Several hundreds of people: beastkin, adults, children; they were all collapsed on the ground piled up.
(…A-Are they dead?) (Makoto)
In my eyes, it looked like a mountain of corpses.
The surreal sight made my body freeze.
“Damn it! Why has this happened?!”
“How can this be?! Oi, get a hold of yourself!”
The Enforcement Knight, the Guardian Knight Old Man, and the knights run to the people closeby.
I hurriedly follow them as well.
I nervously approach one of the people, and touch their face.
Their skin is still warm.
Their chest is going up and down slightly.
I can hear faint breathing.
T-That’s a relief.
They are not dead.
However, they are all unconscious, and even when we call them, they are not waking up.
Ooh! Old Man, you can use healing magic?
Even though he looks like the rowdy type, he is a skillful one!
All the Water Templars seem to be able to use healing magic, and were healing the unconscious people.
There’s no Water Spirits, so I can’t use healing magic which is mid rank magic.
“There’s no one from the Snake Church here! The ones here are all people that were slaves! Moreover, the reason is unknown, but they are all close to dead. Bring healers over here quickly!”
The Enforcement Knight seemed to be calling for reinforcements with what looks like a magic tool.
I can’t use healing magic and don’t have any means to call for help.
And so, I observe the collapsed people in detail.
I felt something was weird.
The mana in their bodies is outstandingly low.
I think their stamina has also lowered.
It is as if their lifeforce has been sucked out from them…
And I am familiar with this state.
“Old Man, do you have a Soul Book? If possible, a blank one.” (Makoto)
“No, I don’t, but…what will you be using it for?”
“Hero-dono! Did you find out the reason for this?!”
I called the Guardian Knight Old Man, and the Enforcement Knight reacted.
“They most likely used a Sacrificial Te—Self-destruction magic. No, made to use it.” (Makoto)
I deduce from my past experiences.
The sensation of that time where my mental strength and the stamina in my body was taken away resurfaced in my mind.
I have also used self-destruction magic and lost consciousness from it.
“The one where you use your lifespan in exchange for activating a powerful spell… That’s supposed to be forbidden magic!”
The Guardian Knight Old Man raised his voice.
“The use of self-destruction magic is strictly forbidden by the Goddess Church. In the first place, the way to use it is not even known… How…can you tell it apart with such certainty, Hero-dono?”
It certainly would be strange for me to know.
“The Great Sage-sama taught me about it.” (Makoto)
It should be fine if I just say that.
“The Great Sage-sama… That personage who is the number one mage of the continent and has 1,000 years of knowledge, huh… That certainly does make sense.”
“And so, I would like to investigate their lifespan. Is there any good method?” (Makoto)
If we had a Soul Book, we should be able to investigate their lifespan though.
“In that case, there’s no problem. I can use magic that can check lifespans.”
“Hoh, there’s that kind of magic?” (Makoto)
I didn’t know.
“It reveals the Status and Skills of the other party, so I normally don’t use it without the consent of the person, but…this is currently an emergency. I will apologize later.”
The Enforcement Knight touched the forehead of a child and muttered a chant.
A faint light shines.
It is the same light as the time when the Soul Book is used.
“…How can this be…”
The Enforcement Knight warped his face and muttered this.
“What was the result?” (Makoto)
“The lifespan of this child has been reduced to only a few days.”
“A few days?! What a cruel thing to do!”
What the Enforcement Knight said made the Guardian Knight Old Man shout in anger.
“What will happen to this child…to these people here?” (Makoto)
Is there anything we can do?
“It is okay. If we bring them to the Oracle-sama, we can ask Sol-sama to extend their lifespan… A fitting price will be required though.”
“It refers to the offerings, Hero-dono.”
I didn’t understand well what the Enforcement Knight-san said and tilted my head, and the Old Man told me.
Right! In this world you can buy lifespan with money!
“But wouldn’t it be a really high price?” (Makoto)
“Yes…but there’s no other method. I will consult about this with his Majesty the King.”
I was worried about whether the Fire Country that runs on the survival of the fittest would even be putting any concern about the lives of slaves, but it seems like -at the very least- the Enforcement Knight here has no intentions of abandoning the people here.
That’s a relief.
At that moment, I heard the footsteps of many people approaching.
“Oi, what’s this?!” “There’s no one of the Snake Church?!” “Impossible. This was foretold to us by the Fire Goddess-sama!”
Many knights of the Fire Country began to appear.
There’s healer-looking people within them.
“Begin with the people who seem the most weakened!”
“The ones with a free hand! Carry them outside. This is way too cramped to use healing in.”
“There’s people from another country here, but is it okay to tell them about the escape route?!”
“It is okay. This is an emergency. I have received permission from General Tariska.”
Orders are being thrown busily.
The healers are prioritizing the critical ones and doing medical examinations.
The Enforcement Knight is giving orders to the knights that came.
The Guardian Knight Old Man and I were helping out in carrying the people to the outside through the escape route.
With my strength, I could only manage to carry children though…
(My low stats are really vexing…) (Makoto)
Complaining about it at this late in time won’t solve anything.
Gotta move my legs.
Reinforcements came one after the other, and the several hundreds of unconscious slaves in the place had been reduced to around half the number.
“Hero-dono, we will take over here, so how about going back to cheer for Sasaki Aya-dono?”
The Old Man showed consideration for me.
“No, I will stay here till everyone is carried away.” (Makoto)
I don’t think Sa-san would be happy about it if she were to know that I left people in need to go to where she is.
We made round trips from the underground to the surface.
A few hours later, we finished carrying everyone.
It seems like they will be carried to the church in order of seriousness.
There doesn’t seem to be anything for us to do anymore, is what I was thinking when the Enforcement Knight came to where we were.
“Hero Makoto-dono, Water Country Knights, you have been a great help. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any deaths.”
“That’s what’s most important.”
The Old Man smiles at the words of the Enforcement Knight.
“What is it that the Snake Church wanted to accomplish with this exactly?” (Makoto)
Used large sums of money to buy slaves, had them use self-destruction magic to the very edge of their lifespan…
The Enforcement Knight made a grim expression at what I said.
“We are currently arranging a search squad and chasing them after the Snake Church. We have apprehended all the church people who have allowed them to swim until now and we are interrogating them, but we haven’t obtained any useful information.”
“Hasn’t their plan fallen due to our arrival?”
“It would be great if that were the case…”
I listen to the conversation of the two while using Clear Mind to retrace the events of today.
At that moment, a voice resonated in my head.
(Makoto, the slaves were made to use a sacrificial technique and had their lifespan taken. Even I don’t know what they are trying to do with that, and…this is most likely the same with Eir and Sol.) (Noah)
(Even you, Noah-sama?) (Makoto)
(The matter this time seems to be under the influence of believers who have strong divine protection from Typhon. They are thoroughly hiding the future. We can only tell that ‘something’ will happen. Be careful.) (Noah)
(Understood. Thanks, Noah-sama.) (Makoto)
I thanked the Goddess.
“It would be better to learn about the spell they tried to activate by using the lifespan of the slaves.” (Makoto)
The Enforcement Knight and the Old Man directed their gazes at me when I spoke.
“Didn’t the self-destruction magic draw a blank? Nothing has happened, Hero-dono. Isn’t self-destruction magic a technique that activates a spell on the expense of the body?”
“No, self-destruction magic is simply a technique that uses lifespan in order to compensate for insufficient mana, so the fact that their lifespan has been lowered must mean that some kind of spell has been used.” (Makoto)
I refuted the statement of the Old Man.
“Hero Makoto-dono, we have no knowledge of self-destruction magic. Anything’s fine, so can you please tell us what you have noticed?”
The Enforcement Knight lowered his head with a serious expression.
This person really is a serious and earnest guy.
I carefully think in order to answer this, and then I speak.
“Regarding the self-destruction magic, it is as I said before; it is simply a means to compensate for insufficient mana… What I will be saying from here on is just mere speculation, but I will be speaking based on the events connected to the Snake Church on this occasion.” (Makoto)
If it is as Noah-sama said, there should be no mistake.
The two nod lightly at my words.
“The Snake Church doesn’t act alone in most cases. In the Water Country, it was the Taboo Giant; in the Sun Country, the flying dragons and the rampage of monsters; in Makkaren, there was also a rampage of monsters and they also brought an Ancient Dragon; in the Wood Country, a direct subordinate of the Beast King and a Demon Lord… In that case, they might have some outside force working for them this time around too.” (Makoto)
“And you are saying that’s the slave purchases?”
The Enforcement Knight asks.
“But they have let go of all of those slaves here, Hero-dono.”
“As the Old Man said, they are not thinking of the slaves as a fighting force. They were simply fuel for some spell, and judging from the past patterns, the Snake Church often uses monsters.” (Makoto)
“Then, are you saying they are trying to cause a monster stampede in the Fire Country?!”
The Old Man raises his voice.
The Fire Country knights were surprised and looked over here.
The Enforcement Knight hurriedly took out a magic tool for communication.
“Tell the lookouts of the capital to confirm at once whether there’s a stampede of monsters approaching!”
He acts fast.
“Hero-dono, thank you very much. I was focusing my attention in not letting the Snake Church escape from the capital, but there certainly is the possibility of being targeted from outside. I have told them to prepare in the case of an outside attack.”
The Enforcement Knight said.
“Then, it should be okay if we are just careful for monsters, right?!”
The Old Man and the Water Templars were making faces as if saying things have been resolved.
Aren’t the Water Country people too optimistic?
It is a good trait of them, but not a reassuring one when a war with the Great Demon Lord is approaching.
“Thank you very much, Hero-dono. I will be searching for the Snake Church with the search squad. How about returning to the Martial Arts Tournament, Hero-dono? Your warrior comrade is participating, right? If she has won her way, it should be around the finals now.”
Saying this, the Enforcement Knight ran off.
He was a good young man to the very end.
“Then, let’s return to where Sofia-sama is, Hero-dono.”
“Yeah, Old Man.” (Makoto)
The Water Templars and I hurry to the colosseum.
We participated in the Snake Church subjugation from the morning, but it is already way past noon.
Has Sa-san safely won her way?
On the way, I spoke to the Old Man as we ran to the colosseum.
“Old Man, have you participated in the Martial Arts Tournament of the Fire Country before?” (Makoto)
“In the past, one time only… Sadly to say, I was defeated in the preliminaries.”
“I-I see.” (Makoto)
I have asked something bad.
“It is rare for Water Country warriors to win through even the preliminaries in the first place. But if it is Aya-dono, I am sure she will be able to get a pretty high spot!”
“Yeah, if it is Sa-san, I am sure she still remains.” (Makoto)
By the way, finishing the Martial Arts Tournament in one day is apparently the nature of the impatient citizens.
I feel like it would be better to stretch it to several days for the sake of entertainment though.
By the way, the wounds are treated in the moment by the best healers of the Fire Country, so there’s apparently no problems with it.
While we were having that conversation, the colosseum entered our sights.
The Old Man showed his identification and crossed the gate.
When we entered, we heard the cheers from the morning…no, cheers that were even higher than that.
They are pretty heated up.
(Sorry for being late… Wonder how Sa-san is doing.) (Makoto)
I searched for Lucy and Furiae-san in the participant related seats.
At that moment, I heard a voice amplified with magic.
“Winner of the Fire Country’s Martial Arts Tournament, Sasaki Ayaaaaaa!!”
Within all the cheers, the shout of the announcer reached my ears.
<TLN Clarification: The tournament and the exhibition match with Olga are two different things.>