The chilly evening breeze tousles my unkempt hair, refreshing me to the present moment out of my mesmerizing daydream. Where was I again? Oh yeah, I’m about to head back home, after finishing a battle board simulation in the mandatory [Military Doctrine] class.
Out of all times, I’m daydreaming… A dream soo out of this world of me dating that regal beauty royal princess. Why am I like this? Is it out of exhaustion from my continuous studying of the《Schools of Wits Magic》in the palace’s library?
But this is very normal for me back in my past life. I would study non-stop, meticulously remembering every meaning of the kanji letter, and practicing mathematical questions until I pass out.
Studying was the bread and butter in my past life. But somehow I become so weak to it that I randomly daydream…
I’m passing through the Bosarts statue again when I spot her — the girl out of my wildest dream. Her magnificence always draws me in, filling my devoid empty heart with her feminine charm. But it’s always not enough. Her beauty, as cliche as it may sound, is like a rose, underneath its beautiful vibrant red petals are spiky thorns, hurting back whoever gets close to it. All I can do is just admire her from a distance — unattainable and untouchable.
I pass through her as always, hiding my eager passion.
The honeyed dew sunlight gives out a beautiful warm touch to the campus, even more so to her. But nothing good lasts long, for the honeyed light is also a sign that the short-lived happiness will soon be replaced with the dark gloomy night.
Tonight is the time where Elras and I will do our quest in providing combat support to the investigators in capturing the《Kualitatem》outlaws. When I think back again, how the hell did I agree to accept the quest?
Killing monsters is one thing, killing fellow human beings, on the other hand, is a completely different thing I’m not sure I’m ready for. I remember when I first killed my first monster a year and a half ago. How nerve-wracking it was to the point of vomiting, the small details as the goblin squirms, its state, seconds before its inevitable death. Do I have to experience it all again? This time with a person?
Canceling the quest would worsen my friendship with Elras, so I can’t back out from this.
By the time I arrived at our living arrangement, Elras is with several other people which I’m guessing his friends are all in the lounge. From their clothes, I can tell they are also students at Bosart University. I guess that’s normal, unlike me, I’m sure he has a life outside of studying and adventuring.
「 Reinhardt-sama, could you please teach me more of that spell you’ve shown in class before? 」
「 That’s right, we would love to learn it, how about sometime this weekend? 」
「 Yeah, me too, Reinhardt-sama! 」
Both boys and girls are crowding and bickering over Elras, like baby birds fighting over worms from their mother. What a popular kid he is. In the midst of my effort in ignoring them, heading to the staircase to my room, Elras surprisingly notices me. His eyes widen a bit, yet some sort of relief from his expression.
「 Hey, Renald! 」
Ah great, he puts me in the spotlight. His friends’ eyes dart over to me, confusion plastered on every single one of their faces.
「 Hey, Elras. 」
「 Prepare your gear, we are about to head out soon. 」
「 Okay, Elras. 」I say back.
「 W-what? W-where are you heading? 」One of Elras’s friends responses back.
「 I got something to do with my friend, Renald. I’ll see you all tomorrow. 」
「 That… That sounds nice… Could you give us more details about your trip? 」
Another Elras’s friend asks back. I don’t like where this is going, so I immediately head back to my room. I wonder why Elras seems to be too polite with his friends though?
I gather all of my gear; my trusty sword and a mint-new gambeson armor and several restocked potions. These potions have been sitting on the shelf for quite a long time since my mother never allows me to go adventuring after that forest accident. Damn, now that I think about it, aren’t I quite rusty in real combat? All I can hope for is that apprehending the outlaws would be quick and easy.
Happy with what I got, I head downstairs. Turns out, Elras is already in his gear, a sword engraved with magic runes, crafted with manaritium similar to mine buckled in his hip. He’s wearing a gambeson armor similar to mine, albeit fancier with its gold ornaments.
「 The carriage is waiting. Let’s go. 」
「 Sure. 」
The carriage is interestingly smaller than what I’m used to and there’s none of the nobility insignia anywhere on the carriage. Are we going anonymously? Or is it just a way to not attract attention from the commoners?
We hop into the carriage. Elras says something to the helmsman that is inaudible to me. As soon as the carriage door is closed, the horse neighs as the carriage start to move.
「 So Elras, I’m guessing those people back then are your friends, right? 」
「 Yeah… you could say that. 」
「 Wh-what do you mean? 」I responded back. He then sighs loudly.
「 Don’t think much about it, Renald. Let’s focus on the quest, shall we? 」
「 Okay… So… where are we heading? 」
「 We are going to meet with the investigators in the Kingston Tavern first before we head out with them to where we will encounter the outlaws. 」
「 Did the advisor or investigators disclose more information about the outlaws? 」
「 The investigators we are about to meet will give us further information about them. On a further note, an advisor of mine told me that he’s resigning today. Very sudden indeed. 」
「 Oh yeah… You did mention how he might be fired. But isn’t this too quick? 」
「 You are correct, Renald. I also didn’t expect the guild master to be this fast either… Maybe he got scared to the point of resigning himself. But it works in my favor in the end. 」
「 Right… 」
After moments of silence between us, the carriage stops. We must have arrived at the Kingston Tavern.
Its loud music of a woman singing accompanied by music instruments unique to this world draws me into the tavern ambiance before we even come inside. Elras, as usual, leads the way as he rests his hand on the mahogany paint-coated wooden door and pushes.
Several people both young and old, men and women are here. From their attire, most are adventurers with their gear tucked in their bodies. They are dancing on the open floor, drinking games, eating alone, playing cards, boasting, swearing.
Although I’m not used to the rowdiness of it, there’s something in it that makes me melt into the vibe. The livelihood of everybody in here accompanied by the simple aesthetics, makes me more comfortable than the luxurious aesthetics common in my present life compared to Elras right now, which I found to be quite a discomfort. I’m guessing he’s not used to how the place reeks with cheap food and alcohol, especially more so with how they act very uncivilized — monkeys — like how most nobles would say.
Elras winds through the warm bodies, as I closely follow — a destination in mind. At the desolated corner, lies two people sitting at a round table, as if they are statues on display, waiting for someone. They are wearing jet black robes, but not the kind associated with magicians.
「 Is the seat empty? 」Elras says.
「 Do you know how much it costs to buy a beer here, kid? 」One of them says.
「 I’m not sure myself but a warm premium beer at the Charles Tavern is seven copper coins and eighteen bronze coins. 」
「 Hmph… All of you, follow me, we will immediately head out. I will brief you on what’s about to happen tonight as soon as we get into the carriage. 」
What kind of banter was that? Some kind of coded banter to verify each other’s identity?
Without giving us the time to respond back, the two people stand up and we follow them as we leave the tavern. By the time we hop into their carriage and already starts moving, Elras looks pretty pissed and ask,
「 So are you going to tell me what’s with the rush just now? 」
「 We are running out of time, the higher-ups want us to capture the outlaw as soon as possible. From our investigation, they are moving from place to place very often. We need to act swiftly if we want to even get a glimpse of them. 」
「 For the love of the goddess, fine. Give us a quick briefing on the plan. 」
「 Our investigation leads us to an abandoned mansion near the city outskirts where we predict the outlaws are hiding in. We are unsure of how big《Kualitatem》as a whole is. But we are very sure that the one we are about to face if our leads are not wrong, should be only a small part of their whole organization. 」
「 Okay… How many are we facing then? 」Elras asks.
「 We are unsure of that but should be a small group. Less than five. 」
「 What’s your magic proficiency level? 」Elras asks again.
「 My partner and I are only basic at《Schools of Assault Magic》. We will heavily rely on you in case things get rough. 」
「 Oh, it will be. Renald, do you have any questions for them? 」
「 Hmm… Are we supposed to capture the outlaws alive or kill them? 」I ask back.
「 It would be very nice if we can capture them, but it’s very likely they would resist and let us kill them. You might not know this but《Kualitatem》are quite known for their brutality. 」
「 That’s expected. So… 」
Elras continues the conversation as I zoned out. Killing them will be likely huh? Will I be able to do it? I’m doubting myself again… Dammit I should concentrate on something else. Like my damn ass for example.
I can’t believe we have to go back and forth on carriages. There’s just something about it that makes me uncomfortable, the seating perhaps. But it’s more than that, riding on this uneven terrain with the lack of suspension causes bumps that put more stress on my ass.
Anyway, by the time I cannot hold the burning itch in my ass, any longer. We finally arrived at our destination. The door opens, prompting me to get out at the speed of light.
Ah… Fuck carriages. I miss the modern way.
「 Hey, boy! Don’t make yourself stand out too much. 」
「 Yeah yeah yeah… 」
The cold dark night, with the full moon shining its dim white light illuminating the abandoned mansion in front of us. It awes me with its scale, it should’ve been a place for a very wealthy man or an aristocrat to reside. The crumbling wear on its once magnificent polished stone exterior, however, shows otherwise. The way the vines and wild plants surrounded the front yard and even its walls, further prove this notion.
The whole thing feels like something that came straight out of a horror movie. The sign of wear and rampant wildlife all around it gives off a hopeless feeling, not out of forgottenness but pure abandonment and disregard.
We step inside the mansion. The breeze chills me to my very core. Thick dust fills the air, making it troublesome to breathe; an unpleasant aroma mixed into it. Elras and the investigators have their weapons up and ready, traversing the place, eyes on all corners. Their appearances are very stoic and lead with confidence. I follow them from behind, trying to keep up with their pace; my anxiety and doubts are hidden.
「 HAAA!! 」
A loud shout out of nowhere. A figure attacks Elras; its sword swinging down in an attempt to cleave him in half. Elras swiftly parries it while still maintaining his stoic balance.
『 Pulso 』
The force pushes the figure quite far, hitting the wall. The figure lets out a painful scream as it falls to the ground.
It is now that I can see that the figure is, in fact, a Rengda from his two huge black horns. Wait, is that a metal collar on his neck?
『 Igni 』
A burst of fiery blue comes out from Elras hands. The mighty blue fire crisps the Rengda into ashes, like a flimsy paper in the fire.
Damn, what a brutal sight…
Elras looks at me as he shows a small smirk. That first spell was the same as mine, but the resulting effect is drastically better. Fuck, it just makes me regret even more for not learning nobility magic.
「 It seems our guests have arrived, or should I say… prey… 」
All of us look in the direction of the horrifying voice. A man in what seems to be in his thirties, with not a single armor apparent from his attire. The man looks at us with a clear grin filled with confidence, contrasting with his flowing raggy hair. Accompanied by a quite young attractive girl, with a similar strange metal collar on her neck.
「 Fuck… I was expecting only one adventurer. That piece of shit didn’t do his job correctly. 」The man said.
「 What? What do you mean?! 」Elras shouts.
「 Whatever. Cover me, slave! 」The man shouts.
「 Yes, master.『 Arx! 』」The girl responded as she chanted.
A golden transparent magical barrier takes form, its stoic structure seems unbendable, separating us between them like the great wall. I could sense nervousness with a mix of anger within our group, as we are left with nothing to do but watch the unfolding performance that perhaps will decide our fate.
The man pulls the dagger in his hand, its blade facing his palm, drawing blood as it drips to the floor. The man let the pain flow over him, a thin smile of ecstasy spread across his features.
There’s something wrong with that smile…
The blood on the floor is alive, moving around, creating a huge circle surrounding him… wait, no… a magic rune.
The man is in much worse shape. Blood continues to drip out of his hand. His appearance grows a few years older, his hair slightly whitens, wrinkles more apparent, and even looser skin. His thin smile transforms into a huge smirk, laughing at us — belittling us.
『 I̵ ̶F̷e̴a̶r̶ ̶N̸o̶ ̶D̵e̴a̸t̶h̵ 』
The voice coming from that man sounds like a harsh dying man, cursing his last breath, refusing its unfathomable fate. The blood magic runes on the floor become alive, radiating a grim red light.
『 A̴s̴ ̵D̷e̸a̶t̶h̶ ̶I̷s̶ ̴T̴h̷e̸ ̶G̷a̷t̶e̵w̴a̵y̵ ̶t̶o̵ ̸R̶e̷b̸i̸r̶t̸h̸』
Tiny bits of blood expanded and solidified into a multitude of bodies, crowding this large open space.
『 F̷o̵r̸ ̷D̸e̸a̷t̸h̸ ̸I̵s̵ ̴t̸h̶e̵ ̸P̵i̴n̷n̵a̷c̵l̴e̶ ̵o̶f̶ ̶a̶l̸l̸ ̶L̵i̴v̶i̸n̶g̴ ̵B̴e̷i̸n̶g̸s̸ 』
Their imperfect and broken limbs sprung out, coming alive, wiggling out their newly deformed legs and arms. If one takes a closer look, they will find its feature’s gruesome, clear white bone can be seen and its bloody flesh oozing out blood.
『 H̵i̵d̶i̷n̵g̴.̶ ̵W̸a̵i̵t̸i̵n̸g̵.̸ ̵W̶a̷t̴c̵h̶i̷n̶g̴ ̶U̴s̸ ̵U̶n̸t̴i̵l̴ ̶I̶t̶ ̴D̴e̸l̸i̷v̷e̵r̴s̵ ̸I̸t̴s̷ ̵P̴a̵i̴n̸f̴u̶l̷ ̷T̵r̷u̸t̶h̴.̷』
Their ragged almost destroyed clothes follow into shape, showcasing what sorts of people they are before. Some peasants, but most have wealthy attire.
『 J̵o̸i̷n̴ ̸U̷s̴,̶ ̷A̸s̵ ̵W̴e̷ ̴C̸e̷l̸e̶b̴r̸a̷t̷e̵ ̴T̶h̸e̶ ̷B̶e̸a̵u̸t̴y̵ ̶o̶f̴ ̶D̵e̷a̸t̶h̷ 』
The bodies… no, the living corpses, rise to their full height, their face far from normal, as they let out a ravenous groan.
『 O̴͍͌͋ṟ̴̊c̵̦͖̋̈́ṷ̷̓̐ş̴̂͌! 』
The undead, with their gruesome bodies, move towards us; one could see in their blank expression exist, within them, greedy hunger for the living flesh.
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