|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2680 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1412 words|
“My body…hurts…I can’t…move.”
A week has passed since we started living together. By now Diaria had loosened up around us and no longer tried to act like a prim and proper lady all the time. Even though Karin and the others were around, she came out of her room still wearing her sleeping clothes and fell first on a couch, staying motionless after that. Karin and the others looked warmly at her, either out of compassion remembering their own past experiences, or caring for their new comrade-in-training.
“I remember I was the same just a while ago~”
“Everyone who learns from Lapis has to experience that.”
“I feel like only recently I’m not in pain all the time either. Good luck Diaria, you’ll be at least a few steps above where you’re now if you pull through.”
The other three girls spoke with half-smiles while drinking black tea. Diaria had no strength left to reply, only turning her head a bit to glare at me.
“Lapis is too extreme…I’ve experienced a lot of culture shock after coming to this country, but what shocks me the most is that people come out alive from that training.”
“There are people who are one foot in death’s door every day, but I always heal them with magic. So don’t worry about that Diaria, just give it your best, I’ll watch out for you.”
That’s…weird. I thought I was encouraging her, but for some reason, she glared even more at me. Her mind was still a mystery to me.
“Anyway, Lapis, are you serious about going into the Haunted Lands next time we go out?”
Karin changed the topic, though her voice sounded nervous asking that. The Haunted Lands, the name we gave to the territory occupied by demons. That place was overrun with dangerous monsters, a part of the world with a lifestyle completely unknown for us humans. Average people, and even slightly experienced adventurers would become monster dinner in a day there. Now I had planned on going there with the entire party. If we wanted to defeat the Demon Kings, we would eventually have to go there, so I figured it was best if we trained on the less brutal areas first to get used to it.
“Of course I’m serious. The monsters around here will soon be too weak for you all, so if you want to become stronger we’ll have to venture into the Haunted Lands for a while.”
“Have you ever fought against the monsters in there before?”
“I have. The presence of the Demon King is always strong on those parts, so even common monsters get strengthened a lot and you can never let your guard down. You can’t underestimate even a lone goblin. If you don’t think of them as different monsters, you could end up badly hurt, or not even live long enough to regret it.”
I heard them gulp loudly. Had I scared them too much? Though everything I said was true. The monsters in the Haunted Lands are very powerful, and the demons controlling them are even stronger. I doubted Luvias would hesitate no matter what she heard, considering she is the hero, but the others were just adventurers who joined for profit, so maybe I had to incentivize them more?
“But that also means that everything is more valuable. Anything harvested from a monster living in the Haunted Lands can fetch very high prices, usually many times more than the regular ones.”
“That actually sounds really nice.”
“Yeah, we’re adventurers so might as well get as much profit as possible.”
That was enough to motivate them, at least Karin and Ciel, Luvias would have done it either way, while nothing could convince Diaria.
§ § §
Bordaule, Leble, and Strom to the south, were the three countries bordering the Haunted Lands. There was a tall and thick wall all across the border, keeping most of the monsters at bay. There were also many fortresses built nearby in case the worst happened. Overall, that made it very hard to cross from either side to the other.
The five of us, Diaria included, left Surfour going west until we arrived at the wall separating us from the Haunted Lands. That wall was known as the ‘Monster’s Lament’, and did not exist before I retired. I tried asking Ciel, who knew a lot of things, why it was called that, and she explained that when it was built, many monsters tried to climb and cross it, but they always failed and could only lament as they turned away.
I used to think that was just an exaggeration, until we arrived there and I saw it with my own eyes. Rather than just a fortified wall, it looked like a large fortress that stretched out to both sides. Even if a monster tried to attack that, it could easily be warded off. It was more than twice as tall as I imagined, and three times as thick.
It was lined with catapults and ballistae all across the side facing the Haunted Lands, as well as large barrels and pots of oil to pour on monsters below and set them on fire. There were also many spears and arrow quivers ready to be used, many robust soldiers standing nearby staring into the Haunted Lands ready to take action if necessary. That was the greatest wall of Bordaule, which no other country was able to replicate. In a way, it also helped to flaunt the might of Bordaule.
“And it extends like this all the way from the south to the north? That’s incredible…”
“I know. This is also my first time looking at it, but I didn’t think it would be this impressive.”
“With something like this, it doesn’t matter how many monsters try to cross over and we’ll still be safe.”
“It’s our country’s proud defense line, this much should be expected.”
“Is it really okay for me to go in even if I’m not strong enough to be a hero yet?”
There was no gate leading to the Haunted Lands through the Monster’s Lament. The wall had never been designed to be crossed, so the only way through was by climbing up and then going down the other side. We have Flight Magic so that should be easy enough for us, but usually, people would need to hang a long rope and climb down with it.
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“Take care inside there. If you need any assistance, just return to the wall and we’ll do our best.”
The commander of the guards seeing us off saluted as he said that. Even if it was just a formality, he had to make sure we filled all paperwork necessary before letting us through, or he could get in trouble with his superiors. If someone went into the Haunted Lands and died there, or never returned, then he would be the one responsible for sending a notice to the person’s family.
Though as far as Bordaule’s history went, Luvias’ party was the first time anyone ever ventured into the Haunted Lands. It was a historical moment, but no one was in the mood to celebrate. The reason for this was a forest with a dark and ominous presence ahead of us.
“According to the map, that forest has been there for a long time.”
“Lapis, do you remember that forest?”
Ciel looked at an old map Luvias had brought from the palace, seeing the forest was recorded in it. Karin then turned to me and asked that.
“I know it. It really feels the same as the last time I came here.”
My past I did not want to remember from three hundred years ago. No matter how much I wanted to forget, I always recalled the countless battles we had as we fought our way through the Haunted Lands. My feelings seemed to resurface on my face, the other girls looking worried at me, but I waved it all off.
“I’m okay. Let’s get a move on though. Our only goal is to get used to fighting the first monsters we encounter. You all need to get used to fighting for a long time without much rest, so we’ll camp somewhere nearby for a few days as well. I’m sure I mentioned this before, but all the monsters here are very powerful, so never let your guard down.”
Everyone nodded hearing my warning.