First. I’ve read your suggestion and clearly that estimate of next chapter section is not working. The percentage of progress will return, but first I’ll need someone independent to check on the progress and update it every day so that I won’t leave you all wondering if there’s a long break between chapters. If you have the free time to do this, feel free to apply through comments.
Second, someone by the handle name of DystopianPotato have contacted me through Discord to become the co-translator of this series. Unfortunately I missed their message so I didn’t get the chance to reply until 3 days later. If you see this, DystopianPotato, and you’re still interested, please drop your comment below and I’ll arrange so that both of us can start working on the next chapter together.
Third. A plea and a shameless ad. Hopefully I won’t ever have to bring this up again, I know that we all have a special disdain for ads anyway. If you wish to skip the ads and read the chapter right away, feel free to open the search form in your browser and type Chapter XXIII.
SHAMELESS AD SECTION
So a baby is probably coming my way. Yes, I’m glad. But now I need more income than ever. You might’ve already known that I translate stuff for others in the side. And if you want something to be translated from JP to EN, why don’t you give me a try?
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But you don’t seem to meet your own deadlines, how can I trust you?
The reason why this series has been translated at a slower pace is because there’s another deadline to take care of. Namely the deadline given by my clients. But I see that you might be unconvinced by this. So here’s my policy.
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If money is all you need, why don’t you just start collecting donations or make a patreon or something? You know, provided that you can translate this series faster.
While I believe that donation isn’t evil and it’s fine for translators to make patreon and all that. I’d rather not take your money for something I’m planning to do for free anyways. But hey, money is money, you may say. Well, I’m weird that way. But I won’t take donations for the same reason I won’t ever monetise this website. Personal reasons.
Besides, this translation is a joint effort. There’s Deskie, and there’s also the kind people in the comments who’d do QC for me, and maybe DystopianPotato as well. So yeah, I’d rather not.
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That’s the end of shameless ad section.
You know what comes with owning an old place? Trouble. Water alone costs me $130 in April. Something is definitely leaking somewhere. I’ve only used the house for two weeks that month. But I guess I’ll have to be thankful that I own a place at all. I’ve been fixing the place for weeks now but I don’t believe I’ve covered all of the parts.
Laugh all you want but this crap is just making the TL even slower.
Done, here’s your chapter
Chapter XXIII – Like the Falling Rain in the Forest
Fired from the Chief’s palm, a spear of lightning ran through the sky.
Its thick ray was like that of a battering ram. Just how much mana and might had been poured in there?
Its velocity was as if it was literally a lightning bolt. That lightning, which seemed to mock even the wind itself for being slow, struck its target without giving the target any room to dodge.
Fem, who was shocked throughout her entire body, leaked out a strange groan and twitched for a moment.
However, she managed to shake it off using sheer force, and drew close to the chief. She brandished her destructive fist at him once again.
The air split.
Fallen leaves danced around before they fell back, while more leaves were torn and blown off from its trees.
Disregarding the fact that she did indeed wear gauntlets, what was brought forth from her girly thin arm – the force of her mere fist – created a windstorm that seemed to mow the forest down.
The scenery of the forest was distorted as the Chief’s body disappeared, before he reappeared behind Fem’s back a single moment later.
Rather than teleporting the chief to another space, the spell worked to bend the space and quickly move him within a short distance. And since it was different in concept compared to teleportation, it was hard to jam it. Therefore, the chief could use the spell to evade….. but its mana consumption was large. In the first place, spells that interfere with space were already considered to be high-tier spells. If he were to use it continuously, he’d be running out of mana in a blink of an eye. Normally, “Blink Move” counted as a spell that people would avoid, due to the difficulty of learning it and its effect that did not live up to its mana consumption. But his former teacher, Old Gran, had said to him some centuries ago, “there will be a time when you’ll find a spell handy, no matter what spell it is. Those words were etched in him and thanks to that he barely managed to hold on to his life.
Though, he didn’t know for how much longer could he afford to keep it up.
“….. Bloody monster.”
The chief, an Elf who had lived since ancient times that predated the human calendar itself, muttered in horror.
He saw the aftermath of her brandished fist. The ground was upturned and the trees fell down.
If he were to receive the blow— no, if it even were to graze him, he was sure that his flesh would be plucked off his bones while his bones would break, rendering him incapable to fight. In the other hand, no matter how much he tried to fire his spells at his opponent, it appeared that she wasn’t even scratched because of it.
What absurdity was that? However, if he couldn’t hold on against this absurdity, he would die here. The village would follow too.
“Let me ask you once again. What are you?”
The chief asked Fem.
For a while now, his spells had been hitting her directly. It would mean that whatever magic equipment she had wasn’t the kind that interfere with and defend her from the spells itself. She could endure the chief’s attack only by relying on her toughness alone. That way, there was no way that she was a human, and the chief did not think that she was a fellow Elf either. He didn’t want to think about the possibility, but could she be a demon? Or probably, some sort of an avatar of an evil dragon?
Without responding to the Chief’s question, Fem readied her fist yet another time.
“Verifying data. Correcting deviations. Changing pattern……. Self-improvement application test, commence!”
“You just won’t listen, huh!?”
The fierce attack started then.
Just when he thought that Fem’s figure was moving, her fist came flying in without pause. Then another, then another, then another.
Right. Left. RIght. Left. Right. Left. The chief then made a big move to protect his right side. Fem responded by hitting his left side, left side, left side————–
Instead of the intense but unrefined punches that she threw a while ago, her consecutive attack was now lighter, but sharper. The weight of each blow was indeed reduced, but its basis – her herculean strength – was still that of a giant’s. The barrage of fists finally grazed the chief, who could only manage to avoid them within a short moment, and scraped his flesh off to be eaten by the birds.
He couldn’t bear it, so he blink-moved. He moved towards her back – she turned around. The way she turned her trajectory, it was as if she was dancing. It was so graceful to the point of it being cruel. She resumed her attack, but just before that, he grandly blink-moved again. As if she had already predicted that, Fem rushed at him. The chief blink-moved thrice – Fem followed after him each time.
‘Did she read me? There’s not enough time to do it the fourth time. Defend, defend, defend!’
The torrent of fists rushed against the makeshift defensive magic barrier. Sparks of fire flew all over as his magic barrier and her metal gauntlet collided.
“GAH, AAH, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!”
The chief’s feet was dragged backwards, forming a furrow on the ground in the process. He couldn’t completely cancel the impact. His wall raised a shriek. At this rate, his protection would be smashed to pieces, and the chief surely would be attacked from his rear and be killed.
But, during the several seconds before that finally happened, the chief saw a way for him to prevail.
“‘Heed my call! Thunder spirits of the heavens, lightning spirits of the earth! Gather ye in this place and be my arms———’”
Ever since the beginning of the battle, this was the first time for the chief to chant regular spell.
He had been pressured by Fem and was compelled to use only chantless spell because of that.
However, instead of attacking him with heavy strikes, Fem chose instead to attack him with lighter fists now, and as these fists were chipping the barrier little by little, the chief had only a few seconds, but that was enough opportunity to cast the chant.
“Come manifest, ye great lord who presides over the eighty thunders. Dwell ye in the tip of my spear and strike my enemy….”
“…! I won’t, let you!”
His mana ran amok as lightning surged.
Realising the Chief’s intention, Fem pulled her fist to a great extent.
She was changing her style to single heavy punches again, with that kind of ridiculous strength, surely she would manage to break through the cracked barrier and land a hit on the Chief.
The chief laughed. No matter what she chose, it was all the same. She would need to amass a lot of energy to pack that punch. A moment to amass the energy to exhibit its perfected might.
That single moment was enough for him to complete his chant.
“For here in this place, in this moment, with the might of the heavens I shall crush the wicked! ‘Keraunos’!”
Her fist crushed through the barrier, fragments of glass-like light danced around wildly.
At the same time, the Chief released his spell.
Even among the spells that he had learned, this was the strongest among them yet.
‘Oh, Great Forest. Please do not forgive me who could not even strike the enemy without resorting to means like these, not even a bit.’
Life and death intersected each other, in a single moment that seemed to have lasted for an eternity.
In that moment, such was the chief’s penitence.
The might of that spell also threatened the forest that he was supposed to protect. But if he didn’t use it, he wouldn’t be able to protect the forest either.
While what he used were only chantless spells, it was still a fact that his enemy was a monster that could take mid-tier spells like they were nothing. Then if he used a top-tier spell, that spell should’ve been able to destroy her completely. And then, unless he destroyed this enemy of his, he wouldn’t be able to protect the forest nor the village.
‘I will bear the blame for this. Therefore, please, protect the people that have received your blessing!’
The might of the released lightning strike. If “Thunderspear” had the force of a battering ram, then this one was like an avalanche. The spell, whose electric discharge could even distort space itself, became a torrent of flash that swallowed Fem and burned the entirety of the chief’s field of vision.
“A top-tier lightning spell? In the forest? Turns out that even the White Elf Chief is more senseless than I thought.”
There, above the village, with the light of the moon on her back, a woman grumbled.
As her body was laden with presence-concealing magical equipment, probably not even the trained eyes of the Elven hunters could catch the sight of her.
Below her, the fire in the furrows that the lightning strike had left were burning the forest in a grand manner. There were fires blowing up here and there. In other words, it was a wildfire.
“Well, anyway, it’s probably because his opponent is that one. Even for me, I don’t think I can match her unless I do something like this. Doesn’t change the fact that the whole affair is unsatisfactory, though.”
The woman snickered.
An Elf that received the divine blessing of the forest – their chief, of all people – would burn it down on his own volition after he found himself to be at his wits’ end. She found this so ironic and hilarious, she couldn’t bear to suppress her laughter.
However, she couldn’t afford to be laughing all night. This outbreak of this fire was unfavourable to the fulfillment of their objective. If the prey that they had carefully selected were to catch fire and die, then all would be lost. And no matter how much deep in the forest they were, if the fire were to continue to spread in a flashy manner, then chances were that it might catch the attention of the hairless apes outside of the forest as well.
She needed to take an action, quickly too.
The woman thought about something for a while before she broke into a smile, as if she had come up with a good idea.
“Well then, let’s have a break, literally.”
TL Note: This is a pun that I unfortunately couldn’t properly translate to English. The word that was used for break was “水入り”. The pun is, she said ‘literally’. So it translates as “let’s get some water in there”.
The Old Gran saw that light.
That dazzling, ominous flash of lightning that fell from the skies. She instinctively recognised its true nature, and for that, her eyes went wide.
“Boy…… you actually used that….?!”
A complicated feeling rose in her heart.
Sympathy for the man who had lived his life caring for the trees for so long, only to burn them all together so that he could burn his foe as well.
Remorse for her own powerlessness, for she couldn’t be a helping hand for him, to the point that he was driven to do something like that.
And the conviction that he should’ve won, for he had chosen to use that.
“Woaaaaah… Isn’t that a top-tier lightning spell? As expected from the Elven chief, he sure knows amazing stuff! Will this be okay, though? Releasing something like that in a middle of a forest like this. See, see, the trees caught fire, and now we have a wildfire, you see?”
The vampire jeered.
His boots were currently trampling on the forest’s soil. Then what about the chief’s residence that had both of them until while ago? That place was already gone. It was, after all, a battleground between a High Elf and a Lord Vampire. Of course the aftereffect of the spell exchanges between the two of them would wipe it off from existence.
Old Gran stared at the vampire sternly.
“Thou… how dare thine lot stand to speak that way!?”
He moved both of his hands to cover the sides of his face as he said ‘nope, nope’ while making an exaggerated show of how frightened he was. The vampire kept fooling around unsparingly.
But the reason why Old Gran was able to maintain her life until now was precisely because that Vampire had been fooling and playing around. Elves are born with excelling magical prowess, but not only do Vampires have that, but they also excel in physical prowess. In one-on-one combat like this, her defeat was supposedly already a given.
Surely, her opponent thought so as well.
The vampire ceased fooling around and shrugged.
“Well then, lady. How long are you planning to keep this up, again? Are you perchance thinking that if you can keep me until dawn, the morning will burn me to ashes?”
Unfortunately, she didn’t think that was likely.
Vampire Lords have extraordinary self-regeneration ability. Even if the sunlight – a vampire’s weakness – were to get to them, surely they would have some kind of a feat to bring them back from the brink caused by the damage they received. And most of all, she wasn’t confident that her supply of mana could last in a battle of spells with a Vampire until then.
Old Gran suppressed her anxiety and smiled confidently.
“Humph… I have no need to wait that long. “Keraunos” was the sign of the chief’s victory. At this moment, he hath already left to save the village. He will ride on that momentum and come here eventually. It may take a while until he arriveth here, but I do not suppose he would be so leisurely as to come only until dawn breaketh.”
“Eeeeeh? Hmmmmm? Ooooooh?”
The vampire grinned broadly.
“Is that so? Really, is that so? Then it’ll be weird if we don’t start doing something as well, don’t you think?”
What he said was true. It was the same power that had breached the white birch forest’s barrier and performed large-scale summoning to attack the village. If they were that proficient in magic, surely they would be able to do something like telepathy, and it wouldn’t be odd if they carry around magical equipments to communicate with each other. With that, they were bound to be in touch in case of emergency.
“Well then, as you wish, guess I’ll take you on. It’ll be fun to see if help really is coming for you, too! …. ‘Shadowlance’!”
He sneeringly shouted as he thrusted a lance made from a mass of shadows and approached Old Gran. With dark magic, he manipulated the virtual existence, then he added void element into it—- a multi-elemental spell. An advanced spell that superimposed a rare element onto another rare element. And for him to chantlessly use it without effort, as expected from Vampire Lords, the existence that is said to reign supreme over the night.
Of course, the Old Gran were not planning to take this lying down.
“‘Ray of Light’!”
What she produced from her palm of hand was a thick assembly of rays of light. It pierced through the ‘Shadowlance’, along with the Vampire that stood behind it. Reason dictated that light vanquished shadows, and as such, in that clash of the two, light would prevail. A vampire was a creature of the dark. She wasn’t as versed as humans in terms of holy magic, but she could expect that she landed a severe blow there…. or so she thought.
The vampire’s chest absorbed the rays of light,
“GRAAAAAAAH! …….. Juuuust kidding. Did you think it worked? AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!”
… and then disappeared while not affecting him at all.
Was he able to excel against it because of the magic defence imbued on the magical equipment he was wearing, or was it because of his innate resistance from his high magical prowess?…… or perhaps – she didn’t want to think about it, but, perhaps – was it because of both?
Old Gran glared at the abomination that stood a few metres away from her with bitter regret.
Even for Elves, light spells – which did not belong to the four classic elements – typically were not their strongest suit. She was the most proficient caster in the village, but chantless spells weren’t enough to land effective damage against the vampire.
‘There must be another way to take this monster down. A weak point that I can exploit to kill him in one fell swoop, something, anything.’
“Weeeeelll then, what should I do now? Shall I increase my magical prowess one step further— hm?”
The vampire’s complacent smile froze for a moment.
He brought his fingers to his cheek and swiped something.
“Eh? It’s raining?”
As if taking that word as a cue, droplets of water began to fall from the skies.
It started raining.
Old Gran flickered her eyes.
It was a full moon night. Not even a single cloud was in view until a while ago.
But now, it was raining?
Sure enough, when she looked up, dark clouds suddenly spread all over the nightly sky, to the point where they conceal the full moon itself.
Old Gran intentionally disregarded that enigma.
— Even though if this was her usual self, she would’ve already realised something like this, something like someone, somewhere was manipulating the weather in a grand scale.
This was aid from the heavens. The flames of the Chief’s battle aftermath were being extinguished.
‘Nay, anyway, my utmost priority now is to somehow deal with this Vampire’, the Old Gran strengthened that will and started chanting.
“Oh, trickles of water falling from the skies, flowing to the earth. I order thee, water spirits, far and wide!”
“Th— that incantation!?”
The vampire went into blatant panic.
Of course he would.
What she was chanting was a spell to summon the water spirits. The rain had started falling, and if the water spirits were to act in conjunction to it, it wouldn’t be impossible for her to generate an enormous water current.
And … Vampires were weak against running water.
“Hearken unto my voice. May thee wash over and cleanse all impurity!”
“S, stop! STOP IIIIIIIIIIT!”
Old Gran laughed at the vampire who abjectly pleaded at the moment he was exposed to his weak point.
If he had the spare time to do that, then he would’ve jumped in and stopped her chanting.
—– ‘Blasted moving corpse, did the rot go all the way to thine brain cells, too?’
A raging stream of water gushed out from the seal of the spell. Even in the darkness of the night, the cascade of white foam flooded everything before her eyes.
“SHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!! IF ONLY THE RAIN HADN’T FALLEN! GRAH, BLLLLLLARRRGH!”
The Vampire’s figure and his muffled curses were all submerged in the water.
“Fuh, fuhahahaha! Thou might be an immortal, but it was still not enough to surpass the ages I had passed, it seemeth…….”
Old Gran gasped for breath as she released herself from the stance of the spell.
She could feel that her body had suddenly become weak. Her body had run deficient of mana.
Her opponent was a Vampire. In the unlikely chance that the Vampire could escape its weak point that was the stream of water, she had to mow down a considerably wide area with the spell. The price for that was this sudden depletion of mana.
“Wheeze…. wheeze….. This was not something someone my age should have undertaken…. se, seriously…”
Truthfully, there was another cause of this fatigue of hers.
“Guh…… not good, the spell……..”
Her magic was undone.
As the caster suffered from both the recoil of forcing herself to cast a high-tier spell and deficiency of mana, the invoked spell vanished away.
As if to wash her adornments off, the rain kept falling….
“——— Hmmm… I suppose it’s about time.”
TL Note: Yes, that’s it for this section
Rumble, rumble. The sound of the giant’s footsteps.
In the rain that fell all of a sudden, the battle was still raging in the village.
The monsters did not force their way through to attack, instead they cunningly rounded up the Elves and hunted them one by one.
Curiously, the monsters were mostly aiming at adults. They would deliberately leave the younger ones, while striking down those from the eldest in order of their age.
“These things….. could it be that they’re intending to capture the youngsters alive?”
Verche’s father shouted his speculation.
Certainly, if they were to think that way, then it was easy to understand this situation. They cull the adults, who’d be difficult to handle, and then sweep the children and the youngsters away.
That line of thinking, it was as if….
“Father… are you implying that a human is behind this raid?”
Indeed, capturing Elves as slaves is how humans would think.
Her father nodded at his daughter’s question.
“I don’t think humans have the ability to manipulate the monsters this far, but from the way they act it certainly seems like it was them. After all, they’d usually go after the weaker ones first, right!”
He shot an approaching ogre dead, then tutted.
“Hey! I’m out of arrows! Has anyone got some spare?”
“I’m out too! Try the others!”
“I haven’t got any as well! To begin with, who the hell still have some with them anyway?”
Coming this far, the Elves were running out of arrows.
As Verche had ran out of arrows herself, she had been supporting them with magic, but she was at her limit as well. Her mana was now mostly exhausted.
She had used up too much arrow and magic in the beginning of the battle against the cyclops. The monocular giant, who was kept under the protection of the spell of an unknown person, was still able to maintain that impregnable barrier. The only mages who could dispel it were probably just the chief or the Old Gran. It would’ve been better if people could understand that and preserve themselves though.
“More importantly, what is the Chief and Old Gran doing?! Aren’t they supposed to be rushing in here?!”
“Surely you saw that flash of lightning a while back. That was the Chief! They’re in the middle of combat there too!”
It seemed that both of them were being kept by something and thus couldn’t come their way.
— Rumble, rumble.
As if to strengthen the pressure, the cyclops took another step towards them.
Verche couldn’t tell whether that shriek was hers or someone else’s.
‘Do, don’t be afraid! Am I, am I not a hunter of this forest?!’
Even though she desperately persuaded herself, her body just wouldn’t stop shaking.
The Elves around her had a similar look as well.
The difference of strength between them was overwhelming. The Chief’s aid was still not in sight. All in all, their situation was hopeless.
The Elves’ morale were breaking down.
‘…… So, it’s all over’.
Drip, drip. Tears were starting to fall from her eyes.
How unsightly, was that an appearance a hunter of the Witte clan would expose in the sight of others?
But it seemed that no one would criticise her over this.
In fact, she had held well to be one among the survivors so far.
“Ehehehe… we’re finished…. we’re all going to die.”
Among them, it seemed that there were those who had already went past their limit long ago.
Taking that into account, a young girl crying alone would surely count as innocent.
She was making do just by crying silently, she’d probably be praised as a brave kid for that.
The voice when the father called out to his daughter was a lonely one.
If his conjecture that the enemy’s aim was to capture the young Elves was correct, then this would not result in Verche’s death. But when an Elven woman got captured, there could be a fate crueler than death waiting for her. And even if his conjecture was incorrect, the only possible outcome was for her to die here.
With that in mind, as a father, just how hard for him to say something at this moment?
There was also the thing about her mother as well. Although they had sent her away to escape under the pretext of liaison, the village proper had already turned into a hunting ground for monsters now. Her life was probably already forfeit. With that in her mind, she could feel that her chest were being crushed. Surely her father felt the same way as well.
The giant drew near.
Along with that, the monsters’ encirclement against them grew narrower.
At last, the coup de grâce was coming.
She had no bow nor arrows, and her mana had already exhausted.
At this rate, would she be meet her end by the claws and fangs of the monsters, or just as her father thought, would she fall captive to the person who had been pulling the strings behind the scenes?
Neither was desirable for her.
‘I haven’t even met Chaga yet…..!’
Her mind was occupied by the thoughts of him, the one she had a fall-out with half a month ago.
If that was to be the last of their conversations, then that would be too sad.
She wanted to meet him one more time and make amends. At the very least, she wanted to see his face.
The monsters steadily drew even nearer.
So which one among them will leap out first?
The manticore? The direwolf? The orc? The ogre?
Verche’s body was petrified at the sign of the approaching evil.
Then, at that time,
A spell broke through the house-wall behind her back.
Then, the face that she had missed for the last half month leapt into her vision.
She cried the name of the person who clumsily landed near her side in disbelief.
“Heh, heheh, I thought the demons can’t fit their figure indoors, so I went through the houses… seems like I was right.”
And on top of that, he even uttered such bravado.
His forced smile was stiff, and his voice and limbs were trembling all over, but still, she could feel that there was something encouraging about him.
“Hey, brat! What on earth have you been doing up until now?!”
She meant to say ‘why are you here?’, but it was interrupted by her father’s shouting.
To answer that question, Chaga pointed at the hole on the house that he broke through from.
The one who appeared from there was Verche’s mother who was supposedly running towards the outskirts of the village.
‘So, she made it alive….!’
“I wondered when I saw auntie running about outside with a strange look on her face, so it was because that huge thing… I thought that I should rush here somehow, but the village proper has already been riddled with demons….”
“For the time being, I gathered all the arrows I could grab when I was running here and there with Chaga.”
She said as she presented the bundle of arrows that she brought in her arms.
‘Ooh!’, the surviving Elves raised their voices.
“Arrows! We can still continue to fight!”
“…. First, as the demons couldn’t pass through the houses easily, let’s go through there and head steadily for the outskirts! The white birch forest should be too narrow for the large-sized demons to traverse and the spirits’ blessing will hasten our mana recovery.”
“Wait, Chaga. Aren’t you worried that they might just anticipate us when we leave the houses?”
“And that is why…. we have this guy’s nose.”
What came running towards Chaga’s feet was that wolf familiar.
It was impossible for Verche to suppress her complicated feeling about that sight, but given the circumstances, there was nothing she could do. With a stern look on his face her father, too, asked him,
“….. Can you depend on it?”
“It was because of this child that we could get here without harm, you know?”
Her mother stroked the familiar wolf to thank it. Surely it was fine to believe it now.
Then, Chaga turned towards Verche.
“Verche, take this too.”
What he handed over as he said that was her bow and arrows.
“Cha, Chaga? This, how di—-”
“When I went to the armoury to retrieve the arrows, I took it along with me. Thought you’ll be troubled without it.”
As if being shy, he scratched his cheek as he was saying so.
… As expected, the bow, which she hadn’t held for a while, fittingly felt familiar in her hands.
Vitality returned to her droopy ears.
There were both her bow and arrows in her hand. Her companion, who she spent years together with, was also by her side as well.
The pieces that she lost half a month ago up until now were now restored.
The senses of a hunter… the will to fight returned to her.
“Chaga….. thank you.”
“Don’t mention it…. I’m weak, so… if I can help you, who’s strong, then it’s fine.”
“And, I’m sorry. I said something cruel to you then.”
“I’m sorry too. I was so engrossed in my attempt to be dependable to you, I couldn’t get a hold of what’s important to you.”
Just with that exchange of words, the ill feeling she harboured melted away as if it was never there.
So she couldn’t do something so simple as this, and she was troubled for half a month because of it? In spite of herself, she thought the whole affair was silly.
“Hey, you two! Don’t idle about! The battle is still going on!”
At her father’s scolding, their voices intertwined.
While gazing at the bitter smile that he floated, she nocked and fired.
—- One arrow.
First, the direwolf—- one fatal shot aimed at the throat of the demon whose appearance was a profane mockery of a wolf.
‘I haven’t lost my touch yet, half a month might have passed, but this bow still precisely works as an extension of my limbs!’
She released the next arrow as she found joy in that.
Her aim was the ogre. The arrow pierced through its eye socket and struck its brain, killing it instantly. Elven bows were enchanted with magic. If a divinely blessed user shoots an arrow with it, its power would surpasse even that of a crossbow’s.
“Oooh, oooh!”, the Elves around her livened up.
‘We can do this. The cyclops is still tough to face, but it’s not that difficult to cut a way through the other guys. We’ll escape according to Chaga’s suggested route. First, we’ll go to the forest. We’ll join up with the Chief and Old Gran, and using the combined war potential as a leverage we’ll push the enemy back. I came to feel like that isn’t impossible. No, we can do this!’
“All right, we can still do this! There’s still hope for us!”
One in her company cried out.
Verche felt the same as well.
‘That’s right, we can still do this!’
…. But then, that came.
“Hey, hey, isn’t it a bit too early to get excited now?”
A voice rung out from above.
The rain had stopped. It had stopped abruptly, just like how the rain broke. The rainclouds had already disappeared as well.
The light of the moon came back and illuminated their surroundings.
There, floating in the midair and glaring at the villagers, was a certain someone.
“A,,, Dark Elf?”
Her silver hair was dazzling even in the dark, in contrast of her dark brown skin that dissolved into the shades of the night.
A pair of long ears similar to that of an Elf’s extended from the sides of her head.
Certainly, that person was a Dark Elven woman.
And Verche knew this woman.
That woman, whose left eye was covered by an eyepatch.
The Dark Elf who introduced herself as a slave of an adventurer, who had saved Verche when she wandered into the Black Forest two weeks ago.
Then, why was she here?
No, that was fine too. Verche knew that she was a terrific expert of a mage. If they could get Drei to help, then surely it would be possible to exterminate this horde of demon.
“Verche, you know that person?”
Chaga asked her in his confusion.
‘Of course’, she answered promptly.
“Yeah, that person—”
“Huh……!? Huh….! …..!!”
Answer, she could not.
Suddenly her breath was seized, her voice couldn’t come out.
Only her lips was flapping and moving about, there was no meaningful words that came from her tongue.
“Wh, what’s wrong, Verche!? Get a hold of yourself!”
“What is it!? What the heck is happening!?”
Chaga shook her shoulder.
Her parents gazed restlessly between their abnormally behaving daughter and the unexpected intruder.
Drei pleasantly stared the suffering Verche down.
Her single eye, warped with joy, gave the same impression as the giant’s eye.
“Kuhuhuhu, what a foolish girl. If you’re having trouble talking about me, then perhaps you should talk about something else.”
“Hhh! Hhh!? Hhhhhhh!!”
They couldn’t get it.
What on earth was Drei saying?
Why was she laughing at Verche, who was suffering?
“You… what did you do to Verche!?”
When Chaga shouted angrily at her, Drei’s laughter grew even more intense.
Her laughter felt as cruel as that of a cat when it was torturing a rat it had captured.
“My, my, what are you getting so worked up for… ah, I see. So you’re the Chaga brat, aren’t you?”
“Wha, why did you know my name…?”
Verche was as surprised as him.
She hadn’t spoken about Chaga with Drei at that time. There should’ve been a topic about him since he had always been with her, but somehow she found it embarrassing to talk about so she didn’t bring it up.
Then how come did she know about Chaga?
“Hmph. It’s a bother to explain. I’ll just undo my spell now, you can guess however you want when you see the girl then.”
Drei said before she snapped her fingers.
At the same time, something burst open inside her mind.
— A memory of what really happened that night was coming back.
“—– And if you do that, you’ll be able pass through the barrier and enter the village…….”
While her head was feeling fuzzy and her thoughts were muddled, Verche was obediently answering the questions directed at her to the extent of her knowledge.
The village’s scale, its population, its notably powerful people, and the way to pass through its barrier.
Most of them was supposed to be kept secret, but for some reason that she couldn’t understand, she felt that she couldn’t conceal them.
When Verche saw that “left eye”, she felt that she must comply with whatever she was ordered to.
Drei nodded in satisfaction after Verche had told her the whole story.
“I see. I’ve heard the gist of what I wanted to know.”
“…. Thank you.”
“But, there’s something that still makes me curious. Shall I hear about it, then?”
“…. Yes, please ask me anything.”
After she acknowledged that, Drei began to scrutinise her with dangerous eyes and asked away.
“When we talked about idle things before I used this eye, I felt that you were hiding something in your words. Most likely it’s nothing important, but I’m just making sure. Spit that out as well.”
Verche’s body trembled.
“……………………….. I’m sorry. That, I can’t tell.”
“What? Why are you hiding it? … Speak.”
Drei’s left eye emitted a purple light.
When Verche saw that light, the resistance that she felt in her heart began to gradually disappear.
“…… What I hid, was about Chaga.”
“What is that?”
“…. My hunting mate.”
“I don’t get it. Why would you hide something like that?”
“Because…….. it’s… embarrassing.”
At that answer, Drei made a dubious look.
‘I just don’t understand’, it seemed that her look was saying that.
However, Verche, who had lost her resistance, slowly began to continue on her own.
“…. I, really hold him dear, I just couldn’t say it well. I’m afraid….. I’m embarrassed that, I’d say something weird, about him.”
“That’s not a reason at all. Apparently the girl herself hasn’t settled the matter as well….”
“…… I’m, not good, with words…… I can’t put, his good side, to other people…. But I’m… embarrassed… sad… because of it.”
“So long story short, it’s just a brat’s love affair. Tsk, I wasted mana for this? ……. That’s enough.”
From the way Drei was speaking, it seemed that she couldn’t care less about what she kept in the depths of her heart.
She tossed the secret that she held dear in the bottom of her heart away just like that. Verche’s chest was hurting.
The woman who stood before her eyes didn’t pay that any mind and continued to talk,
“For the time being, let’s just keep your mouth shut….. alright? Your village is an exclusive one, so I have no idea about how the other villagers would feel about outsiders. Surely you’ll feel bad if the others think were to think ill of the person who saved your life, yes?”
“…. Yes, I’ll feel bad.”
“There, there. good child….. So, Verche. Absolutely don’t mention anything about me to the villagers, alright? Ah, besides that, forget everything that happened since I showed you my left eye. Got it?”
Verche was made aghast by the memories that she regained.
She told Drei everything by herself. The location of the village. The method of entrance. The details of their war potential. Everything related to this raid, it all came from her.
‘So…. everything, everything is because of that…..?’
The miasma from the monsters that encircled them.
The terrible smell from the husks of Elves who had fallen in the battle.
Both of them joined up and furiously agitated the insides of her heart.
———- Your fault.
She felt as if someone was whispering that to her.
She felt as if one of the scattered bodies, one of her dead companion’s eyes, was sending the blame her way.
———- The reason that they came. The reason that we died. It was all your fault.
Verche felt as if she was tightly grabbed by the stomach.
An acrid sourness welled up from the back of her throat. She couldn’t hold her vomit in.
“Verche!? Are you alright!?”
Chaga rubbed her back gently, but it couldn’t offer her any comfort.
She kept throwing up and throwing up, and even when there was nothing left to throw up, her stomach was still cramping.
Drei glared down at her.
“Aw. And here I thought you were a bit of a gutsy girl. It turns out you’re frailer than I expected.”
“Bastard! What did you do to our daughter!?”
Upon hearing her father’s cry, the woman culprit sighed deeply.
“Didn’t I tell you just a while back? From the look of your girl over there, take a guess however you want, that I told you. And yet you still ask me to take the trouble to explain it for you? That takes effort. So nope, no can do………………….. Sigh, you lot are slow on the uptake. I’m starting to doubt whether you people will be able to work properly if I were to take you back with me.”
“So you’re the ringleader behind this incident.”
“………. You really are slow on the uptake. What are you saying now? You saw all that and you still can’t understand?”
She said as if she was admonishing her underperforming students.
As they saw the way she behaved, the surviving Elves around her began to get a hold of the situation.
“So the ringleader is that Dark Elf?”
“She manipulated that many demons? That’s absurd, what is she aiming?”
“No, rather than that….”
Someone among them stared daggers towards Verche’s direction.
“She cast a spell on Verche, and dragged out everything about this village from her, huh? So the cause of this—–”
“It’s your fault……………. VERCHE!”
Several people affixed their glare her way.
Her father and mother gazed at her with a look of disbelief on their faces.
Chaga’s hand, which was placed on her back, was shaking as well.
‘St, stop it…!’
She couldn’t bear being stared with that kind of look in their eyes.
“Did, did you deceive me……….?”
She could bear it no longer, and thus without thinking, she called Drei out with imploring eyes.
She still couldn’t believe that she was the culprit behind all of this.
She wanted Drei to tell her that this was a joke. She wanted this nightmarish night to be all just a lie.
However, Drei was just callously laughing.
“Deceive you? Don’t say things that may sully my reputation, now. I haven’t told you a single lie, you know?”
“Aren’t you an adventurer’s companion? Th, this, isn’t what ordinary adventurers do!”
“What a silly one you are, little White Elf girl. I have no memory of telling you that he was a proper adventurer. I just saved you from a monster once, and you dropped your vigilance on your own just like that. Kuhuhuhu….. besides, aren’t normal adventurers already harmful enough for the village?”
“Your village was destroyed, right!? And yet why would you do the same thing yourself?”
“I told you back then, didn’t I? I don’t mind it anymore, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Yo, you told me that your companions were important….. and yet, why are you doing this?”
“It’s not strange, I suppose? My action is in the interest of my companions. Elves have a variety of uses. If I can capture a lot of you people, it’ll please me and my companions.”
“When you said, you went to the forest, to hunt…..”
“Yeah, I was planning to capture these demons. Since they’re this many, even I had to work my fingers to the bone. Especially that cyclops, it really took its sweet time before I can get it under my control. Thanks to that, I made you saw something scary. Yeah, guess I really am sorry for that part.”
The one-eyed giant returned Drei’s words with a low laughter.
That cyclops was the same cyclops that encountered her when she wandered into the black forest. So at that time, it had already became the familiar of that Dark Elf. That was why it pulled back simply with just that.
“All of this… you were planning this from the beginning….”
“Why are you bad-mouthing me?”
The Dark Elf’s face was distorted with even more malice.
“Me discovering about your village was totally just a coincidence. Surely I wouldn’t notice any of this had that day someone didn’t foolishly chase a boar too relentlessly and leave the barrier of her home because of it.”
“Huhuhuhu, I am thankful, Verche. Thanks to you, not only that I could produce good results for my master, I can get a hold of you people as an extra too, you know?”
Strength left her body.
Chara promptly supported her collapsing body.
Even so, she still couldn’t find the strength to stand.
In other words, Verche came to conclude that this was all her fault alone.
‘Me… a forest hunter that protects her village…… what a joke.’
——– This happened because she met Drei that day.
——– Because she had wanted to hunt the boar down on her own, she wandered into the Black Forest.
——– It was because even though she was a woman, she put her all towards something like hunting.
——- That meant, because of who she was, this happened.
“Because I fancied myself as a big shot, things became like this………….!”
Regret, guilt and self-disdain were endlessly swelling up inside of her.
She was so afraid, her body couldn’t stop shaking.
She wasn’t afraid of death, nor she was afraid of pain.
She was afraid to admit that her life was meaningless and worthless— no, rather, she was afraid to admit that her life brought nothing but harm.
‘After all, through their eyes… everyone is saying that this is my fault….’
Her surviving companions were already glaring at her as if she was their enemy.
——— It’s your fault.
——— Just because you’re skilled with the bow, you think you’re clever and now this happens.
——— You’re unfit as a hunter…. no, you’re unfit as an Elf of the proud Witte clan.
Such thoughts were loaded behind their silent glare. They pierced her entire body.
Her father didn’t say anything as anguish-filled look warped his face.
Her mother who still couldn’t understand all of this seemingly wanted to say something, but she was at a loss of words.
The hand Chaga placed on her shoulder gripped her so hard it hurt her.
Now, the only thing she was afraid of was to lose this warmth that seemed to be disappearing from her any second now.
“Huhuhu. It seems that you’ve come to hate being shamed by your fellow tribesmen than the enemy before you, huh? What an incorrigible White Elf. This is why it was easy to ruin you.”
The Dark Elven woman laughed gleefully.
She took her hand onto the eyepatch that covered her left eye,
“Well then, let’s wrap things up.”
And exposed the purple-coloured eye that was hidden behind it————-
“…! WATCH OUT, CHAGA!”
Verche was moving out of reflex.
She covered both of Chaga’s eyes with her hands, then she grabbed his hand and rushed to the back.
It was that eye. That ominous left eye was the source of Drei’s unnatural power. Verche, who had been struck by its spell once, learned from her restored memories and tried to avoid seeing it as much as she could.
“Even though she appeared to be suffocating to death a while back, it seems like the decision to undo the spell came back to bite me. So she still has some energy with her.”
Drei’s irritated voice ran through her back.
Verche’s parents and the remaining Elves were all petrified when they saw the glint in Drei’s purple eye.
“Don’t, don’t look at that eye! It’s an evil eye! You won’t be able to resist it!”
“So that’s what she has up her sleeve…!”
She was pulling Chaga’s hand and escaping that place in desperation.
It wasn’t that she didn’t feel bad for leaving her parents behind, she just couldn’t help it now.
And besides…. she didn’t want to lose Chaga, she didn’t want him to be taken from her.
Someone who would remain with her until the very end. Her precious partner. Perhaps more dear than just that.
For her, who had just lost her duty, her pride, and her everything, only he remained.
Her mind was in chaos and her heart was in tatters, but the feeling of not wanting to lose him remained.
‘At, at the very least, Chaga alone must make it away…!’
Truthfully, she didn’t know what would become of her if Drei were able to capture her.
But if she were to follow the demons the she should’ve hated and fall to the hands of the the lot who killed these many Elves. Surely she’ll meet a crueler fate than living as an ordinary slave.
She no longer cared about what will happen to her though, so at the very least, Chaga alone must make it.
She firmly held that in her heart as she pulled him away.
“Tsk. I won’t let this force me to shed any effort on my part. I can make the demons to chase after them, but there’s a risk that an accident will happen if I do that, I guess?”
The pair was rushing to the hole that Chaga made to come to this place earlier.
Just before that,
“Hmmm. If it’s this spell, it should be able to stop them without hurting them—–”
Something. Verche could feel some unnatural spell engulfing her entire body….
Aaand done. Next chapter will be the last of this arc.