Chapter 74: Some People Get Really Angry When There’s Some Sort of Annoying Background Noise; It’s Better Not to Irritate them Further.
“… To think you can actually contact someone like that without a magic item or anything.”
Ragnall said as I cut off the Friend Chat.
He said it in a whisper.
Even while I was using Friend Chat, we were still moving forward.
Which is why I kept my message to Seimei-san short.
It was a pity that there’s no in-game mail system… but this isn’t a game.
I pressed my lips tightly together.
Suddenly I notice a change in our surroundings.
This … the tunnel has been widened.
So far, the passage that we were running through … couldn’t really be called a passage. It was a natural tunnel made many, many years ago.
By water? By something else?
But right now, the tunnel has a distinct look of being excavated by peoples’ hands.
I quickly look over at Ragnall.
He only nods and puts a finger to his mouth.
It seems like we’re finally getting closer to our goal.
Although we have no idea what to expect.
Uun… going in blind is an unsettling feeling.
In the distance we can see the flickering of lights.
Magic lights wouldn’t flicker, so is it torches? And moreover, there’s a constant air-flow…
… So there was another way in other than drilling through the top, huh?
M,maa, it was an action of complete necessity!
Thinking those types of ridiculous thoughts that don’t matter in the slightest, I’m aware of my racing pulse pounding in my neck.
I’m … I am actually feeling nervous? Or is it the result of the intoxicating feeling of Light-charged magic filling the air.
Ah… there’s a dull pounding in my ears and a swelling feeling building up all around …
I clench my teeth. No good. If I don’t focus on what we’re doing, I think I’ll get carried away with this feeling.
“Jun. Up ahead.”
As Ragnall called my attention to the front with a low whisper, I see forms lying up ahead.
They seem vaguely people-like, but there is something very, very wrong with them.
When we reach the forms, I hurriedly erect a Sound Barrier.
“Women … they have Collars of Subordination, so they should be slaves… No signs of trauma or violence, but they’re very clearly dead. What’s with this? It seems a little unnatural, for over 17 women to be dead and thrown over here, but no sign of what caused their death. Even poison would have some sign… perhaps.”
So he hadn’t noticed.
A chill runs down my spine as I look at these ‘corpses’.
The bodies of these girls aren’t those of living, or even once-living, things anymore. They have a more lifeless feeling to them than even rocks and metals.
They won’t decompose or rot away.
They have a cold, cold feeling. Like … exactly like inorganic materials.
They’re not even the semblance of something that had once been living.
Exactly what happened here?
The throbbing in the air, the pulsating of this living light, the Light infused magic.
Somehow, an ominous thought that crosses my mind is that someone has sucked all the Light Magic out of them.
“This is … something that shouldn’t be done was done here. That’s the feeling I’m getting. This is forbidden magic.”
How strange. That last part almost didn’t feel like my own words.
“My my. I heard that someone had snuck in, but to think it’s someone who is able to decipher our activities with just this much, how troublesome, ne.”
With a slightly effeminate lisp, a slender man who is the spitting image of someone who has lost his morality, if not his sanity, to theoretical research appears.
The stereotypical intellectual villain.
Although he’s in front of the widened room with the torches so his front is in the shadows, the flicker of the Light-infused magic makes his features more or less discernable.
“Oya, looks like we found the mind behind the operation.”
Since we’ve clearly been found out, Ragnall stands up and walks out of the shadows, nonchalantly unhitching his sword from his back.
This isn’t good. Something’s weird with me.
Since when was the Sound Barrier taken down? Was it interference or did I just lose too much concentration?
The humming in my head isn’t making it any easier for me to think through the last few minutes.
“Having such a talented person as my assistant would make things easier for me, so how about it, woman?”
The intellectual villain-type guy said something kind of troubling.
“Who would –“
“Ahh, it’s not like she’d accept with just that much, right? Making an offer without an explanation; why don’t you tell her what you’re doing around here?”
Ragnall cut me off with a tilt of the head and a smirk at Intellectual Villain-san.
“Oh dear, I don’t think that would do at all. That information is to~p secret, you know. That’s right; so you’re the mercenary they told me to watch out for; I see, you really are all white. How interesting. I’ve never seen a demon-human half-breed before. Ah… that’s not right. You’re over 7 parts human, correct?”
Heh… what is this guy talking about, Ragnall?
I get it, but I don’t really get it.
“… Ara. The lady over there doesn’t seem to particularly care about it. I see your partner already knows.”
“Who are you calling a ‘lady’. And who cares, anyway?”
It’s not like I don’t care. It’s more like I don’t understand the implications of being a demon. Is it something that should make me look at Ragnall in disgust? Because rather than Ragnall, the person to be against is;
“If there’s anyone to be wary of, you’re the one using forbidden magic to re-ignite the flow of Aether. If you treat the flow of Aether lightly, you’ll be the one to experience a terrible ending.”
Again, something that doesn’t seem like it came from me, but something that I can’t say didn’t come from me, leapt into my head as I snapped at the man.
His eyes narrow, and his smile draws into a grim line.
“You get more and more interesting… What do you know? Although I’d like to draw you to our side, that’s right, it’s a shame. You seem completely against us, hm? Then what about the part demon over there? A specimen like you is rather rare.”
A ‘specimen’ you say. You need a better Public Relations guy in whatever shady organization you’re in to write your job offer speeches.
I glance over to see Ragnall’s reactions … eh?! Ragnall-san, your normally perfectly lazy smile is suddenly really off! Or like, your eyes aren’t smiling at all!
Eh? Are? Is this the first time I’ve seen Ragnall put on a threatening look? Even though it’s just his eyes-!
“… Hm. It’s not like I was particularly taking precautions to hide my origins, but I don’t know you, do I? Why would you know something like that?”
Ragnall taps his sword restlessly against his shoulder, releasing a slight aura of bloodlust.
“’There shouldn’t be anyone strong enough to oppose us in Nyl, but there is a freakishly strong guy you might want to watch out for who’s made it his base for the last few years;’ I was told something like that. With me saying this much, you should understand the people who stand beside me.”
“Hou… to think Granwit has fallen so low to be a comrade of this. If he stands beside you, who is it that leads the lot of you?”
Too fast, Ragnall. The talk is progressing way too fast for me to understand. In the first place, I have to really concentrate to listen. This Light Magic, the Aether; it’s pulsating all around us, and it makes it kind of hard for me to focus.
Although I don’t really understand the details of their talk … it seems like the people we’re up against aren’t going to be pushovers. That much seems to be the most important thing I can pick up.
“If you aren’t willing to talk about it, I’d be willing to make you want to, with a little force.”
Ragnall’s tone is becoming more and more aggressive.
At that, the man sniffed.
“My goodness, how vulgar. Couldn’t I ask the two of you to leave, if neither of you are interested in joining us? This really is an important time for us.”
“Hm. It seems we will be unable to reach a satisfactory compromise-!”
With that, Ragnall suddenly leaps forward.
“So it seems-! <Strike down my foes, the lance of the winds! Lightning Strike!>”
The distance between the two of them is too great, and Ragnall is forced to dodge the bolt of electricity that shoots towards him.
In a panic, Intellectual Villain-san threw a pouch at him, but Ragnall merely cut it down and, despite the small cloud of powder, he continued on.
In the instant Ragnall dealt with the pouch, Intellectual Villain-san was able to cast a wind-type barrier, but although it sort of resists Ragnall’s sword, Ragnall’s ridiculous strength causes it to sheer through, and a look of panic crosses his unfortunate victim’s face as the man is forced to dodge it at the last second, dropping his barrier.
As expected; the problem with an elemental barrier is that it keeps you in as much as it keeps others out. That’s why I like non-elemental barriers; if they’re breached, the entire thing shatters.
Having to remove the rest of a broken barrier is inefficient.
Because of that, Ragnall, who can make his move in the blink of an eye, is already aiming his next strike even while the man is helpless.
“… Noran. You’re taking too long – is what I wanted to say, but I see. There’s a troublesome person holding you up.”
With a sheathed sword, a man with long brown hair and an eye patch barely redirected Ragnall’s sword with a harsh attack. At the same time, he pulled Intellectual Villain-san backwards.
That his sheath shattered from the impact and that Ragnall’s sword was only redirected a few centimeters from the intended strike zone is a testament to Ragnall’s strength.
“Ooooh, if it isn’t Dankor. What’s up? This kind of sleazy job isn’t like you at all. Don’t tell me you’re just following Urol around blindly as usual.”
“Awful. My luck is just awful. To think I’d be the one to run into this freak … Your brute strength hasn’t weakened at all. What an unlucky day…”
Hmph. He has a gloomy mood and that eyepatch, but even though this guy’s got a pretty face too, isn’t he instantly recognizable as a guy?
What’s the difference between us? Build? Aura?
… Even though this isn’t really the time for such thoughts…
Because it’s a tunnel, I’m hesitant to rush in and muddle the fight.
Since if I get too close, Ragnall will have to take care with his sword swings.
“Noran-sama, I think you should return first. Since I will have some troubles against this freak by myself.”
The eye-patch bishounen said, carefully keeping an eye on Ragnall as he carefully moved to place himself between the intellectual villain and the two of us.
Suddenly, the intellectual villain smiled.
“Ah, no, I think you won’t have any troubles. That said, it seems like I’m needed above anyway so perhaps I should head up soon.”
What is he talking about? Eye-patch bishounen isn’t really a match for Ragnall, you know…
Just when I was thinking it, Ragnall … slipped?
Are? Somehow he seems unsteady.
“What did you do?”
The intellectual victim smirked.
“Oh my, is it really that confusing? Of course they told me about your inability to absorb your own mana, and the fact that you have to rely on drugs to correct your mana imbalance and avoid mana poisoning. You’re such a rare specimen, I couldn’t help but think about what I could prepare as a counter. That powder … it’s a pity I had to use it, but …”
“… Mana disperser… shit. I was careless.”
Ragnall gnawed on his arm guard. He seems to be trying to avoid throwing up as he stumbles backwards.
Tch. My head… it’s like warning bells are going off.
Somehow, I know … that Ragnall’s condition is going to border “fatal” pretty soon.
“So you already knew… how anticlimactic. You’re not surprised in the slightest.”
“Ghk… haa… I am … surprised … that you’d waste several tens of millions of ecrue like that.”
Ragnall’s cocky smile is broken here and there with a pained grimace.
“Oi. Noran. What did you do?”
The eye-patch bishounen seems flustered. He didn’t even bother moving in to take advantage of Ragnall’s weakness.
The intellectual villain eyed him coldly.
“Do you have any complaints? The Project has to continue if you want to be paid. Finish him off and get rid of the girl, quickly.”
Get rid of … just because I haven’t made a move yet, don’t write me off so easily, bastard.
At that moment, a heavy surge in the Light Magic occurred.
Argh! Even though it doesn’t hurt, it’s like someone turning the lights up really bright. It’s disorienting!
A chirping sound is emitted from the intellectual villain’s pocket, and he pulls out a crystal.
“Those fools. It looks like I’m needed up above, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Hurry it up and return.”
With a swirl of his coat, the intellectual villain left the room via a wooden door.
Ah… this … this is a cellar-looking area?
As the surge levels out a little, I can shake the disorientation off.
“… That bastard, doing whatever he wants.”
The eye-patch bishounen glares in the direction of the door as it slams shut.
“Ha…haha… *swallow* I’ve … warned you … before *gulp* about accepting … jobs you don’t … agree with…”
Ragnall spits out the words, in between deep drinks from several small bottles.
His medicine? Then … he’ll be okay, right?
Um… blood dripping from his nose and mouth are … is that bad?
The eye-patch bishounen glares half-heartedly at him.
“… Shut up. No hard feelings, you white freak, but it’s a job.”
I move between the two.
“I’ll admit, I haven’t been doing much because of whatever the hell you bastards are doing with this Light infused mana all over the place, but could you still not ignore my presence like that?”
I drop into an iai stance.
“… Ragnall, tell your woman to back off. Since we’re old co-workers, I’ll let her go if she just gets out of here.”
“Hah?! Who’s whose woman?!”
Or like, it’s not like your face and my face are that different. Why is it that I’m immediately assumed to be a girl?!
“Heh… If … you’re only in it for the money … you’d best run … I won’t … be able to help you …”
He really isn’t sounding that good.
“Oi Ragnall, shut up and rest over … tte, isn’t that raw monster meat?!”
I glance over at him, and he’s just chewing on a bloody hunk of meat?! Isn’t monster meat poisonous when raw?! Or like, he keeps raw meat in his Item Bag? It’s not like Item Bags have time-stop preservation on them, right?!
“Yeah… Imma … take a nap now…”
“Oi, wait a sec, Ragnall -!”
He just went unconscious. Unconscious is bad, right?!
The eye-patch bishounen swung his sword casually as he approached.
“So you won’t go, even if he tells you to… well, don’t think too badly of …”
“Shut up. You’re annoying.”
With a face that looked like it didn’t know what was happening, the eye-patch bishounen coughed loudly as he had the breath driven out of him when he bounced off the ceiling of this underground tunnel.
Being completely unprepared for my punch, he had dropped his sword in the impact, so I didn’t bother drawing my sword, merely waiting until the moment before he touched the ground before I hammered the end of my nodachi’s grip into his stomach.
“Gu-waa – Argh!”
He shrieks as the dagger impales him in his shoulder.
Hou, so he’s still conscious. How lucky for him.
He gets to try out my ‘Immobilizing Blade’ (tentative name). An extremely brittle alloy, but it was perfect for training mana forging … ah, well, I can’t deny there’s some potential, but one-use blades can be considered failures, huh?
Since they tend to break on impact with anything harder than flesh.
And when they break, they lose their abilities from the shock.
A spike would be better than a blade, huh …
“…Urgh… why can’t I …move…?”
“Who knows? Sit there until you figure it out.”
What a hindrance. There’s a dull humming in the back of my head so I can’t concentrate, and things I don’t understand keep happening.
I’m seriously annoyed, so if you want to see hell, keep talking you gloomy eye-patch bastard.
With the annoyance paralyzed against the wall, I turn over towards Ragnall.
A/n: Thank you RS for your donation!