They’re not hurting us, but they’re definitely killing the mood.
It’s become much easier to notice them after securing our safety to some extent. In that regard, last night’s game had served as a good distraction.
“Will they leave if we give them some food?” [Ryouma]
When they talked about ghosts suffering from hunger and thirst because of the sins they’ve committed when they were alive, the first thing that came to my mind was the ‘hungry ghost’ from Buddhism. I’m not well informed about the subject, but I believe during the Obon, there are places where people perform a ceremony for the dead in which they offer food to them to accumulate virtue.
I wonder if there are any customs or events similar to that in this world. I asked them about that, but…
“When we pray for the souls of the dead, we do sometimes offer flowers and sake, but we don’t really do anything for the undead… They’re dangerous, so the question is usually whether to flee or fight them.” [Sebasu]
“Feeding the undead won’t relieve them of their hunger too. Every year there would be recruits that would try to feed them, but the zombies would just keep dropping the food, or in the skeletons’ case, the food would just fall through the gaps between their bones. The wraiths and wisps don’t have a physical body, so they can’t do anything with them. Not only would given them food not relieve their hunger, it would just make them look all the more pitiful.” [Schieber]
“I see…” [Ryouma]
Schieber-san must have seen such a sight many times. Perhaps, he’s even fed them himself. His words were filled with that much conviction.
But just when I was starting to think that it might be better to just send them off their way, one of the wraiths got my attention. Like the other wraiths, it was vaguely human in shape and possessed no distinguishable face. But while the other wraiths were wandering around, this wraith alone was standing near the Holy Space, staring at us.
“What’s that wraith doing?” [Ryouma]
“Don’t know. But that’s not rare, the undead just really tend to be incomprehensible.” [Reinbach]
“Higher variants do retain a small portion of their memories, but even then, they have next to no reason.” [Remilie]
“If you’re curious, why don’t you try forming a contract with it and find out if you have an aptitude with the undead? Maybe you’ll figure out something.” [Reinbach]
That’s true. After all, I could understand even the emotion of the slimes, and they don’t talk either. That should be true for the undead too. I’m also curious if I can form a contract should an undead slime ever appears.
Like that, I tried forming a contract with the wraith that was standing upright, Bur when I approached the boundary of the Holy Space and used the spell to form a contract…
A ‘Buchi!!’ sound resounded.
“What’s the matter?” [Schieber]
“I think I failed. When I tame the slimes, a mana connection between us would easily form, but the connection between me and the undead was forcefully torn off.” [Ryouma]
It was a sense of rejection akin to having a handshake offer slapped down.
“That’s definitely a fail. You might have poor compatibility with wraiths or the undead type itself, but most people would usually just feel a resistance or struggle to form the connection. I don’t know if the reaction you got was because your affinity for wraiths is particularly bad, or you just have no affinity with the undead…” [Reinbach]
Well, there was only one way to find out, so I got the Grave and Emperor Slimes to climb up the stairs, then I tried forming a contract with the zombies and the skeletons too, but the result was the same. Apparently, my affinity with the undead was the worst. I was rejected no matter which monster I tried to form a contract with.
But there was one thing I did find out. The
Subjugating them might be the best salvation I can offer them, but…
“Umm, can I try feeding them after all? The undead will probably gather as a result, but if I can’t get any results, I’ll take responsibility and subjugate them.” [Ryouma]
“Go ahead.” [Schieber]
“Just do what you want.” [Remilie]
Having gotten permission, I used Earth Magic to create a large bowl from the ground, then brought out some firewood and ingredients from my Item Box. As the undead immediately reacted, I put the firewood in the bowl and lit them up.
“You’re going to go out of your way to cook for them?” [Sebasu]
“I’m just going to throw the ingredients into the fire.” [Ryouma]
Of the various annual ceremonies in Japan, the more popular ones include Okuribi or Mukaebi, while the less popular ones include Otakiage or Gomagyou, but regardless, there’s no small number of ceremonies that utilize fire.
In Hindu temple worship services, priests would sometimes throw offerings of flowers or food into the fire burning in front of the idol. In Japan, incense is offered because of the belief that the fragrance is food for Buddha.
I have no specialized knowledge or proper tools or incense, so I just did it raw. It’s not even customary for people here to do this, but it would be great if it works.
While explaining my actions to the four people behind me, I threw a piece of meat into the fire and prayed.
“…Did it fail?” [Ryouma]
Smoke billowed from the burning meat, and when a few wraiths were exposed to them, they suddenly started violently flying around. It was difficult to describe their conduct as peaceful. If anything, they seemed angry.
This isn’t a custom of theirs, so maybe they just thought I was wasting food. In that case, let’s try adding in dried potatoes with dark mana.
Dark magic affects the psyche, so just like that time when I struck fear into the examiner, I prayed a prayer. In this case, to relieve them of their hunger and for them to be able to pass on without problem.
As the smoke rose…
“…Did it work?”
The angry wraiths gradually calmed down, and before long, they were proactively passing through the smoke.
“Looks like you succeeded. Was it because you set the food on fire and exposed them to the smoke?” [Reinbach]
“Just burning won’t do. You have to think of it as a kind of dark magic.” [Remilie]
Huh? This is a spell? I just came up with everything on the fly, though.
“As with all magic, it is the concept that matters most. For example, I have a shadow spell called Shadow Needle, which is similar to Earth Needle, but it’s not normal for shadows to form a needle and pierce a human body, is it?” [Remilie]
“That’s true. That would be terrifying if it were.” [Ryouma]
“In that case, why can I create needles out of shadows? That’s because I, a mage, took a concept and then manifested it through the power of mana.” [Remilie]
According to Remilie-san, the more a person understands the theory, the more efficient one can utilize mana, and the more effective the spells will be. Conversely, that also means that if efficiency is thrown out the window and sufficient mana is provided, a spell could be invoked with just concept alone.
“In this case, Ryouma-chan used the concept of his ‘burial method’, then combined fire and dark attribute mana to create a unique dark spell that offers food for the undead.
Undead Ritual Magic like this, like turning corpses into undead, or transforming one’s own body into an undead while retaining their own will… These are things that fools usually do and mess up, but it’s not unheard of for there to be somewhat successful cases, so it’s not really all that surprising.
I mean, to begin with, you often fiddle with your magic on the spur, don’t you? A bit late to be surprised now.” [Remilie]
Well, that’s true.
“In any case, I don’t think you’ve fed them enough.” [Remilie]
“Oh, right. Thanks.” [Ryouma]
I’d only used one piece of meat and potato, so they burned up quickly. I added more ingredients with dark magic and prayed, and then the fire burned stronger, giving rise to more smoke. I continued that for awhile, and then one of the countless wraiths stopped before me.
“Is this…” [Ryouma]
I wondered if it was that wraith from earlier, but I had no way to ask it. It had an inscrutable expression on it as usual. But for a moment, it seemed to be at peace, and then it disappeared from right before my eyes, as though it dissolved right into the smoke.
(May their next life be a happy one.)
I wonder if it’s because I’ve died once that I think like that. But regardless, as the undead disappeared one after another. I saw them off and prayed for their souls, resolving myself to wipe out the undead that couldn’t pass on tomorrow.