17-4. Purple Mound
Satou here. Although not to the point of like a bolt out of the blue, I remember feeling absolutely stumped waking up at unknown places after a night out drinking away with friends many times over.
Waking up to a Death Valley-like scenery only happened that one time though.
"Over there, Earl Pendragon."
Heim-shi of Shiga Eight Swords points at something that looks like a purple mound.
The morning after Bridal Knights formation, he suddenly dropped by my mansion and brought me to capital's outskirts.
We headed to an area barricaded by the capital soldiers to find the aforementioned purple mound.
Crisis Perception isn't reacting, it doesn't seem that dangerous.
AR reading says, a [Soil Structure].
I got off my horse, handed over the rein to a knight who led us here, and walked toward the purple mound.
A purple mound is standing at the center of a field that has been fully harvested.
It looks like ruins from Lalakie era somewhat.
"Indeed. This was found when a farmer was making his rounds in this area."
"You mean this wasn't here before?"
"Yes, according to testimonies of harvesters, this mound was not present up to sunset the day before."
Fumu, not a Mystery Circle, but a Mystery Monument huh.
I noticed that the maker's name is blank when I check its detailed info. Either this was made by someone with a blank name like I could do, or the name was erased with some kind of mean.
Well, you'd normally think it's the latter, no doubt.
"Perhaps someone created this with earth magic in the middle of the night?"
"I would not have called for Earl Pendragon so early in the morning if it did."
Heim-shi dismounted, picked up a pebble on the ground and threw it at the purple mound.
"--It passed through the mound?"
The stone Heim-shi threw disappeared into the purple mound, and came out on the other side.
"Is this an illusion?"
I knew it was not despite me asking.
I would have immediately seen through the illusion if it really were.
Heim-shi grabbed and stopped my arm that was going to reach out to the mound.
Heim-shi turned around and made a signal to a group of people that was already in the area around the mound.
One of the people, a magician wearing a blue sash on top of his robe--Blue Sash of Shiga 33 Wands stepped forward and began to chant a spell. Judging from the chant, it's a summoning magic.
The magician summoned a pigeon and released it toward the mound.
The pigeon nested on one of the bumps on the Purple Mound.
Stones pass through it but it appears that living things can touch it just fine.
"Magic passes through it as well, but not living creatures."
According to Heim-shi, his light magic and one of the magicians' force magic just went through the mound.
"Watch closely, Earl Pendragon."
Heim points at the pigeon.
The pigeon started to cry out in pain, so I checked the AR and saw its HP gradually decreasing.
Looks like the mound will start draining life force from living things after they come into contact with it for a certain period of time.
However, I didn't saw such a dangerous bit when I checked the mound's detailed info on the AR.
I stare at the purple mound once again.
There's a complex mana flow inside the purple mound. I can't read its effect, not sure if it's because it's not magic.
At the very least, it doesn't seem to be a spell formula for Life Drain nor Mana Drain.
"As you can see. This mound snatches vitality and strength of living beings."
The pigeon fell on the ground before Heim-shi.
Looks like it's only fainted.
The summoner picked the pigeon up and unsummoned it.
"I was wondering, Earl Pendragon who has traveled all over the world would know about this mound, no?"
Looks like that was the reason why he picked me.
"I think it kinds of resemble ruins left by Lalakie Civilization, I suppose?"
"Fumu. A relic of an ancient civilization huh... Even if it has only enough power to kill insects, for something like this to appear suddenly--"
A scholar standing next to the summoning magician nodded, like 'I know what you mean'.
Looks like he's a researcher from the Royal Research Institute.
Numerous dead bodies of small insects are lying on the ground around the purple mound indeed.
"--In my humble opinion, this is some kind of blight."
"Why not just say it straight? Like, this is the demons' doing."
The summoner snapped at the scholar.
Ignoring their feud, I walk around the mound, pretending to check it out, then I tested magic edge and holy dagger on it, but they all passed through the mound all the same.
I probably could intervene with the torrent of mana inside the mound if I just put some strength into it, but since it's dangerous as I have no idea what the formula is about, I refrained myself.
"Usasa, lookf at thatf woof."
"It's likef the thingf at the villagef's squaref!"
"It even gotf the samef colorf too."
I turn around at the source of accented words and found the dogkin boy, Gaugaru, a graduate of the labyrinth city's Explorer School, [Pendora].
He's together with his friends, the bunnykin Usasa, Rabibi and the others.
They were among a crowd that had formed outside the soldiers' barricade without my knowledge.
"It's the young masfter!"
The Pendora members waved at me.
With that as an impetus, the crowd who were here to look at the purple mound noticed me.
"Am I seeing things or is that--"
"It's the Demon Lord Slayer!"
The crowd began to call out for my name.
"Oy! Don't push! Stop pushing!"
People at the end of the crowd began to push at the barricade to look at me better.
They're ignoring the soldiers telling them to stop, they're gonna crash here if this keeps up.
These people would go straight to the purple mound at this rate, not good.
"...■ Clay Wall!"
Field soil rose up 30 meter tall before the crowd.
The one who cast the magic was a magician with pink blond hair. Since she's wearing a red colored sash which signifies her position in 33 Shiga Wands, she must be a subordinate of the blue sashed summoner earlier.
"Was that of use to you, lord Pendragon?"
The beautiful magician turned around and let out a smile.
"Why yes, thank you."
When I frankly thanked her, the magician had a complicated look on her face.
Looks like my reaction didn't live up to her expectations.
I check her AR reading.
She's called Athena, with [Sakura Guardian] title, I kind of remember her.
She was the girl I met at the base of the huge sakura tree at the royal castle when I first visited the castle right after I became a Mithril explorer.
If I recall right, she had a little feud with Mia due to her sense of rivalry against Boruenan Forest elves.
Since it's a story long past and not like it's got anything to do with me, I nod at her to end the conversation and ask one of the soldiers to fetch Usasa and the others.
Not because I know them, but because I heard them saying something curious.
"""Young masfter! Congratulationsf for the formationf of your privatef knights!"""
I promptly say, "Thanks" to them and get to the point.
"Everyone, have you seen something like this before?"
"Un, we have."
"No idea what is it, but that thing sprouted up in the village's square this morning."
"It sprung up like nyoki-nyoki-nyoki woof."
"It shone bright before it did, didn't it."
"Right right. Was doing a night watch, then suddenly a magic circle-like something on the ground, that surprised me kuma."
"Kubea's scream woke us up."
"I didn't scream kuma! I was just a bit startled kuma."
I ask them more questions while arranging their words and the content of their testimonies in my head.
"Did you hear a chant before the magic circle showed up?"
"I didn't kuma."
"Neither did I."
"Kinda felt like I heard a grating sound like 'kiiin'."
Rabibi added more testimony to the two who were on night duty.
"The mound was at the center of the magic circle?"
"That's right kuma."
"Was the mound already purple from the beginning?"
"Yup, I think it was. And since the magic circle also shined purple, so was the magic circle's color, I think."
In the middle of the night, a purple magic circle manifested in the village's square, and then soil rose up to form a mound in the center of a magic circle shining purple.
"We tried to poke the mound with a stick and it just passed through."
"Touching it made me lose strength, it felt yucky kuma."
"So, we woke everyone, and ran here to inform young master."
And then they met me by chance here when they took a shortcut through the field from the west gate.
Dryad might have a hand in leading them here indirectly.
"I see. I'm grateful for the valuable information."
I convey their testimonies to Heim-shi of Shiga Eight Swords.
Information about the appearances of purple mounds in other place and that it was created by some kind of magic was a major one to Heim-shi and the researchers, he smiled broadly and clapped the kids' shoulders, "Well done!"
"Uwaah, it's a Shiga Eight Sword in the flesh."
"You guys, you're being rude."
"Right right woof."
The [Pendora] kids seemed to be fans of Shiga Eight Swords, they were elated to receive a thanks from Heim-shi.
"Everyone, you've done a good job. Since it'd be a struggle to reach my mansion, you should take some rest in one of my villas instead."
I took a paper out, drew a map on it and handed it over to Usasa.
It's close to the market, so it's an ideal spot if they want to tour the capital.
"Oh right, this is for you, young master."
Rabibi fetched a bundle of letters from his knapsack and handed it to me.
The topmost letter has the name Iruna and Jena of [Beautiful Wings], who are working as teachers at Explorer School, written on it. A letter from those two, that's rare.
"Teachers were wishing for more staff, they said."
"The Explorer School's selection test was incredible woof."
"Lots of knights-sama and nobles-sama kuma."
"Like that princess with a gigantic hammer, it was amazing."
Skimming the letter over, it was a petition to change the way recruitments work since nobles and knights were flooding in the selection tests, thus they were losing time to teach students.
Looks like the effect of Demon Lord Slayer even manifested here.
Looking at Map, I saw that Pochi and Tama have just started their daily morning practice.
『I'm sorry you two, but could you do me a favor?』
『Aye aye sir~』
I took the readily consenting two here behind a nearby tree with Space magic.
"Rabibi nanodesu! Ah, Gaugaru and Kubea's here too nodesu!"
"""And Pochi neesan!"""
Pendora kids were ecstatic when they saw Tama and Pochi.
The kids whose names didn't get called were pointing to themselves while looking like they were saying, "Me, what about me?", seeing that Pochi looked like she was at a loss for words for a bit and then said, "Everyone, you have done well to come here nanodesu!" to brush over it.
"Sorry but could you two please show them the way to the downtown villa?"
There's a lot of people in the royal capital, I'm worried whether they can arrive at the villa otherwise.
"Yes nanodesu. Pochi is a pro at showing ways to people nanodesuyo!"
While smiling and praising Pochi for her yet another pro, I sent everyone off.
These purple mounds are either related to demons, or gods, or neither at all...
For now, I'll check out the most likely location first.
I connect to Arisa and Sera at Pendragon Mansion with space magic [Tactical Talk].
『Sera-san, sorry but could you ask Head Miko at the Duchy Capital--Lily-sama as to whether she received an oracle about purple mounds.』
『Yes, very well.』
『Arisa, sorry but could you take Sera-san there.』
『Yesh yesh, jusf leave it to me~』
I ask the still half-asleep Arisa to teleport Sera while informing them about Purple Mounds.
Right afterward, it hit me that I could have just asked the head miko myself as Hero Nanashi, but well it's too late now, might as well entrust it to Sera.
<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.>
"None of the mikos at every temple including Lily-sama received an oracle of such."
Sera who had just come back from the duchy capital reported to me.
"Sete told me that he didn't receive a report about that from other cities and towns either, though there was another one near the capital."
Hikaru who had gone asking the king told me.
Looks like he had been checking towns and villages in Shiga Kingdom after the report from Pendora came in.
"Master, got a follow-up report from Echigoya Firm. The mounds showed up in other countries as well."
Arisa who came out of the gate told me.
The purple mounds have shown up in cities and areas around towns where Echigoya Branch Offices are located.
Instead of a simultaneous global terror attack, it's a simultaneous global construction effort huh...
It would have been simple if I could just search them on Map, but [Soil Structure] spat back too many results, there's no way to distinguish them.
I tried to look at some of them near Echigoya Branch Offices with space magic [Clairvoyance] and found out that they were all structurally identical.
"I guess this is a new ploy by the demons?"
"Don't you think the scale is too big for demons?"
It's one thing if it's limited to a city or a country somewhere, but such a large scale like this should be infeasible for demons.
"But master can do it, right?"
"Well, yeah, I can--"
I affirmed Arisa.
The plan was to visit [Realm of Gods] once I was done with Bridal Knights formation ceremony, but it seems like I'll have to postpone it.
Arisa went around me, placed both her hands on my face and then peeked at it.
"--You're trying to bear the burdens all alone again, aren't you?"
As expected of Arisa.
She can see through everything.
"Just leave things here to us."
"Arisa is correct. We shall protect the people in your place, master."
"Un, Liza is right. We'll make sure to house-sit well while you're away, don't worry."
Arisa, Liza and Hikaru told me that, then the other girls also nodded reassuringly.
"I got it. I'll be on my way after checking some things out."
"Sorry for asking your assistance out of nowhere."
"Please don't worry about it. Pipin and me are loyal extensions of your limbs, Kuro-sama."
I've come to a depopulated village at the outskirts of the eastern country group.
I was thinking of checking out the purple mounds for a bit before departing for God's Realm.
I have given more than enough compensations to the inhabitants of this depopulated village and have them take shelter at a nearby town.
I look at the purple mound at the outer edge of the village.
Its aspect of being permeable to tangible attacks bears a striking resemblance to the [Demon God's Offshots] that were once summoned to the capital.
If it's related to demons, I'll let the girls handle it even if they're up against demon lords, but if it's related to gods, especially if it's a ploy to resurrect demon god, things could go south if I just thoughtlessly leave them behind.
"Sharururun, I have checked the surrounding area. Confirmed that there's no one who missed out evacuating."
"Well then, you two, please take some distance."
The two people helping me are the former phantom thieves and the current members of Intelligence office of Echigoya Firm, Sharururun and Pipin.
After confirming that the two have evacuated the area, I approach the purple mound that's appeared near the depopulated village.
I put up multifold barriers so the village won't feel the shockwave and then I use advanced magic on the purple mound.
Magic don't work on it just like holy swords and magic edge.
Next, I tried to pierce it with a dragon fang sword, but it just passed through the mound.
I was hoping that this could destroy the mound, but even a dragon fang sword that holds the [Pierce Everything] property doesn't work on something that's intangible to physical objects.
Lastly I draw the Divine Sword and hit the purple mound with it.
Like a water droplet on a frying pan, the purple mound dispersed away as if it's an illusion.
"Hyuu, nice goin'"
"Looks like it went well."
Pipin and Sharururun came back.
"Does this mean we don't have to go to the next village?"
"No, there's still one thing I'd like try yet."
Led by Pipin, we went to another depopulated village at the neighboring mountain, then I used anti-god magic on the second purple mound there and confirmed that the magic was able to destroy it.
This means Arisa, Hikaru and Mia can deal with these mounds even if something goes wrong.
◇◇◇ POV Change: Arisa ◇◇◇
"Well then, I'll be off. I'll leave the rest in your hand."
"Un, just leave it to us."
It's the day Master departs for [Realm of Gods].
He's departing for the Sanctuary of Tenion Temple at the Duchy Capital as appointed by gods.
Jealousy welled up within me at Sera who would go with Master until midway through, but as Master's sole familiar, I will display the extent of my caliber here and watch over them with a smile.
"Mwu, lovers' hand hold."
"Well, that much is--"
I'm maintaining my calm expression.
Ahead of Mia, Sera interlocked her fingers with master's, pulling over to lean on him.
Recently, Master often ogled Sera and her remarkable growth on chest area.
He's had Poker Face on, but he's definitely enjoying the softness and fluffiness, I'm super sure of it.
I mean, my Familiar Sensor and Maiden Sensor are blaring hard.
I've gotta teach master, an inhabitant of planet oppai, the allure of chippai. <TLN: Chicchai (small) oppai.>
Mito calmed me down when I reflexively rolled up my sleeves and stepped forward.
"No one would have a hard time if that much was enough to take him down."
It's got some weight when said by the childhood friend.
Master who had separated away from Sera after Mia pointed that out teleported to the duchy capital soundlessly.
For some reason Nana also teleported together with them. She must have wanted to meet the sealkin children at the duchy capital.
"Oh right, Arisa-chan."
Mito whispers in my ears.
"Manager (Elterina) got a scoop from exclusive intelligent officer (Sharururun)."
Looks like Master went out at night yesterday.
The former phantom thief name, Sharururun came up in the bit of words I caught on Familiar Link, thus I had asked Mito to check it out at the capital.
"Was it really about purple mounds?"
"Un, looks like he was trying to figure out a way to destroy them. He asked her to give us this letter if there's any sign of something bad happening to the purple mounds."
The letter said that the purple mounds could be destroyed with anti-god magic.
Looks like his night outing last night was to look for a way to destroy the purple mounds.
"Geez, master is really overprotective and worries too much."
"Well, that's just how Ichirou-nii--Satou is."
Mito's and my eyes met and we laughed together.
We're all fine here, so please come home safe--my beloved Master.
※Next update is planned for 3/3