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One month later, Shea, Elemia, Nao and me had taken on another two quests as a party – a Squonk subjugation with a difficulty level of C and a B-Rank quest to investigate and capture a Peryton variant – and easily succeeded thanks to the skills of our members and us having gotten used to it.
Rather, we’ve become so good that those requests don’t even qualify for a special mention, allowing me to get a bit of confidence as well.
On the other hand, Shea seemed to be more interested in the investigation report of the trolls than the two quests we did.
“What happened to the follow-up investigation?” She questions Ms. Sarah after reporting the completion of the quests.
“There’s been no news as of yet. The guild has dispatched new hunters and a tracker to investigate in detail, though.”
“I see. Please tell me as soon as you learn why the trolls left their nesting place, and where they’ve gone to. …Though it’d be great if you could find out within ten days.” Saying just that, Shea takes Nao with her, and heads over to the quest board to search for a new quest.
──Ten more days.
That number holds more meaning to me than Shea. Yep, it’s the remaining period of time on my contract as field smith.
“Oh, I just recently heard that you’re going to head back to the capital soon, Mr. Teo.” Ms. Sarah addresses me who’s been left behind at the reception.
“Well, it was a contract with a fixed time period to begin with.”
Ten days left, or in short, eighty days have already passed since I came to this place.
──Somehow I managed to survive.
That strong feeling occupies my whole mind. But, it looks like Ms. Sarah seems to believe that I’ve had an easy time…
“It’s truly regrettable. Mr. Teo, you’re totally suited to the life over here, and you also have the necessary talent.”
She’s been frequently acting like she regrets it in an exaggerated manner.
“No, no, talent goes too far… I just did my utmost to somehow not die.”
“You definitely have it, talent. Aren’t people calling out to you often these days?”
“No, not at all. It’s a rare occurrence. Just by chance, every once in a blue moon.”
Certainly, hunters have started to chat me up about requests for blacksmithing.
“No need to be so humble ’bout it. You’re famous for being a newcomer who garners lots of attention. The Cortege Blacksmith Dropout One-Man-Arsenal is linked to your name Teo Korpi.”
“What the hell is that nickname!?”
“Oh my, you didn’t know? You’ve been finally given a nickname as well. The Last Yughul, Black Dog Huntress Shea, Morning Mist Shooter Elemia, and Cortege Blacksmith Dropout One-Man-Arsenal Teo.”
“Ugh! What’s up with that, please stop it.”
It’s exquisitely long and cringey. Moreover, who’s a Cortege Blacksmith Dropout!? I haven’t given up on it yet! I’m an active cortege blacksmith.
“Anyway, Mr. Teo, you’re in the center of attention. You’re going to be in great demand from now on as well, so you should remain here for a bit longer.”
“No, I’ve got my own plans. Besides, you’re just exaggerating. It’s not like I’m being calle…”
“Yo, are you the Cortege Blacksmith Dropout One-Man-Arsenal?” A brawny hunter calls out to me as if having timed it – a man with an age of around thirty who carries a huge ax on his back.
He looks short and stout, but it’s not that he’s simply fat. Rather, you could say there’s some fat on his well-trained muscles. Moreover, he got a beard reaching down to his chest. Maybe he’s got dwarf blood in him.
“Umm, do you need something from me?”
“Nothing in particular. Just now it sounded as if you were talking about it. I’ve heard you can beat it quite well.” The man gestures the hitting of steel with a hammer.
In other words, he’s praising my field smithing.
“Thank you very much.”
“Could you help me out next time as well?”
“T-Thanks…when I have the chance to do so.”
“Sure. I’ll rely on you. I’m basically using an ax, but you see, right now, this…”
──When I have the chance.
That’s the absolute ruler when it comes to the world of diplomatic words. But, Mr. Beard-Ax doesn’t withdraw, and instead keeps yapping about how great he is as a hunter and how picky he is towards the weapons he uses. I’m grateful for his trust in me, but I’m fully set on going back to the capital. To be honest, it’s slightly annoying for me to be in the center of attention.
Mr. Beard-Ax keeps talking for the sake of talking without having the slightest clue about my current emotions.
“Please take it into consideration for me.”
Finally he’s gone…
But, that wasn’t the end of it.
“Umm, you’re Mr. Teo, aren’t you?”
I don’t remember having seen that girl before. Ash brown hair. She uses jamadhars as weapons, one handed swords for thrusting, as visible from the two hanging at her waist. A dual-wielding jamadhar user…and rugged equipment that doesn’t suit her small build.
“You have been very successful most recently.”
The girl walks up to me with her jamadhar clattering as she speaks. Her getting closer to me than I’ve assumed makes me somewhat confused. This is a distance you’d use when dealing with a very close friend…
“Umm, you see, I have these jamadhars, and I was wondering whether you could take a quick peek at them? I mean, just to tell me how I should go about it if I plan to strengthen them.” She hands me one of her jamadhars, and edges her body even closer to mine.
“Ermm… They’re quite big. Making them any bigger would make it difficult to handle them. Also, even if you were to raise their offensive ability…”
“You’re absolutely right. I’m small. Look, I don’t even reach up to your shoulder, Mr. Teo. I was wondering whether you could raise their power by enchanting them while keeping them small so that a woman like me, whose boobs are the only part you can call big, can still use them?”
“I-I think it’s possible, but…”
“Oh, please let me hear all about it on a later occasion. If you’re fine with it, we could also grab something to eat…”
The distance between me and the pushy jamadhar woman is basically zero now. She’s so close that her prided boobs are squishing against my arm.
U-Umm, what should I do…?
Should I pretend to not notice how her boobs are pressed against me? Or should I distance myself? Somehow my head’s not working well out of nervousness. I’ve been invited to join a party by brawny men in the past, but this pattern is a first for me. To be honest, it might not be bad to be in the center of attention a bit…
Just when I’m thinking something like that, “Could you move out of the way?” Elemia forces her way through the nonexistence distance between my arm and the boobs glued to it.
“Awww, Mr. Teooo, someone’s getting in our way. Please heeelp.”
“Haah? What are you? And what’s with that sickening sweet voice while carrying jamadhars with you?” Elemia turns an openly displeased look at Ms. PushJama.
“W-What’s the problem with that? I just thought that I’d like to get closer to Mr. Teo. I mean, you want to butter up like that as well, right? Oh, you’ve got no chest, so I guess it’s going to be impossible. Sooorry.”
“I don’t do such petty stuff like using my womanly charm, girly! I’ll go for it a lot more forcefully and genuinely!”
Hey, that’s nothing praiseworthy either!
Still, losing to Elemia’s intensity, Ms. PushyJama breaks away in low spirits…
“Sir Teo, you as well. Why have you been acting all lovestruck? Are you getting careless because we finished two quests?”
“Not really, look, she was the one…”
“Please be careful, okay? Capable field smiths are in high demand at the guild.”
“Of course. If you join up with a decent field smith, you’ll be able to go on quests going way beyond what you could handle yourself. The survival rate shoots up as well. That’s why everyone wants one in their party, no matter what means they have to use. Something like seduction is one of the oldest tricks in the book. You’ll never get a break if you fall for something like that.” Elemia explains and glares at Ms. PushyJama who’s been glancing this way from further away, causing her to jump with a start.
Elemia knits her eyebrows even further, making them look like curved blades, and glares in the opposite direction, causing Mr. Beard-Ax to jump with a start.
That one tried to seduce me as well!? It makes me feel sorry for not having noticed it instead!
“Okay, I’ll be careful…”
“Please, take it to heart. It’s totally stupid to fawn over such a fake women.”
“I haven’t really fawned on her or anything, though.”
“Sir Teo, if you get deceived by something like that, people will think that I’ve also approached you with seduction techniques. Please spare me from that, okay?” Elemia glares at Ms. Jamadhar once more.
“No, I doubt anyone would think so since you don’t give that impression at all…”
“Haah? That’s rude! I’m fairly popular, just so you know!” Elemia suddenly brings her face close to heighten the effectiveness of her glare.
Certainly, she’s got great looks and proportions as typical for elves. Probably because of that as well, she appears to be especially popular among the guild’s wild ruffians, and I often see how they make a pass at her or tell her some indecent jokes. Each time she kicks the asses of those ruffians, though. Their happy faces as they’re being kicked are…
“I suppose you’re right… I feel like you’re popular among a special type of people.”
“Would it be that hard for you to say, I’m sure you’re popular because you’re cute, at that place? Are you some nit-picker? You’re soon going back home, so you could be a bit more tolerant.”
True, I’ll only be able to experience this chit-chat with Elemia for a little while longer. Of course this also encompasses the days spent with Shea.
“It’s hopeless. At last there’s no decent quest left anymore. Only stuff like sewer slimes.” Shea and Nao return from the quest board.
“Peace is great ~nya.”
Contrary to Shea who looks ill humored, Nao is completely happy-go-lucky.
“Don’t be stupid. A sudden decrease in demonic beasts is a much more dangerous omen than a sudden increase. Among the yughul it’s called “Moonless Sky of Beasts” and even triggered our clan to move houses.
“Ahaha, what a weird fooshoo ~nya.”
“Humph, you’ll understand once the report of the investigation comes in. Teo, Elemia, we’re done here for today.”
“Huh? We won’t get any quests ~nya?”
“We’ll wait for a slightly better quest to become available. It’ll become Teo’s last quest, so we have to pick something fairly hard.”
“Whoa, wait a sec! I’m fine with safety first. If you like, I’ll even welcome doing the sewer slime quest!”
Even as I complain, there’s a me who desires a quest that’s a little more worthwhile than sewer slimes. My daily life here has been tough, but to be honest, it’s also been fulfilling. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to get such a fulfillment out of being a cortege blacksmith at the court.
The arms a king carries are symbols demonstrating his dignity and holiness. But they’re never actually wielded.
However, the weapons I’m making here are no such decorations. Their quality decides over the life and death of my friends and me.
I don’t plan to call them something as flowery as swords protecting my friends and all humes. My own creations are used to slay demonic beasts which are far stronger and bigger than humes. Superiority and inferiority is being flipped around by the magic weapons created by me. And honestly, the cruel, bloody sceneries they produce make me feel excited.
I wonder whether I’ve gotten influenced by Shea too much…
Nine days left until I’ve hit a full hundred days.
“You see, I finally got my hands on what I’ve promised you.”
The place designated for us to meet was my usual workshop. The margrave showed up there while bringing a servant with him. The servant closely follows diagonally behind the margrave, respectfully holding a velvet bundle in his hands.
It’s the proper conduct for granting someone a treasured item. He thrusts out both hands straight, without bending his elbows, and offers it reverently to me. His arms are trembling slightly. It seems to be very heavy. But that’s only understandable. After all, the bundle contains what the margrave has promised me.
“If it’s someone like me, it’s no problem to obtain mithril steel, but I’ve been slightly picky about the quality. I didn’t want to give you mithril steel with a quality that could make you doubt my sincerity as margrave. That’s why, this mithril steel is of such a high purity as you’d only find it once or twice per year, if you’re lucky…”
“Your Grace, your servant seems to be struggling with the weight.”
He’s standing at attention while holding out a lump of metal. His hands are clearly shaking. And his arms have now dropped, tilting quite a bit towards the ground, unlike moments ago.
“Ooops! Sorry, sorry, please take it Teo.”
I receive the mithril steel at a height as if catching it just before it drops to the ground. It has a profound weight.
Once I remove the velvet cloth…a plate shining bluish-white appears. It’s a unique color that combines deep blue and silver. And I can faintly see the silhouette of my hands through its transparent body. While being a metal, it also possesses a degree of clearness similar to that of jewels. This is the very definition of rarity, a Grade A mithril steel with no impurities.
“Thank you very much…!”
I go down on one knee, bow my head, and give my formal thanks while holding the plate above my head.
Finally! I’ve obtained it at long last. With this I’m one step closer to my family’s dream.
“No, no, this is nothing so extraordinary that it’d require such gratitude. Having said that, is it your first time to see a plate of pure mithril, Teo? Every once in a while you can find a fake, where inferior mithril got melted down and combined with mercury, circulating on the market, it’s easy to tell a fake and the real deal apart. The radiance when being basked in moonlight is completely different, you see. The real one absorbs the moonlight. It’s a wonderful sight to behold…”
“Your Grace, excuse me, but it’s heavy!”
That’s not a story to tell when someone else is holding a metallic plate over their head. I’m about to lose all strength in my hands which will result in the plate dropping on my head. And I cannot afford to die from hitting my head with my reward after having managed to get through all these days of fierce fighting.
“Ah, sorry, sorry. I shall grant this to you.”
Following etiquette, those words mean that the mithril steel has been officially awarded to me.
“…I-I shall gladly accept it with my deepest gratitude.”
That was close.
Recently I feel like I understand why Shea disregards etiquette when it comes to the margrave…
“Hahaha. Well, I must still say, it’s very regrettable. Are you really going back home? Won’t you stay a bit longer? If you need a lodging house, you can freely use any you like.”
“I appreciate your kind words, but in the end…”
To be honest, I also feel reluctant to leave. It’s a place where I can amply exhibit my own abilities. Death is always around the corner, but it’s still fulfilling. And the days spent with Shea──
“Well, no helping it. We’ll at least hold a farewell party for you. I’ll invite Shea and the other party members – an elf, was it? And another beauty. Let’s grandly celebrate your departure, Teo. Oh right, I’ll also invite the guild’s receptionist. Sarah, was her name, wasn’t it? I’ve heard about her. She’s a popular poster girl among the hunters. It’d make you happy, right? Hmm, oh, I see. Teo, you were only interested in Shea, weren’t you?”
“No, umm, I…umm, t-thank you very much…”
It troubles me if he suddenly brings up such a topic. Of course I feel a sort of reverence towards Shea, but…
At this point, the margrave doesn’t listen to my replies anymore. He’s selfishly raving on about his plans like a storm, and after arbitrarily having decided that he’ll hold a farewell party for me, he leaves the workshop with satisfaction written all over his face.
Two days later, and seven days left until fulfilling the hundred days. I’m together with Shea, Elemia, and Nao at the guild. Ms. Sarah is with us as well.
Of course this gathering has nothing to do with my farewell party.
It’s about the unnatural disappearance at the nesting places during our troll subjugation several days ago. After receiving our report, the guild went ahead with an investigation, and today they’ve received the results.
“According to the report, it’s a Shadow Tsunami, just as expected.” Ms. Sarah says.
“The Undead Dragon…is coming…” Elemia spits out a sigh while looking up to the ceiling.
Speaking of the Undead Dragon, if I remember correctly…
“…It’s one of the six calamities, right?”
“Yep. The sixth calamity in the borderlands, the Undead Dragon. And the phenomenon triggered by the Undead Dragon’s wandering, the Shadow Tsunami which is a wave of the dead.” Ms. Sarah explains to me briefly.
Humes who get killed by the Undead Dragon revive as undead. And those undead produce new undead. The dead call the dead, turning into a single, huge wave that drowns every living being in a raging torrent of death.
“Nya…are we going to kill it?”
“No, that thing is nothing you can fight. It’s a calamity.” Ms. Sarah shakes her head lightly.
She recognizes it as a disaster that goes far beyond the power of humes.
“What’s its current route?”
In response to Shea’s question, Ms. Sarah spreads out a map.
“It’s estimated to stream along the southern valley of Edilgen. At this rate, it’s going to swallow the Belf Settlement and then Oyred Village.”
“What scale does it have?”
“That’s unclear, but I think it has a scale of a few dozen people as of yet.”
“If it keeps heading in that direction, it’s going to clash into Castrum Lebronia, no?”
Even someone like me who doesn’t know much about the region here has heard of Lebronia. It’s the third biggest metropolis in the borderlands.
In other words, the Shadow Tsunami will sweep down the river while swallowing various villages and settlements, just to hit the city once its power has grown.
“What are you going to do if you’re not going to attack it ~nya?”
“They’ll have the villagers along its path evacuate. The area around here is already lost, so the evacuation will probably start from around here, I’d say.” Shea points at the vicinity of Oyred on the map.
If a village gets attacked by a swarm of undead, its villagers will be integrated as undead. While swallowing villages, the undead will exponentially grow in numbers, and soon turn into a tsunami of death…
“The Shadow Tsunami will stop once it eats up all living beings. Though, that means everyone’s going to die.” Shea explains dispassionately without any hesitation.
Then again, Shea’s simple way of wording might avoid people getting mentally cornered by this grave prospect.
“I think, the margrave is going to officially announce an emergency mobilization order within a few days. All of you, please make sure to participate in the rescue without fail. We’re relying on you.”
Ms. Sarah bows deeply to each of us while seeing us off. This serious attitude of Ms. Sarah, which isn’t like her at all, makes the gravity of the situation even more striking…
After coming back from the guild, I immediately head over to the smithy. The emergency quest due to the Undead Dragon’s appearance will undoubtedly be my last job as field smith.
It’s probably a good idea to prepare napalm arrowheads, claws of war rats, and augmented barrier bullets in advance. One required item after the other comes to mind.
The work on-site is mostly improvised, so I want to get everything ready I can prepare beforehand.
Oh right, I’ll insert wave blades into the claws. Wave blades can preserve the sharpness of a blade even during times when you can’t sharpen it… First, in order to create the claw parts, I’ll start with forging steel.
“You’re as diligent as ever, aren’t you?” A dignified voice I’ve grown accustomed to hear nowadays.
Without me noticing, Shea has entered the smithy. Her skin glows bright red as it’s illuminated by the fire in the furnace – a gloss as if it’s made out of red hot steel.
“Rather than being diligent, I just want to get everything done I can do. I mean, it’s one of the six calamities we’re talking about, right?”
“The Undead Dragon is definitely one of the six calamities, but it’s not like we’re going to hunt it. Our mission will be to help the villagers with their evacuation. On the contrary, I’d assess this to be safer than all the other jobs we did together. Teo, you don’t need to accompany us on-site. It’ll be okay for you to wrap up things ahead of time.”
Considering it’s Shea, she’s saying some soft-hearted stuff.
“But, I’d like to see this through until the very end.”
I put down the hammer to rest my hand for a moment.
“Well, it’d be a big help to have you with me.” Shea pulls her eyes off me as if she’d have difficulty to speak up otherwise.
Leaving aside her mannerism, it’s my first time to hear Shea mention that she needs someone else. Despite her keeping up an attitude where she gives the margrave the cold shoulder.
“Haha, how unusual. I’m happy to hear that you seem to need me a bit.”
“Not really…I mean it’s not like I’ve needed you up until now. It’s just that I thought it’d be wrong to not voice it out. Besides…”
“If we had gotten along too well with each other…I’d have become sad if you died, right?”
“How terrible of you! So you thought I’d die?”
“Obviously I did.” Shea declares clearly while being dead serious.
Ah man, it’s always the same with her. It feels like she’s keeping me at distance with her cold attitude. This merciless realism honed in the borderlands is what Shea is about. Until the very end…she stays true to herself.
“Haha…Shea, I’ll come here again if I have some time.”
“Sure, come over whenever.”
“I enjoyed those hundred days…is nothing I can really say with certainty.”
Many gross scenes cross my mind. Just remembering them causes a light nausea.
While watching me, Shea giggles, “Teo, I’ve got one request.”
“Someday, when you visit again, I’d like you to release the seal on <Corpse Eater>.”
“I’ve told you, that’s…”
“I know. It’s dangerous.”
“The curse is suppressed to a level allowing the sword to be used by humes thanks to that seal. If I were to remove the seal for argument’s sake, no hume would be able to touch the sword any longer, so…”
“I got that part as well. An unusable weapon is meaningless. That’s why I said at someday. I’ll ask you at a time when I mastered that power. And at that time I’d like you to release the seal. It’s something only you can do, Teo.” With those words, Shea bows deeply towards me.
For Shea to bow her head at someone else…it makes me feel an extraordinary determination from her.
“There’s some reason for this, isn’t there?”
“Yeah…when I was a child, Corpse Eater still belonged to my grandfather.”
Bit by bit, like water dripping down in drops, Shea talks about her childhood memories. The stories about her grandfather which I heard in parts during these hundred days ── the days of her having been raised by him since the time she became aware of the things going on around her. It was mostly a life of the two of them living alone together. Her grandfather provided for their life by hunting demonic beasts.
“He wasn’t a hunter affiliated with the guild, but elegant-looking humes always visited grandfather, requesting him to subjugate demonic beasts. The margrave was also one of his acquaintances.”
“He must have been a very competent man.”
“Yeah…no adversary was beyond him. He was so powerful that someone like me can’t even hold a candle to him.”
“For him to be such a strong man in your eyes… Where’s your grandfather now?”
“I’ll tell you about this another time. Anyway, back then Corpse Eater was still my grandfather’s weapon. And, the Corpse Eater I saw during my childhood…wasn’t something like this.”
“It was completely different. What’s hidden beneath that seal…is the mouth of <Corpse Eater>.”
“Mouth…so it doesn’t simply absorb the curses through its blade, huh.”
“That’s something like breathing for it. It devours curses with the mouth on its tang, and changes its very appearance. That’s the true form of <Corpse Eater>. Me always wearing the fang of the Black Dog is for the sake of feeding it to this guy someday.”
The white fang ominously swaying at Shea’s collar…so that’s the reason why she always carries it around.
“It was my grandfather who sealed his mouth. He had judged that the true form of <Corpse Eater> would be too dangerous for me. …He did it for the sake of protecting me.” Shea clenches her fists in mortification.
“In that case, it’s all the more of a reason to not release the seal. Just as your grandfather determined, it’d be too risky.”
The mouth of the true sword was sealed by even using a multi-branch rune according to the Curse Dissipation Principle. I can clearly sense the creator’s intent from this
“That’s why I said, when the time comes. I have to improve my skills a lot more. I’ll reach the level of my grandfather and show you that I can handle it, Teo. I’ll rely on you at that time.” Shea takes my hand and stares directly into my eyes.
Just how should turn her down if she does something like that…?
“I got it. …But, I have a condition.”
“What is it?”
“I’d like you to let me regularly do maintenance on Corpse Eater. At least once a year.”
“That’s the best I could have asked for, but…why?”
“I mean, if we don’t make such a promise, I won’t be able to meet you anymore, will I?”
“You can just visit me on your own accord…well, whatever. Okay. It’s a promise then.”
“It means I’m going to stay your blacksmith for a good while longer. Please take care of me.” I laugh, and hold out my hand for a handshake.
However, Shea doesn’t comply. She grabs my wrist, suddenly pulls on it, drawing my body towards herself. Just like that, she hugs me and firmly claps my back with both her hands twice. This is──
“Ouucchh!! This must be…if I’m not mistaken, the hug of a rough eagle…”
“It’s the yughul way of expressing deep affection.”
After stretching herself a bit, she matches up with the height of my shoulders, and strongly claps my back another two times, totaling it to four.
“The first is a wish for sound health, the second for good luck, the third for fame, and the fourth is purely a wish to destroy the shoulder blades.”
“Hey, that fourth time…! What kind of custom is that supposed to be!?”
Though I feel like it’s only natural for the customs of a minority group of cursed tool users to be queer. At any rate, those were four splendid claps. My shoulder blades are still tingling.
“Oh well, I’ll accept the wish for sound health, good luck, and fame. Thanks.”
Having become slightly embarrassed, I return to my work. Shea whirls around, and takes several steps, about to leave the smithy…but then stops all of a sudden.
“Is something wrong, Shea?”
“I lied earlier. Let me tell you properly… Normally you only clap thrice during the rough eagle greeting. The fourth time is reserved only for special people.”
“What does it mean then? It’s not about the destruction of the shoulder blades, right?”
“You clap while praising the other party’s strength. The fourth clap is done while embracing respect and affection towards a warrior worthy of entrusting your life to.”
“Does that mean you’ve approved of me then?”
“Don’t ask the obvious. Otherwise, I’d left you in the lurch a long time ago. Damn it, don’t make me say all these embarrassing things.”
“Haha, for me to witness a day where you’d say something like this to me…”
“Well, never mind that. Since it’s a rare opportunity, feel free to return the greeting.”
Saying so, Shea approaches me once more, and enters my embrace. In short, she’s telling me to do the rough eagle greeting as well.
Even while being slightly flustered, I wholeheartedly clap Shea’s back. Sound health, good luck, a wish for fame, extolling Shea’s strength ── and lastly, a prayer for her to stay safe.
Oyred is a beautiful mountain village of straw-thatched houses standing side by side along a river. Its current population amounts to 321. And right now, almost the same number of hunters is at the village.
“Tsk, are we here to stack sandbags or what?” A man passes me cursing under his breath while carrying a sandbag on his shoulder.
The work of the hunters has been split into two subdivisions: the sandbag group who creates an embankment with sandbags to repel the tsunami, and the evacuation group who assists the villager’s evacuation. All hunters have started their work after being assigned to either of those groups.
The villagers have already gathered on a plaza with the hunters of the evacuation team checking the name register. Having finished calling out all names just now, they’ve made sure that all villagers are present. All that’s left is to get the villagers ready to move.
While gazing at that from the distance, I shovel sand into a bag.
“Why the hell are we part of the sandbag group?” Elemia lets her anger free reign.
“It looks like they’ve assigned people capable of giving the villagers a sense of security to the evacuation group.”
“That’s what’s pissing me off! Over here they’ve got a cute, and moreover, reliable elf who can attack from a distance!” Elemia is fuming.
If the person who decided her group showed up now, she’d definitely lunge at them.
“It doesn’t really matter either way, does it? Both groups do no more than chores.” Shea comments.
“Isn’t this completely your fault, Lady Shea!? You’re the furthest away from giving anyone a sense of security!”
“Obviously! Any child would break into tears when seeing your machete and mask!”
“…I think they look pretty neat, though.” Shea removes her Bone-Breaking Mask from the top of her head and stares fixedly at it.
“But, this group is much better since it’s easy work ~nya.” Nao heaves two sandbags on her shoulders, demonstrating a level of strength you wouldn’t expect from her appearance.
As I thought, beastmen have a fundamentally different level of base strength.
A wall of sandbags is being built on the western side of the village. After just half a day, it’s already reached the height of my waist.
“I don’t know whether it’s going well, though…”
“The Shadow Tsunami is going to arrive here the day after tomorrow. They said we’re aiming to reach a height that will make it impossible for the undead to scale. What a pain in the ass!”
I think we’ll somehow manage to get this much done…
Shouldering a sandbag, I follow Nao. It’s a plain, physically-taxing work, but surprisingly I don’t hate such simple labor. I feel like watching the wall grow little-by-little makes it worthwhile.
We’re building the sandbag wall so that it has an acute angle. The idea is to turn away the Shadow Tsunami with the sandbag wall as if driving a wedge into a flood. I add my own sandbag to the corner of the wall, and then wipe away my sweat.
The sky is blue without a single cloud in sight. A water wheel slowly makes its rounds while repeating the same clattering and splashing sounds as it picks up the river’s water and drops it on the other side again. Those regular, rhythmical sounds are gentle enough to make me sleepy──
But then, all of a sudden, the wheel’s melody is drowned out.
“We’re screwed! Run away!” A man is running this way from outside the wall while shouting.
I remember him. It’s the old dude with the ax and beard who invited me to partner up.
“Those cursed things swallowed the yak herd! They’re movin’ at a ridiculous speed, you won’t be in time!”
He sprints at full speed, and head dives behind the wall with a light jump that doesn’t suit his short and stout body.
“The Shadow Tsunami will be here soon.”
In addition to the hunters having been split up into evacuation and sandbag group, some of them have been assigned to stand watch. It appears Mr. Beard-Ax is one of those lookouts.
He explains that the swarm of undead has moved as expected, clashing with the yak herd. As a result of that, almost all of the yak became undead. With its momentum having grown from this, the tsunami is heading straight for this village.
“The undead from the yak should amount to several dozen? That’s not overly much, is it?” Shea asks in the pause when the man is catching his breath.
“If it was only them, sure. The guys who ate them mean trouble as well. There’s some huge ass trolls in the bunch.”
“Those trolls, huh…?” Shea clicks her tongue lightly.
Anyway, the herd of yaks is advancing while breaking through all obstacles. They’ll be here very soon. No time left to bother with the wall any longer.”
The wall at its current height won’t block a charge by yaks or attacks by trolls.
“We’re going to retreat ~nya. And just after we got it up so high ~nyaa.”
The news has already spread, and the hunters of the sandbag group are ceasing to work one after the other, returning to the village’s plaza. We follow as well, withdrawing.
At that moment, an old man hurries after the retreating hunters, pleading, “Can’t you wait one more day!?”
“Village chief…that’s an unreasonable request.”
“Please, make it work somehow…” The village chief begs with a sad voice.
Just why would he…?
“It’s going to be born, the 322th villager.” Elemia answers my unspoken question after having arrived on the plaza first.
──In short, a child is going to be born.
“If it’s safely born in a day, we can move tomorrow.”
“I get where you’re coming from, but the Shadow Tsunami will be here in a few more hours. Ain’t no time to wait around here. Right?” Mr. Beard-Ax asks the hunters around him for agreement.
Everyone is looking somewhat apologetic, but none of them objects.
“It’s unreasonable to sacrifice many for one. Can’t you transport the mother somehow?”
“Her water has already broken, and the birth is going to be difficult…”
“I see…I’m sorry to hear that, but then it’s just going to be the mother.”
“That’s a rational decision.”
“Yeah, as long as the mother survives, she can get another child…”
The hunters chat amongst each other.
Rational. Get another…
The village chief drops his shoulders in disappointment. Even though they feel guilty, the hunters hide behind the word reality.
“It’s going to be alright. Does the pregnant woman have everything she needs?” I address the village chief.
“Oi, don’t try to act all cool there.” One of the hunters voices the ironclad rule of the hunters.
I can fully understand what he wants to say as someone who has stayed in this area for close to a hundred days. It’s extremely dangerous to talk about ideals when on site.
“I know that acting cool on site only leads to death.”
“Why do you do it then?”
“Umm, probably because I can.” I summon my courage and answer his question.
“Haaah!?” The hunter threatens me.
However, I’ve gotten used to the threatening of a grim, old man during these long days.
“I just assessed that our party is fully capable of holding out for a day. …We’ll be able to handle it one way or another, right?” I ask my party members for confirmation.
Elemia takes a step forward without any hesitation, and glares up to the big hunter who’s more than a head taller than her.
“I’ll be troubled if you slight Sir Teo’s abilities. The capabilities of the cortege blacksmith dropout Teo Korpi, the One-Man-Arsenal.” Elemia proudly throws her chest out while pointing a finger straight at me.
“Wait a moment, I haven’t dropped out.”
“Don’t mind the small details.”
“No, no, wait. I really hate that alias.”
For some reason we started quarreling over my nickname at this point.
Unable to watch us bicker any longer, Shea speaks up, “So, what do you plan to do? Going by what you’ve said, you have a plan, don’t you?”
“Umm, it’s nothing more than an idea that could work somehow.”
“Hoh, out with it then.”
She has already started to walk even while speaking with me. A natural, preparatory meeting on the walk.
“Hey…we’re not done here.”
Come to think of it, the grim hunter was threatening me. Not like he got anything of value to say anyway. It’s better to put my time into preparing for battle.
“If you give me three to four hours, I’ll be able to make around 50 simple weapons with field smithing. As long as a certain amount of hunters stay behind, we’ll be able to fight off a hundred or two hundred undead. Right?”
“If there’s no attack by the Undead Dragon, that is.”
“You think it’s possible for it to come here in a day?”
“We’re going to be safe if the Undead Dragon exits to the east, running into the Nihlua Valley. We’ll also be safe if it exits to the west, wandering off towards a route along the road. If it comes down the river, it’s possible for it to arrive here in a day.”
“One third of a chance for a direct attack, huh? I guess this will turn into a gamble then.” Elemia demonstrates her fighting spirit by rolling up her sleeves.
“Elemia, can I have you gather the other hunters who’re going to stay back?”
Even if I create many weapons, it’ll be meaningless without humes capable of using them.
“Sure. I think many will stay back if they know we’re on board as well. After all, they’ll get all the leftovers from Lady Shea and Sir Teo. Okaaay, everyone wanting to ride with us, come over here!”
At once a hunter calls out to Elemia, telling her that he wants to stay behind.
While watching the spectacle, I head over to the smithy.
After asking the village chief, we gather up all the scythes for harvesting, and I apply the whirlwind enchantment to them.
Next up is Nao’s weapon. I finely adjusted the size of the war rat claws I had prepared in advance.
It looks like it fits her perfectly. She’s brandishing both hands while looking happy.
Elemia’s arrows. Blaze-based enchantments suit her. For the arrowheads I’m going to use an alloy of Blood Sand and Swinging Fire Ore which contains a powerful fire spirit. I create powerful blaze-enchanted arrows which are referred to as Worm Killer.
Once she runs out of arrows, she’ll also want a knife.
There’s not much time left until the Shadow Tsunami hits this place. I single-mindedly devote myself to smithing. My concentration deepens gradually. Eventually the concept of time disappears from my mind, and at the same time the noise of my mind dissipates, too. The world outside the smithy is gone as well. All that’s left is the steel emitting heat in front of me.
Each time I swing down my hammer, vibrant sparks fly off it, accompanied by the pleasant sound of metal hitting metal.
“Hey, Teo, can you hear me ~nya?”
“The battle has started. They’re saying they want more of these.”
A hammer enchanted with Magic Fuse. It has already been used to the extent of the enchantment running out, and it’s blade is blackened from all the enchantment burning.
“Got it. Please go and pick up all the hammers that have run out of enchantments. Since I can also add the enchantment to tools other than hammers, you can keep bringing even hoes, pickaxes, and wooden mallets to me.”
“On it ~nya!”
After crisply saluting, Nao runs off at full speed. As a tracker, she isn’t very proficient at direct combat. She’s very likely working as logistical support right now.
I’ll refresh the enchantment on the hammer Nao brought over right away. First I carefully remove the soot and dirt clinging to it, and check the hammer for deformations.
“As expected, it’s quite bent.”
The hammer’s surface area at its head has been greatly distorted by the explosions. Normally I’d apply the enchantment after fixing the deformations, but here I’m going to directly add the proximity explosion.
“I found some forks ~nya!” Nao returns while carrying worn forks for farming.
These are quite rusty, but…those give a blacksmith the best opportunity to shine with his skills.
I scrape the surface roughly with a metallic rasp, and then directly sprinkle it with a solution of melted fire stone and a strong acid.
──Liquefied Spirit Soaking
It’s an impromptu, water-based weapon – Undine Fork. It’s durability is low, but if undead are stabbed with this, their body fluids will go on a rampage, bursting.
“If you want hoes, there’s plenty of those ~nya!”
──Liquefied Spirit Soaking
I’ve added wind blades to the hoe’s blade. An impromptu, wind-based weapon – Farmer’s Gale.
“More ~nya! The numbers are amazing ~nya!”
──Liquefied Spirit Soaking
“No matter how many they kill, there’s no end to them ~nya. Those who got killed are gradually turning into undead. It’s terrible since they can’t run away. ~nya.”
I continue creating impromptu weapons while listening to Nao’s report inside the smithy.
At this point I’ve got no clue how much time has passed and how many weapons I’ve created. What time is it now? Where am I? What’s the situation outside?
Currently I’ve forgotten all that, infusing my everything into the work in front of my eyes.
“Hey, get some rest, will you?”
It’s Shea and Elemia. Both are sullied by blood, but neither seems hurt.
“Are you two okay?”
“We’ve forced them back for the moment, but this place is going to turn into hell from now on.”
“The main body of the Shadow Tsunami is coming. We’re out of luck. It’s taking the route along the river.”
And yet Shea sounds awfully calm. She immediately rummages for a usable enchanted weapon.
“A direct hit by the Undead Dragon. Including a huge amount of undead.”
It’s a situation that would make anyone despair over their own bad luck. Nevertheless, Shea’s mind appears to be composed.
“Of course, we’re still going to continue. A direct confrontation with one of the Six Calamities. It’s a huge chance for an upstart, you know?” Elemia lifts the corners of her mouth into a smile.
As might be expected, even I can see how that smile looks somewhat cramped.
“It’s alright for everyone to decide on their own from here on out. Teo, <Corpse Eater> has run out of curses. I’ll take these ones here.” Shea picks up the two enchanted kitchen knives placed on my work desk.
“Will you be fine with these?”
“As if. There’s no way that I’ll be able to finish off an undead dragon with kitchen knives, now is there? Even someone like me would die when attempting something like that.” She words it indifferently, and yet decisively.
“Figures. I’ll resupply the curses in a hurry.”
“While you’re at it, I’ve got a little request, Teo.”
“What is it?”
Shea looks straight into my eyes, “Do you remember that promise? Please remove the seal.”
“Not like I could forget it, seeing how it was just a little while ago. But, you told me that you’d ask me for it someday when the time was ripe…”
“That time is now. It’s just a bit earlier than expected.”
“It’s way too early… Are you serious? You understand the risks, don’t you?”
“Of course. But, I cannot afford to run away. Especially not from the Six Calamities. I must defeat them at all costs.”
“Why are you going so far?”
“I told you, didn’t I? That there’s something I swore I’d kill one day.”
Shea violently grabs my shoulder as I hesitate.
“I’ll tell you the rest after this is over. Please.”
Shea’s red eyes are glowing as if on fire. A firm resolve is fiercely burning within.
If I’m going to remove the seal…the necessary items and work steps immediately surface in my mind.
It’s not impossible. But.
──I’ll end up using that.
That which I need for the sake of my family, desiring it even at the cost of my life.
“Shea…you’re absolutely certain that now’s the time?”
“Elemia, call the remaining people, and have them gather all undead corpses. Except for human ones, of course.”
“What are you planning to do with something like that?”
“I’ll turn all of them into material. The more bodies you gather, the better it’ll be. If possible, I want them all.”
“So you’re not kidding around…got it! I’ll call out to the hunters and have them gather all they can.” Elemia quickly leaves the smithy even though her face looks somewhat cramped.
I’m well aware of how strange what I’m saying must sound. No one uses all of an undead’s corpse to use as enchantment material.
“No, it won’t be enough, no matter how many there are. I can feel it. This is going to get really dangerous.”
I can’t make any guess just how many curses will be necessary to remove the seal on <Corpse Eater>. However, there’s no doubt that it won’t be enough with some odd corpses.
“…In that case, I want you to feed him with this one here as well.” With those words, Shea tears off the necklace dangling at her chest.
“This is…the fang of Black Dog.”
“Once you remove the seal, let the mouth of <Corpse Eater> devour it.”
“It’s going to become a dangerous endeavor. Sorry for making you do this at the very last moment.”
“I’m your partner, am I not Shea?”
“Now you’re making a good face. I’ll leave it to you.”
Shea holds out the fang, and I take it from her.
“Shea… Kuh, the recoil of Black Dog is…”
Actually holding it in my hand totally gives me the chills!
My body is trembling, warning me that I’ll be eaten at point-blank range. Even though we have such a nice mood going at long last… My waist is about to give in.
“I-It’s alright. I’m confident that I can do it properly.”
“I’ll buy you some time. Take care of <Corpse Eater> in the meantime, okay?”
Shea formally holds out <Corpse Eater> to me, and adds another please. A blood-smeared big machete, and deep black miasma billowing up from its blade.
Somehow managing to form a smile, I say, “Trust me, I can handle it. It’ll become more powerful and sinister.”
The corpse of one undead after the other is delivered from the area around the sandbag wall. I think at this point it’s already 15 or 16. However, I need a far bigger amount of curse materials.
I’ll condense the curses contained in the cerebrospinal fluids of the bodies that weren’t allowed to die.
“Hey, what should I do with these?” A field smith asks me.
He’s a middle-aged man with the aura of a real veteran. Wait, that’s Mr. Gaston who told me about the magic material stores in the city when I first arrived.
Of course I won’t tell him that putting his name on the table didn’t help with anything back then.
The upper part of a troll’s corpse, only covering the parts above the shoulders, lays at Mr. Gaston’s feet. He’s nervous as he doesn’t know what he should do.
“We’ll first boil these.”
“Eh…? Boil, you say?”
“Yes, the concentration will increase by boiling them down.”
“Uwaah…cursed equipment sure is crazy.” Mr. Gaston draws back, quite obviously.
However, even if he’s averse to doing this, I’ve got no choice but to have him help me.
First I prepare a big pot, and boil the hot water I received.
“We’ll smash it apart and put it into the water.”
Even though it’s just the part above its shoulders, it’s still too big to fit into the pot. While getting Mr. Gaston to help me, I’ll cut off the head and the two arms with a saw.
“Ooeeh…the stench is quite nasty.”
“It’s because the body is decomposed. Could you hold down the head?”
While having Mr. Gaston pin down the head, I decapitate the troll remains at the neck.
“Ugh, is it enough with this?”
“Yes. Next we’re going to smash it to make it easier for the brain to spill out.”
I smash the severed head by repeatedly striking it with a hammer. The skull caves in as heavy bangs echo throughout the smithy. The eyeballs spill out of the squashed head.
“Guu…you’ve got strong nerves to stay calm throughout this.”
Tears are welling up in the eyes of Mr. Gaston due to the intense rotten stench of decay and the visual impact of the grotesque show. Well, it’s only natural.
“I was also affected by it at first, but I guess, how to describe it…yes…after doing this for close to a hundred days, you get used to it…oeeh…oops, that was close…”
“You’re not as used to it as you say! You okay?”
Just then, when I beat the head with the hammer, a small, multi-legged insect crawls out through a nostril due to the impact. The instant I witness that, puke wells up from my stomach in no time.
“No, it’s just that I got used to the nausea attacks, or rather…don’t worry about me. Anyway, after smashing the bones, we’ll boil the pulp. Let’s keep steadily going at it.”
Having Mr. Gaston help out, we cut up and smash the undead, and gradually fill the pot.
“…The hell’s this. It’s bloody gruesome.”
“Mr. Teo said that he’s going to use these.”
“Not sure what’s going on here, but help him.”
Without me noticing, hunters and villagers have gathered around me. All of them assist me in my work even while groaning and vomiting.
“The cerebrospinal fluid of the undead will become the fuel to power <Corpse Eater>. Please bring everything you find! I’ll condense all of it, and have the sword absorb it.”
The undead parts are boiling together while burbling. It truly looks like a picture out of hell. However, the concentrated meat broth of hell is going to become fodder for <Corpse Eater>. Usually, this would be the part where the resupplying of curses for <Corpse Eater> would finish.
However, this time I don’t plan to merely resupply it with curses. I must release <Corpse Eater>, and moreover turn it into a weapon Shea can handle. The fang of Black Dog is going to become the central part for that. I’ll use Curse-based Tempered Joint Smithing to combine the A-Rank material, Black Dog’s Fang, with <Corpse Eater>. The curses, which will serve as a power source for that, must be extremely pure, so I’ll condense them to the limit by cooking the undead until the very last moment.
“Hey, it came! It’s here!” Someone screams.
At long last, the second wave of the tsunami, the main body, has arrived.
“Everyone, get out and protect the wall!”
A bell is being rung like mad. Angry roars by the men. Metallic clanking as armors and weapons clutter. The area outside the smithy is teeming with tension and urgency.
──Not yet. The condensation of the curses is still too weak.
I mustn’t allow myself to get influenced by what’s going on outside.
“We need more people here! The wall is going to break!”
“Mr. Teo, we’re heading out as well. We leave the rest in your hands.”
The hunters, who’ve been helping me so far, disappear towards the sandbag wall one after the other. Loud yelling thunders over from the battlefield. But before long, the angry roars transform into screams.
The male villagers disappear as well. Only Mr. Gaston, the field smith, and I are left. I scrutinize the pot while suppressing my impatience. The liquid within the pot has finally dwindled down to roughly a tenth.
“Alright, it’s about time for the next step. Please give me the strainer.”
I filter the solution, and add all the low-quality elixir I have on hand. Elixir fuses with curses, creating a jelly-like solid mixture. I transfer that jelly into a bucket used for tempering.
“…Without hurrying, carefully.” I instruct myself rather than talking to Mr. Gaston.
Next I need to prepare the furnace. I add air to the fire with a wind stone, bringing up the heat.
“Hey, don’t tell me…no way, this is…” Mr. Gaston notices the specialness of the plate I’m holding.
“Yes, it’s mithril.”
“Eeehhh! If I remember correctly, you were looking for this, weren’t you? Did you find it at Mt. Gravel?”
As if. He’s got no clue how difficult ── how life-threatening it was to obtain this.
“Are you going to use this? You sure?”
“──Yes. No matter the material, it’s pearls thrown before swine if you don’t use it. You’ve got to use it without hesitation when the time has come to do so.”
I resolutely throw the crucible with the mithril ingot into the furnace. I knew from the very start that this work would require mithril. I kept it a secret though since Shea would have stopped me otherwise…
“Now…there’s no way back anymore.”
Honestly I thought I’d writhe shamefully, but instead I’m rather excited. Very likely I won’t have many opportunities in my life to work with such rare materials.
I pour a part of the silver-colored, gooey mithril liquid into a circular form, and add the pulverized Black Dog’s Fang to it. The fang melts into the mithril, vanishing alongside a sizzling steam.
Nice, that’s how it should be. No problems up to this point. Focus, me…
Suddenly the door is slammed open.
“Sir Teo, the wall has fallen!” Elemia rushes into the smithy.
Her face is stained with blood spurts and black soot from all the arrows she fired. Next, Nao shows up as well.
“The undead are going to flow into the village very soon. It’s going to be a street fight ~nya. Teo, watch out for yourself.”
Elemia and Nao leave the smithy again after telling me just that.
“It sounds like things have become dicey…” Mr. Gaston tries to somehow put a wry smile on his face, but in vain as his face looks like he’s about to bawl.
“Having said that, I won’t be much of a combat asset.”
Even if they’re telling me to be careful, my combat power is zero. I’ll be helpless if I get attacked. Therefore, I can only continue with my work, careful or not.
Next is finally <Corpse Eater’s> turn. I remove the hilt from the blade, exposing its unique tang. There’s a hole in the middle of the thick tang, and a metal belt coiling around it like a snake. And the core of the problem: the seal carved onto the metallic belt.
“I’m going to undo the seal.”
“Hey, you can read this…?”
“I’m a cortege blacksmith, so yeah.”
“As if that’s the point here. This uses a spelling that’s lost, or in other words, no one capable of reading this is still alive. This thing uses jamming, doesn’t it?”
“Correct, that’s why I’ll be very careful.”
I pick up a chisel, read the seal with its jamming, and carve the negating rune Niido Osel Teyir into the appropriate location.
The rune faintly glows in blue, and the metallic band comes off.
“How the hell…you…! And yet you didn’t even know about Mt. Gravel!” Mr. Gaston cries out in surprise.
A gaping, elliptical hole with tapered ends becomes visible on the tang. The surrounding of the hole is densely crowded with small blades.
This must be the mouth of the original <Corpse Eater>. The strong curse aura released by <Corpse Eater> has gained in intensity. Moreover, it’s still increasing after the seal has been removed. At this point, it’s already become hard to even look at the black aura rising from it.
“Get away! Just being close to it is going to be dangerous from now on!”
“G-Got it. I-I’m sorry, but this is the limit for me. Honestly, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to help you any longer.”
Mr. Gaston is already in the process of slowly retreating towards the door. He’s gotten cold feet from feeling the aura, even though he can’t even see it.
“I understand. Thank you very much for your assistance!”
“Now that it has come to this, I feel like I’m going to be safer outside. I’ll pray for your safety. See you.” Mr. Gaston darts away.
I return my eyes to <Corpse Eater>. The billowing black aura is becoming increasingly more powerful. It’s about time.
I cover my mouth and nose with a mask I’ve prepared, and put on thick leather gloves. Of course, these curses aren’t so weak that they’d be blocked by something like this, but I’ve resolved myself to suffer a certain extent of damage to my body.
First I check the alloy of Black Dog’s Fang and mithril I created earlier. Thanks to the strong magic-element-absorption-power of mithril, they have completely fused, becoming one metal. Now it’s a black disk with a glossy luster. As soon as I insert this into the mouth──
Relying on the sensation at my fingertips, I adjust the disk’s size by grinding it, but… Shit! The earth is shaking too much!
Every once in a while the ground trembles violently, and in response to that, the smithy creaks as well.
“What a nuisance… It makes precision work super difficult. And it’s not like I can return the mithril into an ingot anymore either.” Even as mutter curses under my breath, I continue grinding with a file.
“It’s not at the level of a nuisance anymore! Sir Teo, you have to leave this place!”
Suddenly, there’s a reply to my monolog.
The only word that could describe her is: tattered. Her clothes are torn at many places, and her beautiful blond hair is stained with blood and dirt.
“I’ve used up all the Napalm Arrows you made for me.”
A big injury yawns on her right shoulder. The blood flowing down from there wanders along her arm, just to trickle down from her fingers.
“You have to stop the bleeding.”
“No, thanks! I’m sure it’s just going to get worse if I stop the bleeding at a place like this.”
Elemia glances at <Corpse Eater> and grimaces. The smithy is pregnant with putrid stench and miasma, so she does have a point in what she’s saying.
“So, what’s the situation?”
“What’s there to say? The Undead Dragon devours every living being it can lay its hand on. That’s all. There isn’t even any room for anything else to happen.”
“I guess it’s not much of a fight anymore then…what about Shea?”
“I’ve lost sight of her and can’t find her either.”
“I see. Elemia, go ahead and retreat.”
“I must deliver this to Shea. Then I’ll escape as well.”
“Hey, whether Lady Shea is still safe…maybe, she’s already…” Elemia shakes her head lightly
The battle situation must be quite grave for Elemia, who adores Shea, to consider something like that. And yet, for some strange reason, I have no doubts.
“Okay. Even so, I’m going to finish this. It looks like I’ll be able to create something good.”
“Haha…should I have called it something evil?”
“…Certainly, it makes me want to pin my hopes on it. If Lady Shea gets her hands on this, she might… But, sorry, Sir Teo. I can only rise in the world while still alive…”
“I know. Please tell Nao to not try the impossible and fall back as well!”
“That girl has already run away a good while ago!” With these words, Elemia disappears.
Once again, I’m all alone in the smithy. The earthquakes continue intermittently. Pebbles and dirt rill down from the ceiling because of the vibrations. Cries of death agony are faintly audible through the window. And there’s the remains of the boiled undead within the smithy. Outside and inside are no more than two different sides of hell. Either looks like it’s the end of this world.
However, this scenery is fitting for the rebirth of <Corpse Eater>.
“Wait a moment. I’ll feed you right away.”
Resolving myself, I plant my feet in front of <Corpse Eater>, thrust the black disk into its mouth, and twine a mithril band around the tang that devoured the fang. Then I apply a new seal to the unleashed <Corpse Eater>. Not one to just seal its power, but a new seal to restrain its new power at the bare limit necessary. It’s an original seal I’ve come up with after referencing the multi-branch rune carved into the Rapier of the Ivy’s Flower. A Teo Korpi-styled Seven-Character Curse Seal.
A seal of ancient characters demanding a fusion with Black Dog without restraining the curses of <Corpse Eater>. I continue precisely carving those into the new mithril band of <Corpse Eater>.
──Devour its corpse!
The instant I’ve driven all seven characters of the multi-branch rune, my body is blown away by a curse wave, spreading out as if bursting open.
<Corpse Eater> and Black Dog, the curses of both encroach each other, deny each other, and devour each other. The seal makes all of that cycle, accelerating in speed. The blade of <Corpse Eater> bends, and heaves drastically. The multiplying curses rotate while locked up within. The grown power changes the shape of <Corpse Eater> itself. It winds in a vortex and twists as if writhing from its own poison.
And then <Corpse Eater> changes its form into a shape desired by the curses surging within. It looks like its consciousness has been sent flying due to the excessively powerful curses.
It’s settled that I’m going to piss blood tomorrow.
“With this…it’ll be all done.”
I hammer in the last seal in order to turn this hazardous thing into a proper weapon. A cross in a circle, representing God. A blessed seal that shows the true worth of a cortege blacksmith.
This is going to barely suppress the curses from going berserk… Having said that, this weapon is nothing that can be handled by an ordinary person anymore. It’s going to cause serious damage to the mind and body of its holder. Very likely, they’d start bleeding profusely from their nose and eyes by just carrying it for a few hours. Moreover, it’s going to throw their mental state out of balance, and in the end it might lead to death.
It’s an extreme curse weapon that cannot be equipped. And there’s probably just one person in this margraviate who can handle such a weapon──
“You made something nice there, didn’t you?”
That voice is as clear as a bell. Its pure, dignified sound doesn’t mesh with the bloody mask-wearing warrior at all.
A demon who has suddenly manifested without a trace of a sound or presence. Yes, the one and only person who can handle this weapon.
“…Shea, you’ve come at the perfect time. I’ve just finished the last adjustments.”
It’s the certified huntress and cursed tool user Shea.
“These guys are already at their limit as well. They won’t even be able to peel an apple anymore.”
The two kitchen knives in Shea’s hands have reached a state of being on the verge of crumbling apart with cracks running all over their blades within this short amount of time. Just how many undead has she cut down for them to deteriorate to such an extent…?
At the very least, I wouldn’t want to eat an apple peeled by these two.
Shea tosses the knives away, removes her Bone-Breaking Mask which has become so dirty that you can’t even make out a clear color anymore, and shakes her silver hair free. Only her beautiful face has no blood on it as it had been protected by her mask.
“Elemia and Nao have withdrawn.”
“That’s a proper assessment. If you judge that things are going south, you escape, even if it means abandoning your comrades. As expected of those who have formed a party with me.”
“Haha…unfortunately it looks like I’ve been late in getting away, though.”
…They’ve already gotten very close, so close that I don’t even need to check the situation outside the window.
The sensation of the hair on my nape tingly standing on end is a clear and powerful warning signal by my instincts. About the approach of an overwhelmingly powerful foe that’s going to prey on me…
One of the Six Calamities in the borderlands, the Undead Dragon, is right nearby. Even the screams of death agony have disappeared by now. Just the trembling by the dragon’s trudging is gradually becoming louder and stronger.
“Now that it has come to this, I guess you’ve got no choice but to pin your hopes on my victory.”
Even under these circumstances, Shea’s voice remains indifferent and level-headed. As if she’s talking about someone else’s problem.
“By the way, how is the chance of you winning?”
“That depends on the quality of your work, Teo.” Shea replies, and returns her eyes to my latest piece of work.
A black aura thickly billows up from it. At this point I can’t really see its body anymore as it’s hidden from my eyes by a black fog. I can only confirm its silhouette. However, Shea seems to be able to clearly grasp its existence.
She decisively thrusts her dark brown arm into the black fog, and once she clasps the hilt of <Corpse Eater>, she swings her arm once, blowing away the fog.
“It sure changed drastically in the short time I haven’t seen it.”
“For it to become like this, it’s beyond my expectations…”
Small blades densely crowd the blade of <Corpse Eater> all around. They line up in rows along the blade’s edge, looking as if chains made out of blades have been twined lengthwise around the blade.
And ever since Shea has grasped the hilt, those blade chains have started to slowly and yet ceaselessly rotate.
──<Corpse Eater> – Mode: Black Dog Chain Fangs.
Assuming I added an inscription, it’d have probably been something like that.
“I can already tell from just holding it. Teo, this is your best work.”
“Oh, how unusual for you to praise me without restraint.”
“It’s only natural, if you make something like this, no? That’s my partner for you.” She says with a broad grin.
“Haha, I suppose having you say something like that makes my bloody piss tomorrow worth it.”
“Teo, can you move? This is gonna be the end. So ascertain the result of your work with your own eyes!”
She shoulders the new <Corpse Eater>, puts her mask back on, and breaks into a run. Chasing after her back, I head outside through the door.
Beyond this point, there’s nothing I can do. Rather, the danger is only going to increase. But, I cannot help but wanting to see the outcome of my own work.
Outside the smithy, a world I see for the first time in a while, the morning sun has already started to rise. The corpses of hunters are strewn across the area. All alone, Shea stands among them.
“Teo, stick close behind me. You’ll be in danger if you stray away from me.”
Shea senses my presence without the need to look back. But she’s right. A weak civilian like me has no other choice but to do what she’s said.
I keep walking behind her while maintaining a reasonable distance. Us two are the only living beings out on a limb. The other hunters have already run away, or were killed…
I spot the clothes of a man I’m familiar with. It’s the field smith Mr. Gaston who’s been working with me until a little while ago. He’s lying face-down in the dirt. Still, I feel like his fingers have twitched just now. Is he possibly still breathing?
Hearing him groaning weakly, I rush over in a hurry, “Are you alright?”
“Oh, wonderful. Do you want some water?”
And then, at the moment when I’m about to reach for the water flask at my waist, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!”
All of a sudden, Mr. Gaston jumps to his feet.
Unfortunately, the Field Smith Gaston has already passed on. His neck twists far beyond the limit of its joints. He bares his teeth, clearly touting his hostility.
He leaps my way while screaming at the top of his lungs like a little child.
“Move aside, Teo!”
My body is being hurled away out of Mr. Gaston’s way. With his prey gone, what was formerly Mr. Gaston loses its balance.
Just as it tries to fix its posture, its head is blown into smithereens.
One blow by the new <Corpse Eater>. The blades, which have instantly upped their rotational speed with a zing, were driven into the upper part of its skull.
The head bursts open the instant it comes in contact with <Corpse Eater>. A wet sound as if a watermelon has exploded. And then the torso collapses with blood gushing out of its neck.
Shea looks down at the corpse which has once again stopped moving.
“I’ll be able to do it with this.”
She’s satisfied with the power <Corpse Eater> packs. For her to have used Mr. Gaston as a test dummy…
Although she’s done so to protect me, I somehow end up feeling apologetic. However, Shea doesn’t feel a shred of guilt. She gets rid of the blood by swinging <Corpse Eater> once, and starts dashing again.
Her destination is the origin of the Shadow Tsunami, the Undead Dragon──
There was no need to even look for the dragon. The earthen tremors are clearly announcing its location to anyone. However, normally you’d try to get away as far from that noise as possible, and not run towards it…
Shea keeps advancing without any hesitation. As I follow her, the vibrations and noises are gradually becoming louder and more intense. And so does the putrid stench of death assailing my nose.
Even a layman like me can tell that it’s over there, very close nearby.
“We’ll wait here. It has no choice but to pass through this area if it wants to exit the village to the south.”
Shea has chosen the food storage next to a water mill as the spot to wait for the enemy. All the villagers have evacuated, and have left the buildings behind without even locking them up. Same can be said for the food as they apparently didn’t have the leeway to escape while carrying it. The wooden boxes in the storage are filled to the brim with potatoes, onions, broccoli, and freshly harvested wheat. It’s an accumulation of precious food.
“I’ll aim for the moment when the dragon has passed this place. Teo, you hide in here.”
Afterwards, Shea and I wait silently. The morning sun dyes the roads in a violet glow. The water wheel gently follows its rhythm as it turns.
And then, cutting through the morning mist, a huge dragon becomes visible. Its entire body is festered with decay, and its bones are exposed at several places. While rotten flesh drips down like thawing snow, its four legs continue to pass in front of the water mill with an air of composure.
Its size exceeds the mill, which is the biggest construction in this village, by several leagues. The blades of the rotating wheel hit the dragon’s shoulder, breaking with a loud cracking. However, the huge dragon doesn’t seem to have even taken notice of it.
A dragon ─ the strongest race in this world. Moreover, its body feels no pain as it’s already dead, which means it doesn’t flinch from damage anymore either. While obeying its insatiable hunger, it devours all living beings it finds.
Its huge frame that keeps rotting while repeatedly regenerating slowly passes.
“Should I die, get out of here.”
Leaving those words without looking at me, Shea jumps out of the food storage. On the other side of the door waits a wall of decaying flesh completely filling out my field of view – the Undead Dragon’s rear.
Shea plunges straight at it. Jumping high up, she slams <Corpse Eater> down at the flesh wall. The instant its blade touches the target, it begins to rotate violently.
──<Corpse Eater> – Mode: Black Dog Chain Fangs has been activated.
The fang of Black Dog bore into the flesh, ripping and tearing it apart. Chunks of meat fly up into the air, accompanied by a nasty, soppy sound.
Each time Shea brings down <Corpse Eater>, flesh bursts from the dragon’s body like fireworks, getting blown away.
And finally, even the thick headed dragon perceives Shea’s onslaught.
Its furious roar causes the storage’s walls to rattle. Once it bends its long neck and catches sight of Shea, it fiercely slaps its massive tail down at her. A severe, peerless blow.
And yet, it resulted in only the Undead Dragon taking damage. <Corpse Eater>, held up by Shea over her head, digs into the tail, pulverizing it.
Grounded meat, pouring down like rain, soaks Shea’s shoulders with a reddish-brown goo. The dragon’s flesh pops off, on the verge of being torn to pieces. Be that as it may, the dragon doesn’t falter.
Without even trying to protect its tattered tail, it uses it for a side sweep next.
However, Shea dodges it, and continues her attacks from behind.
The dragon turns its body around, trying to face Shea from the front. It wriggles its massive frame while blowing away the buildings around it. But, Shea is fast. While evading the fragments of the buildings, she constantly remains right behind the dragon, continuing to work its tail and thick hind legs with <Corpse Eater>.
And, each time <Corpse Eater> hits, minced meat sprays into the vicinity like a fountain.
The Undead Dragon usually ignores attacks by normal swords and arrows, but the destructive force of her every blow is abnormal. It fiercely tears away the thigh muscles, completely throwing the dragon’s body off-balance.
The dragon grandly tumbles over, squashing several houses in the process. Bricks are whirled into the air.
The masked warrior jumps as if weaving her way through the opening between the airborne debris, nimbly lands on the Undead Dragon’s back, and drives <Corpse Eater> down. The blades rotate with a sickening splattering sound inside the dragon’s body, ransacking flesh and blood.
With <Corpse Eater> still stabbed in the body, Shea runs up towards the dragon’s head. Once she’s cut all the way up to the base of its neck, she pulls out the blade in one breath.
The dragon lifts its head, screaming.
That’s what Shea has been aiming for. She jumps once more, and strikes the back of its head with <Corpse Eater>. With the blade deeply penetrating its head, the chain blades rampage within while churning its brain.
With a war cry, Shea uses all her strength to cut through the head with the blade of <Corpse Eater> still embedded deep inside. Then she pulls it out once, and slashes left and right next.
Pink-colored chunks of flesh fly off after being ripped apart in a cross-shape. A gooey mass similar to cod milt blended with blood juts out like a thick sauce.
Shea grabs that with her bare hand, and roughly tears it out.
That’s its brain. Due to the overly large quantity, it doesn’t really feel real, but Shea has started to pull out the brain from within its skull.
The Undead Dragon stops moving, and its head feebly drops to the ground.
“Yahoooo!”, reflexively escapes my mouth.
No matter how undead it might be, even for a demonic beast this is going to be fatal. The power of Shea and the new <Corpse Eater> have overwhelmed the Undead Dragon!
I leave the storage hut which is on the verge of collapse from the battle, and try to run up to Shea.
“Shea! You truly….”
While loudly commanding, Shea begins to run my way at full speed.
A strong impact, and my body is blown back into the storage hut thanks to a magnificent body blow. What I see next is Shea’s mask above my chest. Her forelocks are soaked with blood, and the mask’s upper part is chipped.
And behind her…
The huge face of the Undead Dragon.
Its empty, light brown eyes that lack any will are fixedly staring at me. It looks like it had tried to take a bite at me, which is why Shea thrust me away.
“For it to still be able to move…”
“It wouldn’t have been designated as one of the Six Calamities if this much was enough to finish it off.” Shea gets up while lightly staggering, and flings off her mask.
Shea’s forehead is drenched in blood. Blood that’s running down her cheeks, just to drip down from her chin. She’s bleeding quite profusely, but Shea doesn’t seem to pay any attention to that. She just makes sure that it doesn’t block her view by roughly wiping it away with her arm.
On the other hand, the dragon is not only bleeding, but even had its brain torn out, and yet…
It’s tottering, seemingly unable to control its body, and repeatedly bumps against the buildings in the vicinity. However, it’s fighting spirit is still going strong.
Even while swaying around, it’s searching for us.
“It’s slowly recovering despite decaying. A complete and utter annoyance.”
“No way. Didn’t you destroy its brain just now?”
It’s the basics of the basics to destroy the brain when fighting undead. And yet, despite having its brain destroyed, the huge, undead dragon remains active.
“That type of dragon has three brains. It’ll keep regenerating as long as you don’t crush all of them.”
I remember having heard that certain kinds of dragons possess several brains along the spine, in addition to the one in the head, to control their huge body.
Apparently it’s necessary to destroy all of them to completely subjugate this dragon here, and on top of that, a previously destroyed brain is going to regenerate before you manage to destroy the next one. That seems to be the reason why the Undead Dragon is seen as one of the Six Calamities in the borderlands.
“Just how are we going to deal with this…? If we at least knew the location of all its brains…”
If you were to attack with several people, it’d be possible to coordinate the destruction of its brains to happen simultaneously. Of course such a way of fighting would require finding some colleagues, though.
“No doubt about them being somewhere along its spine. Thus, it’s easiest to simply destroy the entire spine.”
“Of such a huge body…!?”
“I’ll push through with brute force.” Shea draws <Corpse Eater> close to her body.
The small, canine-like blades on its sword blade have been continuing to rotate. It’s as if the sword itself is demanding to be fed more flesh.
“Can you do that?”
Certainly, currently <Corpse Eater> is endowed with more than enough offensive power to handle the Undead Dragon. But, if it comes to completely destroying its entire spine, I’m not really sure whether the power of its enchantment is going to last…
“Believe in your own skill. Just like I do.” Shea shoulders <Corpse Eater>, and turns around. “Wait here. I’ll finish it off, so don’t come out no matter what.”
Leaving those words, Shea sprints towards the dragon. As the mask protecting her head is already gone, her hair flutters like a silver trail.
The Undead Dragon has spotted her as well. It opens its muzzle widely, trying to bite Shea apart.
“Too slow!” Shea evades the attack with a nimble slide.
Passing underneath the dragon’s belly just like that, she comes out behind it in no time. Using the momentum, she runs up the dragon’s tail, and pierces the root with her blade.
The dragon rampages, trying to throw Shea off by hurling its own body against houses. Pounced by the dragon’s ramming attacks, the houses on its left and right collapse, and the broken roof tiles rain down on Shea from above.
Be that as it may, Shea isn’t blown off as she continues to weather through it by clinging to the embedded <Corpse Eater>.
At last, it crashes into the water mill, heavily damaging the stone building after having broken the wind blades earlier. As the mill crumbles, stone fragments that were blown away hit Shea’s back and head with thumping sounds.
And yet, Shea remains glued to its back.
Enduring the shower of debris, Shea finally starts moving after having waited for an opportune time to launch a counterattack.
“Ooohhh! <Corpse Eater>! Devour this thing!”
She pulls out <Corpse Eater>, and stabs. Pulls out, and stabs. Just as if ricing potatoes. With each stab, new flesh is gouged out of the dragon’s body. She keeps digging out the flesh, almost as if she’s trying to bore a hole towards the ground. A big hole opens up around the root of its tail, the lower part of its back.
After some stabbing, its pure white spine becomes visible. Brandishing <Corpse Eater>, she drives the blade into its body at full force.
At that moment, the Undead Dragon loses all power in its legs, and falls to its knees. Next it topples sideways as it has lost control over its lower body. It’s literally a breakdown.
One of its three brains should have been destroyed. Two left.
Shea’s body fell off as the dragon tumbled. But she’s already back up and charging towards the dragon’s back. Heading for the upper part of its destroyed lower back, she continues to pound <Corpse Eater> in. Flesh is blown into the air.
But, it’s not like the Undead Dragon is going to let her reign free. It raises its undamaged upper body, lifts its long neck, and slaps its head powerfully down, using the head, a part it ought to protect, as a hammer.
It’s a blow transcending the instincts of a living being!
The dragon’s temporal region directly hits Shea’s body, causing her to be blown away while bouncing many times against the ground. Just like that, she disappears amongst the debris.
“Shea!?” I scream in reflex.
Of course, it’s impossible for my voice to reach her.
I want to rush over to her right away, but the one heading in her direction isn’t me but the dragon. Slowly, it staggers forwards. Its knees fold repeatedly, but its hind legs still have power in them.
What makes it even more fearsome is how it keeps regenerating all the while…
One of its three brains had been destroyed after all this work. If it ends up recovering…
At this point, Shea is wounded as well. On top of that, the curses of <Corpse Eater> are intense, so they should have been gnawing away at Shea throughout the whole fight.
Very likely, any more of this…
The tip of the dragon reached the debris with Shea after it had advanced slowly.
“Shea! Get away!” I continue to yell.
Shea stands up, giddily. She looks my way, and faintly lifts the corners of her mouth.
Once again, the dragon’s head is slammed down at full power. However, Shea doesn’t even try to dodge it. Matching her timing with the approaching muzzle, she swings her machete.
The dragon’s head is repelled with an extremely eerie sound. I doubt my own eyes.
Shea’s slash has thrown back the dragon’s head. Its lower jaw has been squashed into a bloody pulp from the impact. It must have been a terrifying, destructive force. At this point, it’s gone beyond hume understanding.
Don’t tell me…
Even while being further away, I can immediately grasp what Shea has done.
That raging, burbling black aura. The sword’s blade has swollen to twice its size due to the fierce pressure of the curses contained within. Moreover, even now it’s still changing its shape. The blade is twisting as if the Black Dog sealed within is searching for prey.
The seal was scraped off. The blessed seal with the cross in a circle!
『If it’s scraped off with something sharp, the seal is going to lose its power…』
I recall that I told her something like that when I handed her the first spear I made for her.
“Shea, you’re going too far…”
Being fully aware of the consequences, Shea probably used a knife or something else to shave off the seal while buried under the debris. Either way, that’s far too dangerous. With the seal undone, the sword should be on the verge of going berserk.
The Undead Dragon has taken some serious damage as well. Its lower jaw has been blown off almost completely. With only the upper jaw left, blood and drool flows out of its muzzle in streams. But, the undead dragon keeps fighting despite that.
It slowly lifts its head, targeting Shea. But, Shea doesn’t wait for it to recover. She steps into the dragon’s bosom, and smashes <Corpse Eater> against its foreleg. With just that one blow, the dragon’s right foreleg ceases to exist.
Having been thrown out of balance, the dragon pitches forward.
Without a moment’s delay, Shea leaps on its back, and hits its center with <Corpse Eater>. Over and over, again and again, she stabs, slashes, and pummels. Shea and <Corpse Eater> transform into one brutal beast.
A powerful urge to destroy triggered by the curses should be dominating Shea’s mind right now. I fear her objective of destroying the three brains is all but gone from her mind by now. She might not even be aware who and what to regard as an enemy anymore. If I were to get close to her, she’s probably going to kill me in an instant.
A single entity ruled by bloodlust. That’s exceedingly similar to the Undead Dragon…
That term crosses my mind.
“Uuaaaaaaaahhh! Gaaaaaaaaa!” Shea pounces with <Corpse Eater> while meaninglessly snarling.
The dragon’s huge frame has been completely gouged out, finally snapping apart in two halves. Its lower body restlessly squirms around even after being cut off.
“Aaaahh!” Shea assaults it and turns it into pulp.
And immediately following, she assaults its upper body half. She fiercely chases after the undead dragon as it slithers away while dragging its intestines along, and delivers further attacks.
“Aahh! Die! Die!”
She crushes bones and chops flesh with <Corpse Eater>. The lower jaw has been pulverized, the right foreleg has been lopped off, the lower body half has been scattered, and on top of that, she incessantly, mercilessly drives her machete into the upper body half.
The dragon has already taken a shape that makes it difficult to tell what kind of being it’s supposed to be. If you tried to judge from its current state, it would be next to impossible to distinguish whether it’s a tail or neck that’s extending from the torso. At this point it’s a mushy, unidentifiable cluster of meat.
The damage to Shea, the creator of this bloody pulp, isn’t anything to scoff at either.
“Haa…haa…” She’s gasping painfully for air with her shoulders violently heaving.
And then she finally lets go of <Corpse Eater>, and immediately flops down on the ground. The curses emitted from <Corpse Eater> have already drastically decreased. Surprisingly it has released almost all of them in this short period of time.
I rush out of the storage hut, breaking the promise to stay away at any cost. The fight should be decided by now, so I’ve got to quickly check the state of Shea’s mind and body.
Is she still sane? Has she any serious injuries?
I run to Shea, and prop up her body. Her bleeding is terrible. I’m sure several bones must have been broken as well.
“Are you alright!? Do you know who I am?”
Instead of answering, Shea tries to walk with staggering legs.
“I failed to kill it. …Run away.”
Her beautiful silver hair is stained dark red. She brushes up the forelocks hanging over her face while teetering. And then she glares at the lump of dragon flesh, looking awfully sullen.
The flesh is slowly moving. The totally messed-up body of the Undead Dragon is faintly stirring. Very likely, the last brain is still alive in the center of its body. The dragon’s injuries are terrible, and it doesn’t look as if it’s going to attack us right away, but sooner or later it’ll likely regenerate.
“…While you…still can…g-…get…aw…”
Vacant eyes, a broken voice, and a clouded consciousness. But, that’s no wonder. She abused her body to its limit while being encroached by the curses over the entire course.
“Shea, all’s fine now! Let’s escape together.”
“…I-If…I rest…up a bit, I’ll f-…finish…”
“No, you won’t. You’re already at your limit. Besides, <Corpse Eater> is also…”
The enchanted curses are on the verge of running out. It has no power left to continue fighting the Undead Dragon.
Although she tries to walk, her body wobbles and collapses on the spot. She attempts to get back up while clinging to my body, but she falls back down again, powerlessly.
“I’ll lend you a shoulder. Let’s go.”
I don’t know whether we’ll be able to make our escape. However, we must leave this place as soon as possible. I force up Shea’s body, and support her shoulder.
“…yourself…-ay. I h-have to…one more hit…”
Shea’s unfocused eyes are looking for the dragon. Its spine juts out from the lump of its flesh. Thready objects crawl out of its skull like earthworms. …Its nerves. Its regenerated nerves extend, squirming.
Shea pulls away from my shoulder, trying to grab <Corpse Eater>…but as her hand has no strength left anymore, she can’t even lift it up.
“…Leave me behind. …Once my grip…strength returns…I’ll…finish it off.”
“That’s impossible! In the first place, it’s already a miracle for you to still be alive, Shea!”
She tries to raise <Corpse Eater> after shaking me off, but only collapses to the ground with her body having lost its support. However, even as she’s groveling, she embraces <Corpse Eater> and glares at the dragon’s wriggling spine.
Clinging to <Corpse Eater> with both hands, Shea pushes herself up with both legs, but immediately falls over again. Her body directly lands in a puddle of blood and mud.
“Give it a rest, will you!?”
I force <Corpse Eater> out of her hands, embrace her with all my strength, and lift her body up. Just having touched <Corpse Eater> for an instant, causes me to feel as if my whole body is being penetrated with its power being drained. I stagger, almost dropping Shea.
“…If I destroy…that spine…rest…will be…”
The sensation from the machete I felt a moment ago has convinced me: If Shea fights any longer, she’s definitely going to die. She has cornered the dragon to the utter limit, but as regrettable it might be, any more is impossible.
I turn my back on that cluster of flesh for the sake of severing all lingering regrets.
At that moment, I heard a thud. The sound of a light impact. When I turn my eyes in the direction of its source, a single arrow is embedded in the wriggling spine.
A plain arrow without any enchantments.
“Ah, just as I thought. It didn’t work. Damn it!”
That strong-willed high voice sounds familiar. The white skin as it’s characteristic to elves is smeared with mud and blood, her clothes are rags at most, and even her prided blond hair is dark and starchy, but it’s impossible for me to mistake that voice. It’s the self-alleged Morning Mist Shooter Elemia, our reliable comrade. Someone with deep feelings for her family while being a bundle of ambition, and someone with an uncouth, hungry mindset that contradicts her beautiful appearance.
“Elemia…you didn’t withdraw?”
“That was just me tricking you for a moment. I was picking up my arrows. It’d give me a bad aftertaste to abandon my friends and run away.”
“T-That’s a big help. Nao as well?”
“That girl evacuated for real.”
“Anyway, I’ll take care of the rest.”
“But, with those arrows…”
Attacks without any enchantments won’t have much if any effect against an undead dragon that managed to weather through the onslaught by <Corpse Eater>.
“It’s still better than Lady Shea doing it, right? Besides, you think I’d let such a big game get away after it’s been cornered to such an extent!?”
“Even if you say that…”
“Don’t worry about me, and get Lady Shea to a safe place. In the worst case I’ll tear out that disgusting, wriggling slime with my bare hands. Everyone, your big sis is going to buy you a house after killing this thing!”
Being urged on by Elemia, I start to walk unsteadily while carrying Shea. For starters, over there──
Absorbed with my heavy tolling, I leap into the storage hut I had hidden in before. Fortunately, it barely maintained its shape as a building. I gently lay down Shea at the wall that looks to be the sturdiest of all, allowing her to get a rest.
Of course, this place won’t hold out for long. We must evacuate after finding a good opportunity to get away. I need to somehow get Elemia to run away together with us as well…but how?
Then I suddenly hear a snapping sound, and one of the pillars supporting the roof comes down. Fortunately it hasn’t hit Shea, but it directly falls on a barrel filled with preserved vegetables, smashing it into smithereens.
Potatoes, onions, carrots, and broccoli are rolling across the ground──
The instant I perceive the vegetables with my eyes, something dawns upon me.
This will work!
I pour scales of morpho butterflies into napta oil, stir it with a finger, and soak the broccoli’s tufty parts in the solution. A broccoli that’s permeated by plenty of fire elements. I’m going to seal this with a rune of the Fire Spirit Praise and Encouragement prayer, and moreover add another enchantment with the prayer of Water Spirit Devotion. Overly precise and super fast.
After perceiving the spirit vein streaming through the broccoli’s core, I drive the prayer words into it. This combination of a cortege blacksmith technique and a natural blessing packs a surprisingly destructive force.
──A greenish-yellow throwing weapon, Vitamic Grenade!
I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one in this world who knows just how much firepower this combination can produce. No, to be precise, it’s Shea and me.
Holding the enchanted broccoli, I rush out of the hut. It’s the fastest enchantment available to me. Less than two koku should have passed.
Seeing her state, I’m shocked. While trampling down on the spine protruding out of the flesh cluster, she tears out the extending nerves with both hands. She looks desperate. Her eyes are bright right from being bloodshot, and her whole body is covered by decaying flesh.
“Uuuoooo! Moneeeeeeeey! Prestigeeeee! A house and a huge carriageeeeeeee!” She’s screaming in all seriousness.
Elemia is obviously confronting the Undead Dragon flesh with all her desires. I forcibly pull Elemia away from the dragon’s carcass, and press the item I’ve just enchanted into her hand.
“T-This is…don’t tell me! It’s that?”
“If you pluck off a bite-sized piece, and stab it onto an arrowhead…”
“I see… Gotcha! I’ll give it a try!!”
Elemia quickly wipes the blood staining her cheeks off with her sleeve. She accepts the piece of broccoli I’ve cut off for her in the proper size, stabs it onto her arrow, and readies her beloved elven bow. Her expression seems tense, completely different from her childish rampaging earlier.
“I’ll shoot the spine at intervals!”
At once, she nocks the broccoli arrow, and fires the first shot. Then she shoots another, and another, switching to a barrage of unmatched accuracy without missing her target or getting fidgety. Each time, the Vitamic Grenade causes a steam explosion, breaking the spine bone apart.
Another two arrows. She keeps destroying each of the spine segments in order. At this rate, it won’t matter where the second brain might hide. It’s going to be blown up during this fine-tooth-comb search.
“Eat this, Undead Dragon! Become the down payment for the house of the Great Morning Mist Shooter Elemia!”
It’s a series of pinpoint explosions. Every time a big explosion occurs, smoke and steam is whirled up, just to disperse after being carried away by the wind.
The body of the dead dragon continues to regenerate. Meanwhile its spine vanishes as if being pulled out from there. Elemia and I closely observe the lump of flesh. We properly check every nook and cranny with wide open eyes.
“It’s not moving anymore, is it?”
“It’s my win! I’m Elemia the Undead Dragon Hunter! Money, house, land!” Elemia announces loudly.
Immediately following that, she falls backwards after having lost her consciousness.
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