A/N: A slightly unusual Chrismas SS.
Hill and hill looked at each other with sleepy faces. With the fog having emaciated, an extremely dry air hung over the area. The vegetation growing in the region had also shifted from memento leaves towards leng leaves. Leng leaves were precious plants resembling dried-up stubbles that could be used as substitute for medicinal plants.
As a hilly region like that, the environment of the Whirlpool Forest of Demonic Fog had fluctuating climatic circumstances. But, the canopy above the fog always remained unchanged. It was a mysterious patch of woodlands.
When you ascended the dry slopes, monster heads would suddenly pop out of caverns and depressions. Those monsters were called Ebiscience. Their five, crooked heads were supported by slender necks which were connected to earth-colored, massive torsos. Faint silver line patterns were visible on their torsos, but they had no arms and just one thick leg. But, since they could use their claw-shaped toes like snakes, it was indispensable to pay careful attention to their leg.
And Mysty had said following about those monsters, 『Defeat them if they show up! They possess several usable raw materials such as their claws, nipples, and some of their intestines』.
I quickly readied my Jade Snake Bow. My wrists got engulfed by a transparent, light green haze. Once I pulled the light string, a green arrow was automatically nocked onto it.
My aim was one of those warped heads… Let’s bring them down quickly, loot the materials, and explore further.
The green light arrows were released in quick succession through the skill <Rapid Fire>. One arrow after the other embedded itself in an Ebiscience head. And even after having all its heads penetrated by arrows, the Ebiscience still lived on. Thus I pierced its massive torso with a sixth arrow.
Small snakes immediately scattered away in all directions from the arrow. Those snakes invaded the monster’s body as if swimming. While the Ebiscience’s line patterns were stirred up and over-layered by snake patterns, the snakes themselves penetrated deep into the monster’s body.
In the next instant, a flash of light broke through its torso, bursting the body open from within. While confirming that the right half of the Ebiscience had scattered in pieces, I manipulated my blood.
While placing my left hand on Gadorices’s hilt and simultaneously pouring mana as well as blood into it, I charged in a forward-bent posture. I could feel the sound of the sword sliding out of its scabbard throughout my whole body.
Just like that I swung Gadorices with my bloody left hand through diagonally above as if to cut across the Ebiscience, unleashing my <Swift Dark Bloodblade>. Gadorices’s sword point drew an arc with its range extended after having obtained mana. The sword point had also changed its form a bit thanks to having assimilated with my Lucival blood.
This technique resembled Yui’s special <Battou Darkblade>, one of the seven Heavenly Dark Katana Techniques, but was actually different as a sub-technique that combined the Azmail Style Swordsmanship drawing technique with Lucival blood.
Behind me I could hear how the ebiscience’s body half slowly fell to the ground. While Gadorices absorbed the blood clinging to its middle part, I turned around.
Flesh and bones were strewn across the ground. Clumps of meat had been cut apart and exploded. The mass also included what used to be the Ebiscience’s body half.
However, although it was just one body half, my sword was capable of easily cutting it apart. This didn’t stem from just the blood’s effect, but also proved that Gadorices’s sharpness had definitely increased. I sheathed Gadorices into its exclusive scabbard with its conspicuous, gleaming, crimson scales that would remind anyone of a living dragon’s skin.
A click that made me feel a faint trace of mana occurred when Gadorices’s guard collided against the mouth of the scabbard. The sword blade had changed its shape earlier, but it still fit into the scabbard just as before.
It means the scabbard is also moving like a living being. As expected, Gadorices is an amazing weapon. It’s completely different from Blacksnake which I obtained from the Black Sweetwater Snake’s treasure chest.
While harboring such impressions, I collected the Ebiscience’s materials, beginning from dismantling its leg.
And then, when I checked my surroundings…I realized that it was already evening. I spotted the tall, triton-like tree I used as a landmark. The clusters of flowers growing from that tree looked just like cones.
The wind blowing through them from the hilltop made those clusters sway. The forest’s rustling was a natural sound, but it sounded like those clusters were acting like an orchestra of wooden percussion instruments. Milky white mushrooms with the special trait of having bun-shaped umbrellas grew beneath the flowers. The mushrooms looked like a cloud of umbrellas.
Those are the Tempered King Mushrooms Mysty asked me to pick up. Also called, Snow Mushrooms…
I kept pondering while staring at those mushrooms…
『Snow Mushrooms, huh? Those pretty mushrooms remind me of a special holiday held only during the cold season in another world I know of』
…recalling Master as he told me that story. When I asked him about it since I’m always curious about unknown cultures…he told me that the celebration was called “Christmas” or “Christmas Eve.” It was also enlightening that it’s originally a “festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
『Well, it’s part of a religion. Wars, revolutions, alien life, population reduction plans by a World Order, gene modification, alchemy of death, artificial intelligences, transhumanism, celestial, interstellar body “Oumuamua,” Freemasonry, and Illuminati; countless such stories that mix the occult, truth, and fiction, while depending on the individuals to believe in them or not, exist, but in reality, there exist many truths. Then again, for my country it was just a holiday. Days to enjoy happiness while eating delicious cakes. As a matter of fact, it was called a holiday for lovers…an irritating holiday where couples would dine at restaurants with a beautiful night view』
I was taught such incomprehensible things by my silly Master, but still, it was fun to listen to.
The dark elf society also knows holidays. In the third week of the Mad Forest Month, the Divine Madness Month, and the Crazy Love Month, we’d cut up the prisoners of hostile Sorcery Nobles while still alive, sprinkle mana-laden Jyebeono Powder on the intestines that were torn out, and then dedicate them as offerings to Goddess of Magic Poison Misea-sama.
Of course, there exist many other holidays, too. During another holiday we’d appreciate the Golea’s flower plumage swirling through the air like a flurry of snow in Underground City Golea located in the Underground Swamp Solck of the Black Plume Church’s headquarters. We would also view the big moon floating on Solck which spew out poisonous mist and fog in alternation, but…the Black Plume Church, who revered that moon might have been an abnormal church even among the dark elves, unlike the 【Negativity of the Poisonous Snake】 and 【Lightning King of Condemnation】.
Moreover, there existed the Martial Tiger Tournament’s holiday where the sorcery nobles would pit the darkness tigers they had raised against each other, the holiday where Priestess-sama would show the divine blessing and revelation of the Goddess to everyone through the Mirror of Roses. And I also heard about secret holidays where the sorcery nobles opposing Priestess-sama would perform secret sorcery to crossbreed lower, male dark elves with monsters.
The Fourth Sorcery Noble House Langibald, whom I took my revenge on, had such a holiday. Supposedly, they had inferior men kill my cousins and relatives by raping and violating them to death…
…All of these were cruel holidays running counter to the holiday Master told me about.
I guess it’s an effect of me having explained about all these underground society matters to Mysty and Hankay-san…the gruesome, dark holidays and the figures of my dead sisters are surfacing in my mind one after the other.
At that point, a cold wind teased my cheeks. Did I anger Wind God Seld.
No, have your Master look at your current growth instead of your dark past, is probably what he’s trying to kindly pass on to me.
While pinning down my forelocks with a hand…I decided to give the gloomy thoughts a rest and pick up the mushrooms. I brushed away the annoying tree branches with the red-scaled scabbard as I headed to the spot where the mushrooms were growing.
Then I went down on one knee on the soft, moss-overgrown ground, and began to pick up the mushrooms right away.
Just as I finished the mushroom harvest, I noticed a tree with an imposing shape at the right corner of my sight. It’s not related to raw materials…it’s just, its shape looked like Master.
I stood up while staring at the tall tree, hugging my shoulders like the special uniform I received from Master. I’ve witnessed a lot of death. I’ve experienced many transient days of merely surviving this world that regarded life lightly…
I, who was raised as a dark elf…for me to thirst for love so much… That’s the very reason why I feel so lonely that I mistake a tree for Master…
As I’m overwhelmed by those feelings, parts of the black leaves slightly hanging down in front of me…end up looking like Master’s fore bangs to me. I naturally walked up to the tree, and pressed my cheek against the tree’s bark…
Closing my eyes, I tried to feel its warmth. However, as might be expected, the bark was cold and rugged. A burned smell filled my nose…it was no more than the rind of a tree.
Moreover, the night wind was chilly.
Haah, just what am I doing…? I should go back to Mysty and Hankay-san.
Separating from the tree, I advanced through the forest while treading across its soft soil. The whirlpool forest where fog and trees continued as far as the eyes could see.
As I traced the smell of Mysty’s blood, a bluish-white stone monument came in sight.
At that point, I received a blood message.
『Yoo, Viine! Are you doing fine?』
It’s Master! T-This is…
『A Second Advent!?』
『W-What is it all of a sudden…?』
O-Ooops! I ended up recalling the Christmas story out of sheer joy.
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