A lone girl was walking through the forest, flooded by light as it weaved its way through the leaf canopy. She wore an apron dress based on the two colors of black and white. Her flaxen hair swayed, loosely affixed to its position by a somewhat big ribbon. She looked young enough that it’d yet pose no problem to call her childish.
With her hair flashing somewhat dazzlingly every once in a while thanks to the sun rays pouring down on her from above, the girl would engender a heartwarming feeling in anyone as you would often be able to read in fairy-tales.
If the inhabitants of this world were able to see the current scenery on top of knowing the details about the place in question, they’d immediately doubt the girl’s sanity. After all, she was currently walking through the deep, dangerous forest, segregating the demon’s land from the world of the other races. It was a place that had earned itself the name Miasma Forest.
This forest was well-known on the continents to house all kinds of monster, without even having to mention its dangerous animals. Even skilled adventurers wouldn’t dare to enter this woodland alone, and of course it was no leisurely park where a lone, little girl could stroll around without a single guard protecting her.
Usually, the interior of the Miasma Forest was obstructed by the densely overgrown leaves of its trees, hindering the sunlight from ever reaching the ground. Depending on where you found yourself inside the forest, it could be so dark during daytime that you’d actually require a lamp to see anything.
And yet, the path currently tread by the girl was brightly illuminated by sunlight, allowing a clear look of the ground at her feet. That was proof of the leaf canopy above her head having thinned out a lot more than usual. Some kind of cause had pruned off or burned away the upper part of the forest, allowing the sun to reach the ground.
“Hmm? I don’t think I’m wrong here, but I can’t find them ~no.”
The one standing there with her arms folded and her head tilted while scanning the vicinity was none other than the head maid of the Kunugi Earldom, Frau.
No matter how big the world and even if it might be inhabited by all kinds of different life-forms, you wouldn’t be able to find a little girl, who could carefreely stroll through the Miasma Forest all by herself and on top of that in a maid outfit, anywhere else. Thus it wasn’t all that special, even if unexpected, to those knowing of the circumstances, but Frau was currently in the middle of searching for something in the Miasma Forest.
“If I go too far in, I’ll get away too far from Master and the city ~no.”
Originally a silky was a fairy bound to a house as its guardian, and thus they were limited by the restriction that they wouldn’t be able to exist if they were too far away from their protection target. Frau was also restrained by that restriction in the beginning, and there were occasions where she got dangerously close to vanishing, but recently it had become possible for her to open up quite a distance, albeit at the price of having some limitations on her abilities.
Frau considered this to be the outcome of her having remarkably proceeded in establishing her own ego and her existence largely diverting from what was called a silky, but since it came with the boon of a drastic increase for her field of activities, she didn’t mind it at all. Having said that, she could only exhibit the full range of her abilities near the city of Klinge, her protection target, or her master Renya, so Frau considered her roots not having really changed all that much.
“I’m really not suited for a search inside a forest ~no.” She spat out with a sigh, despite there being no one to listen to her complaints. “Even if I try to sense their presence, I can’t tell anything apart in this forest that’s overrun with life-forms ~nano.”
If this had been a city or plain, it should have been possible to visually confirm them to some extent, and it wouldn’t have been overly difficult to spot them by detecting their presence. However, forests, and especially the Miasma Forest, were crowded with animals, monsters, and old trees that possessed presences comparable to the first two. All of these interfered with Frau’s senses.
“Oh, I found some raspberries ~nano!”
It only applied if you excluded the part about the Miasma Forest being abnormally deep, wide, and dangerous, but despite its disturbing name, the Miasma Forest pretty much wasn’t different from any normal forest. And, since the danger went up the deeper you went into the forest, people almost never went far into the forest, allowing the forest’s fruits to ripen without being picked by anyone. In short, you could say the Miasma Forest was exceedingly abundant in its natural produce.
The berries would also be delicious when eaten raw, but if you added some sugar and boiled it all together, you could make a jam with a rich flavor. Frau, who had discovered a big patch with masses of raspberry shrubs, began to harvest them in high spirits. However, around the time she had collected an amount she couldn’t possibly hold in both her arms, she suddenly came back to her senses.
“Arghhh! I didn’t come here to pick raspberries ~no! Though I’ll take them back with me!”
You couldn’t ever have too many sweets. Probably because the ratio of women around Renya was rather high, Frau never ran out of mouths to feed with sweets. Not to mention Rona and Shion, but even Mayria had a fairly conspicuous sweet tooth. Croire had the tendency to one-sidedly prefer natural produce, but raspberries would fit that bill perfectly. And despite saying this and that, Emil wasn’t aversive towards sweets either. Since the archduchess and the beastman priestesses were currently present in Klinge as well, it was hard to believe that Frau would have to clog up her store houses, even if she collected mountains of raspberries.
Given that she was lucky enough to stumble upon this field, and including all the prior thoughts on the matter, Frau even pondered the option of shelving her current issue for the moment to fully focus on harvesting the berries.
“It’s wonderful that Frau won’t be troubled about the transport ~nano.”
Frau had also obtained the void storage skill possessed by Renya. She didn’t really use it much other than during the times when she was traveling with Renya, but it was still a very convenient ability for carrying the many cleaning utensils she needed for her job as maid and transporting groceries after going shopping. Therefore Frau believed it to be a silky accomplishment.
“Okay, then please excuse Frau for a bit ~nano.”
While thinking about all that, Frau brushed aside something hindering her with a hand while picking up raspberries. That huge something, which possessed a fur closer to black than brown, moved away from the space it had occupied so far thanks to Frau’s small hand, and turned its head around, obviously wondering what was going on for its body being pushed aside.
It was truly big. Even while standing on all fours, its height easily exceeded that of an adult human. Two crimson eyes shone in the sockets of its head, and a black bristle covered its whole body. Thick, faintly glowing, sharp claws were visible at its paws which sank into the soil.
After confirming that Frau was completely engrossed with picking raspberries, it slowly turned its body. After facing Frau, it brought its nose closer, starting to sniff the air. Noticing its presence, Frau stopped what she was doing, and looked in its direction.
The beast that had brought its face close as it was sniffing was certainly resembling the animal commonly referred to as bear. But, this beast was a lot bigger than a bear, and in addition, it exuded an aura of extreme danger. It was one of the monster types inhabiting the Miasma Forest.
This individual here, which was classified as <Calamity Bear>, had fur durable enough to withstand slashing attacks by soldiers, and tough muscles as well as massive fat which would hinder spears from reaching its intestines. It was a ferocious beast as it possessed the troublesome trait of being a gluttonous carnivore. It had a habit to eat anything looking edible, and was labeled a calamity which would literally eradicate entire pioneer villages and other monsters at the Miasma Forest’s outer circumference by devouring them, but it was rare for it to appear at the outlying areas of the forest.
Even when trying to subjugate it, any party with mediocre abilities would just become a snack for it, and thus an encounter with this monster equalled death with a fairly high probability, thus making true of the second part contained in the word calamity – bad luck.
The raspberry field just discovered by Frau seemed to be a feeding ground of <Calamity Bears>, and the individual Frau happened upon was in the middle of greedily devouring everything and anything, be it the scrub or fruits of the raspberry shrubs.
While calling up all that information and assessing the situation, bear and silky stared at each other fixedly. Looking from the side, the meeting of girl and bear in a patch of raspberry shrubs inside a forest could very well seem like a scene out of a movie, but in reality, it was a dangerous situation as the girl could become the bear’s prey at any moment if she made a single, wrong move. Moreover, to add insult to injury, the girl was currently in the process of stealing the bear’s raspberries.
No matter how you looked at this, usually it’d be a situation where it’d be unreasonable to expect the bear to not attack the girl, but things changed completely when it came to Frau being that girl.
“These are souvenirs, so it’s a no-no ~no.”
The one targeted by the calamity bear’s stare was Frau herself, but she apparently believed that the bear had his interest drawn by the raspberries she had collected, and thus she quickly stowed everything away into her void storage. But, as the bear still didn’t pull its eyes off her, Frau began to ponder just what might draw its attention so much, and tapped the tip of its nose that had been continuing to get closer while sniffing.
“Do you have any other business with me ~nano? Since Frau has no intention to retrieve the part eaten by you, you don’t need to worry ~no.”
Naturally, as a big glutton, the bear’s eating speed was nothing to scoff at, but this patch of raspberry shrubs had more than enough fruits for both, even if you deducted the bear’s share. The amount might have decreased a bit by Frau’s harvest, but this place was inside the Miasma Forest, and assuming it was a feeding ground for the bear, even just the leftovers would be plenty for Frau. Hence she had no intention to start a fight over it.
But, this logic didn’t take the bear’s side into account. The bear everted its lips as it stared at Frau, baring the sharp fangs hidden behind. With drool dribbling out from in-between those fangs, the bear suddenly got up on its hind paws.
One would wonder what would happen if a frame, which was huge enough to surpass a human adult while on all four, would stand up.
From the point of view of a little girl like Frau, the standing bear possessed an enormity like a towering wall. While growling deeply from deep within its throat, the bear raised its forepaws overhead, about to pounce on Frau, who was looking up to it, but then stopped moving.
Wondering what had caused itself to stop all of a sudden, the bear immediately realized.
The whispered murmur of Frau wasn’t anything a childish girl would ever say in this situation. Looking at Frau who hadn’t put herself on guard against a bear that had entered its attack mode, the bear understood – probably by instinct – that it had made a fundamental mistake in determining predator and prey. It knew it’d doubtlessly end up eaten if it attacked.
Based on that perception, the bear quietly lowered its front paws, went back down on all four, and slowly backed off, always keeping Frau in sight.
“Bear meat is delicious, but if you run, I won’t chase ~no. After all, Frau has been the one to intrude here ~no.”
When Frau warned the bear while wondering whether bear meat was really delicious in the first place, the calamity bear slowly averted its face from Frau, though it was unclear whether it had understood her words, and left. Despite feeling somewhat guilty, Frau resumed to cheerfully gather raspberries which now completely belonged to her with the bear gone. But, when she suddenly felt like having heard something similar to a person’s voice, Frau stopped her hands once more.
“…It’s unthinkable for people to be in a place like this ~no.”
On top of the Miasma Forest being no place where people could come and go as they pleased, Frau had pushed her way quite deep into the forest.
Realizing that, Frau suddenly realized that there existed a certain possibility, stopped with the raspberry gathering, and started to jog in the direction she suspected the voice to have come from. It was in the direction of the bear she had chased away just moments ago.
“Stay away! Kuu…I’m telling you to leave me alone, dammit!”
It wasn’t much of a challenge to follow the bear. The undergrowth had been trampled down by its massive paws, and bushes had been pushed aside by its huge frame.
After jogging for a while while following the bear’s tracks, Frau heard – this time clearly – a woman’s voice. A complacent smile formed on Frau’s face.
“Ha ha ha! I found you ~no!”
What came in sight at the end of Frau’s line of sight after she ran through several bushes was a woman with burns all over her body. The black clothes that used to cover her were tattered all over. Probably because of some kind of heat or fire, her long, black hair had become frizzly and disheveled. The fairly old woman was in the middle of kicking up a fuss after having been bitten around her right ankle by the calamity bear Frau drove away earlier.
Just then the calamity bear dragged the fallen black-haired woman across the ground with its fangs sunk into her right foot, but as soon as she spotted and recognized Frau, the woman started to trash around, trying to somehow free herself. Of course it was impossible for this level of reckless struggling to win out against the bear’s iron grip, but the action in itself, which didn’t mind a worsening of the wound, made the woman’s desperation pretty clear.
Frau was about to get closer with a smile plastered on her lips, clearly telling the woman that there was no hope for escape, but suddenly Frau was seized by the question, What was that woman’s name again?, and thus stopped moving in contemplation. In short, Frau had found whom she was looking for, but she didn’t know the name of her target.
“I feel like I didn’t ask before ~no. Well, it’s just a small, insignificant matter anyway ~nano.”
Frau had expected that the woman would die after surrounding her with her power and detonating it, but she didn’t get any feedback of it having succeeded. Feeling that it’d be somewhat dangerous to leave the woman at large, Frau had estimated that she would most likely hide out in a nearby place, just by the damage the woman should have suffered, and the fact of her not having sensed anyone from the demon’s side having come to retrieve her. And just as she had suspected, Frau discovered the woman in a place that wasn’t overly far away from Klinge.
“Ah, now then, missy. First off, your name please ~nano.”
“You…if I remember correctly, you’re called Frau or some such…”
Hearing the woman mention her own name, Frau tilted her head in confusion wondering whether she had introduced herself before, but since Frau was always mentioning her name whenever she was referring to herself, she could understand if the woman had heard it during their last battle.
“Knowing Frau’s name while Frau doesn’t know your name is unfair ~no!”
Pressing her fists against her hip, Frau acted as if she was upset, but the woman didn’t answer. The only thing that seemed certain was her identifying Frau as an enemy, and therefore she was pulling on her own leg at full strength, trying to somehow get away from this place, while still being bitten by the bear, but the bear didn’t show the slightest inclination to let go of her foot.
“Frau thinks that’s going to be impossible ~no. Frau doesn’t believe that Mr. Bear is going to readily give up on his fodder ~no.”
“Who’re you callin’ fodder!?” The woman screamed, but taking the situation into consideration, it was obvious to anyone that she was about to be turned into fodder anytime soon.
Because she tried to extract her foot out of the bear’s muzzle that clamped down on it powerfully, blood gushed out of the ever widening wound. And getting a taste of that blood, the bear sank its fangs even deeper into the woman’s flesh as if declaring that it’d never let go of it.
The crunching and cracking sounds, coming from the woman’s foot, were direct proof of the bear slowly breaking the bones apart with its fangs. Unable to bear the pain, the woman wailed in agony.
Frau carefreely approached her, “It’s not like Frau would have a particular problem with you being eaten by Mr. Bear, you know?”
Stopping just outside the reach of the woman’s hands, Frau looked down on her as she squirmed on the ground.
“Frau thinks that being devoured by Mr. Bear while alive is going to be terribly dreadful ~no.”
“Ugh…If only I hadn’t suffered all these burns…!”
The woman’s, Sazane Kuromitsu’s, ability was <Seduction>. It was an ability allowing her to scatter a scent which would turn all men into what could be called willful slaves. But right now, she wasn’t able to use that ability. Because the scent needed for her ability to work was emitted from her skin, she couldn’t release any of it right now as big patches of her skin were riddled with hideous burns thanks to Frau’s attack.
Then again, Sazane would have never considered fleeing into the Miasma Forest with her body seriously injured, if her ability had worked normally. After all, she could have obtained as many collaborateurs as she wanted, if she had infiltrated Klinge.
In that sense, you could also claim that Renya and the others were extremely lucky for the Lost Sazane to have suffered burns all over her body as a result of her directly facing Frau who was immune to Sazane’s ability.
“If you give up and surrender yourself to Frau, Frau will at least release you from your pain ~no.”
Seeing as Sazane was an enemy, Frau didn’t have the option to let her go. Yet, it wasn’t as though Frau didn’t have enough compassion in her to spare Sazane the wretched death of being devoured by a bear. Frau’s suggestion was based on the idea to kill her swiftly and painlessly instead, but apparently Sazane, the one on the receiving end, was anything but willing to go along with it. While giving Frau a look full of fury, she swung her arms in Frau’s direction, trying to hit her, albeit likely realizing that her hands wouldn’t reach the silky.
Of course, this was no reason for the bear to let go of her foot. Frau took one step back as a precautionary measure, now standing in a place where Sazane wouldn’t be able to hit her, even by freak chance.
“It looks like a settlement through discussion is impossible ~no.” Frau muttered with a truly disappointed look.
“D-…Don’t fuck with me!” Sazane howled in response.
Frau had quite seriously intended to talk it out, and thus furrowed her eyebrows while looking somewhat upset at Sazane’s scream, but Sazane didn’t stop at that.
“You fuckers…you pieces of shit are the evil here…! You are the ones supposed to die!”
“What to say? Frau doesn’t even feel the desire to correct all your nonsense ~no.”
Losts usually fell into this world without any prior knowledge about the world over here. Some of them got blessed with relatively decent humans being around them like Renya, but there also existed some who ended up involved with evil humans who whispered poison into their ears, abusing the fact that the Losts didn’t know anything.
In Sazane’s case, it could also stem from her original character, but the first person she met when coming into this world was the demon king, and her completely believing everything he said about the state of this world was the beginning of her downfall. Frau ended up pitying her for this streak of bad luck, but on the other hand, Sazane was obviously no child and thus should possess enough mental capability to think for herself. Hence, Frau believed that Sazane reaped what she had sown by not even trying to look at reality with her own eyes.
“As long as only your head remains, it’ll be plenty for Frau’s task ~nano.” Frau informed Sazane after sighing deeply.
Despite feeling a little pang of sympathy for Sazane who was glaring up to her with eyes full of hatred, Frau lightly clapped the bear’s body, who had stopped moving altogether as if waiting for Frau to finish her conversation.
“Frau is sorry for having made you wait, Mr. Bear. Please, enjoy your meal ~nano.”
The calamity bear had a reason why he didn’t attempt to proceed any further with his fangs still stuck in Sazane’s foot. It came from his intuition as a wild beast having acknowledged Frau as an extremely dangerous creature during their exchange at the raspberry bushes. Thus the bear had remained obedient while fearing what kind of consequences it might have to face if it had tried to devour a human, which Frau needed for something, without waiting for her to finish her business.
Frau had described this as “having made you wait,” but this was now over with Frau herself having told the bear to enjoy its meal. With a low, rumbling growl, the bear got up on its hind legs while holding Kazane’s leg in its mouth, immediately resulting in Sazane hanging upside down. The bear swung its right forepaw once as if annoyed by her struggling, landing a direct hit against Sazane’s belly. Its thick, sharp claws easily ripped through her skin and flesh, causing Sazane’s scream to echo into the vicinity.
“It’s unthinkable for a wild bear to stay still with fodder right in front of its eyes ~no.”
Trying to pin down Sazane’s body who was struggling even more fervently due to the pain, the bear sunk its claws deeper into her belly. While listening to Sazane’s screams and wailing reaching a new height in volume with a gloomy mood, Frau mumbled under her breath, “It’s not like anyone’s going to hear you, you know ~no?”
“If Frau had known that Mr. Bear would only wait because Frau was here, Frau certainly wouldn’t have made such a blunder in making the wrong choice, but now it’s too late either way ~nano.”
By now, this spectacle had turned into the bear only getting more excited by the blood and strange stench scattered into the vicinity each time Sazane’s body squirmed and struggled. Supported by the claws that were embedded in Sazane’s belly, the bear began to savagely devour her body, starting from the heel that had been in his muzzle for the whole time.
“It’s a splatter movie ~nano. That’s no scene you could show to good children ~nano. It’s good that Frau came here all by herself ~nano.”
Sazane’s body kept being painted in blood and tragic wounds as she continued to shriek some incomprehensible babbling. The bear consumed her right leg to its root in the blink of an eye, but of course this was far from enough to sate its hunger. It sank its teeth into the struggling left leg, and savagely wolfed it down, bones and all, to fill its stomach.
Sazane lost her left leg in little to no time. At this point, she had no power left to scream anymore. All that came out of her mouth was some broken groaning that sounded as if air was escaping her throat. By now she had fallen into a state where the remaining stump of her body kept trembling in spells of convulsions. And yet, she was still alive.
Frau couldn’t decide whether Sazane had been sturdy to begin with or whether her vitality had been boosted by her becoming a Lost, but even so, she could tell that Sazane couldn’t be saved anymore. She started to think that she ought to behead Sazane anytime soon now since it’d only make her feel depressed to continuously watch someone, whom she wasn’t going to rescue anyway, die a slow death.
However, those thoughts ceased when the calamity bear suddenly bit into Sazane’s body, just to shake it off its claws with a swing of its paw, interrupting its feast.
“What’s wrong ~no?”
For an instant Frau thought that the fodder might have tasted quite badly, but she immediately realized that the bear wouldn’t have eaten both her legs if that was the case.
In front of Frau, who was wondering what might have happened, the bear went back down on all fours, and glared at a single point between the trees, bearing its fangs and lowly snarling its threat. It was very obviously a behavior hinting at it being wary of some kind of enemy, but Frau couldn’t believe that. After all, Frau still couldn’t sense a single presence around them at this point in time.
“Frau’s detection ability is inferior to that of a calamity bear ~no…?”
This was something hard to believe for her. Certainly, right now Frau was quite a distance away from Klinge, the city under her protection, and Renya, her master, and thus her abilities fell somewhat flat in comparison to their perfect state. But, despite that, it was hard for Frau to believe that her detection abilities would lose out to those of a calamity bear.
Next Frau considered the possibility that the bear might be making a mistake, but for it to get so wary that it’d abandon its food was anything but normal, making this reasoning quite unlikely.
“Then just what…” Breaking off at that point, Frau finally noticed what had triggered the bear.
It was a truly faint whiff of bloodlust. However, this small amount of bloodlust could never be the reason for the bear to act as warily as it was right now.
In other words, it was a pinpointed, sharp and honed, dangerous presence that could only be perceived by the calamity bear as the target of the bloodlust. Reacting to that, the bear got wary while abandoning Sazane’s body.
There were two reasons why Frau hadn’t noticed it. First, the bloodlust was too accurately pinpointed on the calamity bear, and second, Frau herself wasn’t included as target of that bloodlust.
Her having become able to perceive the bloodlust just now obviously meant the person, who released the bloodlust, felt like telling Frau about their presence. While considering all that, Frau let her eyes wander towards the direction of the bloodlust.
“Somehow it looks like things have taken a really bad turn, don’t they?”
Sazane’s body was one whole mess after having been tossed away by the calamity bear. The figure, who stood in-between the trees while casually grabbing the neck of that body, was completely hidden underneath a hooded cloak. The outfit slightly visible underneath the cloak was a khaki military uniform. Black, glossy boots reached up to the knees, and a single saber hung at the waist.
That person, who seemed to be a young man going by his voice, was lifting up Sazane’s body, which should weigh quite a bit despite having lost both legs, with just his left arm.
“Who are you ~nano?”
Frau immediately grasped that he was no ordinary person, even without needing anyone to spell it out for her. After all, did he not only walk through the Miasma Forest by himself, but even managed to get so close to Frau without being detected by her until he deliberately released his bloodlust.
It wasn’t as though Frau had asked while expecting to receive an answer, but the man readily replied to her question.
“Karen is what I call myself. I came all the way out here as it became necessary to pick up this one over here.” The man, who had introduced himself as Karen, said while lifting up Sazane’s deadly still body with his left arm at shoulder height.
Frau immediately raised her danger level due to his completely listless action. While the bear lowered his stance to pounce at the man at any given moment, its threatening growling became increasingly louder.
The name Karen didn’t sound familiar to Frau herself. But she had the ability to access a part of her respected master’s memory. This meant that the silky with the name Frau had possessed Renya in a certain sense, but in Frau’s eyes it was only natural for her to obtain a certain level of information to take care of her master, and even Renya himself, the person haunted by her, didn’t really mind it all that much.
Of course, seeing how Renya had things he wanted to keep private, the memories Frau could access were basically limited to the outer layer of Renya’s memory block, but it also had the fairly unfair specification that Renya couldn’t access Frau’s memories in reverse.
Not once had Renya complained about this circumstance, but if he should ever file a complaint about it, Frau intended to protest by asking him whether he planned to look at the secrets of a maiden.
Anyway, leaving all of this aside, Renya’s memory had knowledge about a person with the name Karen. According to that entry, that person’s identity was an unknown, but he was labeled as extremely dangerous nonetheless. It further went on to state that Karen’s skill in swordsmanship might be at the same level as Renya’s.
This might be bad ~no
Frau judged while placing a hand on the calamity bear, which was continuing to threaten their adversary with a low growl, and stroking it gently so as to calm its anger. Frau had even managed to repel the demon king’s clone, but she managed to do so because the fight took place next to her homeground. Right now, while being separated from her master and Klinge by many miles, Frau’s abilities were significantly weaker.
Taking a hostile stance against an enemy whom Renya regarded as dangerous couldn’t be called a smart choice, no matter how she looked at it. Moreover, Frau owned abilities contradicting any common sense for a silky and she was also quite aware of it herself, but in addition to that, she was all too aware of another matter. Namely, her not really being suited for combat.
She believed, if someone, who was better suited for combat than her, possessed abilities at her level, they’d be of a lot more assistance to Renya in battle than her. Frau understood her own existence based on that thinking.
“Are you going to duke it out with me here? Personally I don’t really have any plans to escalate things as long as I can recover this.” Karen asked Frau while pointing with his eyes at Sazane’s body.
Sazane, whom Karen held by the scruff of her nape, didn’t seem to be conscious anymore since her body had crashed into the trees around there after the bear carelessly tossed her rump away as it got wary of Karen.
Rather, her wounds are mostly fatal ~no. Even if I leave her alone, she probably won’t have much longer to live ~nano, Frau assessed. In that case, it means he’s been told to bring her back, dead or alive ~no.
What Frau required was Sazane’s head alone. Or to be more precise, as long as she could get her hands on Sazane’s brain, she didn’t care about the rest of her body. One of the reasons for her current actions was based on the idea that it might become of help for Renya, if she could extract some information about the demon king from Sazane’s brain.
Having said that, it’s certainly true that I can’t expect too much informational gain out of this either ~no
It was hard to imagine that a Lost, who had been summoned just recently, would possess a detailed account of information about the demon king. It was a thinking grounded on the idea that she had nothing to lose anyway since she could only gain something out of it in the worst case. But the biggest reason lay in Frau’s suspicion that nothing good would come out of returning Sazane, who emitted that strange scent from her body, alive to the enemy.
“What are you going to do?” Karen urged her to make a decision while she was contemplating.
Karen was a pawn of the demon king, and it was to be expected that he possessed information about Frau, who had defeated the demon king’s clone, if he was in touch with the demon king. Facing him like this, Frau couldn’t fully gauge Karen’s true abilities, but even her opponent shouldn’t find it very amusing to get attacked from behind by an enemy who had defeated the demon king, albeit only one of his clones.
“It’s an unreasonable proposal to tell Frau that Frau should go back empty-handed ~nano.” Frau chose her words while attentively watching Karen’s every move.
She couldn’t afford to not say what she wanted to say, but it wouldn’t be overly funny if she angered the other side just because she used the wrong words.
“Frau wonders whether you’d be willing to share at least the head with Frau ~no.” Frau proposed with a smile beaming all over her face.
“…Wait, we’re not talking about a slab of meat here, okay?” It was just faintly, but Karen seemed like he drew back from her words.
Frau couldn’t see his entire face because of the hood, but she could spot how the visible part of his lips cramped up, allowing her to feel like she had landed a nice counterblow.
“Frau would be willing to pay one copper per gram of meat ~no.”
“Whoa, how damn cheap…wait, hey!?”
“Frau thinks it’s an extraordinary price to pay for inedible meat ~no.”
“Before all that, I’m not going to sell her off piece by piece, you know!?”
“Frau is fine with just the part above her neck ~no.”
“Scary! Girl, you’re seriously scary!”
Karen started to show obvious signs of backing away, but what was grasped in his hands was the mass of Sazane which was the perfect example of splatter. No matter how much he described Frau’s suggestion as scary, it lacked any persuasiveness since he was producing a scene that was even scarier.
“I’d like you to sell it to me ~no.”
Frau looked at Karen with upturned eyes while putting her fingers together, but her side also lacked persuasiveness, seeing how a frenzied calamity bear was seething in rage next to her.
“Obviously that’s out of the question.”
“You meanie ~no.”
“Don’t make eyes at me. In the first place, you and I are enemies. Probably.”
“Nothing good comes out of hatred ~no!”
Frau emphasized while tightly clenching her fists in front of her chest, and making stars twinkle in her eyes, but this only made Karen even more wary of her. He retreated for as many steps as Frau had tried to walk up to him.
“Is that the line of someone trying to barter for pieces of a corpse!?”
“Tsk…you’re so stubborn ~no.”
She had been aware of it beforehands, but Frau clicked her tongue as it seemed like she wouldn’t be able to solve the situation with words alone in the end.
It meant the only method left to her for resolving the situation was the use of force, but Frau couldn’t find an answer to the question whether it wouldn’t be a mistake to challenge him to a fight. She had a vague feeling that things would work out somehow, but she didn’t know what to expect from Karen as an opponent.
From Frau’s point of view, she felt like it’d be extremely tough, no matter what she would do. It wasn’t as though he was so stubborn that he wouldn’t even talk with her, and the mood wasn’t really all that bad either, but he had a presence that made any further approach difficult, and although he was just standing there, his stance didn’t show a single opening. He wasn’t a being that would frighten someone from just their aura of intimidation, but Frau also felt that it’d be her end if she crossed a line she should never cross. Not only was Karen elusive, but she couldn’t even spot the bottom of his ability while scrutinizing him.
Due to that mysterious sensation, Frau felt hesitant for a change.
“Now that it has come to this, I’ll resort to my final measure ~nano.”
“So we’re going to duke it out?” Karen’s voice dropped by a level.
His cold, sharp voice was tinged with a bloodlust that made it easy to imagine that he’d immediately draw the saber at his waist depending on Frau’s reply. On the other hand, Frau smiled at this with plenty of composure, deliberately lowered her stance, and boldly declared, “I’ll entice you with my sex appeal ~no!”
“No, look, even if you try that, you’ve got nothing to show for it, do you?” Karen retorted coldy within a split second.
The speed of his retort was the definition of decisiveness. Due to the overly splendid sharpness of his retort, even the bear, which had earnestly kept threatening Karen until then, was so taken aback that one could wonder whether it actually understood the human language. Meanwhile, Frau’s face became bright red, although it wasn’t clear whether it was triggered by rage or shame.
“Damnit ~nano! All big breasts should sag to hell ~no!”
While shifting from a bright red face to being on the verge of tears, Frau spat out a line that would earn her protests from all over Klinge, nimbly leaped upon the back of the dumbfounded calamity bear, and hit its back, trying to dash away from this place as quickly as possible.
Karen, who didn’t care about the reason as long as she retreated from here, didn’t intend to chase after Frau and bear, and just saw them off as they ran away from him.
However, suddenly Frau turned her head around as if twisting her own neck. She did it with such a force that anyone would believe it impossible for any normal living being to move their neck in such a way. Moreover, her body remained facing forward while only her face was looking directly behind her. This sight caused Karen to get startled against his will.
Fixing herself in place with her legs while grabbing the bear’s back fur as it began to gain in speed, Frau unleashed yet another move.
“A sudden, smokescreen-like <Bright Light> ~no! Deploy at full force ~nano!”
As soon as a multitude of <Bright Lights> manifested in the space between Frau and Karen, they released a fierce light that would sear anyone’s eyes, dyeing the entire vicinity white.
Karen had been cautious of Frau trying to launch some kind of attack, and thus his eyes were directly hit by the flash of light, turning his own sight into a pure white canvas. Any ordinary person would have started to panic after having lost their eyesight. But, Karen’s response was calm and swift.
At the same time of drawing the saber at his waist, a single, sharp tongue click left his mouth.
“<Small Fireball> ~no!”
He grasped the situation around him through the reverberations of the sound. It was a sound-based detection possible because of his superhuman hearing ability.
If Frau had used her spell as a means of attack, Karen might have been able to cut down the approaching fireballs thanks to that ability.
But, Frau’s aim was something else altogether.
Frau’s spell, which had been fired randomly, scattered into the surroundings without hitting Karen’s body, resulting in explosions that drowned out Karen’s tongue click. No matter how superior Karen’s hearing might be, in a situation of noise randomly assailing him from all over the place, it was impossible for him to grasp the situation around him through sound.
With his hearing and sight thwarted at almost the same time, Karen stopped moving for but an instant. Frau, who had changed the bear’s travel direction while aiming at that very instant, grabbed Sazane’s head with all her might as she passed Karen with the bear dashing at full speed. With a single, wet snap, the head was torn off its neck.
“Sheee yaoo ~nanoo. Fraou ishh taaaking thissh ~nano!” Frau shouted at Karen, who let go of Sazane’s body because its head got torn off, while adding a weird vibrato to her voice, and then single-mindedly escaped the scene while spanking the bear’s butt.
It wasn’t as if the bear had been trained, and yet it followed Frau’s order for no apparent reason, breaking through the trees, deeper into the forest while roaring around. Very likely neither bear nor Frau understood the reason why it did what it did.
However, they both shared the idea that they had to get away from here as quickly as possible, even if the surprise attack itself might have gone well.
And while carrying Sazane’s head with her left hand, Frau touched her shoulder with her faintly trembling right hand.
“His sight and hearing were blocked ~no…no way ~nano.”
Her maid attire’s fabric was cut at the top of her shoulder, allowing her bare skin to peek out. And that skin had a shallow cut line run across it.
The instant Frau had stolen Sazane’s head from Karen, he had swung his saber, despite being in a situation where he couldn’t confirm the circumstances around him. And he had managed to hit Frau’s shoulder, injuring her lightly. Frau didn’t want to imagine just what kind of injury this had been, if he had been in a situation where he could see or use his hearing ability. Frau couldn’t stop a chill running down her spine as she imagined that.
“Don’t do such cruel stuff. Just who the hell taught you something like that?” Karen muttered under his breath after concluding that it’d be impossible to chase after Frau and bear within the Miasma Forest with his sight and hearing not working properly.
His hearing had returned to normal right away since it had only been confused by a multitude of noises assailing it all at once for a split second, but because he had directly looked into the flash unleashed by Frau, his eyesight was only returning slowly while continuously flickering. Then again, it wasn’t as though his eyesight had been completely destroyed, so he guessed that it’d probably return to normal sooner or later.
Karen looked at his feet with his eyes that kept recovering. Discovering what he was looking for, he picked it up.
“I guess even this much should be enough. I was told to bring her back dead or alive after all.”
What he had picked up was Sazane’s headless and legless body. Since the bear had left his mark in her torso, it had turned into a lump of flesh at this point.
“Our objective was the heart anyway. The head is…I guess I’ll let her have it as a reward for having put up such a good fight.”
According to the explanation Karen had heard from the demon king, the source of the skills granted to Sazane, or rather, the source of the abilities of all Lost belonging to the demon king’s side lay in their hearts. Therefore he had come all the way out here after receiving the order to at least recover the heart at any costs. For the demon king’s side, Sazane having died might be a painful blow, but as far as the job he was requested to do was concerned, he could regard it as accomplished.
“You really had no luck. Well, please give up since it can’t be helped either way.” Karen said to Sazane who shouldn’t be able to hear him.
After casting a short glance in the direction where Frau and bear disappeared, Karen gave it a shrug, and left.
“Master, I have finished my work ~no.”
Renya quickly scanned his vicinity in surprise over suddenly hearing Frau’s carefree, indifferent voice from who-knows-where. As usual these days, he was currently standing on Klinge’s training ground.
After he had promised that he’d take care of the heroes’ training, he captured the four, who were liable to run away, whenever he had some free time and dragged them to this place. Over here they then performed mock battles in the name of training sessions.
This was also owed to Renya having nothing to do at present. He had absolutely no hand in the creation of the something outside Klinge which was spearheaded by the beastman queen and the investigation of the demon city which took place at the same time.
As the beastman queen had had a fence built around whatever they were making and carefully covered the foundation with layers of cloth, it had become impossible to see what was being built inside from the outside.
Renya had asked the archduchess, the beastman queen, and the elven emperor about it on several occasions, but as all three uniformly dodged any inquiries, Renya had given up on probing any further at some point. He somehow vaguely felt that Shion and Mayria might know something, and thus he knew that the two would be very likely unable to avoid his investigation, if he pushed from his side, but even for Renya it would have a bad aftertaste if he extracted supposedly confidential information from Shion and Mayria.
“That queen sure leaves no openings, huh?”
Deciding to go take a look on his own since no one wanted to talk about it, Renya tried to sneak onto the actual building site, but the queen had set up measures in advance to thwart any such attempts. Just as he was about to sneak in, beastwomen appeared from somewhere, surrounded him, and then the queen, who had shown up as well, gave him a sermon about how wrong it was for men to try to take a peek at something women were trying to hide without permission.
Renya attempted to protest against being treated like a molester so far as it went, but as if on purpose, all the women surrounding Renya were small, young beastgirls, and all of them with their cat, rabbit, dog, and fox ears pleaded to Renya to heed their request and pull back with cute looks, trying to keep him from proceeding any further.
No matter how much of a brute Renya might usually be, even for him it’d be difficult to push all the fluff aside to force his way through. Seeing how Lobelia was cautiously watching his every action while standing outside that ring of girls on top of that, he decided that it’d be unreasonable to proceed any further, and pulled back. Ever since then, he hadn’t tried getting close anymore.
The rumor about being able to restrain Renya by using children, and even better by using small girls, made its rounds in Klinge, resulting in a scene where Shion doubted Renya’s preferences, but somehow feeling that it’d just prove her having hit the nail on the head if he got angry here, he limited it to carefully and kindly explaining to Shion that he didn’t have any such preference at all.
In the first place, if I had such preferences, I wouldn’t have kicked down the little goddess I met before being thrown into this world, Renya’s thinking had completely derailed, before he finally started to feel suspicious about being unable to see Frau, the origin of the voice, no matter where he looked.
“Umm, Renya? Just what’s wrong with you?” Emil asked him, mystified by him having suddenly stopped to move.
Her face had quickly peeked out from behind a certain cover. Likewise, Kurz also peeked out from the other side of the same cover. Moreover, Grün’s face popped out above the cover. And just then, the obstacle, which had covered for the three, silently pitched forward and crashed to the ground, apparently having used up all its strength.
“Lepard, you still alive?”
“Beastmen are generally tough, so I think he’s going to live through this.” Grün answered without any confidence to Kurz who had squatted down next to the mass on the ground and was now poking it with a finger.
Albeit faint, white smoke rose from Lepard’s body which had completely stopped moving. He had collapsed while in a state that allowed the educated guess that he had been exposed to some kind of extremely high temperature right before his fall.
Renya pondered for an instant whether he had gone too far.
Since it has happened during the mock battle, it’s certainly true that I’ve used somewhat stronger magic attacks, but of course I didn’t have the slightest intention to kill Lepard. However, despite that, the <Lightning> spell, which allowed for no room to evasion despite having its output lowered a bit, might be unsuitable for training, no matter how you look at it, Renya assessed.
If he had to give an excuse, Renya would claim that he believed it’d be no problem since the spell could also be blocked with Kurz’s mist as well as Emil and Grün’s magic, seeing how it had been a blow with a fairly lowered power output. Of course, he hadn’t considered that all three would opt to use Lepard’s big body as a shield to get through Renya’s attack. Believing that this might be a tactical mistake on the side of the heroes, Renya shifted the blame for the whole incident to the other four.
“You guys are terrible, aren’t you?”
“That’s nothing I want to be told by you who unleashed such a merciless attack, Renya.”
“You could have blocked it normally, no?”
Since he had lowered the strength albeit increasing the range, Emil should have been more than capable to block the spell, even without needing the help from Grün and Kurz. And yet, all three readily chose to use Lepard as a shield.
“That’s something we now know as well.”
“Well, I don’t care even if you get scolded by Lepard afterwards, okay?” Renya declared while looking at Lepard’s body which had started to twitch after getting persistently poked by Kurz.
It didn’t seem like he’d be able to get up anytime soon, but at least he appeared to still be alive. Surprised by Lepard’s sudden movement, Kurz fell on his backside while Grün quickly distanced himself before Lepard would recover.
“Moping about past matters is unbecoming of a hero, right?” Emil said bluntly, wanting to put an end to things, albeit quite forcibly, and walked up to Renya’s side. “By the way, what’s the reason for you having suddenly stopped your attack? Did you possibly think that you’ve finished us off?”
“No, I just felt like I heard Frau’s voice.”
Her asking meant Emil apparently hadn’t been able to hear the voice like Renya. As if to prove that, doubt revealed itself on Emil’s face as she listened to him.
“Frau? Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her around these last few days.”
“Now that you mention it. I had already thought that it was weird for a normal maid to take care of my everyday’s life.”
Renya didn’t remember having ordered Frau to do something. And thus whatever Frau was doing had nothing to do with Renya. For this reason Renya left her alone while lightheartedly believing that she’d contact him if something was wrong.
Originally, fairies are whimsical beings anyway, and since Frau is essentially no different from one despite being called a silky, it wouldn’t be odd for her to unexpectedly disappear, Renya thought. Yet, seeing how Klinge is the home Frau protects, and since I’m her master, she’s probably going to come back once she’s finished with her business of sorts.
“Just where is she loitering about…?”
“That’s what you say, but wouldn’t it be more worrisome if you started to mishear Frau’s voice?” Emil nudged Renya’s side with her elbow while grinning.
In response Renya silently grabbed hold of her head.
At that moment, “Frau is hooome ~nanoo!” The door to the training ground was blown open alongside Frau’s excessively cheerful greeting.
Renya and Emil dodged the remains of the door which came flying after being torn out of its hinges. Grün and Kurz, who were next in the door’s flight path, quickly held up Lepard’s body to use him as a shield while he remained unconscious of all things.
The door pieces, which squarely hit Lepard with a loud, substantial smack, caused Renya to wonder just who would fix that which had been shattered into fragments due to the impact, as he watched the whole thing happening.
Frau loudly called out to Renya from the entrance that was now gaping wide open, “Master, it has been a long time ~nano.”
“Long time, you say…just where did you go…?” Shifting his eyes in Frau’s direction, Renya stopped talking halfway.
After all, he had spotted a huge bear. Its height, as it stepped onto the training ground, was around as tall as Renya despite walking on all four. But, the bear wasn’t the reason for Renya having stopped speaking.
Huge bears weighing several hundred kilograms had existed in his previous world to begin with, so he wouldn’t consider the existence of a bear with a weight of several tons as anything weird, seeing how he had come to a different world.
However, things were different when it came to a little girl sitting on its back while waving her hand so energetically that it actually caused the wind to howl, and on top of that, her holding hair that was connected to a head in that very hand.
It was impossible for Renya to know where she had picked up something like that, but as quite a bit of time had probably passed since the head had been torn off its neck, no blood trickled down from its wound, and the blood dyeing the head had solidified and taken on a dark red hue.
A bear, a girl, and a head.
While it was a completely mismatched combination, the overall impression offered one the options of either regarding it as a horror scene or some kind of bad joke.
“It’s a souvenir, Master ~nano!”
Given that the entire scene was also clearly visible to the three heroes, not one one of them was able to utter a single word while having that happen in front of them.
Only Renya – after pondering what to say for a short while – threw a question at Frau, “Do you mean to give me the bear or the head as a souvenir?”
“Master, you like bear meat ~nano?” Frau asked while cutely tilting her head to the side.
Underneath her, the face of the bear, which originally should have no expression, obviously froze. It stopped its walk, petrifying on the spot.
While predicting that a gory bear-dismantling show would immediately start if he admitted that bear meat was one of his favorite dishes, Renya shook his head, “No, not really.”
“That’s great to hear ~no. If it had been Master’s favorite dish, Frau would have been forced to prepare it for you ~no.” Frau said with a broad smile.
Underneath her, the bear’s body began to tremble so strongly that you could even tell from its outward appearance.
No matter how you look at it, it’s just a normal bear if you ignore its hugeness, but it looks like it’s capable of understanding human language, Renya waved a hand in order to give the bear a peace of mind. Even if it was unclear just where that bear came from, Frau sitting on its back doubtlessly meant that she had been the one to pick it up. Renya couldn’t muster any desire to take such a bear apart to eat it.
“The bear not being the present means it’s the head?”
“Huh? I feel like I’ve seen that head somewhere before.”
On top of the head’s hair style having turned into a sloppy mess because Frau had whirled the head around while holding it at its hair, the face was twisted by the terribly spiteful look of a dead person. It was such an expression that it actually made it hard to tell what kind of face it might have been while the owner was still alive, but Emil could apparently still make a connection.
As Emil began to rack her brain in an attempt to recall where she had seen that face, Frau told her, “I have taken down a subordinate of the demon king ~no.”
“Aahh, that lass with the weird stench who had attacked us, huh? I was finally able to remember.”
Emil clapped her hands together, clearly showing her comprehension, but Kurz and Grün continued to stare at Frau, who was still waving the head around, with looks that made it obvious that they didn’t understand what was going on.
While believing that their reaction might be normal one here, Renya asked Frau, “So, having taken down the perpetrator of the attack is definitely an achievement, but what do you plan to do with that head after expressly tearing it off its neck?”
“She was the demon king’s subordinate ~nano. Frau is sure she possesses some information about him ~nano.”
Renya pulled a troubled expression upon Frau’s triumphant announcement.
Usually, the dead couldn’t talk. For this reason, you had to capture a person alive if you wanted to extract information out of them, but the head in Frau’s hand was undoubtedly and utterly dead.
“Even if you talk about information, how do you plan to make a dead person spill the beans?”
After asking that much, Renya suddenly realized that Frau possessed an ability allowing her to access the knowledge of the existences locked in within her body.
“It’s easy for Frau to extract information even from the dead ~no!”
“Come to think of it, you got a point, but…do you plan to possess that thing?”
Once Renya asked while pointing at the head, Frau’s movements stopped.
The bear looked up to her, wondering what was wrong.
In case Frau wanted to obtain the information for the dead, she had to take her target into her own body. Basically it meant she had to somehow absorb the head, but the other party was someone from a different world, and on top of that, she was the source of a somewhat odd stench in Frau’s eyes. If she had to be frank, she wasn’t all that eager to possess that head.
But, she wouldn’t be able to obtain the information if she didn’t possess it. After pondering about it for a while, Frau’s face suddenly brightened up as if she had come up with a good idea while she pointed at Kurz.
“I’ll have Kurz-kun absorb it ~no!”
“Margrave-sama, I don’t want that.” Kurz pleaded with a truly unwilling expression while supporting Lepard who had lost his consciousness again after getting hit by the door remains.
As far as Renya remembered, Kurz was endowed with an ability similar to Frau’s. But, Kurz didn’t appear too happy about the prospect of absorbing a severed head.
“You’re such a selfish child ~nooo!”
“Aren’t you just pushing something you hate on someone else?”
Once Renya sent a slightly scary look her way, implicitly asking who was selfish here, Frau dropped her shoulders in disappointment. For an instant she entertained the idea to simply toss the head away somewhere, but then she wouldn’t know why she had chased after Sazane while walking around the Miasma Forest. Moreover, obtaining as much information about the demon king as possible in the current situation was all for the sake of her master. Giving up on an opportunity that was right in front of her eyes was something even Frau wanted to avoid.
“I have no choice then ~no… I will endure by pinching my nose ~no.”
“It’s not like you’re a kid who can’t eat her carrots…”
As Renya commented while rolling his eyes, Frau began to push the head into the pocket of her apron dress, which didn’t seem like it’d fit a head, while really pinching her nose.
If children or someone with a weak heart had seen her stuff a bloody head into the pocket of her apron dress, they’d have fainted or cried loudly. As such that scene was interrupted halfway by Emil modestly calling out to her. Certainly, if Frau absorbed Sazane’s head, she’d be able to obtain her knowledge, but since it’d likewise entail Frau taking in Sazane as a component, Emil was worried that it might have some negative influence on Frau herself.
When Renya asked her what else they should do to resolve this, Emil said with a fed-up tone, “Have you forgotten that I can also extract information out of heads?”
“Hmm? Ah, well…”
When a hero, who had been summoned by a certain country, tried to prey upon Shion, Emil went ahead, cleaned up the hoodlum’s of the city, and extracted information about the city out of their heads. Thus Emil had asked Renya while believing that he might have forgotten about it, but Renya’s response was rather evasive. Emil suspected that his forgetfulness must have been the reason for it, but in reality, Renya had another reason for not dumping this task on Emil.
Since it was a relatively irrelevant story, Renya did forget about Emil’s ability to extract information out of the heads of other people, but even after recalling it, he wasn’t quite willing to hand Sazane’s head to Emil. His reluctance was based on Sazane being a Lost, according to what he’d heard from Frau.
When it comes to Frau, it wouldn’t be as bad since she already knows some information from my memories. Moreover, she’s a fairy who’s been keeping me company for a long time. On top of that, she’s under my control, so it wouldn’t be an issue even if she were to look inside the head of a Lost, Renya assessed.
But, although Emil was definitely one of Renya’s friends, she still remained an individual out of Renya’s control, in addition to being a demon. Of course, no one would know what kind of knowledge was hidden inside Sazane’s head until they probed into it, but Renya felt slightly uneasy that, if it was stuffed with some outrageous knowledge, Emil might be able to put it into practice once she learned of it.
“But, in that case, you could have said something when Frau and Kurz were pushing the task on each other, couldn’t you?”
While asking, the scale inside Renya’s head with the danger of providing Emil with the information of a Lost on one end and the danger of having a part of Sazane added to Frau on the other end was swinging back and forth. Renya couldn’t help but feel that either option was dangerous enough to the extent of hesitation, but after brooding for a while, he came to the conclusion that it’d be less of a problem to hand the knowledge to Emil as he’d be able to fix any situation that might crop up from it one way or another than adding a part of Sazane to Frau which they wouldn’t be able to remove later on.
“I definitely wanna hold back a bit on extracting information out of that head,” said Emil without having had any way to know about the internal conflict within Renya.
Emil honestly believed that she didn’t want to touch the head, if possible at all, but watching Frau about to push the head into some abnormal place, namely the pocket of Frau’s dress, Emil came forward while feeling pity for both Frau and the head.
“Okay, can I leave it to you then?”
“Well, I’m not really happy about it, but well…”
Renya swallowed, “Me neither,” as a comment, confiscated the head from Frau, and passed it to Emil.
Emil’s way of extraction didn’t require her to absorb the head like Frau or Kurz, but her method also had its own downsides as it didn’t allow her to only pull out the necessary information. She could only obtain knowledge by browsing all information left in Sazane’s head at once. Even back when she cleaned up the hoodlums in the capital of the Holy Kingdom, she was shown all the evil deeds those hoodlums had committed until they got killed by Emil, which heavily ruined her mood.
While consoling herself with the belief that it’d still be much better than adding some uncertain element to Frau or Kurz, Emil placed the head on the floor, and started to use her art.
“Hmm? This is a bit…” Emil furrowed her eyebrows at the information slowly streaming into her.
Only Emil knew what kind of information she was accessing, and thus Renya and the others were doomed to merely watch it all happening.
“Is it just me who’s gettin’ a somewhat bad feelin’ ’bout this?”
“I cannot help feeling like that either, though.”
“Is it okay for me to leave?”
Lepard, Grün, and Kurz whispered amongst each other.
Relieved after danger had apparently passed her, Frau started to feel bored and looked up to the calamity bear’s huge body, who had curled up on the training ground and was now sleeping, while folding her arms and wondering what she should do with this monster.
In front of Renya, who commented in his head, “Your danger hasn’t passed yet,” when noticing how Frau was looking at the bear, Emil apparently wrapped up the information extraction, but she immediately looked up to him while pulling a troubled face.
“How is it?” Renya asked.
In response, Emil started to speak with a somewhat timid look, “Hmm? Let’s see… Somehow there’s lots of weird information… There’s something I’d like to ask you first, Renya.”
“The owner of this head, the woman called Sazane…seems to be a Lost, you see.”
“What about it?”
“If I remember correctly, you’re a Lost as well, aren’t you?”
Renya had never hidden the fact about him being a Lost. Since he had been open about it from the very start, it was nothing that would require confirmation at this point, causing him to not quite understand the meaning behind Emil’s question.
“If that’s the case…assuming the information possessed by this Sazane woman belongs to a Lost… Say, Renya, do you also possess an organ called a yaoi hole?”
“…What the heck is that?”
Renya didn’t comprehend the meaning of that term whatsoever. He looked at Emil with eyes clearly asking just what the hell she was talking about, but as if not noticing his look, Emil continued in a whisper, “As you’re well aware, Renya, I pride myself to be a bit of an expert when it comes to the structure of the living beings in this world, but…according to the information inside the head over here, the men of the Lost’s world possess that organ. However…as far as I know, nothing similar should exist among the races living in this world.”
Originally Emil had disassembled, melted and cut humans, just to stick them together thereafter. Even Renya believed that she should own a fair share of knowledge about the bodies of living beings after having done such things, but when being confronted with an organ Emil didn’t know, Renya couldn’t help her with his knowledge either.
“Somehow it seems to be an organ that’s being used during the times when men have sex with each other,” explained Emil with a totally serious expression.
“No such organ exists!” Renya responded with what sounded like a scream.
Even if Renya might have lost his memories of his previous world, he’d at least know whether his own body possessed such an organ.
With a sidelong glance at Frau and the three heroes, who watched that exchange with flabbergasted expressions as they were unable to follow the conversation’s flow, Emil further whispered, “Just what the heck is all this knowledge? Submissive? Dominant? Leading top, servile bottom… While all of these are words we somehow know, they seem to carry different meanings, but this is…very interesting, I gotta say.”
“Hey, someone hit Emil on the head to make her forget all those memories. I don’t really get it, but I feel like things will become really bad if we leave her like that.”
“By the way, Renya, are you dominant or submissive overall? I’d really love to know which it is.” Emil began to ask with a somewhat impish expression, obviously up for some teasing, while looking up to him, but Renya’s crisis management ability alarmed him that things were heading in a totally wrong direction.
“I have absolutely no interest in nitpicking about the hobbies of other people, but…if you don’t give it a rest right now, I’ll lop off your head once more, and have it absorbed by Frau…”
Before anyone had noticed, Renya was holding the scabbard of his katana while having already raised the blade out of the sheath.
Due to the genuine bloodlust contained in his voice, Emil quickly took some distance from him while flapping both her hands at Renya so as to hinder him from drawing his katana any further.
“M-my thirst for knowledge just got the better of me, ‘kay? I won’t do it anymore, so could I have you put that thing away?”
“…” Renya glared at her for a while, but then tossed his katana into his inventory.
Seeing Renya letting go of his weapon, Emil breathed out in relief.
“We ended up digressing a bit, but anyway, what do you want to know?”
Feeling that the conversation would just derail again if he asked her whose fault this digression had been in the first place, Renya decided to focus on getting along with the story.
“Let’s see. First of…does she know anything about the intentions of the demon king?”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“About the combat forces of the demon king army?”
“Nothing about that either.”
“Any information about the other Losts on the demon king’s side?”
“It seems like she’s seen them, but she appears to not even know their names.”
Emil’s replies towards Renya’s questions were curt. Even if they might have obtained the knowledge possessed by Sazane, it wouldn’t mean that they could find out information about things Sazane wasn’t aware of. As such Renya had known that they wouldn’t be able to solve all the open questions, but even so, the amount of information was far too low.
Probably believing that things wouldn’t go anywhere at this rate while Renya was perplexed as he couldn’t fathom just how Sazane had supported the demon king’s side with so little involvement, Emil started to explain from her side.
“I’ll try to explain in detail what she does know. Her name is Sazane Kuromitsu. She’s a 29 years old single. In the world over there she apparently used to have an occupation called OL, though I’ve got absolutely no clue what this OL is supposed to be. She was summoned to this world on her way back from work. It looks like she stayed at the demon king’s castle from the very beginning.”
“She was an ordinary, working adult, though I don’t know whether that makes it more clear.”
“I see. She was told by the demon king that this world is polluted by sins without any way for purification anymore. He asked her to support him with his attempt to destroy everything once to reset the world, before building a new world. It looks like she participated in the demon king army too, but… Anyway, what a surprise for people believing such bullshit to actually exist in reality.”
“Probably a personal ideology. Just ignore it.”
“Sure. Her skill was <Temptation>. It’s an ability that allowed her to even manipulate corpses as long as they were men. The source of the ability seems to be the scent emitted from her body. Isn’t it great you didn’t fight her?”
Emil’s statement was based on the idea that things would be really dire now if she had been able to manipulate Renya as well, but Renya urged her to continue without minding that part.
In reality, it had been only women – Shion, Emil, and Frau – who had fought against Sazane. For this reason, they were lucky enough as Sazan’s ability didn’t work on either of them, but Renya believed that it wouldn’t have been that much of a problem even if he had fought her himself. Because Renya was protected from any harmful effects which could befall his body by the skill <Healthy Body> which he had received from that little goddess, Renya was certain that Sazane’s ability wouldn’t have been able to hijack him completely, although it might have had some level of effect.
“The skill itself…is something she apparently received from the demon king. So such an ability existed as well, huh? According to the demon king…umm, the source of that power lay inside the heart… hmm? What’s wrong, Frau?”
“Damn it ~nanooo! It’s almost as if Frau was outwitted ~nooo!”
In the middle of Emil’s words, Frau started to hold her head and bump it against the cowering bear. Everyone blinked in surprise at her eccentric behavior. Only the bear watched over Frau without running away while revealing a somewhat troubled expression.
As for Frau; she had stolen Sazane’s head with the intent to outwit the man called Karen, but the reason why he didn’t come after her was simply because he had no need for the head she took away. Thus Frau was deeply embarrassed by being forced to realize this fact only now after all this time, but she couldn’t bring herself to honestly admit that.
“Ku…kukuku…I shall not forget this disgrace ~no…I will remember it, indefinitely ~no!”
Frau shifted from slamming her head against the bear to pulling on its fur as if intending to rip it out. Because of her behavior, everyone immediately knew that something had happened, but since they felt like they’d touch upon something they shouldn’t touch upon if they asked Frau about the details, everyone present pretended to not have seen anything, or to not pay any attention to it despite having seen it.
However, with his fur being tightly grasped on top of being pulled, only the bear whimpered in a heartbreaking manner.
“Anyway, where was I? Ah! The other information I can pull out of this Sazane woman in regards to the demon king is…hmm…oh, this looks like it could be related, I think.”
“What is it?”
“It seems to have taken place at the same time as this Lost here was ordered to pursue us.” Inserting a pause at this point, Emil interpreted the meaning of the words she was saying next while continuing with a somewhat dumbstruck tone, “This looks like a detached force…has somehow invaded the dragonoid continent.”
The dragonoids had closed off all transfer gates to the other continents after their hero Albert had escaped. After having been overrun by the demons in the previous battles, they were still suffering from the heavy blow without having had any time to heal their wounds. Assuming the demons launched another attack of similar firepower as the one they used against Renya’s group during their retreat, it was pretty clear what outcome would await the dragonoids.
The only ones unable to imagine it in this place were the calamity bear and Lepard.