Monday, December 5, 2022 @

Chapter 196 Those who are Left Behind

 After a night at the hotel, the next day arrived.
 The morning came without incident, although there was a mishap in the bathroom.
 Of course, no mistakes of the night occurred. Fortunately, no woman came over to my room at night, thanks to the presence of a third person, Monica.
 "Well... let's go to the 'abyss of Alteriore' then..."
 Early in the morning, after waking up, we have breakfast and get our equipment ready.
 I give Monica, who is dressed as a village girl, the equipment in my bag.
 After all, she can't dive into the dungeon dressed like this. Although the equipment was not much due to her size and muscle strength... still, I managed to find some weapons and armor for her.
 "Thank you very much. How can I thank you for everything you've done for me?"
 "Don't worry about it. I have my own calculations."
 "Yeah, it's just a calculation. Don't worry about it. It's for my own reasons."
 I'll make her pay me back with her body, I muttered in my mind.
 Of course, I didn't mean it sexually. I meant that she would be useful in the battle against the Demon King's army.
 Monica is equipped with 'light leather armor' and 'leather tights'. Both of them are the kind of armor that a novice adventurer would wear.
 What is special about her weapons is that she is equipped with a mysteriously shaped sword called a 'bellows sword', which is a fantasy sword.
 This is a weapon with multiple blades connected by wires, and is used more like a whip than a sword.
 It is a difficult weapon to handle, but its charm is that it can make an indirect attack without getting close to the enemy.
 "With this weapon, you will be able to inflict damage without being hit by the enemy's attack. Above all, it is a 'sword' weapon. You can also gain proficiency in the skill."
 Monica has only one combat skill: swordsmanship. This is the only skill she can develop.
 There is an option to give her skill orbs so that she can learn new skills... but [villager] is limited to learning only three skills.
 Monica's skill slots are already filled. She can discard her existing skills, but 'Hero's Blood' is an essential skill for defeating the Demon King. Cleaning' could not be discarded for one reason or another, so she had no choice but to focus on 'Swordsmanship' and develop it.
 "Are you all ready?"
 "Yes, I'm ready."
 "Of course. I'm always ready."
 "No problem, desu~no."
 Aeris, Nagisa, and Urza are already equipped.
 Everything is ready. With this, we could dive into the dungeon at any time.
 "All right, let's go then."
 We check out of the inn and head toward the crumbling walls.
 The town was generally deserted, but the closer we got to the wall, the more deserted it became.
 The shock of the monster attack must have been a big factor. It seemed that the residents living in this area had evacuated to some other place.
 After walking for a while, the collapsed castle wall came into view, and soldiers of the Duke of Alterio were blocking the road.
 "I'm sorry, but this area is off-limits to unauthorized persons."
 Said the young soldier in a polite tone.
 Unlike the soldier who pushed Monica yesterday, he was a gentleman.
 "I have the Duke's permission. This proves it."
 "I beg your pardon. Please come through."
 I showed him the permit I had received from the Duke of Alterio, and the soldier opened the way and let me through.
 Yesterday, I had seen the city from a distance, but as I got closer to the walls, I could see the gruesome nature of the city.
 The wall is in ruins. Piles of rubble scattered here and there. Many people are working to remove the rubble.
 Most gruesome of all is the rows of cloth-covered corpses of what appear to be soldiers.
 It has already been two weeks since the defensive battle, but it seems that the dead soldiers buried in the rubble have not been fully retrieved yet.
 I could see a priest-like figure purifying the dug-up corpses, preventing them from turning into the undead.
 "It's terrible..."
 Aeris muttered, her face contorted.
 Clinging to her back, Monica paled and held her mouth with her hand.
 "...So this is the war against the Demon King's army. It makes me so pissed off to see it in action."
 I clicked my tongue.
 I have seen many horrific scenes since becoming the head of the Baskerville family, but this is the first time I have been in a place where the scars of war are still evident.
 Of course, I don't throw up... but I can't help feeling sick to my stomach.
 "Let's go, there's nothing we can do if we stay here."
 I immediately turn around and head for the big hole.
 Near the crumbling walls of the city lies a deep, deep hole. It was a hole that leads to a dungeon under the city―the 'Abyss of Alteriore'.
 Near the hole, there is a group of adventurers who seem to have been asked to investigate the hole. Several groups of adventurers are sitting on the ground, resting and tending to their wounds.
 Among them, I spotted a familiar face.
 They seemed to have recognized me at the same time, and their eyes widened as they looked at me.
 "Baskerville...! What are you doing here!?"
 The first one to speak up was a woman with semi-long red hair. She was wearing a magician's robe and had a staff in her hand.
 She was Ciel Uranus, Leon's childhood friend and one of the party members.
 I left the others suspiciously and talked to Ciel, who was sitting alone on the rubble.
 "Uranus. How did you... no, that was a stupid question."
 Ciel must also be looking for the missing Leon.
 She seems to be resting from her wounded attempt to find Leon, who has disappeared into the abyss.
 "Could it be... that you came to worry about Leon, too?"
 "...well, something like that."
 "I see... Thanks."
 Ciel thanked me weakly.
 Her usual strong attitude is gone from the lively and cheerful girl, and she looks as if she might break at any moment.
 She must be shocked by the disappearance of her childhood friend and lover.
 "I was told about Brave. I'll help you with the search from here on, so don't push yourself too hard."
 "...of course, I'm going to push myself. I'm going to do something crazy. Because Leon is gone."
 Ciel bites her lip and looks pained. Then, she says.
 "Leon may still be under the hole, calling for help. How can I stay calm when he's still down there...! He's my childhood friend...!""
 "...is that right?"
 Ciel says with a force that makes her spit out blood, and I let out a deep, slow breath.
 It seems... that she is nearing the end of her rope. If she keeps doing so, she will die eventually.
 Fortunately, I had rushed here.
 "Dark magic―'Sleep'!
 When the magic is activated, Ciel's body collapses.
 I catch her slender body as it is about to fall and slowly lay her down on the ground.
 "It seems that you have overworked your body too much, that a magician with a strong resistance should suffer from such an abnormality. You should stay in bed."
 "Zzz, zzz..."
 I shrugged my shoulders at Ciel, who easily fell asleep despite her strong magic resistance.
 Even lower-level magic could easily kill her. I guess she must have been overworked and tired.
 "Stay in bed. By the time you wake up, I'll have finished everything."
 Whether Leon is alive or dead there will be consequences.
 I told Ciel, who was still breathing in her sleep, and pulled a blanket out of my bag and put it over her body.

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