Chapter 30 Forest of Rotting Souls (3)
So as to speak simply, in the end we never found Feirona and the others.
We did reach the camp but all we found was a big hole there. Considering that Aya and the others were not there, it must be a trap laid by monsters. There are monsters who can use magic as well after all. So there’s a chance they can also create pitfalls like Aya and Ms Francesca.
Seeing that I got no reply even after shouting their names there, they must be at the bottom of the hole…….. Seriously what’s going on? I didn’t make a mistake anywhere right?
I cant even jumped down the whole without knowing anything about its death or what would I find at the bottom. Mururu wanted to jump in but I stopped her by calming her down. There are magic which allows flight as well. For someone at Aya’s level would be easy to save both of the others from that. But then, just why are those guys still inside that hole. It could be that they had already come out of that hole and were now looking for us. In any case, with so little information I can’t decide how to move next.
I did think of simply waiting by the edge of the hole but even that was difficult. Hiding inside the hollow of a big tree, I questioned and thought with Mururu about what we should do next.
Whether it be wait for others here or go out to look for them, it won’t be easy. Right now and incomparable amount of zombies are roaming around. This must be the work of that skeleton and not the usual ghosts. It must be controlling the zombies. In such a situation, rather than looking for my own comrades, I feel like I’ll end up becoming a comrade of those zombies instead.
“What should we do?”(mururu)
Though the hollow of the tree was big it still didn’t mean that it had enough space to easily fit to people. I was stuck really close to her and every time she moved the sensation I felt would start making me feel itchy. Definitely not harbouring some wicked thoughts but, I still feel somewhat guilty for some reason.
Unlike the hollow of the tree, it seems my mind sure has a lot of free space to think about such things. I really feel speechless.
We still haven’t met up with the others but I guess I’m still calm because I trust that they’ll be fine. An invisible enemy is certainly a threat but Aya isn’t the type of fall behind. After all, we’re talking about the genius magician. She would be able to easily protect both Ms Francesca and Feirona.—– I have to trust her like that and believe that, otherwise I won’t be able to move forward. At that, Mururu looked at me with a complaining gaze.
“Are you not worried?”
“It’s because I trust them. I am worried about Ms Francesca but those two are also there so it should be fine.”
I’m such a liar. I’m definitely worried. But I do trust them as well……… Human emotions are such a difficult thing. And if I started worrying about who would calm Mururu?
And before that there’s a bigger problem here.
Though I’m trying to be not very conscious of it, my right hand hurts. I tell without even touching that I have a fever. Have my wounds festered was that attack poisoned as well? I hope it’s the former at least.
After getting wounded, though not much, I did bleed. But if I was losing energy to poison it will cause serious setbacks. I’m not the only one who’ll be in danger, Mururu travelling with me would also end up in danger. In the worst-case, if I become unable to move, there would be no one to protect her.
So as to not waste my energy, I tried to spend time moving as less as possible. The air inside the hollow of the tree was caught but Mururu within my arms was warm. And my right arm was even hotter. It feels as if a red hot rod has been inserted into my arm.
[I’m not sure but Aya and the others are probably at the bottom of that hole.]
After a while, suddenly Ermenhilde spoke up.
Only I can hear it’s voice. It’s convenient that neither that zombies or that skeleton can hear it.
[If they were above there’s no way Aya and that elf would have not heard the sound of our battle.]
When Mururu are still small voice, Ermenhilde explain so.
I have the same opinion. That’s the only possible conclusion I can get to seeing that Aya and the others did take any action even after all this time. But in that case, why are they not coming back up. Is there something down there? Or are they getting attacked there? In any case, we have been completely split.
“The problem is how should we meet up back with them?”(Renji)
“just go down the hole?”
“Without any means to climb back up its as good as us getting lost. I can’t really recommend it.”
But, what if they were in some kind of trouble down there?
Such a thought came to me but I quickly shook my head. Even then, there is only little we can do. Rather than that we first need to deal with that shitty skeleton—– that boss monster controling zombies.
At least then the biggest threat will be gone, and if luck is ours, the zombies would go silent as well.
“Whether we go to save them or we just wait here, first we have to take care of that skeleton.”(Renji)
[that’s true. Right now only this beast woman can sense that thing we can still be ambushed.]
Suddenly, she spoke up in a small voice.
When I looked at her wondering what was the problem, her gaze was a bit angrier than her usual blank one.
“It’s not beast woman. It’s Mururu.”
Oh, so she didn’t like how Ermenhilde called her.
[Hmph, for the likes of you, beast woman is more than enough.]
“This one is very stubborn in the weirdest of things. If you want to be caught by your name, you just have to work hard and get acknowledged by it.”(Renji)
I could simply tell Ermenhilde to say it, but that won’t be interesting after all. Also you’ll have a lot to think about when she actually gets acknowledged by Ermenhilde and gets called by her name.
Well, I would be lying if I were to say that it wasn’t problematic. But, Mururu is also the type who hates losing, or rather, tries to act strong so she wouldn’t stop once she’s set on something. Though it may be for a simple reason like getting herself called by her name by Ermenhilde, I’m happy that she can still act normal even in such a situation. Losing to fear and going berserk is a very easy to understand death flag.
“Now then, that’s enough for improving our friendship. Mururu, to have any confidence of winning against that skeleton?”(Renji)
“it will be difficult.”
Her answer was simple one. That’s a good thing on its own but is not a happy thing to hear right now.
Of course, it’s impossible for me as well. If I wasn’t perfect condition with my right hand, I still wouldn’t have any chance of winning. It seems Ermenhilde also understood that seeing it spoke nothing. Well, to be honest, I simply don’t want to fight it. But if I did so we will remain in a deadlock. If we are to simply wait for the others, I can only see that skeleton attacking us just when we try to meet up. I think it has that level of intelligence at least.
We have no choice but to defeat that skeleton. For both, leaving this forest and to be the meet up with the others.
“But, we’re not going to stay here doing nothing right?”(Renji)
“yes. I will destroy that bone monster.”
That monster is definitely not invincible. Recalling the previous fight, I sorted out various information about it.
As long as we can take out its tail, Mururu should be able to deal with the rest, right?
Then first I must think of a way to destroy it’s tail. It specialises in ambushing its prey, I doubt it has experience of being ambushed many times. I might be being a bit too optimistic, but it’s a gamble worth taking.
But even before that, we have to think of a way to get near that invisible monster without getting noticed.
My head hurts. My wounded right arm hurts. And it wasn’t just slowed dull kind of pain, it’s the sharp kind, as if someone was putting a sharp needle inside my wound. This is really might be dangerous. Until we meet up with the others, I really don’t want to see and deal with this wound. If I did I will definitely become unable to move. After all I’m scared of fighting and hate pain. If I were to look at my own festered wound, my heart would definitely break. I’m a coward after all.
“Got any plan?”(Renji)
“I’ll be bait and lure that skeleton out. Mururu, you use that chance to ambush it and destroy it’s tail from its core.”
[……. You call that a plan?]
“It is one, right?”
Or do you have a better plan? I asked it that but got no reply.
In truth, there are very few ways in which we can take action. This is a party of a beast woman who cant use her senses properly due to the miasma of forest, and a wounded guy who cant even use his cheat properly.
“You’re really kind, Ermenhilde.”
“You’re just an idiot, Renji.”
I have already decided to gamble on this. To win, and to survive and meet our comrades. Both Ermenhilde and Mururu have already understood that as well. We aren’t really connected neither do we have any strong bonds. We don’t have any great memories with each other either. But still, the warmth this girl in my arms was precious.
Death is cold. That’s why, I think, living beings search for warmth. I have seen lots of my friends die. Even though they were right beside me, the next moment, they were already dead. Countless times, way too many times, I have seen death. I have felt it.
“Renji, are you scared of dying?”(Mururu)
“yes, I am.”
On Mururu’s sudden question, when I answered unhesitatingly, Ermenhilde gave an objecting voice.
It can’t be helped. Everyone is scared of dying. After all, everything is over when you are dead. Maybe having felt my emotions, Mururu released all stiffness in her body and completely leaned on me. I was surprised for a second, but soon accepted that. This girl, is the same as me. Afraid of fighting, scared of getting hurt. Fearing death——– and doesn’t want her comrades to die. The matter how confident of strong she is, she still is a child in her teens.
What do we call this again? Thinking for a moment, I quickly recalled.
The suspension bridge effect. Though it is not love, I am the only one by her side right now. She simply wants warmth. I was the same, so I put more strength in my arms around her.
My right arm pained but it was proof that I was still alive.
“I am the same.”(Mururu)
“It’s normal. After all, when you die you can neither meet nor talk to anyone else any more.”
No matter what.
Corpses do not talk. They won’t hold your arm when you hold theirs.
There is no warmth. Only coldness.
And above all——– those left behind only have sadness. So much, that you feel like crying till there are no tears left. So much, that rather than experiencing that sadness again, it would be better to just die yourself.
That’s why neither will I die nor will I let anyone else.
If you live, you have to live for the sake of those who died as well. Facing pain that would make you feel like dying, you have to overcome it.
I don’t want to wear such feelings, neither do I want Mururu to do so either. Same for Aya and the others as well. That’s why I will live. I will put my life on a gamble and win it.
[Seriously…… Even though you’re about to go and fight, is this fine?]
“It is, Ermenhilde. We live exactly because we are afraid of dying. And we will kill that monster because we want to live. Easy to understand, right?”
[Certainly it is——haah.]
Hearing that sigh, I felt surprisingly calmer.
It’s the same as always. I would create trouble for Ermenhilde, and it sigh as if fed up of me.
It might be a pain for Ermenhilde but it feels really nice to me it, calms me down, these everyday exchanges.
“It will be fine.”
“I’ll protect Renji.”
[………….Ha. Isn’t it the other way round? Even though he’s like this, Renji is the type of man who does things when it truly matters.]
First, I got surprised by Mururu’s words, then dropped my shoulders at Ermenhilde’s.
What do you mean ‘even though he’s like this’ huh? Well, I mean, I do get scolded a lot for not taking things seriously, I want to refute that. But when you say that directly to my face, well, yeah..
Rather than that, I want to think of more practical things right now. Even though I said I’ll be the bait, there is no way that shitty skeleton will fall for a easy to understand trick. If only I had something to lure it.
My arm hurts. My head is not working. But I still must think of something. Also, rather than drowning in pessimism, is nice to see that everyone is still energetic.
“I’m the stronger one.”
[………Oi, so she says Renji. Say something back.]
“Can’t refute that.”
[You’re supposed to!!]
But it’s true, I am no match for Mururu with only two of my conditions of my covenants cleared.
At that, I reached at the question, why even two of the covenants had been cleared.
One is my fighting will. it’s the usual one. But then what is the other one?
I have not made any promises with Mururu nor am I strong enough to protect her. In fact, I am the one being actually protected .
Death of my comrades. That is not cleared until I accept it myself. I don’t think Aya and the others have died. The remaining two should be impossible to be cleared in this situation. One of them needs me to talk with the goddess directly and the other—— will never be cleared ever again. No matter what.
“That thing is a descendant of the Demon God…….?”
“Our covenants. Back then when we were fighting, two of them had been released.”
[Yes, that’s right. But weren’t those your fighting will and to protect this beast woman?]
“I was the one getting protected you know?”
[……as usual, you self-depreciate too much.]
Even if you say that, it was a fact. In that fight, I had been unable to do anything.
“It’s a secret between me and Ermenhilde. There are various problems due to which I cannot fight at full strength.”
“Even though you might die yourself?”
“Yes, even if I might die.”
This is really such a sad tale. To be unable to fight at full strength even when I myself am so close to dying. She really is an ill-natured Goddess, seriously. I think so from the bottom of my heart.
Saying that, Mururu trembled with slight laughter while in my embrace.
“What can we do to so you can fight at full strength?”
Even if you ask that, I had no way of answering this girl’s question.
If I cannot use my full strength, that meant that not just me, even Mururu will be in danger. But, I just can’t use it. I’ll need some reason to protect her……or maybe, I’ll have to sacrifice Mururu, who I am supposed to protect, just to use my strength. That’s the limitations I have. That’s why its meaningless.
I don’t want anyone to die. I don’t want to abandon them, I don’t want to let go of the bonds I have. I don’t want to lose the warmth of the girl inside my arms. Really—–the cheat I wished for is a warped and twisted. To protect someone, I first have to sacrifice someone else. And even then, I won’t become the strongest. To do that, to become a true GodSlayer, I’ll end up sacrificing someone most dear to me.
“Then promise me.”(Renji)
“That you won’t die no matter what. That’ll you live. No matter what happens, you won’t give up.”
Let’s end this once and for all.
We will meet up with Aya and the others and then finally get out of this shitty forest as well.
The Sun has yet to fully set but that will also end soon. The night isn’t far away. It will soon be the time for the undead to roam freely.
“If you can promise me that, I will definitely take you to the capital along with everyone else.”(Renji)
There was someone who embraced me like this when I was fearing death.
Afraid, shivering uncontrollably, crying, unable to move—— yet that person embraced me and gave me warmth. That person stayed by me all the time and kept on talking to me. I wonder, if that person also felt like this back then.
‘I want to protect this life that I hold within my arms.’ I wonder if that person also thought like that…….
I cannot meet that person right now, but maybe someday——-
“I promise you. I will definitely take all of you safely to the capital. I won’t let you die.”
Yes, that’s why I cannot die here. I have overcome danger of this level countless times already. Compared to the Demon God or the Demon King, that thing is nothing more than a clump of bones.
I made a promise——” I will show you the world.” Let alone half, I haven’t even shown one fourth of it right now.
“Alright, I promise.”(Mururu)
“good, then I promise as well.”
The promise same as back then, the oath I took, without saying it out loud, I carved it inside my mind.
—– This time definitely, I will protect. I am not a hero protagonist, I am a god slayer.
If the enemy is a descendant of the Demon God, I can fight. I can kill it. I exist for that reason, and Ermenhilde is the weapon to fulfil that reason.
After killing the Demon God, and exterminating his descendants——- I searched for a way to live other than as a weapon for Ermenhilde. So that I can live with the God slaying weapon even in this world where a God slaying weapon was not needed any more.
For this selfish wish of mine that even the goddess could not fulfil, I cannot die here.
“I will not die.”(Mururu)
“I will definitely not let you die. We’ll all live and go to the capital.”
I closed my eyes. I smelled the faint scent coming from her, different from my own sweat or the muddy smell of the forest, ——it was the scent of a girl.
My heart calm down from that. Somehow, I feel that my thought process is kind of perverted but I needed some way to calm myself. And there is no way I would harbour any evil thoughts towards Mururu.
She is in her teens. The same age Aya had when she was summoned here.
If I tried to lay a hand on her, I will be an inexcusable pervert. In the first place I’ll probably get beaten before I try something like that. When I think of that, all thoughts of actually doing something disappear from my mind. In fact, she feels more like a daughter to me.
I had only closed my eyes for a second.
[fumufumu. I am definitely telling this to Aya later.]
“Try to read the mood, you idiot.”
[That aside, Renji.]
It didn’t even try to refute it. Sometimes it really acts very humanlike.
[Will you protect me as well?]
“Have no fear.”
While sighing, I got out from the hollow of the tree. I gave a wry smile, as if expecting something, as if I thought of something mischievous.
There were no zombies. Probably, that skeleton is not here either. I couldn’t hear it nor could sense it. I’m not sure if that thing is really a descendant of the Demon God, I might be wrong. But, I’m sure that it will definitely try to attack me, who is wounded, over Mururu.
For now, I asked Mururu to hide herself inside that hollow of the tree. Now we just have to wait for it to jump on the bait that is me. Let’s hope that it’s an idiot simple enough to fall for a plan like this.
Slightly away from that tree hollow, I sat down with my back to a moderately big tree. My right hand still hurts but thanks to that, my head feels clear.
“If we die, we die together partner.”
[………. I honestly don’t feel very happy about that.]
If possible, I hope it attacks is before its night time.
I wonder if I’m being too optimistic?
Now that I think about it, I wonder how much Mururu knows about me. Seeing that she wasn’t really surprised at Ermenhilde’s voice, she must know my connection Aya and the others—-to the heroes.
After the fight is over, I think I should ask her. For that reason as well, let’s just quickly get rid of that shitty skeleton. Thinking till that, I gave a sigh.
Was this a death flag?