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[A certain country’s spy’s scary experience / you cannot escape from the creeping slime]   [Day ???]

ED Note: It’s after day 146 and before day 160 when rou is not doing anything/hunting for spies at night. Based off my deduction and the contents of this story. Btw, added a few personal comments to express some personal though when TL/ED this, marked as ED Comment, to let off a bit of steam , it’s freaking long. Of course, there are also constructive notes for future editors, still marked as ED Note.

Ps, there were a few bits here and there missing, all individual words though. Please do make sure nothing gets deleted accidentally when copying and pasting the raw, thank you.

~Akioni

The sun has set betwixt the mountains, and evening began to ascend little by little. Flying type monster soared in the skies above, making strange noises as they deftly poison their pray with their sharp talons and beaks, then proceed to rip out their flesh. A large amount of blood rained down from above. The roars and death throes of terrestrial monsters such as reptiles and animals resounded throughout the wilderness and forests as they attempt to rip each other’s flesh and blood up with a bite of their sharp fangs, and a swing of their claws. In the process the world is riddled with the scent of blood and entrails littered here and there. It’s a state of eat or be eaten. Fierce and powerful nocturnal monsters started to work earnestly. Tonight’s fight for survival has begun.

ED Note: translations said something about a swing of their fangs, so I changed it to a bite to make a bit more sense.

But here – in the imperial capital of the Sternbild Kingdom Osvel it’s natural, they would have [magic] and [Potions] against aerial threats, and high sturdy walls surrounding the city to defend against land threats. In the evening, it’s possible to wander near the walls, but in the past not once had anything make it through the walls.

ED Note:  I know they said “invade”, but I think this would create a bit of confusion since the author is probably just referring to the monsters, rather than large armies. Btw, can someone help me check this line? “はそんな自然に対し”, I interpreted it as “it’s natural”, but I’m kind of skeptical here.

Thanks to the walls that were built up over the years, the people are guaranteed peace and safety once again tonight.

Then, the imperial capital’s [Sage from another world] came up with an idea, and spirit stone street lamps are installed at regular intervals on the streets. It looks unimpressive during the day, but at night you will be gawking at the spectacle, of the spirit stone lamps illuminating people’s lives when they’re suppose to be sleeping. That said, not even the street lamps can eliminated all darkness.

The street lamps illuminate places where human activity is robust such as night bars, the lighting from the shops and streetlamps allows people to gather as if it were daytime, however compared to daytime, the amount of people disappearing is very large.

Nothing can be done about it, this environment is suitable for evil-doers to do their things, it’s a natural occurrence throughout the imperial capital. In the hunting grounds where the light barely reaches, the darkness has become darker. Naturally some people return home when night draws near, the total of people who go out during the night is less when compared to daytime.

In a place where the presence of humans are sparse, in the dimly lit back alleys where people will certainly get lost if they’re unfamiliar with its layout, a lonely traveler walks along. He dons a hooded clock that is slightly worn out after using it for many years, a leather breastplate and two daggers for self-defense hung on his waist. A spare change of clothes, some travel food, camp equipment such as pots and tends are all packed in a large pack and carried on his back piggyback style, it’s a small little man with a mediocre appearance. His brown hair has lost its color due to accumulated sunburn from many years of traveling, you can faintly see his scalp though his thin layer of hair. It has a tinge of melancholy to it as it flutters in the wind. Countless scars marked his rough skin to reflect his many years of struggle, his movement has became cumbersome likely due to age. Beneath his green eyes, his slight drooping looks like a bear’s tail.

ED Comment: Don't ask me why his eye-bags are like a bear’s tail (is that even possible?), that’s what the author said :P.

“Oh ~ Man, whew! Today’s work sure was rough, my shoulder’s all stiff.” 

The typical man with the appearance of a middle aged man exited the dark narrow alleyways, made several turns around corners, and finally sighted his destination at a distance: a sign of an inn [The Goat’s Foundation], he breathed out a sign of relief.

The destination of the middle-aged man [The Goat’s Foundation] is a typical, two-story inn made of bricks in the imperial city.

The first floor has split between the dining room and the tavern of the inn. There aren’t often new customers since not many people know the location of this inn. But the food prepared by the beautiful proprietress, a former adventured is cheap, in large portions, and all of them are delicious, it’s the ideal cuisine. Moreover, you can meet the poster girl, a pair of cute sisters who are also the proprietress’s children. A lot of regulars often fill up the seats on a daily basis.

ED note: These be the men of Rou’s world. Anyway, 三拍子 also refers to something like triple perfect, ideal.

There are about 8 rooms on the second floor, decorated rooms that are small, but tranquil and welcoming. Since they also have  showers installed individually in each room, something unusual, it’s highly praised by wary adventurers. The price of the rooms are slightly higher than average, but taking the facilities such as showers into consideration, it’s actually cheap.

By the way, currently the man’s a little slow paced, and the rooms would all be occupied by then. But since he booked in advance, he’ll be able to stay. Everything’s fine. The landlady and her poster girl’s smiles, his soft bed installed in his room, they’ll all accept him lovingly.

As he gets closer, the aroma of a variety of delicious cuisine and liquor wafted from the dining room on the first floor of the inn. There’s also the cheerful laughter of drunken men, and the high-pitched sound of clanging tableware. This irritated the middle-aged man, for his tired body and rumbling belly began to growl and howl for nutrients.

(A~a, when I get to the inn, I’m having dinner, yeah. So, I’ll order some yakitori and donburi, when the taste of salt, grilled meat and vegetables spread out in my mouth, I’ll have a bit of strong liquor......I guess this is fine once in a while)

Ed Note: アッツアツ is some kind of brand, but it serves donburi, katsudon and whatnots, so I guess it’s probably that. They look the same as well. たまん is kind of an enigmatic on its own though, I used around 15 minutes diving in and out of the Internet trying to figure out exactly what they meant, and roughly came up with this. Feel free to edit.

Imagining the taste of cuisines and alcohol in his mind, he sped up his walking pace while having a goofy smile on his face as he walked towards the inn, but halted. The man halted because two men emerged from the alleyway, and blocked his path, leaving only a small gap enough for a single person to path through. The dup wear clothes that are relatively common in the imperial city. but the thick stench of blood isn’t something you see everyday.

If you smell some blood, it might be the result of blood sticking to you after a drunken bar fight. There aren’t that young people wealthy enough to buy fresh clothes after their current ones got stained. It must have turned wary from many years of washing. Even the slightest of injuries will cost quite a bit to treat. So unless the person can afford the treatment, you usually let it heal naturally. So, it’s not that surprising to see that much blood on these hot-blooded youths.

But that stench is simply too strong. The blood stains must have came from some sort of injury during a fight, and a really big fight at that. They must have killed dozens of monsters, or even humans. Either way, the duo must be really proficient at killing, judging from the dagger with bloodstains on its blade, their footwork and their body movement, and even how they hold their twenty-centimeter blade. The short man could easily deduced this from experience.

(I noticed this, but there’s something’s strange about their footwork. I get the feeling that they might be adventurers who retired due to some injury, or simply had a overly rough temperament, resulting them to resort to living a life of crime.)

When the middle-aged man has finished his deduction based off the habits of the duo, one of them with the dagger laughs for a while before beginning to speak:

“All~ right, stop right there old man”.

Ed Note: おっさん also simply means old man.

Flicking his dagger quickly from side to side, he puts up an intimidating presence. He spoke with a foolish tone, but his eyes are staring intently at the middle-aged man, on guard for any movement. Judging from his unnatural movements, he would probably close in and stab the middle-aged man without hesitation. The man next to him, the man with the tomahawk placed on his shoulder, also gives off a laugh and saids:

“Hey~, wait up a bit would ya? We’re not that much of a sight for sore eyes are we?”

ED Note: I tried my best with tomahawk guy, but he’s speaking slang or something, so might be a little off about the sore eyes part, the rest should be more or less right.

“Oh, I hope you wouldn’t mind giving something to poor little us, anway isn’t that a dagger hanging from your waist?”

“I say, I think I’ll take everything!”

““Gyahahahaha””

--what an unpleasant feeling, such a vulgar laugh. The middle aged man though of such and gazed coldly at the two men in front of him. He exhaled a deep sigh to express his feelings.

“Haaaaaaa ~”

I can’t believe I’m forced to waste my precious time like this, is what he wanted to say.

【Robbers】

The two people are rare around these parts considering the relatively good security in the Imperial Capital, but their kind aren’t completely non-existent. Plundering goods from others, they’re criminals.

Even so, they’re still just petty criminals. When your killing someone, it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re in the imperial city, at the center of the country. Killing and stealing may have made me lose a few screws in my head. I’ll be certain to take my loot, but if you’re going to kill in a place like this, a bit of intelligence and evil is needed. Threatening them verbally, based on the situation, with a weapon, or even threatening them with numerical superiority. If they surrender, they’ll get away with minor injuries to their limbs. If they resist, we beat the crap out of them before looting them. If we’re chased by the imperial forces, we’re doomed. That’s why we don’t killed until the last moment. That’s how we roll.

Ed Note: I’m not entirely certain about my deduction around this part: 姑息で多少の悪知恵が働き、流石にこのような場所でヒトを殺してしまえばどうなるかを考えられる程度の知性は持っている。. Can someone give me a hand and take a look plz?

I’m all ruined now, but as I looked at a middle-aged traveler on the streets, I remembered how I once dreamed of being an adventurer. But I retired from this field of work due to an injury, and making a living everyday. I might have a different future if I worked diligently after my retirement, unwavering from my failures, but that didn’t happen. All I had is decent talent, bad luck, and a subpar “Job” combat capability. I can’t demonstrate my full capabilities due to my injuries, but against an average citizen, it’s more than enough. Due to such I was dyed in the color of crime. Compared to normal honest work it’s much easier to earn money this way, this is how criminal life tastes.

Thus, it would be quite ironic how this would one day result in their encounter with the grim reaper.

“You young people these days, doing such things despite your healthy bodies, how absurdly pathetic.”

The middle-aged man in front of the pair, this isn’t only about earning spare change anymore. After doing this time after time, he has already gotten very familiar with this. It doesn’t matter if he’s armed or not, that old man’s a tricky one. That’s why, his attitude is infuriating. Licking their lips while feeling the rage, it’s the same for the other party.

“Huuhhh~?! What did you sa – Gepyuo”

ED Note: Gepyuo/ Agapyo is a sound effect. Just imagine some anime character uttering a sound when being punched in some kind of slapstick humor.

The man with a dagger suddenly made a strange sound and fell forward. Because they are surrounded by structures on the verge of collapse due to losing their foundation, something hard such as stone must have hit him, for blood is flowing out of his head. While vomiting violently, he instinctively hugged his abdomen with his arms in an attempt to ease the pain whilst trembling in agony. His own vomit smeared his face and his clothes, but this is not the time to worry about such things.

ED Comment: Collapsing buildings…wait you said this is the capital right? Aren’t they all made of bricks? If Rou gets an earthquake ability, they’re toast.

“But that’s why, you’ll make fine test subjects”

The little fist of the middle-aged man is coated in a red phosphorescent glow as he used his arts, bursting at the stomach of the dagger wielding man, disabling him with a single strike.

ED note: Original text said combat maneuvers, but I changed it to arts. Please help me re-edit if it’s incorrect.

――Arts 【Invasive poison fist】

Due to the enormous different in job and level, the punch alone would have been enough to incapacitate. However, the punch also inflicted poison onto anyone hit due to [Invasive poison fist], strongly tormenting the body of the man. The dagger wielding man  sweated profusely throughout his body due to severe pain, making him all greasy as he panted heavily, gasping for air. His face turning paler and paler with each passing moment, his lifeless eyes twitched violently, raising soundless screams, conscious to the end for he was kept awakened from the sheer agony.

He wasn’t thoroughly injured, partially due to his own physical training I bet, but he was lucky he fainted in the end. Since he wouldn’t be able to feel the intense pain if he fainted, the finishing blow was dealt via several kicks to the head as if it was a ball to make sure he loss consciousness. This continued until it was certain that he has indeed lost consciousness. At least this way he wouldn’t need to feel the intense pain. The man with the dagger isn’t dead yet, but violent consecutive seizures are going to set in immediately.

Ed Note: ビクンビクン is kind of like repeated spastic muscle movement, according to what I found. Just don’t press on image search whatever you do… Unless you don’t mind being a misunderstood male protagonist in an anime where you’re labeled as a beast/ecchi/whatnots.  

“…..wha – Agapyo”

The Tomahawk-wielding man fell into a stupor, making a stupid face as he failed to comprehend what has happened to his buddy, and also received the same attack as his partner. The middle aged man proceeded to use his hidden weapons sheathed within his bangles worn on his wrist – iron needles long enough to fit in one’s palms, and threw them at high speed via arts. The Iron needles are also coated in a red phosphorescent light, piercing through the tomahawk man’s mandibles, and the poison secreting from the tip affected his body internally. The fast acting toxin quickly robbed his consciousness, and he fell to the ground in a fashion as if he was a meat sack, all of his bones missing. The middle-aged man instantly neutralized the armed enemies, and carries the two unconscious individuals up to a corner of the alley with his small stature, and looted them. He has taken out their purses, but there isn’t much in it. Only some copper coins and plates, and a single silver coin. That’s just sad. Thinking about some of his irritation, the middle-aged man proceeded to walk towards his original destination: the inn.

Quickly arriving at the inn after a few steps, and finished the simple logging procedures, he placed his luggage by his feet as he sat down on a chair in the vacant dining room, and immediately ordered dinner. The one who came to his order is the poster girl’s counterpart, their little sister krull. Probably around 14 years old, she has a cute, dazzling innocent smile. Walking around restlessly like a small animal, in comparison with the Miraru sisters and their grown-up charms, she’s more attractive.

ED Note: I guess クルル might be the sister’s name, since I can’t find anything about it in the dictionary, and I pieced it together when translating further below.

“Good Evening, Isu san. Your order?”

“For now, two serving of yakitori skewer, a large mug of raw beer, and today’s recommendation, Caesar salad.”

“Yesss~, anything else?”

Quickly writing down the orders, and tilting her little head when she asked anything else, The middle aged man – Isu san made a small smile, but he can’t help but laugh when looking at krull’s eyes.

“Oh right, I also have two people sleeping outside at the moment, can you please carry them into my room? Ah yes, please serve them a plate of wrapped meat in vegetables.”

“…Yes, ok. But please wait for a moment, I’ll be getting them out of the kitchen soon.

“Aah, please do.”

This time Isu really did laugh while looking at the cute krull, and waited while wishing the food arrived a little faster.

~p(= 3 =)p~

After eating until he is satisfied, Isu entered his hotel room using the key. A single bed with white sheets is located at the center of the room, with a lockable storage room on the side for putting things, colorful flowers in a vase propped at the bay window, a lantern-type magic item hanging from the ceiling, and other bits and pieces of furniture and decorative items. Although the shower room is located right next to the entrance of the room, Isu placed his luggage on the bed as he passed it, and stood in front of a painting hung on the wall. The painting depicted a girl in a white dress nestled with a blue book. It’s well drawn, but not something expensive. This is something the poor painted for some extra money, but it’s only a decorative prop to help create the atmosphere in the room. But behind the painting hides a certain secret.

“Um…the number is…”

Hanging on the wall behind the painting is a small metal plate embedded onto the wall, crafted in a way that will not stand out. Numbers 0 – 9 are carved onto the plate, and Isu is told a sequence of number to input. When the 10th digit is entered and pressed, a change is occurring to the room. Part of the wall right next to the metal plate slid open horizontally, revealing a secret set of staircases spiraling downwards, descending below. The secret passage continues downwards onto the first floor since this is the second floor, but when you observe it, it clearly goes deeper than that, deep enough to reach the basement below the first floor. Since there are lanterns hanging from the walls providing a light source, the visibility isn’t so bad.

“Now then~, I’m kind of reluctant to report this time…”

Isu descended downwards the spiral staircase.  Iron-plated boots stepped onto the firm wooden staircase, since if it’s ordinary wood people will hear the creaking of the wood. However, Isu continued down the stair in silence. Not even his breathing could be heard.

This is proof that Isu is an individual who has undergo specialized training. In truth, he’s actually a spy sent to infiltrate the kingdom from another country. In addition, the reason Isu came here today is because he’s here to sent his periodic report to his boss in a secret base.

At the end of the staircase, there is simply a door in plain sight.

The organization that Isu belongs to has their headquarters in this kingdom built in the sewage system spread around the undergrounds of the Imperial capital, after remodeling and improving a part of it to make it sound proof. Of course, this is illegal. But a spy from another kingdom doesn’t need to worry about such things. If his identity was ever discovered, he would have been imprisoned immediately without a trial, and executed. With the exception of using brute force, such as breaking the walls of this room to enter, the only way into this room is via the spiraling staircase the Isu came down with, or the emergency escape route hidden in one of the sections of the underground passage.

“Pardon my intrusion, captain.”

After knocking three times, he entered the room by turning the doorknob without waiting for a reply. An untidiness has spread throughout the room, it’s rather messy and inconsistent.

There is a huge table placed at the center of the room for hosting meetings, with piles of secret documents on it. Some documents are rounded up, others casually spread on the table.

There is a jail on the right wall of the room, with two people currently in it. It’s the duo who just messed with Isu. It’s currently mealtime for them, this is because this was requested when asking Krull to put them in jail. Thus they have became prisoners, and they’re planned to be used as experimental body for Isu to formulate how the poison works on organisms, what is the appropriate amount of medicine to use to detoxify it, etc. Instead of iron fences like a jail, there are special glass, magically enhanced. Although they can look inside from here, a magic mirror insures that they cannot look outside through the glass. This was a simple treatment, to insure that the two do not know what is going on, since Isu knows that if they do, they will surely panic.

There are tables and chair for personal use on the left hand side of the wall, and a door leading to sleeping chambers. There would usually be someone sleeping there today, but it seems everyone’s out today. Only two people are in the room, including Isu.

Finally, Right in front of the door at the innermost part of the room is the desk and chair for the captain to sit on, and he’s already there. Sitting on the chair is the boss of Isu, a genuinely respected great man from a prestigious family, his name is Fargue . Forlku . Eido.

“You’re late, didn’t you hear the contact?”

“Yes”

With yellow hair and a fox’s eyes, thin and sharp, but the appearance of a fearless tiger, mingled with gentleness, with his yellow and white army uniform worn on his muscular, large body. The Military uniform is uniquely modified to Fargue, so its country of origin cannot be identified. The thick saber hanging from ithe side further enhances its appeal. If Isu blinks even once when he’s giving his report, he’s head will be lobbed off. He makes an agonizing face in response to his report.

“It’s about the Black apostle lord……. Isn’t it.”

“Yes, the moment he came, there has been a number of missing individuals. There’s no proof, but there’s no doubt.”

“I…Suppose…”

Recently there has been a problem for the spies with a certain topic becoming the talk of the imperial capital. Many witnessed the overwhelming military power of the princess’s hired guard in the arena.

If that were it, there would have been no problems. Apart from the additional information collected, there isn’t any direct harm done.

However, After the lord has appeared, spies that infiltrated the kingdom, including individuals like Isu and those from other kingdoms, had begun to mysteriously disappear, one after the other. There were various scenarios and situations, however this can’t possibly be a mere coincidence anymore. There were already causalities in Isu’s organization.

Well, maybe they simply took up residence somewhere else or simply don’t come here anymore.

And, while investigating in the shadows for possible reasons, he saw a glimpse of the Black demon. Part of his work is to also gather information related to the matter. By the way, he’s already used to collecting information this way, but perhaps it’s because he’s working by himself, he’s been accumulating more stress, physically and mentally, than usual.

“Once the kingdom has ordered a retreat, we will do so. But before that…”

Fargue talked about future plans while furrowing his eyebrows.

Since the enemy’s identity is unclear, thus we’ll return home since there’s an increased risk.

It may sound timid, bit since Fargue still has 90% of his work to do in his country, it’s a good time to retreat and report.

But if he did that, there’s going to be a lot of work waiting back home.

“Yes that’s true….this is going to be one tough fight……hm?”

While Isu is agreeing with Fargue’s opinion, he has noticed a slight, strange sound……Zururi, Zururi, it sounds like some slimy liquid crawling.

“Hm? What’s the Matter Isu?”

Suspicious of Isu’s strange actions, Fargue stopped this trail of though for a moment and looked at Isu. The fox ears on his head also flicked *Piko Piko in response to his question. Combined that with his gentle, tiger-like appearance, he looks just like a stuffed plush toy.

ED Note: 優しく訪いかける虎の顔は, not completely certain how 訪い fits into this. A little help is appreciated…

“Nothing, did you hear some kind of strange sound?”

“Really? Everything seems fi……wait a minute…”

When Fargue was about to deny that, the strange sound emitted again…Zururi, Zururi, sounds just like crawling mucus. The sound was very uncomforting, Fargue’s eye brows furrowed further, his alertness triggered, and his fangs slightly bared.

Currently, Fargue and Isu are the only two people in this room. Although there’re also the experimental bodies next to them, because the soundproof material should have absorbed any sound or vibration made, they’re not suppose to hear anything. And yet, strange sounds can be heard from the room, something strange has obviously happened. Now that you noticed it, the air in the room has turned heavy, and the temperature seemed to have lowered. The pair’s alertness, forged from constant fights in dark places hidden and obscured from daily life, instantly heighted to it’s maximum……Zururi, zururi, the sound of a creeping slime.

“There’s something there”

“Standing up from his chair, Fargue pulled his favorite saber from its sheath. The body of the sword reflected the light in the room, making it shine with sparkle. A sharp saber that overcame countless battles, it’s as if two veterans resonating with each other, both seeking prey together.

“Some kind of bug? Did it enter from somewhere…”

“No, that’s not it, magic drugs to repel insects are placed, so it couldn’t possibly be an insect monster……if it is an insect, that would be fine, this is likely something worse.”

Taking out his poison-coated dagger from his shirt and his iron needles, Isu remained vigilant while rejecting Fargue’s proposition. With a beastman’s high sensory perceptive abilities and his combat experience, Fargue too has already deduced that rather than a bug, it’s something else more troublesome. Negliecting not even the slightest of details, the duo prepared their stance as they looked towards the shadows where something is likely hidden, capturing even the smallest sounds with their ears, and smelling with their nose for any scent. The heightened sensory organs of the beastman are also used to survey the situation, but it resulted in nothing in the end. Only chills ran down the two’s spine as they upped their vigilance to another level. Zururi, Zururi. The sound of crawling slime draws near.

“What, is this… what is the world, is this?”

Fargue’s neck stiffens. It’s a instinctive action his body takes whenever he feels something dangerous approach. His fox ears tremble in the presence of this unidentified entity, he made the face of a tiger and *gurururu, growled while bearing his fangs.

ED note: うなじがつ, neck/nape moon? The stiffen part was contextual deduction… I gave up after seeing the only definition in the dictionary and 3 translators all pointed towards moon.

-- Zururi Zururi, the sound of crawling slime, now clearly heard loud and clear.

Compared to previously, the sound is much closer. And the lights in the room began to flash. The two looked around in a hurry due to their surprise, and darkness suddenly filled the room.

“……Captain, there…”

Looking over there, Isu finally found the cause for the anomalies. Looking at the source, the anomalies aren’t caused by something inside the room the two people are in. with trembling fingers, he pointed towards the cause of the problem.

“I see it……it’s a zombie snail, or not? It looks like it, but something’s off.”

Fargue, without lowering his awareness in his surroundings, looked at the direction Isu is pointing towards. The two people, locked in their cells as lab rats, rampaged about, unable to comprehend the current situation. They voices can’t be heard externally. Truly a jail. Strange changes has begun sliently.

“Para.Bel.Lum. Para.Bel.Lum”

Ed Comment: There’s no point advertising to spies Rou

It sounded like it came from the prison, yet they weren’t suppose to hear anything from within. Yet the two man clearly heard some fascinating, yet strange noises from within, looking into the red eyes of the two captives. Only though vocally and line-of-sight, the two people had their very spirits chilled, as if their soul was being encroached.

There exist monsters called “Carrion snails” in this world. From deserts to jungles and even plateaus, their range of natural habitats are broad, but they differ greatly from one another depending on where they live. They shells can even boast a level of hardness even beyond bronze, they’re an especially atrocious class of monsters in the [terrestrial mollusk] system.

Rather than growing it’s own shell, zombie snails have the habit collects the corpses and rotting carcasses of animals, and use it to form their shell. Therefore, they’re often seen with zombies and skeletons in cemeteries and recent battlefields. Their shells also often spread malicious pathogens due to the corpses decaying on it. There were records in the past about an entire town being wiped out due to a viral disease spread by a zombie snail.

So while zombie snail extermination requests are very unpopular, it’s something that’s treated as very urgent, and will be forced upon someone immediately.

Often dealt with by unpopular, dare-devil adventurers and mercenaries as well, since there’s no known treatment, the sick often go missing, all you can really do is say sorry. Naturally they would hate it, since they’ve been forced to take on this job. However, if left unchecked, even an idiot would understand the pending threat once they’re told.

Ed note: 頭の回る者は一時姿を眩ませる事もある, translated to a person with a temporary dazzle around their head. Anyone got a better translation?

Above all, putting the awaked characteristic of spreading diseases aside, the corpses of wyverns and giant species made the shell gigantic, and even the zombie snail’s main body is tremendous in size. Moreover, while the probability of it happening is very low, sometimes the properties of the corpses, such as herculean strength, or a wyvern’s breath attack, may be transferred to the host, making each individual’s difficulty level differ significantly from one another, even one with the highest level of difficulty [disastrous singularity] existed in the past.

The one inside the prison, is likely a sub-species or even a superior species.

Ed Comment: so…that’s Rou’s snail counterpart, Rou must have caught it as a mascot or something.

With the corpses of the two experimental bodies looking like wringed rags on the shell, it’s obviously not a normal zombie snails. Even including living humans onto its shell, there leaves little room for doubt.

Zombie snails get their name from making a shell of corpses. Until they find a shell, they will wander around in various places in “slug” form.

Then, if this noise was made by the zombie snail’s main body, it must be here for the corpse. When you think about it though, that can’t be it. Putting aside the location of the room, the countermeasures are thorough, especially against small monsters that can slip through gaps. Also including the multiple traps, the zombie snail should have been rather cold even with that shell. Therefore, it’s almost impossible for that the snail came from the outside.

“Perchance, has it been parasitic from the very start?”

If it didn’t came from outside, then it must have came from inside –-The two people had the parasite in their body from the start, that’s possible. Given that it’s likely a sub species or even a superior species, this odious physiological anomaly is understandable.

Ed comment: …Wait, so a snail with a shell made from the corpses of wyverns and giants was stuffed into the bodies of two robbers? And their metabolism was sustained until this moment? Wow.

“—what? That’s just nasty.”

Isu’s face was distorted from the sheer discomfort.

While the head was forcefully twisted to face upwards, and where his eyes were suppose to be, countless black tentacles wiggled about. To make it simple to imagine, his eyes now look like a sea anemone. It looks bad enough as it is, and yet a large amount of mucus is flowing out of the mouth with the unhinged jaw, and a red eye the size of a fist rests at the tip of the of the overflowing mucus. The way the just-formed eye shifted about as if it were surveying it’s surrounding made Isu shudder with a bad feeling.

While you were worrying about that, the corpse started bursting out from the inside. As if it was a miniature explosion, pieces of red flesh splattered all over. The glass now partially dyed red, a fountain of blood spewed forth from the hole, and a single new tentacle extended outwards. Possibly the cause of the explosion at the chest area, a new eye is gradually formed at the tip of the tentacle. The two bustling eyes surveying it’s surroundings, it was staring at the two individuals, through the glass and the mirror that was suppose to be magically enhanced. Countless mouths, large and small, began to form in the soft parts of the body, began to vibrate the air

“Para.Bel.Lum. Para.Bel.Lum”

While the zombie snail was emitting strange sounds, it stuck to the glass. The soft underside of the zombie snail eventually stuck to the glass, but there was also a huge mouth that opens vertically, with countless small sharp fangs on its edge, and a long, gritty tongue. The two people who didn’t even move or knocked on the glass until now, has made a *Pishri sound, as cracks began to nosily form on the surface of the glass. Stuck in the same room as an unidentified entity, the two who had a taste of the truly dark world couldn’t accept what was happening.

ED Comment: What grim S*** was the author watching when he though of this 0,0 and what happened to the zombie snail thing?

“We’re getting out of here! Isu, use [alchemic oil] to spread a fire and use it against that thing, I want to ensure the safety of any important goods, and our escape route!!”

“Rig…Understood!”

There are lots of information the organization has stored in the room where the two are in. Bringing the information about the kingdom back was meant to be the mission, but due to the emergency situation, the majority of the information was burned to cinders to also avoid theft. More than half of the information has already been copied and store in a separate location, so burning all the information here will not result in a significant lost. That was another reason why such a command was made without hesitation.

As per instructed, Isu started sprinkling the [alchemic oil] all over the place, including near them, and lit a fire with his finger, but he stopped moving. Well, to be precise, his movement was stopped forcefully.

“My…my body…”

With a fire lit on his fingers, Isu was as solid as a stone statue. He’s not moving, but if you looked at his slightly distorted face, you can tell he’s desperately trying to move.

“Para.Bel.Lum. Para.Bel.Lum”

The ability to forcefully stop the movement of a target is called [Rigidity], however the even worse variant, called [petrification], is what occured. In a state of [Rigidity], Isu remembered with chargin how he was able to resist its effects earlier, until the mirror broke.

“Please, Run away, leave me behind, please start burning!”

Something like the zombie snail’s other eye is approaching. With even moving his neck took a lot of time, it’s unlikely he will escape. So in the very least, he could clear up his blunder with the flames. Even if Isu still said that, Fargue who was suppose to be behind isu, was in an even worse state.

“…Tsu….~TSU!!”

“Hurry. Hurry, please run away!”

The slime that has invaded the base, the pair soon discovered it wasn’t something like a zombie snail. Lurking around the corner, even Fargue, who had sharper senses than isu, didn’t notice it and thus was attacked from a blind spot, and was constricted.

A large amount of slime was entering the tiger mouth of Fargue. Countless eyes and mouths began to form on the slime, Fargue attempted to fight back by regurgitating the slime. But his limbs were tightly bounded by the slime, and the slime was unusually durable and elastic against his fangs. On the other hand, he wasn’t nearly as resistant against the slime. He soon reached his limit, and tears overflowed, his eyes burning in a mixture of fear and hatred. But the soft slime, like the body parts of the zombie snail, rapidly invaded his insides as if it was ridiculing him. It didn’t take long before even breathing became difficult, and Fargue fainted showing only the whites of his eyes.

“Cap….tain?”

Even the slight sound that originally emitted from behind suddenly ceased, replaced by a state of silence. But before Isu can see what has happened, something has begun to capture Isu while emitting a strange sound

“Para.Bel.Lum.Para.Bel.Lum”

“NO, NO N~N~N~N~O~O~O”

Even though [Rigidity] had already been lifted. But whether the effects persist or not didn’t matter to Isu anymore. Similarly to Fargue, the slime, like a soft body, has already begun to wrap around him. When he tried to resist by acting violently, one of its countless mouths bit into his arms, and blood started to flow, but that hardly matters anymore.

“Somebody, can somebody hear guboboobobobo……”

It took only several dozen seconds before Isu’s body was completely absorbed. In the room where the target no longer exist, a voice was raised.

“Para.Bel.Lum.Para.Bel.Lum

Maybe, the person responsible for this from the dark may come by later.

■ З ■

「――HA!!」

Dying a cruel death in his nightmare, Isu Jumped out of his bed. Looking around, he was a room in [The Goat’s Foundation].

It took a few seconds for him to comprehend, but cold sweat and night sweat had soaked him all over.

"Ha…Hahhahhahha ...... Fu~u Ha~a. ... It’s just a dream."

making short breaths, he placed his hands on his chest to regulate his heart beat that was about to split open, and gave a heavy sigh. After he calmed down, in order to get rid of the discomfort from his clothes sticking to his shirt due to sweat, Isu, who got off the bed to take a dip in the shower suddenly tilted his little head

“Hm? This wound, where did I get it from?”

There were three cuts on his right arm, as if he was scratched by something. It was almost already healed, and there isn't any pain. But where, when and whether did he suffer from it, he didn’t have any recollection of it. Taking off his clothes while thinking about the strange wound, he had a shower in the bathroom, and soon forgot about it.

“Ah~, I’m cured by the warm water……”

The feeling of discomfort washed away along with the flowing hot waters of the shower, and Isu was garbed in comfort. While hot water poured over his head, and hearing the seamlessly continuing sound of water, unexpectedly, it seems a strange sound was in the mix. He wanted to say something, but nothing came to mind. And because it was only for a moment, he though it was only a trick played on his ears or whatever. Along with the scratch, he immediately forgot all about it.

“Para.Bel.Lum”

ED comment: Surprise mother F***ker

Isu’s ears had something black and slimy protruding out, but it immediately retracted back in. Without noticing anything, Isu contines bathing.

This fear of parasitic slime, hasn’t ended just yet.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

This is a BIG one lads!

RAW

【とある国の諜報員達が体験したちょっと恐い話/這い寄る粘液からは逃げられない】  [時間軸:???]


 太陽がゆっくりと山脈の狭間に沈み始め、もう少しで夜がやって来る。  空には飛行型モンスター達が奇声を発しながら飛び交い、獲物を見つければ舞い降りて鋭い爪や毒の嘴を突き立てて肉を抉り、大量の血を地上に降らす。  大地には荒野や森林を駆ける獣型や爬虫類型といったモンスターの咆哮や断末魔が響き、鋭い爪の生えた腕の一振り、あるいは鋭牙を用いた噛みつきなどによって互いの血肉を削っていく。  そうして世界に点々と生じる血と臓物の臭気が立ち昇る場所には、喰う者と喰われる者の姿があった。  強力で凶暴な夜行性のモンスターが本格的に活動し始め、熾烈な生存競争が今日も始まったのだ。

 しかしここ――シュテルンベルト王国王都≪オウスヴェル≫はそんな自然に対し、空からの脅威には【魔法】や【魔法薬】などを使って、地上からの脅威には周囲に高く頑丈極まりない城壁を築く事で対抗していた。  そうする事によって夜になれば城壁近くを放浪する事もあるも、侵入する事は過去一度もできてはいない。

 長い年月をかけて築き上げられた城壁によって、今宵も国民は安全と平和が保障されていた。

 そんな王都には【異界の賢者】が考案・開発した魔晶街灯が道路に一定間隔で設置されている。  流石に昼間の様にはいかないが、魔晶街灯の明かりによって周囲の様子は夜目の利かない人間でも見える為、本来ならば就寝するような時間でも人々の営みは続いていた。  とはいえ、魔晶街灯などによる明かりも完全に夜闇を無くせるモノではない。  酒場など夜という時間帯でこそ活気に満ちる場所ならば、店が設置した照明具と魔晶街灯の明かりだけでヒトが昼間より集まるには十分だが、しかしやはり昼間と比べてヒトが居なくなる場所というのは非常に多い。  それは仕方の無い事なのだが、つまり悪事を働きやすい環境が王都の至る所で自然と出来上がっていた。むしろ下手に明るい場所があるだけに、暗い場所はより暗くなっている。  だから夜が近付けば自然と家路につく者は増え、外を出歩くヒトの総数は昼間に比べれば少なくなっている。

 そしてヒトが少ない、複雑に入り組んでいるので不慣れな者だとほぼ確実に迷ってしまう薄暗い路地裏を、一人の旅人が歩いていた。  長年の使用によってかやや草臥れているフード付き外套を革鎧の上から着込み、腰には護身用だろう短剣を二本下げ、着替えや携帯食糧、鍋やテントなどの野営道具が詰め込まれた大型のを軽々と背負う、凡庸な容姿の小柄な中年男性である。  長年の旅で日焼けして色が抜けたのだろう茶髪は頭皮がうっすらと見えてしまう程細く薄く、そよ風に吹かれてなびくと何処か哀愁を誘う。  荒れた肌には長年の苦労を訴えるように無数の傷跡が刻まれ、身体の動きは年齢によるものか億劫そうだ。  やや垂れた薄緑色の瞳の下には、薄らとくまもできている。

「あ~全く、やれやれ。今日の仕事もきつかったぁ、肩が凝る」

 一般的な旅人の姿をした中年男性は、暗く狭い道を抜け、角を何回か曲がった後、離れてはいるがやっと見えてきた目的地――宿屋【山羊の拠り所】の看板を見て、ホッと息を吐き出した。  その姿は本当に疲れ果てた様子で、少しでも早く休みたいのだろうと推察できる。

 中年男性の目的地である【山羊の拠り所】は、王都では一般的な煉瓦造りの二階建て宿屋だ。

 一階の半分は宿の食堂兼酒場になっているのだが、宿屋の立地的に予め知らないと辿り着くのが困難なので新規の客はやや少ない。  しかし元冒険者だったという美人女将によって作られる料理は安い、量が多い、美味しい、の三拍子が揃っている。  しかも女将の子で若く可愛い看板娘の姉妹が居るとあって、数がそれほど多くないとはいえほぼ毎日常連客によって全席埋まる、近所で評判の店だ。

 宿の二階には小さいながらもゆったりと寛げる落ち着いた装飾が施された部屋が八部屋ほど用意されている。  ちょっと珍しい事に簡易ながら個別にシャワーが取り付けられているので、旅の疲れが落しやすいと好評だ。  その分平均よりも料金はやや高いのだが、シャワーなどの設備からすれば安い部類となっている。

 ちなみに現在、宿に泊まる手続きをするにしては些か遅い時間なのだが、事前に予約しているので中年男性が今日は満室なので泊まれない、なんて事にはならない。  宿につけば女将と看板娘達が笑顔で出迎え、中年男性の泊まる部屋に設置された柔らかいベッドは彼を優しく受け入れるだろう。

 だんだんと近づくにつれ宿屋の一階の食堂から中年男性の下まで漂ってくる、様々な料理の美味そうな匂いと酒の香り。  僅かだが聞こえるのは酒で酔った男達の陽気な笑い声と、食器が当たる甲高い音。  それ等に食欲は激しく刺激され、疲れた中年男性の身体が、栄養を寄こせと腹を鳴らして訴え始めた。

(あぁー、宿についたら、まず飯だな、うん。それで、アッツアツの焼き鳥を一気に喰う。口に広がるのは焼けた肉と野菜と塩の味で、そんでちょっと辛い酒……たまんねぇな)

 中年男性はもう少しで味わえるだろう酒と料理を想像し、間抜けな笑みを浮かべながら宿屋に向けて歩む速度を速めようとして、しかし立ち止った。  立ち止ったのは中年男性の前に、ヒト一人がようやく通れる程度の路地陰から二人の若者が出てきて進行方向を塞いだからだ。  出てきた二人の衣服は王都で暮らす一般人のそれと大差ないモノだったが、しかし濃い血の臭いが服と肉体に染み込んでいる事から、ただの一般人ではなかった。

 多少の血の臭いならば、酔った末の喧嘩などによって付着する事もあるだろう。  現れた若者達はそう何着も衣服を購入できるほど裕福そうには見えず、その汚れ具合から代えは無いか、少ないのだろう。洗濯しつつ、長年着回しているに違いない。  それに怪我をしても治療するにはそれなりの金額が必要になるので、余裕のあるヒトでない限りは多少の怪我なら自然治癒に任せる事が多い。  だから血気盛んな年頃ならば、衣服や肉体に血の臭いが多少しても驚く事ではない。

 だが二人が纏う血の臭いは余りに濃すぎた。  喧嘩や事故による怪我によって流した血が染み込んだ、なんて段階は大きく超している。  モンスターを何十体も殺したか、あるいは同じ数のヒトを殺めたか。  そのどちらにせよ、二人が生物の殺し方をよく知っていると言う事は染みついた血の臭いだけでなく、自然と行っている足運びや身体の動かし方、あるいは手に持つ刃渡り二十センチほどのダガーと、小振りだが頑丈な造りのを扱う様子から容易に推察できた。

(多少はやる。けど、足の動きがどちらもぎこちない。冒険者か傭兵をやっていたが、怪我して引退、気性が荒くて職に就けず、犯罪に手を染めた、って感じかねぇ)

 中年男性が癖で行っていた二人の考察を終えた時、ダガーを持つ男がニヤニヤと嗤いながら口を開いた。

「はーい、止まれおっさん」

 手に持つダガーを素早く左右に振り、威圧をかける。  馬鹿にしたような口調だが、その目は油断なく中年男性の動きを見つめていた。不自然な動きを見せれば、迷わずダガーで刺しにくるだろう。  そしてダガーの男の横に立っているトマホークを肩に担いだ男も、笑いながら口を開いた。

「ちょーっとコッチ来てくんないっすかね? じゃないとちょいと痛い目にあうっすよ?」

「そうそう、ちょっと貧しい俺達に恵んでくれればいいからさ。取りあえず腰の短剣くれないっすかねー?」

「といって、全部貰えるもんは貰うんですけどね」

『ギャハハハハ』

 ――不愉快極まりない、下卑た笑い声だ。  と中年男性は内心でそう思いながら目の前の二人を冷めた目で見つつ、自分の思いが伝わるように深いため息を吐き出した。

「ハァァァァァァ……」

 ありありと、無駄に貴重な時間を消費させられて不快極まりない、と言いたげである。

 【】

 二人は比較的治安の良い王都では珍しいが、しかし居ない事もない種類の存在だった。  彼等は持つ者から物資を略奪する、犯罪者である。

 と言っても、この二人はまだ小物の部類だ。  国の中心である王都だとしても関係ないとばかりにヒトを殺し、財を奪うような極めて厄介で頭のネジを無くしたような輩ではない。  彼等は確かに荷物を奪うのだが、姑息で多少の悪知恵が働き、流石にこのような場所でヒトを殺してしまえばどうなるかを考えられる程度の知性は持っている。  その為に言葉で脅し、状況で脅し、武器で脅し、人数差で脅す。  それで獲物が屈すれば良し、屈しないのなら手足を軽く傷つけて逃走、あるいは殴り倒して物を盗る。  国軍に追われればどうしようもないので、ギリギリで殺しまではしない。  それが彼等のやり方だ。

 今は落ちぶれてしまっているが、中年男性の読み通り、かつては彼等も冒険者として夢見ながら旅していた。だが仕事中に大怪我を負い、引退してからはこうして日々の生計を立てている。  引退しても挫けず真面目に働いていればもっと違う未来があったのかもしれないが、彼等はそれをしなかった。  そこそこの才能があり、悪運があり、高くはないが低くもない、というレベルの戦闘系【職業】を有していたからだ。  怪我で本領は発揮できないとはいえ、それでも一般市民相手ならば有用だった。  そして犯罪に手を染めれば、普通に働くよりかは確かに楽に金を稼げてしまい、彼等はそれで味を占めた。

 そしてそれが故に、ある日彼等の死神に遭遇してしまうという結果に導いたのだから皮肉な事だろう。

「最近の若いもんときたら、まだ健康な肉体を持つというのに、こんな下らない事をするとは情けない。全く、情けない」

 中年男性の前に居る二人からすれば、この行動はただの小遣い稼ぎ程度にしか思っていない。今まで何度も繰り返してきた手順であり、ある程度慣れてしまっていたからだ。  例え武装していようとも、自分達なら中年男性程度は一捻りできる、と思っている。  だから、中年男性の態度に怒りを覚えた。獲物に舐められて逆上しないほど彼等の気は長くなく、それは相手も同じであった。

「あぁ? 何言っ――ゲピュオ」

 ダガーを持つ男が、突然奇妙な声を上げ、前のめりに倒れた。  まるで支えを失って崩れ落ちた建造物のような有様だったので、石か何かでぶつけたのだろう、ダガーの男の頭からは血が流れ出す。  口からは吐瀉物を勢いよく地面に撒き散らし、痛みを和らげようと本能から両腕を腹部に巻きつけ、震えながら悶絶している。  顔や服が吐瀉物で汚れていくが、そんな事を気にする事すらできていない。

「だから、実験体には丁度いい」

 少々特異な戦技によって赤い燐光を宿した中年男性の拳はダガーの男の腹部に炸裂し、ただの一撃でダガーの男を無力化した。

 ――【】

 そもそものステータス差やレベル差などによって通ったダメージ量は甚大であり、それだけで行動不能となるのは十分だっただろう。だが攻撃対象に【毒】を付与する【毒侵拳】は、一際強く体内からダガーの男を苦しめる。  許容値を大幅に超えた激痛によって地に倒れたダガーの男は身体全体から脂汗を流し、空気を求めるようにパクパクと喘ぐ。顔からは血の気が引いて真っ青になり、虚ろな目は忙しなく動き、声無き悲鳴を上げ、悶絶しながらも意識はギリギリのところで保たれていた。

 それは怪我をして万全でないとはいえ、鍛えられた彼自身の肉体強度が関係していたのだが、この場合は気を失っていた方が幸運だったに違いない。  失神しそうなほどの激痛を感じながら少なくない時間を過ごし、トドメとしてボールを全力で蹴るような攻撃を頭部に受けて完全に意識が消し飛ぶまで、彼の意識は確かにあったのだから。  せめて一撃で沈んでいれば、その後の激痛を感じる事もなかっただろうに。  ダガーの男はまだ死んではいないが、ビクンビクンと痙攣する様は直ぐには動けそうになかった。

「……へ? ――アガピョ」

 相棒に何が起きたのか理解できなかったトマホークの男は、一瞬間抜け面を晒した後、ダガーの男と同じく攻撃を受けた。  中年男性が両手首につけているバングルに仕込んでいた暗器の一つ――掌に収まる長さの鉄針が、戦技によって高速で投擲されたのだ。  赤い燐光を宿した鉄針が命中した下顎骨は砕け、尖端から分泌される紫色の毒液がトマホークの男の身体を内部から侵す。  急速に回る毒素によって今度は意識が消えた事も自覚しないまま、グニャリと全身の骨が無くなったかのような動きで地面に倒れた。  小物だったとはいえ一瞬で武装した敵を無力化した中年男性は、意識を失った二人を路地裏の片隅にまで運び、その懐を物色する。  目当ての財布を取り出したが、財布には大した額は入っていない。銅貨銅板が殆どで、銀貨はたったの一枚だけだ。  しけている。  それに多少の苛立ちを覚えつつ、中年男性は最初の目的である宿屋に歩みを進めた。

 さほど歩く事もなく宿に到着し、簡単な手続きを済ませ、食堂の空いていた椅子に座って荷物を足元に下ろし、さっそく晩飯を注文した。  注文を取りに来たのは二人いる看板娘の片割れである、妹のクルルだった。歳は十四と若く、天真爛漫な笑顔が可愛らしい。ちょこちょこと歩く様は小動物を彷彿とさせ、大人びた魅力を持つ姉のミラールとの対比がより引き立っていた。

「こんばんは、イースさん。ご注文は?」

「とりあえず、焼き鳥の塩二人前、生ジョッキ大、あとは本日のオススメと、シーザーサラダ」

「はーい、他には?」

 素早く注文を注文書に書き、小首を傾げながら他に無いか訊くクルルに、中年男性――イースは微笑を浮かべ、しかし目は笑わずにクルルに言った。

「そうだな、じゃあ、今外で寝ちまってる連れが二人いるんだけど、そいつ等の分は部屋に運んでくれないか? もちろん料理は、肉を野菜で包んだを頼むよ」

「……はーい、分かりました。それじゃ、ちょっと待っててくださいね。キチンとしますから」

「ああ、任せるよ」

 可愛らしく笑うクルルを見てイースは今度こそ本当に微笑み、少しでも早く料理が来ないかと思いながら待ち続けた。


 ~p(= 3 =)p~


 飯を満足するまで食べた後、イースは自分が泊る部屋に鍵を使って入る。  中央に設置されているのは白いシーツがかけられたシングルベッド、その脇には物を入れる為の鍵付き収納箱があり、出窓には花瓶に活けられた色鮮やかな花、天井から吊り下げられたカンテラ型マジックアイテム、その他細々とした家具や装飾品のある部屋だ。  入口のすぐ横にはシャワールームが設置されていたが、イースはそれを過ぎてベッドの傍に背中の荷物を下ろし、そして壁に掛けられた小さな絵画の前に立った。  絵画は青い小川と佇む白ワンピースの少女が描かれたモノで、確かによく描けてはいるのだが、高価な品ではない。  これは貧乏な【】が小遣い稼ぎの為に製作したものであり、あくまでも部屋の雰囲気を演出するだけの小道具だ。  しかしこの絵画の裏には、とある秘密が隠されている。

「えーっと、番号は……」

 絵画の裏にある壁には、目立たないように細工されている小さい金属板が埋め込まれていた。0~9までの数字が刻まれた金属板は、イースによって決められた数字が押されていく。  十桁の番号が全て押されると、部屋に変化が起きた。  金属板のすぐ横の壁の一部が左右にスライドし、下に降りる秘密の螺旋階段がその姿を露わしたのだ。  部屋は二階にあるのだから一階に続く階段かと思えば、明らかに一階よりも下、地下に続いていくほど深い階段である。  壁には光源としてカンテラが幾つか吊り下げられているので、視界はそれほど悪くない。

「さーてと、今回の報告は気が進まないなぁ……」

 その螺旋階段を、イースは下りていく。  踏み抜き防止用の鉄板が仕込まれたブーツが木製の階段を踏みしめる。  そこで普通ならば木が軋み、足音が鳴るだろう。  だが、イースは無音で階段を居り続けた。呼吸音すら耳を澄ましても聞こえてくる事はない。

 それはイースが特殊な訓練を受けた人間である事の証明であり、実際にイースは他国から王国に潜入している諜報員の一人である。  そういった事情から今回イースがここに来たのも、秘密の拠点であるここに居る自分の上司に定期報告をしに来たからだった。

 そして階段の終点に至り、すぐ目の前にある扉。

 この先にはイースが所属する組織が王国内での本部としている、王都の地下に張り巡らされた下水道などの一部を独自に改良・改造して造られた防音性の極めて高い地下室が広がっている。  これはもちろん違法だが、そもそも他国の諜報員がそんな事を気にする筈もない。  そしてその存在が発覚すると裁判無しの問答無用で投獄か、あるいは処刑されてしまうので、この部屋に入るには壁を壊すなどの力技を除き、先程イースが下りてきた螺旋階段を使うか、地下道の一画に隠された脱出路からしか入れないようになっていた。

「失礼します、隊長」

 三回のノックの後、返事を待たずにドアノブを回して中に入ると、そこは整理されてはいるが整頓されていないというやや矛盾している部屋が広がっていた。

 中央には会議用の巨大なテーブルが置かれ、その上には様々な秘密書類が置かれている。書類は丸められている物もあれば、無造作に広げたままの物もあった。

 部屋の右側の壁には捕虜を入れておく為の牢屋が設置され、現在も実際に二人ほど入れられていた。  入れられているのは先程イース達に絡んできた若者だ。彼等が牢屋にいるのは食事の時に、クルルとのやり取りで二人を地下の牢屋に入れるように頼んでいたからに他ならない。  こうして捕虜となった彼等は、これからイース達が調合する新しい毒が生物にどう作用するか、解毒する薬の適量は一体どの程度なのか、などを調べる為の実験体として使い潰される予定である。  牢屋には鉄柵の代わりに、魔法によって強化された特殊ガラスが嵌め込まれている。  ガラスにはコチラからはアチラが見えるが、アチラからはコチラは見えないようにする為のマジックミラー加工が施されていた。  なので簡単な治療を施され、やっと動けるようになってきている二人が現在の状況を全く分からず、慌てふためいている様がイースからもよく分かった。

 左の壁には個人用のテーブルとイスが幾つか並べられ、仮眠室に通じる扉が設置されている。  普段なら何人かそこで寝ているのだが、今日はどうやら全員出払っていて居ないらしい。  部屋に居るのは、イース含めたったの二人だけだった。

 最後に、扉の真正面であり部屋の最奥である場所にはここを取り仕切る隊長用の机と椅子があり、既に本人が座っていた。  椅子に座るのはイースの上司であり、心底尊敬している族の偉丈夫。その名はファルグ・フォルク・タイード。  遥か昔に東方からやって来た四尾のと、それを打倒し嫁に迎えたの血を受け継ぐ家門の末席に名を連ね、生来の異能と高い身体能力を混ぜ合わせた独特の戦闘能力を誇る古強者であった。  イースよりも僅かに年上ながら、その見た目は若々しいモノである。

「遅かったな、連絡を聞こうか」

「ハッ」

 黄色の体毛と狐の耳、細く鋭いがどこか優しさのある双眸、精悍な虎の容姿、筋骨隆々の巨躯を包むのはピシッと引き締まった黄色と白色を基調とした軍服。  何処の国の所属かは分からないよう独自に改造された軍服はファルグにとても似合っており、すぐ脇に置かれた分厚いサーベルがより一層その魅力を引き立てる。  イース程度ならば瞬き一つの間に首を斬り落とせる彼は、その報告を受けて苦渋の面を見せた。

「やはり黒い使徒鬼……か」

「はい、彼奴が来てから、消えた裏の人間は数知れず。犯人を断定する証拠という証拠もありませんが、ほぼ間違いないかと」

「そう、だな……」

 現在イース達諜報員を悩ませるタネは、ごく最近やってきて、王都の話題を独り占めしているとあるの事だった。  圧倒的な武力を闘技場で見せつけ、王女に雇われて護衛しながら城下町を放浪している姿は何度も目撃されている。

 ただ、これだけならば特に問題はない。  イース達からすれば収集すべき情報が増えただけで、直接的な害はないのだから。

 だが、鬼人が現れてからしばらくして、イース達のような王国に潜り込んでいる諜報員が、他国の者も含め、次々と謎の失踪を繰り返していた。  状況などは色々と異なるが、共通していつの間にか居なくなっている。イース達の組織にも、行方不明者が出ているほどだ。  もしかしたら、ここに来ていない者の中には既に居なくなっている者も居るかもしれない。

 そしてその原因は探れば探る程、その影をちらつかせるのが件の鬼人だった。  今回イースが行っていた仕事も、全てそれ関係の情報を収集する為だった。  ちなみに情報収集は仕事柄し慣れているのだが、もしかしたら自分も、と思えば思うほどイースは精神的にも肉体的にも累積されていく疲労が普段以上のモノとなっていた。

「一旦、本国まで撤退した方がいいのかもしれないな。だが、そうなるとまずは……」

 眉間に皺を寄せるほど悩んだ末、ファルグが今後の方針を口に出した。

 正体がハッキリとしない敵に狙われ、危険度が増したので本国に帰る。

 それだけを聞けば臆病風に吹かれたと思われるかもしれないが、王国での仕事の実に九割を消化しているファルグ達からすれば、そろそろ報告にかこつけて本国に帰ってもいい頃合だった。  しかしそうなると、色々とやらなければならない事は多い。

「そうですね、流石にこんなのと戦いたくは……ん?」

 上司であるファルグの意見に同意するイースだが、小さいながら奇妙な音を聞いた気がした。  ……ズルリ、ズルリ。まるで粘液が這うような音である。

「ん? どうした、イース」

 イースの行動に不審を覚え、思案を一時止めて顔を上げたファルグは訝しむ。  頭の狐耳が、疑問でピコピコと動く。優しく訪いかける虎の顔は、まるでヌイグルミのようだった。

「いえ、何か変な音がしませんでしたか?」

「そうか? 別に私は……いや、ちょっと待て」

 一時は否定しかけたファルグにも、その音は届いた。  ……ズルリ、ズルリ。粘液が這うような音である。  何処となく不快感を抱かせる音に、ファルグの眉間には皺が寄り、警戒心からか鋭い牙がチラホラと見え始めた。

 現在、この部屋にはイースとファルグの二人だけしかいない。  一応隣の牢屋には実験体を放り込んでいるが、防音材によって互いの音や振動は吸収されているので、何か聞こえるはずも無い。  だというのに、部屋で聞こえた奇妙な音。  明らかな異変である。  それを理解すると同時に、部屋の温度が一気に下がったような重苦しい空気に満ちた。常日頃から公表できないような暗い場所で戦いを繰り広げてきた二人の警戒心は、一瞬で最大値にまで跳ね上がる。  ……ズルリ、ズルリ。粘液が這う音がする。

「なにか、いるな」

 ファルグが椅子から立ち上がり、愛用のサーベルを鞘から抜いた。  黄色い剣身は部屋を照らす光を反射し、キラリと輝く。と共に歴戦を乗り越えた業物のサーベルは、獲物を求めるかのように鳴動を始める。

「蟲、でしょうか。どこかしらから入り込んだとか……」

「いや、それはない。魔法薬で蟲の類は入れないようにしているし、魔蟲の類も殆ど入る事はできないはずだ。……それならまだよかったのだがな、これは、もっと性質が悪いぞ」

 懐から毒濡れの短剣と毒を注入する鉄針を取り出し、周囲を警戒するイースの意見をファルグは却下した。  獣人として高い索敵能力と戦いで培った経験から、正体はハッキリとしないながらもファルグは既に蟲の類ではなく、もっと厄介な存在だと看破していたのだ。  僅かな油断もなく身構える二人の視線は何かが隠れられそうな物陰に自然と向かい、僅かな物音も逃すまいと耳を澄ませ、鼻をひくつかせて臭いを嗅ぐ。  鋭い獣人の感覚器官を使って正体不明の気配を探るが、しかし結局何も分からない。  ただ二人に走る悪寒だけは変わらず、警戒心がより一層強くなる。   ズルリ、ズルリ。粘液が這い寄るような音が聞こえる。

「これは、何だ。一体、何だ?」

 ファルグのうなじがつ。  近づいてくる危険な何かを感じ取って、身体が自然と反応を示すのだ。狐耳は正体不明の何かに震え、虎の顔は牙を剥き出しにしてグルルと唸り声を上げた。

 ――ズルリ、ズルリ。また粘液が這い寄る音が、ハッキリと聞こえる。

 今までよりも、ずっと近くで。  そして部屋を照らす照明が、急に点滅し始めた。それに驚いて慌てて周囲を見回す二人は、明暗が激しく切り換わる部屋でそれを見た。

「……隊長、あれ」

 そこに至って、ようやくイースがその異変を発見した。  目に見える異変が起きていたのは、二人が居る部屋からではなかった。  震える指先が、異変の原因に向けられる。

「見つけ……あれはゾンビスネイル、ではない? 似ているが、違うようだな」

 ファルグは周囲の警戒を怠る事なく、イースが指差す方向を見た。  実験体として拉致した若人二人が入れられ、現状を全く理解できずに暴れまわり、声は聞こえないが確かに何かを叫んでいた、牢屋。  そこで、異変が静かに始まっていた。

『パラ・ベ・ラム・パラ・ベ・ラム』

 牢屋からの音は本来なら聞こえないはずだった。  だがしかし二人は確かに奇妙で奇怪な音を聞き、それの赤い眼球が二人を捉える。  声音と視線だけで、二人の精神が汚染されるような悪寒が走った。

 この世界には“”というモンスターが存在する。  密林地帯から砂漠地帯、果ては高原地帯と生息域は幅広く、生活環境や種類によって大きく異なるが基本的に青銅以上の硬度を誇る殻を背負った【】系の中でも、とりわけ凶悪で特殊な部類のモンスターだ。

 ゾンビスネイルは自前の殻を成長に合わせて生成していくのではなく、やがて腐る動物の死体に巣食いそれを殻とする、という特徴を持っている。  その為ゾンビやスケルトンなどが発生しやすい墓地や戦場跡などでよく目撃され、殻とする死体の腐食具合によっては悪質な病原菌を撒き散らす事も多い。  過去には町一つがゾンビスネイルの撒き散らす流行り病によって滅んでしまった事もあるくらいだ。

 なので駆除依頼は非常に不人気なのだが、急を要する強制任務として扱われ、即座に討伐されている。

 不人気なのは命知らずの冒険者や傭兵達も、治療法が見つかっていないか、見つからないかもしれない病気になるのは御免と言う訳だ。  しかもその性質上、強制的に討伐に赴かねばならない可能性もあるので毛嫌いされている。  そんな依頼が張り出されれば、頭の回る者は一時姿を眩ませる事もある、と言えば多少は脅威を理解しやすいかもしれない。

 そして何より、病気を撒き散らすという特性だけでも厄介なのだが、殻にする死体が亜竜種や巨人種など巨躯を誇る存在になれば、ゾンビスネイルの本体である軟体部も巨大化する。  しかも殻が生前有していた特性の一部――人外の怪力や、亜竜のブレスなど――を極低確率ながら引き継ぐ事もあり、厄介さは個体個体で大幅に異なるが、最大で【災害指定個体】とされる事も過去にはあった。

 牢屋に入っていたのは、その亜種か上位種とでもいうような何かだった。

 まるで絞った雑巾のようになった実験体二名の死体を殻にしているのは、普通のゾンビスネイルと変わりない。  だがつい先ほどまで生きていた人間を殻とするのは、少々疑問が残る。

 ゾンビスネイルは、死体という殻を得た時からゾンビスネイルという存在になる。  殻を得るまでの間は、“”形態で様々な場所を徘徊するものだ。

 ならばこの異音はゾンビスネイルの本体が這っていた音であり、死体を得てゾンビスネイルとなった。そう考えられない事もないが、まずそれはあり得ない。  部屋の場所が場所だけに、特にスライムなど小さな隙間から這いずってくる類のモンスターに対しての対策は万全だ。  複数仕掛けられたそれ等は、殻を得る前のゾンビスネイルに突破される程温くない。  だから、外から這入って来た、と言う可能性はほぼ皆無と言っていいだろう。

「もしや、最初から寄生、していたのか?」

 外からゾンビスネイルの本体が来たのでないとするならば、内側――既に二人が本体に寄生されていた、と言う事になってくる。  そうだと考えれば亜種か上位種だという可能性が高くなり、生理的嫌悪を引き出す現在の姿形も頷ける。

「――なんと、気色の悪い」

 イースはあまりの不快感で顔を歪めた。

 捻じれながらも天を向いている頭部の、本来ならば眼球があるはずの場所から飛び出し、うねうねと蠢く無数の黒い触手。目がイソギンチャクの様になっている、とイメージすれば分かりやすいだろうか。  それだけで十分気持ち悪いのだが、顎関節が外れるほど開かれた口からは大量の粘液が流れ出し、溢れ出ている粘液の先端には拳くらいの大きさの赤い眼球が形成される。  出来上がったばかりの眼球がギョロギョロと周囲を見回す様には怖気が走り、イース達は気持ち悪さで微かに震えた。

 それに気を取れられていると、肉殻の胴体中央が内部から弾ける。まるで小さな爆発が起きたかのようで、周囲に飛び散るのは赤い肉片。  ガラスの一部が赤に染まる。  血の噴水が噴き出す孔からは、新しく黒く太い触手が一本飛び出した。恐らくは胸が弾ける原因になったのだろう触手の先端には、もう一つの眼球が新しく形成されていく。  忙しなく周囲を探る二つの眼球が、マジックミラー加工が施されたガラス越しだと言うのに、しかりと二人を見つめていた。少なくとも、イースはそう感じた。  そして軟体部にできた大小無数の口が、空気を振動させる。

『パラ・ベ・ラム・パラ・ベ・ラム』

 そうしてゾンビスネイルのような何かが奇妙な音を発し、ガラスに張り付いた。  張り付くとゾンビスネイルの軟体部の底面が見えるようになったのだが、そこには縦に割れた巨大な口があり、その縁には小さく鋭利な牙が無数に生え揃い、鑢のようにザラザラとした長い舌がある。  今まで体験した事の無い視覚的衝撃に動く事が出来ていなかった二人だが、ピシリ、と音を立てて亀裂が走るガラスを見て我に返った。  正体不明の何かと同じ部屋に居るなど、流石に暗い世界を住処とする二人と言えど、許容できる物ではない。

「逃げるぞッ!! イースは【錬金油】を撒いて火を付けろッ、私は重要物品と脱出経路を確保する!!」

「りょ、了解!!」

 二人が居る部屋には、組織が集めた情報の多くが保管されている。  王国の情報を持ち帰る事を第一の任務としている為これを奪われる事は避けたいが、非常事態にはほぼ全て燃やして灰にする事は事前に決まっていた。  半分以上は既にコピーされ、別の場所に保管されているのでここにある書類が全て燃えたとしても損害は軽微だ、という事も躊躇わない理由の一つになっている。

 命令されるまま、イースはファルグよりも自分の近くにある瓶に入れられた【錬金油】を躊躇なく周囲に振り撒き、指先に火を灯したが、その動きを止める事となる。  いや、正確に言えば、強制的に止められた。

「か……身体、が」

 指先に火を灯した状態で、イースは石像のように固まった。  動けていないが、必死に動こうとしているのだと僅かに歪む顔を見れば理解できる。

『パラ・ベ・ラム・パラ・ベ・ラム』

 それは対象の動きを強制的に停止させる【硬直】と呼ばれ、【石化】の劣化版とも言えるが発生したからだった。  【硬直】状態のイースは内心で抵抗すらできなかった事に悔しさを覚えつつ、ガラスが砕かれるまでただ見ている事しかできなかった。

「逃げ、てください。構わず、燃やしてください!」

 近づいてくるゾンビスネイルのような何かはもう目の前だ。  首を動かす事すら遅々として進まない状態では、とてもではないが逃げられそうにない。  ならばせめて、炎によって失態を清算しなければならない。とでも言いたげなイースであるが、そんな彼の後方に立つファルグは、イースよりも悲惨な事になっていた。

「――ッ。――――ッ!!」

「早く、早くッ。逃げて下さい!」

 拠点に侵入してきた粘液は、二人が発見したゾンビスネイルのような何かだけではなかった。  イースよりも鋭敏な感覚を持つファルグですらすぐ傍に潜んでいたそれに気がつく事ができず、死角から襲いかかられて呆気なく拘束されていた。

 ファルグの虎口に、大量の粘液が侵入していく。  無数の眼球と無数の口を持つ粘液を吐き出そうと、当然ファルグも反撃を試みた。  だが粘液によって四肢はきつく拘束され、異常な程の弾力と耐久力によって牙を全く受け付けないそれに対し、満足な抵抗すらできていないのが現状だ。  限界にまで見開かれた目からは涙が溢れ、その瞳には恐怖と憎悪の念がせめぎ合いながら燃えている。  だがゾンビスネイルのような何かの軟体部である粘液は、それを嘲笑うかのようにどんどんその内部に侵入していった。  呼吸すらままならなくなったファルグが白眼となって失神するのに、さほど時間は必要なかった。

「隊……長?」

 背後から僅かに聞こえていた音が完全に止み、一時の静寂が訪れる。  だがイースの目の前に達してしまったそれが、奇声を発しながらイースの身体を取り込み始めた。

『パラ・ベ・ラム・パラ・ベ・ラム』

「嫌だ、嫌だぁぁぁぁぁぁぁ」

 既に【硬直】は解けていた。  さほど持続するタイプの状態異常ではないからだが、今のイースには最早関係無い。  ファルグ同様、その身体は軟体部となっている粘液によって包まれていく。  何とか抜け出そうと悪足掻きで暴れた際、無数にある口の一つに生えた牙に腕を引っ掛けて血が流れるが、そんな事は気にする暇もなかった。

「誰か、誰かたすげグボゴォォォォォォ……」

 イースの身体が完全に取り込まれるまで、僅か十秒。  標的の居なくなった部屋で、それは声を上げた。

『パラ・ベ・ラム・パラ・ベ・ラム』

 もしかしたら、後ろ暗い事をした者の背後にそれは、這い寄ってくるのかもしれない。


 ■ З ■


「――ハッ!!」

 悪夢の中で惨たらしく死に、イースはベッドから飛び起きた。  周囲を見回せば、【山羊の拠り所】の一室である。  それを理解するのに数秒を要し、溢れ出た冷や汗と寝汗が全身をグチャグチャに濡らしていた。

「ハッハッハッハッハ……ふぅーはぁー。……夢、か」

 小刻みな呼吸と、破裂しそうになる程拍動する心臓を諌めるように胸に手を当て、息を大きく吐き出す。  そうして落ち着いた後、汗でべたつく服の不快感を取り除くため、シャワーを浴びようとベッドから降りたイースはふと小首を傾げた。

「ん? こんな傷、あったか?」

 まるで何かで引っ掻かれたような三本傷が、右腕にあった。  既に治りかけで、特に痛みもないが、赤くなっているそれはいつどこで負ったのか、イースの記憶にはなかった。  それを不思議に思いながら服を脱ぎ、狭い浴室に入ってシャワーを浴びていると、それもすぐに忘れてしまう。

「あー、温水は癒されるなぁ……」

 不快感はシャワーから流れる温水によって流れ落ち、心地よさがイースを包む。  頭から温水を被り、途切れなく続く水音だけを聞いていると、不意に、変な音が混じった気がした。  何かを言っているような、そうでないような。  本当に一瞬の事だったので、どうせ空耳だからどうでもいいかと、イースは傷と同じくすぐにその事を忘れてしまう。

『パラ・ベ・ラム』

 イースの耳からニョロリと黒い何かが出て、直ぐに中へと引っ込んだ。  それに気がつくはずもなく、イースの入浴は続く。

 這い寄る粘液の恐怖は、まだ終わらない。


Google Translate

[I can not run away from the phrase country scary story / High stop by mucus that intelligence personnel who have experience of]

[Time axis:? ? ? ]

Starting to sink in Between the sun slowly Mountains, Omagatoki Omagatoki the night comes in a little more.

In the sky and flying about while issued a flight type monsters strange voice, and gouge the flesh is pierces the beak of sharp nails and poison floating down If you find the prey, and rain a large amount of blood on the ground.

Earth beast types such as monsters and reptiles type roar and death throes of applying the wilderness and forests are sound in, it will cut each other's flesh and blood, such as by biting with one swing, or Surudokiba of sharp claws fly arm.

Then in the blood and where odor rises Standing of offal caused the dots in the world, there was a figure of the person to be eaten and eat those.

Powerful and ferocious nocturnal monsters began working in earnest, he fierce competition for survival began today.

But here - Stern belt kingdom King Metropolitan «Ousuvu~eru» for is such a nature, the threat from the sky using such [magic] and [magic drugs], a high sturdy pole ball walls around the threat from the ground It was against by to build.

Foreign enemy monsters that there also be wandering the nearby walls if accustomed to the night by doing so also, it has not been able to the past once to invade.

By walls that have been built up over the years, people also tonight had been guaranteed safety and peace.

MaAkira streetlights has been devised and developed [Philosopher's alien world] such is the king Metropolitan is installed at regular intervals on the road.

It does not go to the way of daytime indeed, but to look at people who do not work the night first is how the surroundings by the light of MaAkira street lights, life of the people, even such time as to bed if originally was followed.

That said, not Nakuseru things completely the darkness night light due MaAkira streetlights.

If where the filling in the vibrant precisely in the time zone of the tavern, such as night, it is enough only to people gather than during the day in the light of the lighting fixture and MaAkira streetlights shop has been installed, but not still stay human compared with daytime location It is very large because.

It 's such that there is no way, but that is working the evil-friendly environment had been finished with nature throughout the Imperial City. Only there is a poor bright location but rather, dark place has become darker.

So more who take to the nature and way home if a close night, the total number of people who go out the outside has become less when compared to the daytime.

And the human is small, and they who are unfamiliar and because it convoluted the dim alley back to get lost almost certainly, one of the travelers were walking.

It wears hooded cloak that or slightly tired by years of use from the top of the leather armor, down two dagger would be for self-defense in the waist, change of clothes and mobile food, the camp equipment such as pots and tents were packed large shoulder lightly the rucksack backpack, is a petite middle-aged man of mediocre appearance.

Brown probably was missing color by sunburn in the many years of journey thin thin as would be seen faintly scalp, invites somewhere melancholy when fluttering Blowin 'in the breeze.

The rough to skin engraved countless scars to appeal the many years of struggle, the movement of the body's or troublesome likely due to age.

Below the slightly drooping pale green eyes, it is also thin, et al. And the bear.

"Oh absolutely, man. § was today's work is also tight, shoulders stiff"

A typical middle-aged man in the shape of a traveler, and exit the dark narrow road, after bent several times corner, destination but it has appeared finally is away - a sign of the cornerstone of the goat] inn Look, it was exhaling relieved.

Its appearance is really an exhausted state, it can be inferred that it would want to rest early, even a little.

Is the destination of middle-aged men [cornerstone of goat] is, but two-story inn typical brick in the Imperial City.

The first floor of the half he has become the dining room and tavern of the inn, but the new customers because it is difficult to arrive that it is not known location basis in advance of the inn is a little less.

But cheap cuisine created by the beauty proprietress of a former adventurer, the amount is large, have all delicious, of triple time.

And there that there are children in the young cute poster girl of the sister of the landlady, the number is filled all seats by nearly patrons daily said that not so many, it's the store's reputation in the neighborhood.

Also relaxed and relaxing calm decoration while small was decorated room on the second floor of the inn are prepared about eight room.

Since the shower is mounted individually while simple in a little unusual, it's popular and tired easily dropped journey.

The minute rates than the average he slightly higher, but it has become a cheap category if from facilities such as a shower.

By the way now, it's a somewhat slow time In the procedures stay in the inn, but the middle-aged man is not able to stay because it is fully booked today because it is booked in advance, it is not a such thing.

If attached to the inn met at the landlady and the poster girl who smile, soft bed that has been installed in the room to stay in middle-aged men will accept gently him.

Wafting from the first floor of the dining room of the inn to the bottom of the middle-aged men as the increasingly closer, delicious likely smell and liquor aroma of a variety of cuisine.

It's just a cheerful laughter of a man who was drunk alcohol but the sound is high-pitched and sound tableware hits.

It such as appetite is severely irritating to the body's tired middle-aged men, they began to appeal to ring the belly and Give me nutrition.

(A~a, when I got to the inn, first Na's rice, yeah. So, in the taste of the meat and vegetables and salt that was burnt spread at once to eat. Mouth the yakitori of Attsuatsu, I do not Taman little hard liquor ...... and by Son )

Middle-aged men can imagine the cuisine and wine that would taste in a little more, in an attempt to Hayameyo the speed at which you walk towards the inn while smiling goofy smile, but was halted.

We halted was the in front of the middle-aged men, and because they blocked the traveling direction came out young people of two people from the alley behind the degree to which one person is finally pass by.

Two people of the clothes that came out was a At the same little more than things of ordinary people who live in the Imperial City, but dark blood of the smell from that is steeped in clothes and body, it was not just a general public.

If some of the smell of blood, there will also be deposited by, such as drunk was the end of the fight.

Appeared young people is also not visible to wealthy likely enough to buy clothes so what to wear, the dirt or not instead of from the condition, and probably less. While washing, it must have turned wearing for many years.

Because even if the injury it will need some amount of money to treat, unless the person can afford is often left to the natural healing and if some of the injury.

So if vigor thriving around, it is not somewhat also be surprised by the smell of blood on the clothing and flesh.

But the smell of blood that two people wear too much too dark.

I steeped in blood that was shed by injury from fights or accidents, Nante stage is staggering increase.

Or killed dozens of bodies a monster, or whether (like racist or sexist) kill a person of the same number.

Its Either way, Hawatari twenty-two people not only smell of blood that had ingrained to say that know well how to kill the organisms, which have to move way or the manual, of footwork and body you are doing with nature and dagger of about centimeter, and but small size could be easily inferred from the manner in dealing with the hatchet Tomahawk of sturdy build.

(Catch on somewhat. But, but was doing the foot of the movement are both awkward. Adventurer or mercenary, retired with injury, is not attached to the job are rough temper, was dabbling in crime, hey or feeling )

When a middle-aged man has finished the consideration of two people who had performed in habit, a man with a dagger opens the mouth without leaving grinning and 嗤.

"Yesss, and Stop uncle"

The swing quickly from side to side a dagger with the hand, put a intimidating.

It is such as to fool tone, but its eyes were staring at the movement of the guard rather than middle-aged men. If Misere unnatural movement, it will come to stab in the dagger without hesitation.

And man who plays a Tomahawk standing next to the dagger of the man in the shoulder as well, open the mouth with a laugh.

"Hey meet the Choi To sore eyes and I do not Hey kun come Koch Innovation Cho? Not it?"

"Oh yeah, Is because should I Kurere in Megumin a little poor us. The time being I do not Hey me dagger waist?"

"I say, I though I get the mon Nowak all"

"Gyahahahaha"

- Unpleasant pole ball, it's laughter that was vulgar.

And middle-aged men, while seen in a shark two people in front of you while I think so in mind eyes, exhaled a deep sigh as his thoughts is transmitted.

"Ha~a~a~a~a~a § ......"

Vividly, pole ball uncomfortable uselessly forced to consume valuable time, and it is Tage said.

[Highwayman highwayman]

Two of them rare in the relatively security good king Tokyo, but it was also not the kind of existence that can not stay.

We plunder the goods from a person with a criminal.

To say, this two people still class of accessories.

Also kill you just to the person that there is no relationship as it's Imperial City is the center of the country, it is not a fellow such as eliminating the extremely cumbersome and head of the screw, such as take away the goods.

It deprives the luggage certainly, but palliative a work is some cunning, indeed intelligence to the extent that it is considered that what happens once you kill a person in such a place can have.

Threatened with words for it, is threatened in the situation, and threatened with a weapon, threaten in number difference.

So prey settle if Kussure, getaway hurt lightly limbs if not succumbed, or beat down to take things.

Since helpless and if chased by armed forces, and will not be until the kill in the last minute.

It's their way.

Now it is gone down for the count, but the street reading of middle-aged men, once it was traveling while they also dreamed as adventurer. But to assume the large injury on the job, we are making a day-to-day way of living and from retired.

It might have had more different future if working seriously is not discouraged even if retired, but they did not do it.

There is a decent talent, there is a bad luck, is not high, but there is no low, and because had a [profession] level of combat system that.

That said stride can not exhibit in injury, but still it was useful if the public partner.

And if Somere a hand in the crime, either from work normally and will certainly easier to earn money, they accounted for taste it.

And that therefore, it would be ironic and because he was led to the result that one day would encounter in their Grim Reaper.

"If trees and mon recent young, to refer to have a still healthy body, pathetic it is to the trifles. At all, and pathetic."

If the two people in front of the middle-aged man, this behavior I do not think only about just pocket money. It is a procedure that has been repeated many times until now, it is because had gotten some familiarity.

No matter to you even if armed, we are middle-aged about men if their can one twist, I thought.

So, I remember the anger in middle-aged men of attitude. Enough to not frenzy is licked to prey without any longer feel them, it was the other party be the same.

"? Ah, what say - Gepyuo"

A man with a dagger is, raise a sudden strange voice, fell plunged forward.

Because it was plight such as buildings were collapsed by almost lost the support, it probably was hit by something or stone, blood flows out from the dagger of a man's head.

From the mouth sprinkled on the ground vigorously the Tosha products, and wound from the instinct to try to ease the pain of the arms to the abdomen, it is in agony while trembling.

Face and clothes go dirty with Tosha thing, but not even be able to worry about such a thing.

"So, just to say the experiment body"

A little fist of middle-aged men harboring red phosphorescent by specific combat maneuver to burst into the abdomen of the dagger man, it was disabling the man of the dagger just a blow.

- Combat maneuver Arts [poison 侵拳 Pozun Fils]

The amount of damage that has passed through, such as by the first place of the status difference and the level difference is enormous, it would have been it just enough to become incapacitated. But [poison 侵拳] to grant state abnormal bad status [poison] to attack target, torment a man of dagger from the remarkably strong body.

Dagger of the man who fell to the ground by considerably exceeding the severe pain the allowable value flowing a greasy sweat from the entire body, PacPac and panting to seek the air. It becomes pale pulling is pale from the face, movement vacant eyes bustling, raise the voiceless scream, consciousness even while agony had been kept at the last minute.

It is said to be not a thorough and injured, but the flesh strength of his own was involved that have been trained, but in this case must have been fortunate person who had fainted.

Fainting and spent the less no time while feeling the pain of the more likely, todome attacks like kicking the ball with full force until the scatter away fully conscious after receiving the head as, because of his consciousness was in certainly.

And if sunk in at least one blow, it would have been it also did not feel the subsequent severe pain Ni.

Dagger of the man is not yet dead, but, as will be convulsions and Bikunbikun had to likely move in immediately.

"To ...? - Agapyo"

Man of the Tomahawk, which could not be understanding what happened to the buddy, after exposure of the stupid face for a moment, received the same attack as the man of the dagger.

One middle-aged man of dark device that is not charged to the bangle that is worn on the wrists - the length of the iron needle that fits in the palm, it was thrown at a high speed by combat maneuver.

Mandible iron needle harboring a red phosphorescent has been hit is broken, venom of purple that is secreted from the tip is affecting the body of the man of Tomahawk from the inside.

While not realize also that this time consciousness disappeared by rapidly around the toxin, it fell to the ground in the movement, such as if the lost bone of squash and whole body.

Middle-aged man who neutralize the armed enemy in an instant it can be said it was small, it carries the two people who have lost their consciousness up to the corner of the alley, shop around the bosom.

It was taken out of the purse of the mercenary, but much of the amount is not included in the wallet. Copper coin copper plate is in most, silver is just only one week.

It is glum.

And while I remember some of the irritation, middle-aged man proceeded to walk to the inn is the first purpose.

Arrived at the inn without even walk much, and finished the simple procedure, luggage and down to the feet to sit in a chair that had been vacant dining room, was immediately ordered Banmeshi.

I came to take the order is the counterpart of the poster girl who is two people, it was a sister of Krull. Age fourteen and younger, innocent smile is lovely. Restless To walk like is reminiscent of the small animals, comparison with Miraru sister with a grown-up charm had more looking better.

"Good evening, the Ys's. Your order?"

"For now, salt two servings of chicken, raw mug large, rest and today recommended, Caesar salad"

"Yesss, the other?"

Write a quick order to purchase order, to Krull to ask whether no other while tilted her Kokubi, middle-aged men - Ys is smiling, but eyes were said to Krull not help laughing.

and "Yeah, Well, I'm have brought the two people who are Chima~tsu sleeping outside now, roll cabbage ..... minute carrying or not you do? Of course cuisine in the room such as that person is, that wrapped the meat in vegetables ... and ask "

"...... Yesss, I know. It 's, but please have a little waiting. Chitin and because you cooked ..."

"Oh, I leave."

Ys smiled really what this time to look at the cute laugh Krull, and waited while I think does not come fast cooking even a little.

~ P (= 3 =) p ~

After eating until you are satisfied the rice, Ys enter using the key to the room that I stay.

The single beds that have been multiplied by the white sheets of being placed in the center, on its side there is a lockable storage box for putting things, colorful flowers that are go in a vase in the bay window, hanging from the ceiling down Cantera type magic item that has been, other's bits and pieces to furniture and decorative objects of a certain room.

Although immediately shower room next to the entrance has been installed, Ys will lower the luggage back to the bed beside past it, and stood in front of a small painting that was hung on the wall.

Painting in the things that white dress girl is drawn nestled with blue brook, and he yl certainly draw well, but it is not expensive goods.

This is what poor [painter painter] has been made for pocket money, but only props merely to produce the atmosphere of the room.

But in the back of this painting, the phrase secret is hidden.

"Well, number ......"

On the wall at the back of the painting, a small metal plate that has been crafted so as not to stand out has been embedded. 0 metal plate numbers carved of up to 9, will be pressed a number assigned by the Ys.

When the ten-digit number is pressed all, change has occurred in the room.

Part of the right next to the wall of the metal plate is slid to the left and right, he secret spiral staircase descend below it has reveal the figure.

The room should think whether staircase leading to the first floor because there on the second floor, clearly below the first floor, is a deep stairs enough to go then in the basement.

Since Cantera is suspended some as a light source on the walls, sight is not so bad.

"Sir Tet, I wonder is this report not reluctant ......"

The spiral staircase, Ys go down.

Boots iron plate for prevention has been charged Fuminuki is firmly step wooden staircase.

So if ordinary trees creaking, would footsteps is heard.

But, Ys continued down the stairs in silence. never breath sounds even come hear even listened.

It is a thing of proven human Ys have received special training, actually Ys is one of the intelligence agents that infiltrated the kingdom from other countries.

Also This time Ys came here from such a situation, it was because I came to the periodic report to his boss are here is a base for secret.

And lead to the end of the stairs, just door in front of the eye.

This previously has been the headquarters in the kingdom organization Ys belongs is spread extremely high basement was built with its own improvements and remodeling a part of the sewage that has been spread around the king Metropolitan underground sound insulation ing.

This is of course illegal, but the first place intelligence personnel of other countries is not even supposed to worry about such a thing.

Then, when its presence is discovered or imprisoned in the question-and-answer useless without trial, or so would have been executed, with the exception of the brute force, such as breaking the wall to enter into this room, you can either use a spiral staircase that has been Ys is just down, It was so as not to put only from the escape path hidden in one strokes of the underpass.

and "rude to you, captain."

After three times of knock, and enter it in turn the doorknob without waiting for a reply, had spread a room that is somewhat inconsistent that there has to be organized is not tidy.

In the center is placed a huge table for the conference, has been placed a variety of secret documents on it. Some things that documents are rounded, there were also those which remain spread casually.

The jail for you put a prisoner is placed on the right side of the wall of the room, had now also been put about actually two people.

It's a young man who has just entangled in Ys us to put are. It is at the time of the meal of being in jail, it is nothing but to because two people had been asked to put in jail in the basement in the interaction with the Krull.

They became a prisoner in this way, plans new poison that now Ys we are to formulate it is crushed to use as an experimental body for examining whether or not to act on the organisms, whether the appropriate amount of medicine to detoxify the degree heck any, etc. It is there.

Instead of iron fence in jail, special glass is fitted, which is enhanced by the magic.

Although glass there is visible from here, the magic mirror processing to ensure that here is not visible had been subjected to from there.

So subjected to simple treatment, two people who have come to move finally does not know all the current situation, like you have a panic was well understood from Ys.

Tables and chairs for Personal are arranged some of the left wall, a door leading to nap chamber is provided.

And I have been sleeping in there some and if usually, but seems absent have apparently Dehara~tsu everyone today.

Are you in the room, it was just only two people, including Ys.

Finally, the location is the deepest of the room is right in front of the door there is a desk and chair for the captain to preside here, had already sat himself.

Sit in a chair is the boss of Ys, Kitsunetora people Foster family of great god that is genuinely respected. Its name Fargue-folk-Taido.

Long ago in the four tails of fox who Fox tail came from the east, and been chosen: lowest seat of the family that inherited the blood of the tiger who word Tiger, which celebrated the daughter-in-law overthrew it, mix the different ability and high physical ability of innate It was a veteran that boasts a unique combat ability to match.

While slightly older than Ys, its appearance is a youthful thing.

and "was slow Na, or hear the contact"

"Hash"

Yellow hair and fox ears, thin and sharp, but somewhere tenderness of a pair of eyes, fearless tiger appearance, uniforms wrap the big frame ultrabuff had tones and yellow and white firm and whack.

Military uniform that belongs or has been uniquely modified so that it does not know of anywhere in the country is very became the Fargue, thick saber that was immediately put aside the favor even more its charm.

If about Ys washable cut the neck between the blink one he showed the agonizing face in response to the report.

"Again black apostle demon ...... or"

"Yes, from he came, the back of the man that disappeared Kazushirezu. There is no evidence that evidence to conclude the criminal, whether almost certainly"

and "Yes, I Na ......"

Seeds to make the current plague Ys our intelligence personnel, with only recently came was that of demon who load there When I hog the topic of the Imperial City.

And confronted by the overwhelming military power in the arena, figure that is wandering the castle town while escort is hired to princess has been witnessed many times.

However, there is no particular problem if this only.

Only increased the information to be collected if from Ys us, because of no direct harm.

But, after a while from the demon who appeared, intelligence personnel have sunk to the kingdom, such as the Ys who are, including some who in other countries, has been one after another repeat the mystery of the disappearance.

Situation such as various and different, but it is no longer stay imperceptibly in common. Also Ys our organization, it about missing person is out.

Maybe then, it might also have those who are no longer already residence is in those who do not come here.

And extent the cause to explore if Sagure, was demon who Ken of the dangle its shadow.

Work Ys was doing this also was to collect information on all its relationships.

By the way, he information collection is accustomed to working patterns, but maybe yourself, the Ys as I think I should think that mentally we are also physically and cumulative fatigue has been a usually more mono.

"Once, Na might say is better to retreat to their home country. But, Sonaruto First of all ......"

End you've worried about wrinkle between the eyebrows, Fargue issued a future policy to mouth.

It is targeted by enemy identity is not clear, to go home because the risk has increased.

It may seem as it only was blown to timid wind If you heard, but if from Fargue who are digesting indeed nine percent of the work in the kingdom, it was a good suitable time also back to the home country is soon pretext to report .

However Sonaruto, it often must be many things done.

"Well, it is N ...... want this for a fight indeed?"

It's Ys to agree to Fargue of opinion is the boss, but I felt that I heard a small while strange sound.

...... Zururi, Zururi. It is almost sound like Howe mucus.

"I do? What did you do, Ys"

Remember suspicious to Ys of action, Fargue you looked up and stopped temporarily cyan Ibuka shim.

Head of fox ears, moving the question a Pikopiko. Gently Otonai put the face of the tiger, it was like a stuffed toy.

The "say, or something strange sound did not?"

"So do? Apart I ...... No, Wait a minute."

Even Fargue temporarily that is nearly denied, it was arrived the sound.

...... Zururi, Zururi. Mucus is a sound like crawl.

To the sound that inspire the where and without discomfort, wrinkles and more between the eyebrows of Fargue, sincerely or sharp fangs vigilance began to appear with the tidbit.

Currently, there are only only two people of Ys and Fargue in this room.

Although at the time being the area just experiment body to jail next, because each other's sound and vibration by soundproofing material has been absorbed, there is no supposed to hear something.

And to say that he, strange sound was heard in the room.

It is obvious accident.

As soon as you understand it, it was full of heavy air, such as the temperature is lowered at once of the room. Two of vigilance that has been waging a fight in a dark place that can not be released from my daily life is, jump up to the maximum value in an instant.

...... Zururi, Zururi. sound mucus Howe to.

"What, you do not have"

Fargue is rising from a chair, it pulled the saber favorite from the sheath.

Yellow Kenmi reflects the light that illuminates the room, I shine and gleaming. Saber sharp sword that overcame the veteran with the owner Fargue is, start sounding as if seeking prey.

"Mushi, is that? ... And Toka entering from Dokokashira"

"No, it is not. Kind of insects in the magic drugs and to try not to put, it should not be that kind of Ma蟲 also enter most. ... Well you still he is Na was good, this is bad more nature "

Remove the Tetsuhari of injecting a dagger and poison of the poison wet from the bosom, the Ys of the opinion that vigilance around Fargue was rejected.

From experience gained in high search operation capabilities and fight as a beast who, identity while not clearly also Fargue rather than the already Mushi of the kind, he had to fathom that it is more troublesome presence.

Slight guard also gird without two of the line-of-sight nature and toward the shadows is hidden is likely something, a slight sound also Mai miss and finished the ear, smell the smell is crowned catching the nose.

Exploring the unidentified signs using the sensory organs of sharp beast people, but I do not know anything after all.

Only chills running in two people does not change, vigilance is even more strongly.

Zururi, Zururi. Mucus hear sounds like crawl stop by.

"This is, what's. Heck, what is it?"

Nape of Fargue is bubbling millet stand.

And to feel the dangerous something approaching, but the body that shows the reaction with nature. Kitsunemimi is trembling in something unidentified, tiger face was raised Gururu and growl in the bared fangs.

- Zururi, Zururi. The sound of mucus is due-high, hear clearly.

Than ever before, much is near.

And lighting that illuminates the room, began to suddenly flashing. Two people look around in a hurry to be surprised to it, saw it in a room light and dark is switched violently.

"...... Captain, there"

And reached there, Ys finally found that accident.

The accident visible was happening, it was not from the room two people are.

Trembling fingertips, it is directed to the cause of the accident.

"Find ...... That zombie Snail, not? Is similar, you look different as"

Fargue without having to neglect the periphery of the vigilance, saw the direction in which the Ys is Pointing.

Young people two people placed latched as an experimental body, rampaged without being able to completely understand the current

situation, the voice is not heard was screaming something certainly, jail.

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