Tuesday, June 11, 2024 @

Volume 6 Chapter 2 'Nothing'

Volume 6 Chapter 2 'Nothing'

 "...Damn it, why do we have to carry this cursed equipment?"

 "Hey, idiot. Your voice is too loud."

 "Shh! If the people around here hear us, we're done for."

 In Emdo county, in the town of Torch Marina, located west of the capital city of Ketto, a pair of merchants had arrived. Or rather, they were stuck outside the city walls, unable to pass the inspection due to the cursed equipment, and could only rest their horses on the outskirts.

 Torch Marina had a town that extended beyond the city walls, but the people living on the outskirts were often individuals with physical disabilities. Normally, merchants wouldn't stop their horses in a place with such poor public safety, but...since they were dealing with cursed equipment, they couldn't afford to be picky.

 "Just carrying this cursed equipment is enough to get us kicked out of town. And what's with all these 'offerings' it needs?"

 "That's right, this is not what we agreed on. We're just supposed to transport it. At this rate, even if we get paid, we'll go bankrupt."

 "Can't we just ignore the offerings? Besides, the nobles will probably provide them anyway."

 "That's true."

 "Anyway... we can't just sit around eating all day! Not with this monster around!"

 The man kicked the cursed equipment, which was in the middle of its meal, with all his might. The cursed equipment let out a strange, whimpering sound as it rolled away like a ball.

 "Hey, that's merchandise for the nobles!"

 "Who cares? We're just told to transport it! Ugh, this is so frustrating!"

 "Well, I understand how you feel, but... where did the cursed equipment go?"

 "Huh? Isn't it rolling around somewhere nearby?"

 "It's not here."

 "Oh no, we can't just lose it!"

 "This is all your fault! Fine, let's search for it!"

 The men decided to split up and search for the cursed equipment.

 Under the carriage, beneath the rubble, in the bushes by the roadside...

 However, no matter where they searched, they couldn't find the cursed equipment. It was right after sunset, and the darkness was getting thicker, making it even harder to search.

 "Hey, did you find it?"

 One of the guys was searching through the bushes when he heard his friend's voice from the direction of the carriage.

 "No, I didn't find it. It's probably not around here anymore, right?"

 "Maybe it rolled away pretty far..."

 "This is such a pain in the neck..."

 "That's, I'm sorry..."



 Suddenly, the one, who was searching through the bushes, heard a metallic clashing sound coming from the direction of the carriage.

 "What was that sound just now?"

 He wondered if a metal part of the carriage had fallen off. As he turned around to look, he realized that his friend who was supposed to be standing there was gone.

 "Hey, did he run away? Give me a break..."

 He frantically looked around, but his friend was nowhere to be found.

 There were no footprints, no signs of him at all. He had just vanished.



 The same sound echoed again, this time coming from the direction of the horse.

 He looked over, but... it was gone.

 The horse that was just there a few seconds ago had disappeared. The reins were cut off in the middle, swaying back and forth under the coachman's seat.

 "Wh-what's going on...?"

 One by one, things were disappearing.

 It was then that he felt a chill run down his spine.

 This was clearly an abnormal situation, a phenomenon that went beyond human understanding. If something could cause such an inexplicable phenomenon... it had to be the cursed equipment.


 This time, the carriage disappeared.

 Right before his eyes, in an instant.

 "No... no..."

 As the carriage vanished, the figure of the one responsible for the phenomenon came into view.

 It was the cursed equipment he had been searching for all along. The cursed equipment was moving on its own like a monster, staring at him with its faceless face.


 He couldn't help but fall onto his butt.

 Run, run, run... his instincts were screaming at him to get away.

 However, his body was trembling slightly and he couldn't muster up any strength.

 He somehow managed to crawl on all fours and scrambled to escape.

 He thought the cursed equipment would chase after him, but he didn't hear any sound. When he looked back, the cursed equipment was still in the same place, staring at him without moving an inch. The distance between them was growing farther and farther.

 "...did I, get away?"

 After the man let out a sigh of relief, he looked back again.


 Right in front of him, there was a massive mouth.


 And then... another sound echoed.

* * *

 The day after we received the request to defeat the cursed equipment,

 we boarded Cirrul and flew west from the capital city of Ketu.

 Below us, the endless grasslands stretched out. The leaves glistened with morning dew, swaying gently in the quiet breeze. The sky was gradually turning blue, but the grasslands still retained the sleepy atmosphere of the morning, with a refreshing and humid air.

 Anywhere I looked, it was a peaceful and serene landscape.

 But what was unsettling was... the complete lack of people.

 Despite the well-maintained roads, there were no pilgrims, no shepherds, no travelers, no adventurers... no one. The absence of what should be there made the serene landscape below feel eerie.

 "There's something, that doesn't feel right..."

 I muttered from the back of Cirrul.

 My voice was barely audible, blown away by the wind, but Juju, who was sitting on my shoulder, seemed to have heard it.

 She stopped her mysterious dance and peeked at my face.

 'What's this feeling you're talking about? Am I doing my bust-up exercises wrong?'

 "No, it's not that."

 Or rather, she was doing her bust-up exercises. I thought it was unusual for her not to be sleeping, and then she started doing something pointless again... or rather, even dolls have effects?

 'Ugh, that's why modern men are hopeless. They have too many fantasies about women. There's no such thing as a natural beauty. Any beauty is the result of tears, hair removal, skin care, dieting, and bust-up exercises...'

 "Un, That's not what I want to talk about."

 First of all, it doesn't matter if it's a guy or a girl. I've said it many times, but what I see as a romantic interest is only equipment.

 'Then, what's this bad feeling?'

 "What's bad about it?" "...I dislike it, it's not good."

 Sui and Ram, who were walking beside me, also joined in on the conversation. I thought it was just a monologue.

 "Hey, don't you feel something?"

 For now, I pointed to the surroundings. If one looks at this clearly uncomfortable scenery, they'll probably notice this anomaly too.

 "Umm, it's a bit windy today, isn't it?" "...But it's a little... this wind... is crying."

 'Hurry up, Noroa. It seems like the wind has brought something bad.'

 "Ah, yeah. No, that's not what I mean."

 In other words, is there something weird about the wind? Rather, I don't understand what's going on.

 "Hey, look at the road below. Isn't it obviously strange?"

 'No, it's just a road, THE road.'

 "It's a normal road, right?" "...It's a very...road."

 'Ah... maybe Noroa is a road maniac or something? You get excited when you see roads and can even see roads as romantic interests or something...'

 "No, I don't get excited about roads, so I don't understand."

 '...Which mouth is saying that, huh?'

 Umm, I thought they'd notice if they looked at the scenery.

 By the way, they were equipment, after all. They might not be familiar with human culture yet, so it's not strange that they don't feel uneasy on this deserted road.

 'More importantly, what's the correct answer? Don't keep us in suspense and just say it already.'

 "Well, what's strange is that there's no one on the road."

 'Eh, is that it? How is that a quiz?'

 "It's so boring..." "...I'm disappointed."

 "No, I didn't mean to make it a quiz."

 Why do I have to get booed by them?

 'Hey, the town we're heading towards...wasn't it just destroyed?'

 And it seems Cirrul noticed that there.

 'That's right, it was destroyed just recently, wasn't it?'

 "I'm not sure about that expression, but yeah, that's true."

 'And then...it's weird that there aren't any refugees, right?"

 'Yeah, that's definitely true.'

 Cirrul said that, and Juju seemed to notice something was off too.

 It's been about a week since Torch Marina was destroyed.

 But even though it was destroyed, it's not like all the residents died. After all, the witnesses who saw the cursed equipment were still alive. Since there were no refugees flocking to the capital, I thought they might be on this road... but it seems that's not the case.

 So, where did the refugees go?

 'There are 3 possibilities. The survivors might still be inside Torch Marina, or they might have headed to another city besides the capital... or maybe they were all wiped out without a trace.'

 "The most realistic one is the waiting theory..."

 'But as long as the cursed equipment is involved, the concept of 'realistic' doesn't exist. The only things that come from cursed equipment are the "unreal" or "nothing".'

 It's true, when the Gold Man went berserk with the Bloodsucker Blade in the Town of Mahariji, if I hadn't used Juju, the town might have been completely wiped out without a single fragment left. Thinking about it that way, it's not impossible that there are 0 survivors.

 'Well, there's no point in worrying about it now. If I have the time, it's better to spend it on bust-up exercises.'

 "No way, even if you do bust-up exercises, it's not like anything will come out of it..."

 'Hey, that's not true! If I work hard, my chest will definitely grow someday!'

 "You should be despairing at the thought that your chest will grow..."

 'Hmph! You guys just don't understand my feelings! Sui, Ram, you guys should do bust-up exercises too!'

 "Uh? Ram and the others..." "Can change our size freely..."

 '...You guys are really making me angry right now.'

 "...Huu..." "...Sorry..."

 "Okay, Juju. Don't trouble the twins too much, okay?"

 I looked away from Juju, who was getting noisy and flailing about, and let out a sigh.

 I looked ahead, then glanced at the map Count Emdo gave me. We've been flying for quite a while, and I thought we should be seeing the city walls of Torch Marina by now....

 But just as I thought that, something unnatural appeared in the distance, where there should have been only a grassland.

 "Huh? What's that?"

 I squinted, looking ahead.

 What I saw was not the city walls of Torch Marina.

 It wasn't a cursed equipment running amok or a flood of refugees either.

 In other words, it was simply "nothing".

 "Cirrul, can you land for a bit?"

 'Here, is it?'

 "I want to confirm, just in case."

 I landed and took a closer look at that "nothing".

 But, as expected, it was still just "nothing".

 'Is this the place?'

 Cirrul looked puzzled, glancing around restlessly.

 "That's what I thought."

 'Wait, wasn't this supposed to be a town? Torch Marina, right?'

 "Yeah, that's what I thought."

 That's what I thought. I couldn't answer any other way.

 I checked the map multiple times, but it still said Torch Marina should be here.

 However, what was actually here was just a massive crater.

 The road was cut off midway, and all that was left was a giant hole that could swallow an entire town. There was no grassland, no road, no buildings, no people... nothing. Only the dull color of the earth remained.

 A huge "nothing" had opened up in the middle of the grassland.

 "What is this...?"

 It was absurd not to be amazed by this sight.

 It was that bizarre.

 'This is an incredible hole, Sir Noroa. Is this our destination, then?'

 "I don't know... Ah, yeah. Show me the location of Torch Marina."

 I tried giving a command to my Compass Eye (Ra Shingan), but there was no response. The needle in my left eye just kept spinning. That meant the thing I was searching for didn't exist.

 "Torch Marina... doesn't exist in this world anymore..."

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