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All of the bandits fled the area, leaving only Ilsa and the other two girls as well as the elven women, who were bound to the stump, behind.
After confirming that the bandits were gone, Ilsa’s group rushes over to their captured sisters, whose faces were not only wet from the rain, but also from deeply emotional tears.
“Big Sis’, we came to rescue you!”
The women intently stared at the wood spirit rising on the surface of the tent while still frozen in fear, but finally came to their senses upon Ilsa’s voice.
“All of you. We are fine, so run away quickly!”
Although it has introduced itself as tree spirit, the women had never heard or seen such a monster and thus they desperately exclaimed that harm would befall Ilsa and the other two girls if they stayed here. Ilsa and the others tried to soothe them, but the panic of their elder sisters doesn’t abate at all.
“Everyone, are you alright?”
A small tree-like creature, covered in leaves, that is approximately the same height as a person comes running up to them. Witnessing something like that say this as it runs up to them causes the women to scream in such a panic that they seem like they are about to faint.
Facing the elven women, who are scared that yet another tree spirit had appeared, that tree pushes out two thick white branches, similar to the arms of a person, and waves them with strange, human-like, flurried motions.
“Big Sis’, calm down. It’s me! Erika!”
Even the women, who had fallen into panic, regained their serenity after hearing the name and voice of a person they knew. Upon closer look, the two things that seemed to be the branches are in fact the arms of a real person.
“E-Erika? That’s you, Erika?”
Once the tree spirit pushed aside the foliage around the head, Erika’s face could be seen peeking out from within. Comprehending that Erika had just twined ropes with leaves and branches inserted around her body, which made her look like a tree spirit, the women widen their eyes due to the queer appearance and feel at the same time relieved.
“W-What’s that, this appearance?”
While unfastening the ropes twined all over her body, Erika answers,
“This is called a gili suit or something like that.”
Her elder sister parrots the word as it’s an unfamiliar term.
“Yeah. I was told it’s something for the sake of blending into the forest.”
What Erika is speaking about is doubtlessly a ghillie suit. Its point is to make discovery difficult via blending in with the surrounding landscapes, made possible by sewing several camouflaging materials into one’s clothes.
“You don’t have to be afraid of that. That’s the name given by the guy who saved you.”
Saying so, Erika points at the tree spirit still floating on the surface of the tent.
“T-To be able to summon something like that…don’t tell me, it’s a familiar spirit of the Wind God who sympathized with us!?”
Is it a backlash from recovering from their fear? Erika restrains her elder sisters, who are about to pray to the spirit on the spot with tears of gratitude streaming down their cheeks.
“No, he’s an odd human.”
Once she associates that familiar spirit her sisters extolled to be that soft hearted human, her mouth unconsciously slackens.
“Kisa, you can come out now!”
Erika called out to him, but there’s no reply.
Erika, who became worried that something might have happened to Kisa himself, ran at a jog towards the tent. On the way there she feels as if she’s stepped on a water-filled leather bag and removes her foot in a hurry. Immediately after crouching down and placing her hands on the ground, she peeled off the ground.
“You were in such a place? Just what happened?”
What Erika peeled off wasn’t the ground. It’s a big pelt that was smeared with mud and plastered with weeds. This is also a type of guerrilla suit. Below it Kisa, who held the helmet with the box stuffed inside in his hands, groveled like a bug.
Being called out by Erika, Kisa only turns around his head with a motion resembling that of a robot that ran out of oil.
“I-In front of my eyes…an arrow stabbed the ground. I thought I was going to really die here…”
He was apparently unable to stand up due to the shock.
As a matter of fact they hadn’t reached his body, but several arrows pierced the pelt covering Kisa, but let’s stay silent about that, Erika decided.
“Don’t be so surprised by something at the level of an arrow falling down. Besides, what did you plan to do if the bandits had run this way?”
Kisa widened his eyes with an astonished look due to Erika saying that. He reveals a stiff smile and mutters,
“I didn’t consider that at all…”
The helmet with the box within falls out of Kisa’s hands in front of Erika, who stares at him with a dumbfounded look. Due to the shock of falling to the ground, the visor opens and a small ceramic bottle, which had a fire-lighted string crammed in, rolled out with a slump.
There was the worry that the bandits would return after calming down, but Kisa and the others, who judged it to be dangerous to walk through the mountains in the night, passed the night at the camp. Of course they didn’t forget to ensure their safety by standing watch in turns with the rescued women. And, when the sun climbed above the mountain ridge, they set the bandits’ tent on fire and then moved into the forest that was slightly away.
“Say, isn’t it better to get a bit further away?”
Erika asked Kisa who stared at the black smoke rising from the burning tent beyond the trees.
“Mmh~. …I thought that maybe the people looking for me might see this.”
Kisa gives a listless reply while looking up to the smoke.
Erika is at a loss for words.
She wanted to talk about various things with Kisa, but she didn’t even know where to start. She mulled it over for a while, but for the time being she tries asking questions on the mind of her elder and younger sisters, as their representative.
“However, I still can’t believe it. Just how did you summon that monster?”
“That’s just the casting of shadows and has nothing to do with a summoning.”
The true identity of the tree spirit was the shadow of the crystal piece owned by Erika.
Because of Erika’s words, “As long as a god doesn’t appear,” Kisa came up with the idea to create a magic lantern showing the tree within the crystal piece instead of calling the Wind God.
A magic lantern is a device that became the prototype of slide movie projectors. It is made out of a lens and lamp light, and projects pictures drawn on glass shards and other similar materials onto a curtain.
In order to scare the bandits by pretending to be a tree spirit, he used this magic lantern. A show called Phantasmagoria that frightens the audience by projecting ghosts and skeletons was actually performed in Europe at the end of the 18th century.
Fortunate for Kisa was that the crystal piece owned by Erika, the telescope lenses and the bin with distilled liquor that served as alcoholic lamp were all on hand. By just combining these items he was able to create a simple magic lantern.
However, even that was no easy feat. The biggest problem was that the small alcoholic lamp couldn’t project a clear image with its weak brightness. However he somehow compensated for that by placing the helmet worn by Knurl behind the lamp light, allowing the light to be reflected towards the empty back.
In the eyes of a person used to the video technology of modern Japan, the picture quality of the magic lantern, which had been built with so much trouble, would be quite awful. After all it was a picture that was barely visible as faint shadow within the darkness.
With only that much to go off of, even the bandits wouldn’t have comprehended what the picture was supposed to depict. They were somehow able to lead the bandits to believe that it’s a “Tree Spirit” by complementing the image with the power of imagination through the realistic acting of the children and their words suggesting that it’s a “Tree Spirit.”
Kisa explained that, but Erika was completely unable to understand what he meant.
Once Kisa stops talking, Erika is once again troubled over choosing a topic.
For a while she meaninglessly opened and closed her mouth, but once she clenched her small fists, obviously having decided something, she spoke up to Kisa.
“Kisa, you are going to return to Bolnis, right?”
Not noticing Erika’s state, Kisa answers with a short, simple “Yeah.”
“Won’t you come to Bolnis together with us if you aren’t found by your friends? Look, there still might be some bandits around, so going together with all of us is safer, don’t you think?”
The cheeks of of Erika, who rattled on while awfully flustered, became faintly red.
Without change Kisa gave a half-hearted reply, but suddenly his eyes gleam.
Erika surveyed the vicinity in a hurry upon Kisa’s words. However, there’s no sign that someone has shown up as he said.
Once she looks at Kisa properly due to that, she realized that Kisa’s eyes were pointed towards the sky.
Kisa abruptly yelled loudly and waved his extended arms in excitement.
Erika followed Kisa’s gaze and looked up to the sky, but she can’t find anything there except for the rising black smoke. At most there’s a single bird flying around.
At that moment, Erika felt a strange sense of discomfort.
It’s a bird flying big circles in the air, but she felt as if its shape is slightly weird for a bird. ‘Besides, the sense of distance to the bird is odd, too. The bird somehow feels unbelievably big. I have never seen such a huge bird before.
The bird circled above them for a while, but as soon as it depicted a flight path of a horizontal and a vertical 8, it flew away towards the south.
“Let’s go! They are over there!”
And then Kisa starts running in the direction the bird headed to.
After she began chasing him in a hurry while taking her elder sisters and the young girls along, Kisa had already descended to the base of the mountain.
Once Erika followed the look of Kisa, who stares in the direction the bird took, she could see a group of figures beyond the horizon heading their way while raising a cloud of dust.
Erika was alarmed, wondering whether the bandits had returned for revenge with some of their comrades, but contrary to that Kisa exposes a joyful look across his whole face and frantically waves his hands.
“It’s fine! I’m sure it’s my friends!”
The ones heading this way was a group of riders that had beasts with them. Their very ordered movements are similar to well trained military forces, and not bandits.
She became worried that it might be a Holmean patrol that came to catch them, but as the other side can already see them, it’s too late to escape at this point.
As Erika was watching the whole event with a vigilant and anxious look, a single beast from within that group rushed out. It steadily shortens the distance while leaving the rest far behind.
When it reached the point that their figure was clearly visible, Erika noticed that it wasn’t a beast.
That person’s entire body is covered with a bright, chestnut-colored fur and they are dashing across the terrain on four feet, but their body is clad in a torso armor, and a machete, which had a peculiar curve, is visible at their waist.
“That’s a, zoan…?”
In front of Erika, who is surprised upon seeing the figure of the race called Supreme Rulers of the Plains for the first time, that zoan leapt on Kisa with a force as though pushing him down to snap at his windpipe.
However, in reality that zoan firmly grabbed Kisa’s shoulders, without actually pushing him down, and yelled with a voice that trembled in delight,
“I’m so happy! I was certain that you were still alive!”
Going by the large swellings at the chest part of the torso armor, which was knitted out of ivy and had been dyed in vivid colors, that zoan is likely a woman. Even her voice is that of a somewhat high-pitched adult woman.
“Oh Great Beast God, you have my gratitude! Indeed! When I heard that you had fallen into a river, I thought that my heart might stop beating!”
The zoan only talks to the Kisa without paying any heed to the nearby elves.
“Are you alright? Do you have any injuries? Does it hurt anywhere? Are you hungry?”
“I’m fine. Really, everything’s alright!”
Upon Kisa writhing while looking embarrassed, the zoan finally feels relieved.
“However, the color of the signal fire we had you carry with you is different, so it’s great that we came here to check for caution’s sake. It’s a true blessing!”
“Sorry, because I used up the signal fire’s material, I substituted it by burning the tent of the bandits, as I had no other choice.”
Until then the zoan trembled in joy, but upon hearing those words, she twitches with her face covered by fur visibly having gone stiff.
“…Bandits, you said?”
“It’s fine. We drove them away already.”
“…Drove them away?”
All of the hair on the zoan’s entire body stood on end due to Kisa’s quite indifferent reply. With her body trembling slightly, she expanded her chest by taking a deep breath. Immediately after that she releases a loud and angry voice alongside the huge amount of air in her lungs.
“What have you done!!!”
It’s such a loud shout that the nearby Erika has a buzzing in her ears.
“Again!? Once again you willingly poked your nose into some dispute, didn’t you!?”
Kisa plugged his ears reflexively, but the zoan forcibly pinches his ear and moreover yells into it,
“It’s always, always and always the same with you! Normally you act timidly, but when push comes to shove, you plunge in without even considering the risks! How often do you plan to have me tell you that you need to fix your disposition to recklessly go ballistic and break through in an outrageous way once you are cornered!?”
“You idiot! You only make me worry! Do you intend for me to die from worry!?”
The zoan grabbed Kisa’s collar and exposed her anger at a level that it was not unlikely for her to subject him to a kangaroo court, but suddenly a black-furred fist was lowered on her head. Having been hit so loudly that it seemed one would get a headache from just hearing it, the female zoan crouches on the spot while greatly perplexed.
“You are the fool here!”
The one who shouted that was a black-furred zoan with a magnificent physique. That zoan filled his face, that had a sword cut scar running down from his brow to his right cheek in a single line, with rage and roars,
“It’s inexcusable for you to shout at your Navel Master in public! Do you intend to have your own Navel Master lose dignity!?”
“B-But, 《Ferocious Fang》…”
The black-furred zoan silences the zoan woman, who tried to explain with a miserable voice while holding her struck head with her hands, by baring his fangs at her.
“Hey, Garam. Keep your sibling comedy act at bay.”
The one who forced his way into the zoan dispute was a red-furred zoan with a likewise magnificent physique. A fed-up look was painted on his face, which stood out due to its crushed left eye and the unsightly scars.
“Zurgu, this one simply doesn’t learn no matter how often I tell her.”
The red-furred zoan called Zurgu points a finger towards the sky due to the rebuttal of the black-furred zoan called Garam. That huge bird flew in slow circles high up in the sky where he pointed.
“Pipi is acting as watchout for us, but this place is close to the Holmean’s sphere of influence. Wouldn’t it be better to swiftly get away from here before we run into troubles?”
Garam deeply growled in frustration due to that sound argument.
In front of Erika and the others, who had frozen from not knowing how to react due to the comedy act of the zoan that had suddenly started right in front of their eyes, several riders, who finally caught up with the zoan, reign in their mounts while raising a cloud of dust in the process.
“Who the heck are these people?”
The one saying that was a dwarf riding on the back of a kiryu handled by a human.
Having secretly run away during the zoan performing their comedy act, Kisa replies to the dwarf,
“Dvalin, these girls are my benefactors. And they are the ones who buried Knurl, who has lost his life in order to protect me.”
“…Shit, Knurl died?”
The dwarf called Dvalin muttered with a sigh.
“That means he accomplished his duty, doesn’t it?”
Once Kisa nods powerfully, Dvalin uncorks the leather water tube that hung at his waist and tips over its opening. A dark brown liquid spills on the ground and the smell of alcohol drifts into the surroundings.
“In honor of Knurl’s beard and distinguished service!”
After that Dvalin shifts his attention to Erika and the other elves,
“Comrades of the forest, you have my gratitude for holding a courteous memorial service for my brethren Knurl.”
Erika is taken aback by that.
To be subjected to such courtesy by a dwarf – an arch enemy of the elves – was completely unexpected for her.
“Yes. I’m here, my lord.”
The one who answered Kisa’s call and stepped forward was an elven woman so beautiful that even Erika, who is an elf just like her, widened her eyes in surprise.
“They apparently planned to come to Bolnis. Can I have you accommodate them within the city, seeing as they are my benefactors?”
“As you wish, my lord.”
Even though she only demonstrated her consent with a simple nod, that elven woman had an elegance that seemed to captivate everyone present.
Suddenly an arm of Erika, who had become involuntarily charmed by her, was grabbed by the zoan woman with both hands.
“Ooh! You were the one who saved his life!? Then you are my lifesaver as well!”
Alongside words of thanks, the zoan woman roughly swings Erika’s arm up and down. Erika was confused due to that intense display of gratitude.
“However, we have to return to the city at once. Since I’m going to pay back this debt in the future, I’d like you to forgive my rudeness for now.”
Kisa slightly tilts his head to the side due to those words.
“You are saying we have to return immediately? Did something happen?”
“Yeah. Holmea and Jeboa have started to move suspiciously. —Also, that fellow Jahangil has been kicking up a fuss out of boredom. He’s somehow being restrained by Marchronis, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last.”
“Aaargh! I’m reminded of his state when he’s wagging his tail.”
Kisa, who said that in the form of a joke, picked up the reins of a horse held out to him by one of the soldiers, placed a foot in the stirrup and nimbly mounted the horse.
Up there a gust of wind teases Kisa’s face.
Reminded of his headband because of the wind, Kisa took it off for the first time in the past few days. The sensation of the wind touching his forehead makes Kisa squint happily.
Ilsa, who was looking up at Kisa, muttered while visibly surprised,
“That’s exactly like the picture that I drew at the river bank…”
Erika and the others discovered the seal, which appeared to be a unity of 8 and ∞, on Kisa’s exposed forehead.
“S-…Seal…? No way, a divine child?”
That becomes the final finishing blow for Erika and her group, who can’t keep up with the rapidly changing situation any longer. Throwing a sidelong glance at the elven girls, who were in a daze as if their souls had been sucked out, Kisa smiled at the zoan woman, who stood at his side as if snuggling up to him, from the back of his horse.
“Well then, let’s go, Shyemul?”
One on horse, the other on four feet. Both of them dashed towards Bolnis. The other people chase after them with only Eladia and a few soldiers staying behind.
Erika and the others followed Kisa and his group with their eyes blank in amazement for a short while, but then Eladia called out to them from behind.
“Now then, we should go towards Bolnis as well. Can you tell me where you came from on our way there?”
Due to that Erika said “Umm” and asked Eladia,
“You don’t say, is that guy—no, that gentleman, possibly…?”
Eladia presses a slender finger against her white chin and ponders about it for a moment. Then she realizes that it’s about her own lord and understands with an “Ah.”
“That gentleman was hiding who he is, right? —I shall apologize in my lord’s stead. He holds a very important position. He likely couldn’t readily reveal his background in an unfamiliar environment without having guards at his side.”
“That means, he’s after all…!”
“Yes. I believe it to be just as you imagine.”
The zoan, harpyian, elves and humans who were present here. And even the dinosaurian mentioned in the conversation. All of them seemed to obey him.
On the current Seldeas Continent, where the seven races fight and kill each other, there’s just a single person who is showered not with violence but with their admiration and devotion.
The man who openly raised the standard of revolt against the humans and the Holy Faith, who are trying to conquer the entire continent.
The center of the riot engulfing the western region of this continent.
A person who is feared, known as either a messiah or destroyer.
Erika spoke the name of that person,
“He is Soma Kisaki, the Divine Son of Destruction…”
Next, the story will return to right after the decisive battle over Bolnis.
Souma finally became the ruler of Bolnis in both name and reality after the battle.
What he first started to work on was seizing the officials of the city.
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