16-56. Sage's Tower (5)
Satou here. It's said that if you find one cockroach, there's 30 more in hiding, the worst part about roaches is that even after exterminating them with spray-type insecticide, their eggs will simply incubate and multiply once again, don't you think?
Looks like there's an even more annoying creature in another world though...
『Private Pochi, Private Tama, I've got an emergency mission for you! Immediately go to the diner where we had our meal earlier and guard the drunk witch and apprentice who are fast asleep!』
『Aye aye sir~』
I used space magic [Tactic Talk] to ask Pochi and Tama to protect them from the bunch who were using [Vampire Mosquito] to spread curse.
I thought of sending Tama and Pochi to guard Miko Maiya at the temple since that one seems safer, but considering the place, they'd likely get treated as trespassers, so I had them go to the diner instead.
Well, the two shouldn't get in danger unless a demon lord class foe appeared, it should be fine.
『Master, Karina said she wants to come along too nodesu.』
『Got it. She can come with you, but tell her not to overdo it okay.』
After confirming on the Map that their luminous dots were heading to the diner, I rushed to Karion Main Temple with Liza.
The miko's dot that was displayed on the Radar disappeared just now.
"Y-you're the person who came for the trial--"
"Where's Miko Maiya?"
I met with a familiar looking priest and immediately threw him a question, omitting greeting.
"Miko Maiya? She went out on a carriage to pay a visit to the nursing home just now."
Map Search--there's only four carriages that belong to Karion Main Temple, one of them has stopped at the temple's side gate.
All other carriages are located quite far from here, probably unrelated.
"Let's go Liza."
I thanked the priest for telling us with a gesture and headed to the side gate.
Looking at the situation there with space magic [Clairvoyance], the coachman and the horse have lost their heads, with blood gushing out.
Looking inside the carriage, although therea are traces of it having been roughed up, Miko Maiya's body isn't anywhere to be found.
A dozen of seconds later, we arrived at the location ourselves.
"Master, I shall keep a look out on the surroundings."
The seat still feels a bit warm.
Triangular glasses that Miko Maiya used in her cosplay earlier are lying inside the carriage.
She must have been taken away with teleportation magic.
However, Miko Maiya is not present in the surrounding maps.
Your average space magicians shouldn't be able to teleport too far.
The plain-faced reincarnated person who teleported Pochi from Seryuu city to Weasel Empire back then is currently enjoying her fake married life with tactician Touya in their house at Sage Empire, at least that's what my Map says.
Suddenly, two red dots appeared on Map.
"Master, the coachman and his horse have got up."
Liza who was standing watch outside the carriage reported.
They turned into undead even though there's no Soul Magic practitioner here?
And it's too quick for it to be a natural occurrence.
According to Map info, they've turned into Zombies.
Confirming their details, there's nothing especially of note about them.
"You can beat them."
Taking a side glance as Liza skillfully dealt with them, I resumed my investigation inside the carriage.
--There's something odd.
After changing my vision to Miasma Sight, miasma that's far thicker than normal comes into view.
Miasma that's usually only drifting around like thick fog and haze is weirdly wriggling about. Like a whirlpool.
The center of the whirlpool appears to be the carriage.
There's nothing in both my normal vision and Miasma Sight's vision.
I abruptly reach out to the empty space--the center of the whirlpool.
I could feel something on my fingertips.
It's the same sensation like when I'm breaking walls of sub-space created with barrier and space magic.
And with the same knack I used to break barrier--I tore it open.
A suspicious space of jet black whirlpool of darkness unfolded beyond a crack in front of my eyes.
At times, dark red lights and lightnings run through it.
Agonized faces of people submerge and resurface on the whirlpools.
Feel like I'd get cursed just by looking at them.
I'd prefer not to go into this if possible.
"I shall accompany you master."
Liza showed up next to me and declared so with a gallant look on her face.
Un, looks like I've got no choice but to go here.
"--Let's go Liza."
I steeled myself and jumped into the sub-space with Liza.
I'm not good with... horror, you know.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
"--Realm of the Dead?"
The Map's name here is displayed as [Realm of the Dead].
If memories serve me right, it's a place where intangible-types like Ghosts and Wraiths hide themselves during daylight, there should be research about it written somewhere.
I execute [All Map Exploration] from the magic list.
No change on the Map.
[This space has no Map] is displayed on my Log.
This looks to be the same as the space created with shadow magic [Shadow Portal] and [Shadow Jail].
"Master, it seems being in this place constantly gnaws into your body. Please take care."
Liza whose body was glowing red gave me a warning.
Looks like she's covered herself in Mana Armor.
"Liza, if it's too hard on your body, you can use the life-support system of the Golden Armor, okay."
"Thank you very much. However, this much is of no problem."
Liza, so valiant.
"Then, let's go--"
This place has no Map, however [All Map Exploration] managed to locate monsters and people here.
We're heading toward the location where Miko Maiya who has [Curse] and [Fainted] conditions on her is at.
"They were not really that strong."
We encountered some Ghost Ships and Wraiths along the way, but Liza beat them all in one hit without even going all out.
"--Whoa, Liza, stop. The place changed again. Let's go over there."
"Understood. This Realm of the Dead does not seem to be a straightforward place, does it."
Location information in this space seems to be unstable, we could suddenly get whisked away to separate places were we moving separately, thus in order to move in Realm of the Dead, Liza's Powered Exoskeleton unit finally gets its chance to shine.
It's an equipment I developed along with Arisa's Wand Warship, but it hasn't seen much use outside her sparring bouts with the black dragon, so we're putting it to use here with no people around.
It can fly with the gravity control mechanism of Darkness Crystal, and it seems usable in this place no problem.
Well, I could have just created a short cut with space magic, but since there's no particularly dangerous enemies around, we're heading there by flying for Liza's exosuit flight test.
"Master, please take a look at that."
After advancing for a while, we come across a tree with lots of dark red cocoons stuck on it.
Its branches and trunks have so many bends and twists, feels like your mind would destabilize just by looking at it.
"Looks like we've arrived at our destination."
"There is a lot of cocoon-like things, is Miko Maiya confined in one of them?"
"Yep, it seems so."
I light Miko Maiya's pseudo-cocoon with light magic, and pluck it with [Magic Hand].
When the dark red fibers got torn off, a face appeared on the twisted tree, then it screamed out loud.
According to AR readings, it's an undead monster called [Wailing Tree (Banshee Wood)].
I knew that it was a monster from the Radar's red dot though.
"Is it all right if we kill it?"
"Yea, no problem, but let's pluck out all the cocoons first."
There are other captured people inside those cocoons too.
I pluck all the pseudo-cocoons with [Magic Hand] from the tree, and let Liza handle the Banshee Wood.
All the people captured inside the pseudo-cocoons have the [Oracle] skill.
Half of them have [Cursed] state, while the other half are [Vampires], of which two are [Vampire Lords].
Moreover, these vampires' Occupations are that which should have been their natural enemy--Miko and Priests.
--Don't tell me.
No, there's no need to guess, they must be Miko and Priests that have been turned into Vampires.
I put all the people who have been turned into vampires in a locked sub-space I own, and cleanse the rest off their Curse with advanced spell of light magic [Divine Brilliant Purification].
It'd be bad if the unstable ground broke off, so I narrowed down the purification range as much as possible.
For now, I'll shelter these purified people in another sub-space separate from the vampires'.
"Master, would you like to collect Banshee Wood's materials in addition to the magic core?"
Liza asked me while presenting a huge magic core.
"Right then--Let's put a booby trap in it."
Whether they get caught in the trap or not, finding out the people who come here to collect the tree would be a good harvest.
"--What, someone beat the Banshee Wood!"
Right when I was going to leave Realm of the Dead with Liza, I could hear the begrudging voice of an old man at the opposite side of the floating Banshee Wood behind us.
...He got here quick.
The booby trap I've set up with great pains is rendered meaningless now.
The old man screamed while I was wallowing in the feeling of wasted effort for a bit.
"Uoo, wha--what is this black mucus?"
I thought he was caught in the booby trap, but it's not that.
Black slime-like string-shaped stuff coiled around the bald old man.
"You can't escape from Tama~?"
A familiar face showed up from below the old man's feet.
"Master~? And Liza, halo halo~?"
Tama waved at us energetically.
Looks like she was chasing the old man here.
Pochi and Lady Karina are currently standing watch around the witch and the apprentice.
That means this old man is one of the ringleaders behind the [Vampirification] curse terror?
"Daaaamn you! Are you guys Saga Empire bunch who came here to foil our plan? Or are you destruction-inclined demon lord believers, here to snatch the plan off our hands?"
I thought he was related to the dark side of Saga Empire, not the case it seems.
According to AR readings, he belongs to an unfamiliar organization called [Heart of Gold].
There sure is a lot more suspicious secret societies than I thought in this world.
"Now that it's come to this--Open!"
The old man shouted then a black hole appeared beside him. It's Item Box.
The old man thrust his hand inside and take out a purple sphere from inside it.
I moved next to the old man with Flash Drive and snatched away that sphere.
Since the Crisis Perception rang even louder then, I stored the sphere into my Storage.
"O summoning gem! I offer you my life to bring a demon that symbolizes ruin to this land! Destroy my enemies in exchange of my soul!"
The old man tried to throw the sphere down, but he realized that the [Purple Sphere] on his hand was absent, and looked around at the surroundings in panic.
"Give it back! That's my treasure comrade Don-dono stole along with the egg of 『Vampirification』 from a research institute abroad!"
--So it's a stolen good.
I'll use the mind magic [Detect Lie] that I used to interrogate the jar man back then and interrogate this old man.
"Which research institute did you steal it from?"
"Where is this Don person?"
Present location, unknown.
"Then how do you meet this Don person?"
He knows how to meet the guy huh.
"Do you want me to hand you over to the temple for abducting 『Oracle Miko』 as well as attempted murder?"
I asked him while using a bit of Pressure.
He looks like he's about to faint, but it doesn't look like he's going to answer.
With a paint brush in one hand, Tama is making a wriggling hand gesture.
"Hmph, I wouldn't be a leader of the 『Heart of Gold』 who seeks eternal life if mere tortures would break me!"
"By eternal life, you mean like elves?"
"Like men could become fairies! Our goal is the evolution to a being of eternal life such as 『Undead Magic King (Lich)』 and 『No Life King』!"
Is that even an evolution?
"Tama, do it."
"Aye aye sir~"
I don't feel like listening to eerie laughs and screams of an old man anymore, so I leave the torture to Tama and head back to give treatment to Miko Maiya.
"Hero Nanashi of Shiga Kingdom."
While giving nutritious drinks to the debilitated Miko Maiya and the others, I asked her how they got kidnapped.
Every one of them was attacked and abducted by undead when they went outside their respective temple.
Since the old man Tama caught earlier could use Soul Magic, it must be his doings.
They were confined inside those cocoon-like things immediately after, so none even knew that they were being held in Realm of the Dead.
Ordinarily, these miko and priests shouldn't get attacked by undead because they had holy marks, so they told me while sounding frustrated.
Miko besides Miko Maiya and Heraruon Temple's miko were all captured from the neighboring countries.
Since I had every one of those countries' Map already, I sent each of them back to theirs with Unit Arrangement and space magic.
I've put markers on them and put them together in the same group beforehand.
Next, the former miko and former priests who have turned into vampires were also attacked and abducted by undead when they went out of their respective temple.
Additionally, since the number of people who tried to commit suicide kept increasing among them, they have been restrained.
About half of them gave up trying to commit suicide after I told them that there might be a way to turn them back thanks to the research on [Denying the irreversibility of the transformation from living being into undead] at the Sage's Tower.
I should investigate whether the possibility is truly there at least, before a victim appeared among them.
Once we know that it's possible, it might be a good idea to let them handle the rest of investigation to turn them back.
I should check on the Vampire Mosquito and the cursed rat I caught along with those mosquito before going back.
The Vampire Mosquito have all died out, while the rat has turned into Vampire Rat.
There's no mistaking it, you turn into vampire after the curse has progressed enough.
--This is bad.
I should exterminate them ahead of time.