Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 198

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Chapter 198

–Aegir POV–

It is nighttime on the outskirts of Rafen and I am walking along with Alice, Irijina, and Kroll .

「It’s pretty dark here…… hoi . 」

A small flame suddenly lights up on the tip of Alice’s finger .

She’s not only considered one of the extremely rare beings called magic users, she’s also quite the powerful one .

Her red hair which resembles the color of flames is the proof of her hidden ability and will apparently turn white when she uses up her magic power .

「It’s nice to take a walk at night! The moon’s pretty and more than anything, it’s quiet!!」

Irijina has her spear on her shoulder and is walking cheerfully with long strides .

She’s been getting hit with countless tree branches for a while now, but she’s been snapping them all and walking as if they weren’t there .

And I think the one who’s ruining the stillness in the night is you and your noise .

「Why am I here……?」

Walking behind the lumbering Irijina, almost as if hiding from something, is Kroll .

He’s looking around fearfully with a torch in his hand .

There was a sound of gra.s.s rustling caused by the wind or a small animal .

「T-there’s nothing here . 」

Alice enlarges the flame at her fingertips and confirms .

「Wahahahaha! The breeze is cool and refres.h.i.+ng!」

Irijina doesn’t realize .

「Hiih!」

Kroll lets out a little scream and hides behind Irijina’s back .

「You’re a man, aren’t you…… don’t hide behind a woman’s back, that’s pathetic . If you’re going to hide, at least hide behind me . 」

The shameful side of the 16 year old male hasn’t changed .

「Geez, why are you so afraid? You’re not even on the battlefield, so it’s not like an arrow will suddenly come flying at you . 」

This place is outside the city walls of Rafen, but it isn’t a place where bandits and monsters run rampant .

「B-because, Aegir-sama…… this place is……」

「Hm?」

「This place is a cemetery! It’s scary!」

That’s exactly right, we have to be careful of zombies .

There’s a reason why I’m wandering the cemetery at night with these three though .

Earlier That Day, Evening

I’m gulping down some light alcohol in the living room after being called by Myla .

Apparently, she wanted to talk where there aren’t that many people .

Fortunately, there isn’t anyone here right now .

「This might sound a little dubious, but-……」

After attaching an unconfident remark, Myla starts to tell me what’s going on with a complicated expression on her face .

「There are rumors about unsavory things coming out from the cemetery on the outskirts of the city . At first, I thought it was a joke, but…… there were several eyewitnesses and they wouldn’t change their statements even in front of the security force . 」

「If they were just loudmouths, then they would run away in a panic or fall prostrate on the ground once the security unit got there after all . 」

Not many citizens have the guts to make a fool out of Myla’s security unit .

「We checked once during the day and didn’t find anything strange . We could have decided it was just a lie, but during a time like this…… well, I thought I would report it to you anyways . 」

「I guess, right now…… isn’t the best time . 」

The thousand soldiers who fought and died in the battle between Aless and Atoroa were buried in Rafen’s cemetery .

It hasn’t even been one month since they were put under the ground .

And none of them died feeling satisfied, but rather died fighting, leaving regrets and families behind .

「Water is used to cleanse the cemetery every once in a while, so I don’t think they would turn into zombies, but-……」

I can’t imagine the cemetery being filled with malicious energy .

However, it took a few days for us to bring the dead soldiers to Rafen .

In that time, it’s possible that a kind of evil ghost might have entered the bodies .

「But it’s strange that nothing could be found during the day . 」

Zombies can’t move too much under the sunlight, but they don’t have the intelligence to hide and avoid the sun like vampires .

They should just be scattered in shade or writhing in the sun and should not be hard to find at all .

「We might need to do an inspection at night just in case though . 」

A zombie is born when an evil spirit enters and animates a corpse so it isn’t always strictly the spirit of the person who died .

Even so, I think it’s a little sad for fellow soldiers who fought alongside us to turn into undead and wander around aimlessly .

「Besides, I don’t want to make this into such a big deal . It will affect morale and the citizens’ state of mind after all . 」

Their families’ corpses might be wandering around even now .

It’s my duty to deal with this before the surviving families find out .

「Then I will do the search in the cemetery . 」

「How could I let you! There’s no way I would let the feudal lord conduct such a dangerous search . 」

「Don’t worry, you really think I’ll fall to some zombies?」

「Well-…… not really . 」

Zombies are weak since they’re using a human’s body after all, plus they don’t have intelligence .

In addition, causing damage to them would deteriorate their bodies so it isn’t hard for even an average man to defeat the zombies as long as they have a weapon .

「And if they’re really roaming about, I should be the one to cut them down . 」

Killing them is-…… most of them are soldiers who fought with Aless, although I am the one who brought them along and made the decisions on the battlefield .

I don’t feel guilty, but I do have the responsibility of cleaning up my own mess .

「Then I will go too . 」

「No, you should take the time to reward the security unit and take them out for a drink or something . 」

As she was about to voice her displeasure, I put a finger to her lips .

「You already went to the cemetery and did an inspection during the day, didn’t you? Rumors should already be spreading amongst the soldiers and citizens then . 」

Rumors about a suspicious shadow appearing in a cemetery where many dead people have been buried will make everyone think of either zombies or skeletons .

「That’s why you will drink with the security squad and say that you found nothing . Just say that some cowards mistook it for something else and laugh it off . If we confirm during the search tonight…… and actually find something, we’ll just expel those monsters . 」

「But still, I can’t let you go alone . 」

Hmm, it would be meaningless if I take the soldiers with me…… in that case .

「I’m so hungry!!」「I believe we’re having beef steak today . 」

Irijina and Celia came back after finis.h.i.+ng their training .

Perfect timing, I’ll have them come with me .

Irijina and Celia are family, so it wouldn’t matter if I told them the truth .

「Zombies…… that doesn’t sound good!! We have to get rid of them as soon as possible!」

Your voice is too loud, it’s echoing throughout the mansion so lower your volume .

「Zombies? If they really are there, then we must exterminate them promptly . 」

Celia is pumped up and ready to come along too .

But her expression becomes dark the next second .

「If there are zombies and skeletons, we must crush them . And we can’t be outdone even if we encounter ghouls! Although…… there won’t be actual ghosts or anything right? ……my sword isn’t going to pa.s.s right through their bodies, right?」

Oh yeah, Celia happens to dislike ghosts and spirits .

She’s fine with zombies, skeletons and basically anything that originates from a corpse since she can defeat it with her sword .

But things that defy logic like ghosts and spirits terrify her .

「Hahaha, well I’m sure they’re just monsters . There’s no way ghosts would appear . 」

In that moment, the door opens, and although I can see Casie, the people who can’t “see” her can only see a cute little stuffed toy floating into the room .

(I wonder what we’re eating today~)

Welcome back, Casie, it looks like we’re having beef steak and potatoes and a soup filled with lots of pumpkin .

(Waah, I can’t wait~ I love pumpkin~)

Casie stays clear of Irijina, circling around her to get to me .

There are people who can see her, but also many who can’t .

Apparently, people who are methodical and high-strung have an easier time seeing her .

Irijina is among those who can’t see her and is especially thick-headed, unable to sense Casie’s presence or voice .

Not only that, Irijina seems to always target Casie by stepping or sitting on her, making Casie angry all the time .

It wasn’t just once or twice that I’ve seen the flattened ghost flying around in tears .

One time, she apparently got so angry that she manifested into a vengeful spirit and stood by Irijina’s bedside at night, but she didn’t notice at all, which caused Casie to give up and recently started avoiding her altogether .

If Irijina was the type of person to have an ulterior motive, then I would think she was doing it on purpose, but looking at how she normally is, I accepted that she genuinely isn’t able to see Casie .

「Well, let’s get back to the topic at hand . I’m sure ghosts and stuff won’t be appearing, so there’s no need to worry . 」

「「……」」

「You’re right! There’s no way!」

Irijina is the only one who agreed with me .

Celia slumps her shoulders dejectedly .

「I-I’m sure there will be! Something semi-transparent will just appear suddenly!!」

Celia looks at Casie and shakes her head frantically .

So she’s not good at dealing with mysterious phenomena, but that’s what makes her cute too .

(Heey, hey, what are you talking about?)

The curious Casie rests her chin on my head .

I don’t have to worry about the zombies hurting her, so she could run away when the situation becomes dire .

Let’s explain things to her .

(Absolutely no way . )

She completely denies me .

(It’s already scary just to be outside in the city at night . A cemetery is out of the question . What would I do if I see a ghost!?)

Incidentally, Casie dislikes dark places and is quite the scaredycat .

(When I hear about scary things, it makes me need to go to the bathroom . )

Oh, so you go to the toilet too .

(It’s scary to walk around at night, so when I need to go, I stick to the back of one of the night patrol maids . )

「……Recently, there is a popular ghost story circulating amongst the maids about how their shoulders get heavy all of a sudden when they’re making their rounds at night . And they absolutely shouldn’t turn around to look……so that was your doing?」

(I would feel more rea.s.sured if they turned around though . )

In any case, I will have Irijina come with me .

And I’d want Celia too but…… .

「I-I’m going too! If Aegir-sama is going, then I can’t stay behind!」

Her words don’t match her expression .

Her face is crying out that it doesn’t want to go .

「You will stay and look after the house, who knows what will happen when I’m gone . Protect the mansion . 」

There is no safer place in Rafen than my mansion .

Ever since the attack by Orthodox Magrado, the security has been reinforced too so there isn’t a special need for Celia to be there .

「I-I understand! If you say so, then it can’t be helped . I’ll protect the mansion!」

I had to give her some sort of excuse .

「It will just be me and Irijina, but let’s do this . 」

「Yeah! Leave it to me!」

「If Irijina-san is with you, then……」

It looks like Myla is also satisfied with this .

If we only consider a frontal a.s.sault, Irijina is probably stronger than Myla .

Especially with undead, it’s probably better to have destructive power rather than slicing ability .

Irijina, being skilled as well as powerful, makes for the perfect choice .

「Two people isn’t good enough!」

Celia doesn’t seem convinced .

Let’s listen to her reasoning while rubbing her cheeks .

「Fuwaah! Why are you ma.s.saging them!? If only Irijina-san is with Aegir-sama and Aegir-sama starts having s.e.x because of his urges, his back will be left defenceless!」

「……I’m not that unprincipled . 」

「What would you do if you don’t see anything after going around once . 」

I might do it then .

Doing it in the cemetery under the moonlight might feel good .

「It might be better to take one more then . 」

「So you did feel like doing it . 」「Of course he’s going to do it . 」(What a pervert . )

Just when I was thinking of what to do, my eyes stopped at the view .

A pile of freshly baked bread was being carried by Maria…… and Alice, the red-haired girl who moved on to hobbies besides playing with her a.s.shole and is learning how to cook from Maria .

It looks like they’ve baked some bread for the girls in the annex today .

「How about Alice?」

「Alice, you say? I did hear her magic is quite powerful……」

「Her fire is awesome! Seeing it up close, it even made me almost p.i.s.s myself!」

Apparently her magic is unbelievably strong .

However, she has no battle experience herself and is incapable of hand-to-hand combat .

「Even if we find something this time, it will only be zombies and skeletons . Irijina and I can take the frontlines and protect her . 」

If we were facing an intelligent enemy, we would need to be careful of the risk that it would outsmart us though .

I call Alice after she finishes transporting the bread and explain the circ.u.mstances to her .

「Alright . I’ll come with you . 」

She gave a simply reply which made Celia make a surprised face .

How funny, I’ll stroke the underside of her chin .

「Fuunya…… -wait, I’m not a cat! More importantly Alice, will you be alright? This is the cemetery we’re talking about . 」

「Yeah, I’m not really afraid of ghosts or anything . Aegir-sama will be there too, right?」

「Uuuu……」

Seeing the taciturn Alice unafraid, Celia looks to be feeling a little conflicted .

How amusing, let me pat her head .

「Haau, what an inexplicable sense of defeat I feel . 」

Now then, preparations should be complete .

「But…… if Lord Hardlett slept with both of them together, we would be getting our priorities backwards . 」

This time Myla was the one who chimed in unnecessarily .

I’m not such a wild animal that I would have an orgy in the cemetery at night .

「I’d like one more if possible, please take a male with you . 」

A man, huh…… someone who I can tell secrets to and can also fight, so Leopolt, Mack, Gido or Christoph .

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「It would be serious if Leopolt got injured though . 」

In addition, it doesn’t look like they suffered any injuries by zombies or skeletons .

I check their necks just as a precaution but I don’t see any fang marks .

「What is going……on?」

「Umumu, I don’t know!」

「At the end, he said deceased’s soul……」

The three of us hold our heads in deep thought .

I don’t know the true nature of this mystery either, although I know it isn’t good .

「I’m not sure of the exact ident.i.ty, but it’s definitely some sort of monster . Everyone, stay on your guard . 」

Irijina and Kroll grip their weapons tight and focus their attention to the entire perimeter .

Alice stays the same as before, although her hair becomes a more vivid red .

Silence envelopes our surroundings, almost making us believe the moment was some sort of mistake .

And then an unpleasant crawling sound can be heard as something made its way through the soil .

「On the right! No, the left…… no, they’re everywhere!」

Irijina shouts .

The ground under the graves in the area bulge up and a bunch of rotten arms push out from underneath the dirt .

「Tch . 」

「Awawawawawa!」

I unconsciously clicked my tongue .

All of a sudden, zombies appear around us .

How could so many of them appear like this, clearly someone is behind this, but I can only deal with the threat in front of me right now .

「Aaaah……」「Uuaaaah……」

The horde of zombies make nonsensical groans as they drag their feet towards us .

The stench of rotten flesh hangs over the air .

「Eei, how irritating!」

I swing my spear horizontally and mow down two zombies, bisecting them at the waist .

Their guts spray out and spray onto my spear as well, causing me to click my tongue again .

I worry about getting my weapon dirty just to cut down one or two, and I would rather kick them all down, but I don’t have the luxury of doing so because of the ma.s.s number .

「Run to the right!」

I shout while sprinting straight to the right, cutting down the group of zombies blocking the path .

I send their heads flying, whacking at the entire bunch of densely packed zombies altogether .

In the end, they’re nothing but corpse monsters and it’s easier to tear their bodies apart than regular humans .

When I focus on breaking through, one zombie encroaches from the side to try and bite me . I respond by ramming my elbow at it and then kicking it away .

The airborne zombie flies into a tree and struggles after getting pierced by one of the branches, although it hangs limp after I cut off its head .

「Kroll, defeat all the enemies that get close to Alice! Aim for the neck, if not possible then slice their legs before running away!」

Before I knew it, I was at the front of our battle ranks, while Alice and Kroll are in the middle, and Irijina is at the end .

「Uooooh!」

Irijina spins her spear wildly above her head .

The clueless zombies don’t bother to be careful while approaching her and gets flung away as soon as they touch the spear .

Getting hit at that speed, it wouldn’t matter if it was the shaft or tip that hit them .

「This guy! Take that!」

Kroll uses his s.h.i.+eld to knock down the zombie trying to get into the gap left open while Irijina and I are rampaging .

When the zombie fell over, he would swing his sword down over and over again .

「Kroll, it’s pointless to cut at its body, stay calm and aim carefully! Alice, set flame to the areas where they’re bunched together!」

The girl’s magic is fire, a type which I don’t want her to use in the city, but this is the cemetery and the gra.s.s has been trimmed, so the danger of the fire spreading is low .

「’Kay, I will . 」

Three fireb.a.l.l.s instantly appear above her head and drop in the middle of the various crowds of zombies before exploding .

The zombies don’t scream but there was a remarkably loud groaning sound accompanying the burning of the zombies .

「Kuh…… there’s so many . 」

The pillar of flames illuminate the area to reveal even more zombies .

Exactly how many are there, it’s unbelievable that such a large number of zombies would sp.a.w.n all at once .

Not to mention this cemetery has been maintained comparatively well to the past and that should make it harder for evil energy to acc.u.mulate .

「Lord Hardlett! There’s too many of them as expected, and things will get worse if we continue to run!」

「……my magic won’t last that long」

「Hieeeeeh, don’t come over here!」

If we were going to run, we would need to run all the way to the edge of the cemetery . But since we’re currently close to the middle, it would be quite a far distance, so we would need to breakthrough the ma.s.s of zombies .

If it was just me, I could manage somehow, though it’s a pretty risky choice considering Alice’s lack of physical ability .

Besides, if we try to escape and the zombies chase after us, they might overflow out of the cemetery .

The fence surrounding the cemetery is only for containing the rare undead to spring up once in a while and shouldn’t be st.u.r.dy enough for such a large amount .

I ponder some more while slicing the legs of the approaching zombies and trampling over their heads .

Several fireb.a.l.l.s soar towards the horde of zombies and instantly turn them into lumps of charcoal .

Alice’s red hair has become slightly pink now .

「How about over there!?」

Irijina points to the center of the cemetery…… to the small mausoleum made of stone .

Despite Rafen being a small city, it apparently has quite the history and naturally its own traditional cemetery, which was this mausoleum .

With an increased population, naturally more people would die, and thus the unsatisfactory amount of s.p.a.ce in the grave was expanded to the surrounding area .

「It’s made of stone…… if we shut the door, it might work . 」

The zombies are merely corpses, so there’s no way they could split open the st.u.r.dy stone door no matter how many of them piled up against it .

If we hole up in there until the next morning, the zombies won’t be able to move and the army would run over after discovering the strange occurrence .

「Alright, everyone run inside!」

「Watch out!」

Irijina shouts and tumbles forward .

The arrow which was shot from the darkness grazes her back .

「Alice, take cover!」

「F-fueh?」

I deflect the arrow flying towards Alice with my spear and grab the arrow flying towards Kroll .

As a result, an arrow stabs into my stomach, but fortunately there wasn’t much power behind the attack and I was able to stop it with abs before it reached any important organs .

When I pull it out, I see that the arrow is rusted…… great, it looks like it’ll fester .

「Oww…… hey, c’mon, what is it this time?」

The ones who shot the arrows didn’t even hide themselves, bringing themselves in front of the mausoleum as if blocking the path .

「Skeletons, huh……?」「At this time!?」

Five skeletons armed with bows appeared in front of us and five other skeletons holding worn out spears are not too far from them .

This is impossible .

Skeletons have been seen doing more intelligent actions than zombies .

However, they only know how to use battle techniques and aren’t smart enough to understand anything .

It’s unthinkable for a group of them to form into ranks .

「They pursued us from behind and ambushed us at the only available shelter…… this is as if-」

They’re being led by something or someone .

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