Translator: Mirausean; Silavin
It was late autumn and the once lively town, known as Skull Town, is now dead silent. If a slight breeze were to pass through, a soft rustling could be heard meters away. The atmosphere was encumbered by grief as the once proud standing town was now in ruins; buildings dilapidated and painted with an eerie splash of dark red. It was akin to a war-torn land, as the patrol team seemed to be soldiers marching into battle. They were vigilant with each and every step they took, they surveyed the area again. Moving in a line, all hearts beating as one, all their hearts were about to jump out of their chest, as they moved; swallowing down the horrid feeling they held.
Even Ye Chui was not an exception to this; he held a long sword in hand, ready to strike at anything that came. Walking in the team, he could feel the high tension in the air as he thought: [this place is supposed to be populated with at least ten thousand people. Where is everyone? Why haven’t we met anyone yet? Is this really Skull Town and not Ghost Town?]
Earlier, before the whole group entered this place, Bedwick had sent a group to scout ahead. Unfortunately, the results were heart-wrenching: this once populated city was now barren of life. Balmain and another City Lord’s Guard came back and estimated that the horror occurred 2-3 days ago. They concluded, with the respective evidence that they found, that a huge group of magic beasts invaded the town and killed everyone inside.
“This is truly a large-scale magic beast attack…” Bedwick, no longer being able to keep calm, frantically scanned the area around him and ordered: “Berner, make contact with City Lord’s Manor now! Send a Red Eagle requesting back up.” He thought for a moment and continued: “To think that a town such as this would fall. It had the Mercenary Guild to help defend it… and every single member of this city was capable of battle. To think they would all be completely slaughtered. Just how big was this attack? This is definitely not something a mere group of eighteen can handle!”
The Swordsman, Berner, immediately took out a piece of paper from his pouch and wrote in it as fast as he could. Completed, he ran towards a horse and took up the cage tied to its saddle. Inside the cage was none other than the Red Eagle; it was much bigger than a pigeon, and had sharper claws and beaks as it’s eagle counterpart. Capable of not only high-speed travel and flight, it was also able to defend itself. It was truly an animal that is perfect for message sending in this continent, Aigen-Daze.
The letter that Berner wrote was tied to the Red Eagle’s leg as though it had been done thousands of times before. Knowing that the message was in place, the Eagle immediately launched up into the air without a command and soared towards Stan City. In mere seconds, it’s figure vanished from the open sky.
“Stan City’s reinforcements will arrive earliest by tomorrow. For the time being, we need to prepare for any danger that we might encounter!” Bedwick turned his attention back to the men in front of him and said: “Damon, you should be familiar with the place. Choose the best location for us to set up a perimeter. Balmain, lead some men with you around the city and look for survivors. If there are any living witnesses, I need you to question them thoroughly. We need to know what type and number of magical beasts that invaded this land. If you encounter any kind of trouble, whistle for help. This is important. Protect your lives.”
Both Damon and Balmain responded and started to take action.
Skull Town is considered a small city with houses scattered about everywhere. Its infrastructure could be considered crude, and at the very city center was a tall building. It was much larger than any of the houses around it and even had a garden which was under construction. Unlike the worn-out houses around, this place was built with better material: Magic Steel, unlike normal Steel was used as its backbone. This was the place Damon had chosen. “This is the church. It should be the city’s most well-fortified location.”
“Twenty years ago, the church pulled in all manner of people to build this place. Just aiming to do missionary work, they spent a lot of manpower and resources. At that time I was still young, they had a bad reputation for being too willful. But right now, the church has actually done us a favor.” Bedwick said as he took out the short sword by his waist and pushed open the front door of the place.
As Bedwick opened the door, he was immediately greeted with a stench of bloodiness and mouldiness. Furthermore, since night had already fallen upon the town, the interior of the church was pitch-black. Nevertheless, he inched forward into the darkness with his brows knitted.
Someone lit a fire torch – since the group had no choice but to spend the night in the dark wilderness, a fire torch was definitely on their list of necessities.
All of a sudden, an orchestra of flapping sounds could be heard echoing through the interior of the church, as though they were some creatures flying around within the compound.
“They’re Blood Bats! Blood Bats are merely level one magic beasts that have low battling capabilities when they appear individually. However, they tend to live in groups and have a strong thirst for blood. Dealing with all of them will be not be a simple task…” One man behind said.
However, before that man could take another breath, Bedwick had already rushed into the church. A cold but bright light enveloped his body, as many sizzling sounds started to play out. Everyone who heard this sound felt their bodies go numb and finally, ‘Zii’. The army of bright lights flew out and crashed into the flying beast. It was an advance swordsman’s sword skill called ‘Star Dance’. With this one sword skill, hundreds of attacks were shot off in mere moments, killing off everything. The horde of blood bats stood no chance against it and was eliminated.
Bedwick, a Level 7 Swordsman, was able to show results for half the effort. He alone managed to clear up the blood bats around them, leaving only corpses; such powerful capabilities caused everyone’s backs to shiver.
“It seems that coming over here can be considered to be safe.” With the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the room, Bedwick.
After the area was secured, the guards brought light set-ups.
With lighting, the whole church’s interior could be seen; a huge space filled with art. It had seven big portraits, each of a god that they prayed to. On the other hand, the ground was different. It was filled with corpses randomly scattered about but they all had one thing in common: they were all heading to the entrance. It was obvious that they tried to escape but unfortunately got caught. Behind them was a lone skeleton that sat cross-legged on a podium. Deducing from his outfit, this should be a priest drained of blood by the blood bats.
Bedwick stood at one side of the church and examined the area further.
This was the first time they managed to find bodies in Skull Town, and to think they were all in such a terrifying shape.
“Alfea, your last patrol mission, was it this exciting?” Debbie entered the church and walked next to Alfea silently to ask.
“No way. In the past, the patrol mission typically would just have us explore the prairie area around Stan City. Skull Town as well, this was the first time such an attack happened.” Alfea replied but from her tone, she was anxious.
“You don’t need to be afraid.” Ye Chui walked up behind the two of them, trembling and continued: “I will protect…”
Alfea slowly leaked out a gentle smile but it was completely destroyed after Ye Chui continued: “Debbie.”
“Wait. Why don’t you want to protect me?” Alfea, heartbrokenly asked.
“You…” Ye Chui tried to explain a little as he thoughts but Alfea cut in. “I have no need for you then. Mind your own business! I can protect myself!”
“Yeah. You’re right.” Ye Chui now ignores her and got closer to Debbie: “Debbie, you can be assured that no matter what situation you get into I will protect you.”
“Before you speak, make sure you won’t wet your pants and stop trembling.”
In this atmosphere of dread and silent dark, being inside of a ghost town, Ye Chui could not help but feel anxious. His whole body remained vigilant, unable to calm down. However, when he was beside the two girls, he could feel a little bit relieved. However, the girls were not like him, they were still able to maintain their cool.
“Stan City’s reinforcements will arrive by tomorrow morning. So, before that time arrives, we must remain alert.” Ever since the group had met A’Tod, even after they had entered the town and the church, Ye Chui’s right hand was locked onto the sword handle.
He, in his heart, was praising Booth with all his might. [These escape methods in my hands, I will definitely need them.]
Somewhere over the sky, above the plains, hiding from the stars, a red shadow flashed passed. Directly behind this shadow was another, and then another, and then another; till a stretch of stars disappeared. The shadow directly behind the red shadow was a huge beast, and it leads its horde behind it. When it opened its mouth to give out a cry, the red shadow had disappeared and the horde behind it was in for a landing.
Rather than a cry of despair, it was victorious in nature. In its claw was a red bird. It was none other than the Red Eagle the patrol group had sent out from Skull Town!
The large magic beast gave off another cry and the horde it commanded launched up into the air again. However, with its target gone, its bloodshot eyes were both locked into one direction: towards Skull Town!