Where Should I Believe?
After a brief respite to regain their strength to walk again, Flamm and Sarah once again sets out deeper into the facility to seek for the exit.
The hallway was in tatters, full of debris.
There are several places where they couldn’t pass because the ceiling had collapsed, but it’s nothing they couldn’t find detours from.
There were no longer any enemies, the corpses used as a trap are now merely dead bodies that had their face gouged, scattered all over the floor.
Sarah: “The effect even reach this far, huh?”
Taking the helping hand of Flamm who was ahead of her, Sarah climbed the wreckage of the wall.
She was about to fall as she pulls Flamm’s hand up, but Flamm stopped her fall.
Flamm: “If we tried to run away maybe we would’ve been dead by now.”
Sarah: “I don’t think it’s a “definitely” rather than a “maybe”. Jeez, who made that…annoying beast anyways.”
After they destroyed the ogre, Flamm found a black crystal falling from the scrap of meat.
Currently, she had it in the bag she carries over her shoulder.
She had dropped it at some point in the height of the battle, but she was relieved that she managed to recover it.
However, the handmade lunch Milkit made that she put in the bag is now but a mess.
Flamm: “Well, no matter how much we want to look for the culprit, we have to get out of here first.”
Sarah: “I feel like we’ve spent quite some time here, don’t you think?”
Flamm: “I hope it’s not yet dark outside…”
As they continued their journey thinking of the outside, their feelings calmed down.
They safely passed the area where they were blocked by the ogre earlier and proceeded into the unknown territory.
They found a room full of columns of gigantic glass cylinder cases, a reference room lined with empty bookshelves and a nap room with sofas and beds in it.
They couldn’t find the exit, and they gradually felt discouraged.
Then, as if their overworked bodies are snagged down with their feelings, it gets heavier and heavier.
But that’ll just be for a little longer.
Sarah: “Is that perhaps the exit?”
It’s the deepest area—no, it’s perhaps originally the entrance.
The door visible beyond the hallway clearly has a different feel than the other doors they come across.
The two looked at each other and smiled.
Their flourishing feelings guide their bodies forward and forward, and they spontaneously walked faster.
Afterwards they placed their hands on the rather solidly-made door and pushed it open.
Beyond the door was a staircase leading through the roof.
On the end of that staircase was a hatch door, and they lift it open after opening the lock.
Flamm poured strength into her arms, and in turn, the orange light of the sun poured into the underground space they were in.
The corner of the lips of the two rose unconsciously.
As they further opened the hatch and got out, they realized that it was the first place they encountered the grotesque ogre; an open space filled with vegetation.
It seems that the entrance of the research facility was camouflaged by the weeds around.
It has just been several hours, but it feels like it’s been several days since they can breath in fresh air.
Flamm reached her arms towards the sky and “Hnngg—!” stretched her body with all her might.
Sarah too did the same gesture as if imitating her.
Sarah: “Alright, finally…we can…go home…”
She was happy that she finally thought she could get out of the cave……”was”.
But the cave had collapsed and their exit was sealed, so she dropped her shoulders in dejection.
Flamm: “We need to do something about that first, don’t we?”
They completely forgot about the fact that Dain’s underlings had been here.
Sarah: “We have to take our frustration out on them when we go back!”
For that to happen, the two would need to open a path from these numerous large rubble.
Sarah:“Can you do something with that Chevalier Arts of yours, onee-san?”
Flamm: “I can try, but I think I’ll be dead exhausted and collapse after one try. Also I think it would work better if you smash the boulders with your mace instead.”
Sarah: “Not right now, I’ll collapse too.”
Flamm: “Then there’s no choice but to do it slowly, huh.”
Even though they still need to do some hard labor, the simple fact that there are no more beasts chasing after them put their hearts at ease.
The two walked close to the collapse, and they reached their hands toward the closest boulder.
On Flamm’s cue, they put their strength into their arms and lifted the boulder.
Normally it wouldn’t be the size where two girls could pick it up, but Sarah isn’t your everyday nun, and Flamm is an adventurer for a reason.
After carrying it quite a distance away, they drop it with a thud.
Flamm wiped the sweat on her forehead with her wrist and went to the second rock that needs moving.
Sarah fell behind slightly but she also came to the next boulder before circling her arms around one with a size that is about the width of her shoulders.
At that time, Flamm suddenly turned her eyes away from the exit and faced the other way—toward the area where the swarm of trees and greenery are lined up.
—Its eyes met with hers.
No, it had no eyes, but it’s definitely looking at Flamm.
Being somewhat agitated, the flesh vortex spews out blood.
Noticing Flamm who was facing the wrong way while not moving, Sarah tilted her head.
Sarah: “Onee-san, what happen…ed…”
She also saw the same thing.
And then she also froze the same way.
Why, was the question she was about to ask herself, but the answer came to light soon after.
Some of the cylindrical glass cases they found in the facility were shattered.
Not just one, but some.
And clearly, it’s an ogre with the difference being that it moves differently above ground compared to being on all fours underground.
In conclusion, this specimen is different than the thing that Flamm and Sarah defeated…the thing they both encountered the first time.
Sarah: “I didn’t hear about this…that…there are more….!”
Even if they wanted to retreat, what’s behind them is just a cold, rock wall.
There is a bit of a gap in the rocks, but it wasn’t wide enough to be considered as an escape route.
Flamm bites her lip.
If she had some stamina left, she could use Cavalier Arts and she might be able to take it down.
But currently she didn’t even have enough spare energy to run away from it continuously.
They might manage if they can run and find a safe place to rest—but there wouldn’t be any such place in the face of this beast.
It’s a checkmate.
Flamm: “I’m sorry, Milkit……”
She intended to resist as much as possible.
But it seems that Flamm’s wish to return to the girl’s side won’t be coming true.
As Flamm reached her hands forward, the particles of light converged on her palm and gradually formed the shape of a greatsword.
Her palm that is now void of her sweat gripped the black blade’s hilt and pointed the tip towards the ogre.
Sarah too readied the mace on her back and awaits the approaching enemy.
The ogre looks like it’s in a good mood as its blood wets the ground and it approached the two with light steps.
It’s like a child looking forward to having snack time in their picnic.
With nothing but the intent to kill Flamm, it hopped and skipped closer.
As it got to about twice the Soul Eater’s reach, the ogre stopped.
It looks down on its prey.
Perhaps it noticed its opponent’s exhaustion, so victory is assured and it has some time to play around. In such mood—it lifts its fist.
Flamm: “I don’t know how far I can go…”
Sarah: “I’m going with the intention to win, onee-san!”
Even if she knows it’s impossible, if she could at least lift her spirit, it was enough for her.
The fist shaking the ground was their cue.
It was at that moment that the curtain of the battle rose once again—the moment the dust settled.
From beyond the thicket, a figure of a lone woman appeared.
She had blue skin and an even deeper blue hair, wearing an outfit that exposes a lot.
Stroking the air as if she’s playing a harp, a light fufu escaped her lips colored by red rouge and she said,
???: “Crimson Sphere.”
A bluish-green sphere filled with massive amount of wind mana poured into it floats toward the ogre.
The moment it comes in contact with the green skin, it expanded with a burst and swallowed up the 3 meter giant.
The ogre struggled in an attempt to escape, but it was powerless on the face of the overwhelming mana.
The wind blades mercilessly mince the ogre’s flesh, spraying blood as it got split to pieces.
Thus—as the name implied, the sphere is dyed deep crimson.
Neither Flamm nor Sarah could do anything but to stand still in shock.
To think that the beast that they had to bet their lives to defeat was taken down this easily.
What appeared in front of them was either a glint of hope or an even worse despair.
The wind gradually weakens, and what used to be the ogre fell to the ground with a splat.
From within, a black crystal with something twisting inside fell.
The woman walked closer to it and the blood clinging to the magic scatters while she looked at the crystal uneasily.
???: “To think that one would make such creature, humans are such troublesome being. Don’t you think so too, Flamm-chan?”
“What happened to you? Cat got your toongue?”
The woman jovially curled her fist in front of her voluptuous chest imitating a cat.
Flamm dropped her jaws, completely speechless.
Sarah on the other hand—showed hostility toward the demonfolk appearing in front of her more than she did toward the ogre.
???: “Oh my, the girl over there…h-how cute you are. You’re quite cute. Are you perhaps an Origin Church nun?”
Sarah: “Who…who are you calling cute, you murderous monster! You’re so disgusting, I’m getting the creeps!”
Having abhorred openly by someone she first met, the woman turned apathetic.
???: “…this pattern again, huh? How many times has it been. That Maria girl was also scowling at me so badly.”
Sarah: “Of course we would, both me or Maria nee-san! You demons took away our homeland and killed people important to us! We definitely won’t forget this hatred and rage towards you!”
Sarah seemed to be ready to attack at any moment.
Flamm gets closer to the girl, put her hand on her shoulder and persuaded her.
Flamm: “Calm down, Sarah-chan.”
Sarah: “Do you think I can calm down now!? These demons, I will definitely—”
Flamm: “Please, scan that person first, okay?”
Sarah “fuu—, fuu—” breathed heavily as if hissing like a cat, but it seems she still had the composure to listen to Flamm’s advice.
She activated Scan and looked at the woman.
Attribute: Blood Wind
After seeing the numbers, the girl instantly lost her strength.
The mace on her small hand fell with a thud.
Neigass lifts her thumb and turned toward Flamm, smiling as she said “Nice follow!”
Flamm herself remembered that the woman alone is evenly matched with the group of heroes, so she would frankly be troubled to respond as she encountered her again.
Neigass: “Finally she calmed down so we can talk, huh.”
It’s not as if Sarah had completely calmed down, but she seem to be holding the capability to converse.
Neigass: “Well then, shall we start from introductions? My name is Neigass. My attribute is Blood Wind that controls Wind and Darkness. I’m a lot older than humans anywhere, and as you might have known, I’m on of the three demonic generals, and as you’ve seen, I’m a demon.”
Flamm & Sarah:“……”
The two were silent.
Receiving no responses, Neigass puffed her cheeks.
Neigass: “What a bad responsee, I introduced myself, so Sarah-chan too…oh, wow, she’s really glaring at me. Well, she had a grudge on me over her parents, so I guess that’s impossible.”
Sarah: “Why do you bother introducing yourself? If you have that much power, you could’ve just killed us!”
Neigass: “I’m telling youu, we demonfolks aren’t killing humans.”
Neigass said it as if it’s obvious.
Sarah’s rage that has been stifled once again set ablaze from the woman’s insensitive words.
Sarah: “Stop messing around! In truth you really killed some, didn’t you!? You kidnapped some too didn’t you!?”
Neigass: “Did you witness it yourself?”
With that cutting remark, Sarah’s might grows dull.
Sarah: “I…didn’t. But, but I was told that by the church that saved me!”
Neigass: “Then tell me. Can you believe the words of the church that is doing a research thiiis suspicious in this remote place?”
Neigass said thus while showing the black crystal that came out of the ogre.
Sarah was at loss of words.
On the other hand, Flamm was suspicious of Neigass’ words.
Flamm: “Why are you suddenly mentioning the church?”
Neigass: “My, you didn’t realize, did you? Well, I haven’t really seen what’s inside, but it looks like Sarah-chan has already noticed you know?”
Sarah was hanging her head and biting her lip.
Bit by bit, she started talking about what she felt inside the facility.
Sarah: “In the first door…there was the motif of the Origin church. I had a bad feeling when I saw a twisted ring carved on it.”
It was a casual decoration that normally goes unnoticed by a normal person.
That much might have just been a coincidence, so Sarah’s feelings was at best just a premonition.
But that premonition soon changed into conviction.
Sarah: “After that, the moment I saw the researcher’s note left behind…the divine revelation, the spinning knowledge, and then wisdom…those words jotted down by the researcher, it’s similar to the writings in the scripture. It was at that moment I realized that this is the Origin church’s facility…I wanted to think that it’s not true, but…”
Flamm: “The church is doing a human experiment here…?”
The adventurers who went to the cave and didn’t come back—they weren’t just killed by the beast, perhaps they were also used as a test subject.
Sarah: “But regardless, what’s a demon doing in this place!?”
Neigass: “The power they’re researching here is a bit of an inconvenience for us you see. Recently, we spotted this location by chance, so I came here to survey the location.”
A power inconvenient for the demonfolks—that’s what the church is researching.
That means it isn’t something weird by any stretch.
Both the empire and the church acknowledged the demonfolks as evil, and to defeat them, they conduct various researches day by day, so this is definitely linked to that.
Yet still…the “spiral” that controlled the ogre was nothing but a decent power, and the church is painting an awful image as they did human experiment.
Neigass: “That aside, what are you doing in this place, Flamm-chan? Before I knew it you disappeared from the hero’s party. Also that mark on your cheek, isn’t it the mark of a slave?”
Sarah looked in her direction, and as if thinking it’s strange, she said,
Sarah: “Flamm onee-san, as I thought you’re the hero Flamm Apricot?”
As I thought, which means that she did had a suspicion.
Flamm: “That was the case, I suppose. Well, even if I was branded a hero I had no power, so I was driven out, sold as a slave and I got here.”
Sarah: “That’s awful!”
Neigass: “What an awful story…”
The two raised their voices at the same time, Sarah showing a difficult expression while Neigass showed a smile.
Neigass: “And? What’s the reason for you to be here?”
Sarah: “Haa…We were requested to find some medicinal herbs.”
Sarah sighed as if she gave up and answered.
Neigass: “Wasn’t medicinal herbs supposed to be strictly forbidden for the church?”
Sarah: “There are people who are troubled by diseases regardless. Medicines will be needed to save them.”
Neigass who heard those words put her hand on her chest and said to Flamm in a rather agitated voice;
Neigass: “Flamm-chan, isn’t this child so kind…!?”
Flamm: “Well…she is.”
Neigass was thoughtlessly being over-familiar in her excitement while Flamm was still unable to keep up with her.
However, gradually, Flamm started to think that the woman might not be killing humans.
She couldn’t sense anything behind that smile of hers.
She wasn’t lying, and she was rather exposing herself.
It was because of that, Sarah opened her heart even just for a bit.
Neigass: “Is that so, you were looking for the herbs and you were attacked by the beast, and then in your attempt to run away from it you ended up in the facility, is that it? And then by the time you were cornered by the monster, I gallantly appeared!”
Sarah: “Flamm onee-san defeated one though.”
Neigass: “You did? You defeated that!? I’m surprised, when you were with the hero you didn’t look like you can fight at all and you were just a countryside girl. How did you beat it?”
Flamm: “Even if you ask me…”
Her memories from back then are fuzzy.
At the very least she remembered shouting and driving her sword into the pile of meat with all of her power—
Flamm: “When I shouted with all my spirit I broke the crystal-looking thing and the movement stopped.”
Neigass: “…you broke the core? Wait, do you have the broken core with you!?”
Neigass who are even more surprised came closer towards Flamm.
Flamm: “Yeah, I brought it in my pouch just in case.”
She took it out and handed it over to Neigass.
In turn, Neigass thoroughly investigated the broken crystal fixedly with a serious expression she showed the two for the first time.
Neigass: “Its functions completely stopped, what’s the meaning of this? No..is that so. Don’t tell me, for that reason, she…”
Flamm: “What is it?”
Neigass: “…no, it’s nothing. Hey, Flamm-chan, can I have this broken core?”
Originally she planned to bring it to the right place and have it investigated.
But now that she knows that the research institute is connected to the church, if she handed it over to a place that had a connection with the empire, she will surely be silenced for knowing about the core.
It’s quite ironic that the one that’s most believable partner is a demon.
Flamm: “There’s nothing I can do with it even if I have it, so take it as you wish.”
Neigass: “Thank you, you’re a real help. By the way, you haven’t taken the herbs yet, right?”
Flamm: “We’ll think about that after we open the blocked exit.”
As she said that, Neigass suddenly lifted her arms and unleashed her magic toward the boulders blocking exit.
Afterwards, black winds came out of nowhere and wrapped its targets.
The rocks it touched deteriorate and crumbled.
And then in no time at all, the exit opened.
Neigass: “If there are any other monsters out there, I’ll deal with them. You two should quickly find the herbs.”
Flamm: “Eh? But…”
Neigass: “I know that you probably can’t trust me, but just think that our interests coincide this time.”
Sarah: “…onee-san, let’s just get this over with.”
Flamm: “Y, yeah, I got it.”
Perhaps Sarah already came to a conclusion and thus tried to rush Flamm.
Thus, the two proceeded with their objective to harvest Chialries and two other types of herbs with Neigass guarding them in a weird situation.
She even guarded them until their way home leaving nothing to be desired, allowing the two safely and successfully exit the cave.As they parted, Neigass waved her hand toward Sarah who waved back and asked a question.
Sarah: “Did the demons really not kill humans?”
Neigass: “I wouldn’t say that we didn’t kill any humans at all. During the war between the humans and the demonfolks, the humans invaded the demons’ territory, so there were definitely some victims then. But—I swear I can confirm that we didn’t do it for the sake of our own benefits or pleasure.”
Sarah: “In whose name are you swearing to?”
Neigass: “Hmm…it’s quite complicated.”
Neigass thought while putting her index finger on her lip.
Finally, the answer she gave was—
Neigass: “I don’t believe in god, so…I swear in your name, Sarah-chan.”
She smiled as she said that.
Sarah briefly digested her statement.
Yet her abhorrence towards the demons that has been implanted into her for the long years can’t be easily erased.
Sarah: “Is that so.”
In the end she only gave a curt answer and turned around, leaving giving no reconciliation, compromise nor rejection.
That was it.
No. Rather than that, it was enough of a progress for her that they can hold a conversation.
Being satisfied with that, Neigass too turned her heels back into the cave, planning to further investigate the research facility.
Flamm and Sarah proceeded through the dark forest just with the help of the light from their lantern.
Chirr, chirr, they could hear insects that sound like bells.
The noise sounds even lonelier.
The two proceeded without a word briefly, but midway through the forest, Flamm suddenly said,
Flamm: “Somehow we’ve been through a lot of things and now my head is a mess.”
Sarah: “Onee-san too, huh? I feel so too. I suddenly lost my bearings and I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
Her worries are worrying, and her confusion only deepens.
Right now, all they want to do is tell Milkit “I’m home” and sleep like a log.
The two who are one in thought, returned to Enichidae.
The two finally came back. Isn’t that nice.
I wonder what Milkit would say after seeing the two (especially Flamm) full of blood after all the limb shredding and corpse looting.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed the chapter and don’t forget to have a good day.