Mushoku Tensei (WN) Volume 23 / Chapters List

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    In order to defeat Gisu, Rudeus was able to win over the leaders of the various countries and one of the World Powers as his allies.

    He was successfully able to tame The Great Empress of the Demon Realm Kishirika by feeding her and was now aware of Gisu's whereabouts.

    Gisu was in Biheiril Kingdom!

    However, North God Kalman the Third was there as well.

    Should he win over North God as his ally first or should he give a call out to Sword God first?

    Just when Rudeus was starting to waver, information from the Mercenary Group arrived that "Someone like Ruijerd was found."

    The place he was found at was Biheiril Kingdom.

    Thus, Rudeus decided to embark towards the Biheiril Kingdom where the three people namely 『Gisu』, 『North God Kalman the Third』 and 『Ruijerd』 were currently gathered.


    The conference room in the Orsted offices.

    There, I sat directly across from Orsted.

    On both sides, Eris, Roxy, Sylphy, and Zanoba could be seen respectively.

    Roxy was keeping the record of proceedings.


    "——Is what happened."


    I gave Orsted the report of the last sequence of findings all at once.


    Gisu, North God Karlmann III.

    When I told him that the two of them were discovered in the Kingdom of Biheiril, he was in a good mood.

    It never came from his mouth, but he had an atmosphere as if he wanted to say "Good job!"

    I also continued my report in high spirits.


    "..."


    However, as soon as I reported that Ruijerd has been discovered, that good mood disappeared.

    To put it plainly, his expression clouded.


    "... Ummm, is something wrong?"


    He seems kind of mad, but kind of not.

    Seeming like a negative aura was overflowing, he glared at me.

    After all this time, just being glared at won't cause my legs to quake.

    However, if I don't know the reason, I become a little anxious.


    "... In the Kingdom of Biheiril, the Ogre God is also there."


    Ogre God.

    That reminds me, Ogre Island, where the Ogre God lives, is to the east of the Kingdom of Biheiril.

    No, I didn't forget.

    However, I need a confirmation.


    "Didn't you say something about the Ogre God becoming an enemy easily?"

    "The current generation Ogre God has been an apostle in a past loop."


    I see.

    Then, the chance that Gisu's location is a trap has increased.

    Alternatively, Gisu's objective may be the Ogre God.

    Even if we discuss that in the conference room, we won't understand. Not unless we go there directly.

    However, we are currently in the conference room.

    Let's focus on things that can be discussed in the conference room.


    "I'd like to discuss our plans from now on, that included."

    "Yeah."

    "For the present, we have this many materials gathered, so I don't think putting it off and not going to the Kingdom of Biheiril is an option."


    For the time being, I'll present my strategy.


    "There is the chance that this is a trap by Gisu, or rather Hitogami. However, we don't know when we'll have another chance to catch Gisu, who keeps running about, so this could be seen as the perfect chance. I regret not being able to call out to the Sword God, but I think I should head to the Kingdom of Biheiril. Is this okay?"

    "I have no objections."


    In any event, immediately after hearing of Gisu's discovery, Atofe began moving on her own.

    I didn't hear what route she'll be taking, but I'm certain it will be a while before she arrives.

    One or two months, or possibly longer.

    In order to meet up with her, as well as to tell the people there about her, going to the Kingdom of Biheiril is unavoidable.


    "There are 4 things we need to do.

     Find Gisu, and crush him.

     Find North God Karlmann III, and persuade him.

     Find Ruijerd, and persuade him.

     Find the Ogre God, and either persuade or crush him.

     In that order of priority... if that's okay with you? Orsted-sama."

    "... Yeah."


    Personally I'd like to meet Ruijerd before anything else, but even so the North God should be first.

    As for the Ogre God, it would be easiest if Atofe ran into him when crossing the sea.

    If I don't get in contact with her, that's probably what will happen.

    Or rather, how should I go about contacting her?

    I don't think there's any way other than the communication lithograph established at Fort Necross.

    ... Well, it may be better to put off thinking about that until Atofe arrives. Or rather, there may be no other option. Not having a means of emergency contact is pretty inconvenient.


    "Furthermore, upon locating Gisu, if his gathered war potential is high, I'll call in for reinforcements for our side."


    The enemy is in the Kingdom of Biheiril.

    However, if after gathering our forces in Biheiril, it turned out that he had already escaped then I would look like the boy who cried wolf.

    I'm sure it's something that happens from time to time, but trust in us will still lower.


    "I don't think it'll be too late to call in reinforcements after Gisu has been discovered."


    The enemy is there, and we're going to have a decisive battle.

    It's better not to call in our allies until after that has been decided.

    If we repeatedly discover Gisu, call in allies, let him run away, and disperse, and are unable to gather any allies when the time is right, it would be meaningless.


    "For that sake, I think we should establish teleportation circles at each location for calling in reinforcements."


    The Kingdom of Biheiril is a small country, but even so it has three large cities.

    The capital Biheiril.

    The second city Irel.

    The third city Heilerul.


    "In the vicinity of each of the three cities, I will set up teleportation circles."


    I throw a glance at Roxy.


    "The number of people who can accurately draw teleportation circles is limited, but I thought something like this might happen, and asked my great teacher to prepare a number of teleportation scrolls. Applause, please."


    A thunderous applause began.

    Confetti danced and fell on Roxy standing on stage.

    Roxy held a mic while waving her hand to her fans from around the world gathered in the hall, and they fainted one after another.

    In my mind, at least.


    "Regardless of whether we do or don't discover Gisu, we'll cut off all his escape routes.

     We'll send people to the neighboring countries and monitor the highways.

     For this, we'll use the Rudo Mercenary Corps here in Sharia."


    Rinia and Pursena.

    Aisha will also move, I'm sure.


    "Once the escape routes are closed off, we'll search for Gisu. As soon as he's found, we'll call in reinforcements and crush him in one go."


    What's important is being certain the enemy is there.

    After that, is to make sure the opponent doesn't run away before our forces are gathered.


    Fortunately, Biheiril is enclosed by forests, mountains, and the sea, and doesn't have many neighboring countries.

    It won't be that difficult to prevent him from escaping.


    Of course, when Kishirika found Gisu with her magic eye, she sensed the presence of Hitogami.

    In that case, the chances are high that she was detected by Hitogami in return.

    There's a chance that he has already escaped.

    According to Gisu's letter, if he was trying to make comrades then he would even be able to escape the forest.

    Securing the surrounding countries is just for peace of mind.


    "I see. Then who will establish the teleportation circles?"

    "Let's split the work. The three of us will divide the locations between us."

    "... Wouldn't that be a problem, though? After all, Rudi's the one being targeted."

    "Yeah."


    At Sylphy's words, I nodded.

    Putting whether or not to believe it aside, Gisu's letter said that the one being targeted is me.

    If I act independently, it's quite possible for me to fall into a trap.

    The danger of each of us getting crushed separately also exists.


    "However, thanks to Orsted-sama's bracelet, I can avoid Hitogami's surveillance.

     Gisu and Hitogami can't sense me or Orsted-sama, or the people around him.

     Nonetheless, this is Gisu we're talking about; he may be able to find me with anachronistic methods.

     In other words, finding me with normal information-gathering methods.

     That's why I'll disguise myself.

     Before I'm discovered, I'll quickly establish the teleportation circles."


    Regardless of whether or not it's a trap, I shouldn't show myself too quickly.

    Thus, I'll use a disguise.

    Even disguised, if I gather information to try and find Gisu, I'll be exposed sooner or later.

    However, I'll be able to avoid a scenario where immediately after entering the country, I'm surrounded and destroyed.

    If I'm lucky and go about it well, even if Gisu has placed a trap, I can still take the initiative.


    If there's no trap, it means that Kishirika finding him with her magic eye was outside of both Gisu's and Hitogami's expectations.

    In that event, Gisu will probably run away.


    On the other hand, Gisu should have business that brought him to the Kingdom of Biheiril.

    Until I arrive, he may try to finish his business up until the last minute.

    By disguising myself to delay my discovery, I may be able to lengthen the amount of time before he runs away.

    There's no reason not to.


    "If Rudi wants to hide from Gisu, it may be best to have a diversion."


    Roxy gave that proposal.

    A diversion.

    In other words, make him think that "I sensed a trap and decided not to go to Biheiril."

    If the chum they scattered gathered fish, but they could only catch small fish and the one they were aiming for wasn't there, they may become confused.


    "A diversion, huh? Any specific ideas?"


    Roxy nodded.


    "Yes. How about having one of us go to the Sword God?

     Queen Ariel said she'll send reinforcements at any time.

     Ghyslaine and Isolte should be included in that.

     Those two are familiar with the Holy Land of the Sword, and won't turn against us or fall behind.

     Even if the Sword God were to become an enemy, it won't be a problem if we gather information beforehand and return without making contact, and even if we can't get the Sword God, we could at least bring Sword King Nina with us."


    Sword King Nina, huh?

    The person I met in the Kingdom of Asura.

    The one who Eris herself wanted to make a comrade, which is unusual for her.

    She's no substitute for the Sword God, but if she's on par with Eris, she'll certainly be a battle asset.


    If he's an enemy, then quickly return with just Nina. Putting aside whether we can do it, if both Ghyslaine and Isolte are there, I don't think anything is impossible.


    "Ah, in that case I'll do it."


    Sylphy raised her hand and said that.

    Sylphy will go to the Sword God... well, she should be able to handle negotiations.

    She's more or less acquainted with Ghyslaine, Isolte, and Nina, after all.


    Furthermore, just the fact that Sylphy is going will act as a diversion.

    Since the children have already been born, there shouldn't be much merit in killing my wives, but Hitogami is well aware of who I want to protect.

    If my wives go different ways, my whereabouts become harder to discern.

    However, there is one concern.


    "... Isn't it dangerous?"

    "Of course there is danger. However, we know Gisu's whereabouts, so I think the danger will be little."


    That's certainly true.

    Gisu won't want to have the people he had won over as comrades crushed one by one.

    If Gisu is somewhere else, his allies should be there with him.

    Or so I think, but those thoughts may have been read.


    "I think Hitogami knows what is most important to Rudy. If we go, wouldn't it be successful as a diversion?"


    Roxy said what I was just thinking as if to emphasize it.


    But... Huh?

    If you think about it that way, isn't my plan problematic?

    Establish teleportation circles within the Kingdom of Biheiril, and gather my forces. However, moving from place to place should take half a day or more.

    Isn't it possible for my forces to be crushed individually?


    Somehow, it's starting to seem like an all-out war.

    This isn't a flag for my scattered comrades to die one by one, is it?

    No, since coming to this world, I should have well understood that flags and such have no meaning. However...


    "But, I'm a little worried... Maybe it would be better to stop with this plan..."

    "Rudi..."


    Roxy suddenly heaved a sigh.

    As if she can see through my timid thoughts.


    "Listen up, Rudi.

     Adventurers entering a labyrinth aim to finish the adventure without losing a single person.

     If everyone does everything that they can do, the chance of returning alive increases.

     Until now, what we considered the [something we can do] was staying home and watching over the children.

     After all, to me and Sylphy, Rudy and Eris were fighting in a far-off place beyond our reach.

     However, right now, the plan I suggested is [something we can do], and I think it will raise the chance of everyone returning safely."


    Chance...?

    However, that's true. Nothing is ever certain.

    Even if you think it's completely safe and certain to succeed, unexpected situations can occur, and something you didn't think about can cause it to fail.


    "I know that Rudi wants to keep us safely locked up at home.

     However, even if we're locked up, if you lose, it's the end. We'll all be annihilated.

     There's a risk to everything.

     Let's brave the dangers, so that we can all be smiling in the end."


    If anyone dies, would I be able to smile?

    I go to the Kingdom of Biheiril, and when I come back, Roxy, Sylphy, and Eris are gone.

    Would I be able to smile then?

    No, I wouldn't.


    "Rudi, we're already parents.

     Let's not just look at ourselves, but into the future."


    At those words, Paul's face suddenly crossed my mind.

    If Paul were alive, at this moment, what would he say?

    When he went to the Teleportation Labyrinth, he took me along.

    During the teleportation incident... he had a lot going on, so I'll set that aside.


    Before then.

    When we were living in Buena village.

    At the very least, Paul didn't lock me away at home.

    I'm sure he was doing his best to protect me, but in that village where if you walk away a bit you may come across something dangerous, he let me walk around on my own.


    Zenith, too, when she wasn't pregnant, worked in the village's clinic.

    Even when she was pregnant, during her stable period, I think she went toddling out a few times.


    Paul wasn't always right.

    He didn't have any clear enemy.

    However, right now, I'm still alive.

    Thinking of it like that, saying no to everything is a bit overprotective.

    No, but the circumstances are completely different...


    "Yeah. It's just as Roxy says."


    Sylphy gave her agreement.


    "We'll bear the risks. When the enemy's defeated, as long as one of us remains to take care of the children, it will be fine."

    "... That's right!"


    Eris nodded to Sylphy's words.

    I don't know if she was able to follow the conversation up to here, but at least she was in agreement with Sylphy.


    "..."


    Zanoba and Orsted didn't answer, but they didn't voice any opposition, either.


    "Okay, then let's go with that. Any objections?"


    No objections.

    Then, let's go with this plan.

    While hiding my presence, we'll split up to find Gisu, and if he's found, we'll close off his escape routes and wait for reinforcements, then crush him.


    "Then next, let's work out the specifics."


    All that's left are the details.

    As a result of our discussions, we were split into the following teams.


    • The team going to the neighboring countries to close off Gisu's escape routes:
    Aisha, Rinia, Pursena, and the rest of the mercenary corps


    • The diversion team going to the Holy Land of the Sword to get Nina:
    Sylphy, (Ghyslaine, Isolte)


    • The team going to the capital:
    Zanoba, Julie, Ginger


    • The team going to the second city:
    Rudeus


    • The team going to the third city:
    Eris, Roxy


    After each team sets up teleportation circles, they will separate and search for Gisu and the North God.

    Just like Sylphy proposed earlier.

    Zanoba will mainly do information gathering.

    Eris and Roxy will deal with the Ogre God.

    The team that eliminates the escape routes will take orders from Aisha, so it'll probably work out fine.

    My job became related to Ruijerd.


    The Ogre God who has been referred to as this and that since long ago.

    The North God Karlmann III who just so happens to be going to the Kingdom of Biheiril.

    Ruijerd who has deep connections with me.


    We can't quite predict Gisu's movements, so we ended up splitting our forces.

    It would probably be best to leak some information and play it by ear.


    The members going to the Kingdom of Biheiril will move out immediately.

    If we waste time, Gisu's whereabouts may become uncertain.

    I don't want to have to search for Kishirika over and over again to get her to find Gisu.


    Sylphy will move out a little after that.

    Ariel said she will send reinforcements immediately, but she has her own circumstances.

    Ghyslaine and Isolte probably won't arrive in just a few minutes.

    Julie, Ginger, Rinia, Pursena, and the rest of the mercenary corps have their own jobs that they're still in the middle of, so we'll tell them to prioritize this instead.

    It may be unreasonable, but this is the critical moment.

    We have to do this, even if it's unreasonable.


    Is this a chance or a trap?

    It may be optimistic, but I'm hoping for the former.


    Using the communication lithographs, we told the plan to Ariel and Cliff as well.

    Ariel immediately responded "I'll give you my utmost support," but Cliff still hasn't replied.

    Unlike Ariel who has a lithograph in her room, in Milis we have to send messages to Cliff through the mercenary corps, so it probably takes time.


    "Any questions?"


    I looked over the surroundings, but nobody raised their hand.

    There don't seem to be any.


    The one who looks a little worried is Zanoba.

    Looking at the state of affairs, higher priority is given to the third city which is closest to Ogre Island and the second city which is closest to where Ruijerd was spotted, but the capital has the most people, so it may be the most dangerous.

    Ginger's information gathering abilities are high, and Zanoba's a powerful combatant, but he's weak to fire magic.

    'Don't end up dying now.' or so my thoughts.


    "Zanoba, be careful."

    "I know. However, rather than for myself, I'm worried about the shop."

    "Oh, that's right..."


    For the record, whether it's the store or the factory, they should still go on even if the top brass isn't there.

    However, if neither Zanoba nor Julie are there, if some major trouble occurs, I don't know how it will fare.


    "So you wanted to leave Julie behind?"

    "Hahaha, I promised I wouldn't leave her again."


    Zanoba's really loved by Julie...

    Or rather, I wonder how Zanoba feels about her.

    I wonder if they've made love.

    That's kind of a hard thing to ask.

    Zanoba has times when he kind of pulls back one or two steps from women.

    If someday he has children then I fully intend to tease him and call him a lolicon bastard, but I don't want to butt into his affairs too much as an outsider.


    "Eris too, are you alright?"

    "...... I'm fine."


    Eris looks dissatisfied.

    It seems she wanted to go with me.

    However, if she did that, there wouldn't be anyone who could guard Roxy.

    Furthermore, if I'm with Eris, we'll stick out like a sore thumb.

    She can't do anything covertly.

    That's why I put her with the one who stands out the second most, Roxy.

    They're also a kind of diversion.


    "I'm worried about Rudeus being alone."


    Certainly, I'm also worried about myself.

    I wonder if I can properly avoid Gisu's attention while gathering information.

    Gisu's information skills are top-class.

    Unless I move very well, as soon as Gisu knows that someone's searching for North God Kalman or Ruijerd, I'll be noticed by him.

    If he notices me too early, he'll naturally run away.

    In the first place, nothing good ever happens when I act on my own.


    "Well, I'll make it work out somehow."


    It would have been better if I had gathered one or two people who are good at gathering intelligence.

    Regretting it now won't change anything.

    I couldn't predict the situation turning out like this.


    "What will Orsted-sama be doing? I'd be thankful if you could stay here to manage the communication lithographs and protect my family."

    "...Sure."

    "Thank you very much."


    Orsted is house-sitting.

    He stands out, so he's not really suited for information gathering.

    There may be times when we need him, but it's best if he stays here whenever possible and comes to help when the battle starts.

    Of course, there is the matter about his mana, so it would be a problem if he participates too much in battle.

    He's something like the last trump card.

    Or rather, it's for the sake of preserving his mana that he has me as a subordinate.

    As such, having Orsted fight can be considered to be our loss.


    "..."


    Orsted stays silent.

    I get the feeling he wants to say something, but I can't see his facial expression because of the helmet.

    I wonder if he's concerned.

    No, we're about to undertake a massive plan, so he must be tense as well.


    "Rudeus. Just in case, you should wear that ring."

    "Ring?"


    The Death God's ring.

    Suddenly told that, I looked at my hand.

    On my finger is a rather creepy ring with a skull design.

    It's what I got from the Death God. After meeting Kishirika, I started wearing it for no particular reason.


    "Can I ask the reason?"

    "It's just in case. Simply wearing it has an effect."

    "...Understood."


    I don't really get it, but if simply wearing it has an effect, then I guess it's fine.

    When the time comes, I'll probably understand.


    "Also, there's one..."

    "Ummm..."


    Someone raised their voice.

    Orsted held his tongue.


    Who's the foolish employee who cut off the president's words?


    But looking over the surroundings, no one's saying anything.

    No one's raising their hand, either.

    However, it was a woman's voice.

    Which means the offender is one of those three.


    "Chairman——"


    If she's calling me chairman, that means it's... huh? She's not here.


    "There's a visitor——!"


    No, I get it.

    The voice is far off.

    Everyone's gaze turns to the door.

    This is the receptionist Lil elf-chan's voice.

    What was her name again?


    "Excuse me, I'll go check it out."


    I told everyone not to disturb the meeting, but...

    It may be an emergency.

    I moved from the president's office to the lobby.


    "...Uo-"


    The instant I entered the lobby, golden light flew into my eyes.

    He's golden.

    From head to toe, he's covered in gold.

    A person wearing shining gold armor was standing there.


    "Wha......"

    "Hey there."


    The golden light casually raised a hand.

    In that voice and those movements, I saw the phantom of a certain being.

    An even more golden suit of armor.

    A golden knight.

    I've heard that the Fighting God's armor was gold.

    I've also heard that Badigadi once, as an apostle, donned that golden armor and fought with Laplace.

    That's it, he's coming to attack.

    Gisu was a decoy!

    Hitogami salvaged the golden armor and sent in his vanguard!


    "This person seems to have come here using the teleportation circles under Her Majesty Ariel's orders."


    ...As if that could happen.

    Looking closely, the armor looked to be gold because of the light, but it's actually a dull ocher.


    "Ah, nice to meet you."


    The man took off his helmet.

    What was under it was a head of black hair, which is rare in this world.

    He looks around 50 years old.

    He had many wrinkles, and the appearance of a veteran.


    "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am Her Majesty Ariel's knight, Sándor von Grandeur."

    "Ah, very pleased to meet you. I am Rudeus Greyrat."


    He bowed to me, so I returned his bow.

    That's quite a name.

    I've never heard of the house of Grandoire, but he's probably a noble.


    "Earlier I received secret orders from Her Majesty Ariel, and thus came here."


    Saying that, Sándor presented the box he was carrying under his arm.

    Earlier... Just now, huh?

    We had just finished telling her the plan. That was quite fast.


    "I see. And this is?"

    "Inside is a magic tool to change your appearance. I was told it was necessary."


    Oooh.

    Come to think of it, the Kingdom of Asura had those kinds of magic tools.

    It's what was used to disguise Ariel.


    At any rate, she was quite prepared.

    She may have prepared it from the beginning, in case it became necessary.


    "Please confirm the contents."

    "Yes."


    I peeked inside, and certainly, there was a green ring and red ring set that I remember seeing.

    The person wearing the green ring takes on the facial features and hair color of the one wearing the red ring.

    Using this, I can transform into a completely inconspicuous villager.


    "Also, this is the Kingdom of Asura's insignia.

     If anything happens, feel free to use this and her name, her majesty said."


    He handed over another box.

    Looking inside, there certainly is a medal bearing the crest of the royal family of Asura.

    Since it's brand new, she probably thought writing a letter each time was bothersome and had it made for me.

    It looks like I have another debt towards Ariel.


    "Furthermore, we were ordered to give assistance to Rudeus-sama."


    Assistance...

    In other words, a filler until reinforcements can come.

    As expected, it's hard to send a Sword King and Water Emperor on a sudden trip, so she sent some knights that seemed to have some free time.


    No, calling him filler would be unfair to him.

    He's also a fine reinforcement.

    Ariel should have chosen someone who can maintain confidentiality.

    Someone who won't talk about the teleportation circles.


    "Hm? We?"

    "Yes. Come on, say hello."


    Sándor gestured with his chin, and the wall moved.

    The large suit of armor that was standing like an ornament in the corner of the room moved.

    I didn't notice that armor being there... he really has a weak presence.

    However, once you notice him, he has quite a presence.

    Heavy dark grey armor. He's very wide, and on the back is a gargantuan battleaxe.

    It's an axe warrior.


    "... I'm, Doga."

    "......Ah, nice to meet you, I'm Rudeus Greyrat."


    It seems his name is Doga.

    He seems to be an armored knight, not an axe warrior.

    However, even though his name and build are very rough-seeming, he has a kind face.

    He doesn't talk much, but he has the feeling of a kind giant.

    He seems to be in his 20s... no, he may even be in his teens.


    Sándor, on the other hand, is a middle-aged man with decent looks covered in ocher.

    He's also a little wide, but if you compare him to Doga, he's quite skinny.

    It's the kind of pair that would appear together during a boss fight in some castle.


    "Now, please give me orders. I can do anything you want."

    "Uh, well..."


    He went through the trouble of coming here, but what should I have him do?

    Would the proper thing to do be putting him with the mercenary team...?

    No, putting him with Zanoba would also be good.

    However, there will probably be fighting.


    "...Chandell-san, can you fight?"

    "Yes, of course. I'm the strongest knight of the Kingdom of Asura."


    The strongest, huh?

    However, Ghyslaine and Isolte probably aren't included in that...


    "It'll probably become a fight with someone on the class of the major world powers. Is that alright with you?"

    "It's alright. From the moment I decided to serve Her Majesty Ariel, I've been prepared to throw away my life."


    Hnnnn... then I guess it's fine.

    Ariel may also have sent him intending for him to be disposable.

    I'll put him with Zanoba.


    ...No, wait a second.

    Isn't it a little strange?

    Wasn't it just now that I contacted her?

    Even if you say that Ariel works fast, isn't this too fast?

    There's also the fact that his timing was too good.

    He may really be Hitogami's——


    "It's you, huh?"


    I turn around, and Orsted was standing there.

    Seeing him, Sándor bowed his head.


    "It's nice to meet you, Dragon God Orsted-sama. I'm glad that you seem to be able to suppress your curse more than Her Majesty Ariel has said."


    I look over, and Lil' elf-chan looks up at Orsted with her hands held together, as if she's deeply moved.

    What is this...?

    Could this be her first time seeing him?

    It's true that he's wearing the helmet, but the curse seems to be surprisingly ineffective.

    No, more importantly, what about Sándor?


    "Are you serving Ariel now?"

    "Yes. I have a certificate, too."


    Saying that, he took a note out of his pocket and showed it to us.

    It certainly says [Chandell von Grandoise is appointed as the leader of the Golden Knight Order of the Kingdom of Asura].

    It bears Ariel's signature and the Kingdom of Asura's coat of arms.

    Did he bring it with just for this purpose?

    Since I suspected him earlier, that looks suspicious instead.


    "You guys go with Rudeus. Gisu shouldn't know your faces."

    "Acknowledged."

    "Rudeus, that's okay with you, right?"

    "Huh? Uh, yes."


    He suddenly appeared, and it was suddenly decided.

    Well, if Orsted says to do it, it's fine, but...


    "Ah, no. It's not okay. Wait a minute. Please don't suddenly decide for me. In the first place, who in the world is this person?"

    "Ah, he's——"


    Orsted cut off there.

    When I look over, Sándor has his finger to his lips.


    "If you don't know, it's best if you don't find out.

     Right now I am Ariel-sama's knight, and will be giving my assistance to Rudeus-sama."


    Since he's saying that, he must be a well-known person.

    Who is he?

    I don't get the feeling that he's one of the world powers. He looks weak.

    A famous person that seems to know Orsted... for example a member of the Dragon Race, like Holy Dragon Emperor Shirard, or Dark Dragon King Maxwell.

    Ah, but he doesn't have silver hair.

    Can't he just have dyed his hair?


    "Will it be okay?"

    "If it's him, there's no problem. I was also worried about you acting on your own. However, he's suitable. There's little chance of him being an apostle, and he should be good at information gathering."


    If Orsted says that with confidence, then it'll be fine to trust him.

    He showed up too quickly, so it was hard to judge him.


    "Please leave it to me."


    If he's good at gathering information, is he that kind of famous person?

    Orsted knowing about him is only natural, and he treated Sándor knowing about him as being natural, so he does seem like someone who deals with information.

    I was also worried about acting on my own. That said, I'm also worried about working with someone I don't know.


    However, if he's someone Orsted trusts, then there's no reason to doubt him, right?

    There's also the fact that he is the reinforcement sent in by Ariel.

    Hmm...


    Orsted said that as if he's just what we needed.

    Which means this man's ability is high, and is very safe.

    That's what how Orsted judged him.


    Ariel also sent him in as help.

    She knows about my situation.

    Above that, she sent him as reinforcements for the time being.

    At the very least, she trusts him enough to have him use the teleportation circles.


    In that case, I'll trust in Orsted and Ariel's judgment.


    "I understand. In that case, please participate in the meeting. But though I said that, it's currently about to end."

    "Yes, Sir."


    After I finish explaining everyone's jobs, I'll ask Ariel.

    Thinking that, I invited these two unidentified people to the conference room.


    Biheiril Kingdom.

    To the east of the Central Continent, the country is surrounded by mountains, sea and forest.


    It's not a very powerful country, and it only has 3 major cities.

    They are:

    In the centre, the capital Biheiril.

    To the south, the second largest city bordering the forest, Ilel.

    To the east, facing the sea is the third largest city, Heilelul.

    Those are their locations.


    It doesn't have any special features worth talking about.

    I guess the one thing worth mentioning is how large it is.

    Despite not having the same level of combat power as the neighboring countries, it covers twice as much land.


    It's connected to two other countries by highway.

    However, the Biheiril Kingdom doesn't get attacked.

    In the east of this northern land is the continuation of a powerful Era. [1]

    This kingdom lacking in fighting force, for some reason, isn't attacked.


    The reason behind this is the existence of the ogre tribe.

    The Biheiril Kingdom has close ties with ogre tribe living on the lone island of Onigashima.[2]


    Long ago.

    Although I say that, the Biheiril Kingdom was only formed after the Laplace war, so it's 50~100 years ago at most.

    At that time, the ogre tribe living on Onigashima, and the humans living on the northern peak of the continent didn't cooperate.

    Although there may have been small exchanges with those living in the sea, at the very least, the ogre tribe members in human cities didn't selfishly swagger around.


    At that time, the ogre tribe had a problem.

    The ogre tribe living on the island were being invaded by the ocean race living in the sea.

    The ogre tribe fought. And although they were a combat race, the ocean race's fighting power was too much.

    At that rate they would have been wiped out, their only choice that of becoming the slaves of the ocean race.


    In front of the ogre race, a human adventurer party appeared.

    The adventures, hearing rumors of gold and silver, came to the island.

    Where they came from and who they were, the ogre race did not know.

    It was most likely a party of 4, no doubt comprised of a group of swordsman, dog, monkey, and pheasant-faced people. [3]


    The adventures dreaming of treasure and battle.

    What they saw was an impoverished ogre tribe.

    The wounded ogre tribe soldiers, numbers reduced through fighting.

    The women, living in fear.

    The smileless children of the ogre tribe...


    The adventurers who saw it, stood up.

    It lit the fires of justice.

    They swore to save the ogre tribe, and it was then that they conspired with the Ogre God.

    Together with the ogres, they infiltrated the labyrinth that was the Ocean race's base.

    After a fierce battle, they managed to kidnap the chieftain of the ocean race.


    But the price for that was great.

    The human adventurers' party had been wiped out except for the swordsman leading it.

    Looking at his appearance, the indebted Ogre God swore to be his lifelong friend and offered any help the ogre race could give.


    And the shocking truth.

    He was the prince of an emerging country on the other side of the sea.

    The prince returned to his country, and when he became king, he and the demon tribe took an oath of mutual protection.

    To this day, the humans and ogre tribe live in peace together.


    Well, that's roughly the story behind the foundation of the Biheiril Kingdom.


    I don't really know how much of it is true.

    In any case, the Biheiril Kingdom is protected by the ogre tribe, a large combat force. So despite its fertile land, it isn't invaded by neighboring countries,

    It is being protected.


    The Biheiril Kingdom is that kind of place.


    As a group, we are heading towards the second largest city of Irel.


    There are 3 members.

    Claiming to be a knight of Ariel, the man in sand-coloured armour: Shandor.

    His subordinate in grey armour: Doga.

    And me.


    Using their magic tool I changed my face, and on top of the magic armour [MK II], I had on another set of armour.

    In addition, mounted on the back of the MK II are magic tools that Roxy developed.

    If the button near the waist is pressed while pouring magic power into it, the scroll in the corresponding slot automatically activates.


    With 5 by each hand, there are 10 types of scrolls in total.

    Because you don't have to take out each scroll, it's extremely convenient.

    But to carry all those folded scrolls ready for activation, it's become like a rather bulky backpack.

    Because it looked somehow steampunk,[4] I decided to call it [Scroll Vernier].

    Along with the gatling gun, it is the second Roxy Machine.


    Magic armor, scroll vernier, and armor.[5]

    I, wearing all those and a mantle on top of it all, was a more than 2 meters tall, and looked like a walking suit of armor.

    It's the perfect disguise.


    While working as bodyguards, practitioners of the North God Style are all over the place, but in this area, for no particular reason, you get people coming here and thinking, "Is there anybody strong around here?"

    Visually, it should seem like Shandor is the leader, and we followed him here.

    By the way, I'm going by the name "Clay" here.


    We're getting around by carriage.

    Currently, I'm one of three armored knights, travelling by rumbling cart.

    The number of armored knights is three.[6]

    Although we do stand out, in this world, it's not too rare a sight.

    In the Magic City Sharia, you wouldn't see too many armored adventures, but in the Biheiril Kingdom, you'll see all kinds of people like that.


    So, while moving towards our location, allow me to provide a simple introduction for my 2 companions.


    Shandor von Grandeur.

    Asura Kingdom's golden knight leader.

    He was originally a mercenary with no affiliation.

    He spent a lot of time in the strife zone, but at the time of Ariel's coronation, headed towards the Asura Kingdom.

    He liked the look about Ariel and attempted to serve under her, but during the time he spent trying various methods to work for her, he caught Ariel's eye and she asked him to appeal to her. It was then that he rose to his position.


    When I heard the story, it made it seem like all he was good at was kissing ass, but Ariel wouldn't make someone whose only skill is sucking up the knight leader.

    In any case, something about him must have stood out.


    When I asked Ariel for information on him, there was nothing shady, and the reply I got was that he was a man worthy of trust.

    However, she didn't tell me anything regarding his identity. "I don't know~, ufufu~, then it's a secret~" I got the feeling she was messing with me.

    But Ariel's knight didn't seem fishy, so I let it slide.


    The Golden Knights.

    Contrary to the name, the armor isn't all that sparkly.

    Even if you change the light, you still can't see any gold. Although, if you polished it, it might shine.

    And it's not gold; it's more of a yellow.

    The Yellow Knights.

    Oh, that sounds kinda strong it its own right. Like the yellow 14.[7]


    "Does the Asura Kingdom even have Golden Knights?"


    I'd heard of the black knights and the white knights, but I have a feeling there were never any gold.


    "It is a band of knights created by her majesty after she was crowned. Their official duty is that of protecting Queen Ariel, but if it be by her majesty's order, wherever it may be, we will complete our mission. Through the use of forbidden teleportation magic circles if necessary."


    In other words, Ariel's own private army.[8]


    "Originally, it was founded for "Helping the Cooperators."[9]"

    "Oh."


    So it was established for us.

    She is indeed loyal.

    And scary.

    What will Ariel request in the future?

    Although if Orsted says to return...


    "Although since it has just been established, its numbers are but an elite few. I may not look it, but I am a practitioner of the North God Style."


    Although he said that while laughing, Shandor did not have a sword.


    "Even though you don't possess a sword?"

    "I think this is far stronger than a sword."


    He said while spinning around a metal rod.

    He seems to fight with a polearm.

    A polearm user, this is my first time seeing it in this world.

    Originally, in this world, because of the impact of the Supard race, pole-like weapons aren't looked upon very well, and as a result, only swordplay was developed.

    That said, whatever weapon the Sword God himself used, it wouldn't be odd.

    Although he's most likely no longer a swordsman, the North God is probably something closer to a ninja.


    "The long reach gives it an advantage."

    "Ah. So that's how it is.

    With the Sword God Style, it's possible to make someone go flying at an unimaginable distance.

    In the Water God Style, no matter what direction the attack comes from, it can be deflected.

    Which is why it's strong. By not using a sword, you can use a longer weapon from the beginning."


    It's a simple theory.

    In my previous world, such thinking was commonplace, and weapon range kept extending.

    But it was different here.

    Following that thinking, swordsman wouldn't be considered special.

    The strength of swordsmen is the fact that their wounds can be healed in an instant with healing magic. Because the people in this world possess such high vitality, enemies must be taken out in a single hit.


    So, unfortunately, Shandor's polearm technique is on the losing side.

    He may be able to overpower a human opponent, but against something with a high recovery ability, it would be a bad mad matchup.


    "Doga over here is also a member of the Golden Knights."

    "Yup."


    Doga.

    He doesn't have a last name.

    He was born in the Donati Providence of the Asura Kingdom.

    Originally, he was a soldier of the Asura Kingdom.

    He was a gatekeeper for the Imperial Capital.

    But when Shandor was appointed, he saw excellence in him and he was scouted.


    "I'm also scouting."

    "Creating the ideal knight band is the job of the captain, after all. From here on out, it is my intention to continue to recruit strong forces."


    Job of the captain, huh?

    Now that I think about it, Therese, the captain of the Miko's guard squad was the weakest of them all.

    In an organization, the leader doesn't always have to be the strongest.

    The important thing is their commanding ability.


    "But Doga-san, contrary to the name 'Golden Knights', your armor isn't remotely gold?"

    "Hah, besides formal occasions, only an idiot would wear such conspicuous armor."


    Reasonable point.

    Which means, Shandor would usually wear much flashier armour.


    "Aah! I get it now. That's why when I showed you the letter, you gave me a suspicious face. If it was going to be like this, I would have worn my formal armor."

    "I can tell you it wasn't like that."


    With Shandor laughing cheerfully.

    It's impossible to see him as a bad guy.

    But Hitogami's apostles are neither good nor bad.

    Orsted and Ariel both said it was okay, but I alone will remain vigilant.[10]


    "Anyhow, there's very little snow around here."


    As Shandor said that, I surveyed the surroundings.

    The plain around us is lightly decorated with snow.

    However, it's not enough to interfere with the carriage.


    Originally, it was too much for farming.

    The ground was barren and chapped, and the fields wouldn't grow anything.

    Even far away, the ground here is known to be lifeless.


    Speaking of the ground around here, at this time of year it's usually buried in snow.

    But the Biheiril Kingdom has less snow than I thought.

    Although the wind is cold and dry, there is simply very little snow.


    "I wonder if it's because of the mountain."

    "What does the mountain have to do with this?"

    "Because the mountain to the west compresses the clouds, I was thinking that's what was stopping the snow."

    "Oh... As expected of Rudeus-dono, you're quite knowledgeable."

    "I don't know if I'm right."


    The weather of this world may not follow the common sense of my previous one.

    After all, in the Great Forest, it rains for 3 months straight, or a fertile continent can become a desert.

    Unrelated to the mountain, it's a perfectly reasonable possibility that the magic power coming from the forest slightly to the west could be the reason for the lack of snow.


    "My uncle was also interested in such things."

    "Oh, was he some kind of researcher?"

    "Where did clouds come from? Where did they go? How are people born? Why do they die? He spent every day looking at the sky, pondering such things."


    I wonder if he was a philosopher.

    Although,

    I, in my old age, might spend my days like that.

    As a 60-something year old man, sitting with Sylphy and Roxy spending our days as grandmas and grandpa...

    Ah... no, Sylphy is of the mixed blood Long-Eared Race, and Roxy is from the Migurd race, so they would still be young.

    Eris, even as a grandmother would give off an energetic vibe.

    I would be the only old-seeming one.


    "That's another philosophical thought."

    "Philosophy?"

    "Philosophy is... Hmm, a magical[11] thing."

    "Leave it to me."[12]


    On the way, we were attacked by something demonic.[13]

    It wouldn't be wrong to say this country has a lot of forests. The highway we were on ran right next to one.

    As we were attacked, it gave them a chance to demonstrate their abilities. "The Asura Kingdom is the greatest", is often said, and these men definitely had the ability to support it.

    The excellent Shandor with pace and finesse, and Doga, defeating enemies in a single hit with his giant axe.

    Is what I saw, or it more accurately, is all I could see.

    That said, even the worst of swordsman would understand the situation.


    Although it wouldn't even be a fight against a world power, at the very least they would be considered more than a slight nuisance.

    As I realized that, we had arrived at the second largest city, Irel.


    Second city, Irel

    As far as I can see, it's a nondescript city.

    It's completely surrounded by walls and street vendors are lined near the entrance.

    It's this world's most popular structure.


    Even more so than Magic City Sharia, the number of wooden buildings would be a feature if I had to call it that.

    A wooden building with an extremely tilted roof is distanced from its neighbors.

    Being surrounded by forest, it's only natural that they'd have a lot of wood.


    Leaving the horse and carriage at a stable, we walked to the inn.

    It was then that I noticed that the number of street vendors began to drop.

    It was somewhat quiet.

    Because there aren't many customers, the number of vendors is just as small... is the reasoning you would expect, but contrary to that logic, there is a large number of adventures.

    Since earlier, we've been passing lot of armor-clad warriors and magicians wrapped in robes.

    The number of adventures and street vendors don't match.

    There has to be a reason for this, or maybe the problem isn't so clear-cut.[14]


    "Woa."


    While I was looking around, I had bumped into someone on the road.


    "Oh."


    They were a large person.

    Standing at about 2.5 meters.

    Even in my armor, I have to look up.

    If there was a Half-Giant race, they would have this kind of feeling.

    His skin was reddish brown, and hair, dark red.

    Covered in muscles, his arms, legs and neck were all thick.


    Most notable was his head.

    It was huge.

    His jaw was even bigger, sticking out.

    And peeking through the mouth were fangs.

    Coming from the lower jaw were two fangs protruding upwards.

    And on top of that, from the messy dark red hair, two horns were standing out.

    It's an ogre.


    "Careful now."


    The ogre I had bumped into took one look at me and continued down the street.

    On his back was a massive pack that he was carrying like it was nothing.


    That was my first time seeing an ogre up close; it was very intimidating.


    Here in the Biheiril Kingdom, ogres walk around like it's a natural thing.

    The humans here also accept it as a matter of course.

    Seeing a multitude of races living together would be a rare sight in other countries.


    "Clay, don't look around too much, you aren't some country hick."

    "What? Oh, Ahh..."


    Sharp words from Shandor.

    It's a completely different tone from during the journey, for the purpose of disguise.


    "There wouldn't be anybody strong around here anyways, looking around would be a waste."

    "Yeah."


    That's right, we're practitioners of the North God Style.

    I should look like I don't have any interest in anything that isn't strong.

    Otherwise it would be a waste of the disguise.


    "First we have to find an inn. Right, Clay, Doga?"

    "Yes."

    "Yup."


    The coachman-like[15] Doga is the same as ever, but Shandor is completely opposite; he's doing a great job in his role.

    Shandor is moving as the leader in order to hide my presence.

    I'm Shandor's little brother Clay. Job: Warrior.

    Alright.


    "Shandor. Arrival celebrations. After the inn is decided, wanna hit up a tavern?"

    "Haa, You're pretty stupid sometimes, but every now and then you have a good idea. Doga, take note."

    "Yessir."


    After that, we headed to the inn.

    The moment we entered the tavern, there was a somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere.


    "...Hmm?"


    It's different from any tavern I've been in before.


    That said, it looks perfectly normal

    There are plenty of adventurers. There are also a couple of villagers.

    1-2% of the customers are ogres, but I can't say that they're the source of the discomfort.

    A crowded tavern with many races is not all that uncommon.


    I wonder what it is.

    There's nothing special to draw everyone's gazes.

    There's nobody particularly odd around.

    There's nothing particularly odd around.[16]

    But something is off.


    "What's up, Clay?"

    "Doesn't something seem off about this tavern?"


    He takes a look around.

    But it seemed like I was imagining it.


    "...I don't understand. Do you want to leave?"


    Shandor suggests that in a low voice.


    "No, I want to know where the feeling is coming from."

    "Understood."


    As Shandor said that, we walked into the tavern with an unsuspecting gait,[17] and headed towards an empty table.

    Behind Doga, I followed suit.


    As Doga sat down, the chair creaked under his weight.

    The chairs of this tavern are unusually sturdy.

    While wearing the magic armor, I usually have to keep note not to sit in a chair, but here, sitting normally should be fine.

    I wonder if this was causing the feeling.

    No, it couldn't be.


    "Bring us some food, booze, and introduce us to someone who's knowledgeable about the area. Make it quick, I'm exhausted from the journey. Ahh, put this guy on a different bill. You're a guy that focuses on fruit aren't ya? If you don't have any milk, water will do ya."[18]


    While I was focused on the chair, Shandor had already handed the attendant 4 copper coins.


    "Thank you for your patronage."


    The attendant was also an ogre. A female ogre.

    Maybe because she was a woman, she was a lot slimmer than the male ogres.

    She had a wide frame and huge breasts... But overall, she looked quite human.

    She might be half human.

    She's probably not the source of the discomfort. [19]


    "Like. I. Said. I told you to stop peekin' 'round like that."

    "Ma bad."


    Shandor wacked me over the head.


    "But ya didn't needa hit me."

    "Haa? You wanna go me brah?"[20]


    His words may be rough, but the look in his eye says that he doesn't intend to hurt me.

    Simply, I should take note that my current actions are suspicious, is what he's saying.


    "Nah, it ain't like that... It's just I's a little fidgety is all."

    "Fidgety? You got a bad feelin'?"

    "No... It doesn't seem bad."


    The feeling isn't unpleasant.

    It feels like something I've been searching for, for a long time.

    It doesn't seem possible, but it could be that Gisu or Ruijerd is here.

    I want to quickly confirm the origin of this feeling.

    When I think that, it causes me to look around.


    The inside of the tavern is rather busy.

    It's the kind of tavern you can find anywhere.

    With laughter and noise, people eating and drinking.

    Even the food is normal. It's the kind of river fish you can find anywhere.

    But something is still causing this sense of discomfort.

    Something that other taverns don't have that this one does.


    "You guys want some information?"


    As I was looking around, a man came to our table.

    A human.

    He had a sly rat-like look to his face.


    "Are you the informant?"

    "Yep, I know everything about this city. The number of adventurer parties, the peddlers' routes, even the blacksmith's mistress."

    "K then, I'll have you teach me a bunch o' things. We just got here, so we'd like to avoid any trouble."


    As he said that, he handed the man a couple of copper coins.


    "Won't be a problem."

    "I don't need to know anything major right now. I understand that you're an informant with a wide range, so can I leave finding work up to you?"


    Along with Shandor's shaking question, I gave a fearless smile.

    Right now my face is from one of the Rudo mercenary guild, so it should be rather intimidating.


    "Jeez that's scary."


    The Informant shrugged at my smile and turned to Shandor.


    "So what is it you want to know?"

    "What I want to know is what's common sense in this city, people's turf, the geography, anybody we shouldn't make an enemy of... Aah, and if any work that seems doable comes up, could you let us know?"

    "Ok."


    It's not like we'll suddenly hear of Gisu.

    I can't get greedy

    We are only warriors. Mercenary-like ruffians. We do not carry any demon trinkets.


    "Common sense... Quite the request.

    The country upholds the laws, and in turn cities can exist.

    Aah... But there are a lot of ogres, so take note of that during your travel.

    The people of this country live closely with the ogres. Even if you're devout Millis believers, keep any ill will towards the ogres to yourselves.

    "What happens if I don't?"

    "Nobody will sell you anything and the inns will refuse you.


    Even this bar is owned by an ogre. You'd be thrown out and be forced to eat garbage."


    Ogres are good neighbors.

    Therefore, speaking ill of them will, more so than ogres, make the humans angry.

    Sharia also has many races, but there is still discrimination.

    They do not live as harmoniously as here.


    "The geography... Roughly speaking, if you head north you'll reach the capital, and in the south is a single village.

    It's a small village with nothing important; there are a few woodcutters and there's an ambassador, so it's well protected.

    There's a labyrinth to the southeast. Information on that will be extra."


    "Tell me."


    Shandor handed him a couple more copper coins.

    For the location of the labyrinth.

    We don't have any intention of going, but it wouldn't hurt to know.

    After learning about the labyrinth, the conversation will continue.


    "People you shouldn't make enemies of, like I said before, ogres.

    In this country, ogres and humans receive the same treatment.

    Next is... Ahh, that's right.

    This isn't someone you shouldn't cross, but there's a place you should stay away from.

    The valley of the Earth Dragon."


    The valley of the Earth Dragon.

    It seems like a few important words have been skipped over.

    The place where Ruijerd was discovered was also in a village near it.


    "The valley is behind a large forest... But that forest is called the 'Forest of No Return.'[21]

    Since ages past, the forest has been haunted by invisible demons, so entry is forbidden."

    "Invisible demons?"

    "Well... Invisible demons are more like childish superstition.

    The Valley of the Earth Dragon, like the name says, is home to earth dragons.

    Some budding adventures entered the forest and messed up their lair.

    An angry herd of earth dragons couldn't be defeated by the country, and so it was made off-limits."


    The man then furrowed his brow as if he was trying to remember something.


    "But recently... Since about a year ago, there have been rumors of demons coming out of the Forest of No Return."

    "Oh."

    "The town's lord created an investigation corps to investigate inside the forest

    But even after a couple of days passed, they didn't return.

    The invisible demons probably got them, or they fell into the earth dragon nest or, perish the thought, they were taken out by a single magic beast.

    Although it wasn't as if they were wiped out.

    After giving up on the survival of the first investigation corps, the lord organized a second investigation corps.

    One person came back."


    That's when he bent down and looked me[22] right in the eye.

    The atmosphere's a little like a horror film.

    Not at me, but looking at Shandor.


    "But he'd gone insane.

    He had exceptionally scary eyes.

    When the lord asked what happened, he simply muttered, "The demons are here, the demons..." with a vacant look in his eyes.

    After witnessing that, the lord became quite frightened and ceased the investigation effort.

    'Killed by earth dragons' was the official cause of death announced, and because of this incident, the other word used was forbidden...

    The truth is hidden, and has been processed as another unsolved case.

    This was... about half a year ago."

    "..."

    "When you think about it, it was a good thing.

    Recently the story has reached the palace in the capital.

    The king said "Even though there is a village so close, we cannot leave it alone while we know nothing!"

    And so, the King has organized a punitive force.

    So currently, members are being gathered in the capital for the force."


    The man looked up.


    "And so. For the identity and location of the demon, there's a special bounty; we're talking 10 Biheilil gold coins. It seems like the kind of work you can do?"


    I see.

    Invisible Demons...

    It's a little different from the information I heard about Ruijerd's location.


    I wonder if it's that kind of thing?

    Originally, Ruijerd went to the village without any purpose, and he heard about the demon.


    "A demon came out of the Forest of No Return."

    And then, "There are invisible demons in the Forest of No Return."

    "Invisible demons came out from the forest," would be the information he received.

    Hearing things left and right, the information would get mixed up.

    The information from the mercenary corps also passed through a lot of hands.

    That's why we have to search to pinpoint our opponent.


    Although it might be the opposite.

    It could have gone: "An invisible demon really came out." → "The demon is a Supard." → "Come to think of it, I think I saw someone with green hair."

    No wait, but I have no idea where any of this information came from.

    Well, no matter what rumors spread, it wouldn't be odd.


    Although with Ruijerd, he wouldn't show mercy to an opponent; it's possible he wiped out the investigation team.

    Why would he go into the forest?

    Did he go into the forest because it would be a problem if others saw and knew about him?

    Hmmm...?


    "Ahh, That's great. I got it... Seems interesting. Clay? Don't you think so too?"

    "Hmmm, a demon huh... It does seem interesting. The 10 gold bounty is also appealing."


    Although an appropriate answer, my head is full of other things.

    In any case, we'll have to go to the forest.

    With this much information, I can't think that Ruijerd is uninvolved.


    "But with the bounty, it's first come first served.

    You'll probably need to form a party to participate.

    I'm not an adventurer, so if I were to participate, it would be as support."


    Shandor winked at me.

    I get it.


    "That's right, we should get looking."

    "Alright. Informant. Additional charge."


    Shandor handed him several more copper coins.


    "Find us a thief.

    The condition is that it be someone that can do a lot as an adventurer and be good at information collecting.

    It'd be good if his combat ability is low. We'll do all the fighting.

    About the reward... What to do? It's a pain, so when you find our guy, send him to us to negotiate."

    "Deadline?"

    "It would be good if it was before the punitive force sets out. But that's still far away, isn't it?"

    "They set out in a month."

    "Well then, for the time being, how about we meet again in this tavern in 10 days?"

    "Sure, leave it to me."


    The man took the coins and hurriedly put them in his pouch.

    And when we stood up, the noise of the tavern disappeared in an instant.


    Impressive, Shandor.

    With the information on the forest, the search for Gisu has advanced a step.

    Although we didn't hear anything about the North God, the conversation didn't head in that direction so it couldn't be helped.

    Although I wanted to see a little more of that ability.


    "We did it."

    "My wife is good at these kinds of things. Seeing it up close, I picked it up."


    So he's married.

    All the more reason we have to return home safely.

    Although he said it rather regrettably.


    "Ahem. So, what do you want to do now?"

    "While we wait for the informant, we have nothing to do for 10 days... We could take a look around. Doga, is there anywhere you want to go?"

    "...I want to see a woodcutter."

    "Then a little reconnaissance, We can go take a look at the village in the south."


    Although the conversation made it seem like we decided, we had already planned to go to the village in the south since the beginning.


    10 days.

    From the conversation before, the village is at most a day away.

    Tomorrow morning, I'll install a magic communication lithograph and head to the village.

    Tomorrow afternoon we'll enter the forest and spend 5-6 days searching the inside.

    After that, we'll return and hear the informant's information on Gisu and conduct a progress report over the lithograph.

    That is what the schedule looks like.


    "Yes, sorry for the wait!"


    While I was thinking, the food arrived.

    Boiled fish and beer.

    Doga had a dark liquid placed in front of him.

    It's probably some kind of juice. I'll have him let me try it later.


    Alright, in this situation I have no intention of getting drunk.

    But not drinking in a tavern would stand out.

    Just one.


    "Then, to our success."

    "Cheers!"

    "...Cheers."


    Cup in hand, we drank.

    When the drink entered my mouth, it was warm down my throat.

    The aftertaste was—.


    "—PFFFTT!"


    Doga spat out his black drink.


    "Cough... Cough..."

    "Oi!?"


    While the surrounding people were looking to see what was going on, Doga was coughing with his head down.

    I put my hand on his back and chanted detoxification magic.

    But Doga was facing the ground open-mouthed, drooling.


    "Oi, get a hold of yourself!"


    Dammit, what did he drink!?

    Poison!?

    This was that feeling!

    I thought something seemed off!

    And I still don't know where the feeling is coming from!


    Is the detoxification working?

    Calm down, at times like this, you have to stay calm.

    First, if I knew the poison in this drink.


    "You! What's your excuse!"

    "Ahh! I'm sorry!"


    Shandor yells at the nearest person. I have to be calm; I reach for the cup Doga was drinking from.

    I hold it up to confirm the smell.

    ...Huh?

    This smell, could it be...


    "He was human... I thought because of his size, he was an ogre; I made a mistake."

    "Like I said! What did you give him to drink!"


    I dip my finger in the liquid and try it.

    This taste, I'm sure.


    "Umm, it's a drink made from beans, It's a favorite of the ogre-tribe, but it's too strong for humans, so it usually is diluted... I'm terribly sorry!"

    "You sure it's not poison!?"

    "Umm, it can be if you drink too much... About a mouthful."

    "Dammit! Oi Doga! You OK?! OI!"


    While Shandor was panicking, I had regained composure.

    Now that I think of it, I could smell this ever since I entered the tavern.

    It was most likely mixed in with the smell of cooked fish.

    The identity of the feeling...

    And at the same time I figured out the identity of this drink.

    It's true that if you drink too much it's poisonous, but Doga spat most of it out.

    He'll probably feel a little sick, but it's nothing too serious.


    "..."


    I dipped my finger into it one more time and licked it.

    Yup.

    So it was this.

    No doubt.

    I cannot be mistaken.


    This is soy sauce.


    Summary up to now.

    Rudeus finally discovers the thing he has been searching for for all these years.

    However, it's ultimately inconsequential.

    So he paid for it then and there, thus obtaining the small bottle of soy sauce, and hurried back.


    ―○●○―


    The next day.

    Our group headed towards the suburbs of the second city Irel to establish the Teleportation Magic Circle and Communication Lithograph.

    After that, we headed towards the village where Ruijerd was spotted.


    The village near the Earth Dragon Valley was about half a day's travel from the second city of Irel, Bihaeril Kingdom.[23]

    『The village of the Earth Dragon Valley』and『The Forest of No Return』, or so they are called, but the official name is Marson Village on the map.

    Although it's called Marson Village, the official name isn't well known, so calling it『The Village of the Earth Dragon Valley』works fine.


    An empty village.

    It's not a tourist attraction, nor does it have any notable features.

    Logging and farming on the fertile land near the forest is done, but it isn't a village which was established by gathering people to build something like the Buena Village of the Fedora Region.

    The people residing in this village simply came under the jurisdiction of Biheiril Kingdom, with little care being given to who ruled over them.

    Probably something like that.

    The country isn't the point, it's the people.


    As the distance between houses increased, the land became desolate with few signs of civilization, and apart from the quiet......there was nothing.

    The village wasn't completely deserted when we arrived; it was inhabited by humans.

    However, they were not villagers.


    People who obviously weren't villagers were gathered in a group in front of the village's entrance.

    They were equipped with armor and swords on their backs.

    Probably adventurers.

    No, the atmosphere is a bit too risky if they were just adventurers.

    Are they mercenaries or possibly bounty hunters?


    "Sandor, is this what it means for too many people to try and get a head start?"


    His strength and quick-thinking during the incident in the bar yesterday... Sandor really is a useful guy.

    I was in doubt about his usefulness until now, but I can see why Orsted assigned him to me.

    I always want to hear opinions in situations like this.


    In comparison, Doga isn't very useful.

    I'm not saying that he's slowing us down, but......

    It feels like he's just tagging along for now.


    Well, I too, am not that great in criticizing a person.

    I hope that he becomes useful somewhere along the line.


    "No, they might've just come for a preliminary inspection. It would be advantageous for them to start immediately after they obtain information from here."

    "But, aren't there too many people here with a head start to hunt one target?"

    "Even if there are, there won't be too many. The government is just taking the initiative to dispatch a subjugation force. Even if they jumped the gun and started hunting demons, there is the possibility that they won't be rewarded."


    Joining the task force, entering the "Forest of No Return" with the Chivalric Order of the government somehow, confirming the true identity of the demon, defeating it, and then returning safely.

    Only after all of that is done will you be rewarded with gold.

    Although if you're following the crowd, then it ends up being a contest of luck whether or not you can secure that reward.

    And not just luck, but also taking a step ahead at key moments and snatching first place.

    As a result, the preliminary investigation is for the purpose of taking a step ahead to snatch first place.


    "Then that means we have no involvement with them."

    "I completely agree with that statement."


    As he laughs, Sandor starts entering the village.

    Lodging at a suitable building in the plaza.

    At the plaza, you wouldn't believe that the village was deserted considering the crowds of people that were gathering there.

    Everyone is frantic.


    However, it's somewhat convenient that there is a crowd.

    It should be easy to mingle in the crowd and begin gathering information.


    "Leave!"


    Or so I thought, but I was told instead to leave.

    Well, of course, it wasn't actually directed at me.

    I heard the voice from the entrance of the plaza.

    Some members of the task force are leaving the plaza with unpleasant looks on their faces.

    When I looked at the spot where the shout came from, I saw an old woman with a cane yelling.


    "Get out! There ain't any demon coming out of this forest! The forest people have been kindly protecting the forest and us! Anyone who wants to hurt the forest people, get out!"


    Though unsteady, the old woman was thrusting her cane; she got closer to the large group of men in the plaza and started hitting them with it.

    Snap! The sound reverberated in the plaza which could be heard even from where we were.


    "You hag........"

    "Oi! Forget it, if we cause a ruckus, the Ogre tribe will........"

    "Tch!"


    The man who was hit tried to draw his sword in a fit of rage, but was stopped by his level-headed comrade, and retreated hastily.

    The old woman didn't hobble after them.

    While shouting, she was kicking all the other groups in the plaza.

    In order to get away from the old woman, the groups were scattering.

    What's this?


    As she saw the wide space getting clear of people......ah, she looked in our direction.

    She's steadily drawing closer.


    "Get out!"


    The old woman's cane hit my armor and made a loud "clang!" sound.

    There is no damage.

    My armor is reliable against an agitated old woman, with its Asuran mark.


    "You must not lay waste to the forest!"


    The old woman was hitting my armor with a clanging noise while shouting.


    "Granny, please calm down."

    "What demons! The forest people have been our saviors! And now you're going to kill them when they seek our help! You brute!"


    She is in a very agitated condition, looks like she won't listen to anything I say.

    There is one thing on my mind though.


    People of forest.

    It's a new phrase.

    I want to hear more about what they are.


    "What does 'the forest people' mean.........?"

    "If you make the forest people disappear, the demons will attack!"


    If the people of forest disappear, then the demons will attack.

    Which means, the people of forest are probably defending the town against the demons.


    "The people of the forest and the demons, are they separate beings?"

    "Obviously! Don't confuse the demons with the forest people!"

    "Clay, just stop, this old lady's sanity is long gone."


    Sandor came to check on me.

    Certainly, a sane person won't hit a stranger with a cane.

    But I want to hear about the old lady's story.


    "I haven't gone insane! The people of the forest exist! During my youth, I was rescued by them when I was lost deep in the forest! Apart from that, my great grandfather was also saved when he was a child!"


    During her youth means possibly 20 to 30 years ago.

    This old lady looks a little over 60 years old.

    And, the great grandfather of such an old woman, possibly a little over 100 years ago.

    But, it's been at most 10 years since I parted from Ruijerd.

    Then, perhaps, Ruijerd isn't related to the people of the forest?

    But.......ah.


    "The people of the forest aren't demons! Why would you try to kill them!? Stupid! Get out stupid! Stupid! Haa.....Stupid.....Haa.....Haa....."


    The old woman had been striking at my armor for a while, but before long she ran out of steam and sunk to the ground in exhaustion.


    "Granny, would you tell me your story in more detail?"


    I estimated that she was calm now and smiled at her.

    Ruijerd might not be here.

    But, by some chance.........


    "I may be friends with the people of the forest."


    They may be the survivors of the Supard village that Ruijerd has been looking for all this time.


    She was unable to conceal her agitation.

    Despite her attitude being like that, she had been calmly talking to me for some time.


    Based on this development, is it the Supard race or Ruijerd?

    I don't know.

    But because of the flow of events in Bihaeril Kingdom, I somehow understood what was going on.


    Forest people.

    It seems even before the old lady was born, the so called people of the forest were already present.

    They rarely ever showed themselves outside of the forest.

    But, sometimes, ever so rarely, whenever a villager was lost within the forest and was being hunted or on the verge of death, they were saved by the forest people.

    The villagers, including the old lady, don't know who or what they are.

    But there was folklore surrounding them.


    A long time ago, just shortly around the time when the war against demons was about to end...

    Demons that couldn't be seen by the naked eye were inhabiting the Forest of No Return.

    At dusk, the invisible demons came out to kidnap livestock and children to consume them.

    The villagers hoped to defeat the demons one day, but were ultimately powerless and thus lived in fear.


    And then at that time, the people of the forest appeared.

    They made a proposal to the villagers.


    『We'll take care of the demons, but in exchange, we want to live in the forest. However, our existence must never be known outside the village.』


    The villagers agreed to the proposal and the people of the forest took up residence deep inside the forest.

    They don't know how the forest people dealt with the demons.

    After that, the demons stopped coming out of the forest. Even now, the people of the forest are still protecting the villagers.

    Upholding their part, the villagers raise their children to give their gratitude to the forest people, but are taught to tell no one about it.


    "To lay waste to the forest people like that, what an outrageous thing to do."


    The old lady bought it to an end with that.


    "I see, thank you very much."


    I don't know if what she said was true or not.

    It's such an old story, it seems almost completely fabricated.

    But, let's just assume that the people of the forest are the Supard race.


    The Supard have a third eye on their forehead.

    It's a kind of demon eye that can sense any living being.

    If they use that, then even the invisible demons can be located and defeated.


    The Supard race coexist with the village while hiding their own existence.

    But about six months or a year ago, tragedy struck.

    A disease, or perhaps an injury.

    A large quantity of invisible demons sprung forth, and the people of the forest may have not been able to keep them under control.


    The Supard who had been concealing themselves for so long came to the village to buy medicine.

    Everyone had already forgotten about the shopkeeper who interacted with that Supard.

    However, the news spread.

    The news that an extremely suspicious guy came out of the forest.

    The villagers should've hidden his existence. Especially if was true that he came to the village to seek help, but...

    Just how did the story end up like the one I heard at the bar yesterday?


    『We must exterminate the demons that came out of the forest』


    Just what happened for it to result in this?

    Since it was a year ago, blaming Gisu would definitely be rash......

    Anyway, the Supard race live deep in the forest.

    It was a belief that I held close.


    But then.

    A question came to me as well.

    Why was I just now hearing about this?

    I had been searching for Ruijerd.

    Everyone should know that.

    Everyone.

    For example, even Orsted.


    .........If the Supard had been living here for so long, then why was I not aware of it until now?


    The Forest of No Return was a quiet place.

    In general, a large amount of monsters inhabit the forests of this world.

    The concentration of magic is also great in forests, but one would encounter only one monster per day in the Forest of No Return.

    Mostly treants.


    Treants can be found anywhere in the world, but they are even more commonplace in forests.

    You could even believe that forests are actually nests of treants, so encountering them would be the norm.


    But in this forest, there is no sign of them.

    It's completely silent.

    There are creatures here, but no monsters.

    A tranquil forest that is deadly silent.

    Of course there are birds and small animals, but that's it.

    It's as if we're inside a nightmare.


    "Weird, eh?"

    "Yeah."


    Looks like Sandor is feeling uncomfortable about this place, again.


    "......"


    Doga is silent.

    Is he unable to read the mood? He's not even surveying the surroundings.


    "........."


    We keep walking deeper into the silent forest for a while.

    The presence of animals diminishes the farther we go.

    Insects and birds are present, but no small animals.

    Of course, no monsters as well.

    The trees were getting larger too, and the overgrown leaves covered up the sky.

    In this atmosphere, you begin to dissociate and believe you're the only living thing there, which you occasionally snap out of whenever you hear the sound of birds.


    Whether the invisible demons are following us or not right now...

    Paranoid, I turn around to look.

    And each time I do, my eyes met with Doga's unaffected ones, making me believe that it was all in my head, as I turned forward again.


    "Oh?"


    Suddenly, when I glanced towards the roadside, there was a stone monument that I recognized.

    It's the Seven Great World Powers stone monument.

    Before, I was unable to recognize the markings on this monument, but......

    These days, I can more or less understand them.

    Looks like there are no changes in the rankings.


    "So this thing can be found in such a place, eh?"

    "It's probably not that unusual. Since the Seven Major World Powers stone monument can only work in places of high magic concentration."

    "Yeah......they are magic tools."


    You know quite a bit about it, eh?

    That this type of magic tool can only be found in places with high magic concentration.

    Not many people know about that.

    But well, it isn't like those in the know, know it very well.


    "The sun will be setting soon. Let's make a camp around here."

    "That's right, then, Doga, the firewood."

    "......Yup."


    That day, we decided to set up camp near the stone monument.

    As an added precaution, I made a tent with Earth Fortress, and there we slept.


    The next day.

    We continued our walk in the silent forest.

    Then, Sandor suddenly thought of something.


    "It feels similar to the Red Dragon Mountain Range, doesn't it?"

    "Meaning?"

    "The other animals don't draw near in fear of the dragons."


    They won't approach a stronger animal's turf

    Earth Dragon Valley exists deep within this forest.

    Earth dragons are, needless to say, powerful creatures.

    The wild animals won't approach a dangerous place, such is the basis of nature itself.


    "So you've been in the Red Dragon Mountain Range, Sandor-san?"

    "Only to the foot. It had a similar feeling; as you get closer to it, the presence of animals diminishes."


    The earth dragons build their nests in the rock cliffs of the valley.

    They fundamentally don't come out of the valley. They can't fly in the sky, but they can use earth magic to build holes.

    Their nature is quite gentle for dragons; they won't attack humans as long as their territory isn't invaded.

    Again, holding a very strange nature, they'll be defenseless to anyone who comes from above, but they'll attack in excess anyone who comes from below.

    By the way, according to Orsted, the red dragons and earth dragons are mortal enemies.

    Although the possibility of these two species, what with inhabiting such different environments, encountering one another is almost nonexistent.

    Thus, the danger in approaching them from above is less.

    For the time being, it would be alright as long as you don't end up falling to the bottom of valley.


    "Oh."


    Was it because I was thinking all this time?

    It suddenly unfolded in front of my eyes.

    A steep cliff appeared out of nowhere within the dense forest.


    A cliff so deep that the bottom couldn't be seen.

    It's probably 4500m[24] to the opposite side.

    It gave the sensation of standing on top of a mountain.

    I'm not very well-informed on valleys, but this size makes me think of the Grand Canyon.


    "Is this the Earth Dragon Valley?"

    "Seems so. What should we do? Looks like we've arrived without any incident....."

    "Well."


    As I worried, I put mana inside my left eye.

    When I keep my vision open, I can use clairvoyance.


    For now, I peered into the valley's bottom.

    Since I am not accustomed to using this demon eye yet, I can't measure the distance to the bottom.

    But, I immediately saw it.

    There are bluish-white mushrooms and moss growing at the valley's bottom, and near it, a lizard-like monster with a boulder-like body was slowly moving.

    Is that an earth dragon?

    It looks like a King land tortoise rather than a dragon.

    It might be defenseless to anything from above since it can't possibly win against a red dragon with that body.

    Now that I take a closer look at the rock cliff rather than the bottom, a lot of them are clinging to the sides - it's a bit gross.


    I activate my demon eye again and survey the surroundings of the valley next.

    There is nothing to the right of my vision.

    Before long, my vision gets interrupted by the cliff and forest.

    According to the map, the Earth Dragon Valley is supposed to be a straight line, but it looks like it's curving.

    There is a mistake in the map.


    To the left of my vision.

    There's also nothing to see at this si-.....ah, no, wait.


    "It's a suspension bridge."


    The place where the cliff's width was less, there was a hanging bridge


    "I see, to get to the opposite side, is it?"

    "Let's try to cross it."


    There are still 7 days left until we meet with the information broker again.

    Calculating the time it would take to return back, it should be safe to remain in the forest for one or two more days.

    Deciding on that, we began walking along the valley.

    It wasn't too far till we reached the bridge.

    It took about 1 hour on foot.

    I was glad that I was able to see the location of the suspension bridge.


    The suspension bridge was worn-out.

    Where the distance between the two banks was smallest, two thick vines were laid across. On top of them was a wooden board, and that was it.

    The overwhelming sense that the bridge was made by an amateur and its lack of safety were real concerns.

    Although I call it unsafe, if a single adult with luggage crossed the bridge, then they should be fine.


    "Should we cross it?"


    But I am wearing the magic armor. If I go on, it will definitely fall down.

    I can't embarrass myself by falling to the valley's bottom, after stating we should be fine so long as we stayed out of the valley.


    "No, let's pass on crossing this bridge."

    "Then, shall we head back?"

    "No, let's build a different bridge."


    While saying that, I stood at the edge of the cliff.

    If the bridge can't be crossed because it's unsafe, then I'll just make a bridge of my own.


    From my hands to the surface. I raise the earth with magic.

    Making use of my magic by putting Earth Lance to practical use.

    Strengthening it so much that there shouldn't be any concern for safety, even if I crossed it.

    Apart from the durability, I should make the lance so that it reaches the opposite bank.


    ".......Ho."


    When I release my magic, the earth lance appears.

    The earth lance silently extends and pierces into the other side of the valley.

    No sound could be heard.

    I repeat this three times over.

    Just to make sure, I increased the width so that people can pass by one another.


    Over the earth lance, I build a board.

    This is, again, an earth board.

    A sturdy board as far as the opposite bank.

    Finally, I reinforce the other side along with the base of the bridge with earth magic, and the stone bridge is now complete.

    The handrail.......well, it's fine for now.


    "Splendid......I've heard from the talks, but to do this much....."


    Even though I'm being praised by Sandor, we can't let our guard down.

    Since I don't know anything about architecture and stability of bridges.

    There is no need to strike the bridge before crossing it, but I must rebuild it again if I were to get on with the magic armor and it collapses.


    "For the time being, hand me the rope."


    I fastened the rope to a nearby tree and began crossing over slowly to examine it.

    After several steps, I was smoothly walking on the bridge.

    The stone bridge was solidly-built and holding up my weight.

    It would be extremely stupid if one were able to fall from this, but it looks like this should work fine.


    Just in case, I reinforced weaker spots along the bridge as I slowly crossed it.

    Midway was as far as the rope could go; Sandor extended it with what he had and I finished crossing.

    One rope was 50m long, and considering that I was barely able to cross with two, the bridge should be a little less than 100m.


    "Alright."


    I signaled with the rope to the other side of the valley.

    Sandor and Doga easily crossed over the bridge while grabbing onto the rope.

    They were on the bridge at the same time.

    Do they think that it won't collapse?

    Or do they trust me?

    That I would immediately come save them if they fell.


    "Now, let's continue shall we?"


    As I was feeling uneasy, Sandor and Doga easily finished crossing.


    "But from here on out, looks like we must stay alert."


    Sandor spoke as he looked deep into the forest.

    The dark, endless forest.

    There was only one change since we began walking in the forest.

    It's the presence of monsters.


    No less than 100m in and we were attacked.

    It was just a noise at first.

    The noise of leaves rustling together.

    But, I didn't think there was a monster near us because of the wind blowing.

    It felt like a person from far away was approaching us.


    It was still a ways off.

    It's alright for now.

    The moment I thought that, I heard a noise close to my ear.


    "Wofuu....Wofuu...."


    As soon as I heard that sound, I noticed the scent of blood hanging in the air.

    Shortly after, something was clinging onto the trunk of the tree right next to us.


    "..........!"


    The moment I noticed it, the tree bent for an instant, and the leaves and branches rustled.

    We were paused for just a moment, and then something, like a heavy mass, dropped down behind me.

    When I turned to face it, I saw Doga had fallen with his face up.

    I could only see Doga.

    But, Doga's head was shaking as if it was moving against his will.

    Doga's hand grabbed something mid-air that was shaking his head.


    There is something there.

    The moment I realized that, I hit the thing on top of Doga with all my strength since I couldn't use magic.

    My hit, strengthened by the magic armor, sent the thing flying from on top of Doga.

    It felt like flesh and broken bones.


    The thing that was on top of Doga hit the trunk of a tree, and red blood spread in excess.

    The color of blood started to reveal some kind of figure.


    A four-legged animal.

    I couldn't identify any specifics, but it is certainly four-legged...

    I reflexively hit it with rock bullet and kill it.


    Almost simultaneously, I was hit on my back with a thud.

    I turned around immediately, about to use magic to defend myself when...


    "Doga! Stand up!"


    It was Sandor.

    He was standing as if to protect my back.


    ".....Yup!"


    Doga stood up while grabbing the axe from his back, and he positioned himself in front of me.

    Oi, I can't see in front of me if you do that.


    "It's an invisible opponent! Their numbers are unknown! Doga, don't rely on your eyes, use your ears! Only deal with the enemy in front of you!

    Rudeus-dono, please use magic! Clear them away using your ranged magic!"


    Sharp instructions fly out of Sandor.

    As expected of the person known as the Golden Knight leader, his judgment is fast.

    His title isn't just for show.


    I load magic in both my arms as I think that.

    Should I use fire magic?

    No, using fire in a forest would be problematic.

    It'll be double the effort in extinguishing it.

    Let's go with water magic, Frost Nova.


    ".............Uu!"


    As I was about to cast my magic.

    It was only for an instant.


    Doga moved in front of me.

    Swinging his giant axe in an arc

    Wielding a huge battle axe in this forest resulted in broken tree trunks and limbs every time it is swung.

    There is no resistance from the monster, however.

    As blocks of wood scattered around, I felt something slip by Doga's flank and approach me.

    The magic armor is heavy, but hard.

    Even if I was attacked by a monster's nails or fangs, it's likely that I won't be injured.

    I judge that in an instant and was going to cast my magic when......


    "Rudeus-dono!"


    I was knocked away by Sandor.

    What the!?, but I had no time to think that.

    Before I realized it, a spear was standing at my side.

    The spear looked like it stood by itself in mid-air, but... that's wrong.

    It was because something transparent was pinned to the ground by it.


    It's a white spear.

    Exceedingly white, as if it was made out of chalk.

    It was similar to some kind of monster's bone.

    Ah, how nostalgic that spear is.


    A single person jumped to the ground to recover that spear.

    Green hair.

    A white body as if stricken with disease.

    A native dress, similar to a poncho.[25]

    Ah, I have no doubt.

    I know after looking at his height, I can't possibly be wrong.


    "Ruijerd!"


    I got up and called out to him while extending my hand as much as I could.

    He looks back at me with his spear in hand.


    "Nh?"

    "..........Huh?"


    It was a face I didn't recognize.

    A beautiful face, he had a Ruijerd-like appearance... but it's not him.

    My Ruijerd was more like......the side of his chin was a little.......


    "Sorry, I mistook you for someone else."


    I feel...

    Really disappointed.

    There is a different member of the Supard here.

    Which means, my beliefs were right to some degree.......this is a Supard, right?

    Damn, my face is all hot because I shouted Ruijerd with so much determination and confidence.


    ".......Do you know Ruijerd?"


    The Supard male that I didn't know asked me with a curious look on his face.

    Ah, that's right.

    If he's a Supard, then he knows about Ruijerd.

    And even if it wasn't Ruijerd, there isn't any problem.

    Yeah.

    There aren't any typical problems that are rising in the Bihearil Kingdom right now.

    Yeah.


    "Eh? Ah, yes. Comrade.....no, friend.......maybe a patron?"

    "If you're a guest, come with me. I'll introduce you."


    The man turned around as he said that.


    "Eeh...please wait a moment, is he here?"

    "He's here."


    The Supard male nodded at the dumbfounded me as if it was obvious.


    The village was very similar to the Migurd village.

    It was surrounded by two meter high walls, and humble log houses lined the inside.


    Near the log houses, there was a rather small field.

    Unlike the Migurd's, they were growing many different types of vegetables.

    The soil seemed like it's fertile.


    On top of that, behind the log houses, an animal was being prepared for cooking.

    It was a 4 legged beast with whitish fur.

    That is the true identity of the invisible demon.

    A short while after they die, their invisibility gets released, and even the one who attacked us just moments ago started showing its color.

    It seems they're called [Invisible Wolf].

    Rather frank.


    In the centre of the village is a fountain, and near it is a large pot that looks like it's used to prepare food for the whole village.

    Their culture really is similar to the Migurd Tribe.


    But there's one difference.

    The Migurd village was filled entirely with blue haired people that looked like middle schoolers...

    But here, everyone has a red gem on their forehead and emerald green hair.

    They are Supards.

    All of them.


    And so, it was here that I had a surprising revelation.

    The Supards not only had red gems on their forehead and emerald green hair, but......

    They are beautiful.

    They are all, without exception, beautiful.

    No, in this world, there are people with much more beautiful forms and stronger faces.

    But they are beautiful nonetheless.

    Of course, it's not just nothing but pretty boys; everyone's features are regulated well.


    Over there is a young girl with a shortcut hair, super cute.

    She is slender, isn't too tall, but her shoulders are quite muscular, she has a strong-willed look, and her chest is fairly large. She gives off the impression of having the best parts of both Sylphy and Eris......

    No, it's different, this isn't cheating, I'm looking at it objectively, OK?

    It's a village of beautiful men and women.

    This is evil.

    The people of this forest are evil.


    "It's a frightening village."

    ".........Yup."


    In response to my comment, Doga gave off something that sounded like an agreement.

    For a while now, Doga has been squeezing behind me as if to hide himself.

    It seems he's scared of the Supards.

    He was born in the Asura kingdom, so he must have grown up on stories of the Supards being evil demons.

    Although I want to deny it......

    Though the Supard race as a whole are not that bad, whether or not this village is taking the trouble to welcome us is a different question.

    So for now, I'll hold off on consoling him.


    "Now, I wonder where they'll take us."


    Sandor doesn't seem all that scared.

    Maybe because he was raised in the strife zone, he hasn't heard many stories about the Supards.

    Actually, it seems that seeing so many Supards has him excited.


    "It would have to be where Ruijerd is, right?"

    "We won't necessarily be heading there first."

    "Then following this pattern, wouldn't it be the village head?"

    "If we're following the pattern then a jail might be likely........they don't seem to need to deliberate anything."


    The Supard warrior headed towards us and said, "Follow me," so we did.

    As a result, we blindly followed him and arrived at the village.

    We walked in silence.


    "In any case, the village doesn't seem all that energetic."


    It's as he says, the Supards don't look all that healthy.

    There's also someone with a cough preparing the meals.

    Although the children are healthy.

    The children with tails are running around playing.

    Ah right, so supard children have tails.....


    "Considering the size of the village, the number of people is rather small."

    "Have they gone hunting?"

    "They have livestock, they wouldn't need to go hunting would they?"

    "Ah, you have a point."


    Just now, we saw an animal being prepared for food.

    Which is why they would be back from hunting.

    Rather than a group, it might be just one person that leaves, since that animal might be stored as food....


    "It would have to be the disease."


    The village has that "sick person" smell to it.

    I might be biased because of the medicine information we received.....but the village still seems to have a sickly vibe.

    I should be fine, but would it be better if I wore a mask?


    "It's here, hurry up."


    The Supard who talked to us before led us in single file.

    In the village, it's the oldest house.

    However, it's also the largest.

    It's gotta be the village chief pattern.


    "Chieftain, I am entering. I have brought Ruijerd's guests."


    As he said that, he opened the door to the house.

    The inside looked like some kind of hall.

    Rather than the house of the Chieftain, it seemed more like an auditorium or a conference hall.

    Anyhow, inside there were five Supards.

    Most likely, five old men.

    They had a calming atmosphere, more so than the Supard who brought me here.

    All of them had green hair and white skin, they're beautiful.

    Age was difficult to understand.


    "Unh."


    And so, one of the five.

    He stood the instant I entered the room.

    With a familiar native dress....

    Facial scars.

    White spear.

    With a familiar metal head band.

    His hair grew. He's no longer a cue ball.

    This time there's no doubt.


    "Ruijerd-san!"


    A natural smile overflowed.

    Out of nostalgia, I wanted to rush towards him instinctively, but I held back a few steps before I entered.

    But when he saw my face, he gave a puzzled look.


    "Are you........Rudeus?"


    I wonder if he's forgotten about me.

    That would be rather sad.


    ".....Have you forgotten?"

    "No, the face in my memory is different."

    "Aah! I get it, this is for a disguise."


    I remove the ring and show them my actual face. It caused a buzz among the Chieftains.

    I understand that face.....is what I would like to say, but it's probably thanks to the Supard's third eye.


    "I see, it has been so long."

    "It really has."


    Aah, how nostalgic.

    There are so many things I want to say.

    There are so many things I want to tell.

    About Eris and Paul.


    There are loads of things I want to hear.

    About this village and what he has been doing up to now.

    No, if you look at this village you can tell.

    Ruijerd found it.

    What he had long been searching for, he had found at last.


    "Ruijerd-san...."


    I might cry.

    My memories of him are coming back to me.

    The time when I first met Ruijerd.

    When we met, he was alone. Near the Migurd village is where we began our journey. He did not appear to be alone, but he was.

    But Ruijerd is no longer alone.


    "Well, congratulations. You found the Supard tribe."

    "Ah."


    Ruijerd nodded while fondly looking at me and gave a smile.

    He is surrounded by his comrades.

    ......the surrounding 5 don't seem all that moved, but Ruijerd is happy.


    "But Rudeus.....why are you here?"


    Ah, right.

    This isn't the time to be immersed in sentimentality.

    Now is not the time to reminisce.


    "It's a long story. There are also many things I want to hear from you. So may I have a little of your time?"


    While sitting in the conference hall, I said that with a serious face.


    "Chieftain, is that alright?"


    Sitting furthest in the back, the pattern on his clothes was much more exuberant than the other four.

    He would have to be the Chieftain.

    In response to Ruijerd's question, he made a difficult face.


    "Can we trust this human?"

    "We can."

    "Then why not hear it?"


    With the permission of the Chieftain, the conversation began.


    Before I told my story, Ruijerd gave me an explanation of how he reached the Supard Village.

    The story started after he had delivered Norn and Aisha to my place.

    After that, Ruijerd set out on a journey to find any remaining, living Supards.

    While moving from country to country he planned to search the northern part of the Central Continent.

    But after he left town, Badigadi quickly caught up.


    "He said, 'I know where you can find the remaining living Supards'."


    Ruijerd was skeptical.

    But he had nothing else to go on, so for the meantime, he listened.

    During the next couple of years, their journey together ended at the Biheiril Kingdom.


    And so, they entered the Forest of No Return, the backwoods of the Earth Dragon Valley.

    He then guided him to the place where the Supards were living.

    Ruijerd was kindly accepted by the Supards.

    There was much talk regarding the war of the past, but all that was taken to kindly.

    He began life in this village and gained peace.


    "But a plague struck the village."


    An unknown plague.

    The initial symptoms are similar to that of the common cold, but then you begin to lose energy and start trembling. The forehead eye gets cloudy, and it eventually leads to death.

    As Ruijerd saw the villagers dying one by one, he ran about in order to search for the treatment.

    Ruijerd himself was also infected, but to save the village, he forced his trembling body to Irel.

    And so he succeeded in buying medicine from a peddler.

    As of now, the village was heading towards recovery.


    "But outside the village, demons of this forest had exterminated the investigation squad. Those kinds of rumours are circulating, aren't they?"

    "When the plague hit, the beasts of the forest most likely went outside."


    In the first place, why would the Supard race make their village here?

    It was the same as what the old lady from the village in the Earth Dragon Valley said.


    Several hundred years ago.

    When the Supard race was chased from the Magic Continent, they spread all over the world.

    They were persecuted wherever they went, at times they were chased by Knights or the military, day after day.

    The Supard refugees, avoiding plains, walking along the forests and foot of the mountains, sought for a safe-haven.

    A land where the humans couldn't tread, a place where the Supards could live.

    Seeking that place, persistently, to the ends of the world.


    And so, the place they found was here, the place called the Valley of the Earth Dragon in the Forest of No Return.

    Because of the earth dragons, large demonic beasts didn't approach. The forest was inhabited only by the [Invisible Demons].

    Of course, the [Invisible Wolf] is not on the same level as a common demonic beast.

    Because of the benefit of invisibility, 3 of them could wipe out the average adventurer party.

    But, the invisible demons, to the Supards' [eye], were a simple matter.

    And so their strength, compared to the Supards' who had lived on the magic continent, couldn't match.

    So they became livestock.


    Before long, the Supard race had settled in the Forest of No Return.

    Of course, they had trouble.

    No matter how few humans enter the forest, as there was a human village near, their hiding place was not absolute.


    After the Supards had been living in the forest for a while, the villagers began to enter.

    The villagers frequently went in and out of the forest, sometimes coming close to the village.

    At that time, the Chieftain of the Supards decided that the demonic beasts in the forest were to be reduced, and at the same time ordered the protection of any villagers lost in the forest; that was the promise he made.

    If it's the legend of the village, and what the old lady told us before.......

    But this is a story from 200~300 years ago, so it's possible that she was wrong.

    Whatever the case, they have kept their promise and the humans are still alive.


    Anyhow, the Supards have successfully done this while maintaining a reasonable distance.

    But with the uproar caused by the plague, the balance was broken.


    "The country intends to destroy this village."


    After hearing that story, I reported about the rumors that were circulating in the Biheiril Kingdom and what the country intends to do.


    "I see......."


    Upon hearing that, the Chieftain's face showed a look of disappointment.

    Not the expression of wanting to fight if destruction is imminent, but disappointment.

    With a tired look, and an expression of resignation.


    "It seems we can no longer live here either....."

    "Where can we possibly live now.....?"

    "If it wasn't for that war...."


    The Chieftains gave a numbed look and Ruijerd looked apologetic.


    "I am sorry."


    In response to Ruijerd's apology, the Chieftains hurriedly shook their heads.


    "We are not blaming you Ruijerd. We had decided together to follow Laplace as well."

    "There may still be some hard feelings, but at that time, everybody looked at the warriors with pride, and would have been glad to join you. We share the same sin."

    "......But why must only we meet these gazes?"

    "Why would Laplace do such a disservice to the Supard race.....?"


    Voicing blame is useless, nobody is entirely at fault.

    It was not because of regret.

    Just the voice of a man who had lost normality.

    Nothing can be done.

    There is no choice but to run.

    Those feelings, through their tones and actions, are being expressed.


    The war of 400 years ago.

    To the humans, it is an event of the distant past.

    But for them, it's a similar stretch of time to that which has passed since the teleportation incident for me.

    For the Supard race, the Laplace campaign has probably yet to end.


    "If it is alright with you, should I inform the Biheiril Kingdom?"


    Before I could think, the words had leaked out.


    "Eh?"

    "I am a human. That, in a way, gives me power.

    Up until now, the Supard race have been exterminating dangerous beasts in the forest and protecting a human village.

    That is to the benefit of the country.

    In short, with that explanation, I will request that they allow you to live in your corner of this forest."


    Now I know what to do.

    To defeat Gisu, that is my job.

    Although Ruijerd and his comrades are part of the plan, if that causes us to be unable to find Gisu, then it would be better to avoid doing it.

    I'm also thinking that.

    But can I leave the Supards to die?


    Up until now, I have been selling Ruijerd dolls and picture books.

    For what purpose?

    To look for Ruijerd?

    But why dolls and picture books?

    To help recover the honour of the Supard race.

    I have always been trying to help the Supard race and Ruijerd.

    My priorities might be off.

    But who else besides me is in the position to save the Supard race?


    "The humans hate us. Do you think they'll accept us?"

    "The hate for the Supards within the human race is already fading.

    In the Biheiril Kingdom, the humans and the obviously different Ogre tribe exist in peace, I feel there will be little resistance.

    Within this area, the Millis Church has little influence,

    While spreading good rumours of the Supard race with my own hands, if you let me help, then I'm sure they'll accept."


    They began talking rapid-fire.

    At the very least, there isn't any meaning for the Biheiril Kingdom to destroy the Supard race.

    Without the Supards, the invisible wolves will flood out from the forest, and the village will perish.

    We don't know how far the invisible wolves will spread, but it will most likely reach the second city Irel.

    It should be fine to ask them to ignore the Supard race.

    Rather than getting wiped out, this would be better.


    "If the Bilheiril Kingdom does refuse, I'll have you be allowed into the country of someone I know."


    The Asura Kingdom......would be tough.

    In that country, the Millis Church is beginning to thrive.

    But to the north of the Asura kingdom, there is a large forest.

    That place doesn't belong to any kingdom.

    As long as no real harm comes forth while they live there, it's possible to say that the Mills Church won't be too obstinate about it.

    More so, in that forest is the band of thieves that know Ariel. It would be good if they could get along and share.

    With Ariel, I might be able to use the good condition of the Supard race.....


    "Will it be alright?"

    "Before that, can we trust this man?"

    "If he is an acquaintance of Ruijerd....."

    "But can we believe what he is saying?"


    Those around the Chieftain began arguing amongst themselves.

    So much so that you wouldn't think they were the same race as Ruijerd.

    Since they all look so young, it kind of looked like a youth group meeting.

    If you brought a video like this into human society, they would at least realize that they aren't demons.....


    "It does not need to be decided now."


    The Chieftain said that and the discussion ended.

    Indeed, if a man appears out of nowhere and suddenly says something like that, you would get confused and be unable to decide.


    "I understand. The humans will come to attack in 16-17 days. Although there is time for discussion, please decide quickly."


    Although, if negotiations here were to break down, I would help protect the Supard village.


    "......I understand. We will have our decision in a few days."


    As the Chieftain said that, he stood up with a hard to understand face.


    "Huh? But you still haven't heard the reason I have come here."

    "Currently we are too divided to hear your story. And the sun will also set soon. For now, the meeting is adjourned. I would like to make arrangements."


    I've been rescheduled.

    They're an excellent company.


    "We must prepare food and lodging for our guest."

    "I'll do it."


    Well, hearing what I came here to say tomorrow shouldn't be a problem.

    Even if this village's problem isn't solved, I won't have to fight Gisu or Hitogami over it.

    Priorities.

    Tomorrow I will explain them why I proposed such a suggestion.

    And like that, I finished my meeting with the Chieftains.


    That evening, we were given a vacant house to stay in.

    Doga shut himself in and Shandor, at dusk, went looking around the village out of curiosity.

    I was in Ruijerd's home.

    It seemed he had the position of an advisor, and was living retired in the village.


    Home, Ruijerd's home.

    When I see it, it somehow warms my heart.

    He is no longer on an unending journey, being persecuted wherever he goes.

    This is the place Ruijerd belongs to.

    Even if he is absent for a time, this is a place he can return to, with a warm bed and a smiling family.

    A home is a great thing.

    Ah, no good, I think I might cry.


    "You can sit there."

    "OK."


    The inside was quite plain.

    The structure is definitely similar to the Migurds' homes.

    There is a pelt draped over something like a fireplace, and clothes hanging on the wall.

    The inside is divided into three sections, and Ruijerd seems to be in the storeroom.

    It seems food, water pots, and the like are put in a separate room as the sound of water dripping could be heard from there.


    But the appearance isn't that impressive.

    Although the floor is covered with fur, there are grains of wood sticking out from the wall.

    While a trophy of the invisible wolf was decorating the wall.......

    Ah, the thing that's hanging from it, it's Roxy's pendant.

    How nostalgic, so he was still holding on to it.

    Still.......the house is quite spacious.


    "Excuse me, Ruijerd-san."

    "What is it?"

    "Are you perhaps living alone in this house?"

    "Yeah."


    Living alone in a house this big.

    Suddenly, I thought of living alone in my current house.

    The bedroom would be the same as before.

    I would cram anything useless in the basement like now.

    I'd make use of the bathroom, dining room, and kitchen but.....probably not the living room.

    Other rooms as well aren't of any use to me.

    As the head of the house, I can change the layout of my private room as much as I want.

    All of this would result in an empty and dreary room.

    If it was the me from before, I would've thought of it as fine, but the me right now can't stand it.


    "........Are you not going to marry or something?"

    "Do you think I can?"


    Ah.

    Damn it.

    Now that I recall, his wife and child, by his own hands, were.......

    So he obviously wouldn't.


    "Sorry."

    "Don't apologize. It's not because I'm being pulled by the past, but because I simply don't have any sort of companion right now."


    Ruijerd sat in front of me while smiling.


    "So what has been happening to you?"


    He seems to be relaxed.

    This sense of distance.

    I should've brought Eris along if it was going to be like this........

    No, I'll do it after all of this is over.

    We can meet whenever we want if we're all alive.

    Therefore, we must act together if we all want to live.


    "It's a long story, is that fine?"


    I thought that it would've been fine tomorrow, but I guess I should at least speak with Ruijerd ahead of time.

    I, too, can't help but want to talk to him.


    "Let me hear it."

    "Yes."


    I started talking about the time after we parted.

    About my sisters, about Paul's death, about my marriage with Roxy.

    My reunion with Eris, and how I reconciled with her.

    Ruijerd was calmly listening to all of that.

    He had a little clouded expression regarding Paul's death, but as a result of me not being particularly sad, we didn't talk about it.

    Rather, the thing we did talk about was Eris.


    "As I thought, so Eris did have the disease of a warrior?"

    ".......Ah~, I wonder. It still looks like she's suffering from it even now."

    "Even so, to marry three women, it's just like you. Are there any kids already?"

    "Yes. There are four."

    "I see."


    He didn't say 'I want to see them'.

    But I'll bring them along next time.

    Especially Ars.

    Ruijerd wants to see mine and Eris's child.

    Well, this and that can be done after defeating Gisu.


    "Ruijerd-san."


    I correct my posture thusly.

    The order of things was sequential but now comes the main question.


    "I have currently become Dragon God Orsted's subordinate."


    I started talking about the present situation.

    About how the Dragon God Orsted had been fighting Hitogami since long ago.

    How I took Hitogami's side, but he was deceiving me from the start.

    How he tried to kill my family as he deemed my descendants a hindrance.

    But the future me came and how I was barely able to prevent that.

    How the angered Hitogami suggested that I fight Orsted and how I did.

    I lost to Orsted, but he was a surprisingly nice guy and I was able to escape from the hands of Hitogami.

    And after I became Orsted's subordinate, I joined in the fight against Hitogami.


    How I am currently in the midst of assembling personnel in order to bring down Demon God Laplace, whose resurrection is to be 80 years from now.

    How everything was progressing smoothly until Gisu took Hitogami's side.

    About Gisu's letter. About the possibility of Gisu being in Biheiril Kingdom.

    In order to defeat Gisu, I sent in every trustworthy comrade towards the whole nation of Biheiril Kingdom.

    While reporting on the current situation, I said at last.


    "Ruijerd-san.

    I've been searching for you ever since I decided to fight against Laplace in the future.

    Please become my streng-.......no, please fight alongside me."


    I requested as I bowed my head.

    Ruijerd, too, is a person who holds resentment towards Laplace.


    ".............."


    Therefore, I, as if it was to be expected.

    Was dreaming about his acceptance to my request with all my heart.


    ".............."


    But Ruijerd didn't answer.

    He just made an unpleasant face and looked away.


    "Eh?"


    I hadn't even thought about the possibility that he would refuse.

    When Laplace's name was mentioned, Ruijerd's face became expressionless as usual, though I always thought that when the time came he would just nod as if to say 'Got it'.

    But I was wrong.

    He averted his eyes from me.

    That made his refusal apparent.

    His attitude was saying 'no'.

    'This is a lie', or so I would like to think.

    But, 'so that's how it is', or so I was assenting to it as well.


    Isn't it obvious?

    It's because he found the members of the Supard race.

    He still holds resentment towards Laplace.

    There is still some residual anger.

    However, that fight ended long ago.

    During the final battle of Laplace's military campaign, it was all over when he struck his blow of revenge.

    Not to mention that the Supard village is currently in a grave situation.

    There is no need to promise until the present situation is resolved.


    "Is it because of the Supard village? If it is, please leave it to me. It's been several years after our separation, and I've reached the point where I've become so influential that I can even do something rash."

    "It's not that."


    Looks like I was wrong.

    But I hadn't given up yet.

    I needed an answer immediately, so I thought of anything else I could use to persuade him.

    What kind of life had he lived after Laplace disappeared?

    What had been Ruijerd aiming for?

    To protect the remaining Supard race?

    To protect the long lost brethren that he finally found?

    There is that.

    But, there is one more thing, which has a greater impact.


    "Then, is it restoring the Supard Race's honor? Asura's ruler and Mills's miko are also participating in the fight against Laplace. If the word gets out that you stood by them in the fight, then even the Supard Race's honor----"

    "It's not that."


    Is that it, or so I thought, but my suggestion was rejected without a second thought.

    Ruijerd stood up.

    His expression gave off a thirst for blood and could also be seen with hints of bewilderment and hesitance.

    Perhaps, there may be a different reason that I'm not aware of.


    "Rudeus, come with me."


    Ruijerd picked up the spear that was leaning against the wall and walked towards the exit.

    I got up in a hurry and followed him.


    As a result of talking for so long, outside it's already pitch dark.

    Although the moon is peeking from the gaps in the trees, you can't even see your feet.

    Ruijerd headed towards the outskirts of the village.


    I took out a light spirit from the scroll in my hand and illuminated the surroundings.

    Ruijerd kept walking for several minutes as if to say that there is no need for light, and stopped in a clearing within the forest.


    "Rudeus."

    "Yes?"


    From here on out, I'm going to be hearing things that I didn't want to hear.

    I had that premonition.

    Perhaps an uneasy premonition flashed through my mind.


    "Regarding the discussion before, there's just one lie."

    "............"

    "The Chieftain and all the warriors as well believe in that lie."


    A lie.


    "There is no cure for the plague. The medicine didn't have any effect. We're not going to recover."


    The figure of a woman coughing in the village comes to mind.

    The symptoms of a disease that can be felt from everyone in the village.

    The number of villagers that Sandor had said was rather low.


    "Currently, the advancement of the illness has just been suppressed."

    "........How?"


    When he heard that, Ruijerd put his hand on the metal headband that was concealing his forehead.


    "This."


    The thing that appeared from under the headband.

    It was not the red gem.

    The gem that should've been red, had turned into a deep blue.

    Furthermore, it was surrounded by a black pattern.

    Something like........like a drawing made by a fourteen year old using their left hand, a pattern like that.


    "That is?"


    Ruijerd's mood and the ominous presence from the pattern is probably the reason why I can't bring myself to make fun of him.

    I feel like I've become more aware to others' powers and danger since I've become stronger than before...........


    "Currently, my body has been possessed by『Dark King』Vita."


    Dark King Vita.

    The one who lives in the labyrinth of the Heaven Continent『Hell』, one of the possible candidates for Hitogami's apostles.


    "Dark King Vita fissioned and distributed himself to the infected people in the village. Due to the power of Vita's fissioned parts, the plague's progress has been suppressed."

    "Pos-Possession.........are you all right?"

    "There isn't anything out of the ordinary. Only the progress of the plague and its symptoms have been suppressed."

    "Did he say something or do anything?"

    "No."


    The only thing that I heard from Orsted was his name.

    From what he looked like to what goals he may have, I hadn't heard anything about it.

    So he's the type who can possess.

    Fission... that means, he's a life-form that can split himself.

    Or possibly a bacteria type?


    "But,『Dark King』Vita should've been living in the labyrinth of the heaven continent『Hell』........just why?"

    "When the village was caught in a dilemma, a male appeared in front of me with Vita in a jar."

    "One male.........don't tell me!"

    "It was Gisu."


    So it was him.


    "Gisu said that afterwards, a great war is going to happen in this country. When that time comes, he wanted me to assist him."

    "..........."

    "I accepted.


    I had doubts about relying on an unfamiliar person like Dark King Vita, but we didn't have any choice. Then, the plague's progress was actually suppressed and everyone was saved."

    And then, Ruijerd expressed a disappointed smile as if mocking himself.


    "To think that the enemy Gisu was fighting with was you, I never even dreamt that........"


    My heart is pounding.

    Even though I considered the slight possibility of Ruijerd becoming an enemy.

    Now that the possibility is true, the pounding won't stop.


    "It's not that the plague has been completely cured.

    If Dark King Vita dies, his fissions will also die or so I've heard.

    If that happens, the village will again be swallowed up by the plague."

    ".........."

    "I must fight you."


    Ruijerd said that expressionlessly with a sober face like always.


    "Of course, even I don't want to fight you. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have been able to come this far. I may still be loitering around the Demon Continent with foolish thoughts."

    ".......Even I feel that I have a debt to repay you. I don't want to fight you."

    "Fighting is a necessity. It's been like this since the beginning of time, it's immemorial."

    "........I guess so."


    The fellow that I feel indebted to is going to become my enemy.

    Helplessly fighting against one another, when the other dies, the heart of the survivor becomes scarred.

    Something like that may happen due to the war.


    But this should be different.

    Why should there be any need to fight?

    Exception. Right, there should be an exception.

    There must be a way to avoid the war.


    In order to avoid the war, the source of it should be eliminated.

    That's right, as long as the source is removed........

    What's the source.........?

    Orsted and Hitogami?

    It's certainly that, but I've already reached a point where I can no longer betray Orsted.


    Currently, it's the relationship between me and Ruijerd.

    The reason Ruijerd must fight me.

    It's because of comrades, the brethren of Supard race.

    If the Supard race is no longer........no that's wrong.

    It's the plague.

    The plague gnawing at the Supard race.

    If a way to cure it is known, then the Supard race should become our comrades.


    "If there is a method to completely cure the plague, will you come to my side?"


    Betray them.

    Hearing those words, Ruijerd gave a unwavering glance and wore a rigid face for a little while.

    But I didn't leave from his sight.


    Gisu had dibs on Ruijerd before me.

    But Ruijerd informed me about the situation.

    If he had really sided with Gisu, he wouldn't have said anything and just killed me. Yet...

    The reason he brought me to this place and explained the situation is certainly because he was swayed as well.


    "............."


    Ruijerd was straining his lips and furrowing his brow.

    I intend to make him my comrade.

    He, too, should be thinking that.

    But, he may also have an obligation towards Gisu who saved his brethren as well as Hitogami, who gave the instruction.

    Since it's the honest Ruijerd.


    "I said it before, but I was betrayed by Hitogami. And I can definitely say that the same could happen with the Supard Race. Gisu was betrayed once as well and I was told that my entire family will be killed. There is also the possibility that if you keep following him, then after the war is over, Dark King Vita will willfully leave and the Supard race will be doomed anyway."


    Even if you feel indebted, the possibility of Hitogami eventually betraying you is high.

    Hitogami is that kind of guy.

    Of course, it is nothing more than just a malicious guess.

    But I ought to tell him about the things that have happened in the past.


    "............"


    Ruijerd is still silent.

    He remains silent and continues to look at me.

    I continue to look at him as well.

    And then, he slowly opens his mouth.


    "If there really is such a method. Then, all right. I also wish to fight alongside you."

    "Ruijerd-san..........!"


    A sigh of relief escapes me.

    I'm glad.

    I'm glad that we don't have to kill each other now.


    "But, is there such a method?"

    "Orsted knows a lot about this world. If we listen to him then there is a possibility."


    But, will Orsted tell us about it?

    He hasn't told me so far.

    That the Supard race was here, he didn't inform me about it.

    No, based on the situation, I'll properly listen to him.

    Whether or not I'll be fighting with Ruijerd may be decided later.


    "In any case, there should be a countermeasure to the disease.

    Until then, don't say that you'll become my enemy, please wait."


    The problem is the delay.

    But, there isn't any countermeasure, that's understood but it's still not too late.


    "Orsted came once, before Gisu."

    "Eh?"


    He abruptly spoke, causing me to tilt my head.

    Orsted came?


    "When?"

    "Approximately two years ago, when the first patient was discovered."

    "..........."

    "But he didn't do anything. Of course, we didn't know that he had a connection with you and drove him away, but........if what you say is true, at that time, Orsted should've been your comrade."


    What does that mean?

    What does that mean?


    "Do you have absolute trust in Orsted?"


    Orsted didn't do anything about the Supard race.

    Though, there is the possibility that he wasn't aware of the illness, but if what Ruijerd says is true, then that can't be the case.

    Trust.

    The method to a cure.

    Can't do it, don't know it.


    "I do."


    But I said that.

    Orsted and I have gotten along all this time, until now.

    Perhaps, even this time he may have some reason.

    For example, the Supard race may become some kind of hindrance to him in the future or the like.

    But, if we talk things through then a resolution can be found.

    At least, Orsted had already visited the village once, it isn't like he wants to kill off the entire village.

    Perhaps he came to do just that, but wasn't able to.

    Now that is something to think about.


    "You can trust in Orsted."


    I've been working together with Orsted until now, that much is certain.

    Surely, communicating with him can be difficult since he doesn't say much. But he can be trusted as he aims to defeat Hitogami and always moves towards that goal.


    "He doesn't like talking too much, but please believe in me and not Orsted. I would never come to loathe the Supard race."

    "..........."


    Ruijerd turned back.

    Folding his arms as if to think, he stood like that for several seconds.

    Suddenly, as if he realized something, he raised his face.

    A large moon could be seen in the sky.


    ".........Gu!"


    In the next moment, he suddenly grasped his chest and squatted.


    "Ruijerd-san!?"


    Just what happened?

    Immediately after I thought that, I rushed over to him.

    He abruptly raised his head and grabbed my shoulder.


    ".............!"


    That was strange.

    Ruijerd's face was changing.

    His eyes were stained deep blue.

    The whites and blacks of his eyes were transforming into a deep blue color.

    His mouth was partly open; it didn't look like his face was under his control at all.

    The gem on his forehead was turning red, but the surrounding pattern was releasing an ominous glow.

    Looking at that, I understood.


    "Are you being manipulated!?"


    Damn it.

    Just because he told me that nothing happened until now, I shouldn't have immediately had that conversation.

    Even though I was told he was being possessed...

    It was too late to think about it now, Ruijerd approached my face.


    And kissed me.


    At the same time, some kind of liquid infiltrated my mouth, and crawled into my throat as if it was a living animal.


    "Uwahh......!"


    I jumped up.

    A familiar room leaped into my vision the moment I opened my eyes.

    My legs wrapped in the soft blanket.

    The door which exited into the hallway from the bedroom.

    The gentle breeze blowing in from a partly open window.

    When I turn around, I see the pillow made from treant's material.

    Roxy's figurine is placed on the side-table.

    This bed, which I've grown accustomed to sleeping in.

    Located in the Magic City Sharia, it's my house.


    "Haa.......Haa......."


    I feel like I had some kind of strange dream.


    "Huh.......?"


    But I couldn't remember what happened in the dream.

    Just that it was unpleasant.

    If it wasn't, I wouldn't have jumped up like that.

    Well, a dream is just a dream.


    "Nh.......Ngh!"


    I got out of bed and stretched.

    The weather today is nice as well.

    In a little bit, summer will end and autumn will take its place.

    I can't help but look forward to it.

    As I walk down the stairs while thinking that, two children noisily ran up to me.

    Children with dark brown hair and animal ears.


    "Don't fall down now~."

    "Yeeessss!"


    I escort the running children into their room and continue down to the first floor.

    Passing the hallway, to the dining room.

    In the dining room, one female was preparing breakfast.

    A voluptuous body hidden by simple clothing, but the clothing was cut, a tail coming out from behind.

    When she noticed that I was in the room, she turned back while twitching her sharp ears.


    "Good morning, Rinia."

    "Good morning-nya."


    To be told with a somewhat blunt tone of voice,

    I was suddenly overtaken by a vague, uneasy feeling from when I had that unpleasant dream, so I hugged her.


    "Rinia!"

    "U-nya!?"


    Rinia is my wife.

    Just why was I married to her?

    Right, now that I recall, it was during my days as a student.

    I had been worried about my ED, and was trying to cure my son by various means.


    At that time, Rinia and Pursena appeared in front of me..

    Two people, possessing bodies overflowing with a vibrant youth, throbbing impression, and wild styles.

    When I fought them, restrained them, and peeled them naked, my ED was yet to be cured.


    But, after one or two years, I kept encountering them in the classroom and cafeteria, and I was gradually becoming more aware of their presence.

    Soon, it reached the point where the two of them lewdly tempted me; and at that time my son, little by little, was regaining its response.

    It had completely recovered when they reached their 7th year, during autumn.

    It was then when the two of them, both excited and unable to control themselves due to the mating season, brought me to their room.


    It's nostalgic.

    That night was the best.

    After that, on the day of graduation, the two of them dueled and Pursena became the victor.

    Pursena went back to the Great Forest and Rinia came to my place.

    And then every year, whenever autumn arrived, we made children.


    "Fushaa!"

    "Owww!"


    My hand which was massaging her breasts was hit.


    "It's forbidden until mating season! We decided on that-nya!"

    "It should be fine with just a hug......"

    "It's you anyway, it won't finish with just a hug-nya! A wife is nyot her husband's sex slave!"

    "That wasn't my intention though........"


    While sighing, I sat on the table.

    Rinia's mood is always like that.

    According to the rules of the beast race, it's only allowed during the mating season.

    Of course, when the mating season arrives, the opposite side willingly invites you.

    The children are cute, and having children with Rinia during the mating season really satisfies my sexual desires.

    But still, that's not it.

    Just a little bit of, how should I say this, shouldn't a little bit of touchy-feely be alright in ensuring our love?


    "Hey, Everyone-nya! The meal is ready, get down here-nya!"

    "Yeessss!"


    Rinia strikes the empty pot with a clanging noise and the children come running down from the second floor.

    It's not just the two children that were going up the stairs a while ago, there were twelve children in all.

    The beast race can give birth to two to three children at once, that's why it's a large family.

    My house is filled with children's rooms.


    "Eat quickly, there is work for you to do-nya! The students are waiting-nya!"

    "Yeah, yeah."


    Being pestered by Rinia, I began eating my breakfast.

    Her cooking is quite delicious.

    When we were newlyweds, she was only able to roast meat, stew fish, and boil vegetables.

    These past few years, she has learned quite a bit from Sharia's home cooking.

    Seasoning is a bit weak, but that's because the beast race's sense of taste is different, so it can't be helped.


    "Thank you for the food."

    "Yes. It wasn't much-nya."


    Once the meal is finished, as always, I change into my robe and go to work.

    I entered the magic guild once I graduated and am now a teacher at the Magic University.

    I'm teaching chantless-magic invocation.

    This kind of magic style is extremely high in practical usage; that's why it's a fairly popular course.

    Like this, my teaching method for chantless-magic invocation is established, and if my students produce results, someday becoming the vice-principal or even principal will no longer be a dream anymore.


    "Well then, I'm off."

    "Have a good day-nyan."


    While parting with few words, I headed towards the front door.

    For my wife and children, I'll work hard today and every day.


    "Nh?"


    I suddenly saw the living room door was slightly ajar.

    From inside, I could feel a person's presence.

    It's an awfully nostalgic presence.


    "........"


    As if I was being lured in, I opened the door.

    There was a man.

    Pretending not to see me, with one hand on the back, he's sitting on the sofa.

    The back of his head had bright brown hair that was tied into a ponytail at the base of his neck.


    "Nh?"


    The man turned around.


    "Yo."


    It's Paul.

    Why is he in such place?

    Wasn't he dea-.......


    Ah, no, he's not dead.

    He gave up on the teleportation labyrinth and came back to my place.

    Thereupon, coming to Magic City Sharia, he's living in the neighborhood.

    Yeah, that's definitely what happened.

    Lilia, Aisha, and Norn are currently living in Paul's house.

    They condemned me for not going to Paul's aid, but now we're on good terms with one another.

    Yeah, definitely, I'm sure that was the case.


    "She's a fine wife, eh?"

    "A fine wife........it's not like you're seeing her for the first time, right?"

    "No, it's my first time."


    Paul laughed heartily and waved his hand.


    "Are you fine with how things are right now?"

    "What's that? Do you have something that you want to say?"

    "No, not really? There's nothing really. I just asked because I wanted to know whether you have any complaints or not."

    "...........There aren't any complaints."


    Rinia is a fine wife.

    That is, I'm just unhappy that I'm not allowed to touch her except during the restricted period once a year.

    Even that, I don't particularly mind it.

    The mating season is soon; when that time comes she'll become more clingy than usual, and with a level my body is not able to endure, she'll love me.

    And to be able to make kids, as a male, my instinct is satisfied.

    If I have to condense a year's worth of 'action' to one season, then it isn't such a big deal.


    My work is going smoothly as well.

    I'm a popular teacher at the Magic University.

    My teaching method is successful and widely known in the top classes of every school.

    There are many students who wish to take the class, and the other teachers' trust is great too.

    My future is bright.


    "I see, so there are no complaints. That's the best of all."

    ".........Right?"

    "But, something, are you not forgetting something?"


    As if scolding a foolish child with a tender voice but continuing to look down on me.


    "For example, look, the work you're doing right now. Who did you imitate to gain the popularity of your students and teachers?"

    "That is obviously........"


    Who was it again?

    For a moment, I felt like a blue-coloured something flashed in front of my eyes, but I immediately shook my head.

    But, the noise in my heart grew.


    "Isn't there a person who taught you that? In this world, the technique to become successful."

    "......From some time ago, just what are you trying to say!? Say it clearly!"


    I gave into my irritation and approached the sofa.

    I walked to the front of Paul and grabbed him by the collar.

    Then, my hand stopped.


    "Then, I'll say it clearly........I'm already dead, ya know?"


    The lower half of Paul's body wasn't there.


    "Uwah!"


    I jumped out of bed.


    "Haa......Haa......"


    My breathing was rough, my throat dry, and my back was drenched with sweat.

    It was a bad dream.

    I saw an impossible dream.

    What was that......What was that.......


    "What a nightmare......"

    ".....What's the matter?"

    "Aah, no, I just had an odd dream.

    "When I came to Magic University......There was someone from the beast race named Rinia, right?

    I had a dream where I was married and had children with her.

    I had become a teacher, and was teaching chantless magic to our children."

    "That's a nightmare?"


    Was it a nightmare?

    When you put it like that, it doesn't really feel like a nightmare.

    Baby-making with Rinia for a short period of time each year while looking after the children, teaching the students each day.

    It was a quiet and happy lifestyle.

    But—.


    "It was a nightmare."


    As I said that, with my sleepy eyes, sitting up on the canopy I saw my wife.

    She is a goddess of beauty.

    Her frame neither too large nor too small, but just right.

    Her breasts neither too large nor too small, but just right.

    Her butt is slightly small, but it perfectly matches the size of her chest and height.

    Overall, her waist is slender but also wide, it's neither one or the other.

    But she is impossible to view as a whole.

    It can be said she embodies symmetry, she has the perfect body.


    If a flaw must be found, it would be her messy bed-hair.

    Her normally beautiful flowing blond hair was somewhat disturbed.

    But it does not detract from her charm.

    With her messy hair, no human capable of reproduction could resist her charm.

    To put it simply, erotic.

    The messy hair, most likely caused by the actions with me last night, made her 30% more erotic.


    "Being married to such a perfect woman, I have everything I desire in my hands. Why would I be a teacher in a rural town?"

    "Is that a compliment? Such flattery."


    My wife.

    Ariel Anemoi Asura.

    She began to giggle.


    "But maybe you wish for such a life.

    Lately there have been many parliamentary affairs, right?

    Royal life is by no means easy.

    Our work, no matter how small, bears huge responsibility, but we're not guaranteed the same amount of happiness.

    The happiness people feel, it's not that important.

    Perhaps teaching in a rural area, spending time surrounded by children, that living as royalty now makes the balance between responsibility and happiness different.....

    More so than a woman like me, a child like Rinia may be more to your liking?"


    Ludicrous.

    Ariel is the perfect woman. She doesn't have a single flaw.

    She would indirectly rebuke me for my failings and would even flaunt me in front of people.

    She doesn't have any problem with other female relationships and would even allow concubines.

    And on top of that she is great at her work, she is trusted greatly by those around her.

    She is the ideal boss and a national idol, she is that kind of woman.


    No, perhaps there may be some flaws.

    She can be argumentative, and values logic more than feelings.

    She also has a somewhat peculiar fetish.

    But, for me at least, these are not enough to be called shortcomings.


    "Aah, I apologize. Did I say a little too much?"

    "No, I was just thinking that it just might be so..."

    "If a vacation is needed, please say so.


    Lately the kingdom has been calm, so taking a little breather should be fine.

    Wherever you go.....Why not take a concubine with you?"


    "If I got a vacation, I would just want to hold you all day."

    "Geez.....nothing but jokes with you."

    "It's true."


    I wonder how long it has been since I held Ariel like that.

    The first time, we welcomed a lot of concubines, it was the sumptuous feast I had always dreamed of, but recently such things don't appeal to me.

    She alone is fine.

    If someone were to ask me what currently makes me happiest, it would be that I can love the woman named Ariel Anemoi Asura.


    "*giggle* Then let us make that kind of time, next time."


    While she was giggling, a maid dressed Ariel.

    I also got out of bed and opened my arms.

    A maid immediately rushed to me.

    When I saw the two maids dividing the work and quickly dressing me, I felt I had become important.


    The time at Magic University seemed very nostalgic.

    When I enrolled in Magic University, I met Ariel.

    After being chased out of the country after a political loss, Ariel did not give up and began assembling allies.

    Being the only one at the school capable of chantless magic, I was scouted.

    She was beautiful from the beginning, and possessed charisma.

    But as I was suffering from ED, I had an unwelcoming demeanor.


    That changed because she fixed my ED.

    The approach was a little rough.

    She forcibly used an aphrodisiac to get me excited and made me attack her.

    Initially, I didn't realize it was a ploy on her part.

    I had done something unthinkable and out of a sense of guilt, I joined her side as a form of atonement.


    At first, I was a high powered escort.

    I did not have any special authority, I was just to protect Ariel.

    That began to change when I became familiar with Ariel.


    Ariel, who strived to be royalty.

    But occasionally showed an expression appropriate for a girl her age.

    Little by little, I became captivated by that girl.

    I will not deny that I initially had ulterior motives, but it was not her body, but rather her heart I was attracted to.


    I collided against my colleague Luke many times.

    He surely loved Ariel as well.

    But Luke died in the decisive battle for the Asura Kingdom, leaving Ariel and me behind.


    Finally, I confessed to Ariel and obtained everything.

    The world's greatest woman and the world's largest country.

    I became the king of the Asura Kingdom.


    Rudeus Anemoi Asura.

    That is my current name.


    Only as an extra to Ariel, my existence is something like a puppet.

    Ariel reigns as queen, but it's easier to call me the ruler, that's the only reason.

    From the start, my lineage was pretty high profile in the Asura Kingdom, so there were no complaints.


    Magic King Rudeus.

    The world has taken to calling me that.

    When I power up, I might just become Super Rudeus.

    Whether or not Ariel loves me is unknown.

    I can't say for sure that I'm not being used only for my power and position.

    The wedding may have only been to help smoothly govern the kingdom.

    That causes my feelings to waver; there is also the large amount of concubines.


    However, recently I've come to think that whatever she thinks is irrelevant to her true feelings.

    After I married Ariel, she has been continuously maintaining the attitude that she loves me.

    She is a hard worker.

    She will possibly commit herself to love me.

    This act might be a lie, but at least I feel satisfied enough.

    Even if I am being deceived, I can say that it felt good to be tricked.

    If I cause more harm than benefit, Ariel will probably betray me.

    That depends whether or not I work hard.

    Let's try harder.


    "Well then, shall we go? We have a mountain of work today."

    "Yes."


    I left the bedroom by Ariel's side.

    The two knights guarding the entrance bow their heads.

    As we walk down the hallway, no matter who we meet, they bow their head.

    This is power.

    If I, for example, said I didn't like the way one of these people bowed, that person would go pallid and fall down to their knees.

    If I told them to lick my feet, they just might do it.

    Fufu, of course, I wouldn't do something like that, but knowing I have the position to do so is an excellent feeling.


    Well then, the first job is any incident that may have occurred during the night.

    There was no major emergency last night, so there shouldn't be any pressing jobs.

    From experience, that should take two hours, and just before noon we have a meeting with the Knight Captain.

    After a meal, we have an appointment with some nobles.

    We also need to finish up with the petitions from the afternoon, was it?

    I hope we can make plans for the vacation; I want to make children with Ariel soon.

    Since one of my roles is that of a stallion.


    "Your Majesty!"


    As I was thinking that, the Knight Captain came running.

    He immediately kneeled in front of me and raised his voice.


    "The knight sent to exterminate a demonic beast in the forest to the east has come back on the brink of death! He wants your Majesty to hear his last words directly!"

    "Huh!"


    A demonic beast in the east forest?

    So that happened.....


    "I have not received this report."


    Aah, that makes sense.


    "This is the last request of the knight that have fought for your Majesty! Please, please hear out his last request!"

    "Dear. There is no need."


    Ariel is cold.

    But today isn't especially busy.


    "Why not meet him?"


    It is the wish of the knight that fought for this country.

    Just hearing him out should be fine.

    Listen to his name and remember it.


    With those feelings, I hurried to the audience room.

    Ariel seemed unhappy, but followed without excuse.

    In the room of the audience, subordinates had gathered.

    Notos house, Boreas house, Euros house, and Zephyrus house.

    Along with those were many VIPs of the Asura Kingdom aristocracy.

    And so surrounded by those people, a single man was waiting on the red velvet carpet.

    Resting on a stretcher, he is covered with a blanket.

    He had a familiar face.


    "Father...."


    Paul.

    Why is Paul here?

    Aah, I know.

    Paul heard that I became king and joined the knights.

    And so, even though his relationship with the Notos was bad, he bowed his head.

    As a knight, he wanted to protect me.


    "Yo, Rudy."


    Paul raised his hand to greet me as if he wasn't injured at all.


    "Father......the demonic beast, exterminating it, I heard from the Knight Captain......"

    "Demon? What are you talking about?"

    "Huh?"


    I tilted my head as Paul shrugged his shoulders and sighed.


    "That's not why I came here."

    "As I said, what are you saying.......ngh!"


    While I was talking, Paul removed the blanket.

    He had no lower body.

    With injuries that would cause instant death, Paul was speaking.


    "Continuing from what I said earlier."


    "Uwah!"


    I woke up

    I had a bad dream.

    A nightmare.


    "What's wrong, dear?"


    The woman next to me asked while wiping the sweat from my forehead.

    She had a curvy body and a youthful smile.

    My wife Aisha.


    She is, umm, how did we end up married again?

    Yes, that's how it is.

    Errr, I could no longer put up with her getting in the bath with me.

    Aisha, every day, came to tempt me, and each year her body.....Wait, but?


    "Hey~ what is it......? Do you still want me to call you Onii-chan even after we got married? Geez, it can't be helped, Onii-chan is a pervert after all."

    "........."


    ......On the other side of Aisha was Paul.

    Having lost the lower half of his body, he was sitting in a chair.

    He's looking here and laughing.


    "It's useless. You understand that too, right?"


    Paul murmured that.

    I know.

    Aah.

    Well yeah.

    I should get it by now.

    The reason the nightmare continues.

    Why I've been feeling nothing but discomfort.


    For a while now, I have been constantly waking up.

    It was all a dream.

    And so, this is also a dream.


    "I finally noticed.『Dark King』Vita. The farce is over."


    Dark King

    That's right.

    The Dark King Vita.

    I remembered.


    Before I noticed, I was in a room without a door.

    The room without a door had three chairs.

    There was no other furniture, but it gave off a feeling similar to my room.

    The room from my previous life and my current bedroom.

    It feels like a mix of both rooms.

    And in that room I was sitting in one of those chairs.

    In front of me are two people.

    No, two creatures?


    One was a skeleton.

    Wearing a crown, it was a dirty, blackish skeleton.


    The other was a slime.

    It's most likely a slime.

    An object shaped like blue jelly was sitting on the chair.

    At least it appeared to be sitting.


    "Nice to meet you. I am the the『Dark King』Vita."


    Is what the slime said.

    The translucent blue slime.

    That is the true identity of the Dark King Vita.


    Then I wonder what the skeleton is?

    It's not Paul, is it......?

    I don't remember what Paul's skeleton looked like, but that crown wouldn't suit Paul.


    "This fight is my loss."


    The slime made a seriously rotten face and......no, I don't know where its face is.

    He said it in a seriously rotten voice.

    Defeated, as in this battle.

    He showed me dreams.

    It was a very happy dream.

    If I hadn't noticed, I would have continued forever in that happy dream.


    "....You used some kind of illusion technique on me and showed me that vision."

    "Yes. Using your memories, I predicted the future that might have occurred, and blended it with your desire. The finest of illusions."


    Illusion techniques, eh?

    It seems those kinds of things exist as well.

    The unusualness of......the future that might have happened... now that I recall, I feel as if it had a lot of defects.

    A world without Sylphy, Roxy, and Eris.


    "Your sexual desire is very strong, it was quite easy."

    "Abstinence does that to you."


    Oh dear me! That's embarrassing.

    And being with Rinia, Ariel, and Aisha is also...

    I probably am a little......

    Although it would probably be a lie to say I had absolutely none of those feelings.

    No, nothing, I have no feelings of that kind for Aisha, no means no!


    "But my feelings towards my wives and my memories of Paul were the catalyst that broke the illusion, right?"


    I had seen this type of illusion countless times in my previous life.

    Although it was mainly in manga.......anyhow, I knew how to defeat it.

    I probably put that into practice unconsciously and it led to this result.


    ".......No, that's not it. I had you completely under the illusion. Certainly, the effect was shallow because of your special spiritual body......but that much would never break the illusion."


    Huh?


    "Then how did I escape?"

    "That would be......this."


    Vita pointed to the skeleton from earlier.

    The skeleton which assumed a proper posture.


    "This is?"

    "Quit playing the fool.....You already foresaw the fight with me and prepared this in advance, didn't you? My natural enemy, 『The Bone Ring of Laxus』"

    "........."

    "And now that I think about it, you dramatically removed the disguise ring in front of Ruijerd to hide the ring on your left hand."


    The Bone Ring of Laxus.

    I have no memory of preparing something like that.....


    "The Bone Ring of Laxus was a ring made by the Death God Laxus in order to kill me.

    It uses the death of the person you most relied on to break the illusion, prevent the escape of the practitioner, and corners them.

    Although, if you hadn't experienced such a death, the ring wouldn't activate."


    Death God Laxus.....The Death God's ring!

    The one I got from Randolph.

    I put it on! It's true that I had it on!


    "I seemed to have made light of you a bit too much."


    I didn't see this far ahead.

    I also didn't mean to hide the ring.


    "I failed.

    If it was going to turn out like this I should have controlled Ruijerd and threatened you.

    Ruijerd was resolved in the destruction of the village, but then you showed up and I got impatient.

    And because you didn't look particularly vigilant, I thought I could take care of you easily.

    I didn't think that a plan to take care of me had been prepared......I could not have predicted a trap to hunt me down....."


    It wasn't a trap.

    Somehow, I'm sorry.

    But Orsted or Randolph might have predicted such a situation.

    Although I wish Orsted would tell me about these things in advance.......

    No, now that I think about it, he did say to take the ring.

    That might be why he kept quiet about it.

    By simply wearing the ring, it renders the Dark King powerless, that sort of thing.

    Words without worth.

    Well, this wouldn't be the first time Orsted has left out important information.

    This also isn't the first time I didn't need to hear important information.


    "......Well there is the saying that overconfidence leads to defeat."

    "Yes, truly."


    As Vita regretfully says that, he shrinks.

    It's as if he's rapidly losing power.

    And at the same time, the skeleton also begins to collapse.


    "To think that I, the history's strongest king of the Glutinous race, will be finished off in a place like this and in this way, I had never even dreamt of that. Rudeus of the『Quagmire』. Splendid work."


    .....I wonder how I'll get back.

    I hadn't predicted these turns of events.

    Luck, I wonder if I can chalk it up to that.

    I went to see Randolph myself, so I wouldn't call that luck.

    Then, would it be better if I told him not to call himself the history's strongest?

    No, there's still something left that I need to hear from him.


    "There's one thing I want to hear. Are you an apostle of Hitogami?"

    "That's right. I am greatly indebted to that God.

    He set me free from the demonic hands of Death God Laxus and told me about the route to the Heaven Continent's Hell.

    Thanks to him I have lived a long time......

    And this is the result that came of that.

    Is it cause and effect, or fate?"


    Vita continued to shrink rapidly.

    When I first entered the room, he was as big as an average human, but now he's no bigger than a fist.


    "Rudeus, let me say one last thing."

    "......"

    "The Human God is a bad God, but there are those, although few in number, like me that he saved."


    As he said that, he had shrunk to the size of a fingertip.

    At the same time, the skeleton was disappearing into sand.


    "Wait! Tell me who the other apostles might be........!"


    My consciousness also began to fade.


    I awoke.

    My consciousness was clearing up.

    I remember the contents of the dream and the last conversation in that room.


    "Uuh......."


    There was an abrupt pain in my stomach followed by nausea.


    "Blughgh......"


    I dropped to all fours and the liquid was vomited out from my mouth.

    A blue liquid.

    A blue, slime-like substance, mixed with bile and dinner, spread on the ground.

    Is it......the corpse of Dark King Vita?

    As I thought that, a sense of discomfort began radiating from the ring on my left finger.

    When I took my gauntlet off, the Death God's ring broke and fell to the ground.

    The ring sank into the vomit with a plop.


    "......."


    The fact that the ring is broken,

    it means that the conversation with Vita earlier was real.

    ....Basically, Vita entered me and the ring caused him to self-destruct.

    Pitiful.

    That said, it wasn't that Vita miscalculated.

    If I had been manipulated, Hitogami's victory would have been assured.

    And I wouldn't have been able to do a thing.....

    A coincidence.

    Or should I say inevitable.


    The bone ring of the Death God Laxus.

    It wasn't just used to have Kishirika listen to its wearer.

    It's possible that Randolph didn't even knew what it could really do.


    "Aah, I wonder where Ruijerd went?"


    I scan the surroundings.

    I'm inside a building.

    The floor, walls, and layout......all seem familiar.

    It's Ruijerd's house.

    From the turn of events, after Vita transferred to me, Ruijerd brought me here......?


    ".........."


    It's bright outside.

    I wonder how many hours have passed.

    It seems to already be dawn.

    I'll clean up the vomit later.


    "Ruijerd-san?"


    There was no reply from the landlord.

    Did he go outside?

    Or is it something else?

    For now, I stood up and started looking around.

    I have to confirm the situation.

    No, there he is.

    Ruijerd was lying on the other side of the hearth.


    "Ruije-"


    He was lying there, pale faced with wheezing breath.

    Holding his own trembling body.

    The moment I saw that, I was at a loss for words.

    This was clearly not normal.


    『Vita was halting the progression of the disease. The moment Vita is killed, his fissions will die and the plague will spread again』


    I remembered him saying that.

    In other words, Ruijerd's current state is.....


    "The plague....."


    It didn't seem like the Dark King Vita had only died.

    His self-destruction might have destroyed himself, but........

    It was suicide bombing.


    If Vita were to die, the progression of the plague will restart.

    I was told in advance, but to think that it would be this extreme...

    Perhaps Vita wasn't delaying the progression of the disease, but had merely paralyzed it.

    The paralysis was undone when he possessed me and then died, resulting in the disintegration of his fissions.

    As a result, the symptoms surfaced all at once......or something like that.


    'I brought Vita down', I'm not going to say that.

    That was a suicide bombing.

    I'm relieved that someone with the same level of stupidity was on Hitogami's side, but I can't be relieved about the present situation.


    "Rudeus-dono!"


    Unaware of what to do about the suffering Ruijerd, brooding over whether or not there was anything I could do, I suddenly rushed out of the house only to find Sándor running up to me.


    "Sándor-san!"

    "So you've finally awoken, just moments ago the people of the village suddenly started collapsing, just what on earth is going on?"

    "Dark King Vita has fallen. The progress of the plague may have been affected as a result of that."

    "Eh!? When? Where did you defeat the Dark King!?"

    "Just now, he selfishly chose defeat!"


    It's fine either way.


    "Please give a full explanation!"

    "Well......"


    I started explaining.

    What I heard from Ruijerd last night.

    How Vita was transferred to me through oral contact, how I was shown illusions, and how the Death God's ring defeated him.


    "........I understand. In other words, the Dark King challenged you but the tables turned on him, and that.....Ruijerd-dono was just being manipulated, right?"

    "........I didn't realize it until I woke up, but if he had been an enemy, he wouldn't have carried me to the village."

    "Got it."

    "Next, a question from my side. Just how many are there?"

    "For now, have whoever is mobile go and recover those who were out hunting.

    "I also intend to give those same people the order to defend the entrance."


    As expected of Sándor, he works quickly.

    It hasn't been very long since the spread of the disease, he's excellent.


    "And Doga?"

    "Doga is assembling the sick people at one place."


    I turned my gaze to see Doga noisily running while carrying a woman in his arms.

    And as if to chase him, the children of the Supard race were following him with concerned looks on their faces.

    They're probably headed towards.......the chieftain's lecture hall.

    It is the largest building here, so it's perfect.


    According to Doga, there are no deceased yet.

    But more than half of the people, just like Ruijerd, are experiencing symptoms to the point of immobility.


    "Rudeus-dono, what should we do?"

    "......What to do."


    I find myself at a loss for words being asked what to do.

    This situation.

    What must be done?

    The village is being invaded by the plague.

    We must do something to cure them.

    Therefore, right, detoxification magic.

    But I just tried it on Ruijerd.

    Obviously, there wasn't any effect.

    It's not that I was able to use every form of healing magic, but I feel as if the possibility of detoxification magic not having any effect is very high.

    Since there are many such diseases and poisons.

    If detoxification magic won't work, then I should leave it to the disease specialist.

    Although I say that, who fits that description?

    Should I ask Ariel to make preparations for a doctor?

    But the one who is the most knowledgeable about diseases is Orsted.

    But Orsted, and the Supard race.....

    No, let's just try and ask him.


    First of all, a means of communication.

    Three days left until the establishment of the magic formation.....

    No, I knew something like this would happen, so I had already prepared a teleportation magic formation in the basement of the office in advance.

    Let's install the Communication Lithograph and magic formation in this village as well.

    I'll teleport to the office and report to Orsted about the current situation.

    I'll also report to the branches, from the main office, the condition of the Supard race.

    If all of that was useless......we'll think about that when the time comes.

    Alright.


    "We should set up a teleportation magic formation in the village, move to the office, from there contact the branches, and thus call for someone capable of a medical examination."

    "Roger. Then I shall defend the village and nurse the patients."

    "Please do."


    We quickly exchanged words, and then I hurried towards the end of the village.

    Since we're inside a deep forest, the concentration of magic is high.

    A teleportation magic formation can be set up without the need of any magic crystals.

    Just to be sure, I should bring what's needed for the lithograph and set it up in the village.


    While deeply thinking about that, I headed towards the other side of the village.

    Exiting out of the fence, cutting down the trees with magic to make an open space, I then made a hut with earth magic.

    A hut with no entrance.

    I dug a tunnel from beneath the hut and connected it with the inside of village. With this, the monsters won't come.

    I took out my memo and verified the magic formula with compliance to the preliminaries of the magic formation.

    Now to make sure that the drawing doesn't vanish from the floor, I created a lithograph from magic and drew upon it.


    Impatience is a taboo.

    If I make the slightest mistake, the magic formation won't be completed.

    Rather than wasting time debugging, I want to make it work in one go if I can.

    When you're in a hurry, that's when you should calm down.


    "Ah, damn....."


    Or so I was thinking. I ended up making a small mistake.


    "Fuu....."


    Deep breaths.

    Composing myself, I decided to draw it slower than I normally do.

    A plain magic formation with a diameter of 2 meters.[26]

    If I draw it hastily, I will make a mistake.

    Carefully drawing.

    I've drawn the teleportation magic formation myself many times over.

    I should have the confidence to draw it accurately from the start.

    With that in mind I calmed myself, and I carefully finished drawing the teleportation magic formation.


    "How is it?"


    I pour my magic into it as soon as it was completed.

    The entirety of the drawn magic formation is poured with my magic. On which it began emitting a dim light. It's a success.


    "Alright."


    I immediately jumped on it.


    After my consciousness disappeared for an instant, the basement of the office appeared in front of me. Normal operation of the magic formation was confirmed.

    And at the same time, I set out for the door at a quick pace.

    Not even abiding by the written message 『Those who have business with Orsted and Rudeus. This way.』 , I go towards the upper levels.

    I come out of the basement, which is adjacent to the teleportation magic formation room, and ascend the stairs to enter the lobby.


    "Ah, chairman, welcome ba----"

    "Is the president here!?"


    To my threatening attitude, the receptionist twitched her ears. While lowering them, with a slightly frightened look, she gave an answer.


    "H-he's here."


    Without hearing her words, I continued towards the president's office and opened the door before she's finished.

    I passed through the corridor, which was rather short, and opened the door to his office.

    I thought of myself as not that rude, but I forgot to knock.

    As a result, I saw Orsted without his helmet on.


    "Orsted-sama."

    "..........."


    Orsted was showing a seemingly awkward-ish face,

    But he didn't hide it and was looking straight at me.

    When I stared at it for several seconds, it seemed like he was saying 'Do you have any problems?', to which I felt my anger swell up.

    I know that this was not the time to get angry.

    Still, the words that came out of my mouth were demanding, distracted by my irritation.


    "Say, the Supard Race's illness, were you aware of it?"

    "I was aware of it."

    "And a way to cure it?"

    "There is none."


    I was told bluntly.

    It wasn't that he didn't know but there was none.


    "If you had told me sooner, I should have been able to at least search for a cure. Why didn't you tell me about it sooner?"


    As I said that, Orsted shook his head.


    "When you became my subordinate, the Supard race was supposed to have already perished."

    "Supposed.....are you talking about if it were the usual loops?"

    "That's right. And Ruijerd Supardia never even got to meet the surviving Supard race."


    They were supposed to have already perished, that's why he didn't say anything.

    Ruijerd was normally unrelated to that event.

    Since he was reminded of that as a possibility, he didn't say anything, is that how it is?


    "But you visited them a few years back, correct?"

    "......Yes."

    "At that time, you found the Supard race, got in contact with Ruijerd, confirmed that a plague was spreading and yet, you kept quiet?"

    "That's right."

    "If you had kept quiet then the Supard race would perish and Ruijerd too would disappear. Since I wouldn't know, you gave up, is that what you thought!"


    Before I realized it, I was shouting.

    I felt like I was betrayed.


    "Wrong. I thought it was a waste of time."

    "A waste of......time?"

    "That's right. Even I tried to save the Supards.

    I tried every detoxification magic, gave them medicine that would likely cure them, I tried everything.

    But they weren't cured. That plague can't be cured."


    So Orsted tried everything that he could think of?


    "The ruin of the Supards was a pre-determined fact for me. But you wouldn't give up if you knew, and would possibly look after them until their ruin."

    "That is.....of course."


    But, two years ago.....or even before then?

    As for the timing, possibly after that one assignment in Shirone Kingdom, unaware of the location of Laplace's rebirth, I proposed assembling war potential.

    At that time, if I had been told about the Supards, I would have been running around thinking of how to tackle the situation.

    At least, I wouldn't have been able to do all the work this past year.

    I wouldn't have been able to call out to Atofe, Randolf, and the rest of the demon kings.

    Or perhaps I wouldn't have even gone to Milis.

    It's also possible that I would be unaware of Gisu being an apostle.


    "But, deciding whether it's a waste of time is....I....then, no.....it might be....."


    I understand the reason.

    But my heart can't catch up yet.

    A good excuse doesn't come to mind.


    This time, Orsted hadn't forgotten.

    He just didn't say it.

    He intentionally schemed so to not let me help the Supard race.

    Even though I understand the reason, I cannot, at any cost, forgive him.

    Orsted tried to let my benefactor die without any help.


    Orsted is like that, so it can't be helped.

    Even though such words come forth normally.

    I can't forgive him.


    Not good.

    At this rate, I'll think of Orsted as an enemy.

    In the midst of such an operation.

    With the enemy in Biheiril Kingdom, while everyone's there......

    An excuse, I must think of an excuse.....an excuse to forgive Orsted.


    "........Is Ruijerd a hindrance to your plans?"


    Those were the words that came out.

    Words that don't go with the flow of conversation.

    If this was to be true, then what would I intend to do?

    But Orsted said this.


    "He's not a hindrance. His daughter, who is going to fight Laplace, is the most important piece."

    "His daughter? How is she important?"

    "Laplace, who has become a Demon God, is immortal. But he has a weak point. The Supards, with their third eye, are the only ones who can see it and deal the fatal blow."


    The only ones who can take advantage of the Demon God's weak point are the Supards.


    "Ah."


    Then, something suddenly struck me.

    The reason why Laplace transferred his curse to the Supards to destroy them.

    The reason why Ruijerd, who inferior in fighting strength against Laplace, was able to put a blow on him during the fight of the three demon slaying heroes; to the point where even Perugius expresses his gratitude.

    The reason why the Supard race was struck with the plague.

    The reason why the plague was slower than expected, but progressed after Ruijerd's arrival.

    .....The reason I travelled together with Ruijerd to the Central Continent.


    "So.....it's Hitogami."


    Strength leaves my body.

    Unsteady on my feet, I step back.

    Something caught my foot and I sat in a chair.

    Putting my weight on the armrest, the chair stopped sliding.


    "In the original history, Ruijerd-san survived, correct?"

    "Yes."

    "Since he didn't die on the way, he created a child at the end, correct?"

    "Yes."

    "Orsted-sama, you would make use of that child to defeat Laplace, correct?"

    "In the beginning, yes. After I learned that Laplace is mortal the moment he's born, I didn't use her or anything."

    "Is that so."


    Then, this is also one of Hitogami's plans.

    I see.

    And now, this time he coordinated in order to erase me......huh.

    Aiming to kill two birds with one stone, a strategy most befitting of Hitogami.


    "Orsted-sama. Looks like we're being manipulated at the hands of Hitogami again."

    "....................."

    "The ruin of the Supards, the rampancy of the plague isn't a natural phenomenon, it's Hitogami's work. Looks like it's convenient for Hitogami as long as Demon God Laplace is alive."


    Rather than the Demon Dragon King, Laplace who became the Demon God is no harm to him.

    Since he has forgotten about Hitogami anyway.

    On the contrary, he's destroying the humans.

    Unexpectedly, it's possible that during Laplace's military campaign, he himself was being manipulated by Hitogami.

    I don't think he could manipulate the dragon race directly, possibly through an apostle.


    "Haa......"


    I somehow felt refreshed because of this unexpected result.

    Orsted didn't talk about the Supards. Well, that's still lurking in the back of my mind though.

    Even if I direct my anger towards Orsted here, there won't be any agreement anyway.

    It will only delight Hitogami.

    He'll just laugh with a broad grin while saying 'Just as planned.'[27]


    "..........."


    It didn't occur to me before, but I thought up of a good excuse as a result of feeling refreshed.

    Unaware of a method to cure the plague, thinking that they were already doomed, Orsted neglected them.

    Before, he thought that the ruin of the Supard race was not related to the life and death of Ruijerd.

    He may also be thinking of Ruijerd's whereabouts.

    But then he thought 'perhaps' and went to see it for himself, only to find Ruijerd there.

    Moreover, Ruijerd had gotten infected as well.

    He didn't know how to tell me about this, perhaps it might even be better to not tell me. He couldn't help but think that.


    "How did you intended to defeat Laplace without the Supards?"

    "Using the Godsword is not that absurd of a choice. I can't avoid a hard fight, but you're currently assembling comrades, so we'll somehow pull through."

    "But if I recall correctly, that Godsword? Using it takes a lot of mana, doesn't it?"

    "You can't substitute your back for your belly."[28]


    On top of that, Orsted intended to take responsibility as a penalty.


    "I thought about apologizing to you. But I couldn't speak, and now it took this shape. It was inexcusable."


    Orsted said that and bowed his head in apology.


    ".....I understand."


    Orsted isn't perfect.

    These things may also happen.

    Let's just forgive him with a big heart.


    "Orsted-sama, I'll forgive you only for this time."

    "Yes."


    With this, it's settled.

    All~right, let's face forward.

    That is, for now.


    "I'm just making sure, but you do need mana to defeat Hitogami, yes?"

    "Yes."


    Hitogami prevented the specific place in the Shirone Kingdom where Laplace would revive.

    Moreover, he tried to exterminate the Supard race's last survivor by letting Ruijerd find the Supard village; Ruijerd who is the key to defeating Laplace.

    If the entire Supard race is exterminated, then Laplace can be thrown at Orsted.

    Orsted, in order to defeat Laplace, will have to use a large amount of mana.

    This should be the winning move for Hitogami.


    We'll crush that winning move.

    We better not use the Godsword then.

    Avoiding fights as much as possible, and minimizing mana consumption as well.

    I will assemble the war potential in order to bring down Laplace, making Orsted's mana explode during the fight with Hitogami.

    But for that purpose, the Supard race, who are a key point in defeating Laplace, must be kept alive.


    "I've heard it already, but there isn't any method to cure them, right?"

    "...........At the very least, I have no knowledge."

    "Although you say that, there are things even you don't know of, eh?"

    "That's.....right."


    Orsted said that and wore his frightening face as usual.

    I've grown accustomed to that angry look these days.

    This is the face when he's ashamed.


    "Then perhaps there just might be a method. Let's struggle for a bit more."


    Even Orsted might not have been able to try many methods, because of his curse.

    He should've been able to do something, but couldn't because of the current state of his curse.

    Then, we should try and do it.


    "Got it......I'll head towards the village as well."


    Orsted said that and nodded.


    We came back to the village after three hours.

    During that time, I reported about my encounter with Dark King Vita.

    I explained Vita's suicide bombing by the Death God's ring, to which Orsted hid his surprised face by instead showing an angry look.

    By looking at his face, it seemed he didn't know about Vita's possessing power.

    Maybe it was truly a great insurance.


    After that, we used the Communication Lithograph and contacted the branches.

    About the nature of the disease of the Supard race, and arrangements for a doctor.

    The number of C.L was too high, so it took time contacting every branch by transmission.

    The functionality of a carbon copy is necessary.


    While I was waiting for the reply to my message, I drew the preliminary sketch of an additional teleportation magic circle.

    To set up a teleportation magic circle, you first have to draw two. After confirming the activation, you erase wherever you had written the other down. There is a need to go through this process.

    There is no need to charge it now, but when it is used, it has to be charged thoroughly.


    The receptionist's job was to stand by at the office; during Orsted's absence, she would answer the mail and guide anyone who comes through the teleportation magic circle.

    These days, the teleportation magic circles have grown so much that it's becoming difficult to remember which is connected to which. A guide map may be necessary for first time guests rather than me and Orsted.

    I should also write down where to move in the forest after getting teleported.


    By the way, Sylphy had already left to the Holy Land of Swords with Ghyslaine and Izolte.

    During that time, Ariel visited as well and had a talk with Sylphy.

    The receptionist and Orsted didn't hear any details, but there wasn't a message left, which meant that she just came to visit for a while.

    Because I had that kind of dream, I may become a little self-conscious if I met her.

    I don't want to blush in front of Sylphy while looking at Ariel.


    After that, the establishment of the teleportation magic circle and communication lithograph by everyone else who went to Biheiril Kingdom had been confirmed.

    Everything was operating favourably.

    It looks like the others are doing well too.

    I contacted them as well.

    There's no problem with Aisha+Mercenary group.

    Zanoba reported about a subjugation force being assembled in the capital city.

    Roxy reported about investigating the whereabouts of Ogre God.


    I sent them messages regarding the present situation.

    At the end, I added『We'll somehow manage over here, so please carry on with your respective duties.』

    If I don't, I can expect Eris flying to me.


    Then, there were a lot of favourable replies from many countries.

    A lot of countries gave the reply 『We'll investigate about the disease from past documents.』

    Asura Kingdom was ready to send over a doctor by tomorrow.


    The only reply that's left is the one from Milis, regarding reinforcements.

    Sending in the Temple Knight Party via teleportation magic circle is rather difficult, so it's discouraged.

    At any rate, the reply from Milis is late nonetheless.


    Anyhow, after doing all of that, I came back to the village.

    Together with Orsted.


    ".........."


    Orsted is currently looking at the fallen Supards one by one.

    He probably has better medical knowledge than the average doctor, but he still couldn't understand the cause for the disease, so it's not like he would understand it at this stage.

    In the first place, he's not a doctor.

    He may have tried to cure some diseases in the previous loops, but never had actually medically treated someone.

    If pushed, I'd say it's like a RPG errand event.[29]


    On X day of X month, Rudeus becomes sick.

    Rudeus, on X day of X month will die, so we must cure him before then.

    At this point, you do not know the cure.

    However, before that time comes, we come to know that Sylphiette-chan is experiencing the same disease.

    And then Sylphiette-chan has an item used on her by Roxy and the disease is cured.

    Orsted uses the item used by Roxy on Rudeus on the next turn.

    That kind of feeling.


    Well, by reconciling the past cases and the present cases we can look for a cure, that kind of diagnosis is possible, but I'm not a doctor so I wouldn't know.

    In short, Orsted isn't too potent regarding affairs that are beyond expectations.


    "I still don't know."


    After examining everyone, feeling powerless, he shook his head.


    "I feel like the symptoms differ a little from the plague I know of......"

    "Differ, in what way?"

    "The deterioration wasn't supposed to be this rapid."

    "......So Vita was paralyzing it after all, I wonder if that's the only thing that came to light."

    "If it's Hitogami's way of doing things, then it's possible."


    Pretending to suppress the disease, but in reality he didn't do anything.

    It's Hitogami's way of doing things.


    "Do you have something on your end?"

    ".......No."


    While Orsted was examining the illness, I was listening to the people helping out with the medical treatment how they used a remedy when the disease first struck.

    They collected some popular herbs from the Central Continent or vegetables with high nutritional values and cooked them together to make a mash of it and gave it to the affected.

    I'm not that knowledgeable about the nutritional value of vegetables or herbs, but I can't think of it as a big mistake.


    This is a dead end.

    We must change our way of thinking.

    For example.......right.

    Originally the spread of the plague was supposed to be faster.

    Which means, Hitogami can control this plague. Then, some kind of poison was brought in from somewhere, so that possibility also exists?

    Or perhaps the timing when the Supards were struck with the plague simply deviated because of the teleport incident.

    Hitogami can simply use that and be able to.......

    Ah jeez, just which is it?

    The thing that is important right now is finding a cure for this disease, not Hitogami.


    The more I think about it, the more I feel my thoughts sinking into a quagmire.

    I somehow felt that perhaps, there might not even be a method.

    An unpleasant premonition.


    But, not yet.

    At least, Orsted and I, together with Sándor and Doga, can't come up with anything.

    But after this, a doctor is coming.

    Let's just concentrate on maintaining the patient's hygiene and providing them with nutrition.

    While thinking that, I spent the whole day nursing with Sándor and Doga.


    The next day, a team of doctors from the Asura Kingdom arrived.

    Two doctors and four nurses along with numerous food and medical supplies.

    For the time being, it looks like they're all people who don't fear the Supard race.

    After looking at the patients, they immediately started their medical examination.

    Whether or not they would disclose info about the teleportation magic circle, I have no choice but to rely on Ariel's charisma.


    "We were told in advance about it, but we've never seen these types of symptoms."


    Not to mention, we took such a risk and yet the team of doctors were useless.


    "We have performed medical examinations of demon race in the domestic, but......if we're to handle a specific demon race under specific circumstances, then there's nothing we can do."


    I don't get it at all.

    Those are the opinions of the doctors.

    At least, it doesn't come under the category of past cases.

    That's understood, since the human doctors have seen them and Orsted as well.


    "We will continue the examination just in case, but it would be better to not expect too much."


    The doctor said that and went back to treat the patients.

    But.....even so, I see.

    I hadn't expected much, but to be told that clearly... My disappointment was greater than I thought.


    "Fuu......."


    While breathing a sigh, I survey the surroundings.

    There, a great number of Supards were arranged in a line.

    The ones who are moaning, ones who are dead tired and aren't moving, ones who are sleeping.

    The ones who are lying down being nursed, a scene just like a field hospital.

    There aren't any deceased yet, but there are many with severe symptoms.


    And Ruijerd is also included among those with severe symptoms.

    Currently, he has lost consciousness and is in a comatose state.

    At times, he suddenly opens his eyes and starts coughing violently. By looking at him, I understand that he doesn't have much time.

    I want to cure him somehow.

    I think as I sit near Ruijerd.

    But, we don't have anything to go with and no breakthrough solution comes to mind.

    Only the time is passing by.


    With this, even if doctors came from the Milis and Kingdom of the Dragon King, the possibility of finding a cure is low.

    If we couldn't find a cure, what should be done next?

    Whom should I ask, would that person understand?

    What should be done.....?

    What can I do?


    "Rudeus-dono."


    When I came to, Sándor was standing in front of me.


    "What is it?"

    "I apologize within this situation, but what would you like to do about the information broker?"


    Information broker.....was there someone like that?

    Ah, that's right.

    In the second city Irel, we requested an information broker to investigate about Gisu.


    "How many days are left until the agreed day again?"

    "It took one day from the city to road, two days from village to here, you were asleep for one day, also yesterday, today is about to end, so I guess 4 days. I think we can somehow make it even if we're late by one day."


    So it's already time to return.

    I mean it wasn't like I slept for too long.


    "The teleportation magic circle has been established as well, so the number of days are flexible....."

    "That's so. When that time comes, I'll be off."


    I don't want to move from this spot, but I must search for Gisu.

    I don't have any choice but to go.


    "Let me accompany you as well."

    "..........Are you going to leave only Doga with Orsted behind?"

    "Rudeus-dono, going outside alone is dangerous."


    I suddenly became suspicious that he has some ulterior motive, but I guess it's only fair.

    It's not good if I act alone like this.


    "Rudeus-dono, enough about the information broker, what would you like to do about the subjugation force?"

    "Subjugation force?"

    "The subjugation force being assembled by the country. Did you not hear about it being formed for about a month and coming here to attack in the future?"

    "Ah...."


    There was also that.


    "I think we should take steps ahead of time that way as well, what should we do?"


    Certainly, in order to protect the Supard race, we should move quickly and negotiate with the country.

    But that is only if I have the proof that the Supard race is safe; otherwise, it's impossible.

    Of course, the Supards have no hostility towards the humans.

    Is it still possible to verify that.....?


    "I find it difficult to say that we should leave it aside, but because of the current situation, because of this plague.....At least, until we see whether or not the disease would be cured....."

    "Then, should we leave it alone?"

    "......That is not a good thing to do, what do you think should be done?"

    "After contacting the information broker, go to the royal palace, report about the present condition and the true identity of the demon, I think this much is significant. If we leave it alone saying it's because of the plague then we'll face war, but if we want to help the Supards, then the conclusion should be negotiations. Right?"

    "Ah......quite so."


    At first, try it.

    That's how it is.


    In any case, the next move is in 4 days.

    There is a heap of things to do, but a clue for a solution can't be seen.

    I feel frustrated because of no progress at all.

    Don't get tired.....

    While thinking that, I fell asleep that day.

    In Ruijerd's empty home.


    I woke up as I was being shaken.

    There was a beautiful girl in front of me.

    Blonde and silky-smooth hair, which were trimmed evenly above her eyebrows.

    I don't even need to remember who she is.


    "Nii-san, please wake up, Nii-san......!"


    It's Norn.

    Ah, that dream, is it that illusion again?

    This time Norn is my wife, huh?

    That would happen if Vita was still alive.

    Then I would like the current situation to be a dream as well.


    "Vita is so boring."

    "Vita? Are you still half-asleep!? There are a lot of things I want to ask!"


    Norn seemed to have gotten angry.

    Although recently she doesn't, but the Norn before did nothing but get angry at me.

    I've missed this Norn.


    "Why has Ruijerd-san become like this, why did you not tell me about it!"


    Ruijerd has become like this.

    My consciousness was suddenly awoken by those words.


    ".........!"


    I rose my body.

    The animal fur covering the floor.

    It's Ruijerd's house.

    Not a dream.


    "Even though I was also so grateful towards Ruijerd-san.....! To not tell me about it at such a time, isn't that unreasonable.....?"


    Tears start flowing down from Norn's eyes.

    She didn't wipe them and was powerfully gripping the fur.

    I wiped her tears with my finger for no apparent reason.


    "Yeah, sorry....."


    And at the same time, a question wells up in me.

    Why is Norn here?

    If I recall correctly, she should have been busy right now.


    "Norn, errr, perhaps this is not the right time to ask this, but wasn't there supposed to be an event at the school?"

    "That was already over long ago!"


    Huh!

    Which means her graduation ceremony is over as well?

    That's impossible......

    Well, no, that's not it.


    "......How are you here?"

    "Cliff-senpai told me everything and brought me along!"


    Norn spoke with a high-pitched and unstrung voice and looked back.

    At the entrance of the house.

    Two shadows stood against the backdrop of the back-light.

    One of them has a slender silhouette.

    Blond hair glittering because of the falling sunlight.

    The figure of a long-eared woman which was bewitching in her austere build.

    And, the other person is a male.

    Height lower than the average.

    Even his breadth isn't that wide.

    Yet, why is it that he seems to be greatly reliable?

    Probably because of that eye-patch covering one of his eyes.


    "Rudeus."


    Cliff Grimoire was standing there.


    "Sorry for coming late.

    Various formalities delayed me.......the Milis Religious Organization isn't just a large slab of rock. Please forgive me."


    He had come.

    After reading the letter of the communication lithograph, he came at once.


    "Now that I've come, it's all right. I took lessons in medical techniques just for these times."

    "But, Cliff-senpai....."

    "Yeah, I know. I've already heard everything. But I have this."


    Cliff said that and opened his eye-patch with a pop.

    One of the demon eyes he received from Kishirika.

    Identification eye.


    "Is something possible with one or two demon eyes?"

    "Perhaps nothing can be done with just the demon eyes. But you know Rudeus, the one who is holding the demon eye, is me."


    Cliff said that and puffed his chest with pride.


    "I'm a genius."


    Perhaps he might have said this only to let Norn have some peace of mind.

    Ah, but.

    Cliff's figure looks big.

    Was there ever a day I saw Cliff's figure this big?

    Cliff gets bigger each time I see him.

    He's growing while exceeding my imagination.

    Hasn't he already grown twice as large as me?

    If it's Cliff-senpai.

    If it's the Cliff-senpai who somehow removed the curse!


    "There is nothing this genius can't do, leave it to me."


    He'll somehow do it.

    Even though it was supposed to be a groundless remark, I seemed to have thought it naturally.


    The first place Cliff went to was where the patients were.


    "It is the basics of the basics to first examine the patient's condition."


    With that in mind, Cliff began to examine all of them.

    Still, those were the same things that the team of doctors were doing.

    Looking over the patients with severe symptoms via the Demon Eye, questioning the patients with moderate symptoms, and comparing his theories with the patients' charts.

    That's about it.


    "To think we would talk to someone of the Milis church......*cough*, *cough*!"


    The patients were startled by Cliff's attire, and there were many among them who clearly showed him hostility as well.

    Those who persecuted the Supard race the most violently were the Milis Religious Organization after all.

    There were many here who held that memory.


    "Answer truthfully, where did you first feel discomfort in your body?"


    Not to mention, Cliff didn't pay them any mind at all.

    In a situation where those in need were not cooperating, if it were me, I'd have given up halfway.

    As expected of Cliff.


    "I see."


    After he had finished examining the patients, Cliff came to an understanding.

    But, I had a hunch that perhaps he had still not understood anything.

    I felt as if......even if Cliff may call himself a genius, there are things that can't be understood.

    In the first place, Cliff may be a priest, he may be a healer, he may be a researcher, but he's not a doctor.


    "Next, the attending physician's story."


    Cliff said that and proceeded to consult with the team of doctors.

    How did they perform the examination, and what did they intend to do afterwards?

    He asked the two Asuran doctors respectively.


    "Basically, we intend to use both medicine and detoxification magic simultaneously and monitor for any changes."

    "I see, the doctors of the Asura Kingdom aren't that great, huh?"


    One *hmph* from the nose.

    The ones who were dumbfounded were both me and the doctors.

    To think that Cliff would be so arrogant......

    Looks like he was feeling uneasy about the Supard's behavior.


    "If that could cure it, it would have already been cured by Rudeus or Orsted."

    "Then Cliff-dono, what would you do?"

    "I'll be investigating that now."


    The faces of the doctors warped in anger.

    Ah, human doctors, restrain yourselves.

    If he fails, you can criticize him as much as you want.

    For now, just for now, please restrain yourselves.


    But I was a little anxious.

    I thought of Cliff as reliable before, but will it be alright?

    On the opposite end, Norn, who was nursing Ruijerd, was looking this way with a worried face as well.


    "Alright, Rudeus, let's move somewhere else."


    After parting from the doctors, we left the lecture hall.


    After leaving the lecture hall, Cliff stopped and looked over his results.


    "Now then, I have confirmed one thing. I've heard this from the elder, but it looks like there was never a time until now that the Supards were struck with this kind of disease."

    "Until now? How old was the elder again?"

    "He's well over 1000 years, or so I've heard."


    The Supard race sure do have a long life span.......


    "They were struck by this disease after they came to this land. Which means, the source of the disease can be tied with this land."

    "The possibility of Hitogami bringing in a poison?"

    "It's not that. The Demon Eye can detect that sort of thing."


    Cliff said that and started looking at the village's surroundings.

    First were the fields.

    He removed his eye-patch and carefully observed the growing vegetables one-by-one. At times he cut one and observed the inside to double-check.

    Even now, the juicy tomato was cut into two.

    At any rate, if it became known that the Supards are just ordinary farmers, perhaps society will view them differently?

    Humans are the kind of beings who feel closer to those who are similar to themselves.


    "Next."


    Next we went to the animal slaughterhouse.

    There were small traces of blood left, but all the meat was disposed of.

    It looks like the villagers were in the middle of carving the animals when they collapsed, but it would have been unsanitary to leave the raw meat as it was. So on Sándor's order, they were thrown out of the village.

    Cliff was diligently examining the cutlery and chopping board with his Identification Eye.


    "......I see. Rudeus, where is the meat stored that is processed here?"

    "Let me see......this way."


    I don't know what he 'saw', but I led him to the food storehouse.

    A structure just below ground, there was dried and salted meat. In addition, large quantities of preserved vegetables were stored inside the building.

    Cliff used his Identification Eye there as well and was examining each item one-by-one.


    "Did you.......find out something?"

    "Don't be impatient, let me examine everything first."


    After leaving the food storehouse, Cliff began looking around the village houses.

    He entered the houses, kitchens, and bedrooms. On top of that, he looked through the wardrobes as well.

    This is trespassing.

    Cliff is brave.


    Be that as it may, now that I look around the Supards' houses, I can understand why Ruijerd's house is plain.

    The other houses were decorated with flowers and drawings........it suggested an energy and livelihood.

    This small house may have been used by the children.


    Of course, if there were any residents with moderate symptoms still in the house, then we asked for their permission.


    "Milis church......!"

    "M-mother......."

    "It's alright. Please calm down. He's safe."


    After seeing the priest Cliff, some raised their spears in intimidation, but that did not prevent us from gaining their permission.


    "Lies! The Milis church, just by looking at us they......ah, aahh....."

    "Mother? Mother!?"


    Maybe she remembered something, because the mother started to tremble.

    Watching her, the daughter hugged the mother who looked as if she was about to cry.

    The Supard race and the Milis Religious Organization.

    It feels like that there is still a gap that has yet to be bridged between them.

    As far as I and Cliff are concerned, the persecutions of the Supards were a thing of the past.

    But there are many victims who still remember that in this village.


    "So, what kind of things do you eat? What is your cooking process?"


    Cliff doesn't read the mood.

    As if he has no consideration for the frightened mother and the child trembling with anxiety, he continued his questioning.


    "Answer quickly. We don't have much time."


    Until they answered.


    "Hmm."


    And thus, Cliff finished touring all the houses.

    But I didn't think that anything in particular happened.

    Just that, he only came into contact with Supard culture.


    "Excuse me, Cliff-senpai."

    "Rudeus. There is no need to be anxious about it, they weren't frightened by me. It was just the clothes that I'm wearing that scared them. And if I cure the disease while wearing these clothes, that would change their way of thinking as well. Right?"


    Would it be that simple?

    Or so I think, I hope that it's possible for the daughter to reconsider that.

    I hope it's that simple.


    "Now then, on to the next one."


    While saying that, Cliff started looking around various areas of the village.

    The fountain, the water well, the warehouse that lied in the center of the village. On top of that, he even looked around the garbage dump.


    "........"


    Cliff was carefully examining each of them.

    His expression was serious.

    Seriously rummaging through the contents of the dump while pushing through the rotten meat.

    Just what was reflecting in that Identification Eyes of his?

    The only thing I could do was to answer Cliff's questions.


    And when he finished examining the entire village, it was completely dark.

    We came back to the infirmary.


    "Well then, Cliff-senpai, how about it?"

    "I've determined a few things."

    "Ooh."

    "Lize, bring in my medicine box!"


    When Cliff shouted inside the infirmary, Elinalize, who was nursing, quickly got up and began running.

    She grabbed the large backpack which was at the corner of the infirmary, and came running this way.


    "Here you go!"

    "Thank you, Lize."


    Elinalize looks delighted.

    Probably because she saw Cliff after a long time.

    Did they entrust the kid to my house?


    "Listen well, Rudeus. I know how the disease works."

    "Hoh."

    "Though I say that, I'm no doctor, so I wouldn't be so sure.......

    For now, the fact that the Supards were struck by this disease after coming to this land is confirmed.

    That's why I tried looking at the vegetables grown in this land with the Identification Eye."

    "Ooh, and then!?"

    "I didn't see any abnormalities."


    Hahh......?


    "It didn't look like some kind of pathogen was lurking in the land or the water."

    "So that kind of thing can be found out with the Identification Eye?"

    "Yeah, you can at least have confidence in the food."


    It's the Kishirika-approved demon eye, can it be trusted regarding food?

    Could there be someone who got ill after eating?


    "But, everything was indicating one thing, 『A delicious tomato having a very high concentration of mana』"

    "It's not just the vegetables. The land, as well as the water, are holding a very high concentration of mana."

    "......."

    "There are cases even in Milis of food having high concentration of mana, but it's quite rare. Neither the land nor water have this much."


    Mana density, is it?

    If I recall correctly, Aisha said it too.

    That if we prepare the rice in the soil made by me, it will grow well.

    That's probably because the soil had a high mana density.


    "And?"

    "Yeah. And I would like to know if farming was popular in the Demon Continent."

    "I am unaware of the Supard lifestyle in the Demon Continent, but there were almost no vegetables or anything like that there. The variety was also limited and the staple food there was just meat."

    "I see, as I thought."


    Cliff raised his finger with a flick and started speaking about his hypothesis.


    "Possibly, growing crops in a soil with high mana density resulted in crops having high mana density."

    "Not to mention that there are a variety of soils. The soil in the Demon Continent is rich in mana, but due to the lack of fertility, only a few crops can be grown there."

    "The Great Forest as well, this kind of disease can't be found there, so that place is probably special.

    In this place, the soil and water is infused with too much mana.

    On top of that, this soil is fertile and rich in nutrients.

    As a result, crops grown here end up having a high concentration of mana.

    Perhaps it is related to why there's only one kind of monster here, but let's leave that case for later."


    "Although, by all rights, consuming mana-enriched crops isn't that big of a problem.

    Since we keep on living without paying much attention to it.

    If there was any correlation, it wouldn't be strange to see many similar cases before now.

    What I'm trying to say is, in reality, we can eject any mana that we consume.

    Even for the Supards, that fact should remain unchanged."

    "But what happens if we keep on consuming mana?

    Not for 10 years or 20 years.

    I'm talking about what would happen if we keep on absorbing high density mana for 100-200 years......"

    "Despite the plague, there are many adults who are infected, but many children who are unaffected."

    Then, after explaining this much, Cliff turned to face me.

    Certainly, there are a lot of children who are unaffected by the plague.

    It's hard to figure out how many of the Supards are of old age, but it's not a problem regarding immunity, is that what he's saying?


    "And thus, we should be familiar with it.

    A case where the mana that was taken in couldn't be ejected from the body."


    Couldn't be ejected.....?

    Ah, it's about Nanahoshi!


    "Then, is it Drain syndrome?"


    I was suddenly struck by something.

    The initial symptoms were cold, and you fall at the same time you succumb to it.

    But, if that was it then Orsted would've.......

    No, Drain syndrome is an old disease.

    Perhaps Orsted didn't even know its name, much less a method to cure it.

    Yeah.

    If there wasn't anyone suffering from it in one of the loops, then even Orsted wouldn't know about it.

    There's also the fact that it's difficult to ask Kishirika about it, just like how it was for me.


    "But there are contradictions as well. It shouldn't have been that long since Ruijerd-san came to this village."

    "Certainly......but he was possessed by the real Dark King Vita, right?

    Perhaps it's because of that.

    Anyhow, it should be worth trying it out, right?"


    Cliff said that and took out a box from the bag.

    There were a variety of papers and materials tightly packed inside of it.

    Cliff took something out.

    It was dried up Sokasu grass.


    "I thought that this would happen, so I borrowed a little."


    His preparation is perfect.


    "Let's use this as well."


    Cliff took out a red fruit from the bottom of the bag.


    "That is?"

    "The thing that will become the source of poison. It will make the mana inside the body malfunction."

    "Poison......is it?"

    "Ah. Although it's called a poison, it only works to the point of rendering a magician unable to use magic if drank."


    Would it be alright to drink that?


    "According to the Identification Eye, this was taken along with the Sokasu tea since ancient times.

    『It improves the effects of the Sokasu tea, and can be used as tea cakes, though it will also make you slightly drunk』, or so I'm reading."


    Which means it isn't a poison, according to Kishirika's judgement.


    "The only problem is........if the Supards drink this right now, I don't know what will happen."

    "........."

    "In my opinion, this can cure it. But it may also have a reverse effect."


    It's probably fine.

    Or so he thinks, but it may aggravate the disease and result in death.

    There is no guarantee.


    "Well, it's no use thinking. Let's just try it."


    Cliff said that after a moment of hesitation.

    And then, while making up his mind, he turned to the infirmary and shouted.


    "I want to try a medicine in regards to your sickness!

    Is there anyone who wants to drink it?"

    "Ah, wai-, Cliff-senpai!"


    After Cliff's words, the inside of the infirmary became still as death.

    Looking at Cliff, looking at Cliff's clothes, their face grew pale.

    There were also those who simply looked away.


    "Just one is fine! There's no guarantee that you'll be cured after drinking it!"


    In order to see the effects, there is no need to make everyone drink it.

    Just one is fine.

    But there's no one who would answer.


    "We can't trust the Millis church......"


    Someone said.

    When I looked, it was one of the males present during the meeting with the chieftains.

    Looks like it'll be impossible with the leader.


    But what to do now?

    We can't forcefully make them drink it......


    "I'll drink........"


    There was one who was willing to try it.

    He rose up unsteadily, and was looking at us with sharp eyes.

    The one who was supporting his body was Norn.


    "Ruijerd-san, so you woke up?"

    "Ah, yes. Nii-san, he just woke up......."


    The one who answered my question was Norn.

    However, as if to drown out her voice, the surrounding voices raised in volume.


    "Ruijerd, are you going to believe someone from the Milis church?"

    "That's right! Who were the ones who prosecuted us the most after the war, you of all people should know that as well!"


    They were mainly remarks by the youngsters of the Supard race.

    On top of that, as if being enticed by their remarks, the team of doctors interjected as well.


    "I have never heard of someone who would make someone forcefully drink something without any reason!"

    "Do you even know how to medically treat someone!?"


    The anxiety of the doctors spread to the surroundings.

    Even the Supards, who were silent up till now, started to object.

    An incomprehensible medicine.

    Which was brought by a person wearing the Milis Church's clothes, no less.

    People who spoke of uneasiness, people who exposed their anger.

    Mayhem spread in the infirmary.


    "Do you want to be annihilated!?"


    With Ruijerd's roar, silence was again brought about in the infirmary.

    The complaining people went silent with blue faces.

    Ruijerd who declared that, was coughing violently and was being caressed on his back by Norn.


    "Rudeus brought this man along. I believe in Rudeus. If you have any complaints, say them after I die......"


    No one would rebut those calm words.

    It was a scene which showed just how influential the name Ruijerd Supardia is in this village.

    "Alright then, Ruijerd-san. I'll have you drink the medicine. I'll say this in advance, but there is a possibility that it may worsen and you will die."

    "Fine, I've lived long enough. Even if I die, I'll have no regrets."


    No, but I'll feel regretful.

    I'm doing all of this for the Supard race, or rather, for Ruijerd's sake.

    Look, even Norn has that 'Huh?' face. We both have the same opinion.


    "If Ruijerd is going to drink it, then I'll drink too."


    One male raised his hand from the quietness.

    A young man who has comparatively less severe symptoms.

    To be honest, he may be an old man instead of a youngster.


    "I was saved by Ruijerd in the Demon Continent. I would have no future if I had died back then, so there's nothing to be afraid of."


    Reacting to those words, people started saying "Me too" and raised their hands as well.

    Many, many did.


    "We can't trust in the Milis church. But Ruijerd is our hero. We'll abide by what this hero has decided."


    Finally, the chieftain raised his hand as well.

    And then he said with a calm tone.


    "People of the Human race, I apologize about our attitude, about our words towards you. Please save this village."

    "Yes, please leave it to us."


    In response to those last words, Cliff strongly nodded.


    After drinking the Sokasu tea with red fruit, Ruijerd and the rest fell asleep.

    At the very least, their condition didn't suddenly worsen, and they didn't die immediately after drinking it.

    The results will be clear tomorrow.

    I don't think that everything would be settled with just the Sokasu tea.

    But I hope for even a bit of improvement.

    Despite thinking that, today was already over, so I decided to sleep.

    I'll be staying at Ruijerd's house again.

    For some reason, my feet naturally headed for that place.

    We didn't get permission from Ruijerd, but we freeloaded anyway.


    "........."


    Norn wanted to stay beside Ruijerd, but there was nothing she could do since he was asleep, so she came with me to the house.

    Currently, Norn and I are sitting beside the sunken fireplace.

    The crackling sound of the burning firewood could be heard.

    The boiling sound of the stew in the pot on top of the fireplace as well.

    As for the total number of sounds, there were only two.


    Within the pot, there were vegetables and meat brought in by the team of doctors.

    Despite Cliff telling me that it's probably fine, I still can't eat the village's food without thinking that it might have been the cause of the plague.


    "Nii-san, Ruijerd-san will get cured, right?"


    Norn muttered.

    She's anxious.

    Even I am.


    "Yeah, he'll get cured."

    "Really?"

    "As far as I know, whenever Cliff declared that he would do something, he always accomplished it. That's why, tomorrow may be impossible, but someday he'll get cured."

    "Will Ruijerd-san even live until then.......?"

    "It's alright. You might've heard about it, but Ruijerd was surrounded by over 1000 soldiers during Laplace's military campaign and came back alive. He won't be dying in a place like this."


    I have no choice but to say this now.


    "I'm anxious......"


    Norn said that and folded her legs to hide her face.

    It's a gloomy atmosphere.

    There's still some time left before the stew is cooked.

    It's not that I have to cheer her up, but there's no meaning in feeling sad as well.

    We're going to just eat and then sleep for today.

    I hope to at least make the food go down so that we could sleep soundly.


    "Oh right, Norn, is school going well?"


    Hearing that, Norn raised half her head.


    "........I've already graduated from school."

    "That, how should I say this......well, sorry for not coming to see you."


    So she did graduate.

    Why didn't she tell anyone?

    But, now that I think about it...I see, during the time of Sylphy's delivery......so it was already time for graduation, huh?

    Even though it would've been fine to tell Roxy and the others.....

    No, well, she would've only gotten embarrassed if she had said it that time.


    "Not really, it's fine that you didn't come to see."


    No, but, it was Norn's graduation......

    To miss such an important event is.....

    I wonder what Paul in heaven would say......


    "It's not like I was the top student or anything....."

    "But you were the student council president, you did give a speech or two, right?"

    "Of course, we did a congratulatory speech. But I fumbled midway, and I almost fell down the stairs, it was terrible."


    I can picture it.

    The figure of a person fumbling in the middle of a speech, losing her footing while descending the stairs but somehow not falling down.

    I wish I could have seen it.

    Norn has a somewhat ashamed face, but I would've taken a video and had it placed on my grave.


    "Which reminds me, before graduation you were talking about doing some kind of event, right? What did you do at the end?"

    ".........Did you not duel with various people during Cliff-senpai's graduation? We just imitated that and held a fighting arts tournament."

    "Fighting arts tournament! That sounds interesting. But wasn't that dangerous?"

    "The danger was suppressed as much as possible. The rules were to not kill anyone, the school lent out many Saint-class healing magic formations, healers were on standby as well, and the teachers prepared many healing scrolls too. On top of that, the participants were made to write an oath. That's why there were some injuries, but 0 deaths."


    That's amazing.

    If it's to the level of graduates from Magic University, then there should be many who can mutually kill each other with high powered magic.

    Within such a tournament, there were 0 deaths.

    It might be because of luck, but it's mostly because of the well-prepared system.


    "I wanted to see it too."

    "I think it would be like some kind of sport in your eyes."

    "But a tournament literally makes your heart pound."


    During my previous life as a shut-in, I participated in several online game tournaments.

    Unfortunately, I didn't have any noteworthy accomplishments.

    But just watching such a scene is enough.


    "So did they prepare any kind of championship trophy?"

    ".......We did."


    She said that and pouted.


    "Everyone in the student council contributed money. An honor certificate, flowers, and a magic staff were prepared."

    An honor certificate, flowers, and a magic staff.

    Well, that's how it is.

    I suppose they didn't have much of a budget, so it's possible it was a strenuous effort.


    "And yet, the moment Rimy saw a large number of male participants, she proposed:『The winner will get a hot kiss as a present from President Norn~』"

    "Eeh!"

    "They got so excited, both the people participating and those who were not."


    What the hell? A tournament where you'll receive Norn's kiss?!

    That's not good at all.

    This is beyond evil, inexcusable!

    If I had been there, I would've wrecked them while wearing a mask.......

    No, wrecking them would be unwise.


    "Then.......did you?"

    ".........On the cheek."


    On the cheek, is it?

    I wonder if it's safe.

    But Norn has buried her bright red face in her knees and is moaning with a 'Uuuu'.

    Is it an out for Norn standards?

    After a short while, she fell sideways like a book.


    "The one who won said he will never forget it........but I already want to forget about him."

    "I see, what's that guy called? If possible tell me about his address and phone number, and maybe some kind, mysterious masked magician will erase him and his memories from this world."

    "Phone?"

    "Nothing."


    Norn raised her body and repositioned herself on the floor.

    Not sitting while holding her knees, but sitting with her legs in a 'W' pose.[30]


    "Anyway, looks like the tournament was a huge success."

    "I wonder. As for me, I was thinking whether I did a good job or not, but there were a lot of difficult things as well. I feel like I just kept reflecting."

    "You call that a huge success. I'm glad."

    "........Yes."


    Norn blushed a little and then nodded.

    She no longer has a gloomy face.


    "Well then, the potatoes are almost cooked. Do you want to eat as well?"

    "Rub a dub dub thanks for the grub."


    I pour the potato stew and meat in a bowl and give it to Norn.

    Norn was staring at the contents, but after a short while she muttered a few words.


    "Nii-san."

    "Hmm?"

    "Thank you very much."

    "Hm."


    I served myself as well.

    I hadn't eaten anything the whole day,

    I was hungry to the point of death.


    "But this isn't delicious."


    Well sorry 'bout that.


    The next day.

    Along with Norn, I went out towards the infirmary as the sun rose.


    ".........."


    Ruijerd's well-being was the only thing on our mind.

    For now, we were able to get a good night's sleep thanks to the unappetizing potato stew.

    Even if it served no purpose, it should've guaranteed the stamina for nursing.

    While resolving myself to some extent, I opened the door to the infirmary.


    "!"


    The scene that leaped at us was clattering.

    The inside of the infirmary, which was like the wake until yesterday, was overflowing with liveliness.

    No, liveliness would be a bit too much.

    It doesn't have that much power.

    But, at least everyone's faces look better in comparison to yesterday.


    "Rudeus-dono!"


    The doctors came running towards me after looking at my figure.


    "Please take a look. The medicine prepared by Cliff-dono made everyone.......!"


    Did it work?

    Did the Sokasu tea work?


    "Last night, the ones who drank that medicinal water suddenly experienced bowel movements. When taken by the nurse to the toilet, everyone started discharging light-blue diarrhea. A short while after that, they all rapidly started to get healthier.

    The ones who were seriously ill haven't recovered yet, but if given a bit longer, they will definitely recover!"


    To think that I would hear such a fortunate thing so early in the morning........

    But wait, excreted light-blue diarrhea?


    "We're currently adjusting the medicinal water and giving it to everyone.

    Well~, it was absurd of us to doubt him.

    I can definitely say with confidence that Cliff Grimoire is the person who even smashed the curse!

    Oops, we can't be going around doing this now.

    We still have our duties to do, pardon us!"


    The doctor said all that to us in one go and hurried back to the patients.

    Light-blue diarrhea.

    Something's bothering me.

    What might it be? Light-blue, light-blue.......


    "Rudeus."


    When I came to, a huge silhouette was in front of me.

    A male with white clothes and black helmet.


    "Ah, Orsted-sama."

    "Did you see the stool?"

    ".......No, not yet."


    While saying that Orsted leaned a little.

    Close to my ears, he whispered.


    "Those were the remaining fissions of Dark King Vita."


    Dark King Vita.

    The moment I heard those words, my mind suddenly crossed some strange ideas.

    Perhaps.

    If only perhaps.

    That the plague wasn't the Drain syndrome?

    Dark King Vita.

    That king who distributed his fissions within the village.

    And was keeping the progression of the plague in check.......

    But, if only perhaps, what if that Vita had already cured the plague?


    Just to threaten, by using his fissions, he was making the physical condition of the villagers worse, and after his death, while mustering his last power, he gave a job to his fissions.......

    And then, the fissions that were hidden somewhere in the intestines were disintegrated by the red fruit and Sokasu tea and were washed away......


    Which means?

    No, this is mere speculation.


    "Just like you said, we struggled for a bit more."

    "......Right?"


    Well, it's fine.

    For now, we have crossed the difficult part.

    We've completely defeated Dark King Vita.

    Let's go with that thinking.


    "Where is Cliff-senpai?"

    "He was looking after the conditions of the patients, but fell asleep shortly after dawn. He's currently in a nearby vacant house with Elinalize Dragonroad."


    I see.

    He worked hard.

    Let him sleep.

    Since he'll start preparation for a second child with Elinalize right away after he wakes up.


    "Just now, Ruijerd Supardia woke up as well."

    "Is it true!?"

    "Yeah, go and see him."

    "Pardon me!"


    I bowed and headed inside the infirmary.

    Directly towards the place where Ruijerd was sleeping last night.


    Ruijerd was there.

    Sitting up on the bed, with a good complexion, he was having a meal.


    "Ruijerd-san!"


    The moment we arrived at Ruijerd's place, Norn immediately ran to him and hugged him by his belly.


    "I'm glad.......I'm so glad......"


    Norn started crying.

    It's the crybaby Norn.

    With a worried face, Ruijerd wiped his mouth, set the bowl of food aside, and caressed Norn's head.

    I didn't say anything for a while and watched the scene.

    For some reason, I started to feel like crying as well.


    ".......Rudeus."


    After a while, Ruijerd raised his face.


    "Ruijerd-san......are you alright now?"

    "Yeah, I can't wave my spear yet, but there's no problem."


    I see.

    I'm glad......I'm so glad........

    I'm not mimicking Norn, it's the only feeling that's coming out of me.


    "I've become indebted to you again."

    "........Let's not say such things to each other. Not to mention, you haven't completely recovered yet. Please don't be negligent."

    "Yeah."


    As I started talking with Ruijerd, Norn moved out of the way while grumbling.

    And started sobbing convulsively while hiding her face with her hands.


    "However, let me say this first, Rudeus."

    "What is it?"


    Within that serious face, small amounts of uneasiness could be felt.

    Is there still something left?

    Will he tell me a shocking truth right now, with this timing?

    As I thought that and put myself on guard, Ruijerd said this.


    "After my complete recovery, I'll become your strength."

    "............"


    I wonder what this feeling that is boiling up from my chest is.

    Ruijerd became my comrade again.

    Is it the sense of exaltation in regards to that truth?

    I'm happy.

    Just happy.


    "Yes, I'll be in your care."


    I swallow something that was welling from inside my throat,

    while stopping the inner corner of my eye from getting hotter,

    I lent a hand towards him.


    "It is I who should say that, let's get along well."


    Ruijerd's hand was warm and strong.


    Q. Why did the doctor say 'smashed the curse'?
    A. Maybe he noticed it by some chance. Like, he may have heard from someone about his origins from the Magic University in the Asura Kingdom.

    Q. Who was Rimy again?
    A. One of the pupils of the Magic University and a member of the student council. Of course, she hasn't even showed up yet.

    Q. When Cliff said 'Just one is fine', what happened after that?
    A. "I ain't drinking that!"
    "Do you want to be annihilated! I'm going to drink it!"
    "If Ruijerd is going to drink it then me too!"
    ".......Then, me too!"
    "Please, by all means."
    With such a course of events, they drank it.

    Q. Cliff was able to check Elinalize's pregnancy with the Identification Eye but couldn't check for Vita's fissions that were inside the body?
    A. Looks like he couldn't.

    Q. In the end, it's still not clear what cured the disease.
    A. Cliff's prescription cured the plague and exterminated Vita's fissions. The red fruit that cliff had disrupts mana in the body. Most likely it disrupted Vita's fissions(The blue stool that came out after they took the medicine) with this the Supard race got healthy! With this we can rest for now! We did it!

    That's everything from Rudeus point of view. Perhaps someone would roughly explain it in the second half of this volume or perhaps they won't.


    A silent house.

    On the sunken hearth in the centre of the house, a pot was shaking.

    Sitting in front of that was a man with green hair.

    It was Ruijerd.

    I was sitting across from him, with the hearth in front of me.


    "....."

    "..........."


    There was no conversation.

    Only silence remained between Ruijerd and I.

    There was nothing to say.

    No, it would be better to say that there wasn't any chance to speak.

    All of my focus was directed entirely on what's in front of me right now.

    Failure is not allowed.

    My gaze pointed directly in front, I waited for the moment to come.


    "!"


    And so, that time came.

    Carefully stretching out my hand... I put out the pot's fire.

    But, it's not over yet.

    I must not rush.

    And like that, for almost 10 minutes, I stopped moving.

    After 10 minutes had passed, I finally raised my voice.


    "Ruijerd-san, are you ready?"

    "Yes, I do not mind."


    As I received those words, I reached out to what was beside me.

    It was completely white, with a gritty surface, and an appearance close to that of an egg.

    Not like, it was a chicken egg.


    "......"


    Breaking the egg, and taking out a bowl, I scrambled the egg with chopsticks.

    I was completing that series of events as if it was natural.

    As if I had known it from the moment I was born.

    The soul of a child of three is the same at a hundred.

    Once you learn how to ride a bike, no matter how many years pass, you never forget. It's the same as that.

    No, I may not have even learned how to do this.

    From the moment I was born, I may have had this information.

    In other words, it was instinct.

    The egg was now being beaten.


    I repeated t