
When I passed by last time, the inhabitants made use of the fertile ground to grow many crops. They also used the pasture to rear livestock animals.
However, what we saw once we parked the magic bike was a totally different scenery.
The farmland looked desolate, with the crops harvested prematurely. There were no livestock animals in sight. The fences that were meant to keep them from escaping were broken in many parts.
[Unlike when I passed by back then, there’s not a trace of people left.]
[Apparently they evacuated in such a hurry.]
[It seems so…]
While I was discussing the city’s condition with Roxy, Mimir and Eris came to join us.
They too had the same impression.
[Eee~, I didn’t know there is actually a town here. It must’ve been built recently. Suffice to say that it’s comparable to a city now.]
[True. Those refugees we came across earlier must’ve been the last batch.]
The buildings looked fairly new. It hadn’t gone dilapidated yet, but I couldn’t sense any presence from within.
It’s almost like a ghost town.
[What should we do then? Find if anyone is still in the town, maybe we can gain some info from them?]
[Yeah, let’s do that. Mimir and Roxy, can you two do it?]
[ [ Yes ] ]
Having assigned the two to help, I turned to Snow who had been clinging tightly on my leg.
For some reason, she became really scared once we entered the town. She often clung to me, so at first I thought that it’s normal. But then, I realized that she’s acting unusual when I sensed that her body was trembling.
Since she didn’t show that many expressions to begin with, it’s hard to decipher her feelings.
I kept this realization hidden so that Roxy wouldn’t get unnecessarily worried.
Even so, there was one other who noticed Snow’s behavior.
[Nee, Fate. Who would’ve thought that this girl and I actually have something in common?]
[That’s quite insightful of you.]
Eris spoke up with a smile, but her voice sounded listless. After Libra’s name was mentioned, she’s been spiritless.
Roxy and Mimir noticed this as well. Therefore they took my request for both of them to search the town without complaint.
[Don’t push yourself too hard. If it’s still difficult for you to face Libra, then just stay here.]
[I’ll be fine… more than that, I’m worried about Snow.]
[It doesn’t seem like she remembers anything though.]
It might be her instincts flaring up automatically, I don’t know.
[But, judging from this, could it be that she’s related to Libra?]
[Well, even if she was… there’s no way to know right now. She doesn’t have any recollection about things prior to meeting us.]
I gently stroked the head of Snow who was still hugging my thigh. That managed to calm her after a while.
[Yosh, attagirl. I’m going to catch up with Roxy and Mimir, do you mind?]
[Un. There is something scary in here. Be careful.]
Letting go of my thigh and accepting my hand, Snow nodded. We started walking to catch up with Roxy.
Just when we did,
It was Mimir who had gone to search the town in advance. Judging from her expression, she might’ve found something.
[I found some people.]
[In a large mansion just up ahead. They were the family who govern this town… or rather who formerly governed this town]
[Understood. Lead the way.]
We moved on, following behind Mimir. The mansion in question was situated in the middle of the town.
Along the way, we passed through what appeared to be the main street. I noticed the trees growing on the streetsides had shrivelled dry. Dead.
Perhaps it’s because most of the town’s residents had gone away, leaving the trees without anyone to take care of it. But even so, I felt that it’s too early for the plants to die.
[What’s wrong, Fate?]
[Nah, it’s nothing.]
Eris walked to my side, asking why I looked away earlier. But since it’s just a passing thought, I didn’t tell her.
[Fate-sama, Eris-sama, quick!]
I guess it’ll be better to seek information from the town mayor instead. I quickly chased after Mimir, dragging Snow along.
And then, we arrived at the center of the town.
[Eh, isn’t that…]
[What is it?]
[I remember that there should be a lake over there, but it’s gone now.]
In the direction I pointed at was a dried lake. The ground was cracked in many areas. There was not a single drop of water left.
[That way, there should be a large lake there.]
And I heard, the water was not regular water.
When drunk, it had the power to heal wounds and relieve fatigue. Furthermore, when used to water crops, they would grow faster and resulted with a larger yield during harvest season.
It was truly a special kind of water.
[Why of course. Without such a lake, there would be no benefit for living in this land.]
Eris commented, nodding after she took a short look at the now dried lake.
Our talk regarding the lake was cut short when we saw Roxy emerging from the mansion.
[Everyone, this way. The people inside suddenly acted strange.]
I was quickly informed that there’s a family of three living inside the mansion.
Upon entering, I was quite amazed with just how spacious the inside was.
It was the kind of mansion that is impossible to maintain without servants.
Roxy also told me that all the workers who were employed at this mansion had quitted.
Walking down a long corridor, we came across a young man waiting in a room ahead.
He looked pale, probably suffering from some kind of sickness.
[My name is Ted, the Mayor’s son. Firstly, to the Holy Knight Sirs… Thank you for coming by despite our place’s current condition. As you can see, this place can no longer be considered a town. Therefore, I’m sorry to not be able to provide any satisfactory hospitality.]
[No, it’s alright.]
Rather than that, there’s something more important.
[By the way, where are your parents?]
[They collapsed earlier today, and are currently resting on the bedroom. Thankfully Roxy-sama was there to help me.]
When I glanced at Roxy, she simply smiled back at me.
[When I examined them, they were growing weaker and weaker. The land itself might have been the cause. It might be because of that infamous city eating monster, or probably this man who is only known as Libra. I do not know, but either way it is bad news.]
[It certainly is…]
Even the condition of Ted here seemed worsening as time passed by. His forehead was drenched with sweats.
It’s best to keep the talk brief and let him rest.
[Then let’s get straight to the point. When did the man who called himself Libra arrived in this town?]
[About a month ago, Around the same time, the lake’s water level began decreasing. He said that there was something lurking here that is bad for us――he’s implying to the beast hiding underground. So we told him to leave the town. We drove him out without listening to what he had to say.
[Umm, did he leave right away after that?]
[Yes, but the lake rapidly dried up after that. Outside of this town is wilderness. People of this town relied on the power of the lake to make a living here, so with the lake dried, they had to give up and move out. And that man――our situation only grew worse after he left.]
[So there are others who decided to stay aside from your family?]
[Yes. other than my family… there are 10 other people staying in this town.]
With the lake dried up, they could no longer grow any crops here. And the water they had stored up was running very low.
The questioning look on our face must’ve been very obvious.
Ted gave us an answer before any of us could ask.
[That’s the faces of people wondering why we insist on staying. The rest who remain in here, including me, were the first to discover this oasis in the middle of wasteland. We were originally exhausted from our travel and had no place to go. Finding this oasis was a great relief for us. Right then, we swore that no matter what happened, we won’t ever leave this paradise…]
[But, this place is no longer a paradise, and yet you still stay?]
[Yes. As I said, we will not leave from here no matter what happened.]
But at this rate their bodies will only grow weaker.
Even so, when I was about to try to convince Ted to leave, Eris placed her hand on my shoulder.
[Fate, don’t. It’s no use.]
[Your intention is correct. But they’ll only find your good intentions as a nuisance.]
Eris then turned to Ted, staring at him straightly.
No matter how many times we ask… the answer would remain the same.
Sighing, I looked outside through the window. The trees dried up at a gradual but visible rate.
The leaves, having lost the vitality that supported them, fell down.
It’s like their aging had been fast forward.
[Look at the ground]
We rushed outside, finding the cracks on the dried lake grew wider.
Following that was an earthquake.
The trees uprooted, and the houses crumbled.
[Don’t tell me, this magic power…]
[It’s like someone is fighting underground.]
I could feel the spiking pressure from under my feet.
There’s no doubt. This magic power certainly felt the same as what I sensed from Libra back when I met him at Tetra.
Snow grasped my hand tighter. She muttered while looking down to the ground.
[Fate, it’s coming.]
[What!? Everyone! Stay away from here!]
[It’s one thing after another.]
From the cracks on the ground, gigantic tendrils of a plant-like creature burst forth.
It was so huge that it filled almost the entirety of my field of view.
[Mimir! Take care of Snow!]
[Roxy, secure the exit]
Eris and I, weapons drawn, cut apart the giant tendril in front of us.
『Fate, it’s useless to cut down these things』
[If even you say that, does that mean this is that so-called city-eating monster?]
No matter where I turned, the tendrils were everywhere around the town.
There were too many to count already.
More and more tendrils burst out of other spots as I cut one. Too many to cut down all at once with normal slashes.
『Yeah, it is. Although I believe this one should still be an infant. Libra might have done something to it, causing it to go on a rampage. Moreover, it is unlikely that we’ll be able to get rid of it』
[What…oi oi, are you kidding me?]
Smaller tendrils sprouted out from the stump that I cut down.
This is a whole different dimension of regeneration.
[In that case!]
I infused fireball magic into my black sword.
Then I tried to cut the tendril down once more with the now fire cladded sword.
[Are you kidding me?]
[These tendrils are actually resistant to fire.]
[Is there actually a plant that can’t be burnt?]
The only silver lining was that our enemy this time was not an Area E, so Roxy and Mimir’s attacks worked against it.
But their help would mean nothing against this enemy which has a division capability that surpassed normal regeneration. It could even worsen the situation.
[It’ll be bad if we stay put for too long. Should we evacuate outside?]
[I don’t think we could at this point.]
The tendrils surrounded us like a cage. Since it’s not belonged to Area E, Eris and I wouldn’t take damage from it.
However, with our space to move restricted, we were forced to go on the defensive.
We had too little information about this city-eating monster. Even Greed did not know how to kill it.
[Guess no other way but to attack…]
I tightened my grip on the black sword. Readying myself to slash at the tendril, when
『Hold it, Fate』
[What is it?]
『Something is strange』
I didn’t know why Greed said so. But when I turned around again, the earthquake stopped.
[It’s dying… No. It’s decaying]
Right at that moment, something happened to the tendrils that had been bursting out from the ground.
Somehow, all of them started crumbling into dust. On the other hand, Eris seemed frightened upon seeing this.
Which means, the culprit behind this…
As I thought so, a man emerged from among the crumbling tendrils.