I had Mora mount the phantom horse while I walk with the reins in my hands.
According to Sedam, the remaining two adventurers are only a short walk away.
The leader of the party is Sedam, who is a Ranger.
The one who flew down from a tree is Fijika, a Scout. The Magician is Claura, and the Warrior is Ted. Lying in wait are Torad, a Warrior Priest, and Jiruk, another Warrior.
(T/N: Decided to translate Torad’s profession as ‘warrior priest’ thanks to the discussion between Robbini, Dranni, and Krozam. Thanks for your input, guys.)
They belong to the Lelis Adventurer’s Guild (the Adventurer’s Guild really exists), and had apparently accepted a request posted by Mora’s father, Irudo. Furthermore, they already have a standing relationship with him, as he is the person who helps maintain all their dwarven-made tools and equipment (and yep, looks like dwarves exist too).
From the conversation over lunch, I learn that Irudo had moved straight to gathering adventurers upon arriving at Yuule. Normally, there are no notably strong parties in Yuule, but Sedam and his party just happened to be staying there for another job, so they stepped forward.
“Is it not possible to rely on the poli-…… town guards, knights, or the country’s soldiers?”
The reply to my naive question was “He purposely chose not to.” Yuule is indeed the territory of a certain knight order, but if the order hears of this incident, they would have to prioritize the extermination of the bandits over the safe extraction of Mora.
“So the policy is zero negotiation with terrorists, huh.”
“? After all, their number one task is to maintain the overall public order.”
So replied Sedam in a weary tone. Not that it’s a problem, but this guy seems pretty intellectual, despite being a Ranger. He has the vibe of a university professor that would show up in one of those Western natural science documentaries.
“Ironically, if they had remained satisfied with the old policy of only taking a third, all would have been well. Ah, ojou-chan, give me more tea.” (Jiruk)
“Here you go~” (Mora)
Jiruk, who Mora is currently waiting on, appears to be the oldest in this party. That said though, he’s around my age.
By the way, Mora is currently running around smearing mustard on everyone’s bread and refilling everyone’s teacups, all without having been asked. Back in Japan, I had almost no chances at all to be in contact with teenage girls, so I feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with this. But if I had a daughter, I would really like for her to be as good a child as Mora is……
“So, our circumstances are as such. May we hear yours now?”
Sedam then turns the conversation to me. Even though I am about 10 years older than him, he is giving off enough pressure to make it clear that he won’t allow me to sidestep the question. The number of battlefields that he and I have survived are just that different in number, I suppose.
“Ah, sure. Umm……”
I quickly swallow one of Mora’s sandwiches before beginning.
“…… and well, yea, that’s about it.”
I gave the same story that I had given Mora. The adventurers’ reactions are exactly as I had expected. They all have a ‘this sounds suspicious’ face on.
“In the first place, a magician who doesn’t have magical power can’t exist!”
The magician Claura looks like she can’t hold herself back anymore. In contrast to my robe, she is wearing tight-fitting pants, a shirt, and a mantle. She had given her last name as Andel, so she might be from a noble family.
But still, no magical power? Jyagul also said the same thing, but what does it mean?
“I, too, want to ask about that. Do magicians from around here—I mean, in Sedia—possibly see magical power with the naked eye?”
I remember The Overlooker calling this world Sedia Continent. There is actually a spell that enables me to also see magical power, but this was not a requirement for using spells in D&B.
“Of course we can! In the first place, you are not even holding a staff!!”
“Ngu…… But that statue and jute bag floating in midair, what can it be if not magic?”
So asked Torad the warrior priest in a laidback tone while gnawing on a piece of dried meat. He has on crude armor, shield, and mace, but he is a young man with a calm, gentle demeanor.
“Wait, a moment.”
Claura was on the verge of giving some counterargument, but was interrupted by a low voice.
“Presence of…… Shadow Demons.”
Fijika, who is in charge of scouting on our return journey, suddenly drops that as if it’s the most trivial piece of information in the world.
“There are fricking swarms of them.”
“Small Demons, Large Demons, and even Rock Demons……”
We have left the mountain road and cut through the forest to where we can get a proper view.
Being able to see a blue sky all the way to the horizon feels very good. Plains stretch from the foot of the mountain, bisected by a meandering line that seems to be a highway. The problem, however, is the ominous army of anki marching through a valley only 20 meters below our current position. We are hiding behind trees and boulders while surveying the valley.
The most numerous are Small Demons. Games similar to D&B would probably call them goblins. Small build, short horns, large ears. They seem to be following commands from the Large Demons. These really do look very similar to the ogres that I can create with a spell. But most conspicuous of all is the Rock Demon, which is swaying along with a body as large as an elephant. It has short, fat legs, a potbelly, long arms, and fangs attached to a pig-like snout. Yep, definitely a troll. Thankfully, there is only one Rock Demon within view. However, that single one is shouldering a club gigantic enough to bury the entire valley, made of what appears to be a whole bundle of logs.
It is not possible to see all of the Shadow Demons, as they are marching through the forest, but the total number most likely reaches the hundreds.
“For being goblins and orcs and trolls, their levels sure can’t be sneezed at……”
I am studying them with my Telescope Lens, a magic item from my sling bag that, as its name implies, functions as a telescope. Just from looking, I already feel a cold sweat breaking out all over me.
These are indeed Shadow Demons. Their forms can described with terms like ‘goblin’ and ‘ogre,’ but the age-old association between these descriptors and the concept of ‘trash mobs’ does not fit them at all. Their entire bodies are as black as if they’ve been painted over with tar. Eyes glittering with the intent to murder. Even through the lens, I can feel so much hatred, as if the complete extinction of humankind is the only thing on their minds. Now I finally understand Mora and the bandits’ fear. Rather than living creatures, these are much closer to being demonic beasts or undead.
The reason why the word ‘army’ was used instead of ‘group’ is because they are marching in so orderly a fashion that it is clear they are following some form of discipline.
In the center of the formation is a Large Demon who is clearly the commander, sitting on a pedestal that is being carried by several Small Demons.
“…… If they continue down that valley, they will eventually come out of the forest. They definitely intend to attack Yuule.”
So muttered Jiruk, causing Mora to scream with a soft “hii.”
“From our current position, we can reach the village first and give them warning.”
“Even if we succeed, there still won’t be enough time to conduct the evacuation. Wouldn’t it be better to go to the White Sword Castle and call for reinforcements?”
Sedam and Torad are discussing what to do, but evacuation or reinforcement—would either of these be effective against so large an army?
“Then we’ll split into two groups after coming out of the forest. Let’s hurry.”
Is it fine if I do nothing?
In the bandits’ fort, remembering the words “What will you do next?” is what caused me to take action. But that’s like brushing off sparks that just happened to fall on me. This situation, in contrast, would be a conscious, uncoerced decision.
To be honest, “can it be done?” is a moot question for me. It may be a bit presumptuous of me, but the question that I’m wrestling with is “is it actually fine to do it?”. In other words, whether it is permissible for me to annihilate this army of Shadow Demons.
I have plenty of concerns.
But at the root of them all is the fact that I don’t understand what The Overlooker’s intentions are. If I defeat the Shadow Demons here, would it become the trigger for another event in the future, one that might be even more terrible?
Or perhaps, like those dark fantasy stories, would it turn out that the Shadow Demons are the true, rightful residents of this world?
There is a high likelihood that defeating the Shadow Demons here will cause a very sudden change in my own standing. I might get treated as a hero (which I don’t think likely, and wouldn’t be able to bear), or people might turn against me (which would be undesirable in obvious ways). “You were using forbidden arts” is a trope or flag or something, right?
In the first place, there is no proof that they are on their way to attack Yuule. As fellow sentient beings (yes, I might be reaching), wouldn’t aiming for mutual understanding be a better option?
…… And well, those are the rational opinions running around inside me.
I am feeling both fear and anxiety towards the unknown future. The fact that this is no longer a game has been impressed upon me several times already.
Indeed, I am not my character in D&B, the great wizard Gio Margils who has saved the entire world again and again. I am a human who has comfortably lived out all 42 years of his life in a peaceful country where talking things over is far more respected than any and all forms of violence.
For such a person to make such a decision, a reason is necessary.
“Umm, how many casualties?”
“If the Shadow Demons assault the village in its current state, how many casualties would there be?”
Hearing my question, Ted answers me with exasperation.
“Those numbers, AND a Rock Demon?! Everyone will die. Absolutely everyone.”
“Such a thing……”
Mora looks at Sedam and the other adventurers as if to ask for help, but no one meets her eyes.
“V-, Very well. I understand.”
My voice is turned inside out with nervousness.
Mora calls me with anxiety in her voice. Feeling my clothes being pulled, I look down to see that she is tightly gripping the hem of my robe.
“Don’t worry, I’ll do something about it.”
For just a moment, I had the presumptuousness of thinking of Mora as my daughter.
In that case, then now’s the time. No matter how much I might regret this later on, now I must do my job as an adult.
Be it hero or sinner, or whatever else I might be called.
“…… Sorry, my stomach hurts, so I’m going back first!”
I shake off Mora’s hand, and return the way we’d come from. Let’s at least chant the spell from somewhere out of her sight.
…… Well, limiting the risks that can be limited is also part of being an adult.