Book 9: Fate’s options
Chapter 143: First encounter of bandits?
After we departed, we traveled down the highway towards Meratoni without any issues but when evening came, an abnormal event happened to Estia.
This time, Lionel and I led in front while Kefin steered the carriage as the coachman.
Inside the carriage, Cathy conversed normally with Estia while keeping an eye on her.
Then when evening came, just when I thought that it was about time we searched for a village to stay in, Estia suddenly jumped out of the carriage.
Before I had a chance to move, Fornoir apparently made the choice to approach her and started running in Estia’s direction.
It was a behavior unlike a horse even though she’s a horse but I trust her as my partner so I picked up on her intention and we began chasing after Estia.
“Don’t run, Estia! What happened exactly?”
When I shouted to tell her that, I noticed that Estia’s body blurred for an instant.
” … This place closely resembles the terrain where Estia lived in the past.”
If she called herself Estia, then the existence I’m speaking to right now would be none other than the Darkness Spirit.
“Why did you switch with Estia even though the sun still has not set?”
“Estia was beginning to feel distraught after looking outside and the cat beastwoman tried to talk to her but the conversation rapidly fell apart and she jumped out.”
It felt like I was being pressed by various troublesome matters.
Am I incapable of seeing through the Darkness Spirit?
” … Our journey to Meratoni is a final decision. There’s no turning back you know? Furthermore, if she’s had any trauma, won’t you, as the Darkness Spirit, notice?”
“It’s not as if I know all of Estia’s memories. Sorry, but could you please give me a moment?”
” … Okay. But we’ll be continuing on. Since there should be a village slightly ahead if we continue on.”
” … Thank you.”
Since Cathy and Lionel arrived as we were having our conversation, I spoke honestly about this time’s incident … apart from the matter regarding spirits though.
“Apparently, Estia thought that she saw a place similar to this when she was sold to the Empire. It seems like she got frightened after recalling that shocking event.”
” … There’s no helping it then nya. For childhood memories, the more shocking it was, the more entrenched it will be nya.”
“Perhaps she was kidnapped from Meratoni or one of the surrounding villages … or perhaps there’s a chance that she was sold?”
“Yup. Let’s first hurry to the village to rest.”
“Okay. It shouldn’t be a problem if monsters appear at night with the 3 of you around but she might be able to calm down mentally if she gets some rest.”
I recommended Estia to lie down inside the carriage and Cathy and Kefin got along well while sitting at the coachman seat as we began to continue forward.
Just before the sun completely set, we finally arrived at the village but something felt strange.
“I am S-rank Healer Luciel affiliated with the Healer’s Guild Church Headquarters. Is the village elder in?”
When I introduced myself to the men at the village entrance who were being wary of us, I thought that I saw a flash of impatience across their faces but before I knew it, Cathy and Kefin who were at the coachman seat disappeared.
Then, when I turned back to look at the men, they had been rendered unconscious before I knew it.
” … Why did you do that?”
I was confused as to why the 2 of them attacked the villagers but the one who admonished me wasn’t Lionel but Fornoir.
She suddenly stood on only her hind legs as if performing a wheelie and I fell off because I couldn’t react in time.
“Ouch! Why did you suddenly do that … “Burururu” I’m sorry.”
When I stood up, Fornoir’s face was right in front of mine and it showed anger.
That’s how it felt to me so I gradually calmed down.
“Apparently, unusually, we’ve encountered bandits of some sort.”
“Aren’t bandits urban legends?”
“The public order in Saint Schull Allied Nations is tremendously good so you might not have a chance to see them but they do exist. In the Empire, there are even bandit bands to the scale that requires the army to be dispatched.”
Lionel lectured me while he dismounted and requested for rope before beginning to tie the bandits up.
I thought that it would gradually cause a commotion but I didn’t feel any presence of villagers coming out and it also didn’t feel like Cathy and Kefin were caught.
“Please wake Estia and have the horses and the carriage enter the Hermit’s stable.”
” … Okay. Fornoir. I’ll call for you tomorrow so could you go inside?”
But Fornoir shook her head side to side.
I felt like I could see the determination that dwelled within her eyes.
“Ha~. If that’s the case, then could Estia ride on you?”
Her head drooped when I asked.
She seemed to have agreed to the compromise.
“Luciel-sama! There might be enemies outside as well.”
I understood Lionel’s concern but I went to wake Estia inside the carriage.
“Estia, bandits or the likes might appear so stay together with Fornoir.”
I entrusted Estia to the Darkness Spirit and deposited the tied up bandits inside the carriage that Estia descended from.
“Lionel. I’ll listen to Fornoir’s selfish desires once in a while. Moreover, Fornoir would notice if enemies approach and if she gets injured, I’ll lock her up in the Hermit’s stable as punishment.”
” … It can’t be helped if that’s your decision.”
Lionel compromised saying that there’s no helping it, Fornoir looked at me with an indescribable expression while I could expect the Darkness Spirit to be able to exert it’s strength given that night is arriving.
“That’s right, Lionel. In cases like this, would it better to wait? Or to head to the village elder’s house?”
“Do you know the location of the village elder’s house?”
“Yes. Since I’ve been to this village countless times.”
“The, let’s head to the village elder’s house. Since the leader of the bandits might be there.”
” … But, in this situation, if we do not hide the horses and the carriage, we would be discovered …”
” … Ha~ So troublesome. Lionel, we’ll go with a frontal attack. It’s fine if we defeat them from the front if we’re seen. Either way, with those 2, the enemies might already be unconscious.”
We set off after I activated 「Area Barrier」.
Although there weren’t any evidence of fighting in the village, none of the houses had lights in them even though the sun is setting.
” … Were they all gathered somewhere?”
“Maybe. But I’m curious as to why there aren’t any evidence of fighting …”
We headed in the direction of the village elder’s house while having questions in our head before we could finally see lights.
“I’m worried about why we don’t see Cathy and Kefin’s figures … ”
“But if it is a bandit band that those 2 are not able to escape, it must have considerable ability and scale …”
When we approached closer, I could hear voices similar to cheers and there was a banquet being held in front of the village elder’s house but it was not a normal banquet.
Villagers drew near to Cathy and Kefin while the 2 of them desperately avoided the magic from the demon race.
While wondering why there was totally no sounds of battle even though they were fighting, Lionel, the Darkness spirit, and I immediately understood the situation and moved.
“That’s a demon? Do you think if its movements will be sealed if I use 「Sanctuary Circle」?”
“The demon race is weak to Light and Holy attribute magic. If you activate「Sanctuary Circle」, it might not die but it will be able to weaken it.”
“I wish that it would be able to recover status abnormalities too if possible though.”
“I’ll make a move first.”
“Okay. Please protect those 2.”
Lionel rushed in.
“Luciel, Ane-sama, if the humans do not return to normal with the activation of 「Sanctuary Circle」, I will use my magic. At that time, please look after Estia’s body.”
I heard that but I didn’t answer.
Because I was already activating the 「Magic Circle Chant」 for 「Sanctuary Circle」.
The pale light that illuminated the darkness spread across the entire location where the banquet was being held and an instant after the vortex of light was seen, I heard a scream.
After I rushed forward with the horse carriage, I saw a mountain of corpses … or not, I confirmed the figures of collapsed villagers who were being manipulated.
” Ha … Ha … Luciel-sama, you saved us. If it wasn’t playing around in the battle, it would have been dangerous.”
Looking closely, Cathy and Kefin had multiple injuries looking as if it was gouged out and the large shield held by Lionel was nowhere to be seen.
“Immediately after the demon was suffering, all the villagers’ movement stopped and in that gap, the 3 of us somehow dealt the finishing blow together nya.”
Looking at the sweat pouring out of Cathy’s face, I could guess that it was as strong as the Red Dragon.
” … How did the Empire overlook a demon of this caliber? I’m more curious about that.”
Even though Lionel’s large shield was missing and his left arm was twisted in an angle that it shouldn’t be able to bend in, he was apparently still worried about the demon.
The demon that the 3 of them dealt the finishing blow to was of similar stature to a human and there wasn’t any large differences in its facial features too.
But, it had a horn, had a tail like beastmen and its limbs were covered in robust scales like Dragonewts.
“You’ve done well fighting against this. Even so … it seems to originally be a human.”
I placed the corpse of the demon race that still gave off a presence even upon death into my magic bag.
I was slightly wary but it smoothly entered and I could finally settle down.
“We’ll need to ask the villagers when they wake up regarding this demon and the Empire. Before that, the treatment for you all comes first.”
Fornoir came to my side and it felt like she wanted to entrust Estia’s unconscious body to me.
“So the Darkness Spirit also lent its strength huh …”
Only Fornoir heard my mutterings and nodded.
I didn’t actually see the Darkness Spirit fight in the field but I could guess that it was the Darkness Spirit’s power that made the villagers collapse.
I don’t know anything about the Darkness Spirit’s objectives and I can’t completely trust it but I’ll try believing in it slightly.
While thinking so, just to be safe, I applied the highest grade healing magic, purification magic and status recovery magic on Lionel and the others and I applied Recover and Dispel on the villagers.
Thank you for reading.
How many people want to bet Estia is Botacyl’s daughter? lol