The next day.
It was almost noon when I woke up in our base in the Town of Departed Spirits. We continued the ceremony until late into the night, so I woke up much later than usual. Sebasu was in charge of keeping watch, so I greeted him first before having the food left over in the Bon Festival Shelf for breakfast.
It would be a waste just to throw the food away, and besides, eating the offering is part of the ceremony too, as it holds the meaning of ‘eating with the deceased’ or ‘sharing food’. While I was leisurely enjoying my meal, Remilie-san and Schieber-san returned.
“Welcome back.” [Ryouma]
“You’re awake, I see. We checked the area for a bit, and your spell yesterday appears to have been quite effective. We would have had to spend another day subjugating undead depending on how much their numbers have decreased, but from what we’ve seen, we can go straight to the central tower without problem.” [Schieber]
“Oh? I did think it was rather quiet. So the undead around the tower have passed on too.” [Ryouma]
“The miasma in town has gotten a lot thinner too, so the number of undead here has definitely fallen dramatically. Even the remaining undead aren’t wandering around. They’ve basically turned into ‘just corpses’ and would at most just look at you. But even if they’re just corpses, they’re still littered on the ground, so we might still have to deal with them, but at least they’re not a threat anymore.” [Remilie]
“In that case, I’ll have my goblins and grave slimes take care of the remaining undead.” [Ryouma]
Now that I think about it, does feeding them to the grave slime count as burial? Or is it more like when close relatives eat the cremated remains? Or maybe it’s more like Sky Burial wherein the corpse is fed to carnivorous birds. Though I suppose in this case it would be more apt to refer to it as Slime Burial. In any case, I’m sure it’s much better than just leaving them out to dry.
“Thank you for the food.” [Ryouma]
As I listened to them talk about the town, I finished eating, and when the sun was high up in the sky, we started our plan. Just as we’ve discussed beforehand, the goblins and the grave slimes took care of the undead, while we headed for the central tower. Nothing attacked us along the way, and we were able to get to the tower without any problems.
“There’s still some of that unpleasant feeling from the miasma lingering here.” [Ryouma]
“It’s right at the center of the town, and it’s also where the execution site is located. Not to mention, the smoke last night couldn’t get into the tower too, right?” [Reinbach]
As such, it was decided that we would be purifying the miasma first before making our assault. I went through the usual preparations, then I started the purification.
“That spell sure is convenient.” [Schieber]
“What would you normally do when you have to remove miasma?” [Ryouma]
“We’d burn it if we could since that’s the quickest method, but if that’s not enough, then we’d have to call in a specialist.” [Schieber]
“‘Exorcists’ and ‘Shamans’ refer to mages that specialize in subjugating undead and counteracting miasma. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field, so you can expect them to do a good job. I know a thing or two myself, but it’s nothing compared to them.” [Remilie]
Remilie-san specializes in fighting with her Shadow Magic, so it’s probably out of her expertise. I can purify miasma too, but I’m mostly just groping about.
“It’s probably a good idea to learn more about miasma for the sake of my grave slime research.” [Ryouma]
“If you’re interested in that field, then I could introduce you to a Shaman that’s on good terms with the Jamil family. Remilie, what do you think?” [Schieber]
“You’ll be able to do more things if you know more, and it’s safer too, but we need to careful when picking the teacher, or Ryouma-chan might be too much for them to handle.” [Remilie]
“After all, Ryouma-sama can already use a spell that rivals a specialist. There’s no guarantee that the teacher won’t be tempted by that, so we’ll need to make sure that it’s someone that can be trusted too. After all, mages are quite passionate about magic.” [Sebasu]
There should be many people that want to be employed by the duke. To be chosen from out of all the candidates requires a lot skill, so I’m sure it’ll be difficult to find one that’s not passionate about their field. I’m sure there are people similar to Magic Otakus too.
We chatted while the smoke entered the tower, and before long, shadows appeared at the smoky entrance. The miasma clad undead were easily dealt with by the reliable adults.
But then trouble happened.
“I’ve done it now.” [Remilie]
When I glanced at her, I could see her looking at her staff with a sad expression.
“Is something the matter?” [Ryouma]
“I did think it wouldn’t last for much longer, but looks like it’s finally reached its limits.” [Remilie]
When she said that, I looked at her staff and noticed a large crack running along its sides.
“You did say that you needed the Everlasting Darkness (Herb) to make a new staff… Will you be alright?” [Ryouma]
“It won’t affect me that much in combat. I can use magic plenty fine without a staff. It wasn’t something amazing in the first place.” [Remilie]
It was something she received from her parents on her coming-of-age, so she must have treasured it simply because of the memories—
“Ryouma, can this be burned too?” [Remilie]
—Or so I was thinking when she suddenly suggested to burn it.
“Umm… Isn’t that a memento of sort?” [Ryouma]
“That’s right. I got it when I first became a royal court mage. Back then a lot happened, and I was down and weak… So I found myself sending a letter back home on a whim. I’d selfishly run away from home, so I wasn’t actually expecting an answer, but when my parents, who never even tried to leave the village, actually came, I was really happy.
But it’s already broken, so there’s no point even if I regret it, you know? Just because the staff is gone doesn’t mean the memories are too. Even something I’d carefully used in the village I’d use as firewood once it’s no longer usable.” [Remilie]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
“You can’t become a perfect adult right away just because someone told you that you’re an adult now, right? At that time, you might be an adult in terms of age, but it will still take some time for you to actually grow up. This staff is a gift from my parents to support me until I’m able to become a fully independent adult. It’s not something that a proper adult should be using.” [Remilie]
Judging from the slightly embarrassed expression on her, I guess that staff must have been something akin to the training wheels in a children’s bicycle. The reason it was able to last until now seems to be because she didn’t use it regularly.
Court mages could get the funds for their supplies or order-made staves from the nation, so she must have used that instead for work. Otherwise, this staff would have long reached its limit.
“If it can help, then feel free to use it for fuel. But of course, if it’s inconvenient for your ceremony, then there’s no need to go out of your way to use it.” [Remilie]
“I don’t think it will be a problem.” [Ryouma]
We’re not making offerings this time around, and even during Obon, ‘Ogara’, a dried hemp stalk with the skin peeled off, is burned. The image I need for the spell is just the ceremonial bonfire too, so that part won’t be a problem either.
When I told Remilie-san that, she suddenly closed her eyes as though she was trying to remember something, then when she opened them next, she broke her staff and threw it into the fire. Under the heat of the fire, the staff crackled and popped, and as the fire quickly spread, it quickly ashened from the sides and gave rise to a great deal of smoke.
“Let’s proceed after this finishes burning. The miasma inside has gotten a lot thinner, so Mana Perception should be more effective now too.” [Remilie]
We stopped talking after that and enjoyed a moment of silence.