Chapter 4 Part 3
Several tens of minutes have passed since Reid and the others entered the ‘designated danger zone’ where magical beasts run rampant. They were making good progress.
“―――― Take this!”
When a magical beast pounced on him, Reid delivered a kick and a shout. In that instant, the magical beast was blown away without even a chance to scream, crashing into a tree and coming to a halt.
“Hmm, the magical beasts themselves are not that strong.”
“The opinion of someone who can blow them away with their bare hands without using magic is not really helpful, though…”
“When you actually witness it like this, the abnormality of Reid stands out even more.”
The two who were waiting behind him voiced their impressions.
Although small in size, the magical beasts are no bigger than a human.
The wildcat-like magical beast that Reid had kicked away earlier was clearly larger than a human, and fighting it empty-handed would normally be an act of suicide.
“I’m holding back even with this. If I hit it with all my strength, there would be collateral damage, and I wouldn’t want to be covered in its blood.”
“Magical beasts become ferocious and have bloodlust from the moment they mutate. If other magical beasts gather in response to the smell of blood, it will be difficult to move forward.”
“Well, I don’t want to walk around with Reid-san covered in blood either…”
As they were moving forward, Millis suddenly spoke up.
“…Will Elria-sama be fine? Even though she’s strong, she’s still alone.”
“No problem. Even if a thousand or so magical beasts jump at her from all directions, she can handle them all with just first tier magic.”
Mages have a diverse roster of fighting methods.
The basics of combat for a mage is to cast magic from medium to long range, but if there are many enemies, it would be difficult to keep up and might get attacked unexpectedly. At such times, ‘close-quarters combat magic’ is to be used.
By storing magic in the magic circuit incorporated in the magic equipment, the time required for chanting and deployment is shortened to the utmost limit, allowing for effective use in rapidly changing battle situations, high-speed combat in close quarters, and even one-on-one combat.
Not only did it involve general body strengthening, but it could also take on various tactics depending on the magic stored in the magic equipment, such as evocation magic that deploys flames like a sword, barrier magic that forms a safe space instantly, or defensive magic that repels attacks from opponents.
In close-quarters combat, tactics are more important than power, so even lower tier magic could overwhelm the opponent if used correctly.
And its creator, Elria, is also known as the ‘Sage’.
She has her own unique method of shortening chants and magic deployments without relying on magic equipment, but it seems to be difficult for ordinary people. And it is said that she created it so that anyone can handle it.
Moreover, she has mastered various martial arts to verify her theory. She has used these techniques in close-quarters combat with Reid in the past, but not for her own benefit. She works hard so that others can use them, and her spirit of dedication is admirable.
“If it’s against an ordinary person, Elria can completely dominate them with pure martial prowess without using magic.”
“No way! That slender and cute Elria-sama? Under normal conditions, she would lose if she fought without using magic.”
‘Hahaha’, Millis laughs casually and waves her hand.
It is probably because magic combat is highly specialized now to the point that many martial arts and swordsmanship that were common a thousand years ago are now almost gone.
“However… now that you mention it, Reid’s movements are quite unique compared to other mages. As for me, that’s also quite intriguing.”
“Oh, then let’s give it a shot next time. Wiesel is also more inclined towards close-quarters combat with magic equipment, so it will be useful in case of a one-on-one combat situation.”
“That would be great. I’ll definitely receive your guidance.”
“Ehh… I’m not good at hitting or kicking people, though…”
“You might want to ask Elria about that. She knows more about it. Just knowing some simple self-defense techniques or how to move your body can make a difference.”
As they walk and exchange such conversations, Wiesel suddenly squints his eyes.
“It’s too late to mention this, but… Reid and Elria seem to know a lot about strange things, huh?”
“Oh… Well, you see, the Caldwen family has been around for about a thousand years, so they have many ancient texts and documents. That’s why we know about it.”
“But you were originally from the countryside, right?”
“Come to think of it… we seem to get along well despite not being old acquaintances, it means that you must have lived in the countryside for a long time… So, when did you two get engaged?”
“…Well, we got engaged about two months ago.”
“Two months… but despite that, you both seem to trust each other and have a very good relationship… It’s not like you have known each other for a long time, right?”
Under the questioning of the two, Reid stumbles on his words a little. He had spent a lot of time with them, even during class, and he trusted them. So he ended up talking more than he intended to.
“Well, I’ll tell you all about it with Elria next time.”
After brushing it off, Reid contemplated.
(…I’ll talk it over with Elria about all that stuff next time.)
Telling others about their reincarnation situation requires much deliberation.
According to the notes left by his former subordinate, someone has erased information about the ‘Hero’. Therefore, there is a possibility that harm could come to those who know about it.
There are too many unknowns at the moment.
Why were the ‘Sage’ and the ‘Hero’ reincarnated a thousand years later?
Why has the existence of the ‘Hero’ been erased, and only a part of it remained incomplete?
Why does Reid have a power that is different from ordinary humans?
If it is not just magic power, what kind of power is it? What kind of effect does it have on the surroundings, not just on himself? And does it have something to do with reincarnation?
―― Why did Elria Caldwen die?
According to texts, it was reported that she died of illness. Elria herself had no doubts about her own death. If it were a disease unique to the elves that Reid did not know about, it would not be strange if Elria mentioned it. And if it were an assassination, Elria would have had questions about her own death.
However, there is no longer anyone who knows the details of her death. Over a thousand years, that memory had been lost. There was a sense of incongruity scattered throughout. They could not continue to ignore them.
While he was thinking vaguely about it… suddenly, Wiesel stopped in his tracks.
“Wait, I see something over there.”
“M-Maybe it’s a magical beast?”
“No… it’s a cave. It’s probably natural.”
Wiesel lightly tapped his glasses and turned his face towards it.
It was a magic tool that he had used during Elria and Alma’s mock battle, and it was very helpful in this examination as it could detect traces of magic that could not be seen and detect heat emitted by organisms. It could also scout places from afar by changing the magnification.
“Wiesel, are there any magical beasts around?”
“No… I don’t see any in the surrounding area.”
“Then that’s a hit. There’s definitely a doll in the cave.”
“What? How can you be so sure?”
“If you were injured while escaping from a magical beast, you would seek refuge in a safe place. Since there are no dolls lying around, it is safe to assume that they were placed with some intention and consideration of the situation.”
In fact, they had not seen any dolls along the way, so it is reasonable to assume that they were not randomly placed.
“Anyway, I’ll go ahead. Wiesel will keep watch, and Millis will assist you.”
Reid led the two of them into the cave. He searched for any signs of life inside the cave, but there were none. Then ―― he saw a figure in the darkness.
“Wiesel, please confirm.”
“It’s the same as what Kanos-sensei showed us. As for the number… there are five of them.”
“Huh!? There are that many!?”
“Well, I guess the setting is that they all escaped together as a group. I don’t want to touch them and risk breaking them, so I’ll leave it to you two from here on out.”
Reid kept watch outside the cave for any magical beasts, while Wiesel and Millis began working inside.
“This magic circuit… detects multiple heat sources. It’s probably designed to deactivate when two or more people approach it.”
“Ohh… it’s just as Reid said.”
“Lady Millis, what about the other dolls?”
“Um, I think they’re all the same ――”
said Millis as she reached out to touch one of the dolls.
Suddenly, the doll let out a loud noise and shook violently.
“Hey! What’s the matter!?”
“It’s okay! It’s probably a mechanism triggered by the doll!!”
Wiesel grimaced at the echoing sound and looked at the doll’s thigh.
“This… It seems to be responding to magic power and activating a timer.”
“W-What does that mean…?”
“Judging by the decreasing numbers, it seems like a time limit…”
“Could it be that… it’s the time limit for the doll to die from its injuries…?”
“…That’s a high possibility. If it’s an injured person, we have to treat them before we can move them.”
“T-Then let’s heal them right away! Elria-sama herself has taught me all the basic healing magic, and I’ve also received her seal of approval!!”
Millis confidently deployed her magic equipment and lightly swung her wand toward the doll.
At that moment, a faint light enveloped the doll ―― and a loud sound rang out.
“What’s the matter this time!?”
“Don’t scream right next to me, Lady Millis! My eardrums will burst!!”
Wiesel hit her on the head with a bang in response to Millis’s scream, which was louder than the doll’s.
While rubbing her head with teary eyes, Millis looked at the doll.
“D-Didn’t you say that it would be undone if we cast healing magic on it!?”
“Well, I’m sure we did something right since it reacted, but…”
Hearing the conversation between the two, Reid called out from a distance,
“Hey, could it be that the emergency treatment order is also important?”
“Even if you close the wound with healing magic right away, there are cases where you can still get infected depending on the condition of the wound. So first, check the condition of the injury.”
“I-It’s just a doll… it can’t be injured!!”
“Well… maybe they consider the position of the magic circuit as the injured area. Besides magic detection, there are also pressure sensors in the vicinity.”
“B-But… we only have five minutes left!!”
When Reid focused his gaze, the number displayed on the doll’s thigh showed that they had less than five minutes left. If they did not take appropriate measures by then, the doll would die.
“E-Emergency treatment… err, I think the first thing to do is…!!”
“Calm down, Millis. I’ll give you instructions, so take it slowly. Wiesel, check if the magic circuit has been undone.”
Reid instructed them, then lowered his voice to calm Millis down.
“First, apply detoxification magic around the wound… the magic circuit.”
Following Reid’s instructions, Millis cast detoxification magic on the doll, but no warning sound was heard this time.
“…Good, part of the circuit has been undone.”
“S-Should we put pressure on the wound next?”
“Before that, gag the mouth with a cloth or something. Considering that it’s injured and exhausted, it might be in a state where it is prepared to die. Some people may bite their tongues and commit suicide during treatment.”
Millis tied a handkerchief around the doll’s mouth, and Reid continued giving instructions.
“Next, put pressure on the wound and lay the injured doll down. If the injured area is the thigh, raise it higher than the heart and stop the bleeding to some extent before checking on the wound again.”
With a serious expression, Millis followed Reid’s instructions and carried out the treatment. Each time, they confirmed with Wiesel and proceeded to the next treatment and healing.
“I-It ―― should be fine now!!”
And the moment Millis finally cast her healing magic that failed previously, the timer displayed on the doll stopped.
“I-Is it okay now…!?”
“Yeah… all the mechanisms have been undone. Judging from the fact that the magic circuits of other dolls have also stopped, helping this doll was also a condition.”
While Wiesel was checking the other dolls, Millis sat down weakly on the spot.
“Pheeewww… I’m so glaaaadddd…!”
“Yeah, you did a good job.”
“Thank you sooo muchhh, Reid…!!”
Millis expressed her gratitude in a tearful voice, perhaps because she was very nervous and felt the weight of the responsibility of saving someone’s life in a rescue operation within a time limit. It must have been a considerable burden for Millis, who was in charge of the treatment.
As Reid watched Millis, who was relieved, Wiesel approached them.
“You did well too, Wiesel.”
“…No, I was just checking the magic circuit. This is Lady Millis’s achievement.”
“It’s not like that. You need to check the patient’s condition while performing the treatment, and it just so happens that it was a magic circuit this time. It’s also necessary to talk and distract the patient to avoid anxiety while observing the treatment, so your role is also important.”
“…I’m grateful to hear you say that.”
Wiesel smiled happily, which was rare for him. However, after adjusting his expression, Wiesel lowered his voice and asked,
“Reid, have you ever seen a dying person before?”
“Oh? What’s this all of a sudden?”
“Well… your instructions were so precise, and you seemed to be explaining it as if you had actually seen a dying person.”
Wiesel asked with a trembling voice.
That was why Reid answered while avoiding eye contact.
“Yeah… I’ve seen some people on the verge of death before, and some I couldn’t save. So even though it was with a doll this time, what you guys did was admirable.”
Reid thought of the scenes where people fell on the battlefield and died, full of regret. In that situation, friend or foe did not matter. When someone died, those who knew them would grieve as well. He had seen that kind of scene many times.
“That’s why ―― thank you for saving the dolls.”
Reid said those words to the two of them with a wry smile.
“Reid, you ――”
Wiesel was about to ask something, but then…
“Hey, stop screaming every time something happens!!”
“No, look! Someone’s coming this way!!”
Seeing her pointing at the cave entrance, Reid and Wiesel turned around.
Three figures were running from across the forest.
They recognized the figures.
“Is that… Faregh the Kid and his two followers?”
“N-No way… they’re not planning to steal the dolls, are they!?”
“No… something seems off.”
Wiesel observed the three of them while adjusting his glasses.
At the sight of it, Wiesel’s eyes widened.
“Reid! Call those three over here right now!! There are injured people!!”
The moment he heard that, Reid immediately jumped out of the cave. He then rushed over to Faregh and the others.
Seeing Reid’s approach, Faregh lifted his head in surprise.
“You are the Caldwen’s ――”
“…What happened to them?”
Faregh was supporting the other two with his shoulders.
The two had injuries all over their bodies, with one arm hanging limply and the other’s leg bending in an unnatural direction.
After confirming that they were not in a life-threatening condition, Reid helped carry them up.
“Anyway, let’s head to the cave. It’s safe there without any magical beasts.”
The moment Faregh heard the word ‘magical beasts’, he shuddered in fear. His eyes were vacant and lacked any spirit. His face also had turned pale.
While questioning his behavior, Reid led them into the cave.
“Millis! Take care of the two injured!!”
“EEEHHHH!? You want me to take care of them right away!?”
“From what I can tell, it seems like they only have broken bones and aren’t in any life-threatening condition. But make sure to check them properly. I need to talk to this guy.”
While saying that, Reid turned his gaze to Faregh.
“Hey, kid. Explain what happened to them. Were they attacked by magical beasts?”
After hearing those words, Faregh sat on the ground and trembled.
“I don’t know… I don’t know…!!”
“…What do you mean?”
“There’s no doubt that it’s a magical beast… but I’ve never seen that kind of magical beast before…!! I never thought that kind of monster could exist…!!”
As Faregh continued to mutter while shaking, Wiesel, who was keeping an eye on the outside, spoke up.
“…Reid, this might be a little bad.”
“What did you see?”
“I haven’t confirmed its appearance yet… but there’s something moving in the forest.”
Wiesel’s voice was trembling slightly.
“At the very least… it’s not small or medium-sized. There is a presence in the forest that is clearly different from the magical beasts we’ve seen so far.”
And then ―― there was movement in the forest before them. Trees are falling over and over. A black figure became visible among the dense trees.
It was ‘Armor’. A jet-black outer shell that radiated a metallic luster. The massive body covered in that armor-like outer shell pushed back the trees, causing them to fall. And from between the tall trees, a neck slowly lifted up.
It was a ‘Dragon’. A long neck covered in glittering black scales. A rectangular face covered like a helmet by a sturdy outer shell. But its mouth reveals a myriad of white fangs and a slightly open red oral cavity. Its twisted head moved as if it were looking around for something… and eventually, it stopped at the sight of the cave.
As its blood-red eyes looked at Reid and the others inside the cave ――
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ――― !!
A deafening roar reverberated through the trees.