Chapter 31 Forest of Rotting Souls (4)
I wonder how long I stood there exposed to the miasma. With the sound of grass rustling, I looked that way. What appeared was not our invisible attacker as I was hoping for. It’s flesh was rotten, white bones could be seen; it was a rotting zombie. It was wearing a completely ragged piece of cloth, as if it had been attacked by a wild dog or something.
Like the zombies that appear in games, its limbs were intact but it was missing its lower jaw. Was that shitty skeleton watching us from somewhere?
“Well, I guess it can’t be helped.”
*Heave-ho*I stood up.
My waist, more like my whole body hurts. The miasma isn’t the only reason my body feels so heavy. The pain in my right arm seems to be growing worse every minute. But it’s not like I cannot move it. It hurts like hell but I can still put strength in it. I can still hold a sword.
But I don’t know when I’ll become unable to move it. Thinking about how I have to face that monster in such a condition, I feel like crying. After the first zombie, as if they had prearranged it, more of them appeared one by one.
[Quite a lot have gathered.]
“Seriously. I’m an injured guy here, I wish they’d take it easy a little—— don’t you think so, Ermenhilde?”
As I muttered its name, a jade coloured long sword that I had grown accustomed to using appeared in my hand. It is the double edged long sword I am most used to using in this world. With a single swing, the sound of air cutting came to my ears.
Ah, this is it. This is the sword. My palms shifted to get accustomed to it. It has just the right weight. It feels as if it is an extension of my own arm. I realised that my face had relaxed a bit at that. On the end of the sword’s grip were seven gems inlaid in a jade jewel. Three of them were currently lit.
My right arm pained again. But that pain only cleared my thoughts. It reminded me what I had to do.
“Let’s make Mururu speechless.”
[……… Are you alright?]
And actually worried voice came from inside my pocket. Finding it amusing, my lips relaxed into a smile.
“That’s rare. Normally you would be the one who’ll keep on telling to act like a hero.”
The situation should be exactly what Ermenhilde is always wishing for, isn’t it?
For someone, for something—– put your life on the line, and to protect it. It’s what people expect of heroes. That was unparalleled strength, victory, and safety. Unfortunately, neither of those are things which I could grant them.
But, just for now, just for this moment. Let’s gamble with my life on the line. I’ll draw out that shitty skeleton, and kill it.
[Your face looks pale.]
“It’s the same as usual.”
Put strength in my arm that held the divine blade. Three zombies had appeared. The number isn’t really that great but given time, that will also increase. Though that would not be good for Mururu who is supposed to be on the lookout of a chance to make a surprise attack, the undead relentlessly seek the living after all. They’ll keep on coming here as long as living people are here.
But that is my aim. Well the one waiting for us is not a small fry like a zombie or ghosts, it’s a shitty skeleton that might be a descendant of the Demon God. With a voice only I and Mururu can hear, Ermenhilde gave an order to Mururu to not move.
My dominant right arm won’t work here. There are no comrades to save me. Only three of the covenants had been released. My enemies are countless zombies and ghosts and a mysterious skeleton. Even though it’s a despairing situation, for some reason I felt not even a fragment of despair.
Zombies continue to move through the grass towards me. Slowly, as if dragging their legs, scraping of their own flesh by hitting the roots of trees and raising a indescribable sound less voice of resentment. To kill the living me, to eat me and make me one of theirs.
“Injury, the poison, this hopeless situation——- this is not the first time I’m facing one!”
Forcefully moving my heavy body, I slashed. I aimed for the body with force strong enough to not just slice but to completely crush it. The rotting flesh, the damaged muscles, broken bones; I mowed it all down and split its body to 2 pieces. I split not its stomach but its heart. But that wasn’t enough to kill it. Actually, I had aimed for its neck but my aim went wrong. The fact that I wasn’t using my dominant arm, and maybe due to the fever I have, my senses have been disrupted. In any case, first I must face the zombies coming at me to live.
The zombie I cut apart fell down to the ground. And the next moment, crushed it’s head with my right foot. That was the first one.
Going with the momentum, I slashed again. The zombie coming at me from behind was blown away. Maybe because it was a fresher corpse, and left-arm’s power alone wasn’t enough to split this one apart and my sword stopped in its shoulder. But I pulled it out with brute strength and blasted that zombie away.
[Renji, to the right!]
Complying with Ermenhilde’s words, I jumped to the right. I rolled on the ground move away as pebbles and twigs hurt my skin. That kind of hurt.
But, the third zombie was about to leap on to where I was standing before. If I had got bitten by those rotten teeth, I would definitely get poisoned or get some really weird disease.
The jade sword turned to magical energy disappeared, and it its place appeared a dagger which I threw which then, pierced into its head. Another dagger appeared in my hands. It was throw with my left hand but I have trained enough to be able to use both hands for throwing. Though not as fast as my right hand throws, if I aim properly before throwing, it will definitely hit its target, the zombie’s face.
Silence. The short battle correct. Well, there were only three of them after all. Even goblins could be said be worse than this for now at least. After all, they are fast and work in teams.
While I was thinking of such things, once again the grass made noise. Newer zombies appeared. They must have been attracted due to the battle. Or maybe they simply smelt a living human. In any case, that doesn’t change what I have to do.
I gave a quick glance towards my right arm. Blood was dripping out of the simple treatment I had done by wrapping a cloth around the wound.
“I really hope the main guy comes quickly.”
[Yeah, that’s true……… Think you can hold on till then?]
“I will, somehow.”
I slashed away those zombies’ heads as they move towards me.
Fuuu, I breathed out. The skeleton had yet not appeared. No, I simply had not sensed it and it was simply lurking around here. It is invisible, has no presence, and neither has any smell. Inside this rotting forest, it might be the worst enemy to face. If Aya was here, at least there was the option to completely burned down the whole forest along with it.
As I thought all that, more zombies appeared. Three again. Must have been villagers from nearby. There were two who were in tunics. The last one, was probably a soldier from the capital. It was a zombie with quite the good equipment on it.
If this was a game, I would get lots of experience points from it. Oh well, zombies don’t drop a lot of money even in games though. Thinking of such things, I calm myself again.
I wonder if Mururu has noticed already. So as to not let her realise that, I must fight flashily.
Aah, my hand really hurts. Flapping my mantle, I ran with a speed that blasted off soil behind me. With a single slash, I cut apart the legs of the two zombies in tunics. I stepped on one of the zombies’ neck to crush it. The feeling of flesh and bone getting crushed came through my leather boots to me. It is disgusting but I cannot stop either. Going with the momentum, I closed in on the armoured zombie.
This one is troublesome. Even if I have Ermenhilde, I still need a lot of strength cut through armour. I doubt one slash will be enough. But, I’m also confident my skill. I aimed for the joints. My attack on its elbow was blocked by its gauntlet. It’s really difficult to make detailed adjusted attacks with my left arm. Clicking my tongue on missing the attack, I jumped back to try again.
The next moment, it’s long sword struck the place I was standing before. Without any technique, it was an attack based on brute strength due to its the ground had exploded a little. At the same time, a large amount of blood started flowing out of that zombie’s right elbow. Did its rotting flesh snap, did its bone rip through the flesh?
The weapon in my hand turned to magical energy once again and then instantly formed a rapier.
I pierced through the gap in its helmet.
[In terms of technique only, you’re equal to all other heroes after all.]
“No way, I was just trained too well by that monster.”
Once again the weapon in my hand disappeared by converting into magical energy. And then, once again a long sword appeared in my hand.
The strongest human I know of, the Knight commander, was the one who taught me the way of the sword. Daggers, long swords, heavy swords, Katanas. As for the remaining weapons, I simply taught myself how to use them during the journey. That’s why, I am the most comfortable while using swords.
[……. It still hasn’t come.]
“It’s only normal.”
“If I was that skeleton, I would also try to kill my opponent with just zombies. There would be no need for me to show myself after all.”
As I was talking, more zombies appear. This time, they were just human type, there were even animals like dogs, goblins and orcs.
Give me a break. I felt like crying.
[But that means——- it would never appear, isn’t it?]
“Yes, exactly as you say.”
As long as I had my dependable jade coloured long sword in my hand, my partner with me, I can keep on going like this.
It’s really weird. Is this what trust is like?
While thinking of such foolish things, I kept on fighting even in this despairing situation. I’m not alone, to have someone to talk with you is really a important thing. I have two keep on fighting till our invisible attacker decides to show itself after all.
“—— let’s do this.”
My concentration heightened.
If it was me I would not show myself to the enemy. Because it’s dangerous.
But that skeleton did appear back then. And by doing that, it made us realise that there was an enemy we could not see. Thanks to that, we ended up in this situation. I have to be reckless like this to make the enemy appear.
And after that, when it appears, I will crush it. Destroy it, literally. It’s as simple as that.
“Wow—– that shitty skeleton really isn’t showing itself.”
How many zombies have I killed already? By breaking was ragged. My left arm felt heavy. The pain in my right arm was also increasing constantly and my body was in a bad condition due to running out of stamina.
Ignoring my fatigue, I swung the jade divine blade. If I stopped, I will die. Zombies are slow, but are physically strong. If I get caught by them in my current condition, I will really be in danger. That’s why I cannot stop. Disrupting the zombies by moving around, I cut off their heads and crush them down.
Along with the miasma of the forest, my own sweat was making me feel sick as well. From the blood spraying out of the zombies—— the dead humans, my mantle and my clothes had been completely dirtied. Looks like I’ll have to buy a new set of clothes after this. Though not as bad as my right arm, the number of small wounds on my body also increased. They were not really expensive, but I was quite attached to these clothes.
“Let’s buy some new clothes when we get to the capital.”
[……… You are still quite relaxed, aren’t you?]
“Not really, to be honest.”
No matter how amazing the weapon, depending on its user, its power is limited.
Monsters are much more used to fighting than people. Monsters, the Demon King – – – and even the Demon God. To fight such existences, technique alone is not enough. What’s necessary is the power to fight. Just like the humans and Demi humans of this world use magic to fight, just like beast men like Mururu depend on physical ability to fight.
But I don’t have any of those. I don’t have any incredible cheat like Souichi and the others, neither do I have magical energy. All I have is the fighting technique I through literal desperation. I do not have overwhelming power needed to be called a hero. Technique that any could learn would always be defeated by absolute power.
“But, it looks like this farce will soon end…… Is Mururu fine?”
If it’s her, she should have already noticed.
The atmosphere of the area changed. It was very minute, but there was definitely a change. This was my intuition, that had been trained after getting someone to this world and going through countless fights. Distribution has saved my life countless times already. It’s difficult to explain, but I do trust it. All that remains is for me to throw all of that shitty skeleton’s attention towards me.
Ah, I really feel like crying, I have already worked so hard to defeat that Demon God after coming to this world. Why do I have two go through so much even after I completed my job?
Sound of wind cutting reached me. No—-
As I jumped backwards, the ground rumbled from the shockwave. The countless zombie corpses flew into the air.
Magic. That too, it is a wind shockwave type that’s not visible. This really is a monster that is specialised in stealth moves. My mantle blew from the shockwave, and the mist like miasma distorted.
I’m specialised in close combat, so if I let it attack from long-range, I’ll have no chance of winning. Well, it should also understand that as well. There was no surprise or impatience.
I will have to make that shitty skeleton think that it cannot defeat me with just magic. After facing the zombie army, this time I have to overcome invisible magic.
It will be easy, easy. I persuaded myself like that.
[Where did that come from!?]
“Who knows? If Aya or Feirona are here, they could probably sense the flow of magical energy to tell that though.”
If a few more of my covenants had been released, I would have become able to do that as well. But that would be difficult in the current situation. I once again looked at the jewel set on the handle of my sword. Just like before, three of them were shining. It would have been so much easier if it actually told me exactly which one of the conditions had been cleared. I grumbled my complaint that I had thought of so many times.
I clicked my tongue then jumped, and hid myself in the hollow of different tree than Mururu.
In my line of vision, there was no distortion in the miasma. The place where the magic was fired was still swaying but that won’t be the right direction. While I was thinking that, the tree I was hiding in got broken in half.
Clicking my tongue again, I moved to the shadow of a different tree. Protected by the tree, the shockwave didn’t come to me but a sharp ran through my cheek. A fragment of wood had flew which sliced my cheek slightly. I wiped off the flowing blood with the back of my left hand.
“Could you see where that came from?”
“Don’t mind it, I couldn’t either.”
It’s really pathetic but first we have to find out where our enemy is. Going by how the tree I was hiding in was broken, it isn’t behind us. I peeked out from the cover of the tree and instantly, the tree was snapped. It didn’t completely break apart but a chunk of wood the size of my head was blown off. That was proof that this skeleton’s magic power wasn’t normal. If that had hit me directly, my head would have been blown away completely.
Not just its tail attack, even its magic is top class. That black Orc I fought in that village also used magic but this is on a different level. Even though they’re both descendants of the Demon God, howcome they have such a difference in ability? Is it related to their faith and piety to the Demon God maybe? Though there shouldn’t be much difference between a pig and a skeleton. Seeing as the pig has a brain at least, it should have more faith right?
Rather than such useless things, let’s focus on how to find this shitty skeleton right now.
I couldn’t figure out where the attack came from even during the last attack. Though the wind shockwave itself may be invisible, it shouldn’t be able to hide the distortions in the mist as well.
“What should I do?”
[You talk as if we have lots of options to decide what to do next.]
“That’s true, I guess. As expected of my partner, you sure get to the point.”
I was successful in luring it out, now as long as I can make it visible—–
While I thought till that, something fell down from the sky. While breaking the branches of trees, a giant 3m bone fell to the ground. It must be light since it was only a bone since it didn’t create much of a tremor on falling. Since the shockwave was less, it soon began moving again. It seems it didn’t take much damage either. And, after a second, Mururu came down beside me.
“I found it.”(mururu)
“So it seems.”
As Mururu told me that as if it was perfectly normal, I could only shrug my shoulders. She had already gone into combat mode.
And next, we both jumped out of the cover of the tree. But, as if it was expecting it, it slammed its whip-like tail to the ground. Was it trying to intimidate us? Must be because it became visible after taking damage from falling down.
“Sorry. I was unable to destroy its tail.”
“No need to apologise. In fact, I’m glad that you were at least able to find it for me.”
So it was above in the trees. Well, I wouldn’t have realized that. Since it was so big, I had not thought of that possibility. But apparently, since its just bones, its actually pretty light in weight seeing as it didn’t make much of a sound even though it fell from so high.
I wanted to rush in to attack while it was still disoriented but, that tail really is in the way.
“It’s amazing you sensed it there actually.”(renji)
“I was too slow. I had been faster…..”
“I said don’t mind it. You did save me.”
[……..You’re being pretty kind with this beastwoman aren’t you?]
Not really, I think.
The skeleton fully recovered. 8 spider-like legs and the body of a snake. The swinging whip-like tail mowed down the trees and a head that had a horn like an ogre’s.
“Let’s split up. The one that doesn’t get attacked by the tail will aim to destroy it.”(renji)
At the same time, I ran towards the right and Mururu ran to the left. The tail’s target was —Mururu. It must have concluded that Mururu was more dangerous than me.
“Ermenhilde, let’s do this!”
In place of my jade long sword, a giant hammer appeared in my hands. I held it with both my hands but it wasn’t actually that heavy. Resting the hammer on my shoulders, I ran with it. Against bones, shock type weapons work better. Swords are easier swords are easier to use, but hammers have more power. I can break its tail with one strike.
The giant hammer portion was Jade green and its handle was golden. At the end of the handle a Jade jewel was present and the number of gems shining inside it were for. With a speed higher than what I had against zombies, I quickly rushed towards the rear of the skeleton.
The fight between Mururu and the skeleton had already begun. Mururu swiped away the attacks from the tail, that had a speed I could finally follow with my eyes now, with her claws. The matter how strong her claws were she won’t be able to take on the attacks from the tail forever. My aim was the root/joint of the tail.
But apparently my intentions were seen through and an invisible magic ball attack was fired towards me. With the help of the distortions in the mist and my own intuition I was able to avoid a direct hit but, my movement speed fell down. I ended up clicking my tongue but I couldn’t fall back right now. If I did I would only increase the burden on Mururu. That alone I must avoid. No matter if it was Mururu on me that ran towards it, the skeleton made for a tough opponent.
Avoiding the magic ball, I sweep it away. The number of magic balls it was firing towards me was too great. I felt astonished at the amount of magical energy this thing possessed. Also, due to the magic balls, the zombie corpses that were getting blown here and there were getting in my way. I ended up having to dodge through this surprise barrage of corpses as well.
To be able to face both of us alone, it truly is a descendant of the Demon God. It’s on a completely different level from that Black Orc and ogre. It’s a strong enemy I have fought many times alongside Souichi and the others—– with the heroes.
[Are you alright, beast woman!?]
“It’s not beast woman, my name is Mururu.”
Reacting to Ermenhilde’s voice, I also looked towards Mururu. She had fallen back quite a lot from the place she had first started fighting the skeleton. With that small physique of hers, the burden from the attacks of the tail must be more than I thought.
But due to the excessive magic balls, I couldn’t close in either. The blood of the zombies blowing apart mixed in with the mist becoming a red smokescreen. And in the middle of that battlefield student 3 m spiderlike, snakelike skeleton.
It’s as if I’m facing the devil. I muttered to myself.
It really is very strong. Just because it prefers ambushing and surprise attacks doesn’t mean it was weak, I guess.
While facing off against Mururu, it is able to fire so many magic balls towards me as well. There’s a chance it might even use a wide range magic if we were to give it the composure to use it. If it actually use that, I’m one thing, but Mururu will definitely not come out of that safe.
We couldn’t stop our attack at any cost. But, it was a fact that we couldn’t close in on it either. If only another one of my covenants had been released——
While slipping through the rain of magic balls, I ended up thinking of such stupid things. The only one I could clear right now, was the permission/approval from the goddess Astrarea. Just that alone. The other two, I definitely cannot clear right now.
[Tchh—– Renji, the beast woman is in danger!]
Glancing towards Mururu, she had stopped taking on the tail attacks and was now is just dodging them.
Sorry, I could only apologise inside my head. If only I could destroy the tail quickly. But due to facing that zombie army just now, I’m also low on stamina. My right hand’s pain has gotten so worse than it has gone numb. Let alone my hammer, I’m not sure if I will be able to swing a sword properly. I’m currently going on solely on adrenaline. Once that wears out, I will become unable to move. Before that, I must defeat the skeleton.
I still continue to dodge the magic bullets. Suddenly a *Don*sound, different from the magic ball striking the ground, resounded in my ears. When I looked towards Mururu, the skeleton’s tail had pierced into a tree.
My thoughts cleared. Without even trying to think what had happened, I quickly rushed towards the skeleton. Putting strength in my arm holding Ermenhilde, at the same time Jade green coloured magical energy gushed out.
In an instant, I was exactly beside the skeleton. I ran,ran and ran——!!
“Go to hell!!”
The Skeleton pulled out its tail from that tree and moved.
But it was too slow.
Before it could react, I brought down the hammer. The Jade green magical energy converged and disappeared right in the middle of the tail.
At the same time, it fired countless magic balls towards the defenceless me who was currently in a swinging motion. I rolled on the ground countless times before finally stopping after hitting a zombie corpse. It reeks of blood, or rather smells of rotting flesh.
But finally, the first step was over. I stood up using the hammer as support. Seeing Mururu’s rare worried face, I ended up showing a smile.
“Now the real thing starts.”
[Yes, let’s do this. We have to quickly defeat it and then search for Aya and the others as well after all.]
Seriously. This is not even the end. There are so many things I have to do. That alone made me depressed.
[We need to treat your wounds as well.]
“Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about it. I’ll try and have Ms Francesca treat me.”
Yeah. My whole body hurts like hell.
Well, this never was an easy opponent from the start. When I looked towards Mururu, she did not have any signs of giving up right now. But, she was breathing heavily. Facing the tail must have taken a toll on her stamina.
Our opponents still has its magic and there is a chance it might have some other trump card as well. It is the type that uses surprise attacks even though it’s so strong. Though it’s not good to be overcautious, it would be stupid to get overconfident of our victory as well.
“Let’s finish this, Ermenhilde, Mururu!”
[Yeah, it’s time to settle this battle.]
“…… Got it.”(Mururu)
Mururu spoke in her usual soft voice. It’s difficult to hear, but it’s very like her.
I felt a bit calmed from that. And fight, win, survive, meet up with Aya and the others, and then head to the capital.
“I am the one who killed your master!”(Renji)
I don’t know if it understood my words. But my attack, my Jade green magical energy, it should understand who I am. As if it switched its target from Mururu to me, it turned its skeleton face towards me.
Yes, that’s right. I killed him. On that hellish battlefield. In that place where countless people died, countless lives were lost.
For just a second, I closed my eyes.
Black, Black, Black, Black—— I killed that Demon God, that had the shell of the colour of darkness, with my comrades, together with them…….. With Ermenhilde.
“I will kill you, you fucking skeleton.”
As I opened my eyes, I spoke what I had sworn.
As if howling without vocal cords, it struck it’s spiderlike 8 bone legs on the ground.