Ex Strongest, Deciding to Proceed as Planned
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“Hmm… Should this be said as something unexpected again? It feels like I’ve found it…” (Hildegard)
It was about three hours of travel from the royal capital. In other words, Hildegard, who had visited the village at a distance that usually took three days, sighed when she said so.
Although it was nearly a hundred kilometers away from the royal capital, the nearest town was the royal capital. It was a moderate scale even if it was called a village. This was the first time Hildegard visited here. According to the document she had, there should be easily hundreds of people living here. The number of dwellings reflected in the field of view also affirmed the present situation.
“Haa… haa… it’s unexpected… isn’t it…? Oii… haa… I don’t know… what it is… do you know…?” (??)
“Haa… Haa… I don’t know… That is.. quite… good… haa… I think… it’s a village… but…” (??)
A wry smile was leaked by the voice which came from the rear. When Hildegard turned around, there was a boy and a girl.
Both of them breathed on their shoulders. It was obvious that they were exhausted. Well, they had been together with Hildegard so far. It was no wonder that they were exhausted. Still, they seemed to have some guts trying to explore the surroundings and understanding the meaning of Hildegards’ words.
However, it wasn’t the time to show it.
“Is it fine if you take a break now without overdoing it? Your day is still long.” (Hildegard)
“No, haa… if it’s like this… haa… I can’t… slow down… your work… haa…” (??)
“Y-yeah… haa… you asked for us… so… I don’t want… to be useless…” (??)
“Hmm… I didn’t mean to ask you for this…” (Hildegard)
While watching Lars and Helen, who looked desperate, Hildegard let out a sigh. They accompanied her simply because they had the highest fighting ability among those who came back to the academy. Basically. there was no other intention.
Nevertheless, since she had heard from Soma about these two, she would be lying if she said that she didn’t have the intention.
“Well, it’s a good thing that you’re trying your best, but are you trying to say that you’re not getting in the way?” (Hildegard)
Unless they got in her way, this wasn’t the case at the moment. In this situation, there was no way to become a hindrance.
“It’s unexpected that all the villagers have disappeared.” (Hildegard)
Yes, this village was uninhabited. Hildegard’s group had just arrived here, but they could see the extent in a glance. Not only on the outside, but there were no children inside the houses.
That was what it meant to be unexpected. She came here to ask about the surrounding monsters, but… it was a miscalculation.
“Well, given that we’ve seen this situation, our effort isn’t wasted. Hmm, is that why that guy let me decide everything…?” (Hildegard)
While feeling a slight discomfort, she tilted her head. She had no doubt that she was right about this. If she was correct this time, wasn’t the number of monsters less than usual due to adventurers? She was slightly wondering about that question. If she was told that it was because of her mind, she wouldn’t agree at first glance.
If there was a problem, did that mean that this situation had been going in the area around the royal capital for the past week or so? But once again, if she was told that it was because of her mind, she would be convinced.
At least, most people wouldn’t consider it as an anomaly just yet. Perhaps, Hildegard might not have judged that this was abnormal if it wasn’t told in the report.
However, based on the report, why did the Adventurer Guild and the king decide that this was abnormal? Hildegard felt uncomfortable there.
For starters, this information was picked up from conversations that had been mixed with chats at receptions and taverns. After all, it didn’t reach the degree of rumor.
Occasionally, people didn’t deny that there was important information in that. But when they noticed it, they were usually aware of the underlying information in advance. It was no exaggeration to say that people wouldn’t notice without it. Even if they became aware of it from intuition or rules of thumb, precedent information was necessary.
And in an event where such a precedent didn’t exist, such information couldn’t be taken for granted. Yet, they judged it abnormal. Regardless of whether this situation had something to do with the information, Hildegard found an actual anomaly.
She should have said that their judgement was a good thing.
“…Hmm, well, let’s hold back for now. The first thing to do is to get an accurate picture of the situation.” (Hildegard)
While muttering such a thing, she turned his gaze to the surroundings, but there was no sign of monsters as well as people. If this happened, someone would notice it right away. Therefore, she thought that this happened recently.
However, what caused this to happen? She would like to take a closer look, but… when she looked at the two people, who were still arranging breath behind her, she exhaled a small breath. She brought them while thinking that she required manpower, but it might be a failure.
It didn’t mean that the two became a hindrance. It was just that, they might be in danger depending on the situation. Of course, Hildegard did consider that possibility and the two also knew it, but… if something unexpected happened earlier, there was something to be expected.
“…Well, at worst, I think we can get away, but… we need to assess this situation properly.” (Hildegard)
If she could bring Lina, she shouldn’t have to think much about this, but unfortunately, she couldn’t find Lina. Certainly, Hildegard hadn’t seen her for the past week or so. Well, it couldn’t be helped since she wasn’t there. Right now, she had no choice but to think about what she could do.
With that in mind, Hildegard exhaled and looked around.
After resting in the mansion as planned, Soma’s group left the mansion early the next morning. He looked around the mansion again while they were resting. Above all, he couldn’t get any clues of the present situation. In that case, he had no reason to stay longer than necessary.
In order to find out why this was happening, they should extend the scope of investigation to the surroundings.
“Hmm… now, this is pretty troublesome.” (Soma)
As a result, Soma muttered such words. When he looked around, there was nobody. It was similar to his mansion, just like a husk.
The appearance was also similar to the mansion. Although there was a sense of life, there were no signs of being devastated. It was as if only people had suddenly disappeared.
It was like they were mysteriously disappeared. So, he couldn’t come out with anything until he got clues.
“I’m aware that I’m not familiar with the world, but hasn’t this happened before?” (Felicia)
“If it’s just one or two people, maybe… but I’ve never heard about this situation at all.” (Aina)
“…Yes, me too. Have you ever heard before that the whole village is gone?” (Sheila)
“Aah, in that case, I also remember, but I think it is said that the whole village had been erased by magic or some kind of failure? I don’t think that is what’s currently happening here…” (Soma)
If it was his mother, she probably could do it, but only people disappeared this time. The situation was too different, and it was too pinpoint. This wouldn’t happen unless his mother really aimed for it, but her mother had no reason to do that.
No, in the first place, it would be impossible to do this without the magic of the spatial system. Besides, his mother shouldn’t be able to use the magic of spatial system…
“In the end, it just means that we don’t know what’s going on.” (Soma)
However, there was one thing he found at the same time. He didn’t know what it was, but it was true that something happened.
Although it was almost fixed, there was a possibility that his mother would still do so if it was only in the mansion. But when it was about this matter, it wouldn’t be so.
“Well, whether it’s artificial or not, I’m sure there was something. So, what will we do in the future? We can’t just go back to the academy as it is, right?” (Aina)
“…Yes. I’ve been taken care of by Sofia-sama, and I’m worried about what happened.” (Sheila)
“Did she take care of Sheila? Since this is related to Soma-san’s family, I have no objection.” (Felicia)
That meant that they were telling him to change the plan and looked into this matter. It was true that Soma was concerned about this in many ways.
“…No, for now, we’re going to do as planned.” (Soma)
Aina asked whether it was alright to do that, but he merely shrugged back. Of course, he had a reason, and he thought this course of action was better.
“Could it be… is it because of me?” (Felicia)
“Hmm? Aah, no, it’s not related to you, Felicia.” (Soma)
Certainly, if they were to bring Felicia and carried on with the investigation, it could be a problem. But to be honest, it didn’t matter much. Rather, should he say that it wouldn’t change anything? Regardless of what they did, it would be the same thing.
“…? What does that mean?” (Aina)
“We will not always find any clues if we continue our investigation. Then, it may be better to go to the royal capital. That’s where the most information gathers.” (Soma)
“…What if we don’t get any over there?” (Sheila)
“We aren’t sure about that time. For now, I’m just going to gather information along the way, just no focusing on investigation.” (Soma)
“I see, but… this doesn’t mean the royal capital is safe, right?” (Aina)
“That time is that time… Besides, I think it’s probably fine.” (Soma)
He didn’t know how long this situation had been going on, but he wouldn’t know unless they reached the royal capital. Although it was inferior to the two national borders in terms of standalone strength, it was actually the strongest given the presence of Hildegard and Lina, and it shouldn’t change when he looked around the world. No matter what was happening, it was hard to imagine that something happened at the royal capital.
“Well, I’m not sure if this is because of the Demon King, but that’s not the case.” (Soma)
“…I guess so. This is going to be troublesome.” (Aina)
“…I really want to say that as well.” (Soma)
He could imagine that there was a scene, and he was smiling wryly in his mind. Anyhow, he muttered.
“Just as planned, we will go to the academy first.” (Soma)
Soma told them while still having a bad premonition that wouldn’t disappear.
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