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Chapter: 20


Act 2 – 20 : One Who Lurks In The Shadow

Time had long since passed noon and evening was around the corner. As the shadow of the rampart spread along with the setting sun, the city was slowly being illuminated by the bright lights of the lamps or magic tools that scattered like specs of gold along the roads.

Night time wasn’t the best for humans as many monsters hated sunlight and became more active at this particular time.

Slowly, the people who worked outside of the rampart started streaming back in, waiting for the night to pass.

Chiyuki and her companions did the same, they returned to the village after searching for the pervert the whole day. Since they had split their search in two directions this time, the only ones who remained after dinner were Chiyuki and Shirone, discussing their findings with each other.

Chiyuki intently listened to Shirone’s experience during her investigation of the tower.

「To think such things happened.」

「Right, Chiyuki-san. In the end, we didn’t find anything in that tower.」

Shirone replied with a disappointed look on her face.

Chiyuki listened to Shirone’s story with interest.

「The mysterious master who awakened that Strigoi is suspicious for sure. He went out somewhere and left his familiar behind in that tower and yet, his familiar, who was supposed to be in that tower, vanished as well.」

「Yup. So what’s your conclusion now, Chiyuki-san?」

「Uhm… I think it’s still too early to draw a conclusion just with your story, Shirone-san. That mysterious master might be the Dark Knight but… the fact that he didn’t do anything in these three days is suspicious. Moreover, the Dark Knight didn’t have a dragon the last time we saw him… This makes me even more curious about that mysterious master. I wonder what kind of person is he? According to the Strigoi’s story, that mysterious master isn’t part of the Striges.」

「I see… not even you, Chiyuki-san, can understand the situation, huh.」

Shirone mumbled regretfully as she started picking the sweets that were just served to them by the maid and shoving them into her mouth.

The sweets were made with honey and sesame seeds. After enjoying the sweetness of honey and the fragrance of the sesame seeds, Shirone washed it down with refreshing tea.

The tea served was Chiyuki’s favourite. It was made using the flowers of this world, which were more fragrant and refreshing than any flowers they had ever encountered back in their world.

Chiyuki also drank the tea, and then heaved a sigh.

「Come to think of it, did you find the pervert?」

Chiyuki shook her head in answer to Shirone’s question.

「We can’t find that pervert despite examining all the people in Rox Kingdom, even after using Kyouka-san to bait him out we couldn’t find him. Maybe he has unbelievably high hiding skills which enable him to escape even from this. The only other option for us not finding him is that he already left this kingdom. He might’ve escaped in fear of being found by us.」

「A~h. No harvest on your side too huh…」

Shirone leaned on her chair as she spoke, looking at the ceiling.

「That’s not true, Shirone-san. In fact, we found a Striges-like person.」

「REALLY??!!」

Shirone’s voice resounded in the room.

「Yes, Nao found a monster who transformed into a human during our search. That person might be the one who created the zombies.」

Chiyuki explained to Shirone.

The matter of them finding a monster who transformed into a human was purely by sheer coincidence.

「At first, we thought that that monster was the pervert, but it doesn’t seem to be the case now since that woman has been in this country even before we arrived. But now that we found out about her, there’s no way we’re going to leave her alone.」

「Sure enough. What are you going to do then? You’re going to exterminate that woman, right?」

「Naturally, we’re going to exterminate her. But, we’re going to observe the situation for the time being. Reiji-kun said that it’s better to exterminate her right away, but I want to interrogate her about what she plans to do with those zombies she’s been creating.」

Chiyuki wanted to know what that Strige was trying to do. Striges were monsters whose powers far surpassed that of normal humans. Thus, there was no need for her to hide from the humans. That’s why Chiyuki felt that there might be more behind that monster’s attacks than what appears before them.

「Lucullus-dono and co. are on the lookout for now but, maybe it’s better to tell lord Rember about this when he returns.」

Since Chiyuki and the others were outsiders in this kingdom, they had to at least let Rember know that there was a Strige hiding in this kingdom.

At Shirone’s words, Chiyuki thought about Rember’s involvement.

(Maybe we should leave this matter to Rember and his subordinates rather than entrust it to the Temple Knights who are currently on stand by. The matters of this kingdom aside, guarding us is Lucullus-dono and co’s original duty after all… Would they have already found something by now though?)

Chiyuki started thinking about Lucullus and his subordinates who were currently in the middle of guard duty.

「Hyllus… You… are being manipulated…」

Lucullus who fell on his knees was looking at the Temple Knight in front of him. His eyes were out of focus as if he was sleepwalking, it was clear that he was under a charm.

Just a while ago, Lucullus had suddenly got ambushed by his own subordinate when he was in the middle of investigating a monster who had turned into a human.

Since that ambush came from the one he considered as his own comrade, it was already too late for him to react, he had already inhaled paralysis smoke. Moreover, the effect of the paralysis poison was quite powerful since Lucullus couldn’t move his body properly right after he inhaled the smoke.

「Captain Lucullus…」

Lucullus’ other subordinates, who got affected by the paralysis poison too, were calling out to him.

「So they noticed my existence after all HAH—too naive. To think that they sent in these weaklings along with the one who was just brought under my control.」

The woman who became the target of their observation then closed in on Lucullus.

Lucullus hadn’t heard anything about Hyllus and the other forming a contact with this woman when they had found them. They could never imagine that something like this would happen, thus they had failed to notice that Hyllus and his companions had already fallen under the woman’s control.

""

「Well, what shall we do then, my Liege?」

The woman gave her back to Lucullus as she turned around in deference to the silhouette behind her.

When Lucullus raised his face to look in that direction, there stood a man whose face was covered with a mask, draped in white vestment.

「No doubt about it, Orua, the Hero and his party have already discovered you. Let’s start our plan right away.」

The person in the white vestment spoke to the woman.

Hearing the voice of that man alone was enough to send a chill down Lucullus’ spine despite his body being paralyzed by poison.

(According to Chiyuki-sama, there should be only one person, right?! Nobody said anything about meeting this kind of man!)

The man in the white vestment and the woman continued their conversation, completely ignoring Lucullus.

「Yes, Zarxis-sama. They’ve probably let their guard down right now. This is the best time to attack them.」

The woman bowed respectfully to the man.

「I see, they made their move huh. Then, let’s not hide ourselves anymore. Now it’s time to avenge your daughters.」

「Yes, Zarxis-sama.」

""

The man called Zarxis then left that place.

After that man left, Orua then looked at Lucullus again.

「You guys will become my tools in exchange for me sparing your pitiful lives.」

Lucullus couldn’t escape no matter how hard he tried.

「This kingdom will end today, kekekeke.」

The woman was laughing.

Her cackles were quite sinister.

「Chiyuki… sama.」

Lucullus called the name of the black haired woman who had won his respect before his consciousness slipped away.

Though the day had yet to become night, the sky above Rox Kingdom was covered with a dark cloud.

When Morban looked at the dark sky, he knew that night had come.

Morban was the gatekeeper who protected the rampart’s gate.

Since knight Rember, his superior, had returned from the expedition a while ago, he could finally close the gate.

Morban had been a gatekeeper for ten years. Being a gatekeeper of the rampart was an extremely important job that regulated the people coming in and out of the kingdom. It was for this reason that gatekeepers were paid more handsomely than regular soldiers.

Naturally, those high salaries came with high responsibilities.

Different from the soldiers who had to focus on monsters, a gatekeeper’s duty was associated with people. If all people from various backgrounds entered freely, it would affect the country’s public order.

For that reason, only selected people may enter the country.

The country’s citizens aside, there were also people who were referred, or citizens of allied nations. Fundamentally, refugees weren’t allowed to enter the country. Thus, some of those refugees would try to win the heart of the gatekeeper or threaten them to enter, that’s why the gatekeeper chosen had to have a stone cold heart. Basically, the gatekeeper must be able to stand tall overbearingly, not showing any gaps to be used by the refugees.

But, there was an exception. It’s possible for refugees to enter Rox Kingdom during the festival.

Naturally it doesn’t mean that they could stay indefinitely, the gatekeeper would keep the record of their name, age, and the place they’re going to stay in before they entered the rampart. That’s why the gatekeeper’s job increased by threefolds during the festival.

Currently, Morban was already exhausted from all those interactions with the people who wanted to enter the country.

(The personnel change should happen any minute now since the sun has set. Let’s drink a lot once I go ba— uhm?)

It was then that Morban noticed panicked voices from the top of the rampart.

「What happened?」

And then, Morban noticed the reason behind the soldiers’ panic.

Many silhouettes were fast approaching the gate.

Their numbers far surpassing a hundred.

「Those are… monsters.」

The ones approaching the gate weren’t humans, they were goblins and orcs, and not just mere goblins and orcs.

「Zom… bies?」

Some of the approaching monsters lacked heads or had gaping holes on their body.

Morban quickly recalled the zombie outbreak two days ago.

「C-CLOSE THE GATE! AND SEND SOMEONE TO CONTACT THE ROYAL CASTLE!」

Normally, there was always three gatekeepers on duty.

Morban turned around and quickly gave instructions to his co-worker.

But, there was no reply from any of them. All he could see was one collapsed on the floor and the other one standing upright beside the first one.

His co-worker who just fell looked like the life was just sucked out of him.

「O-Oi, what happened?!」

The co-worker who just fell looked at Morban. His eyes lost their focus. And then, he gripped something like a stick in his hand.

「You…」

Morban really had no idea what was happening right now.

And that moment of stupor had sealed his fate.

His co-worker swung the stick towards him.

Morban’s consciousness faded away along with the powerful impact on his head.


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