Chapter 144: Mystery of the demon race
We searched the location where the demon was and where the villagers were being manipulated but there were no traces left as to why there was a demon in this village.
” … Is it possible that because I activated Sanctuary Circle, the traces of Darkness, curses and the likes ended up being extinguished?”
When I spoke to the 3 of them to dispel my anxiety, I saw Lionel and the others give me radiant smiles.
“I wonder … even though it was a demon race wrapped in such a thick layer of miasma, after you activated it, the demon looked like it was not clad in miasma at all so it’s not strange to think if you purified anything along with it.”
Lionel gleefully spread his arms and shook his head side to side.
I knew that I asked the question to the wrong person.
“We crushed it before it performed any ritual so it’s almost certainly all right nya. It is not Luciel-sama’s fault even if the truth is not elucidated nya.”
In the first place, it’s completely my responsibility that we are now unable to investigate if there were any kind of traces.
“That’s right. This is the first time apart from the Red Dragon that I encountered such a strong opponent. If the demon didn’t play around during battle and Luciel-sama and Lionel-dono didn’t come running, I would have been dead together with Cathy around this time”
Maybe he read my expression but Kefin was my only ally … those words sounded like he meant that the demon was even stronger than Lionel.
“Kefin, this is the time when we should tease Luciel-sama a little more nya.”
Cathy laughed as she appeared to wash away Kefin’s words.
If the wounds suffered this time during combat with the demon was while it was playing around, the fact that Cathy and Kefin might have really died shook my heart.
“I think so too but it looks like the villagers are waking up.”
Hearing Kefin’s words, I looked over towards the villagers and the villagers were certainly tossing and turning.
” … I don’t know how this situation will appear to them. But, please sheathe your swords.”
I said as I reformed the 「Area Barrier」.
With that, even in the unlikely event that we receive a surprise attack, as long as none of them die in a single attack, it’s unlikely that anybody would die.
While having that thought, I called out.
“Dear villagers, are you all right?”
After calling out multiple times, the villagers woke up one by one.
“I am S-rank Healer Luciel affiliated with the Healer’s Guild. Do you all have a clear grip on your consciousness?”
As I continued to call out, the effect gradually began to show as the villagers gradually came to consciousness.
Then, the instant they saw my figure, their faces paled.
“Luciel-sama!? When did you arrive?”
“Even his retainers came along with him.”
When one of them awakened, the other’s consciousness cleared one after the other and for some reason, they prostrated before me.
It seemed like there were villagers who remembered my appearance.
“Please don’t prostrate on the ground. It has not even been an hour since I arrived in this village. At the village entrance, I noticed that an unusual phenomenon was happening and when I rushed over, I saw that you all were being manipulated by a member of the demon race, we defeated the demon and I immediately treated you all with healing magic. Even so, what happened?”
When I said that, one man walked over and once again began to prostrate in front of me.
I recalled that he is this village’s village elder.
“Actually, the children were captured as hostages in my house. We were threatened by that man calling himself a demon … ”
” … After he mentioned about performing a ritual, my memory … ”
The village elder made a troubled expression and it didn’t look like an act.
Fornoir who is sensitive to lies didn’t show any reaction.
“Is there anyone who knows? I don’t think that everyone fell into the hypnotized state all at once?”
But nobody raised their hands.
Given that it was a demon that could mess around with Cathy and Kefin, it might have been able to manipulate the villagers all at once …
“All right. Village elder, please go look at your house. Cathy and Kefin, please follow the village elder and check on the condition of the children in the house. If they’ve become demons then please allow them to rest in peace.”
Confirming that Cathy and Kefin were headed towards the village elder’s house, I decided to find out when exactly the villagers lost their memories.
While thinking that it was great that I decided to go on an expedition to Meratoni such that fortunately the villagers are alive and I could listen to the situation from them, I begin questioning them.
“I’m sorry if you all are feeling tired but could you please tell me the memories you have around the time right before when you were manipulated? Please tell me whatever you all remember up to the process where the demon captured the children.”
I don’t know why the demon laid dormant in this village but I believe without a doubt that somebody guided and brought him here.
However, anything to testify to that didn’t show up.
On the contrary, all of them unanimously said that they didn’t know about the village elder’s words earlier about being threatened by the demon.
“It’s as if … ?”
I’ve seen this phenomenon recently.
That’s right. In the Dwarf Kingdom, after the Darkness Spirit used its power.
But at that time everyone with no resistance, except me, had their memories tampered with due to the undulations of Darkness.
“Lionel, the village elder’s house. Everyone, please wait here.”
I didn’t pursue and channeled magical power into my Illusionary Cane on the spot and deployed a 「Sanctuary Circle」 at once.
The next instant, I heard the sound of an explosion 『Doooon』, something flew out and stood floating in the air but Lionel swung something that looked like his Flame Greatsword and a vortex of flame that I’ve never seen before caught that something and shot it down.
“So Lionel is capable of something like that as well huh?”
While muttering that, I looked towards the gathered villagers and deployed a 「Sanctuary Circle」 as well.
“To think that there would be more …”
Facing the villager that was suffering, without hesitation, I threw the Holy Dragon Spear that I poured magical power into.
The instant it transformed into the same appearance as the initial demon after passing its threshold of suffering, the Holy Dragon Spear pierced deeply into the demon’s chest and it collapsed with a shriek.
The villagers were confused by my sudden actions and there were even some who cried out but when I transformed my weapon to the Illusionary Sword and sliced off the limbs of the villager who turned into a demon, inversely, nobody cried out due to the excessive cruelty.
My body moved in a way that shocked even myself but it didn’t feel like I was being manipulated, I felt that it must unmistakably be because my sense of crisis was awakened.
“Well then, demon, why have you entered a village in the Saint Schull Allied Nations, moreover in a village that is close to the center?”
Without placing much concern in the blood that it coughed out, I applied 「Heal」 on its four limbs and slightly recovered its wounds.
I found out that healing magic was effective on the demon race and purification magic and status recovery magic also had a regular effect on them so I came to an understanding that they were different from the undead.
“I may not be a Paladin but if there are demons that are capable of easily destroying a village like this around, I believe it is my mission to defeat them.”
“Ha … ha, then you should just kill me.”
“You don’t want to live?”
“Kukuku … with these wounds … I’ll die … either way.”
“I will remove the magic stone in your chest before you can detonate your magical power so I do not recommend self-detonation. Furthermore, I can treat you so that you don’t die.”
I applied 「Heal」 on the cut limbs, stopping the bleeding.
“I don’t particularly have any grudges with the demon race. We may not coexist but I do not intend to interfere with your reason for living. Furthermore, in this era with no Hero … in this era with no Demon Lord, what reason is there to wage war?”
“Then why did you kill our brethren.”
“Then I’ll ask you back, if I go to the demon race’s territory and brainwash a whole village, what would you do?”
” …… ”
“That’s your answer … leaving that aside, are you a pure demon?”
” …… ”
“Or perhaps were you originally from an experimental facility in the Empire?”
It’s blood pressure immediately dropped after it gave an anxious expression.
“I don’t intend to do anything bad … ?! 「Middle Heal」, 「High Heal」.”
I chanted healing magic with 「Chant Termination」 but the demon didn’t recover.
” … Why did he die? To really lose your life, it’s worse than a pledge … it’s more of a kind of curse.”
To think that there would be curses that won’t be dispelled after I chant 「Dispel」 … I felt that I’ll have to listen to the Darkness Spirit.
I noticed small whispering voices overlapping and there was a slight buzz.
At that moment, Lionel returned carrying a charred corpse together with Cathy and Kefin who had suffered injuries.
” … There were still demons here as well?”
“Yeah. Since you all weren’t around, I launched a surprise attack and defeated it in an instant while it was still suffering from the 「Sanctuary Circle」. Did you find anything there?”
After I healed the 3 of them by chanting 「Area High Heal」, I once again chanted status recovery magic before listening to them.
” … No, in exchange, the children are fine. Although it looked like they were trying to transfer them to somewhere …”
“Okay. I’ll listen to anything else later.”
I looked back at the villagers, glanced at each and every one of their faces and spoke.
“Everyone, we’ve defeated the demons so it is fine to return to your own homes. I will be in the village elder’s house today so please contact me if you have anything.”
If they have forgotten everything, there would be no meaning in questioning them … instead, it would lead to distrust.
I don’t think it’s a good choice to stay at the village elder’s house but there are people that I have treated before among the villagers so I should be able to at least have some of them talk to me.
I thought so as I prioritized returning the children to their parents.
After turning on the light to the village elder’s house and confirming that all the children were no longer there, I sucked in a breath.
” … So what’s the reason for this disastrous scene?”
I understand that there was a battle but it was in a seriously terrible condition.
“We were attacked from behind when we were guided here nya.”
“It was really dangerous, we both received attacks … if the pale light didn’t shine in from outside and cause the demon to suffer, we might have died.”
“I somehow slashed that demon who was mimicking the old man from behind when the 2 of them rained attacks on it.”
“We were saved when Lionel-sama attacked nya. Just that the house caught fire after that and we had to rush nya.”
“I was surprised when they blew the roof off as they were extinguishing the fire.”
“That’s right!! Lionel. What was that flame attack using that greatsword?”
“There was a weapons maniac within the church’s Knight Corps and he/she taught me the way to use it.”
” … You did well to manage to get him/her to teach you.”
“He/she taught me because I am Luciel-sama’s retainer. He/she proudly laughed and said it was because I am the retainer of a person who will recover the prestige of the church.”
” … I’m just a coward though. Well then, let’s have dinner.”
Before entering the house, I stored the horses including Fornoir into the Hermit’s stable and after waking the men inside the carriage and confirming that they weren’t of the demon race, I released them.
After laying the still unconscious Estia down on the bed, we just only finished returning all the children to their parents.
I applied purification magic on the table and laid out dinner.
“After dinner, we’ll tidy up the village elder’s house as we search around.”
Then, we circled around to have dinner.
“Cathy and Kefin, during the initial battle, did you 2 notice anything at the scene?”
“He was holding onto a suspicious staff and there was also a pot nya.”
A staff and a pot huh … was it some ritual?
” … Where did those items go?”
“The magic released by Luciel-sama caused the staff and the pot and the magic circle to disappear.”
I didn’t notice such a thing but did it all really get erased by 「Sanctuary Circle」?
“I didn’t see it just now but shall we search for it tomorrow morning?”
My train of thought was brought back by Lionel’s words and I continued the conversation.
“Yeah. Were there any other aspects that were suspicious?”
“Now that you mention it, none of the villagers thought that the man who we thought to be the village elder was suspicious. Perhaps there’s the possibility of a mimicry ability?”
“I was curious about that too. For Fornoir to not be able to discern it … that usually doesn’t happen. She should have been able to notice that they were bandits or not but she wasn’t able to react … perhaps it’s different for the demon race and for monsters or it’s possible that they are capable of imitating sensations like smell or even emotions.”
“I know nya. Kefin and I didn’t notice with our smell and sense as well nya.”
Fornoir who is probably a spirit didn’t notice, Cathy and Kefin who are beastmen didn’t notice as well.
Is that really possible?
“Indeed … Even so, to have 3 demons appear, I feel like it is an excessive allocation of forces to control a single village …”
“Well, this time it is almost certain that the Empire is involved.”
After Lionel showed an expression of shock, I was hit by some pressurizing killer gaze.
” … Do you know something?”
“I recalled about the connection you all had with investigating the demon race at that time so I asked the demon that I defeated if it was originally from an experimental facility in the Empire and it died just from that. I’m guessing it was a curse.”
” … Do they seriously intend to create demons?”
What I felt from Lionel was not only that of a warrior but also the reluctance to admit that his homeland the Empire was being dyed in darkness.
Such emotions were overflowing out.
It’s times like this that saying some words that can bring about hope or joy would slightly save the atmosphere.
I felt like I was taught that by someone.
“I don’t know. However, it would be quite unpleasant if this continues and maybe I should seriously think about the strength to protect myself.”
“Do you intend to make your own private squad?”
Kefin immediately jumped on the topic.
“Yeah. Since I’ll go to the Empire someday.”
” … Why?”
I guess Lionel would really think like that since he knows about my personality but demons are appearing even outside the territory of the Empire.
It felt like the situation wouldn’t be much different no matter where I am.
Then, there’s only 1 thing I want Lionel and the others to do.
“The reason why you all want to maintain your slave position is because it would be resolved when you go to the Empire right? I don’t want to have the members I trust stay as slaves forever.”
” … There’s no helping it then. However, going to Meratoni, returning to Rockford, heading to Nelldal, aiming for other countries, for the time being, it doesn’t seem like you would be able to get married.”
Just as I thought I was able to divert his feelings slightly, it was returned with enmity.
” … It’s unrelated so don’t suddenly drop a bomb!!”
“Lionel-sama is just worried nya. Polygamy should be accepted in Saint Schull Allied Nations nya. I’ve never heard a guy ask the girl to wait nya. You should quickly attack Lumina-dono nya.”
Just as I thought that she was being noisy with her nya nya, Kefin further chimed in his support.
“That’s right. I don’t think that you would get another chance.”
I looked to me like Kefin was saying that with flared nostril to himself but his face was close by and I received mental damage so I cut the conversation and gave my instructions.
” … I’m diligently thinking about it so don’t mention it. Also for tonight, perhaps there would be an attack so I leave the search for enemies and guard to you all.”
Thus, the strangely exhausting dinner ended and we started cleaning up the house of the village elder.
Thank you for reading.