“Umm, you know. It’s said the minds of living beings which possess emotions or intelligence are extremely good when used as sorcery-like filters or amplifiers. The sorcery creatures at the bottom of this Hell Furnace…I call them Putry-chan…on top of allowing them to inhabit this tentacle-covered creature, they form the main body of the furnace. Once you put sacrifices inside the furnace, the Putry-chan seize them, and make them suffer while also pouring mana into them. Due to this, the negative emotions dwelling in the bodies of the living creatures are amplified, magnifying the inserted mana. That strengthened mana is once again collected by the Putry-chan and then used for other purposes. That’s the basic function of the Hell Furnace.” (Emil)
“You’ve come up with something nasty once again. But, I don’t quite get the underlying principle behind the furnace.” (Renya)
“Look, occasionally a protagonist, who was done in by their friends, will become strangely powerful and shout “Uooooh” or such, even though you’d usually think something like, if you have such power, then friggin’ use it from the start, right? There are also stories where a protagonist becomes unable to fight due to a single surprise attack that would normally be unable to injure them, no matter how you look at it, correct? It is certainly true that if something like that happens it can’t be helped, seeing as it’s the story’s development, but you’d be like, why did that attack connect despite their high defense values!? Something like that?”
“I will refrain from commenting on this.”
“In other words, if you take a human for example, you can say their intensity goes up and down depending on the fluctuations of their emotions, can’t you? So, look at it like that. It’s a system that wrings out the negative emotions through torture-like tormenting as, according to scientific investigations, it’s easier to extract anger or grief, which are classified as negative emotions, than comfort or joy, which are classified as positive emotions, got it…?” (Emil)
“What kind of dangerous conversation do you guys have going there?” (Lepard)
Hearing Lepard’s calm voice, both, Renya and Emil, turn towards him.
As they were squatting, Emil drew precise diagrams at their feet with a piece of chalk that she had suddenly retrieved out of nowhere.
Those diagrams seem to be the blueprints for the device called the Hell Furnace which she mentioned, but for Lepard, who’s completely unfamiliar with these kinds of things, they look like scribbles that combine straight and curved lines.
Their current location is a cave called the “Foreigner’s Shrine” by the dragonoids according to Croire. They stood alone in the deepest part of the fairly shallow cave. It was a simple place with nothing but the transfer gate that looked as if it hadn’t been used very much.
Location-wise they are at the boundary line of the dragonoid’s territory, which ends at the Miasma Forest’s edge, and the “Dragon’s Den” which is located at the northern tip.
Once they left the cave, they found a reasonably well-maintained road in front of them, but there was absolutely no presence of people around them.
In short, they came out at an extremely half-assed place where they could head in the Miasma Forest’s direction to investigate the reason why the transfer gate paths were cut off, or go to the Dragon’s Den to learn of the dragonoid country’s current state.
Because the elves were usually given a lift by young dragons, who would turn up to help with their travels on a whim, or took wyverns who had been tamed by the dragonoids, they apparently didn’t care about the shrine’s location that much, but right now it was a considerable problem for Renya and the others.
Even the distance to the closest city is quite large if traveled by foot. In the first place, there’s no way for them to know the state that that particular city is in right now.
On top of that, there’s not a single person among Renya’s party members, who is familiar with the area.
The humans and beastmen were out of the question, but even the two elves, Croire and Grün, never actually visited the dragonoid country. They only obtained their knowledge from hearsay and several documents and books that had been left behind.
Even so, that’s still better than having absolutely nothing to work with. Currently Croire and Grün have gone ahead in order to search the vicinity. The group that stayed behind is waiting at the “Foreigner’s Shrine” since there’s no other place where they can rest.
In other words, it means the standby group has too much time on their hands.
The group consisting of Kurz and the two beastmen priestesses assigned to him are peacefully huddled together in a corner of the cave, and readily allowed themselves to drift off into the lands of dreams.
Shion and Rona stood guard and checked the situation around them within their abilities, but apparently believing that there’s no meaning in remaining vigilant in a place where there’s absolutely nothing as far as the eye can see, they settled down close to Kurz and the beastmen priestesses when Renya and those around him took their eyes off of them, and soon started to sleep peacefully next to each other.
Renya, Emil, Lepard and Kaede missed their opportunity to go sleep while still having too much time on their hands. They intently waited for Croire’s and Grün’s return, but during that time Renya and Emil started a somewhat questionable conversation.
“There ain’t no way that you can build such an inhumane device in a human country, right?” (Lepard)
“That’s right, you two. No matter how superior such a device might be, something like that can’t…” (Kaede)
Immediately after Lepard, Kaede started to speak, but seeing Renya and Emil, who gazed at the two beastmen with puzzled expressions, she asks in a way that could be considered timid,
“…be built…right?” (Kaede)
“It’s not a matter of whether it can or cannot be built, now is it?” (Emil)
Although it’s just faintly, Lepard’s and Kaede’s faces turn pale upon hearing Emil’s words which she said bluntly in a very indifferent manner.
“Well, as long as you don’t put it into use and just build it for fun, it’s a great story, I guess.” (Renya)
“No, no, Renya. I’m pretty sure some country will definitely put it to practical use it if it’s built, you know?” (Emil)
For some reason Emil is full of confidence.
As if not noticing how the couple of beastmen is gradually becoming paler and paler, Emil throws out her chest and says,
“It’s a fact that there are many humans that are troublesome to get rid of such as criminals and the like in any country. It’s a dream device that allows you to clean up those beings in one go and on top of it use them for a long time as a big mana supply, don’t you think? There’s absolutely no reason not to introduce such a wonderful system with its low cost and high return, is there?” (Emil)
“It’s a dream I can’t consider as anything else but a nightmare though…” (Renya)
“But listen, if that story was true, wouldn’t it also sound good if the reverse of a hell existed as well?” (Lepard)
Apparently having noticed Kaede’s bad complexion, Lepard changed the direction of the conversation, obviously having hit upon an idea.
Certainly, since they expressly added the name “Hell Furnace” to such a device, the idea that a device that has aligned its vectors in the opposite direction might exist isn’t all that weird.
“Ah, as far as it goes, that kind of system…in other words, a furnace that uses positive emotions as a source existed as well.” (Emil)
While scratching her cheek with her index finger and smiling bitterly, Emil looks somewhat hesitant as she says,
“Though it was discarded for various reasons in the end. The biggest reason for being discarded is a secret though.” (Emil)
“Aah…I’m sure it’s for some very wicked reason. At least that’s my prediction.” (Renya)
Lepard realizes that he failed at changing the topic while donning a dejected expression.
Renya, who thought, Continuing this topic any further somehow doesn’t seem to be overly good for them, takes it upon himself to change the topic.
“At any rate, they sure had the nerve to build the transfer gate in such an empty place, didn’t they?” (Renya)
“Yeah, you’re right. I guess the maintenance in such a place is difficult as well.” (Emil)
“Did they hate other races getting close to their cities so much?” (Renya)
“Now that you mention it, it sure seems like it. Even the transfer gates in our country are not connected to places inside the cities, but to ones that are slightly outside, aren’t they?” (Lepard)
Upon Lepard saying so, obviously rummaging through his memories, Renya wondered whether it might be the same for the transfer gates in the human countries as well, but even if he wants to confirm it, all humans besides himself are peacefully asleep at the moment. Feeling like it would be evil to expressly wake them up just to ask such a thing, Renya decides to shelve that question for later.
“That’s because the dragonoids are really troublesome.” (Emil)
“Really? The dragonoid hero Albert whom I met before was an unusually decent hero though?” (Renya)
It’s been quite a while ago already, but Renya says so while remembering the face of the hero who came to greet him once.
“Wait a moment. Hey Renya, what do you mean by ‘unusually decent hero’?” (Lepard)
Lepard took a part of what Renya said as a challenge and flared up at him.
Apparently he thought that Renya’s words implied that all the other heroes besides Albert aren’t very decent.
Renya stares at Lepard’s face, then at Kurz’s, who is sleeping soundly, and moreover thinks about Grün, who left to scout. After pondering for a short time, he opened his mouth.
“Sorry. I suppose the only one, who’s not normal, is you.” (Renya)
“I’m very normal!” (Lepard)
“Lepard, there’s zero persuasive power in those words.” (Kaede)
Lepard claimed while raising his voice, but once he’s bluntly refuted by Kaede, he ends up utterly dispirited as it seems he doesn’t have any words to return.
Letting his ears and tail hang, Lepard shrinks his big body and turns in the direction of the wall, but it looks like Kaede doesn’t feel like comforting him.
“Occasionally I wonder about it, but do you guys really love each other?” (Renya)
Renya wonders whether this isn’t the moment where she should console Lepard, even if it’s a lie, but Kaede immediately flapped her hand.
“He will get conceited if I pamper him too much. The male beastmen are in the perfect state if they are slightly disheartened.” (Kaede)
“Even if I die, I definitely don’t want to be reborn as a beastman.” (Renya)
Due to Renya saying that he would be horrified from continuously being treated in such way, Kaede and Emil burst into laughter at the same time for some reason.
“Did I say something funny?” (Renya)
They probably couldn’t hear his question through their laughter, but all of a sudden Croire turns up in the cave’s entrance.
When they departed Croire left empty-handed without taking any weapons with her, but in her right hand there now dangle several wild rabbits which had their necks strangled and precisely broken. They are tied together at their ears by something that looks like an ivy.
In her other hand she’s grasping a bundle of leaves that are very likely different kinds of herbs and wild grasses which she picked somewhere along the way.
“Croire, tell me again, what was the reason why you went out?” (Renya)
Once Renya asked her while looking at the things in her hands, Croire immediately replied with a smile plastered all over her face,
“To investigate and check the situation in the vicinity.” (Croire)
“What are those things you’re holding in your hands then?” (Renya)
Once she was asked by Renya as he repeatedly points at her hands, Croire thrust her loot in front of him while maintaining her smile.
“It’s food. Please be delighted, Renya. This area has a soil that allows herbs to grow en masse, and plenty of wild rabbits and wild mice inhabit the area.” (Croire)
“You’re sure you’re an elf, right…?” (Renya)
Renya, who wonders what to think of an elf who happily eats wild rabbits and mice, says sarcastically, but it looks like Croire doesn’t understand what he’s implying at all.
“If asked if my eating habits are more like an elf’s or a human’s, I would say they have gotten closer to those of humans since I started to live with you, Renya.” (Croire)
“Now that you mention it, you’re certainly right there.” (Renya)
“Grün-niisama is slightly worried, but since it’s not like we can’t eat meat anyway, it’s fine.” (Croire)
“What about the report regarding your investigation…?” (Renya)
“There’s nothing at all. Absolutely no sign of people or battle. There are no dragons in the sky either. It’s very peaceful. There’s nothing you ought to see.” (Croire)
Renya wasn’t sure whether she had forgotten her task, but as far as it goes Croire apparently understood what she had to report.
“It might be a little bit harsh to travel by foot. The continent with the least amount of cities is the northern one. The distances from one city to another is very large.” (Croire)
“I guess there’s also the option of asking Dra-kun and his friends to lend us a dragon.” (Renya)
When it comes to having the speed of a flying dragon, it’s possible to travel without wasting too much time, even if it’s a considerable distance.
There not being any dragons in the sky, as reported by Croire, means we have to get them to allow us to use them as transportation by some means once we meet a flying dragon, Renya assessed.
In this case some means becomes one centered around physical communication, or to be precise, forceful persuasion by shooting them down.
“As for me, I believe that it might be better to stay in this shrine today, no matter whether we are going to head towards a nearby city or towards the Dragon’s Den.”
“That’s true…traveling will probably be less burdensome after taking a good rest. Maybe there is something like a dragonoid patrol that might pass by this place here, too.”
Seeing as the transfer gate has been installed here, it was difficult to imagine that the cave, where Renya and the others are currently at, had been completely abandoned.
In order for the transfer gate to continue functioning as one, regular maintenance is necessary. That’s a task that can only be carried out by the hands of people.
If we are lucky, now might be just the time when the transfer gate needs maintenance. And even if that’s not the case, it wouldn’t be weird if the fact that this transfer gate had been forcibly activated by the elven country has been transmitted to the dragonoids controlling this gate.
In that case it’s also possible that someone will be dispatched to check the situation.
“Waking up those who are sleeping right now so as to head out seems pitiful as well…I guess we will set up camp here.” (Renya)
Once they decided on a course of action, things went by quickly.
Given that the number of people in Renya’s party, which included the heroes, is high, the amount of food brought back by Croire wouldn’t be able to feed all of them.
Renya has put various ingredients that seem usable inside his inventory, but as they are currently in a situation, where they don’t know how long they’ll have to stay in the dragonoid country, he judges that it would be better to supply food that can be procured locally rather than touching the ingredients in his inventory.
Croire put down the ingredients in her hands and went outside to inform Grün to temporarily return to the cave. Whereas it was decided that Lepard and Kaede would go out to secure some more herbs and meat.
“Renya, what about us?” (Emil)
“I suppose we will prepare the rabbits while staying here.” (Renya)
No matter how many rabbits Croire catches, there’s no one amongst Renya’s party that would eat them with their fur and skin still attached.
As such it becomes necessary to process the wild rabbits into raw meat that could be cooked.
“Leave the dismantling to me.” (Emil)
As if to say that dissection and dismantling are her specialties, Emil took out several knives out from her coat, and immediately started dismantling the wild rabbits.
While watching her abnormally skillful work, Renya began to ponder about what they should do from now on.