The light from daytime had disappeared and night had fallen. We were completely enshrouded by the darkness inside the forest.
The moon had concealed itself behind the clouds, with no visible light shining from it. Normally, I would feel a sense of melancholy from the fact that this unique source of light was being covered but… It was different tonight. This was an ideal scenario for us if we were planning to subjugate the Necromancer.
I, Amako, and Ark-san were near the entrance of the forest waiting for the other villagers. Once they arrived, I was honestly surprised.
“I didn’t think so many of them would come.”
About 30 men were behind the village head, carrying farming tools or worn-out swords. All of them looked somewhat nervous as well.
“This is just proof that everyone thinks that this situation can’t go on. But.. we just didn’t have the courage to stand up. The fact that we can display our resolve is thanks to your group.”
The village head sounded embarrassed, but his words were stiff.
I’ve obtained the cooperation of the villagers but if I were to fail to take down the Necromancer… It’s these villagers who would suffer under the Necromancer’s wrath.
In that scenario… Although it would be painful for my heart to do so, I would have no choice but to destroy and break all the limbs of every zombie, rendering them immobile. Ark-san’s magic was limited so I had no choice but to take the initiative.
“I’m a bit late to say this but recovery magic is one of my strong points. Once this is all over, please send any injured people to me. I’ll be able to heal them right away.”
“Usato-dono… Thank you for your consideration.”
I couldn’t tell them I was a healing magician just before the battle, as it may cause them unnecessary concern. Instead, I decided to tell them that I was good at recovery magic.
The village head felt a sense of security, knowing that the wounded would receive proper treatment. After I finished speaking, Ark-san took over and began talking with the villagers.
He was probably explaining tonight’s plan to them. As a knight, he really had the expertise when it came to working in large groups like these. He was really reliable.
Amako, whose head was completely covered, made her way towards me and asked a question,
“Usato, are you taking Bluerin along?”
“When we told the villagers about Bluerin, they were afraid. I feel bad for him but he’ll be staying in the house. Leaving that aside, how’s your magic performing? I’ll be depending on you tonight.”
“It’s perfectly fine. Also, I can see well in the dark. You can rely on me for that too.”
“Hahaha, how reliable.”
Although I was used to the dark due to my time in Dark Lyngle, I wouldn’t be able to move well in complete darkness. In that case, a Beastkin like Amako will really help.
“It’s our first time fighting together but I have a feeling that it’ll go well.”
“…..That’s true. One way or another, this is the first time.”
What the, was she nervous?
Usually, she would go ‘What’s the matter, Usato? You’re being so honest to the point that it’s disgusting.’ or something like that. But she responded with empathy instead. My mouth stopped moving for a moment and I felt embarrassed.
…Maybe I should try to make a joke here to dispel this tension.
“Well, from what I’ve heard, the Necromancer shouldn’t give us that much trouble but… If the situation is different than what we expected and we are in a pinch…”
“What would you do?”
“I’ll carry you on my back.”
This was the first time… That I heard such a chilly voice coming from you.
I wiggled my finger and told her to not misunderstand. Then I began to thoroughly explain to her the ‘Ultimate Tactic’ that I thought of.
“You’ll use your magic as I move and attack. It’s simple but I also think it’s an invincible combination.”
“You’ll be able to focus on using your magic. If you can’t see that far ahead with your magic when you’re moving, then you can just get on my back and I’ll move. You just have to tell me about the enemy’s movements and instruct me what to do.”
“With my reflexes and your foresight, we’ll be able to read the opponent and then I’ll deliver a strong blow to finish them. In other words, we’ll be the strongest as long as we team up.”
I was frightened of Amako who was looking at me with those expressionless eyes behind her hood.
Actually, I couldn’t really see her face… Which is why her eyes stood out even more. She just silently turned her head.
……Or rather, I’m really curious as to how her ears move under that hood.
Someone suddenly called me.
When I turned to see who it was, I could see Neah-san running towards me… I could see a bit since the villagers were carrying torches, but it was still quite hard to see.
She ran recklessly to reach me. She was trying to catch her breath and when she looked at me—
—I was suddenly hugged.
I would have never expected that I would be embraced like this all of a sudden. As I was bewildered and trying my best to collect myself, I looked at my surroundings for help.
However, Ark-san and the villagers didn’t do anything… Actually, the 30 to 40 year-old-looking men were wryly smiling at me. The men that were around 20 years old looked at me with jealousy.
Meanwhile, Amako raised her eyebrows and looked at me speechlessly.
This isn’t supposed to be my role……
This is something Kazuki or Senpai should be doing. The situation had exceeded my understanding, I couldn’t even feel anything. Rather, why did she suddenly hug me?
It’s impossible that she fell in love with me, with something like the suspension bridge effect. With the current state of the village, I doubt she has time for such a feeling. Moreover, it’s only been a day since we’ve met. It’s hard to imagine that she harbors a deep affection towards me when such a short amount of time has passed.
Even if it was love at first sight, that was just a momentary delusion. As I was someone who had to go on a journey, I couldn’t reciprocate those feelings.
For the time being, I held her shoulders and loosened her hands that were on my back.
Although I felt a little reluctant, I didn’t show it.
“You don’t need to worry, I’ll be fine.”
What’s with that reaction?
Her eyes were wide open in bafflement, but I continued with my words.
“I’ll beat up that Necromancer that’s making everyone in the village suffer. I’ll save this village, the villagers, and corpses that the Necromancer is controlling. So you don’t need to worry about anything and can just wait here.”
“……………….Thank you very much……………. I’m really grateful that you would lend us your strength to this extent……”
For some reason, Neah-san was shaken by my words and bowed her head repeatedly. As a result, she retreated, placing some distance between us.
…..I feel like if Senpai knew about the hug just now, something outrageous would happen. On the other hand, it feels a little regrettable for it to end just like that.
In reality, I’ve experienced being punched and beaten up by a female. But I’ve never had such a gentle interaction with a girl such as a hug.
If I think about this anymore, I might start crying from remembering the abuse I received from Rose.
I headed over to where Ark-san was and urged him to move on.
“Ark-san. Let’s depart soon.”
“…Let see. Is everyone done with their preparations?”
In response to Ark-san, the villagers shouted vigorously.
Their morale was sufficient. In that case— All that was left was to take down that detestable Necromancer.
Along the way, we didn’t meet any zombies… It was ominous.
Were they condensed inside the mansion? Or perhaps they were scattered around randomly. I didn’t know.
In any case, we were able to reach the mansion without anyone getting hurt. The western-style mansion had an uncanny atmosphere, along with zombies sporadically surrounding it.
The zombies were probably spread out in such a way that they could see everything in the circumference of the mansion.
Ark-san, who carried a torch at the head of the group, had halted. Then he turned to face me and Amako.
“Let’s separate here. We’ll draw the zombies from the front while the two of you will try to infiltrate the mansion.”
“I understand. Well, let’s go Amako.”
“Be careful, Usato-dono.”
“Everyone in the village, please don’t overdo it.”
As the villagers sent us off, Amako and I walked on another path. The leaves on the bushes and trees were much thicker here, making it even darker than the previous path.
It really was dark…
“Amako, lead the way.”
“Yeah…… Don’t lose sight of me, okay?”
“I got it.”
As I kept my eye on Amako in front of me, I remained cautious. I would be able to react immediately if we encountered any zombies.
My feet stopped in place once I heard Amako’s hushed voice and bent over.
After a few seconds, a nearby bush rustled and I could hear a groan from a zombie.
……If it wasn’t for Amako, I would’ve been spotted for sure.
Seeing the future was really great.
I could hear loud shouts from men behind me.
I could see that the villagers and Ark-san near the mansion. They had torches and were shouting to inspire themselves.
Once the zombie near us heard those shouts, it started making its way to where Ark-san was.
“…Looks like Ark-san and the others have started.”
“We’ll quickly advance through this gap they made.”
The plan was going well so far.
Amako and I had to do our best too.
I braced myself and we started to move again. We circled around to the back of the mansion. After making sure there weren’t any zombies around, we got closer to the window.
Without making a sound, I placed my hands on the window to open it. There was no resistance at all.
“……It looks like it isn’t locked.”
We were up against a monster but this was really careless.
There’s a possibility that this is a trap, but we didn’t have the option to pull back. As long as we can enter and settle everything, it’ll be our victory.
I stepped into the mansion with Amako.
The room we entered was strangely tidy. That made it all the more eerie.
“…..It feels like something might just pop up.”
I could hear a zombie close by, outside of the room. I held my breath and got closer to the door. I made eye contact with Amako and waited for her instructions.
“It’s not directly on the other side. There’s a hallway. A really wide one. If you walk down it and turn a corner… I found it.”
A wide hallway, a bit further around the corner…
I honestly wanted to avoid it but it might just make things more difficult later on.
“Alright, I’ll quickly disable it and we’ll continue to advance.”
I walked up to the window and tore off the curtains. I wore it over my shoulders and placed my hand on the doorknob.
……Even if they’re zombies, it really, really pains my heart to do this but I have no choice.
“Amako, tell me when it’s coming.”
“…Leave it to me.”
We both nodded in understanding. Once Amako instructs me, I will move.
Since I knew the other party was a zombie, there was no need to hesitate. I waited for Amako’s signal to ambush.
At the same time Amako signaled me, I turned the doorknob. Once the zombie entered my line of sight, I struck its shoulders without holding back.
In addition, I swung my leg in a sweep and smashed apart both of its knees.
Lastly, I used the curtain I tore to gag it and cover its head. With this, it was completely powerless.
The zombie squirmed but its mouth was shut tight and its broken limbs were scattered below me.
Amako said this with a pale face, upon seeing what I had done in just an instant.
All I did was cover its eyes, kick its knees, and pin it down…
……Since I could do it, it can’t be helped, right?
“I didn’t see it at all. The zombie’s arms suddenly flew off and it was already on the ground in the next moment. I thought that you finally couldn’t suppress your desire to take down these zombies anymore, Usato…”
“Just what kind of super creature do you think I am…..? Hahaha, you’re just saying that from your imagination, right? Hahaha.”
‘Uheeh’ Amako’s mouth distorted into a frown and voiced her displeasure when she saw the zombie trying to get up.
Any living human who discarded their compassion and didn’t show any mercy could probably do this much. Halfa-san could probably do the same. While that may be true, the times when I’ll punch for real is… Probably.. never.
I tossed the zombie that was tied up into the room nearby and resumed our search.
Aah, seriously…… I dislike fighting.
The inside of the mansion was much more spacious than I had imagined, and it was a little anticlimactic as there weren’t that many zombies.
We haven’t encountered any zombies since the first one.
But I could see that the building had been cleaned and maintained. It definitely looked like someone was living here.
“Did the person living here like to collect antiques?”
Along the hallway we were in were beautiful sets of armor. When I knocked on one with my fist, I was astonished.
If these were all the same type of armor, it wouldn’t sound like this. There were sets of armor lined up in this hallway with different designs. The weapons were also not the same… There were swords, Morningstars, also—
“What’s this…? A halberd? A normal person wouldn’t be able to use a weapon this big.”
It was taller than me and looked like an axe and a spear.
The armor that wielded this halberd was over 2 meters in height.
Whether it were the armors, weapons, or designs, there was nothing in common between them. It was like a museum… As my thoughts got side tracked, Amako suddenly spoke as she looked at a set of armor.
“I don’t think they’re that old. I’ve seen various sets of armor when I was traveling.”
Meaning, they weren’t an antique collector. They were just collecting these new pieces here for some reason.
It was probably just the hobby of the owner of this mansion… Or—
“What Ark-san mentioned before… It could be related to that rumor…”
Although nothing has happened in these past few years, there was a strange incident where people went missing.
There were rumors of strong individuals suddenly disappearing… Seeing this strange scene, it could be related. It might’ve been the Necromancer who was behind it all.
But in that case, there was one thing that didn’t make sense.
“Why did Neah-san and the villagers not tell us…?”
Of course, that was assuming that the villagers were aware of the rumors.
The disappearances happened near this village several years ago but… Wouldn’t some of the villagers think that the Necromancer did it? Despite that, I haven’t heard anyone mention it.
……I hope I’m just overthinking things.
“There’s a room with light ahead of us…”
As we were walking down the hallway, Amako abruptly stopped and said this.
A room with light… Was it finally time to confront the Necromancer? I proceeded with caution and saw an opening where light was shining through.
“Is the Necromancer inside?”
Amako responded in surprise.
Were we expected? I decided to open the door just to confirm what Amako had said.
The first thing I saw was the small light being emitted from a magic tool—
There was an entire library inside with books everywhere and shelves that reached all the way to the ceiling.
For a personal collection, there were just far too many books. Although I was shaken, I made my way towards the magic tool and picked up one of the books.
It was a light-brown and tattered book. Once I flipped it around, I found the title.
“Re.. cord of The Key Hero.”
I couldn’t read the author’s name due to the book’s poor condition but it looks like a book about a hero.
It wasn’t about Senpai and Kazuki, it was probably about the previous hero. Since I was curious, I opened the book.
I did my best to not treat the book roughly and cautiously turned the pages. But it looked like all the pages were worn-out and unreadable…
“Looks like I can’t read it… But I guess it’s to be expected. You normally can’t read a book this old when it’s written with ink.”
Thinking that, I was about to close the book… But something caught my interest and I stopped.
In the center of one page, there was one sentence written while the rest of the page was empty.
———He hated people, yet he hath loved us.
‘He’ was referring to the hero, right? In that case, a hero hating people, maybe it’s referring to someone else… Maybe he loved the same race? I don’t get it at all. In the first place, I didn’t know if what’s written here was even true.
But I am curious about it so I’ll take it along.
I felt a slight sting as what I was doing was no different from stealing, but I proceeded to place the book inside the breast pocket of my coat. Even though the other party was a Necromancer, I still felt guilty…
I nonchalantly picked up another book and scanned over it.
“Huh? I can’t read it… How strange.”
It was different from the previous book, there was nothing binding it and keeping the pages together… It was an extremely suspicious black book.
In the first place, a language comprehension magic was cast on us when we were first summoned into this world. I’ve been able to read everything up till now but I couldn’t read the characters on this book.
As an experiment, I tried taking a look at the other books.
I could read them normally.
In that case, it was just this book that was odd.
“Amako, can you read this?”
“Hm? What’s this?”
I handed the book over to Amako, who closed her eyes and concentrated on the book with her magic.
Her eyes slightly opened after only a few seconds but in the next moment, her eyes were wide open. She looked at me in complete disbelief. Was she able to discover something strange? It was apparent that her reaction wasn’t normal. Amako then opened her mouth and, trembling, spoke,
“Unbelievable… Usato, this… Is a Book of Magic Arts.”
“……Magic Arts? You’re able to read it?”
It’s a term I haven’t heard before in this world.
“I can’t read it. But the fact that I can’t read it is why I know it’s a Book of Magic Arts.”
“Amako, what’s this uh… Book of Magic Arts?”
“I’ve seen it before back at home but… It’s similar… Usato, not being able to read this is ‘correct’ and how it should be.”
Not being able to read it was correct?
What did that mean? Did that mean not just anyone can read and understand it?
“Usato, this is bad. The Necromancer might be a monster that is able to use this book.”
“……Is that bad news?”
“It’s not on the level of just bad news…”
I understood just from how flustered she was acting.
“Magic Arts, you see… Are something that an ordinary person would have to spend their entire life practicing… If they’re lucky, they might be able to use one portion of what’s in the book. That’s how difficult it is. But phrasing it in another way, it’s a ‘technique’ that may not reward you even after spending a great amount of time and effort.”
……Spending your entire life just to be able to use it was far too strict.
Who would make something like this? At the very least, they weren’t human.
“You can think of Magic Arts as something similar to Reinforcement, but in this day and age… There isn’t anyone using it anymore. After all, why spend so much time trying to remember something when there’s a way of using magic that’s several times more worthwhile.”
“Well, that’s true.”
It might’ve been my first time hearing about Magic Arts but even I understood that part immediately.
Magic Arts was a technique that had far too many cons for humans to use. Dedicating your whole life to learning it was a difficult hurdle to overcome.
However, the enemy we were facing wasn’t a human.
“What’s the lifespan of a Necromancer?”
“If I remember, several times that of humans.”
Even worse, we didn’t know what kind of Magic Arts this book held. It was possible that there might be more books like this inside the library.
I didn’t know how strong Magic Arts were but it was definitely something I couldn’t underestimate.
“Let’s hurry and find it. I have a bad feeling about this.”
The strange existence of Magic Arts…
I wonder what influence it will have on us. Feeling uneasy, Amako and I both exited the library and resumed our search for the Necromancer.
A bit of time passed after Usato-dono and Amako-dono had infiltrated the mansion.
The villagers and I would gather the zombies in front of the mansion, and I would cast my fire magic at the center to defeat them.
Fortunately, everything was proceeding smoothly and no one was hurt as we acted as a diversion.
It was proceeding so smoothly that it made me uneasy. The zombies were moving exactly like we predicted.
I felt a sense of insecurity overcome me, as something didn’t seem right.
“I should give it a try……”
I enveloped my sword in flames and cut down the attacking zombies. Looking at my surroundings, the villagers with farming tools were pushing the zombies back while the ones with swords were swinging at their limbs.
Most of the zombies couldn’t move by now but… Zombies were still coming out. The village head sighed in relief and wiped the sweat off his forehead. Then he called out to me,
“As expected, Ark-dono.”
“No, I wouldn’t be able to do anything alone. It’s thanks to everyone else that I can swing my sword to my heart’s content.”
Thanks to the villagers, I didn’t have to worry about my rear and could focus on fighting the zombies in front of me.
As a result, even someone as unskillful as me could take care of the enemy and protect these villagers.
“……I hope Usato-dono will be successful.”
“If it’s him, he will be fine.”
“…..You have a lot of faith in him.”
“Of course, we’re comrades.”
We have fought on the same battlefield and on the same side. I knew he was someone who is tough and wouldn’t yield, no matter who the opponent is.
For someone like him, I didn’t think he would lose to something like a Necromancer in the slightest.
However, I should go support them soon. If Usato-dono isn’t able to find the Necromancer, the two of them will really stand out inside the mansion at some point. I would need to save both of them.
I decided to inform the village head of my intentions,
“After we defeat the zombies here, we’ll be entering the mansion. I suspect there will be zombies inside as well.”
I was puzzled, as there was no response, so I turned around… At that instant, the village head swung his sword down at my wrist, knocking my sword away.
“……..!! The vill— Everyone!? What are you———!?”
I was shocked at the sudden attack and retreated a few steps on reflex. But this time, the villagers that were fighting alongside me are now restraining me.
“Guh….. Kuh, what’s the meaning of this!? Betrayal…… No, that’s not it. This is…”
The village head didn’t respond to me and his eyes looked empty. He was also restraining me with a tremendous amount of strength, something an aged person like him shouldn’t have.
The other villagers holding me in place were similar.
“They’re being controlled…!!”
The villagers didn’t set me up.
The person who was controlling the villagers had set up a trap.
In that case, the moment we entered the village, we—
“……This isn’t good, Usato-dono!!”
I had to warn Usato-dono and Amako-dono who were still inside the mansion.
Just as I was about to shout, the controlled villagers forced me on my knees.
“Just like I expected, this is interesting.”
The voice came from behind.
I tried to turn my head and look behind me but I was held in place. My entire body froze once I heard the person’s footsteps coming from behind me.
I also noticed that the surrounding zombies slightly trembled and looked at the approaching figure like— Yes, it looked like they were servants awaiting for their master’s orders……
And it could also control living humans… I only knew one monster capable of doing so.
“So, that’s it…!! You, you… You’re the Necromancer!! And———“
“Kukuku… How smart. I feel like I’ll be able to have plenty of nice conversations with you.”
One of the villagers forcefully strangled my neck, as if it didn’t want me to say any more.
“But the ‘Main Event’ isn’t you today.”
The ‘person’ drew closer to me and sank their fangs into my neck.
The next moment, my body lost its strength and my consciousness gradually faded…
I’ll probably be given a suggestion in a short moment. If ‘she’ is who I think she is, I’ll be her servant the next time I wake up.
However, I couldn’t resist anymore.
“Usato-dono… Amako-dono…… I’m sorry. I… If only I noticed it sooner…”
The villagers restraining me had loosened their grip and I fell on the ground.
In the moment that I still held a shred of conscious, I—
I was able to see the girl’s appearance, her eyes—now red, like the color of blood—and her gruesome smile.
Author: Up until now, it’s been something like a prologue for Arc 3.
From here on out, the real story begins.
If you look back at her actions up until this point, they were really suspicious, weren’t they?
Magic Arts were introduced but due to their high degree of difficulty, no characters that can use it will make an appearance this time around. Additionally, it’s not very user-friendly compared to the normal way of using magic.