Chapter 18 – A Malicious Scheme
It was a gloomy room filled with the smell of mold and plastered with dust all over. Therese and Doris can be seen inside that room, sitting on the floor while holding each other.
The blanket that was given to them is only enough for one. In order to not losing their body heat, they curl their body as small as possible and put on that blanket together.
“Rea~lly…… I have heard of their rumor but I don’t think that those guys are this much of an unreasonable reckless bunch. Right~? Therese~”
“That’s… right nanodesu* do you know where are we now nanodeshouka?”
“There are a lot of still well maintained unused castle from the warring era in Sirkaberia so yeah~. And we can’t see the outside view making it impossible to guess where this place is. But from how we shouldn’t pass out for that long, so I guess we aren’t that far off from the capital”
Because they hold each other body closely, Doris can feel that Therese is shaking from fear. Because of that she did her best to stay energetic and make her voice as bright as possible in order to make Therese calm down a bit. With Therese who gives the aura that makes people wants to protect her and Doris tendency to act as the older sister, Doris can’t help doing that. But in truth, acting like that helps her subsides her fear.
(But really, to attack the royal academy student when we are having a field work lesson. Those guys really are not normal)
Yeah, the two girls’ location now is not in the capital. They have been kidnapped when they are having a field work lesson in the forest near the capital. The field work lesson is a practical lesson where the students practice their practical skill like, in this field work case, gathering herbal plants.
Of course they have soldiers to guard them and there is also the teacher that tries to defend them in the attacks but they still got kidnapped in the end. And just to be clear, the student of the academy isn’t a pushover either. The entire student got trainings in the field of self defense and even the students who have aptitude toward magic can already cast arrays of low to mid level attack magic.
Gotten kidnapped this easily was really something that they could not even imagine to happen with that kind of solid defense line. But reality is cruel.
Those guys that is clad in black manages to repel the teacher and bodyguards in an instant and kidnap Therese and Doris that is keep on resisting them until the end.
(But why did the one that keep on resisting until the last are just the two of us? Well doesn’t matter, even if I think hard about it I will never know the answer anyway~)
Their hand wasn’t tied and their clothing also still intact. With that condition of course they will think of escaping away from their kidnapper but the door and wall surrounding them has been enhanced with a magic sealing effect. Therese isn’t much help in the muscle department and Doris also can’t do anything without any decent weapon to break the wall and door in the room so in the end they just meekly wait for a chance to escape.
With the pocket watch that is a set with their uniform they can tell what time is now but after they done checking, they realized that it hasn’t been long since the kidnapping began.
It was still too fast to hope for any rescue party to come.
Moreover the chance that help will come is extremely low. They don’t know the fate of the other classmates and teacher that were with them. If in the worst case they are all eliminated then rescue will definitely not come. And even if there are no casualties and the other managed to call for help, the chance of they being done in first by the kidnapper is overwhelmingly bigger than the rescue team manages to find their location first.
There’s nothing can be done… all of them are futile… Doris heart is slowly dyed in the black color of despair.
Even if she tries to act fearless, in the end she is still a girl. Doris can already imagine what kind of ill fate will befall them in this kind of situation. She is no longer a kid who doesn’t know about the world.
But such dark feeling was cleared every time she look at how her little best friend tried her best to not cry by holding her mouth frantically beside her. Therese is her heart only support now.
(I must make sure to save Therese whatever the cost!)
And the girl’s resolution gets painted over by the deep darkness of the night sky.
“The student of the academy was attacked you say!?”
Renya and his companion who are having a pleasant chat in their inn lobby got disrupted by the sudden bad news that was brought by Therese friends, Rudy and Russel. Both of them have some difficulty breathing because they push their body to the limit to bring this news as fast as they can to Renya by running.
They were also participating in the field trip lesson that happened earlier today and also receives the attack. But they manage to escape in time unscathed. But then they can’t find their other two friends in the gathering area no matter how long they wait. Seeing the teachers’ expressions who are bewildered, they somehow managed to know the whole picture of the attack and understand that their other two friends are not being safe.
Knowing the situation, Rudy tried to rush back to help those two but Russel manages to stop him from doing anything reckless. He persuades Rudy to report this trouble to Renya as soon as possible instead. Of course Rudy was reluctant at first but aside from the fact that neither government official nor the guild will soon move to the rescue, if 2 rookies like them rushing in to search Therese and Doris at random they definitely will fail. So Rudy, while feeling really reluctant with that idea, still agrees to report this matter to Renya.
“I understand. Eventhough it was abrupt, leave the rest to us”
“HAA!? What are you saying? I can’t just leave them in the hand of someone like you can’t I? And do you even know where they got kidnapped? Don’t say empty promises like that easily dammit!”
“I will hear your complain later but please be quiet for a bit. I can’t concentrate”
Rudy isn’t in a state where he can be easily calmed down. That’s why Renya decides to just ignores him for now and concentrate to the depth of his own consciousness.
(I have already talk a few times with Therese. She is not a stranger for me and it should apply too for Therese… in that case… I can!)
With his body as the center, a ripple of divine power spreads throughout the area around the capital that it reaches until the far end of the continent.
Of course the ripple isn’t something that is visible to normal human eyes. In that place, the one who aware of what Renya do are only Floria and Elvira.
The area inside that divine power ripple is a point of view that can only be seen by the gods.
It automatically eliminates other useless information and focuses only on searching what the user wants. In this case, the divine energy ripple search for Therese figure and only her.
After the ripple found the target, it mapped the surrounding area around Therese into some kind of visual image.
It marks the place and composes the information within.
After doing all that, the divine power ripple reverberate back to Renya position by using Therese as reflector. With that, Renya can tell which way and calculate how far Therese location is now.
Renya controls his divine power, the power of god that still unfamiliar to him, with all his concentration and he somehow was able to find out where Therese location now.
“…… From the capital to the northeast…… inside the forest…… a fortress……”
“The fortress in the forest located northeast of the capital? ...... !! Renya-san, that must be one of the fortress that was used in the warring time and is now abandoned! Excuse me but can I borrow a map?”
Russel without even a speck doubts to the things that Renya whisper in his meditation, takes the important information from it, and manages to arrived at a conclusion in an instant. And then he points a certain part in the old map that is spread over in the table.
“This one. We once have a practical combat training in that place. And in that direction there are none other fortress beside this one so this must be it”
“Is that so… it’s not that far from here. If we rush now we might make it”
“Oi! From where did you know such thing!?
“Err, well I am also worried about Therese you know? So I make her bring a special magic item that I gave her. At least, as long as that device still giving off signal then she must still be alive”
Of course it was a lie. But telling the truth to them in this situation is troublesome and they are racing against time here. It was easier for Renya to tell them a believe-able lie so he can get into action quicly.
“Let’s go girls. I’m worried about those two”
“As you wish!”
As soon as they reply, the three girls of Renya party rush out from the inn. Renya follows them from behind when suddenly Rudy calls him.
“What is it?”
“……… Those two…… please help them”
With his voice that filled with mortification from his own weak and inexperienced self, Rudy plead to Renya to help his friends. Renya answer him with a short, dependable answer.
“After this we will go tell the academy and the guild”
“Ah, use my name when you report that information. My name should increase the info credibility”
Russel nods. This time Renya rush out for real.
Renya was amazed by the two schoolboy determination. Especially Rudy who is still lacks maturity and has a bad temper. It was amazing that he was able to hold himself to not do anything rash in this kind of situation and trust Renya to handle it.
He must want to rush out himself in this kind of situation and entrusting it to other people must give him a crushing feeling of powerlessness.
As the same fellow men, he can easily imagine how much the pain will tear apart his heart if he was to fall into the same situation as him. On top of it that boy still understand his powerlessness and still able to say ‘please’ to Renya.
He was just an acquaintance that he just knows and they don’t talk to each other much.
That kind of disposition, even if he was once a human that is just rising up and becoming a god recently, he still wants to answer Rudy’s determination no matter what it takes!
(And to achieve that… I won’t be picky with the method)
This body from the start is a thing that he gets by using all kind of things and technique that is available to finally risen to the seat of the war god.
For the sake of Therese and Doris, Renya release all the limiter that is shackling him from his inside.
The four of them run without speaking any words in the middle of the night. Their figures are soon to disappear in the darkness. As soon as they pass the town gate, they literally ‘fly’ to their destination.
The moon shining brightly on the heaven illuminates the fort.
Therese and Doris, who was brought to the wide ground that spread in the outdoors of the fort, had been wary of their surroundings while cuddling each other for a while.
They are surrounded by high walls.
Weeds growing wild everywhere, the wide ground that must been well maintained in the past is now ruined to the most from being exposed to winds and rains for who knows how many years.
And numerous people that wears black robe surrounds them.
Their height are not the same making a sharp undulation between them, in addition they also can’t tell those people that is clad in black age or gender because of the black hood that is covering their face.
Their figures that are bathed in the light of the surrounding torches making those people clad in black seems more terrifying in Therese’s and Doris’ eyes.
The only a man that shows his face firmly is only the one that stands in front of the out of place altar
He has long brown unkempt hairs that reach the shoulder that seems to never gotten any care.
The man's face that is illuminated by the torch in the vicinity of the altar looks very unhealthy, there is a deep dark color under his eyes, and those eyes also only minisculy opened, it gives an eerie because you can’t tell where those eyes are being pointed at
The man suddenly changes his look when the two prisoners were brought up close to his field of vision.
Therese and Doris naturally shocked by the man sudden changes.
"First of all, I want to apologize for our rough invitation for our female guest"
"If you gonna apologize then how about letting us go?"
Although what she says is the most logical answer, it was just Doris trying to put up brave front so she won’t get swallowed by the eerie atmosphere around her.
After all both their hands and feet are not being tied, they can also use magic if they want. But the number on that side is just too overwhelming. She keeps forcefully encourage herself that there are still chances to escape and still keep up a brave front unyielding.
She don’t think even a bit that she can run away from this many people but she have to keep her mind positive so she can protect her little friend.
“If it was about that I'm so sorry for that we can’t fulfill that appeal. Tonight we are having an especially gorgeous moon, it is a wonderful night suitable enough to present a tribute to our great lord. And that tribute to be sacrificial lamb will be you two girls here, you two girls are precious offerings for our great lord. Because of that reason, the request that you appeal to us before is, truly regrettably, very truly regrettably, rejected!"
The man with an over exaggerated gesture rejects Doris’ appeal.
The man eye that looks dead at first suddenly flared up enigmatically like a madman. With eyes that give of the light of a lunatic, he speaks out loud in a tone like a lunatic do.
Doris who saw that extreme expression change was flinched completely by it. Therese also got frightened for encountering the human type that she never encounter before. It really can’t be helped from thinking of how dangerous the opponent acts.
"Ah pardon me, in time like this where the conditions for offering tributes are fulfilled I can’t help but to get too excited.... Because on this special time, I can feel that the descent of out Almighty lord is getting closer and closer even by just a bit. Oh the JOY! The SCREAM! The TERROR! It shook my heart from its very core, a special night that even made the great lord's body tremble in happiness!"
The man have already too much drunk in whatever god it was and scream his fanaticism loudly. The people that surrounds them doesn’t react to any of the man word, they just quietly stand the looking at Therese and Doris. Their lack of human emotion plant fear in the two people heart and tied them down with an invisible chain to this place.
"Well now, we have arranged two altars in front of you two."
As the man said so, Doris turns her line-of-sight bellow, certainly there are two altars placed on the ground that is made from new material that is different from the other things in the surrounding.
It was just a simple hexagonal shaped something. It also doesn’t have any thickness, except for the eerie spell like pattern that is surrounding the hexagon circumference in two lines, that something doesn’t have any other thing worth mentioning. However, the paint that is used for the left and the right ‘altar’ seems to be different. Thanks to the faint light that illuminates that something, she can barely recognizes that the left one is red colored, and the right is blue colored.
"Then allow me to test how deep you two ladies relationship is"
And with a snap from the man finger, something weird starts to happen.
"E ...... Eh......? A, Ugh, aAAAA......!"
"Ugh ...... GAAAH, Wha, what is this...... It hurts?!"
The pain isn’t that unbearable but, the two girl experienced pain that is like having all of your body strangled.
The pain of the strangle they felt is like having their inner organ directly wringed out, the pain makes them having a little difficulty in breathing.
"The red altar will cancel the magic that was cast to you ladies which will stop the pain you experienced now while the blue altar reversely will strengthen the magic and doubled the pain. However, each altar can only be used once. So come! And choose! But but but~ there are no option for you two ladies to keep holding on the pain there. If it went like that we won’t be having any fun, and our great lord also won’t be pleased by it you hear! Hihihihihi! Ah, we don’t mind if you can’t choose either too. If that were to happen where you aren’t willing to choose any then my slaves here will put you in whether altar they see fit for you!"
Unable to hold out from the pain, the two girls fall to their knees. And to top it off, the voice of the fanatic leader that ridicule them stir up their head and shake them to their very core.
This kind of pain is already making it hard to keep one consciousness and they are really going to double it? What kind of sick joke is that? But Doris can’t afford such wishful thinking seeing her little stout hearted little friend Therese trying her best to hold the pain, she can’t just leave her in pain like that.
And Doris quickly made her decision.
Actually, after graduation Doris will work as a trainee in the warrior guild. She takes pride in her well trained body and by the fact that she should be tougher than Therese who is an intellectual type.
Don’t know whether it was because of the pain or it was because of the inhuman option that is given to them, She held Therese arm who didn’t make any move and keep crouching in the ground.
"U, uhh ...... Dori ... s-san? What... are you…"
"Yea yea, if it was just this much then it will not be too much problem for me. You should get some rest Therese"
Doris then lightly carries Therese and put her inside the red altar without any hesitation.
Therese knows what Doris going to do and tries to stop her but before she can do anything Doris quickly stood in the blue altar.
The altars are activated as soon as the two people get inside their respective altars. The two girls then got surrounded by a pale green light wall. That wall of light is a kind of barrier, the two girls quickly in almost the same time understand that it is impossible for them to break with their own power.
"Doris-san! Doris-san! Why?!"
Eventhough Therese understands that she can’t break the barrier, she just keep on hitting the barrier wall with all she had barehanded.
Therese expression that is filled with pathos hurt Doris’ inside a bit but it was better than letting Therese experience the double pain. With that in mind, Doris then turns her face to the man.
"Well well what do we have here, such a brave person you are to choose saving your friend without any hesitation. And the lady over there is also, seems to be concerned about your well being too. You ladies friendship is indeed a deep one just as we have witness before"
From how the man says that, they realize that the attack that happened before to the academy was just their plan to find a pair of friends that has deep affection with each other to be used as a sacrifice. But realizing that now won’t help them much in this current situation.
The magic circle have already been invoked, the pain that torture her body will soon get doubled, Doris close her eyes to get herself ready when that time comes but…
“But you know what? That would be boring"
That scream was not coming from Doris but it was from Therese.
Doris who are surprised by the sudden scream look at Therese and she realized something had happened to her body.
The pain that hurt her a few seconds ago are gone.
"Hey! What does this mean!"
“Well well, I had hoped for such a drama where you ladies worried more about it and start blaming each other for this misfortune but how you made your decision is truly heroic and beautiful. And thanks for your heroic sacrifices… the swapped altar function now can show its true worth."
This man, what did he just say.
"S, So that means...... No way."
"That’s right, perfectly correct, in fact now, the one that is exposed to the doubled pain is not you, but your friend that you tried to save!"
"So you trick me...? Hey ...... Then ......"
"And another right answer! Your action which tries to help your friend has been backfired and made her got even more hurt! So how is it? What did you feel right now? Maybe in fact you secretly feel relieved because the misfortune didn’t really come to you? Everyone does hate pain doesn’t it?"
"Don’t you dare joke about this!"
She doesn’t know whether it was that man sick sadist smile that provokes everyone who sees it.
Or whether it was herself that naively believe the things that this kind of guy had said and tricked her into doing the things that the bad guy expect her to do.
Or maybe both.
Doris’ fist that is filled with high strung anger caused by various minus emotions was slammed as hard as it can into the barrier wall.
Even though the feeling she got when hitting it was like hitting a massive wall, there are no pain caused by it. And when she look at it closely, her hand doesn’t get any wound either.
"Ah what do we have here again? Do you also want to feel the pain that your friend experienced now? You did think that doesn’t you? B-U-T TOO BAD! I should have said that earlier but, that altar negates any pain that could harm the person that placed in it, and moreover, it can even prevent the person inside from doing suicide! How about that! It really is a good stuff isn’t it? But it was difficult to make and it can be easily destroyed from the outside, so we can only play with this thing like this"
The man continues ridiculing them with a maniacal laugh. That annoying smile made Doris wants to jump off right now and beat that annoying face silly despite of being surrounded and being barehanded.
"Do-Doris ...... san"
To the voice that sounds like it had been considerably weakened from before, Doris reflexively turn her face to where the voice came from. When she looks that way, she saw Therese leaning her body on the barrier wall to help her support her body that is assaulted with an unbearable pain. Even in such situation, Therese still can act though and smile to hide the unbearable pain she had.
"I, I am...... fine... no… worry"
"Idiot! There’s no way its fine doesn’t it! This is my fault...... This is all my fault..."
Chagrin and regrets, and above all the sense of helplessness made Doris’ tear ducts swell and before she know it, her tears start to flow.
To Doris who starts to sobs and blame herself, Therese admonishes her with smile while withstanding the pain.
"Great! Wonderful! Extraordinaire! Fufufufu, this kind of beautiful and nice friendship story are really rare! great! Absolutely perfect! Those expressions, that anguish, the despair! AAAAaaaa~, even if it was still during a ceremony I reached to the peak of ecstasy! You ladies are really splendid!"
Don’t you joke around!, Doris really wants to wring out her voice screaming that.
But, Doris’ mind has started to break down.
She failed in protect her friend when they got attacked, she failed in escaping from the bad guy clutch, and ultimately she made her friend falls into an even worse predicament because she wants to try protecting her.
And that friend who fall into an even worse predicament still try her best to comfort her who feeling helpless now.
Even when she is having that unbearable pain that makes her having difficulty breathing, she still worried about me.
You don’t need to care this insignificant one in the least bit but please save my little friend.
Doris who doesn’t usually believe in gods starts to deliver a silent prayer to the gods.
It don’t have to be a god as long as that being can protect that little girl there from that kind of vicious evil who trap their victim in maliciousness and ridicule them in their agony, anyone can do.
Therese who are in a bad position herself, who supposed to get worried over, lamented over her own powerlessness just the same as Doris is.
She starts to run away from reality and imagine if she had even more advanced technology from what she currently have..
If she has those kinds of advanced technology then she won’t get played over by bad people like this.
And her important friend won’t need to get sad like this.
Just ignore this powerless one, please help my bright and cheerful friend.
Therese can only pray vehemently while withstanding the excruciating pain that assault her whole body.
"Anyone is fine...... anyone is fine so please anyone help Therese! You don’t need to save me but please save her...!"
"Please…… help ...... Doris-san ...... ......!"
The heartbreaking cry that contains the two girl heartfelt wish then, just like trampling over them with dirty shoes, is erased by a shrill lunatic laugh.
But, the two girls prayers really do in fact, delivered to a god, and summons the help that they wish for.
Suddenly three noise that is like the sound of an arrow piercing through the wind echoes, even the shrill lunatic laugh before gets erased instantly by it.
Then two arrows comes flying, hit the barrier that surrounds Therese and Doris, and completely destroys those barriers instantly.
A single arrow then follows after the two. This arrow was meant to restrain the man from doing anything rash as the arrow only grazes his cheek.
"Ihihihi ...... hi?"
That man in black suddenly notices that a single man suddenly appears in front of him.
There are noting worth mentioning in his looks.
And he also is barehanded.
He doesn’t wear armor like a warrior nor does he wear a robe like a wizard.
A normal man that dressed like a normal traveler that can be found anywhere is quietly turned toward him with his back lit by the moonlight.
Because the pain has been subsided noticeably, Therese dim consciousness returns rapidly with a jolt. Seeing that figure, eventhough the pain start to assault her body again, Doris wrings out the last of her strength to rush over to Therese side.
Right at that moment, without the girls even being aware of the fact themselves…
"Sure I will come and help… But I will help the both of you that is"
The fact that in that very moment, both of their prayer had reached to a god.
TL Notes: will edit a bit after I eat...
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