At first Renya believed it to be some kind of undead.
Illuminated by magic light within the dead of the night, the conspicuous white skin was abnormal, even if seen from afar. It gave the impression of a corpse with no blood circulation.
However, the red fluid, which is continuing to stream atop its skin, reveals an intense bleeding. The violently rising and sinking shoulders are indicating that it’s a breathing person.
Since the heart of an undead has stopped, it won’t spill something like blood.
Not to mention that it’s unthinkable for it to breathe.
However, even if you regard that as proof of it being alive, Renya couldn’t possibly believe that thing, which is stepping forward while being tripped up by the undergrowth of the trees, to be a human being.
Probably it’s a female adventurer, even Renya understood that somehow.
However, just how the heck did she end up in such a state? He has absolutely no idea.
Her dark blonde hair, which has grown down until the area of her shoulder blades, is dishevelled, disarrayed and dirty. Something sticky like oil is slimly glittering in the illumination of the light.
Unbeknownst whether they are looking this way or not, her blue eyes are hollow and lost all their light. They seem to be unfocussed.
The thing, which could probably be considered to have been a leather armour, has turned into a state that can’t be called anything but scraps anymore. It’s as if the armour is barely dangling from her body.
The clothes below have been torn all over, too, and are hanging on just like that. They already aren’t able to fulfil their role as clothes and the skin below has ended up being exposed.
The woman is approaching little by little.
What ran across her bare skin were bites and scratches.
From the wrist of her right hand up until her shoulder there are blue bruises. They are closely crowded hand prints, which probably came from her arm being grasped tightly with quite the force.
Her left arm is missing from the root.
If you lower your sight a bit, you would see her abdomen swelling up with a bulge.
Her appearance was entirely similar to a pregnant woman, but there’s no way for a pregnant woman to be expressly armed and loiter around in the forest at night.
Moreover, below that she is completely naked.
Was it ripped of by the undergrowth? Having countless shallow sharp cuts, there are further crowded hand prints from the ankles to the knees. Moreover, there are wounds as if she was bitten by something around the area of the thighs and there are also cruel wounds as if something was devoured by a mouth.
It’s not possible to comprehend.
While protecting Shion and Rona in the back, Renya reflexively retreats a step.
Just what the hell ended up destroying her to that degree?
“She was probably attack by goblins or something else…?” (Renya)
“I think it’s different.” (Rona)
While preparing the mace, she carried with her, and grasping it tightly, Rona denied Renya’s murmur.
“Even if it’s goblins or orcs, it apparently never happens that the women, who were kidnapped as seedbed, have even their genitals* abused.” (Rona) (T/N: it’s kept a bit more vaguely, but I dislike the Japanese-typical beating around the bush like saying “that place”)
Rona’s look is falling onto the base of the woman’s missing left arm.
It’s not a wound as if it was cut off with a sharp edged tool, but an awfully unsightly cut end as if the wound was splintered.
“That left arm has been likely bitten off, hasn’t it…” (Rona)
“If it’s a man-eater, ogre or something like that? However, I wonder if there was such monster in this forest…” (Shion)
Shion inclines her head to the side due to Rona’s words.
Such Shion has a slightly indecisive attitude.
If possible, I want to escape, but I’m feeling reluctant to abandon the woman suffering in front of us, is what she feels.
“The characteristics of ogres are?” (Renya)
Without lifting his sight from the approaching woman, Renya asks while placing his left hand on the scabbard of the katana.
“A height above 3 m, gluttonous with absurd strength and low intelligence.” (Rona)
Once Rona has summed up only the necessary information, Renya shook his head and denied Shion’s hope.
“That’s wrong. Umm, the finger marks, imprinted on her body, have the size of humans. In the first place, if it was a glutton, would it be satisfied with just one arm?” (Renya)
“The bites are somehow beast-like though… either way, that doesn’t explain that big stomach.” (Shion)
“In any event…” (Renya)
There’s no method to save her.
Renya attempted to say that, but he halts his words due to the sudden scream raised by the woman.
“Gii… iga… gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”
Looking up to the sky, with her knees on the ground, the woman screams while hugging her largely swelled belly with the sole remaining right arm.
Watching that belly starting to heave with a vicious beating from within, even Renya felt the blood draining from his face as one would expect.
“Be careful! She is keeping something in the belly!” (Renya)
“No, it’s not like she is keeping it, is what I believe though, Renya?” (Shion)
“Shion, why are you so strangely composed in such situation?”
The swelled-up belly begins to tear apart slowly unable to withstand the pressure from within.
While spilling blood and some fluid that isn’t blood from the newly caused wound, the woman is continuing to raise a scream that might as well tear her throat.
“Hey, won’t there something absolutely bad come out from there?” (Renya)
Shion and Rona nodded, once Renya asked that question while smiling faintly for some reason.
“Let’s take a bet? I wager 10 gold coins for something coming out though.” (Shion)
“I will also bet 10 gold coins that something will appear.” (Rona)
Renya replies with a somewhat worn-out voice to Shion’s talk while she’s suddenly clenching her fist.
“It won’t be much of a bet since I believe something will come out as well. Rather, aren’t you guys splendidly calm?” (Renya)
“I’m eagerly and impatiently waiting for you tell us to run away, though, Renya…” (Rona)
“I want to rescue her, but… it’s probably impossible.” (Shion)
Shion’s expression is gloomy, but neither Rona nor Renya have the leeway worry about that.
Without an interruption in the woman’s screaming, the right arm, which held down the swelled-up belly until then, has begun to tear off the surface of that belly next.
Cutting the skin with the nails, it’s a chain of spreading the wound from the place, where it tore open.
The woman’s surrounding is muddy due to the liquids discharged by her. It has started to give off a stench.
At the moment when Renya tried to give the order to escape thinking this is getting more and more dangerous, Renya noticed several shadows running this way from the other side of the woman.
Those are completely moving with a momentum as if running away from something. A sound of something massive following from even further back, while trampling the undergrowth and smashing branches, is audible.
“Renya, something is approaching again!”
“There’s no need to confirm it anymore either, escape, run!” (Renya)
While looking over his shoulders towards the rear, he gives the areas around Shion’s and Rona’s hips a clap.
In the back of Renya, who began to run trying to follow while being one beat late as the two started to run taking that clap as signal, the woman’s screaming abruptly stopped. He heard a wet sound of beating the muddy ground and a sound similar to a drenched cloth being torn off.
“Uwa, what’s this?”
“Idiot, don’t stop… hiii, i-it’s coming this way… Say, guaaaaaaah!!”
What was audible in the rear are the man’s voices.
The arriving men were thrown into a pincer attack by the something, which chased them from behind, and the something, which most likely left the woman’s belly just moments ago, however Renya hasn’t the slightest intention to stop and turn around for the sake of checking.
He completely focuses all of himself onto whether there is something dangerous or not in front as he simply runs.
“What… the heck?” (Rona)
“Don’t talk, Rona, you will run out of breath. Shion, run straight ahead! Rona, don’t get separated from Shion!” (Renya)
What arises from behind are the sounds of something wet being squashed by something and the sounds of flesh and bones being severed altogether.
Once you strain you ears, screaming voices, which are pleading for someone to help, seem to be occurring all over the forest.
Given that the light had already vanished and as you can’t call it something like a covert operation either, Renya raised the intensity of the spell on the left palm of Shion, who is running at front, as it was close to vanishing.
“Shion! Use the light in your left hand!” (Renya)
“Got it!” (Shion)
Shion holds up her left hand over he head and releases the light. She keeps running while relying on that light.
She is followed by Rona and Renya is running as anchor.
While following those two, Renya clicked his tongue within his mind.
Renya’s group, who moved in order to leave towards the outer circumferences, has broken into a run towards the real rear for the sake of getting away.
With this they have ended up heading towards the forest’s centre.
“Shion, change the course! Be it left or right, turn in a right angle!” (Renya)
Grabbing onto a thin tree, Shion displays a remarkable cornering.
Rona, who chased behind her, stumbled a step or two forward as she was unable to follow that radical change of direction, however her waist was grabbed by Renya, who came after her, and they pursued Shion without losing any time.
“Sorry, Renya. It’s alright, I can run.” (Rona)
“Please do so. Even I want to avoid sprinting with all my power while carrying a person.” (Renya)
Once he released his hand, his speed dropped a bit, but with Rona landing admirably without falling over, they began to run once again.
Although her priestess’ garb shouldn’t be suited for running with its long skirt, Rona’s running speed doesn’t even loose to Shion’s.
The deep slit, which is on both sides of the skirt, doesn’t seem to be only for the sake of appearance, I guess, Renya admires something strange.
“Renya, what the hell are we going to do after this?” (Rona)
Rona asks while running desperately.
“What we will do, you ask?” (Renya)
“What action will we take in this abnormal situation, is what I want to know.” (Rona)
“Such thing has been decided from the start, right?” (Renya)
Renya states as if saying what are you saying this late in the game?
Shion, who’s in the lead, releases a small sigh as she somehow has predicted Renya’s next words from that remark.
Rona, unable to predict it, wrecks her brain whether it’s something this obvious.
“In addition to leaving the forest as is, we will escape to the city.” (Renya)
Ah, that’s it after all, Shion thinks.
In this case the surroundings are definitely in a strange situation, but from Renya’s point of view, they have no particular obligation to investigate the cause or to fight unreasonably.
For Shion as individual, she didn’t want to take the choice of abandoning them and running away, if possible.
However, she was also able to understand Renya’s notion, although only a bit.
He has no intention to expose himself and his comrades to the slightest danger for the sake of humans he has no relation and ties with, that’s all there is to it.
“Renya… in case there are injured people or such…” (Shion)
“Do you think we can take them along? It’s different if we have a wagon, but tell me, how do you want to take them along?” (Renya)
“In the first place, it’s impossible to drive a wagon within a forest though”, Renya continues.
“Indeed”, Rona agrees, but Shion isn’t incomprehensible to that degree.
She is well aware that her way of thinking can be called insufficient.
Even regarding the assessment of the situation, it was a fact that Renya’s opinion was correct.
“Renya, I have a request.” (Shion)
Shion, who ran in the lead, stops.
Renya and Rona were lured into stopping too.
Once she turned towards Renya, Shion said following,
“We won’t be able to escape like this. I won’t ask for something like saving everyone, but I want to investigate even if it’s only about what has happened. This place isn’t that far away from the city. If we abandon this place and run away, it might be possible for the damage to spread even to the city.” (Shion)
Renya demands Shion, who is claiming that while drawing close to Renya, to proceed with only his gaze.
Being overpowered by that gaze, Shion firmly resisted with the words “In other words, it will become like that” and continued her speech,
“Please, Renya. I want you to cooperate with me.” (Shion)
Somehow she is able to imagine Renya’s answer.
Even so, Shion couldn’t help it, she had to request that.
Observing such Shion, Renya, without changing his expression, light scratched the area of his cheek with his right index finger.