Message from translator: If you haven’t yet, please check the announcement I’ve posted yesterday.
Will our heroes arrive at their destination? Well, yeah. It’s in the title…But how is the town’s situation? It’s been built up for these past parts, and I think the part’s payoff was done quite well. And that last sentence….ooh, makes you want to read more, right?
Volume 1, 2-6: Tetna
Although he expected to be kicked, he didn’t think he would be kicked so violently that it would wake up even a devil.
When he managed to stop the rattling in his neck and open his eyes, he was met with Nellis’ wide eyes in front of him.
“Oh, it’s just you, Nellis……”
Nellis ignored his grumbling and shouted in excitement. “What? What?” He looked around with an annoyed face and got up.
“I saw her too, the person Big Bro was talking about! I mean, the spirit!!”
“Aah, is that so……..”
“What was that? She was super pretty! Big Bro, you were secretly meeting with her!? And, you were also sleeping on her lap! It’s unthinkable, uwaaaa!”
“What are you thinking about?”
He was tired this early in the morning. “Ugh,” Fin rubbed his eyes. Nellis left him and rushed over to Fauna, reporting what she witnessed: how she was a gentle and pretty person with pretty blonde hair, how she smiled as she slowly lowered Fin’s head to her lap, and how she softly disappeared in the wind. The way Nellis was explaining, with hand gestures mixed it, made it seem like this was an unheard miracle.
Iguros woke up and absentmindedly groaned in a low voice.
“Your younger sister, she’s quite extreme…..”
“She was like that before as well.”
“Aaaaah,” he let out a big yawn. In the past, Nellis would jump on his bed while nosily laughing, and that would knock him out, rather than wake him up. Once, the two crashed heads and stars circled around them for a while. As one would expect, such situations no longer occurred, but her boisterous behavior as soon as she woke up was a sign of that she was in good health.
While he wondered where and how that much energy was coming out of her, he used a little bit of water from the canteen to wipe his face.
“Sleeping on a beauty’s lap, eh? So envious. Why won’t those things happen to me too? I’m totally fine with being bewitched by a magical creature now.”
Iguros said as he stretched. Fin shrugged his shoulders and dodged the question with his answer.
“I don’t think her beauty is something to fuss over. And even though you said ‘sleeping on her lap,’ I barely remember any of it. I was suddenly struck with sleepiness and was completely out as I slept…..Hey, Nellis, that’s enough. Let’s quickly finish breakfast and depart.”
“Yeah,” Iguros agreed as he gazed out to the road ahead. “If things go well today….then we should arrive at Tetna.”
If it’s still there. Fin knew that those words were still on the tip of his tongue. But those two went on with the horses’ preparation without touching on that subject. Fin gave the horses water and feed, and he finished inspected their hooves. This was all while Oandus revived the bonfire that had become ashes and Fauna and Nellis were kneading the wheat flour and cheese.
Before long, the group started heading south again. When they crossed over a small hill to an open field, a humid wind blew. The dreary loneliness grew stronger. Around this time, various small wildflowers bloomed, but the cold wind was melancholic.
In the first place, this paradise of bloomed wildflowers was a pasture a few months ago. Now, the fence had collapsed, and grass that was poisonous to horses and sheep was overgrown.
A road sign had fallen on the side of the road, conveying that Tetna was underground and that Nanais was up in the sky. Of course, no one thought of making a joke about that.
A black crouching shadow appeared on the path when the sun was at its zenith.
Iguros let out a husky sigh of relief. The fence was made of logs arranged in a line and looked hastily made, but nevertheless, one could see how skillful the army corps soldiers constructed it. The fence definitely wasn’t a rushed job from an inexperienced amateur.
“The army corps are doing their best even here.”
Oandus said, relieved. As they’ve walked several days in an uninhabited wasteland with their only interaction being with the Beast of Darkness, Oandus was happy that he could encounter people, no matter what kind of situation they were in. However, Nellis’ complexion was dark. Fauna asked, “What’s wrong?” and Nellis slightly tilted her head, frowning.
“I don’t know. But…..how can I say it….It really feels like there aren’t many people.”
She shyly said and gazed at the town on their path. Fin also became anxious and surveyed his surroundings again. Obstructions were removed just like in Nanais. But, there weren’t any pedestals for bonfires. In the middle of an arrangement of stones, there were several shallow holes dug up, but it was so shallow that they would instantly disappear if someone were to throw some dirt on top of them. The reality is that it seemed to be about half a month since a fire was lit, guessing from the appearance of the soot.
It looked like Iguros noticed that as well. His complexion changed, and he ran off ahead by himself.
The fence door had been left open. There was also no gatekeeper.
Iguros rushed into the town while yelling in a loud voice. Even this once bustling road was empty and without any signs of life. The shops lined up on the right and left either had their doors tightly closed or had become empty, dilapidated buildings. He hastened straight ahead towards the house where his sister and her family stayed, but it was clear from the door being out of place and the inside of the house ravaged, that there was no one there.
“Big Sis! Idu! Fernaine!!”
Iguros continued running as he called out one after another the names of relatives and past acquaintances who were supposed to be in town. However, there wasn’t anyone who answered. Iguros finally stopped and stood in shock.
“It can’t be…..What the hell happened? Damn it!”
On the other side, Fin peeked inside the dilapidated shops and crouched to search any leftover traces on the road, but concluded in the end—“It looks like there are still people.”
“What did you say?”
Iguros came back, asking in a voice equal in anticipation and hostility. Fin pointed towards an unpaved alley, to the footprints.
“There are several new footprints. Additionally, it looks like the shops have been quite ransacked, but it seems that recently a different person has been rummaging for anything leftover. With the way the dust accumulated and the footsteps. Just….that….”
Iguros ran out again without telling anyone. He opened every closed door one by one, searching around while calling out names.
“If there are people, then it’ll be great if they come out soon.”
Oandus muttered as he frowned. Fin answered with a complex face.
“They might be on alert. From the footprints and the handprints in the dust that I saw in that store back there….they’re small.”
“You think they’re kids?”
“If they’re not dwarves, yes.”
Fin knew that there wasn’t such a possibility, but he said it just in case. Originally, dwarves lived deep inside forests and steep mountains and disliked getting involved with humans. During the great war in the past, they believed that they got the short end of the stick and developed quite a disdain towards humans, hardly appearing in places where humans inhabit.
Then at that time, Iguros raised his voice from somewhere far ahead. Although what he said couldn’t clearly be understood, his voice seemed to be saying to come here and see.
The family exchanged glances and quickly headed towards his direction.
Iguros was in the middle of an open field and raised his voice in front of the temple.
“Hey, it’s me, Iguros! I was in town four years ago. Please, come out. We’re not enemies! We won’t do anything!”
“Is there someone inside?”
When Fin rushed over, Iguros glared at the tightly closed door in annoyance.
“Yeah. I saw a brat take refuge there. There are definitely others there…..Sh*t, they’ve bolted the door from the inside.”
Clatter Clatter He violently shook the door but it didn’t look like it would open. Iguros clicked his tongue. He was probably impatient, very worried about the safety of his relatives.
“Please stop. If there are children in there, you’ll frighten them.”
Fauna said, walking up to the door. She put her ear to the door but couldn’t ear anything.
“Anyone, if you’re in there, please hear us out. Auntie and the others came from Nanais; we’re not monsters or robbers, okay? None of you are injured or sick, right? Are you okay?”
Although there wasn’t any reaction right away, eventually there was a noise from inside. Then, a tiny voice of a child came out from a gap in the door.
“……Really? Auntie, you came from Nanais?”
“Yes, that’s right. It was far and difficult, but we managed to come all the way here. Are you alone? Where are your daddy and mommy?”
The vague sound of movement in silence. It may be the sound of a shaking head. Then, the sound of another set of footsteps approached.
“Auntie, why do you come here?”
The voice asking the question from behind the door seemed to be from a child older than the first one. It was an insecure tone, but faint anticipation revealed itself.
“Auntie was on her way to Winea,” Fauna gently answered. “We’re going for a request from Nanais to send reinforcements.”
“…….Just saying, but this town doesn’t have any extra supplies, you know.”
“I know. There aren’t any supplies anywhere. We also don’t have any. That’s why we don’t have anything to give…..but we won’t steal anything for you.”
A long silence followed.
The five of them held their breath and watched the door; finally, there was the sound of a bolt being released and the door slowly opened.
Standing just right of the door was a brown-haired boy, who was at most 13 or 14 years old. On alert, those grey eyes quickly surveyed the five of them, and then he breathed a sigh.
“As I had thought, help won’t come.”
The five of them exchanged glances at the boy’s mumbling. “Perhaps…” Fin started to say, but the boy took control of the conversation and said.
“It’s fine. Come in. You’re looking for someone, right?”
Iguros nodded, feeling pushed, and entered inside. Fin also followed and gasped in surprise.
Inside the temple only had children, ranging from 7 years old to 14 years old. There were about 20 of them. But, there wasn’t a single adult.
Oandus was stupefied. The boy who opened the door informed in a dark voice.
“All the adults, they went out and died.”
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