Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 109: The Black Forest
Sitting still behind the dead shrub, the Knight of Judgement, Parish, was tying his horse to the scorched trunk. After Oliver left, they didn’t talk anymore until…
“Your choice is very wise,” the female warrior said suddenly. She tied a bag of preserved fruit to the back of the fuller goat. “Cooperate cordially to gain our trust, kindly bring us here, then wait for our combat power to disperse… Can we have a temporary truce? I quite like this goat.”
Parish’s movements of fixing the reins became rigid.
“Quietly remove the guardian array and let me and it ‘accidentally die’.” Ann patted the area between the two corners of the goat’s head. She was still in the rippling protective cover, but the protective cover had been separated from the Knight of Judgement. There were only two light balls on Parish’s candlestick. “I guess it’s not that easy to meet a second Cross… Ahem. You Knights of Judgement are always like this, of course, so I understand.”
Parish Sherman took advantage of Ann’s laxness to remove the protective cover between her and the fuller goat, but the protective cover did not disappear immediately. The female soldier maintained it by herself and did not instantly rot and die from shock. The expression on Parish’s face disappeared, and all the original helplessness and smile turned into vigilance. There was a brief metallic scratching sound as he pulled out the silver sword.
“Are you sure you want to fight?” Ann continued nonchalantly. “You can’t pretend that it was all an accident?”
“For the glory of Zenni,” Parish took in a deep breath and clenched his hands tightly. “I’m very sorry, miss, but this task cannot be lost. I must eliminate all unstable factors.”
“It seems that you’re pretty sure that our leader won’t be able to come out in time. How interesting.” Ann twirled her spear in the air. “Would you be interested in another exchange of information, Mr. Upright Knight?”
This time, Parish ignored her request. The Knight of Judgement stuck the candlestick firmly to his waist, raised his sword, and attacked directly. His offensive was fierce and firm, and there was no hesitation in his movements. The spear and the sword collided. Ann deliberately adjusted the angle of her hunting spear, causing a string of sparks to appear between the metals. The lightning climbed up along the silver sword and was immediately shattered by the light array that covered the blade.
Parish’s movements did not stop. The silver sword pierced the throat of the female warrior, and the latter narrowly dodged. The blade left a shallow blood mark on the side of Ann’s neck, but the Knight of Judgement paid a greater price. Ann’s attack arrived almost at the same time, forcing him to avoid it. His eyes were scorched by the lightning that injured his forehead, leaving a terrifying scorched black mark.
Holding his sword in one hand, Parish continued to attack the fragile female warrior’s leather armor while he quickly drew a magic formation with his other hand, but Ann was faster than him. The same white magic array hit the air, showing the obvious gap in their powers. Then, Parish took two steps back, but he lost his balance. He tried his best to regain it by tumbling, but a small mistake could be fatal in front of an equally matched opponent.
The female warrior stepped on his throat and wiped the blood flowing down his neck casually. Lightning gleefully exploded sparks along the armor of the Knight of Judgement.
“Even if you kill me, there will only be new people—” Parish hissed.
“I know. If it was really more cost-effective to kill you, I would have done it as soon as our leader left.” Ann raised an eyebrow. “I just want to make sure of one thing. You just said the content of your task, but you never said that you’re a recorder. You also didn’t wear the silver badge of a recorder. So…” She quickly pulled open the buckle of the cloak on the Knight of Judgement and looked at the hidden array below, “it turns out to be Mr. Inspector from the heresy court. How rude.”
“You seem to know the Laddism Church very well.”
“What happens next is just my personal guess,” Ann ignored him and rubbed her chin. “Your story doesn’t sound like it’s fake. According to the temperament of those old farts of the Laddism Church, they will certainly secretly record the battle between Aurorae and the Abyssal Church.”
“But you’re an inspector of the heresy court, and at the same time, for your so-called ‘stability’, you didn’t hesitate to kill a Black Chapter… How interesting. Is it because they wanted you to do it?”
Parish stared at her from the ground, expressionless.
“It seems that my guess is right,” Ann hummed, and moved her foot away from the neck of the Knight of Judgement. “Still, would you like to do another exchange of information, Mr. Upright Knight?”
“…Are you insane?”
“Like I said, it’s not cost-effective to kill you. Besides, the top will only send new people immediately. I saw you were carrying a sacrificial dagger. Isn’t this a big deal?” Ann remained vigilant with her hunting spear. “You’ll sacrifice your body for the teleportation coordinates, and I can’t stop that.”
“You… What do you want to know?” Parish clenched the sword in his hand. He couldn’t guess what purpose the woman in front of him had. If she was from the Abyssal Church, what she knew was enough for her to go back to report, yet she didn’t seem to have any intention of that at all.
“Aurorae is weakening, right? You want to take advantage of the opportunity and when they are both defeated and injured, take them out.”
“This doesn’t seem to be what you want to ask.”
“That’s right.” The smile on Ann’s face disappeared. “My question is, which side will be coming from the Laddism Church, Alban or Garland?”
“…Where are your chips?”
“If you tell me,” the female warrior stood upright, exuding a more awe-inspiring aura, “I swear not to disrupt your action against the members of the Abyssal Church.”
Parish laughed. “You?…Although it’s a bit rude to say, you’re only a single person.”
“A single person teleportation is fine, but if you plan to use the coordinates of your corpse to provide the army with a teleportation destination, you must match it with the corresponding magic array.”
“Yes, but those arrays will never leak to—”
“Even though I don’t know which one it is,” the female warrior said solemnly, “they don’t require much magic, so I can afford to try them one by one.”
Behind her, countless small white arrays were suspended in the air. Parish’s eyes widened and his lips quivered. The blood all over his body seemed to be filtered by ice and it became instantly cold. He clearly saw the pre-arranged signal array in them, and there were even many he had never seen before. According to the composition of the mantra, those strange magic arrays were by no means fabricated out of thin air.
“The leader is the Preceptor Bishop of Alban,” Parish quickly explained.
The face of the female warrior suddenly became very ugly. She didn’t even bother to mask her expression, allowing vigilance and worry to mix on her face.
Parish thought that this woman was too dangerous. Their plan couldn’t be broken by an inexplicable Black Chapter. Her focus was also oddly strange. Generally speaking, even if she knew who was in charge, it wouldn’t have had any impact on their upcoming crusade.
He had exposed an insignificant piece of information and this Black Chapter—
“Look at me,” the cold and hoarse female voice suddenly sounded. Parish subconsciously raised his head and clenched the hilt of his sword. He had been trained thoroughly, so the charm technique would not work on him, and she couldn’t play any other tricks.
However, he was stunned.
All the white formations behind the female warrior disappeared, replaced by a huge pattern. It emitted a soft light on the dead ground, a light he was well acquainted with… Impossible was the word that was left in his mind.
This is impossible.
“I order you.” The female warrior took a few steps forward, grabbed the hair on the back of Parish’s head, and kept her gaze firmly in contact. “Parish Sherman, inspector of the heresy court. I order you to forget everything—Your mission went smoothly; you have not encountered any Black Chapters; and the wounds are all caused by a demon guard. You will continue to stand by and wait for the horn of war.”
“…Yes.” The eyes of the Knight of Judgement gradually became blank.
At the same time, on the upper floor of the catacombs.
“He’s going to kill it… That makes sense,” Oliver said after thinking about it for a while. “I suggest taking a look first. What are your plans?”
They passed through the high platform and drilled out of a small collapsed gap. The entrance of the cave was only half a person high, as if it was forcibly broken apart a long time ago, and thick dust and stone debris were scattered everywhere.
“Just like you, one step at a time. After all, if it’s completely hopeless, it’s just the difference between ‘now’ and ‘decades’ later,” Nemo said. “This is indeed not something we can intervene in rashly.”
Which side was the true goodwill, saving or killing? Only the demon itself could decide. After all, they were only bystanders and had no right to intervene on behalf of others.
There was a strong miasma outside the entrance of the cave. Oliver frowned. Nemo immediately grabbed the armored hand and was dissatisfied with the cold touch. “Don’t force it.”
“It can’t hurt me. It’s just the smell is too strong,” Oliver said. “I’m not made of glass. Don’t worry. If you look like that again, I can’t help but break off these thorns on your armor.”
Nemo stared at the long thorns, looking very approving.
“Mr. Virgil will be suspicious,” Oliver added, but couldn’t hold back the smile in his voice.
Things in front of them quickly erased the smiles on their faces. In the tumbling miasma, brown-yellow bones were formed into neat, tall cubes, and sporadic jewels flickered among the bones. A tall and thin shadow squatted next to the cube of bones, stroking the skull one by one with scary translucent fingers, as if counting. Its movements were slow and focused, and it had no interest in the light reflected by the torch.
“Leave it alone,” Nemo said, lowering his voice. “We’re not here to rob the tomb. It will not take the initiative to attack us.”
“Then the enemy that Mr. Virgil said… Ah, I see.” Oliver sheathed back his Rest in Peace. “What are these things?”
“Remnants,” Nemo said bitterly. “They’re lower-level demons and aren’t very strong.”
The remnants after the completion of a large-scale sacrifice. They weren’t ghosts of the dead, but the product of the remains of the living body being dominated by abyssal magic…
A mass of shriveled flesh wriggled in front of them. It was like someone roughly connected human hands, feet, and heads to pieces of meat and made them rot in a pile. It—or they—stretched out their hands to them, making vague groans with their mouths. Before it had time to move, it was pressed and torn into pieces by another remnant.
The deformed shadow picked up the scattered limbs on the ground and carefully stuffed them into the cube of bones. Nemo exhaled slowly as the remnant suddenly screamed and crawled away in a weird pose.
“…Isn’t the defense here too loose?” Oliver didn’t have time to act. He had probed around but found no living things other than long shadows and remnants. There wasn’t even a demonized mouse.
“Virgil’s passage should avoid most of the guards outside,” Nemo said. “After all, it must be opened at least once a month. I think the focus of the security is at the lower entrance.”
As if in response to their words, the torch suddenly accelerated and moved forward at full speed. Oliver put on his helmet, and the two of them hastily followed the torch. After not knowing how many cubes of bones they had crossed, they finally arrived at their destination.
A group of weirdly dressed people… or something, wearing large cloaks and metal pointed hats that covered their heads, were circling around the room. In the center of the circular room was a fuchsia heart tied by a thread that was still pulsating slowly. As soon as Nemo stepped into the room, they instantly stopped moving. Countless tiny smelly tentacles stretched out from under the cloak and shot at Nemo like arrows.
It made sense why Virgil wanted them to avoid this. If he was just an ordinary demon worshipper, if he had to face one of these things head on, he would be grounded into meat sauce right about now.
Just as Nemo was thinking about how to respond, the heart in the center of the circle pulsated extra hard a few times. The tiny tentacles turned around and then leaned towards the heart in the center, touched it for a few seconds, and finally drilled back into the cloak figures, like a living snake.
The group in the room began circling again.
“What do you need me to do?” Nemo glanced at the heart, trying to make a look of uncertainty.
“I held them off for the time being. Don’t worry, the heart of the bitter salamander can last for at least an hour. This is the inspiration you gave me.” Virgil was neatly dressed, but his forehead was full of shiny sweat. “I need you to use abyssal magic with me, Mr. Light. At least two people need to be present to open it.”
He threw a ball of paper over, on which was a simple magic array. Nemo wiped it with his hand. The ink stain was still new. It should’ve just been drawn—that is, it was deduced on the spot.
“No problem.” He nodded, without asking more questions.
“After the formation is completed, you’ll wait on the stone steps and don’t go anywhere,” Virgil exhorted. “This isn’t a joke, Mr. Light. Just remember that there’s no danger on the stone steps of the entrance.”
Following his words, the room gradually rotated, and the door at the original entrance turned to the other side, exposing the entrance to the lower level.
There were more than ten stone steps down, and the place where the stone steps led was difficult to describe in words.
Judging from its constituent elements, it was probably a forest, but to be more specific, it looked like a nightmare. Everything didn’t obey the laws of the surface. The space was distorted, and trees grew in all sorts of varied directions. The trees themselves seemed to be roughly spliced together after being crushed. Common sense was completely broken, and the sense of distortion made people’s internal organs tight. Looking at the scene for too long would make people dizzy. There were still unnatural vacancies in many places, like peeling walls with pure darkness behind them.
Nemo sat down obediently on the stone steps while the “Knight of Silence” stood idly beside him. The room behind them rotated back again and the entrance disappeared.
“Don’t walk around or I won’t be able to find you,” Virgil exhorted again, trying to show a smile. “I… Five hours at most. You only need to wait for me for five hours.”
He then stepped into the weird distortion without hesitation, and within a few seconds, his back was completely engulfed by the floating dark forest.
Duran Virgil’s smile had always been sincere, but there wasn’t much positivity in that smile just now. It couldn’t even be called a smirk as it only conveyed a lifeless sadness. In all of Nemo’s memories, he had never seen such a desperate expression.
Oliver took off his helmet, and this time he fixed it directly behind his back. Nemo recognized the momentum; Oliver became serious. He also clenched the useless staff tightly and stood up.
“Should we follow?” Oliver scratched his head.
“Follow and look,” Nemo said. “Maybe there’s something we can do to help.”
“What a coincidence. I was thinking the same thing.”
The author has something to say:
When I chose the name of the chapter, I wanted to eat black forest* for a moment…
I have to say that the most magnanimous identities in the whole team are the knight commander and the grey parrot.
Knight commander: …Your circle.
Grey parrot: No, I’m just a little parrot!
Oliver: I didn’t mean to hide it.
Nemo: I didn’t mean to hide it.
Ann: I’m sorry, I concealed it on purpose.
Jesse: …Concealment makes me happy!
So… out of all the “normal” people, it seems Adrian is the most normal?