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Chapter 74 – Demonic Steel-City Holkerbaum
I survey the city at once.
After entering the eastern gate, there was immediately an intersection of four roads.
Plenty of people were coming and going, bringing horses and cattle along as suited to the beautiful weather.
Making Popobumu stop at the edge of the street, I address Mysty.
“Mysty, I will release you at an inconspicuous place.”
“Got it.” (Mysty)
Well then, I wonder where will I release her?
On the left side of the crossroads, the southern avenue becomes narrow.
On both sides various small and large old-fashioned houses were lined up, connected by small alleys.
Turning to look at the right-hand side of the crossroads next, I examine the northern avenue.
Going uphill, there were newly constructed, vertical, high-class estates, painted in white and yellow, built on either sides of that avenue.
Given that they ascended towards the top of the hill, the houses seemed to form something similar to a stairway.
The road at the upper part of the intersection, which is wide enough to be considered a main street, continues into the west.
“Let’s head towards the hilltop on the right? I will release you over there.”
We enter a sloped alley and climb the hill.
Lowering Mysty to the ground, I remove the magic shackles which were fastened to her arms.
Retrieving ten-odd gold and silver coins from my item box, I let Mysty take them after putting them into a suitable leather bag.
“This is…” (Mysty)
“It will be troublesome without anything, right?” (Shuuya)
I will probably be regarded as soft-hearted fool by Mysty, won’t I?
“… Why… this far?” (Mysty)
She alternately looks between my face and the bag with gold coins in it.
Tears gather at her eyes and one, then two drops stream down along her cheeks.
“I’m a half-assed meddler. It’s limited to women. Besides, if you have that money, you can comfortably charter a horse-drawn carriage. It should become simple to start over.” (Shuuya)
“… Thank you, fufufu, a meddler, huh? You have taken a hard-hearted attitude by deliberately saying such a thing. Even if you try to conceal your kindness, it’s futile. However, it was great that I met you. Although it was a short time, you ended up changing my view of life. Until now I just lived for the sake of my own pleasure, but… knowing an existence that is kind like you, made me want to believe in the word “good” which didn’t exist in the lies filling this world. Shuuya… will we meet again?” (Mysty)
Mysty talks while wiping away the flowing tears with her hand.
Honestly, her words touched my heart. The matter of saving her, and goodness, in the end are…
However, I don’t show those emotions on the surface.
“… We will be able to meet. If you live earnestly, we will meet again without fail, Mysty.” (Shuuya)
“Yeah, well, stay in good health.” (Shuuya)
“Ah, wai–” (Mysty)
The farewell of a far-away-parting finishes warmly.
I realize from Mysty’s expression that she doesn’t want to separate, but visibly ignoring her words, I make Popobumu gallop and descend the hill.
After returning to the intersection of crossroads, we blend into the crowd.
I ended up releasing a woman who was originally a noble then became a thief.
Honestly, there’s also an aspect of me ending up pitying her after realizing that she’s the younger sister of Sol.
When I saw the picture of the crest, I recalled the events at that time after all.
The event of Sol and Theta smiling as they died, and also the matter of the rejected Yui…
Well, I’m no good.
I desire a reunion, but there’s nothing I can say after driving off Mysty by bribing her with money.
I advance on the main street while feeling my guilty conscience.
I go ahead on the main street which continues to the west.
In the corner of a group of buildings there is a gorgeous inn built on a large plot.
In addition there are old-fashioned trading companies and new weapon and armor shops standing in a row.
There’s a certain atmosphere around here.
I wonder if many of the shops are blacksmiths? There are many chimneys after all.
Black smoke rose densely into the air.
Because it’s interest is piqued, Popobumu advances after drawing close to the shops.
It’s a shopping street.
There was a shop that had a cluster of black minerals set up instead of a signboard.
【Hadi’s Shop related to Steel and Fire】 has been carved into into the cluster as name of the shop.
The shop in this direction used a huge, artistic long sword which had 【Gateou & Fuzuman】 engraved.
At the neighbouring shop, 【Elizard’s Shop of Smithing General Goods】 is engraved on a round, thick steel rod.
In addition there are many shops with sign boards which have symbol marks like hammers, shields and crystals drawn on them.
There is a single common feature between all those sign boards.
Dragonfly accessories, made with small wood carvings at the shops’ eaves, are hanging on the signboards with strings and wires.
Even now, dragonfly models, which were hung up under the overhangs of the roofs, are swaying in the wind.
Those are not wind chimes, but might be items serving as trademark of the shopping street, which implies that the shops are dealing with “Demonic Steel Alloy.”
They could be mascots if they had a gentle character.
That was the impression of the shopping street if you only looked at it from outside.
Small alleys continue to the sides of the shopping street.
Narrow, inner paths as if diverging to the inner parts of the city.
It’s nice to come across casual streets and back alleys, right?
Has the TV program of trailing back alleys restarted?
Let’s go out of my way and take a little peek.
Maybe I might find the withered large tree I’m looking for beyond this point.
The style of each house is different from Hekatrail. There are a lot of houses that use plenty of stones. Popobumu advanced in a stroll.
Have the sewers been maintained? I don’t know, but there were round, iron manhole covers on the ground.
Popobumu firmly steps on those covers with its feet, and it advances on the narrow-seeming path, which was slightly dirty just like a back alley.
Once we passed through several small roads — I heard jeers alongside screams.
I wonder what it is as I get closer.
“Surround them, enclose them. They are cornered.”
“Ben, did you confirm it?”
“Yea, it’s 【Scales of Gaia】’s “Victor the Hammer”. Besides, that woman is the leader “Mia of the Fireball.””
They are fighting in a dead-end.
The unshaven men, who look like bandits while wearing worn-out, torn, dark brown robes, were surrounding a few with a large group at the actual site.
“Ooh, that hammer fellow, and the woman next to him is the leader, eh?”
“That’s right. My subordinates became victims of his hammer. There ain’t no mistake.”
The filthy pack of men continue their leisurely conversation.
“However, “Deyuma of the Four Arms” isn’t there. It’s necessary to be cautious.”
A weakly, lean man advised the fat men.
“Zoha-ani, you are way too wary. There ain’t no reason to be cautious, is there? If Deyuma ain’t here, that’s somethin’ convenient. Look. They the only troops remaining. If we take the head of that female leader in this place, it will finish off the well-established 【Scales of Gaia】.”
The one who rejected and laughed at the advice is a plump man.
Watching him from the side, It was a guy who possessed a face that dripped with excitement
“I guess so. Did luck come our way with this?”
“Yeah. Uhyahya, chance, chance. Before taking her head, with that woman… hehee.”
The fat men with weapons in their hands breathe roughly through their noses after looking at the woman on the enemies’ side.
“Aah? Are you also aiming for her?”
“Saldo, are you an idiot? There ain’t no way for me to miss out on such a good woman, right?”
“In that case it’s a competition, Ben. We’ll decide with the number of soldiers killed.”
“That’s greeeat, I’m overflowing! Do it. Did you lot hear? Goooo, crush them, crush them and crush them.”
He incites the other soldiers. Even if these guys are dressed as bandits, he appears to be the leader.
“It’s a bloodbath festivaaaaaaaaaal!”
“Hyahaa, I will finish you off!”
I try to close in as it will be fine even if I’m noticed.
Hitting Popobumu’s belly lightly, I make itadvance.
We approach from the flank of that group.
“Oy, it’s fine to get excited by doing whatever you please, but what have you guys said about a competition or such? It’s been decided that I will take that lass from the very start.”
The slim guy speaks while a sharp glint dwells in his hollow eye sockets.
“Haaa? Zoha-anijaa*, what are you spouting there? I’m first! (T/N: honorary way of elder brother but a bit slangish with the extra “a”)
“Ben and Saldo, as eldest brother, I’m first. I will devour those smooth-looking thighs as the very first, hehe.”
The men are showing vulgar, smiling faces to his sleazy words.
“Agaain? Since it’s aalwaays you, Zoha-ani, who gets them first, let us savour it sometimes, too.”
“No, no, even that woman would rather be raped by a thin man like me than fat men who look like you lot.”
“— Oy, Ben, Saldo and Zoha, you perverse brothers, currently that’s not allowed. We have been ordered by Oze-san and Jean-san to take Mia safely as a prisoner.”
Huh? It looks like those annoying brothers were the viceleaders
The large man, who talked at the very end, is the leader, huh?
While holding a long sword, he ordered his suspicious-looking men with an authoritative voice.
However, it’s all so sudden.
Once I entered the back streets, I ended up encountering a battle between groups of organizations
Although I say that, with a battle of around 40 people against 12 people, it feels like it can also be called a massacre. It’s a situation where the side with low numbers has been driven into a back alley.
This is one-sided.
— Mmh. oh?
There was a beauty on the cornered side, just as the suspicious-looking men had said while getting excited.
Beauty-san has long, straight black hair.
Black eyes, with thin eyebrows. Those were aspects in a woman you might call a display of old Japanese feminine virtues.
She has a stern look due to being cornered, but her motivation to definitely survive is dwelling in those black eyes. That was the intention I keenly sensed.
Her attire is an one piece that reaches to her white thighs.
Her coat is torn at several places, and the leather armor worn underneath is visible.
Those apparently soft thighs are magnificent as well.
The torn one piece strikes home with me, too.
I understand the perverts’ feelings of shouting if she’s in that state.
Since she has prepared a wand in her hand, she’s likely a magician.
Next to her is a middle-aged man who is frantically protecting that Beauty-san.
With a grim expression he wielded a big, iron hammer, which he held with both hands.
Oh, the enemy was blown away by the big hammer.
Good going there, that parent-san.
How cool. He perfectly stands in their way, like the image of a guardian Deva King.
The fine wrinkles on his face stand out. He is a bearded elderly Deva King who possesses a big hammer.
“Tsk, Victor the Hammer, eh? As expected, he’s strong.”
It’s now. Shall I assist the side with that Beauty-san and the Deva King old man?
Actually, my thoughts are mostly about rescuing if it’s a woman.
The place to park Popobumu is… oh, found it, found it. Let’s have it stop at the alley on the opposite side of that place.
I head to the alley in a hurry.
“Popobumu, wait patiently in the shadow inside here.” (Shuuya)
Popobumu makes a cheerful sound.
I tie Popobumu to the metal fittings installed on a large barrel after guiding it into the shadows of a building, and gently stroke it.
“Rollo, go. Prepare for battle.” (Shuuya)
Alright, I summon the cursed sword Bitou and the magic spear wand.
Wearing the cursed sword at my waist as reserve weapon, I draw a magic square by putting strength into the magic in my hands —.
I suppress the mana consumption and write.
It has been slightly developed based on what I used at the Evil Dragon King battle.
Centralized model, minimize the scope, shrink, create… and put together.
The magic crest was immediately complete.
The finished magic crest moves into the sky.
Drifting in the air, it stays in position.
It follows me while I walk in the dim alley.
The preparations are perfect.
“Rollo, I plan to fire magic, stay on standby at the beginning. After that, play it by ear.”
Once I finish the simple explanation, I head towards the location of the fighting group.
I stand behind the group trying to rape Beauty-san.
When I came back, the situation had already deteriorated.
The group of soldiers led by the black-haired, beautiful woman and the middle-aged hammer wielding man has decreased in number, and the encirclement has become even narrower.
The Deva King parent-san, who holds an iron hammer, is struggling strenuously by himself.
While bloodstained, one of the approaching enemies and then another are dealt a blow by the hammer and collapse after being directly hit on the head with the sharp pickaxe-part of the hammer, but… he is outnumbered.
Even now after he defeated the third person who closed in.
“Surround Victor the Hammer in a group, attack him at the same time with two, no, three people.”
“— I won’t let you do that.” (Shuuya)
I shout from the side at the group of assholes.
“Mmh, who is it!? What bastard are you!?”
The large middle-aged man, who instructed them from behind, glares at me and raises his voice.
“I’m a passing wanderer, or an adventurer as another name.” (Shuuya)
“What was that? You have been hired as bouncer of 【Scales of Gaia】?”
“Well, it’s something similar.” (Shuuya)
“Is that guy an idiot? Expressly showing up in this area with these numbers as opponents.”
Let an idiot play together with fellow idiots and…
I answer while smiling accordingly,
“… Being an idiot is fine. So, will you guys become my enemy?” (Shuuya)
“— Impertinent shit, finish him off.”
The large man, with a fully grown beard, wields his long sword and thrusts at me.
I obediently wait until he enters the range of my spear.
The instant the large man entered the spear’s sphere, I lift the magic spear wand in an easy, slow motion. The red axe blade strikes the nether region of the large man and cuts halfway through his stomach in one go. From there I bisect the upper half of his body by raising the spear overhead, as if drawing a moon.
While releasing a voice that doesn’t say anything as his head slides off sideways, the two lumps of meat split left and right and fall down.
“— Let me decrease the numbers since there are many of you!” (Shuuya)
After I yelled that and powerfully swung the blood-smeared magic spear wand once, I pointed the spearhead directly in front.
Selecting the target of the red axe blade, which makes a sound as the blood evaporates, I aim at the enemy group.
— I invoke an ancient spell.
The magic crest, which floats in the sky, appears in front of my eyes in a flash as if being the scope of a huge gun.
A black cluster materializes from the magic crest without even a second passing after the command and shot a darkness sphere at the spot I aimed for.
The small meteorite-like darkness sphere crashes vigorously into the ground while blowing away the enemies.
With a piercing sound of collision, it scatters the soil in a circular area and a small shockwave alongside a cloud of dust is generated in the surroundings.
Victor, who holds his hammer, drops to the ground on a knee due to the impact.
Even the black-haired woman, in her one piece appearance while her black hair flutters in the wind of the shock wave, opens her eyes wide as if to ask “What happened?” while staring at me.
There isn’t even a shadow of the group on the enemies’ side which had around 40 people. Those who were directly hit by the darkness sphere immediately became pieces of meat, and half of them who were close-by collapsed due to the shock wave.
I attack them instantly at that point.
“Rollo, finish them off—”
The black cat Rollo has already switched over into a stance of hunting.
Extending her tentacle bone swords to the live men who had fallen to the ground, she stabs them to death one after the other.
Following her, I also mercilessly pierce the spear part of the magic spear wand into them, who are wriggling while trying to escape by crawling on the ground.
Did Deva King Victor the Hammer judge this as chance after seeing the state of affairs? He quickly gets up.
“Uoooooh—, it’s a chance. Akoos, attack! Show them the willpower of 【Scales of Gaia】.” (Victor)
While revealing a furious facial expression, Deva King releases a yell close to a roar to encourage his allies.
He swiftly swings down his hammer at the men who are rolling around on the ground.
They were crushed one after the other, just like whack-a-mole.
As if lured by the demon Victor, who handles his hammer while yelling, several young men, who were at a disadvantage earlier, join in on the counterattack.
Like this the enemy was annihilated in the blink of an eye.
Right after that, Victor, holding his iron hammer, approaches me taking along the surviving soldiers while breathing heavily.
“Oy, you, the hell…” (Victor)
“My name is Shuuya Kagari. Please call me Shuuya.” (Shuuya)
“What kind of person are you? Why did you help us?” (Victor)
Victor accumulates mana at his feet.
I grasp that he is putting strength into the hand holding the hammer.
Even if I assisted them, once they saw the ancient magic just now, they suspect me, huh?
It was a bit too flashy.
Let’s help with ordinary military power next time…
“… I’m a passing-by adventurer. The reason, why I saved you, is that I couldn’t leave alone that black-haired Beauty-san over there.” (Shuuya)
“— What was that!?” (Victor)
“Victor-san, who’s this person?”
A red-haired young man, who was next to the grim elder addressing Victor, turns the tip of his long sword at me.
“— Don’t make a move, you lot. Didn’t you see what happened just now? — Ojou, did you hire this guy?” (Victor)
Using the hammer which is his personal weapon, Victor pins down the body of a red-brownish-haired man’s sword and turned around while calling the black-haired Beauty-san, who was behind him, “oujo.”
“Adventurer? … I’m not aware of any. He is a completely unknown person.” (Mia)
The black-haired Beauty-san reveals an unpleasant expression once she hears “adventurer”.
She sets up her magic wand while glaring this way.
Well, that’s only natural.
“That’s right. I assisted you out of my own volition.” (Shuuya)
I’m a strange old man, er rather, young man.
With such a feeling, I talk while showing a jesting smile.
Once the black-haired Beauty-san hears my simple words, her expression softens.
Was she relieved? After storing her magic wand at her back, she turns her black eyes to me.
“Is that so? Your magic is excellent, that axe spear is excellent, you have first-class abilities… to have destroyed the soldiers of 【Owl’s Fang】 in an instant…” (Mia)
She talks while casting her eyes down.
Are you prompting me to ask your name since I’m dull?
“— Rather than such matters, I believe it to be fine for you to at least teach me your name since your lifesaver introduced himself like this, beautiful ojou-san?” (Shuuya)
Once I talk in such frivolous manner, the young man, who pointed the tip of his sword at me, scowls.
“Victor-san, this guy…”
“Listen up, you guys fall back. Me and ojou will talk in this place.” (Victor)
“Akoos, don’t make me say it a second time.” (Victor)
Did the young, red-haired man, who has the atmosphere of being a typically frivolous lad, understand? After he glared at me, he withdrew to the rear while taking along several injured people.
And, the black-haired Beauty-san briskly steps up.
“You are right, excuse me. Shuuya-san, I thank you once again. I truly thank you for saving us of the dark guild 【Scales of Gaia】 on this occasion. I’m called Mia Aftotol, the head and also leader” (Mia)
“Also from 【Scales of Gaia】, I’m called Victor Oladom and work as an advisor to the leader. Shuuya-dono, you have my gratitude for saving us.” (Victor)
Dark guild 【Scales of Gaia】, huh?
It looks like the opponent they fought against was 【Owl’s Fang】, but even the thieves group who came attacking us were members of 【Owl’s Fang】.
Since they are a common enemy, it might be fortuitous.
“… Mia-san and Victor-san, it was good that I encountered you by chance.” (Shuuya)
“Why did you save us?”
“? I will repeat it over and over again, but it’s because you are a pretty and beautiful person, Mia-san. A pretty woman being violated by such vulgar men is something I can’t stomach. Honestly speaking, although it’s nasty towards Victor-san, the probability of me ignoring you if Mia-san wasn’t here is high.” (Shuuya)
In the middle of talking I return to a normal tone.
It likely doesn’t give a good impression, but it’s the reality.
“Hey, ojou…” (Victor)
Returning to a grim expression, Victor the parent-san tries to protect Mia-san.
“You are a direct person. Victor, it’s alright.” (Mia)
Mia-san talks to Victor with a smiling expression.
“Yes, even without being alert, there’s no deep meaning. I just explained it honestly.” (Shuuya)
At that moment the black cat Rollo jumps on my shoulder.
“Oh, my! It’s a black cat-chan. It’s cute… but, is its size is slightly different from before?” (Mia)
“Ah yes, this is Rollodeenu. For short, Rollo. She’s something like my familiar and bodyguard.” (Shuuya)
“It seemed as if this cat grew bone swords and tentacles…” (Victor)
“Those are Rollo’s weapons.” (Shuuya)
“Nnh, meow, meow.” (Rollo)
Moving one leg on my jouge with a tap-tap, the black cat, Rollo, expressed her reply by hitting my shoulder with her soft paw.
“Fufu, a cute bodyguard.” (Mia)
The black cat Rollo smugly displays a self-satisfied-look.
Well then, I saved a precious Beauty-san. Shall I go search for my targeted, withered, large tree?
“Well then, although I participated in it as well, I will leave this place which reeks of blood, I guess? Mia-san and Victor-san, let’s once again ((meet)) somewhere—” (Shuuya)
“Ah, please wait. There’s still a reward.” (Mia)
“I don’t need such a thing. Bye then.” (Shuuya)
I wave a hand left and right while showing them my back.
Like that I hurry to the alley where I parked Popobumu.
Once I straddle him by lightly jumping on Popobumu, I grasp the reins, hit Popobumu’s belly with my feet and gallantly escape the alley. I return to the main street.
The goal, the reason I came to this city, is to locate where Holker, the withered, large tree, is located, I guess.
I advance to a place on the main street where shopping streets are lined up on both sides.
A caravan of carriages, parties of adventurers, a herd of horses and cattle transporting fish, and the people who live in this place, pass through this street.
Once I got through the shopping streets which have such hustle and bustle, I came out at a vast, open place.
Oh, found it.
That is… the withered, large tree Holker, huh?
This place is a crossroad similar to a circular plaza.
One old, withered, large, tree, surrounded by an oval area of soil, has grown in the centre.
What the grey-haired, middle-aged Shark, a subordinate of the Marquess, was talking about is probably this “withered, large tree.”
It might become a clue to the Orb of Wisdom and Genju’s Sake Drop of Light, and is something important for the black cat, Rollo.
The roots of the withered, large tree emit the atmosphere of a sacred tree that might be in a Shinto shrine, surrounded in a circle by a white rope to cordon off a consecrated area.
It’s a large tree that makes one feel its history. Spanning in time across countless generations, there’s no doubt that this huge trunk and its bark, that seems to be dried up, remember the stories of the people living in this city.
I’m fond of large trees which possess such a holy ambience.
Ah, there are bonchichi child spirits.
There’s one child spirit with a shape like a goatee.
It walks ploddingly on top of the root’s cordon.
It’s not limited to only one spirit, but it seems there’s only one that’s called large tree Holker.
Below the withered large tree in the centre of the plaza, there was a person acting eccentrically in front of the place surrounded by a fence, which looks cool with the ample-feeling tree shade.
With a hood on his head, his entire body is covered by a grey robe.
He feels suspicious. After that person fell down on both his knees on the ground, he put together both hands.
Is he praying to god?
Once the suspicious person finishes praying, he turns around this way while slowly standing up.
And he exposes his face by pulling the hood of the concealing robe to the back.
Whoa, it’s an amazing face…
The colour of the skin is blue. He is obviously not human with such a deep blue.
Without hair growing on his head, his ears had an oblong shape.
The ears are different from elves.
He has arbitrarily long earlobes like those of a giant Buddha.
The bone atop the eye socket has a large width and protrudes to the outside. His cheeks, which looks as if it was treated with quilting, have a vertically-long characteristic giving him a certain look.
That kind of peculiar race, wearing an ashen robe, is moving his lips.
“Everyone, please listen. I’m the priest Peradas who takes care of the Holker Temple. I plan on telling a story concerning this large tree today. This large tree has even become the source of this city’s name. It’s famous as “Large Tree Holker” which was said to shelter the spirit of Holker.” (Peradas)
He isn’t a suspicious person but a priest? He began his speech by talking in a loud voice.
There are few people that can be said to listen, but he narrates enthusiastically.
“However, its current appearance is like this… more than five years passed since this large tree ended up withering. However, I believe that it will “revive.” Unfortunately, talks about felling this large tree Holker have appeared. — What to say? Isn’t this a sinful-minded act!? I, as believer of Holker, strongly oppose this. With my desire to sacrifice this body, I intend to stop the felling. The god of plants, Sadeyula-sama, definitely mourns this as well—.” (Peradas)
The priest’s voice is husky.
Sometimes he speaks in a sharp tone as if scolding.
He truly gives the impression of a monk in pursuit of enlightenment.
The people, who are coming and going in his vicinity, look at the priest in surprise at those occasions.
The felling of the withered, large tree, eh? It seems to be grave.
No, it is foolish if they fell it.
It might have a relation to the precious orb of wisdom and the Genju’s Sake Drop of Light. I have to prevent it.
I want to talk with the priest who possesses that characteristic face, but it seems that his speech is continuing…