The Spreading Unrest
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Kraus narrowed his eyes as he looked in the direction of the Kingdom of Veritas. It was just a vast wilderness, and there were no shadows or shapes of enemies. There was only a peaceful sight where the old days went far away.
“Aah, that’s it. Alright, let’s stop there.” (???)
Looking back at the voice he heard, it was a familiar man. The man was the commanding officer… no, he was the chief of the fort.
“Goodness… You don’t need it anymore. How long are you going to continue?” (??)
“I understand that. It’s just that it’s a daily routine.” (Kraus)
“That’s not it. Isn’t it almost one year already since the official ceasefire? And in the first place, you don’t need to remain here.” (??)
“I understand that, but I can’t calm down at all.” (Kraus)
Zenfurt was basically a territory that existed solely to intercept the Kingdom of Veritas’ soldiers. Despite being a duchy, no people lived here. Aside from the fort where Kraus and others were, the rest was just wilderness and grasslands.
For that reason, there wasn’t much meaning that Kraus remained here since there was a ceasefire agreement with the Kingdom of Veritas. Although the agreement had been signed, the Kingdom of Veritas hadn’t done anything. It was still necessary to have soldiers in the fort. However, given the strength that Kraus had, he should go to another location.
But for more than a decade, he had been monitoring this place and they were fighting. The repetition of the past had been ingrained in the body like a habit. Even after a year had passed, it was impossible to settle down without monitoring once a day. Of course, some people thought that the Kingdom of Veritas wouldn’t be quiet just by signing the agreement.
“You’ll get used to it. Or rather, isn’t it alright until today?” (??)
The meaning of those words was as it was. For some reason, he was still here, but that was finally over.
To be honest, Kraus was unwilling, but he couldn’t continue to be more selfish because of the reason.
“Well… if you leave here, you’ll get used to it even if you don’t like it. To be honest, I’m still anxious…” (Kraus)
“Since there is nothing happening, does that mean the rumor is true?” (??)
“In order to reduce its spreading, I don’t mind staying in this place.” (Kraus)
“Surely… if it’s that country, they seem to be able to do it…” (??)
That man was originally from the Kingdom of Veritas. He probably understood how rotten the country was.
“But well, we will do something about it at that time. I’ll hold this place at all costs until you come back here, so please go with confidence. To the royal capital, isn’t it?” (??)
“…Indeed. It’s just that there’s still a possibility of that.” (Kraus)
He heard that the danger might have been closer to the royal capital than before. At that time, Sophia was summoned to the royal capital. Then, it was possible that Veritas may be involved in this danger again. Therefore, Kraus stayed here because of it.
In addition to that, it was confirmed that people were actually disappearing from the villages around the royal capital. The credibility of the information had been proven to be high. Furthermore, since there was no movement from the Kingdom of Veritas’ side, they seemed to have nothing to do with it this time. Considering the seriousness of the situation, Kraus was also called to the royal capital.
Anyhow, it was a matter that there was such a possibility for now, but… Kraus didn’t believe it. He thought that the stage of emergency had already passed by.
Perhaps, Sophia and the king were having a similar thought. In any case, it was Hildegard who was involved in the investigation this time.
She continued to look after the country not only once, and even though she was someone who moved behind the scenes, she was also one of the reasons why this country had been established. In the investigation report from such a person, there were warnings about the possibility of emergency along with the surrounding situation.
However, there was no way that she would issue warnings due to an ambiguous situation. So, Kraus was sure it was just for the outward appearance. It was a report that was withheld, so that it would be alright if it leaked somewhere. In fact, it might be closer to a crisis situation.
The evidence was Hildegard saying she would continue the investigation. Hildegard should have left it to someone else if it were really a coincidental situation. The fact that she continued the investigation also meant that it would be bad if she left it to others.
With that in mind, Kraus suddenly divulged a wry smile.
“What is it?” (??)
“No… I think it’s nostalgic?” (Kraus)
“…Well, it’s a matter of the old days. Don’t worry.” (Kraus)
There were Sophia, the guys that became the king and the queen, and Hildegard. According to what he heard, there was also Camilla, and if he went there, he would naturally remember the time when they decided to establish this country.
And like those days, everyone was doing everything they could. Therefore, it wasn’t possible to stay here any longer, and did nothing.
“Well then… I should go now.” (Kraus)
“Are you sure?” (??)
“Didn’t you come to tell me that in the first place?” (Kraus)
“Well, you’re right, but you have a bit more time until you’re scheduled to leave, isn’t it?” (??)
“No, it’s fine. After that… I leave this place to you guys.” (Kraus)
“…Yes! Please leave it to us!” (??)
He nodded to that strong response and began to walk. Then, he murmured.
He didn’t look back. He had already entrusted this place. In that case, he just had to believe them. More importantly, he couldn’t afford to think about anything else when he thought about the future.
He remembered when he was once confronted with the Evil Dragon. While feeling something vague and unpleasant premonition, Kraus walked without hesitation.
While looking at the village that was once lively but abandoned now, Hildegard let out a breath. It was different from being an abandoned village, but the outcome was still the same. Anyhow, it was impossible to be something else since this place wasn’t far away from the royal capital.
Moreover, this wasn’t the only place that had become this way. Hildegard visited the villages around the royal capital, and this was the last. All of them were inhabited, just like here.
Needless to say, it was an abnormal situation. However, there was nothing surprising here.
“Tsk… I was prepared because I was asked for this, but I didn’t really see even one person…” (Lars)
“Y-yes… Th-this… is…?” (Helen)
“Well, I think they were probably eaten. But, I think it’s strange…” (Hildegard)
“Haa? Strange… what about it?” (Lars)
“I have come up with a conclusion. That is no figure of the enemy who caused this.” (Hildegard)
“…Eh? B-but… didn’t you defeat the monsters on the way here?” (Helen)
“Surely, that’s probably one of the culprits. However, even though it was a small village, a Shadow Eater shouldn’t be able to eat that many people. Perhaps, one village is at its best.” (Lina)
“Even though this is a village, it is close to the royal capital. It’s no wonder if there were so many people who lived here, given the size of the village.” (Hildegard)
Although Shadow Eater captured the abilities of the opponents it injured or ate and copied as it were, they couldn’t do it in large quantities because of its abilities. It didn’t only copy abilities, but also memories. Therefore, it will reach its capacity limit. Even if the villagers didn’t have skills, if it ate hundreds of people, the limit could be achieved.
“If that’s the case, it didn’t kill people normally, is that what you mean?” (Helen)
“Didn’t I tell you this while coming here? Shadow Eaters can capture their opponent’s abilities just by hurting them.” (Hildegard)
“And it’s something that’s triggered automatically. However, it seems that it won’t stop even if the limit has been reached, probably because of their instinct. So, they will self-destruct sooner or later…” (Lina)
“That’s one of the reasons why Shadow Eater is relatively easy in the same category. But still, the Disaster class damage will still occur. Depending on the location and the situation, it can be really annoying.” (Hildegard)
“S-so… there… were… many of them… but… they were all… self-destructing… didn’t they? Eh…? But… that is…” (Helen)
“Hmm, it makes sense, but… if there’s only one problem.” (Hildegard)
“A self-destructed Shadow Eater will leave a dead body.” (Lina)
“…Hmmm? But didn’t the one we defeated disappear?” (Lars)
Before coming here, Hildegard’s group had defeated Shadow Eater. They had been talking about this earlier.
“I don’t know much about that, but it’s said that some kind of change will happen if it takes in enough to self-destruct.” (Lina)
“Well, even if you study about them, their number hasn’t been confirmed.” (Hildegard)
By the way, Lina seemed to have defeated two more Shadow Eaters before meeting Hildegard, but either way, the number still didn’t match.
“Are there… other monsters… involved?” (Helen)
“If that’s the case, the situation in all villages is too similar…” (Lina)
“There was no damage to the buildings and livestock in the villages. Only the villagers were gone… As far as I know, the monster that can do this much is Shadow Eater.” (Hildegard)
“Aah…So, what’s the conclusion?” (Lars)
“I don’t really understand, but this is strange.” (Lina)
“Well. It’s still a situation where we shouldn’t be careless.” (Hildegard)
— Actually, there was only one thing Hildegard had missed.
That was, many Shadow Eaters had spawned but never self-destructed. However, in that case, the situation itself became unnatural.
To begin with, they had defeated four Shadow Eaters, but normally, that wouldn’t happen. Even though they were extremely rare, they shouldn’t appear in large numbers.
In general, Shadow Eater should have already poured into the royal capital. It meant that it was unnatural to eat the villagers of the surrounding villages and leave somewhere.
That said, it was only unnatural at the time that only the villagers around the royal capital disappeared.
Moreover, it was impossible for a monster to think that kind of plan and did that. Monster could gain wisdom, but not intelligence. Shadow Eater who had acquired human memories, behaved like humans, but all of them were only to attract prey.
That was why Shadow Eater always self-destructed. If it had even a bit of intelligence, it wouldn’t become like a human.
Or perhaps… If there was a possibility, there was an existence that manipulated this monster, but… that was impossible.
Basically, monsters didn’t listen to anyone. It was still impossible even though there is a possibility if authority was used.
As mentioned before, the authority concerning the monsters was sealed, and even if it was found, it wasn’t still possible to use it to affect how this world worked. At best, the authority only changed the monster that appeared, and that was it. It was far from manipulating monsters.
As such, that concern was just over thought.
“By the way, what are we going to do now? After going around all the villages, what I understand is that this is a strange situation…” (Lina)
“Of course, we are still going to continue our investigation. This time, I’m going to check the area around the village. I gave priority to checking the condition of all the villages, so I didn’t thoroughly examine the area. I’ve already reported that way.” (Hildegard)
“So, you have reported that. I’ve just been around half the time.” (Lars)
“At that point, I couldn’t have predicted much.” (Hildegard)
“Surely… if you… say so… I guess… that’s right.” (Helen)
“Well, that’s about it. So, what are you guys going to do?” (Hildegard)
“What do you mean?” (Lars)
“As you can see, the situation seems to be worse than expected. Lina is here, so if you want to go back, you can go back… No, I think both of you should go back.” (Hildegard)
“..I’m fine to admit that, but I’m thinking of something. If the Shadow Eater comes up when I am alone, I would be done easily. But…” (Lars)
With that said, the eyes looking at her were full of energy and powerful. He seemed to be saying that he had no intention to go back… Hildegard let out a sigh.
“Even if you say so, it’s no good. How about you?” (Hildegard)
“I’m… also… the same. I can’t do… anything, but… if possible… I want to help some more.” (Helen)
“Oh my… As the headmaster of the academy, I should refuse, but then… I wouldn’t bring you here. I understand. I’m going to take responsibility for it and continue to take care of it.” (Hildegard)
“That’s fine, but why am I being treated that way?” (Lina)
“Haven’t you decided to come with us already?” (Hildegard)
“Well, that’s true…” (Lina)
Hildegard shrugged her shoulders at Lina who pouted her cheeks and looked away. And then, she narrowed her eyes.
There were a lot of things to do and they probably didn’t have much time. She looked away for a moment, thinking about what was the priority as she let out a heavy sigh.
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