Ex Strongest, Unraveling the Situation
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After leaving Ingrid in the basement, Soma and Hildegard decided to continue the investigation without waiting there. Ingrid wasn’t a child either, and they thought they should do it more than them.
However, in the end, it was just a matter of asking since they weren’t familiar about the area. And the thing to be asked was also decided.
That was, had anything changed recently?
It was natural that the people he asked had a suspicion when he asked that question. He had already asked the same thing once. Since he was asking even the person who he had just asked recently, that reaction was normal.
However, it wasn’t exactly the same question. He noticed that there was a difference in the period of time that people perceived with the word ‘recent’, so he decided to specify the period clearly. Even if it was recently, it meant that anything in the last two years.
As a result…
This was the tenth time since the investigation was continued. Soma muttered while looking at the door of the closed house.
He heard from Ingrid that the villagers didn’t do business with visitors in this village, which was the transit point for heading to the Holy City. They sometimes sold food if asked, but basically, they were only providing a place to sleep. Moreover, Ingrid said that they would take money at that time, but only the minimum necessary amount.
Rather than not being willing to do business, it seemed that the cause, in the first place, was the whole country was simply poor. So, it wasn’t possible to ask for money even if they wanted to charge the visitors. Furthermore, because of such a circumstance, the number of people who originally went to the Holy City wasn’t so large. In fact, it was said that they hadn’t seen any travelers recently, and basically, there would be a visitor once every ten days.
And as he heard from the villagers, it was said that the next travelers wouldn’t come for a while because a reasonable number of people traveled here the day before yesterday.
Anyhow, self-sufficiency was a basic thing in this village by such a circumstance. Men plowed the field because they weren’t strong enough to fight monsters, and women did home jobs. Therefore, if it wasn’t a man living alone, there would be someone when people visit the house. It was a girl about the same age as Soma and Hildegard, who came out from the current house that they were asking questions.
She was one of the people Soma asked before, and Soma remembered the reaction. She was surprised at first, then became suspicious, and tilted her heads curiously when he added the phrase two years in the question. She responded exactly like the nine people he had asked so far, including the words of the response that followed.
The girl told him that nothing had changed in particular.
“Is this the tenth time already? If I want to be more accurate, I should ask everyone, but… well, I probably don’t need it.” (Soma)
“…Yes. I finally know what you want to do… No, I know what you were thinking.” (Hildegard)
“I’m not thinking about anything big in particular.” (Soma)
Soma was thinking only of the obvious. It was a natural question, and they had enough information to solve it.
After that, he just needed to make the final confirmation.
Then, Soma and Hildegard went to the house that they went out this morning. In other words, it was the village mayor’s house.
Shortly after knocking on the door, the village mayor, who appeared, was surprised at his face.
“Oh, what’s wrong? It’s still early in the day, but… did you leave something behind?” (Mayor)
“No, I just want to ask you a little bit.” (Soma)
“Hmm…? Do you have something to ask? I hope I can help, but… well, if you do, please come here.” (Mayor)
The destination that he led when saying so was the place where they were led together with Ingrid yesterday. The sofas were placed facing each other across a desk, and there was a sufficient number of furniture displayed as well. Although it was the village mayor’s house, considering that the other rooms were simple, this room should be a suitable room.
It was probably a room to entertain visitors, and he thought that it was necessary from the appearance of Soma and Hildegard. Actually, it was enough if it was just in front of the house, but this wasn’t something they needed to refuse.
As the village mayor sat on the sofa, Soma and Hildegard sat in the opposite direction. It was the village mayor who opened the mouth first.
“So, what would you like to ask?” (Mayor)
“Hmm, it’s nothing much, you know? I just want to ask if anything has changed recently.” (Soma)
“That is…” (Mayor)
The reason why the village mayor looked confused was probably because they had already asked him this question. The reaction was a bit different from other villagers because he was more familiar with the question compared to other villages, and the meaning put into it was the same.
However, even though Soma was aware of that fact, he continued his words without worrying.
“Well, to be exact, I want to add a phrase into the question, which is over the last two years.” (Soma)
“Over the last two years…?” (Mayor)
And from that point onward, the reaction of the village mayor was the same as that of the other villagers. When he tilted his head curiously–…
“Hmm… Still, my answer won’t change. There was nothing in particular.” (Mayor)
“Is that so…?” (Soma)
In response, Soma let out a breath. But it wasn’t a sigh, but a relief.
The fact was that it was as he expected, and it would be troublesome if it wasn’t.
“I see… It seems that is the conclusion.” (Hildegard)
“Conclusion, is it? What do you mean? I’m the village mayor, so… I would like to know if possible.” (Mayor)
Soma shrugged at the village mayor, who looked uneasy after saying that. That was because it wasn’t really a big deal.
“I just have slight suspicions. If there are two different testimonies for a single thing, I wonder what that really means.” (Soma)
In short, it was about the discrepancy between what Ingrid and the village mayor were saying.
Ingrid testified one thing, while all the villagers testified other things. Moreover, it seemed that Ingrid had forgotten that she was welcomed yesterday although they were talking indirectly. On the contrary, there was even a clause that she remembered as something else.
What that meant was, for the time being, it was only true that it was very likely that Ingrid’s testimony was wrong–…
“But then, I suddenly had a thought.” (Soma)
“Who decides and guarantees which side of the story is right? Goodness, it’s just like you…” (Hildegard)
“I feel like I’m being told something rude, yes? Isn’t that normal?” (Soma)
It wasn’t a selection question written on the question sheet. If there were two options, no one would guarantee that either one was correct.
It was quite possible that both options were wrong.
“Wait a sec, please. What do you mean by that? Could it be…” (Mayor)
“By the way, can I ask you one more question? Do you remember how long ago Ingrid’s parents were possessed by Devils?” (Soma)
“Yes? That’s so sudden… yes, of course I remember. It has been exactly two years since then.” (Mayor)
It seemed that the village mayor finally noticed his mistake when it came to that point. Soma shrugged his shoulder again as he opened his eyes in astonishment.
Yes, there was no reason that nothing had changed in two years.
Or rather, Soma didn’t experience what was happening in the village from the beginning. There was no wonder that some people thought so, but it was unlikely that they were all the same.
And something was happening every day around the world, and here, one of the closest settlements to the Holy City, that information should come in naturally. It wasn’t possible that no one mentioned it.
However, the mayor didn’t think that Soma was talking about it. That was why he just thought it was true for ‘them’.
“Well, from your point of view, it feels like there wasn’t anything going in since two years ago or recently. Why did–…” (Soma)
–The Rules of Swords – Divine Protection of Dragon God – Battle Ready – Special Rank Presence Detection: Surprise Attack – Null
–The Rules of Swords – God Killer – Dragon Killer – Divine Protection of Dragon God – Absolute Slash – Sword of Ten Thousand Demons: Demon Slayer Blade.
At the moment, the wall behind them exploded with a roaring sound, but something approaching was scattered before reaching Soma and Hildegard. Soma, who pulled out his sword while sitting, muttered as if he was impressed.
Immediately after, the front wall was destroyed, and the village mayor… No, something that ‘borrowed’ the appearance of the village mayor had run away from there.
“Do you move on to escape the moment you realize that the situation is unfavorable? It’s not a bad judgment. Well, I wonder if you can go ahead destroying someone else’s stuff?” (Soma)
“It’s not the case you’re saying it, isn’t it? We’re going to get out from here as well. I don’t want to be buried alive or experienced that. No, I don’t think it’s bad when I think you’ll be with me, right?” (Hildegard)
“Don’t say anything unnecessary, just go outside. I’m sorry to the village mayor more than you being buried alive.” (Soma)
Although there were no signs that the house would collapse, there was no reason to hesitate. A nice hole was made just behind them, so Soma and Hildegard decided to go out quickly from there.
“Hmm… I thought there was a need for a chase, but that wasn’t the case.” (Soma)
“Isn’t it possible… or maybe it isn’t necessary.” (Hildegard)
As soon as Hildegard got outside, she sighed with such words while looking around, perhaps because of her dismay. Soma had the same feeling.
“If he thinks that he can do something about this, it means that we’ve been underestimated.” (Soma)
“It’s good to be strong, but I think it’s better to be a bit calmer. Well, I’m not going to allow you to surrender.” (Mayor?)
When they turned to the voice, they could see the village mayor there, probably because he was there already.
There were many figures around him, and their faces were all familiar. They were the inhabitants of this village who were surrounding Soma and Hildegard.
“Hmm… Well, certainly, there are more people here.” (Soma)
He wasn’t surprised. Rather, it was expected that the village mayor was ‘that’. After a quick look, it was safe to say that there was nothing more than expected.
So, if he thought about it normally, this might be a threat…
“What… the heck is going on?” (I?????)
Well, a new figure appeared on the spot.
As Soma turned to that person, what he saw was the appearance of Ingrid with a surprised expression. She was stunned when looking at him, but gradually, the feeling of conviction began to appear on her face.
“…I see. This means… that’s the way it is. The village was possessed by the Devil.” (Ingrid)
If one could simply make a conclusion, that was the case.
It might be that they were possessed by the Devil before Soma and others came here. The current situation hadn’t happened until this moment was that the Devils were hiding so well. After all, neither Soma nor Hildegard could feel such signs at first.
However, they had considered slightly about this, but for the time being, that was after they returned to the Holy City. More importantly, at the moment–…
“Is it because of that why everyone in the village looked strange? That is… yes. No matter how kind the people in the village are, to act in that way to me is…” (Ingrid)
“Hmm… I’m sorry if you’re doing some kind of act, but will it be alright to put it aside for now? I’m tired of seeing bad acting.” (Soma)
The moment he said it, Ingrid stopped moving. No… instead of ‘she’, should it be said as ‘it’?
‘It’ had a bigger and more stunning expression on ‘its’ face, and even though ‘it’ didn’t understand what he was saying, ‘it’ turned its gaze toward the two… However, there was no point in doing that.
“…How did you find out?” (Ingrid?)
The astonishment remained, but with a smile on the mouth, ‘it’ uttered such words.
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