18-22. Midget's Hometown (2)
Satou here. It's said that a group of three can make a faction, fortunately there's nothing like factions or cliques in my company. Or maybe I just don't notice it, and there's a fierce rivalry going down behind their smiles, who knows.
"How's it looking? Master. Managed to pinpoint the source of issue?"
"Nah, it's no good. I know that it's underground, but I can't trace back to the end."
Embedding Miasma Seer skill on space magic [Clairvoyance] and [Through Eye] turned out unexpectedly difficult, I couldn't get to the end of the line.
"That is logical so I agree."
『You want to what?! Pluck out Lotus of Life?』
『Out of the question! That's a taboo!』
The elders of [Lotus Officials] leaped up and down in anger when they heard Mia and Nana's remarks.
It looks somewhat comical due to their palm-sized stature paired with their stout builds.
"Then we can just dive in the pond and--"
『Polluting the pond without Diviner's permission is a taboo.』
"So you are saying we cannot drain the water either?"
『Draining the holy pond's water is an utterly outrageous notion!』
Arisa's proposal was met with a strong refusal, while Liza's inquiry made them enraged.
『Have you found out the cause, Big Person.』
Warrior Chipitachopeta who guided us to the hidden village spoke out to us.
Behind him the soldiers are dragging dead bodies of moles bound with ropes.
These moles don't seem to be monsters, they're ordinary animals.
『How dare you bring filth to Holy Pond of Life, preposterous!』
『Get them away at once!』
The elders flared up at Chipitachopeta, but he just kicked them away before proceeding to ignore them.
This guy acted curtly to that lady asking for her son too, guess that's just his nature.
"Young organism! You must not use violence on the elderly, so I say."
『Hmph, don't butt in you outsider.』
Chipitachopeta walked away after saying that.
He's the very picture of arrogance.
The soldiers dragged the moles to the hidden village with them.
『Are you hurt anywhere?』
『Hurt? Forget that, we ought to cleanse the filth right away!』
I was worried about the kicked elders, but these midgets seem to be unexpectedly tough, they leaped up and started giving orders.
『Cleaners! Bring the cleaners here!』
Thus the cleaners came called by the elders.
The elders thanked Mia when she cast recovery magic just to be safe, so it's not like they're not hurting.
Guess they put the pond and lotus above their own well being?
"So many came here nodesu."
These cleaners of which are all women.
Nana's hands look restless, but these women are doing their job so Mia joins hand with Nana to prevent her going wild.
『There's so much blood.』
『Using brooms here would take too long. Let's use sponge.』
『Mison-dono, where is Cleaner Chief?』
『She has retired after her son Tapitatokata-dono disappeared.』
『It's been one month huh. Speaking of which, Ripotarepoto-dono has gone missing as well. All of them were the candidates of the next generation Warrior Chief, just what is going on...』
Come to think of it, they mentioned how Toputosomething-kun also went missing when we got this village.
I don't believe they're related to the lotus incident, still--I got no hit from searching on the Map. At least they're not in this Map section.
I tried searching for corpses just in case, but there was no hit either.
The bodies could likely have been consumed if it was a month ago, but there's also a possibility of them being outside this Map--the vast basin area where this hidden village resides. Let's be careful not to blurt out stuff.
For now let's concentrate on the investigation.
"Where you head to?"
"I'd like to take a look around the pond."
Since the elders seem to be occupied and all, I went to the opposite end of the pond where the darkening began earlier.
"There is nothing of note, so I tell."
"Lulu, anything out of place to you?"
"Hmm I don't think so. The wind is blowing nicely here--Tama-chan?"
Tama is crouching down with her ear pressed on the ground and her bottom shaking, looks like she's caught on some sounds.
Fished by that, Pochi also took the same pose.
"There's zashu zashu going nodesu!"
"Oh no, nanodesu. Did it overhear Pochi's voice nodesu?"
Tama and Pochi stood up.
"What kind of sound was it?"
"Sound of scratching soil~?"
"Could you listen to the sound again?"
"Pochi won't make a mistake this time nodesuyo."
Tama and Pochi put their ears on the ground and signaled to me, all green.
I then fully opened my Spirit Light, driving away the miasma enveloping the lotuses.
Right after, Tama's ears stood upright, and Pochi's tail started wagging really hard.
Looks like they picked up some sounds.
They kept changing their positions with their ears on the ground until they stopped somewhere slightly away from the pond.
Think this spot will do?
I dug up quite a deep hole with <Pitfall> magic.
Below us, something stuck out of its lower half body on the soil wall.
"It came out~"
Tama and Pochi jumped down the hole.
Getting too enthusiastic, Pochi's hands slipped off the lower half of the thing and she almost fell down the bottom of the hole, so I supported her with [Force Hand].
The identity of the thing Tama pulled out was a mole that looked like the one warrior Chipitachopeta's group brought earlier.
It's a bit--no, quite big.
I pulled up the two and the mole out of the hole with [Force Hand].
Tama and Pochi seemed to be having fun being lifted up.
They probably saw it like they're being captured by a UFO.
After smiling at them, I observe the mole monster--<<Rouge Nail Mole>>.
It's flailing around trying to escape, but it's a level 6 small fry, no way to escape my <Force Hand>. I continue my observation as this monster's got no particular special skill.
"It's not the mole from earlier is it?"
"It's the boss, no, it's more like an animal that's been turned into a monster from miasma exposure."
"Wait, then this isn't the cause of the lotus darkening incident?"
I search the Map for [Rouge Nail Moles].
There's a few more of them below the pond, but this little concentration can't possibly envelop the pond with miasma.
I tried searching for monsters, and got the same result. There's only [Rouge Nail Moles] in the vicinity of this pond.
"We don't know for sure if they're the cause, but they're likely not unrelated either, we should go ask someone in the know."
I bound the monster with Thorn Foot, put it on a force magic Floating Board and carried it with us.
I held it down with [Force Hand] to prevent it going wild around the midgets.
As for the elders--.
『I-it's a monsteeeer.』
--They all scrambled away while screaming.
They're pretty good runners for elderly.
I was thinking of asking the elders or the Diviner, but bringing this into the town would cause a panic.
『Where are you mole--GYAAAAAAAAAAA.』
Warrior Chipitachopeta and his soldiers walked in assertively, but they threw away their spears and ran scrambling the instance they saw the monster.
I mean, between an ordinary mole and this monster, it's like comparing a raft to a battleship.
"You girls, please wait here, I'll go to the shrine."
"I gotchu. Take Mia with you as cheating bodyguard on duty."
"Nn, leave it to me."
Don't think that's physically possible with these midgets.
I took Mia with me to the Shrine.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
『--Did you say, monster?!』
Once we told her, Diviner Tsurirufururi yelped with a pale face.
She went and fell down the floor, but she's already faring better than her aides who all had fainted.
『A-are you speaking the truth?』
『Yes, it is the truth. Are monsters unusual around this part?』
『...They don't exist.』
『Monsters do not exist in this land. Only in folklore left by our ancestors. None has ever laid their eyes on one in reality.』
I see, I guess I can't blame warrior Chipitachopeta's reaction if they're that rare.
『I-I would like to see this monster. Go fetch it--No, I shall go myself.』
『Allow me to be your escort then.』
She probably has a palanquin or something that carries her around normally, and since it'd be bad if she fell down again from seeing the monster, I put her in my palm.
I did my best to keep it steady, but Tsurirufururi-san seems to be afraid of height, she's hugging on my finger with her eyes closed tight.
Seeing as Mia never handed down the [Guilty] judgment, I took her to where everyone was, with the monster.
『Is this the so-called monster?』
After a bout of screams and shrieks, the exhausted Tsurirufururi-san looked down on the mole monster from atop of my palm.
『It looks akin to a mole.』
『It's probably a mole that has been transformed into a monster.』
I also told her that the darkening of [Lotus of Life] was due to miasma and that it would have gone back to normal if it were only due to miasma.
『So you're saying? What does that mean?』
『We believe the source of miasma that polluted the [Lotus of Life] lies somewhere else.』
Thus I explained to the confused Tsurirufururi-san.
I had also checked the 3D view of the map below the pond, but there was nothing particularly suspicious down there.
Defeating all the moles would usually clear all the problems in games, but these moles don't have that much miasma on them and there weren't any monsters of note moving around underground.
『Do you have anything in mind?』
『--It is not definite. And yet it does weigh on one's mind.』
The Diviner fell into silence after uttering that meaningful word and told me to take her back to the shrine, which I complied.
There would be panic if we took the live monster with us, thus I exterminated it and put it away in [Magic Bag].
『O Maiden, [Unchanging Maiden]. Hear my prayer.』
Back at the shrine, Tsurirufururi-san prostrated before a fire altar-like object and started praying fervently.
"Nothing's happening though?"
"Arisa, let's wait a bit more."
After 30 minutes of no change, Arisa gave up.
By the way, Pochi and Tama had huddled up into a circle as they took a nap together. Liza kept watching guard, Nana was having the time of her life letting the children of midgetkin who happily gathered here on her lap.
『Did you say monster?』
『It must be the impurity...』
I could hear the midgetkin conversation from behind the mushroom house.
We're not too far apart yet [Attentive Ear] skill couldn't catch their conversation well, perhaps due to their diminutive size.
『We have to pick the next warrior chief quickly...』
『Toputotapeta should be the one...』
『Hence why, Chipitachopeta...』
『Maybe other candidates would be gone too?』
『Don't be absurd! If anyone...』
Their conversation steered in some weird direction.
I turned off Attentive Ear skill since I didn't have any will to take part in midgetkin power struggle.
"That's it, I'm done."
Arisa stretched out.
"Hey, so Mia. Can't you do something?"
Mia looked troubled at Arisa's unreasonable request.
Mia called out to Dryad.
Arisa stared at the tree full of expectations.
Mia gave up.
Oh right, Elves tend to give up easily despite their longevity.
Arisa clung to me.
Without sexual harassment for once.
"Oh Arisa, you're such a handful~"
I looked up at the tree while feeling like a certain cat robot and tried using [Mana Transfer].
The efficacy's pretty bad without direct contact, but just this far should pose no issue.
A green little girl came up on the surface of the pattern.
"Ara? Little one?"
Called by Mia, Dryad who was talking in local language switched to elven.
"Why are you here--oh, wait a minute, I'm getting a reception."
『She's here! [Unchanging Maiden] has answered my prayer!』
We could hear the excited voice of Tsurirufururi-san from deep inside the shrine.
Knew it, she wouldn't get it without mana supply.
"Done~. Seems like the place where the elves from back then put a barrier up got broken down. Think mana and miasma flowed into the dried up Dragon Vein~. Take care of the rest now 'k~."
Dryad vanished inside the tree trunk after saying that.
『Big Person! [Unchanging Maiden] has lent me her wisdom!』
Tsurirufururi-san rushed out of the shrine with a big smile on her face.
She almost tumbled down the stairs from the momentum so I offered my hand to help her.
『My bad, appreciate it.』
『And what did the Maiden say?』
『The ancient barrier has been destroyed. It must be in one of the 64 ruins in the outer rim of the crater.』
It's the same intel as Dryad's but those 64 ruins things are news to me.
『Understood. We'll get to it.』
『Umu, it is in your hands, Big Person.』
We left the front yard of the shrine and went back to the lotus pond.
"Are we going to look there one by one?"
"That's way too much trouble."
I put my hand on the pond and concentrate on the flow of Dragon Veins.
Since this place is the most affected, tracing back the flow should get me to the source of issue.
I tread on the very thin cobweb-like Dragon Vein.
It's thin yet the flows lack pureness, instead it's like sludge inside drainage, it's repulsive.
Dryad mentioned how mana and miasma flowed in, but there's much more miasma than mana here.
It's like a tear on a wallpaper where a minute amount of mana flows out from.
Looks like the miasma gets deposited there due to a blockage, like an artificial bank.
I undid my connection to the Dragon Vein.
"So? Found anything?"
I replied to Arisa in the same tone.
"Mia, could you call Garuda here?"
Mia promptly started chanting the spell.
We got on the Garuda Mia called and flew to the ruins I found earlier.
"Found the ruins person nanodesu."
"Is that really a ruins? It kinda looks like a heaping pile of rocks though."
We found a ruins far out atop a cliff.
"Huh? Master, there is someone down there in the ruins."
I tried to look in the direction Lulu pointed at, but my bare eyes can't see this far so I focused once again with the help of Farsight skill.
"There is yeah. Seems to be a midgetkin youth."
They look quite emaciated.
Garuda might scare them off, so we landed somewhere far away and walked to them.
"Master, isn't that kid the missing midget?"
It's the one they called coward or something.
My Map Search couldn't find him the last time, apparently this ruins are treated as a different area, located slightly outside the boundary.
I asked Mia to heal him with healing magic since there's no telling what's the right dosage with magic potions.
The youth was still unconscious even after he was healed, but once Lulu warmed up some soup, his stomach grumbled as he woke up.
『...Where am I?』
『We're near the ruins.』
I had used illusion to project my figure as a midgetkin otherwise he'd likely black out again, then I used [Force Hand] to support his body and let him drink the soup. With the help of Ventriloquism skill to change my voice.
The youth seemed famished, he drank down the soup in a flash. Apparently he had been surviving thus far by chewing on moss.
He finally settled down after his third soup and started talking.
『What are you doing here?』
『I ran away from the village. Everybody told me to become the Warrior Chef to succeed my father even thought I'm not suited for it. My mother, fiancees, employees, all of them...』
『Then you broke the ruins and made a hole on the barrier in your effort to flee?』
He denied with a strong tone when I voiced out my hypothesis.
Hypothesizing sure is hard.
『It was Ripotarepoto who broke it.』
The name sounds familiar--right, that's one of the missing people.
『Did he run from the village too?』
『No. He and Tapitatokata were going after me.』
『To bring you back?』
Then why'd they break the ruins?
『No. They were trying to kill me and made it look like an accident.』
"Kill you? What for?"
The youth started looking around restlessly to look for the owner of the voice when Arisa blurted that out.
I projected the images of midgetkin-sized Arisa and the girls behind the ruins.
『They're my friends.』
『I see... Did you come to bring me back per mother's request?』
『Not at all. We're here to investigate the ruins under Tsurirufururi-sama's request.』
The youth fell silent while downcast.
『Please tell us. Why did Ripotarepoto-dono and Tapitatokata-dono try to kill you?』
『It was because of my lineage. My Warrior Chef lineage.』
I see, that's classic.
『And why did they break the ruins?』
『It was an accident. The spear they threw to kill me broke the ruins' keystone.』
The youth showed this broken keystone thing as he said that.
It seems to be a magic circuit on a big magic stone base.
『I fell down to the other side of mountain as the ruins crumbled down on me. The two of them were chased by monsters that flowed out of the barrier, I last saw them crossing over the barrier as they fled.』
Map Searching the other side of the barrier, I found the remains of the two.
It wasn't too far, so I went there with Flash Drive and retrieved them.
Would be best if they were alive, but at least this is better than being missing forever.
And now to repair the barrier.
I connected to Borunean Forest elders using [Telephone] and had them teach me how to fix the keystone.
It was doable with the items I had on hands thus the repair went without a hitch.
"Aand done checking with Space Magic. Yep, no problem here."
"Nn, spirits too."
Arisa and Mia gave their seal of approval.
"Big haul nanodesu!"
"Master, we have finished hunting down the moles."
The beastkin girls came back with piles of dead Rouge Nail Moles.
"Master, I do not detect the scent of monsters any longer so I report."
"Yep, that was the last of them."
And now there's no more monsters inside the barrier.
The midgetkin would likely go extinct if these monsters were left alone, so we took care of it.
I cleaned up the miasma in Dragon's Vein in our way back to the village.
『Big Person! [Lotus of Life] have regained their vigor!』
Tsurirufururi-san reported to me with a big smile.
『We have repaired the barrier. The Dragon Veins have also been purified, so everything should be in order now.』
『So you did! Gratitude! These are our token of appreciations. Please take them!』
There's a heap of ornaments, cloths, fruits and other stuff.
Guess we can use the cloth for ribbons?
Would be rude if we declined them here, so we gladly accepted.
『And this is a sign of our lasting friendship.』
I gifted foodstuff from Shiga Kingdom to the midgetkin.
『So many food.』
『We can get past winter with this.』
『No one's dying of hunger.』
The lower strata midgets leaped in joy while speaking in Dechaputa language.
『We're holding a feast! To show our gratitude to Big Persons!』
Apparently they had already made the preparation when the lotus came back to life, they all gathered for a huge feast in the open space before the shrine by sunset.
We feasted on the dish with the small cup and plates.
The taste is a bit bland but quite good. The quantity is on the lower side, but from their perspective it must be barrels worth of food.
『Are you enjoying yourself, Big Person.』
『Oh yes, I am. Allow us to treat you back too.』
I took stuff eatable to them like pancake, fruit punch from my Storage through Magic Bag.
The midgetkin climbed up the pancake mountain and swam in the fruit punch bowls.
"Rescuing young organisms so I report."
『I don't taste gooooooood.』
There was a bit of misunderstanding when Nana saved a drowning midgetkin with chopsticks.
"Would you want some too, girls?"
I took out meat dish to give the beastkin girls who looked like they hadn't had enough.
『That's a lot of meat.』
"Let's all eat together nanodesuyo."
Pochi cut her hamburg steak in half while Tama tore off her lobster as they invited the midgets to enjoy them too.
Due to the difference in scale, it's fun how the things we gave each other look.
『Thank you on my son's behalf.』
『Well done delivering my son's bones. With this, his grave can be erected.』
Relatives of the two midgets who broke the barrier thanked me.
As for the father of the surviving Toputotapeta-kun--.
『My gratitude for taking care of my son until his passing.』
He bowed as he said that.
The father beckoned me, so I put him on my palm and carried him to my ear.
『I have read my foolish son's letter. He is now dead to my wife and the others just as he wished... My son is in your care.』
The bearded midget bowed as he said that.
Toputotapeta-kun didn't want to return to the village, thus I had him write a letter for his father as a condition to fake his death.
He's currently hiding inside Nana's pocket.
After this, the plan was to let him stay in our mansion in Shiga Capital then he is to transfer to Borunean Forest later.
The midgetkin's fun feast eventually saw its end.
『Maiden! The Maiden moved!』
『Unchanging Maiden, changed?』
『Look! I told you so! The Maiden did move back then!』
『Hell yeah for feast! Maiden, how about a pint!』
The midgetkin fell down in surprise when Dryad who resides in the big tree suddenly moved.
The told you so one must be those who saw her move earlier. The drunkards are being drunkards though.
"It's done, Dryad."
"'K then, I'm sending you back~"
We hadn't finished saying goodbye but the hasty Dryad had already opened the Alf Road, so we jumped into the portal back to Shiga Kingdom.
We found ourselves back in the park we departed from at the end of the light.
"Thank you, human!"
The local Dryad said her thanks and disappeared into a sakura tree.
It's almost evening now, so there's a hustle bustle of people going home and people coming for flower watching.
I'd like to flower watch at night too, but the park is full of drunkards at night, not ideal.
"Welp, time to go home."
"Aye aye sir~"
We left the park as the girls shouted back energetically.
『This place is big person's capital!』
Toputotapeta who peeked out of Nana's pocket was astonished at the capital's night view.
Once he started living in our capital mansion, he got along well with the Sage Mice before I knew it, but he was unable to conquer his fear of riding the Raven Riders no matter what thus he opted to move to Borunean Forest in the end.
Apparently, owls were the biggest threat in his village, so it must be a form primal fear to him.
Later on when I dropped by Boruenan forest to see how he was doing, he was making off nicely with a midgetkin woman from a another clan that lives in Boruenan forest, I'm sure he's got a bright future ahead of him now.
I've also got his letter sent to the village through Dryad, hope he can enjoy his second chance at life now.
And if possible, would be nice if he could go back to his village and reassure his mother later, maybe once he's got some children of his own.