Sorry for being late, everything took a while longer than expected. Sadly didn’t get to see the fireworks since, apparently, fireworks somehow got banned in China or something.
However settled in and trying to adjust to some weird things around the new world. Enjoy the chapter and hopefully the next one, if I manage to not poison myself – in just three days I stoked a hell lot of food out of the bucket list!
(Note: Vanguard is made of Shinha, his escort (White tribe Soldiers), Bouremzap, melee combat proficient adventurers/mercenaries. Due to a lot of cluttering involved naming the entire group each time it’s mentioned I’ll call it Shinha’s group/vanguard.)
~Investigation, second day~
The investigation was being carried out in the underground floors, as well as the first floor. There was little danger since the area was sealed off by the protective walls, and the rooms were opened in an orderly fashion. Most of the facilities underground were laboratories that should’ve contained a large amount of treasures.
After descending the stairs, one of the members had found a broken magical flute amid a pool of blood.
Using wind arts, the group was able to confirm eight beasts in the underground floors, two of which seemed to be modified and were loitering around in the backmost room, which was probably the dining room of the facility.
“I think I am detecting a nest down there as well.”
“A nest in the dining room… I have a bad feeling about this.”
Bloodstains and signs of corpses being dragged could be seen all around the passage and both of these traces led to the canteen. Considering what had happened in the forest, the slain researchers here were likely dragged off to the nest to feed the young.
“I wish we could leave the vanguard to Shinha’s party again.”
“I don’t mind it this way either, this seems to be a quick and easy path.”
There were two evil beasts in the first floor passage that were unexpectedly hard to take down. Not counting Bouremzap’s chaotic movements, it seemed likely that long ranged projectile divine arts and defensive buffs on the vanguard might not be sufficient to win the fight.
Afterwards, even those who were hostile towards the Gazzetians had changed their opinions, and had no more qualms towards the Artless soldiers joining the vanguard.
“Well then, let’s try our best and avoid getting any injuries throughout the day!”
Yuusuke shouted vigorously without a shade of doubt in his words.
Adventurers’ reply was half-hearted, the fellows unable to comprehend the reason behind these words. Thus the exploration of the basement of the institute had begun.
The smell in the underground was as awful as in the hidden passage before the venting, thus Yuusuke had previously installed gimmick ventilators in the numerous vents that were arranged around the facility in order to alleviate the stench of blood and rotting flesh. They entered the underground when the air had become breathable.
The investigation was proceeding smoothly. Because of the Gazzetians battle prowess and splendid performance as the vanguard, the party managed to avoid any dangerous confrontation and easily dealt with the evil beasts. After securing the passage, the party had started exploring the laboratories.
“The various chemicals spread around the previous room looked pretty dangerous.”
“It seemed to affect our senses.”
“In that case, should we stop here?”
Entering one of the rooms with numerous cages lining the walls, one of the adventurers had suddenly collapsed. It was nearly noon and this was the first time that they had experienced a slight accident after clearing most of the rooms in the underground floor.
“Only one room remains.”
“There is no mistake, this is a canteen. Look, there are even plates laying around the entrance.”
“Ah, I also have a bad feeling about this.”
The canteen was a large room, located next to the room with the cages. The beasts in the canteen seemed to be modified thus there was no guarantee that the divine arts would be effective on them. To kill them, the party would have to rely entirely on Shinha and the vanguard group.
Assuming battle stance, Shinha suddenly looked towards the support group in the back lines and called out to Yuusuke.
“Yuusuke, would you let him join the vanguard? I swear I will keep him safe.”
“Even if you are saying that… well if he doesn’t mind, I will not hold him.”
Hearing this, Shinha looked at Bouremzap. The fellow had spent the entire day in the backlines and was taken aback by the recent development. However he soon regained his composure, and with a vigorous nod, accepted the invitation.
“I’ll do it!”
Last night he had talked with his company and told them that he would be leaving the mercenary group after this job and accept the invitation to go to Gazzetta.
After finishing the preparations, Shinha’s vanguard group was ready to storm the room. Wind arts users had pinpointed the accurate locations of the beasts through a slight gap in the defensive walls that Yuusuke had erected during the preparation, and the party had agreed on the timing after the walls would be taken down.
“One of them, is farther in the back… the other one is near the entrance… ah! The one in the back had started to move.”
“Give us a sign when the two of them join up, that will signal our attack.”
Soon Isotta gave the signal and Shinha changed into the room along with his escort, followed by Bouremzap. A moment later, the rest of the vanguard followed them. Fire arts users supported the vanguard by illuminating the room and covering their flanks.
“Understand that a sword is not a tool to kill the enemy, neither is it a tool to protect the ally. It’s simply a thing to be swung down.”
“You can cut your enemy with a sword, you can also protect someone using it, but the result is not decided by the sword. It is merely a consequence of its wielder using it.”
“Look at me (using the sword), burn the movements into your memory, make your body remember them!”
Finishing a course of soldier’s philosophy to Bouremzap, Shinha violently charged at the modified evil beasts and swung his sword with a berserker’s fervor. The beast had tried to intercept the sword with its fangs, losing one them. With a flash, another fang had flown in the air alongside Shinha.
Using the momentum of the spin, Shinha swung his sword downwards and got a direct hit onto the beast’s head. The swing was not sufficient to kill the beast, but its head hit the floor with enough force to break the jaw.
Shinha then swung his sword to the opposite direction and hit the beast’s neck, severing its head.
The sight had sent shivers down Bouremzap’s spine. But he was not alone, everyone was made speechless by “Shinha’s all-out fighting style.”
It felt that if his opponent were a human instead of a modified evil beast, nothing would save him from being turned into a lump of flesh.
“Oh oh, Shinha sure is lively today~”
“Uhm, Yuusuke-san, aren’t you scared?”
“Captain, how can you remain so calm before this?”
Sun and Aisha voiced the feelings that Shinha’s fight had instilled in everyone. Shinha’s swordsmanship had intimidated the Darkness God Corps members as strongly as the other members of the investigation group.
Moreover the corps were knights of Fonclanc, one of the major powers amongst the divine arts users, and no one could deny a possibility that they would have to confront Gazzetta sometime in the future. Even if other soldiers in Gazzetta army could not be compared to Shinha, no one was able to shake the sense of danger out of their minds.
“I have seen it once already when I went to that village with Hivodir at night.” (Reference to Ch. 38)
“Aaah!” Yuusuke’s mention made everyone in the corps remember the mission where Yuusuke and Shinha fought off the armed group, led by Volmes, that was attacking artless villages in Fonclanc. Shinha’s foes, even those that manage to survive, were severely maimed.
If not for Yuusuke’s customization that restored the bodies to their original state, most of them would’ve remained unidentifiable lumps of meat.
While the support group was reminiscing the said incident, artless soldiers, along with the rest of the vanguard had managed to deal with the second modified beast.
After disposing of the nest near the kitchen, the room was also sealed off. As expected, numerous corpses were scattered around the next room, and although the ventilation fans were customized inside the room, they could not rid of the putrid smell.
Yuusuke had blocked the emergency exit at the far side of the room thus proceeding with the sealing of the institute.
The treasure hunting group that was tasked with seeking out valuables in this floor had presented their finds before the Darkness God Corps. Amongst the treasures were the four broken magic flutes, some medical research materials, and a list of black market traders that the institute was dealing with.
“Who are these black market traders?”
“Usually they are dealing with illegal goods that you can’t sell in a normal store.”
“Some of them are also dealing with stolen goods.”
“There are rumors that these traders are connected to the bandit groups.”
It was apparent that the black market traders that were able to deal with an institute like this should have belonged to an influential black market organization. From the evidence that was left by the dead scientists, several bandit groups had also joined into one larger group that was dealing with the institute alongside the big black market organization.
“The problem is, with the fall of the institute, where would such a group hide themselves?”
Most probably they would remain in Trent Rieta’s territory and go to Driadria, pretending to be looking for work, or they would go to some part of the Sea of Trees and create a hidden village inside the forest.
Communication type wind arts were indispensable inside the Sea of Trees. If wind arts users were to filter the wind arts, flowing through the forest, they might be able to detect some suspicious communication amongst them. Regarding the black market traders, it was decided to leave them to the Trent Rietta’s regular army.
[“Speaking about Trent Rietta’s army—“]
Yuusuke suddenly remembered the trade restrictions that Trent Rietta imposed in order to dampen Gazzetta’s strength by placing checkpoints on the road and decided to drop the topic. Stealing a glance at Shinha, Yuusuke noticed that Shinha was also eyeing him while talking about something with Ayuukas.
Knowing his position within Fonclanc’s military, it was obvious that he shouldn’t disclose this information to Shinha.
“Still, Gazzetta, eh…?”
“Hm? Did you say something, Yuusuke?”
“Nah, it wasn’t really important.”
Shinha raised an eyebrow and tilted his head. “How does the country like Gazzetta work, when the King himself is wandering around other countries with just a sword in his hands?” Yuusuke continued wondering about it, finally arriving at the conclusion that the country should have a splendid management to be able to function like that.
[“For the current Gazzetta that is.”]
With the shortage of the materials, needed for purification of the healing potions, it was unavoidable that the costs for medicine would rise in the market. Not to mention that, there was the issue of rare herbs that were needed for the development of Razassha’s medicine.
“I guess I shouldn’t worry about that until after this mission.”
From the pile of gathered valuables Darkness God Corps took only the evil beast and medicine research data and the list of black market traders and their clients, leaving the rest of the treasure – the instruments and research equipment – for the treasure hunters to share amongst themselves.
Amazed at the corps lack of desire for the valuable equipment, mercenaries and treasure hunters immediately started arguing about how to share the loot. Only the group that had tried to harass Sun before were punished, taking away their say at dividing the loot and being given he leftovers.
“I’m sure that some of them had secretly stole a few magic flutes.”
“I think so too.”
Yuusuke nodded, agreeing to the possibility that Vermeer had whispered him when both of the guys were looking at the lot that was fighting for the items, looted from the facility. It would be easy to ascertain it by searching the treasure hunters, but there was not enough evidence to order it.
“Prepare to leave the institute!”
When the loot was split, the investigation group began their preparations for departure. Yuusuke confirmed that everyone had left the institute and turned the last passage to a wall through his customization arts. At the afternoon of the fourth day since its formation, the investigation group had finished their mission to completely seal the institute.
Members of the group started heading towards the underground passage and Gazzetta soldiers started preparing for their journey through a small passage that opened to the side of the institute.
“Are you going back as well, Shinha?”
“Yeah, we have achieved our objective.” Shinha answered, holding his great sword on his shoulder.
“In that case, this is good bye for now.”
“Ah, we’ll meet again.”
Artless soldiers and the two divine arts users that had accompanied them nodded, saying their goodbyes, to Yuusuke and left towards the small passage that continued on until the forest. The village shaman was following them when she suddenly turned around and shouted the invitation with a smile that she trained for three thousand years to achieve.
“How about it? If you have a chance, would you visit me in Gazzetta? We would definitely have a great time together.”
“I’ll have to refuse that…”
Politely refusing Ayuukas’ invitation, Yuusuke watched Shinha leave.
“Yuusuke-san, we’re ready to depart.”
“Mhm, then let us go home as well.”
[“Yes, ”] nodded Sun. Yuusuke joined her and the two walked over to the corps, waiting for them near the entrance of the passage.
“How was it?”
“I could synchronize with it, but the structure is completely foreign for me.”
Shinha’s party was walking through the animal trail inside the Sea of Trees. He was talking about the information that the shaman managed to grasp about Yuusuke’s ability, using her own power to synchronize with the powers of the Evil Gods, with Ayuukas, who was riding on his right arm.
For Ayuukas, this divine art did not belong to any type that she knew. The only limit that she had noticed during this trip was that it was unable to affect the user himself.
Although she had held Evil God’s power of eternal youth, she herself was not an Evil God. She had received this power from another Evil God, who was ancient, even by Ayuukas standards, when she had become ill with a disease that was ravaging the world three thousand years ago.
Therefore she was a demigod. With her body carrying some traits of an Evil God, she could feel the powers of other (Evil) Gods.
It’s a very interesting power that, when mastered, has no weaknesses (Limits, restrictions?).”
~~Fyolnar’s month of water, 2nd day ~~
News of the safe return of the investigation group, led by the Darkness God Corps, had reached Volance Palace. The investigation group was disbanded and the corps were preparing to return home.
“So, this means that Yuusuke is returning the day after tomorrow?”
Violet rejoiced after hearing these news, and was humming a tune as she was checking the package for the Darkness God Corps that she had received today.
She was still perplexed with the problem of how to raise the status of the Darkness God Corps members. The other day Krielov had shot down her proposal to promote the current members to the palace knights.
Originally the corps were formed as a façade for the Gearhawk fortress construction mission. The current members were only appointed until suitable members for the corps were selected. Since they were only temporary members of the corps, their status had remained just the “knights of the Darkness God Corps”.
Violet had consulted her father, King Esvobus about this, however her wish this time was impossible to fulfil. In the end she compromised to recognize them as official members of the corps.
If even Sun was appointed as an official member of the corps, there was no hurdle to do the same with others as soon as they returned from their mission. The package that had arrived today contained their official uniforms. The uniforms were of a matching black color and were of slightly rougher design compared to Yuusuke’s uniform.
“With this, the corps will now be official.”
Knights had lower social status than the palace knights. However knights had a certain degree of freedom, including a right to draft divine art users to service.
“…but why do it like this?”
“Hm? There’s no real reason. Being prepared is not a bad thing.”
Violet was as confident as ever, yet there was an unusual glimmer in her sparkling eyes.
Suddenly Krielov shuddered, thinking of a possibility of a clash between the Princess and the King regarding the future of the country and threw this thought out of his mind as fast as he could.
Fonclanc’s history was full of rebellions, incited by royal successors who had managed to gain significant military support within the capital. However each of these rebellions had happened because of the unresolved conflicts between the both sides.
There were no such shadows looming over Esvobus and Violet.
[“I am overthinking this… It’s because of what I heard that day.”]
Krielov had accidentally overheard Reifold’s tale from the other day about the history of Kaltcio, the purpose of the Evil God, and the Evil God being a pawn in the hands of the supreme (?) God. Currently this Evil God was under Esvobus influence, working for his daughter.
Right after that, Violet had talked to him about strengthening the corps, which made many of the missing pieces fall into their places.
“Hurry up and return. This time~”
“Princess, you should not treat the uniform like that. You will wrinkle it.”
Krielov disciplined Violet, who had spread the mantle and was playing around with it.
Three days later Yuusuke’s party had returned from their mission.