Chapter 152.2 : Imminent Crisis
「……….. It’s not that I oppose the idea of you looking for her. It’s just I’m worried. Anyway, there’s nothing to be gained by stopping you and having Flora-sama died around our village was also a bad thing. That being the case, we have to split into groups and looked for her in the main routes that stretch from the village. Naturally, I’m also going.」
The village chief explained, stopping Will from going ahead alone, as he joined in the search.
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Later, the villagers joined hands together to search for Flora on the main roads connected to the village.
Every single one of them including Donner, Will and the village chief were looking for Flora as they walked on the main route heading toward the south. A while after leaving the village――,
「…………… OI! Is that a collapsed person over there! ? Ah, Oi Donner! 」
When Will had just shouted that he found a person collapsed, Donner had already ran to that place. However, Will was not far behind, as he immediately chased after Donner.
The one they found collapsed on the road was really Flora. A thin quilt was draped on top of her villager-like attire as a makeshift mantle.
Flora’s face was flushed red, her breathing rough and beads of sweat were slowly flowing on her forehead. The shirt that she wore under the thin quilt was most likely drenched in her sweat.
「Are you alright, Flora-sama! ? Didn’t you say that you can’t move due to your illness! ? 」
The one who arrived first called Flora. However, Will who has been closely following him, cut in.
「So it really was you………….. Hey, Donner! Are you awake, Flora-sama! ? It’s me, Will! 」
Will pushed his way in between. He flipped Flora’s body up gently and then called her name.
Flora faintly replied. It was a really faint reply, but she seemed to be able to stay conscious, albeit it was only by a thread. Meanwhile, the village chief and the villagers who were left behind came towards them one by one.
The village chief, who was looking at Flora, held his breath due to the severity of her condition.
「Oi, Pops! It seems that Flora-sama is still conscious. Let’s bring her back to the village」
Will said with a flustered voice. But――,
The village chief just stood there silently. His gaze fixated on the nape Flora’s neck.
「Oi, Pops! Oi, you guys, let’s carry Flora-sama! 」
Will smacked his lips and called out to the men still standing stunned. Those men came back to their senses and ran towards Flora.
「Wait, her illness might be contagious! 」
The village chief stopped them.
「…………… A-are you seriously saying that now! ? 」
Will unintentionally shouted, furious, as his face twisted unsightly in his rage, but――,
「……….. What is that birthmark-like thing on the nape of her neck? Was such a conspicuous mark there when she just came to the village? 」
The village chief simply pointed at the nape of Flora’s neck while he asked that question, voice cold. The place he pointed at was where that bluish birthmark-like spot was located.
The villager’s face stiffened when they saw that birthmark-like spot on the nape of Flora’s neck.
「…………….N-No way! 」
Will suddenly exclaimed loudly.
「Will. Can you shut up for a moment? 」
「IT’S ALL WRONG！ I was just about to tell you about this matter today! At first, I thought it was just an old wound, but I felt it was strange for that birthmark-like spot to become bigger by days! 」
Agitated, Will try his best to explain to the Village chief only to be told off once more.
「Muscle pain along with ache joints of her whole body, and then there’s that high fever too. Though she said that this was just a fever, it’s another story with those dark birthmark-like spots. I think I remember seeing a few cases like this」
The village chief said with a pensive look on his face――,
「Y-You know about her illness! ? Tell me what is Flora-sama illness! ? 」
Will asked that question as if looking for salvation, a person to back him up.
「……….. One of the things that I know is the fact that this is a deadly disease that takes the life of its victims. I don’t know the detailed information about this illness since I only know about it from those peddling merchants.」
When the village chief replied, Will and the other villager’s face stiffened with fear.
（A certain spider that lives in the forest can also cause similiar symptoms, but that spider should be a nocturnal animal. Besides spider isn’t supposed to appear in the village, but……… Even if it’s caused by that spider, there’s no antidote for it. There’s also the possibility that it’s an unknown illness. Whichever the case, she’s already beyond saving. Anyway, it’s not like she died in my village, and I doubt anyone is willing to carry her since now there’s a suspicion that she may carry an infectious disease.)
With that thought, the village chief decided to place the village as his top priority, choosing to abandon Flora――,
「…………. Let’s just go back…」
He urged the villagers to go back to the village.
「W-What are you going to do to Flora-sama then! ? 」
「……. We can’t take in someone suspected of having an infectious disease into our village. I actually want to tell you guys to leave her here………… But, as expected, I can’t just leave her like this on the main route so close to our village. Let’s bring her closer to the entrance of the forest.」
The village chief gave a cool-headed judgement in response to Will passionate wish to help.
When he noticed, Will already seized his father’s collar But――,
「WILL! YOU MUST UNDERSTAND OUR SITUATION! THIS IS FOR THE SAKE OF THE VILLAGE. OR ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY THAT YOU CARE MORE ABOUT THAT NOBLE THAN YOUR FELLOW VILLAGERS?」
Will shut his mouth when the thundering voice of the village chief rang out.
「……….. You guys, let’s finish this quickly. Donner, you’re the strongest amongst us. Carry her!」
The village chief told Donner who stood close to him, but――,
「I-I, no. I don’t want to carry her.」
Donner hesitated for a bit before he determinedly shook his head.
「Ceh, you good for nothing. In that case, you guys, carry her.」
The village chief smacked his lips in annoyance and then ordered the other villagers.
The villagers carried Flora with timid movement, afraid of the infectious disease they suspect Flora carry, and treated the act as if they were carrying a lump of filth. They carried her all the way to the entrance of the forest which was separated from the main route.
「…………… Poor things. Such a cute girl is…………….」
A certain young villager gulped as he looked at Flora’s agonized expression, but――,
「Forget about her young man. You’re going to be infected by her illness if you don’t stop. Here should be enough. Let’s get this matter over with immediately」
The other young man urged his friend to get over with it quickly, face frightened that they’d get infected if they carry her longer. Soon after, they tossed Flora’s body at the entrance of the forest, each person still looking worried.
A small groan escaped from Flora’s lips, but her voice couldn’t be heard by those villagers who left right away.
（Someone…….. Save…… Me………………..）
◇ ◇ ◇
After that, the villagers headed back towards the village. Whilst they were on their way back, the village chief cautioned the villagers to forget about Flora’s existence. He also told them that it might have been better if that kind of noble never came to their village from the very beginning. From the beginning till the end of his speech, the villager’s countenances were bad.
However, when the villagers arrived at the agricultural field, they spotted a certain villager standing together with people wearing knight attires alongside the escort party of the first prince of the Paladia kingdom, Duran Paladia, waiting for them――、
「T-That man is the village chief! 」
The villager, who was with those knight, pointed at the village chief with an agitated expression. And when the villager gave away who the chief was amongst the returning group, a man in his prime, Lucius, came out from amongst the knight.
「Finally. Are you the village chief? Sorry, I have no intention to intrude since your village seems to be troubled with our presence. I have tried to ask the villagers who I came upon, but for some reason, they seemed to be afraid of us to the point of being unable to talk to us」
He greeted the village chief with a strangely intimate attitude.
「……… I-If it’s honored knight. My apologies for the uncouth people of my village. May I ask for your business with this kind of a rural place? If you wanted to talk, do let me invite you to my humble abode.」
The village chief gulped and then led Lucius who had an impatient expression to his house. Lucius flashed a sneer and arrogantly smile as he looked down at the village chief and the villagers from the back of his horse――
「Ah, the truth is, I’m looking for someone. Has a girl wearing a dress come to this village? Her name is Flora. No, there’s a possibility of her using an alias, but……….」
He stated the reason for why he visited this village clearly to everyone there.