“Renya, just what is that?”
The one that noticed the abnormality was Croire, the only one who didn’t pay any attention to the uproar around her.
In the end, Renya won the contest of strength against Az. Although he put up quite a resistance, Az quickly fainted after Renya firmly grabbed and put the screws to him. At present Liaris was desperately nursing him back to consciousness.
Almost everyone else wondered whether it was really okay for the dragoon to let go of her dragon’s reins, and fully concentrate on taking care of her lover, but since neither she nor Dra-kun seemed to mind, no one mentioned it.
If you gave this a lovely and beautiful description, you could say that they didn’t need any reins or words between them since they were connected by deep bonds. However, if you were blunt about it, one could ask whether Liaris’ presence was actually necessary at all.
As expected, officially her presence is indispensable for situations where passing on Dra-kun’s words or intentions to someone is necessary, huh? Renya judged. Just as he was curiously looking at Liaris, who was resting Az’s head on her lap, while harboring such thoughts, Croire’s voice pulled his attention back to reality.
“Even if you ask me, what do you mean with that?”
The elves’s racial trait was an exceptionally good sense of hearing. It was considered to stem from the fact that they lived most of their lives within forests. And in proportion to their hearing, elves also possessed good eyesight. The most plausible theory regarding the elves’ eyesight was that it had developed alongside their hearing, because it’d be pointless to hear something if one isn’t able to actually see what’s making the noise.
According to Croire, the elves connected to the royal family had especially good sense of hearing and sight even among the elves, apparently due to their bloodline.
Renya had quite a bit of confidence in his own ears and eyes, but it was impossible for him to match Croire who appeared to have very delicate senses even for an elf. The ones who might give Croire a run for her money were Frau, who boasted abilities outside any norm, and Dra-kun, whose race was in a different league altogether. However, seemingly not wanting to interrupt Croire unnecessarily, neither of them showed much of a reaction towards Croire’s remark.
And given that Shion and Rona had decided to see where this was heading from the very start, only Renya was left as Croire’s conversation partner.
“You can’t see it, Renya? I mean that, look, it’s just over there!” Croire appealed while raising her voice.
Renya strained his eyes, looking in the direction she was pointing in, but he couldn’t find anything that would justify Croire making such a big deal out of it. All he could perceive was Croire pointing in a slightly different direction from Dra-kun’s flight path.
“It looks like something similar to a settlement, but smoke is rising from it.” Croire explained to Renya who was starting to get irritated over his inability to see whatever Croire had noticed.
Carefully scrutinizing her words, he titled his head in confusion since he couldn’t find anything unusual in what she was saying. A settlement meant that people, demons, or something similar would be living there. If someone were living there, it’d only be natural for them to cook. He couldn’t identify an abnormality in the fact that smoke was rising from the settlement.
The silly idea that elves might have never seen smoke plumes rise from their cooking since they lived in forests crossed Renya’s mind. However, there was no way such an idiocy could be true. And even if it was, it was impossible that Croire hadn’t seen cooking smoke plumes since she had been living in Klinge for quite some time now.
“Smoke rising from a settlement isn’t something unusual, is it?” Renya asked back in a bewildered manner while feeling that it was weird for him to worry about her insisting that something natural was actually strange.
However, Croire shook her head, “It’s not that kind of smoke. Umm…ah! Flames are blazing up!”
Croire, who had been fretting over the difference in eyesight between elves and humans, suddenly cried out in surprise. It seemed that the things she was talking about were currently happening within her own field of view, but none of the human party members could confirm what she was saying.
“What are we going to do, Renya?”
As Shion asked him about his orders, Renya started to think. Their goal on this trip was to find and secure Emil. Everything else was of no interest. He might get scolded if anyone heard his thoughts, but at present even the demon king didn’t matter to Renya. Following that train of thought, ignoring the settlement and continuing their journey seemed like the most reasonable choice.
However, Renya thought, even if we blindly dive into it , I feel like it’ll work out one way or another. Besides, isn’t it necessary to examine things now that we’ve gone out of our way to come to the demon country?
“Dra-kun, Dra-kun,” Renya called out to Dra-kun while slapping the dragon’s back with his hand.
Normally Renya should talk to him through Liaris, but she was currently absorbed in nursing Az, and didn’t look like she had heard anything they had said.
“I’d be regretful to interrupt your mistress in the middle of her business, so I’m asking you directly. Could I have you make a little side trip?”
Considering it from a normal perspective, a mount with a master wouldn’t ignore its master and listen to orders given by others. Much less so, if the mount were an intelligent dragon.
Renya expected that his request would only have a 20% chance of being accepted. However, Dra-kun only glanced back at Renya, let out a powerless roar to show his reluctant compliance with the request, and slowly changed his flight path in the direction that Croire was pointing at.
Renya didn’t really believe that a dragoon would be okay with this, but since it was more convenient for him, Renya refrained from making any retorts.
“Eh? Huh? Dra-kun?” Seemingly having noticed that her dragon had begun to change its flight path, as might be expected of a dragoon, Liaris was puzzled, but after sinking into silence for a short time, she agreed with a somewhat resigned tone, “Ah, if it’s Renya-san’s request, we’ve got no choice, I guess.”
“You know, so far as it goes, you guys are officially the Trident Principality’s strongest combat force,” were the words on the tip of Rona’s tongue, almost slipping out.
That assessment had the attribute officially attached to it. If you excluded that attribute, it was quite possible for Dra-kun’s combat force to fall behind Rona’s, depending on the circumstances. And yet it was very difficult to officially declare that the saint was stronger than a dragon if it came down to fist fight. It was also extremely difficult to talk about if one considered the mental image it’d produce. At the very least it was something that would never leave Rona’s mouth.
Even while Rona was brooding over such matters, Dra-kun changed his flight path, heading towards the settlement Croire had indicated.
Thanks to the distance to their new target shrinking after some time, Renya could also see something like a settlement with his own eyes. That, which looked like a town when its scale was compared to towns you’d find in the human continuent, definitely had black smoke rising from it, just as Croire had mentioned.
“It doesn’t look like they’re cooking, does it?”
“Since the smoke is black…probably not.”
“Since Croire mentioned flames blazing up, wouldn’t it be some kind of conflagration?”
Renya was confused by Rona’s guess. After all, the smoke, visible in the distance, was gradually getting thicker and rising faster.
“They’re demons right? I’d imagine that they could quickly put out such a fire with sorcery if needed”
Quite a few spells usable for fire fighting existed. And even assuming that the fire couldn’t be controlled with magic arts, there were still plenty of ways to prevent a fire from spreading, Renya thought.
“Going by its appearance, it somehow looks like a fire that has been left to burn.”
“…I can’t see any people trying to extinguish it.”
As expected of Croire who had better eyes than any of the humans present, she was apparently able to see the situation on-site now. It was just a tiny bit, but a faint quiver had crept into her voice, apparently because she understood just how abnormal the situation was.
“Even though it’s burning so brightly, I can’t see any people trying to escape or fight the fire.”
“That sounds a bit too silly, doesn’t it?” Az said, obviously unable to believe what he heard, while lifting his head up off of Liaris’ lap.
When Az noticed that Renya was looking at him with a piercing gaze that implicitly wondered how Az understood the situation so well despite having recovered consciousness just moments ago, Az nonchalantly but quickly stared into the far distance, trying to avoid Renya’s eyes. Az’s reaction served as enough proof to confirm the doubt Renya was harboring, and it also resulted in the other members being able to somewhat grasp the situation, but because of his panicked reaction, Az didn’t realize that Renya had already noticed what was going on.
“Well, since it’d be troublesome even for the demons if their living spaces were burnt down, there’s no way that they could ignore a fire.”
“Still, according to Croire, no one is rushing over to extinguish it, nor is anyone running away from it.”
“Wouldn’t that simply mean that no one is there?” Shion mumbled under her breath.
It was an answer all of them had somewhat felt possible, and one they didn’t really want to put into words since they didn’t want to consider the implications.
“Huh? Did I say anything weird?”
“In case Shion-ane-sama’s thinking proves to be correct, I can only think of two reasons why the town is on fire ~nano.”
While all of them sank into silence with frowns on their faces, Frau raised two fingers of her right hand.
“First, a fire broke out in a town that was, for some reason, uninhabited to begin with.” Frau lowered one finger. “In that case, the question would be how the fire got started ~no. The best outcome here would be a natural fire, but the chances for that are rather slim ~nano.”
Reluctantly, Frau lowered the other finger, “Second, it was a normal town inhabited by people ~no.”
“That would be the really nasty case ~no. In short, it’d indicate that all the residents disappeared for some reason while the town was still on fire but still hadn’t burned down. ~nano. Since that’s definitely not something that would happen naturally, it means that whatever erased all the residents, is in the vicinity of the town ~nano.”
Shion envisioned the figure of something that she somehow couldn’t quite understand herself. That figure suddenly appeared one day, in a town that had been peaceful until then. And then the demons, who should surpass the abilities of humans by leaps and bounds, were attacked from below, behind and the front, getting annihilated without even being able to make a sound after getting dragged down into the ground and devoured. All that was left in the end was a lifeless, empty town.
“Come to think of it, Shion, you were really bad with ghost stories, weren’t you…?”
Renya scratched his head with a troubled look as Shion clung to the hem of his clothes with teary eyes. Shion’s grip strength and physical power, which hadn’t been so high before, had recently reached a level you couldn’t scoff at. For Shion, who hated ghosts, the current situation where they were heading to a town that might have something like that prowling around posed enough of a reason for her to completely lose her calm demeanor.
“Let’s not go there, Renyaaa! It’s a town full of ghosts! You can’t cut ghosts down!”
“Let go of me, Shion!? Don’t shake me! You’re going to tear my clothes…hey, don’t cling! We aren’t sure if it’s ghosts yet…it might be some kind of monster you can only find in the demon country, an outbreak of slimes, or some other reason… My neck! Don’t pull on my neck! It’s going to break! You’re suffocating me!”
Because Shion tried to cling to Renya while making full use of her brute strength, he tried to somehow get away from her as he felt that his life was in danger.
Rona, who had been sitting next to Shion, had sensed the danger before the situation escalated, and had crawled on all fours along Dra-kun’s back in order to distance herself from Shion.
On the other hand, Frau, who had been sitting on her usual spot between Renya’s legs, was dragged and jostled around by their rampaging, but since she apparently intended to defend her place at all costs, she didn’t show any intention of escaping despite looking annoyed.
Shion put more strength into her slender arms, which would make anyone wonder where she hid all that strength, twining them around Renya’s neck so as to not get shaken off while tightly squeezing her eyes shut. Renya was gradually getting paler due to Shion strangling him.
While sighing over a second uproar taking place on his back, wishing that they’d give all the racket a rest, Dra-kun kept flying towards the seemingly deserted town just as he had been asked to, since no one was stopping him.
“Just what the heck is this…?”
Renya had no idea how he should answer Rona’s flabbergasted mumbling. Mostly because Shion was trying to suffocate him by clinging to his neck.
Once he told her that she should get behind him if she was going to cling to him anyway, since otherwise he wouldn’t be able to move, Shion obediently did as told, put her arms around his neck from behind, and persistently remained there, closely glued to Renya’s back.
For Renya she was no more than simple, additional weight, but since she kicked up a fuss whenever he tried to tear her off, he reluctantly decided to leave her where she was, also somewhat due to the sensation of her boobs being pressed against his back.
With Shion latched to his back, Renya got off Dra-kun, and surveyed the vicinity. They were in the central part of the settlement Croire had discovered, which very likely belonged to demons. Dra-kun had used a place similar to an open plaza as his landing point.
A part of Renya’s mind had worried how things would turn out if they landed right in the middle of the settlement all of a sudden. However, his thoughts about this had changed when he had Dra-kun circle above the settlement first.
As far as could be seen from above, this settlement, or rather, town lacked people – in short, it was deserted. If this had been a human town, a dragon flying above them would have caused a huge panic, and yet, not a single soul came out to check what was going on.
As this was fairly weird, to say the least, he quickly scanned the town for a suitable landing spot for Dra-kun, which resulted in Dra-kun alighting on the central plaza.
No matter what city it is, they all have the same general layout, Renya assessed. Even in Klinge, we’ve got a central plaza that’s around the same size as this one, and just like in Klinge, a water fountain was installed in the middle of the plaza.
They installed the fountain after Emil and Frau suggested that it’d serve as a place of relaxation for the residents, but Renya didn’t really know how effective it was. What he knew about were plans to install something like a “Founding Lord Statue” on the fountain, which he personally and physically thwarted by heading over to the fountain and destroying the plan in its early stages.
While bitterly thinking, For heaven’s sake, you never know what these girls are going to pull off if you leave them to their own devices, Renya had jumped off Dra-kun’s back. Looking down at Frau who had briskly walked over to him and was now tightly clinging to his waist on the right side, Renya pondered, Leaving that aside, you can only sum up the situation here as abnormal. The thick, black smoke rising from a place slightly away from the plaza must be the fire Croire had previously confirmed with her keen eyes. Even though it’s been growing in size all the while, there’s absolutely no indication that anyone was trying to extinguish it.
No people screaming or yelling as you’d usually expect from a place being ravaged by fire. Only the flames’ thunderous crackling and roaring could be heard within this otherwise silent town. The best term Renya could think of to describe the current situation was abnormal.
“The question is, what happened, right?” With a worried look and her long elven ears drooping slightly, Croire placed a hand on Renya’s left shoulder, opposite from where Frau was glued to him, and leaned in close.
Let alone being flanked by beauties on both sides, Renya even had a third beauty stuck to his back. However, as sad as it might sound, the lucky man himself only indulged in the thought of how difficult it was to move with all these weights dragging him down.
“I’ve got no idea. And since that’s the case, let’s try to figure it out. …But, since it’s somewhat difficult for me to move while everyone is clinging to me, I wonder whether you could let go of me anytime soon…”
“You haven’t said anything like that to Shion-san, though…”
“That’s clearly discrimination ~nano.”
Renya only flashed a weak smile at Frau and Croire who separated themselves from him,complaining about it while in a very bad mood. If he could, he’d love to say the same thing to Shion, however, in Shion’s case it’d turn into a major pain if he did so and tried to forcefully get her off his back. After all, it’d be a bad joke if the town was completely wiped out just because Shion went berserk due to her fear of ghosts. And the frightening part was how Shion was actually quite capable of wiping out the town.
“How about I hug you from the front, if you have problems keeping your balance?” Rona teased with a grin.
Renya reacted by shooing her away with his hand. Shion’s boobs were already quite something, but Rona’s boobs would pack a completely different kind of punch. Having Rona’s boobs pressed against him from the front would easily erase any remaining reason in Renya, before he could even worry about his movements being impared and all that. 1
“It sure is difficult to be a popular guy, isn’t it?”
Liaris was snuggling up to Az who had called Renya out with a smile full of sarcasm. Renya was definitely in the mood of retorting with a teasing of his own, but since he was still letting Shion cling to his back, it’d lack persuasiveness.
Reluctantly Renya limited it to just sending Az a glare, and then called out to his friends after looking around him.
“Let’s try to investigate things a bit since I feel like something weird is going on. Az, Liaris, you stay here. Secure our path of retreat along with Dra-kun. If you notice anything odd, call us over by firing one shot of Dra-kun’s breath.”
Everyone except for Renya smiled wryly at the exceedingly flashy way of giving a signal. Dra-kun struck the plaza’s stone paving with his tail as if to indicate his understanding.
“Be careful where you shoot that breath, okay? If you fire it our way, roasted dragon tail will be on the menu for today’s dinner, got it?”
Dra-kun’s expression froze upon hearing Renya’s warning. Liaris laughed while consoling Dra-kun who repeatedly nodded his head to make clear that he understood.
“Don’t worry. He’s going to aim for the sky.”
“Okay, I’ll leave it to you. It’d be no joke if we were to pass on to the netherworld because of friendly fire.”
Az wondered, Would you actually die from just a dragon’s breath of this level, but being aware when to speak up and when to keep quiet, Az chose the latter.
By the way, since a dragon’s tail would completely grow back after being cut off, Az harbored the pretty cruel thought that it wouldn’t really matter if Renya lopped it off in the worst case scenario.
As there was no reason for him to know what Az was thinking about, Renya took the other members with him after entrusting the plaza to the three of them, first heading towards the fire.
“It’s burning quite profusely ~no.”
The area on fire was a district with what seemed to be residential houses lining up on the sides of the street. It wouldn’t be funny for them if they got enveloped by the fire while they were looking for what had caused it. Thus Renya decided that it’d be better to put out the fire first.
Even if it was easy to talk about putting out the fire, he had no other options but to either extinguish the fire by drowning it in lots of water or to wait for it to die out after consuming all the flammable materials nearby. Renya pondered which option he should choose here.
“Are you going to handle it, Renya?” Since Croire had asked him, albeit with a somewhat worried look, Renya nodded. In response, Croire continued while remaining uneasy, “Could I have you give up on that…”
“Why? Is there some problem with me doing it?”
Croire’s expression transformed into an apologetic one due to Renya’s question.
“Yes, I mean, if you get involved in this…it seems like you wouldn’t only extinguish the fire but also the town.”
Being told so with a serious yet grave expression, Renya was about to protest, but when he looked back at his actions so far, he realized that it might only be natural for her to tell him off. Renya himself was clearly aware that he’d caused quite a bit of damage all over the place thanks to him using massive amounts of mana without restraint. Probably because he wasn’t a professional sorcerer, he ended up causing devastating damage on a large scale, no matter what he did, and when it came to finer spellwork, he tended to experience a significant drop in precision. He thought that it’d be fine now that he had the dragons’ magic art knowledge, but once he considered that all his previous transgressions were the main cause for Croire’s current expression, Renya couldn’t possibly make an objection.
“Okay, then it’s Frau’s turn!”
“You would knock down the whole region straight to hell if you tried to extinguish the fire, right?”
Being flatly shot down by Croire, Frau tried to argue, but immediately averted her eyes for some reason, and stepped back while mumbling something under her breath with her face cast down.
Believing that Frau must be thinking the same what he had been thinking moments ago, Renya decided to gently stroke her head in order to comfort her.
“Two peas in a pond consoling each other, how touching.”
“That’s really terrible of you, Croire! I’m going to send you back to that emperor of yours!”
Seemingly unable to ignore how Frau buried her face in his waist, Renya raised his voice at Croire who went for the finishing blow. Reacting to that, Croire asked Renya while keeping her serious expression, “Would it really be okay for the current me to return to the elven country?”
“I have mastered such strong powers that finding an elf who could oppose me in all of the elven empire would prove to be rather difficult.”
Judging by her strength back when the demon country’s barrier was destroyed, her words might not be a brag, but a simple fact instead, Renya thought.
“In that case, if you were to forcibly send me back to the elven country…I’d kill that retarded father of mine…err, His Majesty the Emperor, and take over the country for myself.”
“Wait, wait, wait! What’s with all that dangerous stuff you’re bringing up here!?”
“It’s because I would immediately start a war against the human nations once I’ve usurped the empire’s throne, you know? That war would be noted down in the elven history books as <Margrave Renya Kunugi Recapture Campaign>. On my special authority as the empress.”
“As if I’d allow you to use my name for such a fucked up military campaign!”
“Please let me stay at your side properly then.” Completely switching away from her serious expression, a beautiful smile bloomed on Croire’s face.
Just going by her appearance, she looked like a lovely fairy, but Renya couldn’t help but spit out a deep sigh after realizing that the same abysmal darkness dwelt inside Croire as it did in Frau.
“…Okay, it’s your win. But, you being unable to entrust extinguishing the fire to Frau or me means that you can do something about it yourself, right?”
“Of course, please leave it to me, Renya.”
While believing that she should have simply said so from the start if she wanted to take care of it herself, Renya decided to entrust the fire to Croire.
“Okay, I’ll start the ceremony of praying for rain, passed down among the elves since ancient times.”
“And if you do something like that when is the rain going to start!?”
“It’s a joke. I’m just kidding.”
“Man, just give me a break with all the jokes…”
“I believe jokes are necessary to enrich a conversation.”
Once Renya glared at Croire while wondering whether her previous usurpation story was actually intended to enliven the conversation, she ignored his glare, and simply stuck her tongue out at him. The gesture itself was adorable, but he couldn’t quite laugh at it.
“Let’s see… <Offering my power, I pray to the Queen of Blue Ice – peacefully take everything into your gentle embrace, erasing all sounds from existence>.”
The chant was long, and the longer the chant, the stronger the power and range of a spell. In a hurry, Renya rummaged through his draconic magic arts knowledge, looking for the spell Croire had started to chant. The spell Croire had launched against the barrier wasn’t known by the dragons, but this time he immediately found the corresponding spell.
It was the high-ranking ice spell <Ice Casket>. A spell used to enclose its target in ice that wouldn’t melt. As long as no dispel spell was used, the target would remain locked up in ice for eternity. Still, at the very least it was not magic you’d use to extinguish a fire.
Since it was an extremely powerful spell, no matter how you looked at it, Renya considered stopping Croire for an instant, but this was a demon town, and since the cause of the fire should have already burned down anyway, even if they were to look for it, it should only return the situation to where they don’t know what would be best to investigate as they wouldn’t learn anything new even if they examined the area.
Believing that it’d be better to prioritize extinguishing, or rather, stopping the fire from spreading in this case, Renya opted to let Croire do what she wanted to do.
“<Lock it up, Ice Casket>”
At the same time as she finished the spell’s chant, blue ice protruded from the ground, where the fire was ravaging furiously, and began to freeze the fire and buildings, obviously lumping them together into one. In defiance of the fire’s vigor, the area specified by Croire continued to be enveloped in thick layers of ice, and a little while later, completely covered the whole site where the flames had been rampaged.
Seemingly unable to exist within the ice, the flames were completely extinguished, leaving only the frozen buildings visible across the transparent layers of ice. Seeing the result, Croire let out a deep breath.
“How about this? Perfect, wouldn’t you say?”
“…I don’t feel any sympathy since it’s a demon town, but it’ll likely be a chore to get rid of this ice.”
In front of the new mountain of ice, Croire pressed her hands against her hips, donning a triumphant look, whereas Rona very honestly stated her impression while looking up at all the ice.
Of course, if a mountain of ice suddenly rose high up into the sky in a section of a town, the temperature in its vicinity would naturally fall. Given that the fire had spread to a large portion of the town, one could call it inevitable, but while feeling unpleasantly cold beneath the huge block of ice, Renya started to ponder the silly question of whether Shion’s trembling was due to her fear of ghosts or this mountain of ice.
Now that the fire was extinguished, even if the aftermath wasn’t taken into account, Renya’s group split up while making sure they didn’t wander too far away from each other, and started to investigate the area, resulting in them frowning at the situation. When Renya saw that everyone had vanished from the town, he had wondered whether this was a mystery case similar to the Mary Celeste incident in his previous world. However, after getting close to a residential house, which had been spared by the flames, to investigate it, he realized how wrong he had been, after spotting the distinct traces remaining in the building.
If he were to describe the traces he found, the only term that would fit the bill would be atrocious.
No entrance door, no windows – in the part of the house that looked like an entry hall everything that looked like it could be broken was broken. And as if that wasn’t enough, there were many places where even the walls had been destroyed. Once he entered, he could see that everything that could be defined as furniture had been destroyed, and plenty of bloodstains were left on the wreck. It clearly told him that some kind of disaster had happened here. Like this novel? Then support the TL by reading it at Infinite Novel TL
With only this evidence, it would be possible to assume that some large bandit group – assuming something like that existed among demons – or something else had attacked and wrecked the town, but apparently believing that this hypothesis wasn’t correct, Renya headed deeper inside, and then titled his head in confusion after seeing the situation.
“Are demons actually quite greedy or something?”
It was only understandable for Renya to mutter such a question.
When speaking of things that would commonly be plundered by bandits and their ilk, it’d be valuables or maybe people to be sold as slaves. However, the interior of the building Renya had entered was completely cleaned out. Other than fragments of the destroyed furniture on the floor, all daily life items such as clothes, food, cookware, and tableware, which should be necessary in order to lead a normal life, were gone.
“For the time being…” Renya looked over his shoulder, at the reason why his back was still being weighed down.
By the way, because Frau was still clinging to his right waist, which extremely limited Renya’s mobility, he sensed how dangerous the situation could become if they were attacked with him being like this.
“Shion, it doesn’t look like ghosts have anything to do with this.”
“Really? Are you absolutely sure? You’re not pretending it’s not ghosts when it actually is, are you?”
Renya rolled his eyes, believing that there had to be a limit to her doubting him, but while thinking that Shion’s fear might look too excessive in his eyes, and yet might appear as very reasonable in Shion’s eyes, since everyone had things they were bad at dealing with, Renya gently tapped Shion’s head as she hadn’t even tried to lift her face, instead keeping it buried between his shoulders.
“If this was caused by ghosts, they could have entered the building without needing to destroy the entrance, right? Since everything has been destroyed so thoroughly, and seeing how anything and everything has been taken away, this was done by something capable of swinging a sword, which is definitely not a ghost.”
“Isn’t it possible that it was destroyed when the residents were kidnapped?”
Even while harboring a weird admiration towards her quick-witted retort, Renya denied her question, “Assuming that was the case, I don’t know of any ghosts who would steal everything, including livingware, do you?”
“You might be right.”
Due to Shion’s reply, Renya held a faint hope that he might be able to resolve the issue of the weight on his back. However, that hope was immediately crushed.
Shion, who had, for a second, thought about whether she should get off Renya’s back, pressed her face against Renya’s shoulder, and said, “But, you might also be wrong.”
Renya gave up on her as a lost cause. Now that Shion’s button had been pressed, it seemed ridiculously difficult to extinguish her fear.
Probably believing that he just had to move with her latched onto him in the worst case, Renya decided to not think about this matter any more, and shifted his eyes to Frau at his hip next.
“Frau, why are you glued to that place again?”
“It’s unfair that only Shion-ane-sama gets to stick to you ~no.”
Renya didn’t quite understand what she meant with unfair. He really didn’t, but believing that there might be some unfairness involved if Frau said so, Renya decided to go along with her without probing any further.
“Oh, I see…so where did Croire and Rona go?”
“The two have teamed up to investigate another building ~nano. Besides the worry that they might start to fight and cause even more damage to the surroundings, I think they will be fine ~no.”
Renya had an urge to retort with “Just how’s that gonna be fine?”, but the combination of a slim elf and a voluptuous human sounded strong as long as their proportions were to fit perfectly. However, he also felt like the damage to the surroundings would become extensive, if they fought each other.
Believing that they should wrap up the investigation quickly before anything like that happened and seeing how there wasn’t much information to be gained anyway, Renya tried asking Frau for her opinion now that they had looked inside the house.
“Frau, do you sense anything?”
Renya pointed at the empty house, the fragments scattered all over, and the bloodstains left here and there. These were about the only clues they had to work with. Renya guessed that the raging fire, which was extinguished by Croire, had spread from one of the houses that was wrecked like this one with a splinter or something else acting as the origin.
“I think there’s no doubt that they were attacked by something ~no.” Frau cast her face downwards as if to gather her thoughts.
However, her expression was gloomy and depressed as she apparently wasn’t very confident with what she said.
“But, if you were to ask me what attacked them, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Either way, we lack too much information~no.”
“Makes sense, I guess.”
All that was left were the buildings, some fragments and bloodstains. It’d be asking for too much if one demanded an educated guess based on just these three things.
“But, I have a hypothesis I’d like to tell you, master ~no…”
Frau added to Renya, who had been wondering whether they should leave, with a face still showing her lack of confidence.
“If Kurz-kun were to attack some city without restrictions, I think it’d turn out just like this ~no.”
The name of the human hero, who stayed back in Klinge, suddenly popped up. Outwardly he looked like a boy, but his insides were an aggregation of chaotic power created by Frau – something Renya couldn’t grasp at all. Still, Renya could easily imagine that the thing, which currently seemed to have settled down in the personality called Kurz, might be able to randomly swallow up everything it could get a hold of, be it living beings or inanimate objects, in case he went berserk for some reason and attacked a city or settlement.
However, if someone used that as a reason to claim that Kurz was the culprit in this case Renya would immediately deny it. Kurz should be in the middle of watching Renya’s home right now, placing him far away from Renya’s current location. Even if he had sneaked around behind Renya’s back, passed through the Miasma Forest, and arrived at the demon country, Renya couldn’t imagine a way for Kurz to get ahead of them in order to attack the town here.
Renya started to think about other possibilities, and then, after some time, frowned at the possible explanation he had reached.
“Does that mean there’s a being similar to Kurz on the demons’ side?”
“It’s a possibility ~nano.”
Considering that any further investigation would likely yield no results, Renya left the building, stepping out onto the garden.
Frau continued to talk while still sticking to Renya’s waist, “Even though I can hardly believe that there are several beings completely removed from this world’s logic like you, master.”
“Hey, just a moment there, girly!”
“Frau is a being that follows this world’s logic, so it wouldn’t be strange for another Frau to exist somewhere ~no.”
Frau completely ignored Renya’s protest, who had heard something he couldn’t leave unchecked. While at it, Frau smoothly appealed that she adhered to common sense.
I’m the wrong guy to claim this, but if two silkies like Frau were to exist in this world, the world would definitely get destroyed, even before the lack of resources, the demon king, or the goddess’ whim, became a problem, Renya assessed.
However, as Frau could say the same about Renya, he wondered whether he really was a being that deviated so much from the world’s common sense.
“Isn’t this a classic case of both sides being wrong?” Shion whispered behind Renya.
Due to Shion’s comment, which anyone would have agreed with, Renya glared at her over his shoulder, and Frau scowled up from his waist. In the next instant, Renya and Frau both started trying to tear Shion off, who was still clinging to Renya’s back by wrapping her arms around his neck, but Shion determinedly resisted their efforts, freely using all her full strength.
“G-e-t o-f-f ~n-o!”
“I won’t! And if I say so, it’ll be so!”
“L-e-t g-o-o-o ~n-o!”
“Stop it, Frau. Don’t pull. If you pull it that way…my neck…my neck will!”
Once Frau pulled on the struggling Shion, somehow trying to tear her off, Renya’s neck got wrung in return. Moreover, because Shion put some strength into her legs, which were coiled around his waist, he started to scream due to the unreasonable pressure that was being applied on his ribs and internal organs.
Twisting his body to somehow get out of getting choked, Renya walked several steps as if being drawn in the direction that Frau’s was pulling in, and then fell down after stumbling over some protrusion on the ground. Normally Renya would have immediately fixed his posture after tripping over something like that, but since he couldn’t deal with being tripped, pulled by Frau and strangled by Shion at the same time, he tumbled down.
Two screams could be heard: Frau who had been pulling on Shion, and Shion who was being pulled by Frau. As for Renya, he was in a state that didn’t allow him to make a voice at all.
Having had her back knocked against the ground, Shion tried to stand up while groaning from the backache, just to notice Renya, who had his face thrust into her chest at the moment, was not moving. Hence, the reason why Renya couldn’t speak up was due to his face being buried in Shion’s cleavage. Resulting in him suffocating for a completely different reason than before.
Frau, who had fallen on her backside somewhere slightly further away from the other two, probably because of her momentum, yelled loudly as soon as she noticed what was happening over there, “He was a lucky pervert ~nano!?”
“Just where did you learn such words, Frau…?”
With her cheeks blushing faintly, despite being shocked, Shion gently pushed Renya’s shoulder so as to lift his face from her chest. Thanks to Shion’s help, Renya managed to get his face out of her cleavage. Having a bright red face, Renya stood up while calming his desperate gasps for air. Neither Shion nor Frau knew whether the flush in his face originated from embarrassment or being almost smothered.
“I thought I’d die then and there…”
“Isn’t it every man’s dream to die between the breasts of a woman?”
“I still have some things left to do in this world.” Renya got up while bitterly answering Shion who joked around as she stood up while fixing her clothes which had become disheveled after Renya thrust his face into her cleavage.
Renya thought that he had to thank Shion for not teasing him about the situation when he fell on top of her. After all, he’d be hard pressed to find an answer, if she grilled him about how he liked the feel of her boobs or some such.
“However, what made me trip?”
Walking was a very important element in any martial art. Most people simply walked without being conscious of it, but to perfect a proper walking method was originally a very important technique. Renya was well aware of this. He should have been paying plenty of attention to where he was walking, but admonishing himself over the possibility that he wasn’t careful enough since he wasn’t concentrating due to messing around too much with the other two, Renya stared at the place on the ground where his foot got stuck, and widened his eyes when he caught sight of what he found there.
I very likely dug up the ground a bit with my feet when I fell down.
That, which could fleetingly be seen within the grouted ground, was so clearly the finger of a person that there couldn’t be the slightest doubt about it.