Chapter 26.1 : Dark Fog
… … …
◆ Black Haired Sage, Chiyuki
「So something like that happened」
I asked about what happened since Shirone just returned from the tower.
Our team also finished with our investigation, for now, we’re returning to the holiday village.
Noon has trickled away. It’s just before the evening.
「I’m worried about “the personage” that vampire mentioned about」
That personage comes to the tower and awakens that vampire, leaving his familiar behind; where did that personage go to? Moreover, the familiar who should’ve been there wasn’t in the tower either.
「What do you think, Chiyuki-san?」
Even though Shirone asks for my opinion, I can’t make any conclusion just from that much information. Though it’s possible that “personage” might be Diehart, in that case, it’s strange for him to not do anything for these 3 days. Moreover, Diehart didn’t possess a dragon during our previous encounter.
And since that personage is stronger than the vampire, there’s no way it’s the Striges as they are far weaker than the vampire.
「I don’t know who that “personage” could be」
「I see. Well, it can’t be helped if even Chiyuki doesn’t know about it」
Shirone replies in a dejected manner.
「Come to think of it, did you find that pervert?」
I shake my head in denial upon hearing Shirone’s question.
「We couldn’t find him despite Nao-chan searching the entire Rox Kingdom by using Kyouka-san as the bait」
Eventually, we couldn’t find that man. We couldn’t find him even after searching like that, so he’s actually a master of stealth?
I also considered the possibility of him being in another kingdom, but his timing is way too good.
Thanks to that, Nao is currently lying down due to exhaustion.
「But we hit a jackpot. We found something that resembled the Striges」
Shirone is surprised.
Nao found a demon disguising as a human in the middle of her search.
There are demons who can disguise themselves as humans. Though I considered that pervert is the demon at first, that demon is a woman who was already in this kingdom even before we came to this place.
Doctor Orua. That’s the name of the demon.
「Now, what will we be doing?」
「Nothing for now. Since it’s not like that woman is the culprit」
Though I said so to Shirone, I think that woman is the culprit.
Moreover, she’s already an extremely suspicious individual for disguising herself as a human.
We have to take a wait-and-see attitude due to this low possibility. In case she isn’t the culprit, she may not be a dangerous existence for humans.
Naturally, I believe it’s better to follow Reiji’s advice to exterminate her immediately. However, I’m slightly hesitant to do that.
「Lucullus and his team are currently on standby. However, since Shirone just returned, I think it’s better if you report this to lord Rember」
We are outsiders in this case. So, I think it’s better to let the knights of this kingdom make their first move.
However, I think Rember will just do fine even without information. Or rather, Rember is the only useful knight in this kingdom. Though I have met with other knights, to be honest, I’m quite reluctant to leave this matter to them.
So, it might be a better choice to leave the matter of guard duty to Rember-tachi than to the temple knights.
In that case, Lucullus should be able to return to his original duty.
How did Lucullus fare with his guard duty?
=== === ===
◆ The Captain of Temple Knight, Lucullus
「Hyllus…. You. Are being controlled….」
There, while fallen down, he sees the figure of a temple knight. That temple knight has lost his focus. It’s as if he’s sleepwalking.
Lucullus received a sneak attack from the temple knight who was supposed to be his subordinate while monitoring the demon who disguised herself as a human.
We couldn’t react fast enough since they suddenly tossed out smoke bombs mixed with paralysis poison.
Their body seems to be unable to move since the smokescreen is made with a considerably powerful medicinal plant.
My subordinate, also done in by paralysis poison like me, calls for my name.
Their voices are blurring. When I try to walk, I see a woman walking toward us.
「Though it seems they noticed it, I’m glad that I instructed these temple knights who were brought to your place to not tell you guys about me. The hero’s woman seems to have noticed it, but as expected, she didn’t know about my existence」
I never heard any report about Hyllus and this woman having a contact. So, the people who carried Hyllus-tachi to our place might have been under control too since I never heard them talking about the female demon in front of me.
Maybe we should just defeat her quickly as hero-sama says.
「But Orua, there’s no doubt that the hero has noticed about you. What are you going to do after this?」
A voice is audible from behind the woman, our monitoring target.
Despite my numbing body, a chill runs down my spine when I hear that voice.
The owner of the voice appears from behind that woman.
I don’t know what kind of face this person is hiding behind that mask of his. The newcomer seems like a man from his voice. Moreover, he seems like a friend of the monitoring target.
It is at this moment I recalled, according to Chiyuki-sama, our monitoring target should be just one person. Then, who is he? I never heard about this kind of person.
「Yes, Zarxis-sama. Should we change our plan since they’ve sniffed me?」
The woman is bowing respectfully.
From her attitude, it seems that man is her superior.
「I see, shifting our plan, huh. In that case, let’s start executing our plan without hiding it anymore. The hero was never a part of my plan after all. You’re alright as long as you can exact revenge against the hero, right?」
The man called Zarxis leaves.
After Zarxis leaves, the woman called Orua stares at us.
「In exchange for not killing all of you, you guys will become tools for my revenge」
The woman approaches us. I try to escape, but my body won’t move.
「Now then, let’s put an end to this kingdom」
The woman lets out a high-pitched laugh.
I utter the name of the black-haired girl.
There, my consciousness ceased.
=== === ===
◆ A Certain Gatekeeper of the Rox kingdom
Though the night is yet to arrive, it’s already dark due to the clouds in the sky.
I can feel that the night is starting when I see the sky from the hut’s window in the checking station.
Lord Rember just returned a while ago when we were doing our job as gatekeepers protecting the gate. I’m currently free from my gatekeeper job.
It’s been 10 years since I became a gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper job is an important job that manages emigration and immigration.
That’s why the wages are even better than being a palace guard above the rampart, my previous job.
But, bigger wages comes along with bigger responsibilities.
And unlike the job of a soldier who only needs to be vigilant with the demons, a gatekeeper must remain vigilant even against humans.
If a country lets all kinds of people in and out of the country, the food condition and public order of the country will deteriorate.
That’s why our job is to choose the people who enter and leave this kingdom.
Citizens of our kingdom aside, there are also the people with warranty – the ones with letters of introduction from our citizens, and citizens of our allied countries. There are no refugees since there’s basically none in our kingdom. Some refugees have filed a complaint while some use threats. One needs a heart of steel to be not swayed by such things. That’s why a gatekeeper must not show any gaps and exhibit overbearing demeanor toward the refugees who don’t possess citizenship.
However, there are always exceptions. Even those refugees are allowed to enter the Rox kingdom during the festival day.
Naturally, we won’t just let them enter like that. We must make a record about their previous location, age, and name. For that reason, the workload of a gatekeeper during the festival is thrice than any other regular day.
I’m also dead tired from the interaction with more than usual number of individuals yesterday.
There should be a change of personnel when the sun sets. So, I’ll drink to the brim after leaving my duty.
It was then I noticed an unusual phenomenon. I can hear panicked voices from the top of the rampart.
And then, I noticed an unusual phenomenon myself. Something is coming closer to the gate of the rampart.
The number of things approaching the gate is more than a hundred.
「Those are… demon」
The things approaching the rampart were not human; they’re goblins and orcs, collectively known as demons. Moreover, it’s not just limited to demons.
Headless demons and ones with gaping holes on their bodies were also mixed amongst those demons.
I recalled the zombie incident that happened the other day.
「C-CLOSE THE GATE IMMEDIATELY! CONTACT THE ROYAL PALACE!!」
3 gatekeepers are always at standby 24/7 and worked on shift. I turn around and issue instructions immediately.
But, there’s no reply from the other side. When I look carefully, one of my coworkers seems to have fallen already. Suddenly, there’s another co-worker on my side.
「OH! OI, WHAT HAPPENED!!」
That another coworker of mine is gazing at me vacantly. His eyes have lost their focus. In addition, his hand is holding something that resembles a club.
He swung that club toward me.
=== === ===
◆ Black Haired Sage, Chiyuki
「What’s the matter, Nao-san?」
I ask Nao upon meeting her when I was about to leave the mansion to go to the royal castle.
Nao should be lying on her bed due to exhaustion culminated from today’s investigation.
And Nao, who shouldn’t be able to wake up so easily once she falls asleep, will awaken once there’s an emergency.
「Uhm, you see… Chiyuki-san, it seems something eerie is coming toward us….」
Nao’s saying so with a troubled face.
Though I don’t know what’s coming to us, since Nao is the one who’s saying it, they’ll definitely come at us.
「I’ll see what that thing is. Please gather everyone during that time, Nao-san」
Then, I fly to the sky.
The sun’s already set.
I could somehow observe the situation in the kingdom since the gate and the top of the rampart are already equipped with watch fires.
It seems some sort of commotion happened near the gate.
So, I employ far sight magic.