It’s been exactly one week since I found that goosefish-like fish. Right now, I’m walking through the canyon, watching over the girls as they attempt to go back to town on their own.
“Last one!!” [Kanan]
” ‘Rocket Punch’ !” [Elia]
Elia’s magic pulverized the three skeletons in front of them. After confirming the skeletons gone for good, Kanan spoke.
“…It’s over. Let’s rest for a bit.” [Kanan]
“According to the map there’s a place we can rest at just a little up ahead. And since we’re resting anyway, we might as well have lunch early.” [Riera]
“Sounds good. And in fact, since it’ll take time to prepare the food, we’ll probably end up eating just in time anyway.” [Michelle]
Our training these past few days involved me gathering ghouls for the girls to fight in the morning, while Shiva-san would instruct them on marching in the afternoon. Thanks to that they can now end their battles safely.
The battles became even easier when Elia learned my original magic ‘Rocket Punch’. Don’t get fooled by the name though. Despite being called Rocket Punch, the spell doesn’t actually have anything to do with punching stuff. It’s actually just bashing a lump of magic power against something, so even someone like Elia who’s relatively untrained compared to their group’s two vanguards or me, can knock the undead down. In fact, she’s more than able of taking out up to six targets at a time.
On top of that, it also works against creatures immune to physical attacks like wraiths. And with the magic consumption being only about the level of an intermediate magic, for someone like Elia who’s used to handling advanced magic like Firestorm, handling this spell is a cinch. I only taught it to Elia because she asked after seeing me use it, but it seems to suit magicians like her who have lots of magic power.
The battles aren’t a problem anymore, but the girls still aren’t used to moving with their guards up. They get tired easily, so they end up having to rest a lot, which in turn slows down their pace. In fact, it’s already the third day since we left.
After a little walk, we reached a partially caved cliff. Looks like we’re stopping here for a break. Riera, Kanan, and Michelle spread out into a fan-shaped formation, covering each other’s blind spots. They kept a lookout like that as they called out to us.
“Fuu… We’d like to rest here.” [Elia]
“Well, don’t mind us.” [Shiva]
“Right. You should just go on your own pace, Elia-chan.” [Remiri]
Elia seemed apologetic when she said that since we had to match their pace, but Shiva-san and Remiri-neesan just told her and the others that they didn’t mind. It’s true that they’re slower than us, but it’s not like we’re in a hurry. We really don’t mind.
When I told her that, she quietly laughed and took out the magic tool that could pour water, and some dried meat. Looks like Elia and Miyabi will be prepring our food. They already learned this from school, so they could already do it well.
The undead would frolic into our camp from time to time, but the three girls that were keeping watch made short work of them, so we just passed the time waiting for food by patrolling the area and making light talk.
“Alright! Let’s go!” [Michelle]
“We might even make it to town today. Though we’ll definitely make it by tomorrow as long as we proceed carefully.” [Riera]
“Just a ‘lil bit more, we’ll definitely get there.” [Miyabi]
After eating and resting in turns, then confirming the route they would take, the girls excitedly resumed their journey. The four adults and I followed from behind.
The girls still found themselves running into an undead or two, but their numbers were clearly decreasing. We’re getting nearer. Thanks to that, the girls were able to increase their pace without straining themselves.
Then evening came—
By the time the sky was red, we could see holes dug by adventurers here and there. They must’ve left before it got dark. There were no people in sight, but we were definitely close. A glance at the map proved that. We should be able to reach town before it gets really dark.
It was then that Kanan suddenly spoke.
“What’s wrong?” [Michelle]
“Is something the matter?” [Elia]
The girls immediately went on guard. I did too, and I even asked the adults with a glance whether they could sense something, but their response indicated a no. Then Kanan inhaled deeply through her nose.
“I knew it! The adventurers we met a while ago are somewhere nearby.” [Kanan]
A while ago?
“You mean Oslo-san?” [Ryouma]
“Right. I can smell the same perfume from the wind.” [Kanan]
The woman with them didn’t take baths while in the canyon because the rotting smell of the undead would just stick, so she just put on some perfume instead. That’s probably what Kanan is picking up, though I can’t say for sure. Beast tribe people sure have amazing noses. Ah, but it seems Miyabi has no idea either, so I guess it’s just the dog tribe that has amazing noses.
“I can’t pinpoint exactly how far they are, but I can tell they’re right on our course.” [Kanan]
“They bought a week’s worth of supplies last time, and it’s almost a week already. They must be on their way home too.” [Remiri]
“Since we’re coming from the same direction, we might as well say hi.” [Ryouma]
No one opposed the idea, so we went ahead and headed for Oslo’s group. After a ten-minute walk, 11 figures entered our sight. They were resting against some rocks by the corner of a road that was about as wide as four adults standing side-by-side with their arms spread. One of them had wings extending from his back. This was undoubtedly Oslo’s group, but…
“Something is off.” [Shiva]
“Maybe something happened.” [Remiri]
They made small movements like shaking or scratching their head, but they weren’t saying anything. They’re just standing with their backs against the stones like that with their heads down. From the faces I could make out, their eyes seemed to be closed. I can’t figure out whether they have their guard up or are just resting.
They could also just be tired. But they’re supposed to be veterans. They should’ve long been used to this kind of work. Yet a group of people like that actually ended up so fatigued that they can’t talk? If that’s true, then something big must’ve happened.
I walked ahead of the group, while the four adults kept the girls from following. They must’ve thought the same thing. As I approached the odd group, I stealthily braced myself before greeting them.
“Good day-!” [Ryouma]
When I greeted them, all of them took their weapons out and headed toward me. It was as if they hadn’t noticed me a while ago, and were just now realizing my presence.
“It’s me. I sold you food. Remember? And-” [Ryouma]
While I tried to break the hostile atmosphere, I put my left hand on my katana just in case. But just as I was trying to talk to them, seeing their faces made me stop.
There were no wounds on their bodies. They were no different from a group of extremely cautious adventurers. But their expressions… It was as if they’d lost all emotion as every one of them wore the same expressionless face.
Something is very wrong! I thought. Then I realized that a blunt, shiny object was thrusting for my throat. It was Oslo-san’s spear. I immediately leaned back and retreated, as I unsheathed my katana, and fended off the spear.
I’d intended to cut the spear, but Oslo-san managed to retreat… There’s no doubting it. Just now, he was aiming for my neck. That could’ve been fatal.
“Step back!” [Shiva]
“Get ready to move whenever!” [Rheinbach]
The four adults stepped forward as they warned the girls to protect them. Shiva-san and Rheibach-sama walked up to my side.
“…That was a bit dangerous. I could’ve died if it hit, you know?” [Ryouma]
While our relationship wasn’t deep, it still felt bad getting attacked like that. So, I ended up saying something lighthearted.
…I don’t think they’re bad people though. They might be able to fool me with some good-guy act, but there’s no way they could fool the four veterans with us. So does that mean they really have turned into undead? But they’re uninjured. There are no wounds or anything on them. The only thing off is that pale complexion of theirs, but it’s not so bad that they look like corpses or anything. Yet there’s no denying that Oslo-san really did try to kill me just now. Moreover, there’s that issue with their expressions and their lack of response. They don’t feel human at all… Looks like we’re gonna have to fight.
Oslo-san stepped back and regrouped with 10 of his other members. They stood in formation as they set their sights toward us. Then Rheibach-sama, who was standing to my left, suddenly spoke solemnly.
“These people are being controlled.” [Rheinbach]
Like brain washing!?
“I’ve seen it many times back in the army. I don’t know if it’s good fortune or not, but they’re not dead. We can treat them after catching them. There’s quite a bit, but it should be doable, no?” [Shiva]
This time Shiva-san spoke grimly from my right. The way he spoke seemed to suggest I could expect much from the battle. At the same time, he seemed to be asking, yet the way he said it seemed less a question and more a conclusion.
Not that it matters anyway. If they’re alive then there’s only one thing to do!
“Sorry about this! ‘Rusty Mist’!” [Ryouma]
I took the first move and casted the dark and water spell ‘Rusty Mist’.
With its wide area-of-effect and a cliff on either side of the path here, there’s no way for them to dodge. And like that a thin, black mist shrouded them. However, there was a wind mage on their side, and it only took the mage a spell to blow away the mist. But that was more than enough. Because now the three vanguards of theirs have had all their metallic equipment rusted. Even Oslo-san’s spear couldn’t escape that fate.
The three vanguards attacked regardless of their rusted equipment.
Shiva-san thrust his halberd toward the woman armed with a mace and a shield. The woman raised her shield to protect herself, but that was exactly Shiva-san’s aim. With the rusted shield already weakened, it could not stand the ki-infused attack. The shield broke, and its fragments fell to the ground. During which, Shiva-san brought his halberd back, then struck the woman with the halberd’s butt, breaking her legs and arms, effectively incapacitating her. As expected of the former knight-commander and a current S-Rank adventurer.
The woman wasn’t the only enemy, however. And a man came swinging with a battle hammer from his left. It was then that Rheinbach-sama appeared, flashing his sword as he passed the man, cutting the man’s leg as he turned around. He didn’t cut the whole leg, only the tendon. That was enough to render the man incapacitated. As the hammer fell to the ground, the man came tumbling shortly after.
I can’t be standing around, doing nothing either. Let’s see, the next one is also a man… Ah, it’s Barrack-san.
I struck out with the back of my katana toward his shoulder, and Barrack-san tried to block with his rusted sword, only to have it break as my katana crushed his shoulder. As he fell to the ground, I struck his left shoulder one more time, then I broke his left leg. With this he’s out. That makes three! Next!
Their group’s mage also casted magic against us, but Remiri-neesan and Sebasu would either repel with their own magic or keep the mage from casting, so it wasn’t a problem. After two minutes, we were able to safely suppress everyone without killing.
…The battle was a lot easier than expected, though that was mostly because they moved poorly. It was probably because they were being controlled that they couldn’t bring out their full strength. In terms of undead, they’re actually worse than the ghouls. Even their teamwork was poor.
“U, u, u…”
After taking away their weapons, tying them up with a rope, and handcuffing them with cuffs made with earth magic, we started their treatment. It didn’t take long before this group that had been quiet all this time started groaning. Remiri-neesan examined them.
“Is everything alright?” [Ryouma]
“There shouldn’t be any problem. They’ve just finally recovered their consciousness.” [Remiri]
“I see… So, what is all this about?” [Ryouma]
Finally able to ask the question that’s been bothering me since the battle, I asked with no reserve. Remiri-neesan and Shiva-san frowned before appearing worried, then they looked toward Elia’s group. They were standing some distance away, but they were clearly concerned about our discussion. Is this something they want to keep from the girls?
In that case…
“I have plenty of ways to keep others from listening in our discussion, you know?” [Ryouma]
“Nah~, it’s fine even if they hear. As long as they know just enough anyway.” [Remiri]
So it really is a bad topic… Well it’s no surprise I suppose, I’d already thought it would be ever since brain washing came to mind.
“These guys were definitely under the influence of a dark spell, the Curse of Obedience. And just as the name implies, those under the spell have no choice but to obey whatever the caster ordered them to do.” [Remiri]
“So it really was that sort of magic…” [Ryouma]
“Right. But the only ones who can use it are those few permitted by the country. And even then it’s usually only used as a last resort in some criminal investigations or against some major criminal. I don’t know who would use something like that here, but I find it hard to believe they would just use it to attack people…” [Remiri]
“Either way it’s a big problem.” [Ryouma]
“Exactly! Ugh, my head hurts… We might find something out if we undo the spell, so let’s focus on that first. You’ll help out too, right, Ryouma-chan?” [Remiri]
“So, what do I do?” [Ryouma]
“You can undo the curse with either the light magic, Dispel, or the dark magic, Curse Transfer. If it looks like you’re about to get cursed yourself, you can just use Anti Curse or Return Curse. So the same as usual.” [Remiri]
I thought we would be working separately, but Remiri-neesan stopped me.
“It would be better to work together. Lifting this kind of curse puts a lot of strain on the afflicted, so they might go wild. There’s no telling what’ll happen after the curse is lifted either. Lifting the curse as quickly as possible is the best way to minimize the strain.” [Remiri]
“…Sure is an annoying curse.” [Ryouma]
“That just how dangerous of a spell it is.” [Remiri]
Well, it is a brain-washing spell. It’s not hard to imagine it having bad side effects.
Elia and the other adults kept watch while Remiri-neesan and I went to work.
After talking a bit more, it was decided that I would be using Curse Transfer while Remiri-neesan used Dispel. Image-wise, I would be pulling the curse from their body while Remiri-neesan would be pushing the curse out from behind.
“N-No more…” [Oslo]
The first patient was Oslo-san. Among the patients he babbles the most. That was proof that he was regaining his consciousness, so Remiri-neesan chose him to be the first.
Oslo-san, I’ll do my best.
I pulled out a pitch-black wand from my Item Box. The wand itself was gloss-less, but the hexagonal, black, crystal prism attached at the end of it, sparkled brilliantly. I bowed to Oslo-san before starting.
“Are you ready?” [Remiri]
This wand is made from the branch of the elder treant we defeated a long time ago and the fragment of the demon king. I applied the method of using Everlasting Darkness (Herb) that I learned from Remiri-neesan with the skill of wand-making learned from Tekun to create this magic wand that specializes in dark magic.
It’s a product that has received Tekun’s seal of approval, so you could imagine just how powerful it is. In fact, I rarely use it because it’s usually overkill to use with offensive dark magic. I even feel guilty every time I recall trying it out on those poor bandits once… But I digress.
This time around, I’m just going to be using it to lift a curse, so it doesn’t matter how powerful the wand is. I can go all out.
“I’m starting, alright? Match my timing… 1… 2… 3… ‘Dispel’ ” [Remiri]
” ‘Curse Transfer’ ” [Ryouma]
When we started, Oslo-san abruptly shook then stiffened. Then he started shaking again, but this time he was clearly in pain.
“R… u…” [Oslo]
Oslo-san suddenly screamed. I was warned of the patient possibly going wild, but this patient sure isn’t hesitating even a little.
There shouldn’t have been anything above my head, but out of the blue, I felt magic power gather in that supposedly empty space.