The next day, the Darkness God Corps was preparing for their journey in front of the trade association branch building. This made the merchants around the town happy as they required a lot of supplies for their mission. The profit for them was much bigger when a government military detachment was buying supplies than when adventurers from the associated adventurer’s guild were restocking for another mission.
“How about these? This is a new product that is recommended for camping outside. It’s a must have for adventurers that allows for a pleasant sleep, even in the wilderness.”
It was a high quality sleeping bag, made from leather and cloth – a copy of the [Pleasant sleeping bag] that had spread like wildfire between the adventurers. Although no one managed to understand why the newly created bags did not have the effect of the originals, which originated from the former Nossentes knights, the quality of these copies was still high.
“Ah. We brought our own, so we don’t need these.”
“These were originally created by our Captain.”
“HEY IDIOT! Shh! Shh!”
“What?! The originals were created by the Darkness God Corps?!”
“In that case, would you want to see our special wares?” the merchants continued aggressively suggesting their own wares over one another. It was really hard to evade them while simultaneously preparing for the mission. The branch chief avoided them as not to interfere with the preparations, so they had a hard time finishing their packing with all the merchants around.
“Pheeew… I’m beat…”
“Good work, Captain”
“I am sorry for not being of much help…”
Yuusuke thanked the three women that were in the carriage with him when they had finally escaped the merchants.
The Darkness God Corps had departed the trading post. In the late afternoon they had crossed into Trent Rieta’s territory and had approached the area from where the adventurers had sent their last emergency request. Crooked trees and thick overgrowth stretched across on both sides of the road.
“This is the place, eh?”
The trade company’s carriage stood abandoned slightly further up the road. Traces of a fire could be seen near it, however it had not been used in a while.
“Are there any people nearby?”
“There are … no traces of anyone… ah, I can feel a faint trace of someone from the forest!”
They stopped before the other carriage and disembarked. Everyone was alert, vigilant of their surroundings. They could hear sounds of birds and insects around them, but from that particular direction, for some reason, not a sound could be heard.
“I don’t like this…”
Vermeer, who was checking the fire, found several strange tracks around the area and warned everyone against unseen danger. He could tell at a glance that the owner of these footprints had way too big feet and way too long claws to be just a simple wild animal. By the depth of these tracks, it was evident that the owner was heavy – it easily fit into a description of an evil beast.
“Hey man, are you serious?”
“Evil beasts… Although we did not encounter them when we were travelling to Nossentes, can we deal with them with just us?”
“Well, one of them isn’t much of a problem, but…”
“Judging from these tracks, I think there should be at least three of them.”
Feeling that this might be much more dangerous than anyone expected, Yuusuke was prepared to erect walls to protect his party at all times.
Basically, when performing this customization he needed to decide on the affected area, group up the ground into a map item, harden it, and copy and paste the blocks to create the wall. There was plenty of material to use was, but to create a wall this big took a substantial amount of time.
“?! S-someone’s coming… I feel wind arts and earth arts auras… I think they number around three people.”
“Vermeer, tell them to identify themselves.”
Aisha and Sun were watching the area to the other side of the carriage, while Isotta stepped behind them and continued to monitor the area with her wind arts. Yuusuke prepared to engage the enemy together with Shaheed and Fonke while he ordered Vermeer to hail the approaching party.
“Freeze, identify yourselves. Tell me your affiliation and ranks.”
“We are an investigation group that was hired by the trade association’s branch office.”
“We have wounded people here. Were you sent here to assist us?”
The newly arrived people belonged to the missing adventurers group. Apparently their communication type wind arts user got injured and was unable to use his arts. Yuusuke nodded to Vermeer, who was looking at him, waiting for his Captain’s decision.
“For the time being, call Aisha here. We’ll escort her to the wounded.”
“Evil beast and strange divine arts aura?”
“Ah, I thought I had sensed something strange at first… but I must have been wrong.”
“Something was wrapped up in some sort of strange aura, but the aura changed very quickly.”
“The light from the fire arts had gone out and the movement assistance wind arts had also ceased functioning.”
“We were attacked by the evil beast just after we left that place and started moving towards the camp. However the strength of our offensive arts was also lower than usual. We separated and managed to get back to the highway, but two of our teammates had gone missing. The beast had continued prowling around the carriage but it seemed to be afraid to go out onto the open road. The others had suffered heavy injuries but have managed to hold out with the help of the recovery medicine.”
“I know that communication type wind arts can be blocked, but for them to block buff and offensive type arts as well…”
“Is there really an evil beast with such powers?”
Faced with a huge lack of information about the beast, Yuusuke, who was not familiar with the evil beast species, asked if anyone knew if such an evil beast existed. However everyone just shook their heads, while Vermeer said, “There are none.”
“Evil beasts are able to use select divine arts, based on their species, however there is no such divine art that fits their description. Moreover, if there were evil beasts with such abilities, they would be a threat to everyone in Kaltcio and every country would do their utmost to exterminate them. This evil beast probably has some sort of a divine art that obstructs its targets from using their divine arts,“ finished Vermeer.
“This evil beast seems more dangerous than the entire Blue Garden battle, how can we ever hurt it?”
“At any rate we have come here to investigate the evil beast and had confirmed that it had attacked the adventurers. We can consider that the beast attacks were done systematically.”
Shaheed implied that there was a possibility that a band of thieves was lurking nearby and was using this beast in order to carry out their attacks. He proposed the party to return to the town and ask for help. However the three adventurers had argued against his reasoning.
“Wait, if such a group really exists, there are no doubts that they have already noticed us.”
“I am certain that I felt a strange divine arts aura, however I did not feel any people close by.”
“The missing two fellows can still be nearby.”
The three suggested to look for their missing comrades and to try to scout a possible location of the beast’s nest. They were adventurers whom were proud of their skills and continued to argue that Shaheed’s reasoning was not the best.
“Even if you say that…”
“Captain, what should we do?”
Thus, whether to go back to the city and call the mercenaries for reinforcements, or continue the investigation and the search for missing people like this, the final decision was left in Yuusuke’s hands.
“Hmm, I wonder if the decision I made was correct…”
“I will abide by your decision, Yuusuke-san. Please have more confidence in yourself.”
In the end, Yuusuke decided to continue the search and investigation mission. He made this decision based on the assumption that there was still the possibility of the two missing adventurers being alive. In that case, returning to the city would cost them a lot of valuable time.
“I’ll follow your orders, Captain.” (Isotta)
“We were your subordinates since the beginning. We have no qualms with following your decision, Captain.” (The guys)
“Well, if captain built a fortress again, I think we would have nothing to fear.” (Fonke)
“You are relying on Captain’s power too much, Fonke. But I will also support captain’s decision.” (Aisha)
“M-me too…” (Sun)
Thus Yuusuke had erected a small fortress at the side of the road and left the injured adventurers along with their escort there. The remaining members of the party, led by one of the adventurers, had turned towards the forest to search for the evil beast’s nest.
Although the sun was still high up, the inside of the forest was shrouded in darkness. Their advancement was slow, because they had to create markings so that they would be able to find their way back. After a while the Darkness God Corps party had arrived at the location, with a marked tree, that adventurers had warned them about.
“This is the place that the evil beast’s presence got mixed with the strange divine arts aura.’
“Do you feel anything, Isotta?”
“I am sure of it… there are signs of an evil beast, and I can also feel a divine arts aura… but I can’t make out the type of the aura.”
The aura was different even from her Captain’s special aura. It felt more primal. Even if it was a divine arts aura, just by sensing it made her nervous, explained Isotta.
So far Isotta had always been precise – she could even sense artless people that no other wind arts user was known to be able to do.
The aura that she felt right now certainly did not belong to an artless, it also certainly did not belong to any type of divine arts aura that Isotta was familiar until now. She could only call it an “unknown divine arts aura.”
“Hmm, can it be that this divine arts aura does not belong to that evil beast?”
“Ah!… You may be right, it can surely be explained like that!”
Hearing this chatter, Vermeer and Shaheed exchanged worried glances. Shaheed was the one that started speaking afterwards.
“Can it be that what captain said was correct?”
“Hmm, what do you mean?”
“… You are making assumptions by abiding to common knowledge. But you mustn’t forget that Captain’s power completely ignores that common knowledge.”
“Well, I can’t think of any evil beast that can obstruct divine arts.”
Fonke joined into their conversation, arguing that the world might be different than the others thought. And his words rang true, it did not matter that what they held as common knowledge before. Meeting Yuusuke had shown them that one could not blindly rely on that knowledge anymore.
Maybe such a beast was common inside the vast forest that was called the Sea of Trees, or maybe it was a one of a kind beast that has spawned from an unknown source.
“They have driven the evil beasts away from the roads, but they could have easily evolved while living deep in the forest.”
Nonetheless, it seems that ignoring evil beasts had let to this troublesome scenario and the party advanced towards the beast’s nest to exterminate it.
As they passed the marked tree the strange aura they had felt got stronger. After they had wandered around the area for a while, the adventurer that had acted as a guide told them that this was the place that his party had fought the evil beast and urged Yuusuke’s party to be cautious about their surroundings.
“…tsk Captain, my divine arts had become unstable.”
“Mine as well, I can’t even create a water ball anymore.”
“My wind has completely scattered. I am also unable to buff us anymore.”
The flame that Vermeer had conjured over his palm had become unstable and started flickering and Shaheed had lost the ability to use his offensive water arts. Fonke had also become unable to use his movement assistance buffs. All the members blamed it on the strange divine arts aura.
“Aisha and Isotta, how about you two?”
“My wind arts… This disruption seems to resemble a normal communication type wind arts disruption…and the strange divine arts aura… seems to be so thick that if feels like I could eat it… eh, that was a strange comparison, wasn’t it?”
“…it’s useless. It seems that our opponent this time is highly skilled.”
“Hmm… that’s amazing!”
To confirm the usability of his power, Yuusuke had called out his customization menu, however there were no noise on the display and he felt no other obstructions. It seemed that his power was not hindered in any way by the strange aura that had affected everyone else.
There was no sense in turning back after having come this far, so everyone unsheathed their weapons and proceeded onwards with caution. The adventurer that guided them tried calling out for his comrades but had received no response.
As they proceeded further, the light that Vermeer had conjured with his fire arts had gone out completely. In response, the adventurer took out something resembling a lamp from his satchel and managed to keep their way lit up for now.
Other members of the party had also confirmed that they completely lost their ability to use their divine arts. Everyone started thinking about dropping the investigation and turning back more and more in their minds. Just when someone was about to call for it…
“I can see it, the evil beast’s nest.”
The adventurer pointed out ahead where the nest was laid at the bottom of a huge tree. It was made from hardened vines, twigs, and leafs and resembled a bird’s nest.
“I can’t believe it. We have really found it.”
“Is that the beast’s nest? I can’t imagine the thing that would live here.”
The party had changed their formation to put Isotta and Aisha, who had lost all their combat effectiveness, in the middle and advanced forward, expecting an attack from the beast lurking in the shadows of the nearby undergrowth. When they approached the nest enough to be able to examine the inside of it, some cylinder shaped, squirming object had fallen out of the nest.
Aisha and Isotta instinctively screamed and averted their eyes. Sun also stiffened, while her face became expressionless. Vermeer, Shaheed, and Fonke, who lead the party, stayed silent as they did once before at the fortress, but a look of despair has spread over the adventurer’s face.
The object that fell out of the evil beast’s nest was a human’s arm. Inside a nest they spotted larvae that were feeding on a human body that was cut up into square pieces. Taking a good look into the nest they had spotted dozens of larvae that they thought to be spawns of the evil beast.
One of the larvae had crawled out of the nest to feed on the arm. Seeing that, the adventurer who had approached the arm to investigate it from a close distance, had crushed it with a sole of his boot. The arm seemed to belong to one of his missing companions.
“FUCK! FUCK! You have to be kidding me! Why do these… these pieces of shit have to be feeding on this?!”
The adventurer had recovered a ring that became a memento from the poor fellow’s separated arm, and had spat out these words as he continued to squish the larvae.
“Strange… this nest is really strange.
Shaheed calmly pointed out the unnaturalness of the nest and the body that was cut up and thrown inside for the larvae to feed on for everyone else who could only stare at this sight without as much as uttering a word. Moreover, the territory around the nest lacked claw marks that evil beasts usually used to mark their territory and the number of larvae in the nest was also unusually high.
Even more, an evil beast could not cut up human flesh into the fine pieces that could be seen inside the nest with only its claws and fangs – the human looked like it was cut into pieces by a sharp edged tool. All in all, the possibility that this nest was made artificially was very high.
“Someone had intentionally placed a nest here. I think its purpose is to breed these larvae.”
Looking closely, a myriad of bones and pieces of rotting human flesh were scattered around the nest.
“Who in the hell would do this… and for what purpose…?”
“Captain, I think we should deal with the nest quickly and return to the trading post as soon as possible.”
“That’s right, send a –– that’s right, we can’t use wind arts here.”
Everyone’s (but Yuusuke’s) divine arts were completely shut out and they needed to ignite a fire first if they wanted to burn the nest. Thus the Darkness God Corps started by going into the nest to recover the human remains and killing all the larvae.
The adventurer, who had fallen into depression after his violent outburst, also started to slowly move his body.
Vermeer, Shaheed, and Fonke started killing the larvae in the nest with their daggers, while the adventurer used the oilwood to start a fire.
Aisha, Isotta, and Sun were gathering dry wood from around them – their job was tending to the fire. Yuusuke had borrowed the lamp from the adventurer and was helping Vermeer’s group with their task.
By the way, this lamp was a popular commodity that was made using a process that was a specialty of a certain town in Trent Rietta. It was a peculiar item that was made to glow by combining a certain plant with a special type of crystal.
The larvae were dying swiftly, however the strange aura that blocked the usage of the divine arts showed no signs of weakening. Everyone continued disposing of the nest in tension, awaiting the attack of the three evil beasts that had attacked the adventurers.
They had finally finished killing all the larvae and collecting the human remains. Just when they had set the fire on the nest…
“!! Captain! I can feel the presence of the evil beasts!”
Isotta was still unable to use the divine arts but she still somehow managed to sense the approaching beast. She warned that the presence that seemed to be trailing the party from a distance started rapidly charging towards them.
“Ri-right and front, and also from the back… What? It can’t be, their numbers have increased!”
“Isotta, calm down! No need to rush. Explain the situation as clearly as you can.”
Calming Isotta, whose voice was frantic as if there was nothing else they could do, Yuusuke prepared pitfalls and defensive walls around then in his customization menu screen.
“T-the count of enemy signatures… is going up and down… I can’t pinpoint their location either… I have never encountered such a situation before.”
“Say, don’t you think this kid is not suitable for this line of work…?”
“Don’t worry, she’s an excellent wind arts user.”
Adventurer inquired about Isotta, doubtful because of her manner of speech and attire was completely mismatched with Vermeer’s group. Yuusuke’s answer had clearly shown confidence in his subordinate’s skills and that their presence here was not just for the sake of appearances.
The Darkness God Corps that was hailed as the strongest corps in Fonclanc, and were led by a man, hailed as a hero of the Deernook fortress. Isotta blushed when Yuusuke put his hands over her shoulders, while Yuusuke made sure that the adventurer properly realized his trust in his subordinates.
Although he said that as an emergency measure, it did not mean that what he said was superficial. Isotta was able to locate the presence of the intelligent evil beasts, lurking around the area. She was the only one that was still able to catch glimpses of the divine arts auras.
However, even If she was able to sense the beasts, it was impossible even for her to accurately locate them under these circumstances.
“Uhm… I can surely feel them nearby… but this aura is just too strange.”
“Calm down, it might be that they are using that to prevent you from using your wind arts.”
Their vision and foothold were both bad inside the forest, on top of that they did not know their opponent’s position, nor its location. They were probably surrounded by multiple evil beasts. Yuusuke tried his best to calm his subordinates in this difficult situation, even if he himself was trying to guess what his opponent was.
Yuusuke’s own Customize-Create power was unhindered by this divine arts aura. In addition to the calming effect of his equipment, he had his knowledge from the games of his original world. Basing his conjecture on that knowledge he had a general idea on what his enemy was, but these types of monsters were very rare even in those games.
Therefore, to prepare the people of Kaltcio, who had no experience with such enemies, from guessing what they were facing, and for them to receive as little shock as possible from the initial encounter he tied his best to remain calm. After all, if he remained strong, some of his calmness would also pass to his subordinates that had an absolute trust in him.
Finally, Yuusuke’s brave front was the thing that was able to break the mood.
“…! Over there!”
With a whistle, an arrow had disappeared in a gap between the trees. In an instant, the aura that had enveloped the entire area had become chaotic (unstable). With another arrow, shot between the trees, a beast’s roar shook the air.
“These bastards… Captain we are able to use our divine arts again!”
“The obstructive aura has weakened.”
Artless could not feel the divine arts aura the same way that the divine art users could. Sun was the only one in the party, who was completely ignorant about it and thus could not use it to search for the beasts. Instead, she had used her eyes, shooting at the suspicious shadows that she could make out between the trees.
When the aura weakened, the party members regained their ability to use their divine arts. Along with that, Isotta’s searching accuracy had also increased.
“Ah! Fount it! There’s one between those trees. The other one is over there.”
“Fonke, buff her bow.”
Sun had immediately assumed shooting posture and notched an arrow into the bow while Fonke used his arts to buff her, as buffing type wind arts could be used this way to increase the capabilities of the weapon. Shaheed shouted these instructions to Fonke while he was creating his water ball.
He had an apologetic look in his eyes, because he took the initiative to issue the orders.
“Nice follow up, Shaheed. Continue directing with Fonke like that.”
“Understood. Here we go, Sun-chan!”
Sun’s arrow and Shaheed’s water ball flew in the directions that Isotta had detected before. With that, the divine arts aura that was covering the entire area before had completely vanished and the traces of the evil beasts seemed to lead off deep into the Trent Rietta’s Sea of Trees.
“How’s the situation?”
“… it seems that they are gone now.”
Suddenly they had become aware that the sounds of birds and bugs, that had been silent for a long time, had returned back some time ago.