After looking down for a while, I used space leap and came down.
When I suddenly appeared in front of them, it startled the two who had just stood up.
The woman muttered with a look of astonishment.
I asked them.
“Who are you?”
A woman who was a wizard and a man who was a swordsman.
In particular, the level of the man was quite high at 73.
I never thought I would meet people like this in the center of the demonic land. What were they doing?
The man was silent. He looked alternately between me and Vulcantier who had fallen behind me. I saved them, but he seemed to still be pretty wary of me.
Instead, the woman answered with a bewildered voice, wiping the dirt off her head.
“Yes, yes. We are just adventurers.”
“Adventurers? Were the two of you roaming around like this?”
“Yes, just like that…”
“Hey, were adventurers, so we just want to go on an adventure…?”
She smiled awkwardly and glanced at the man.
He was still showing signs of being wary.
“Thank you for saving us. May I ask who you are?”
I thought about what to say and answered.
“…Why is an adventurer in the demonic land?”
“Because I want to go on an adventure?”
Silence fell for a moment.
I was just a stranger they ran into unexpectedly in the middle of the demonic land.
There was no need to explain my circumstances to them, pretending to be an adventurer was an appropriate answer.
I decided not to pay any more attention to them, thinking that they might have their own situation.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but please be careful.
Saying that, I tried to turn around.
“Sir, wait a minute.”
They both called out to me at the same time.
When I glanced back to ask why they were calling me, the woman spoke first.
“Hey, if it’s not rude, just for a moment, can we ask something…”
The life or death of Asher was still unknown.
I needed to find her as soon as possible. I didn’t have time to worry about anything else.
I was about to tell the two that I had no time when the man suddenly spoke.
“There’s a monster we’re looking for, and I want to ask if you’ve ever seen it.”
I shook my head.
“I’m sorry, but…”
I stopped while talking.
I didn’t know who they were, but since they were wandering around the central area of Hallmenta alone, I thought they might know something.
“There is something I want to ask you first.”
“My colleague suddenly disappeared.”
Without high expectations, I told them quickly and concisely about my situation.
Even the fact that Asher disappeared while I was away for a while, that there was no trace of the battle at the scene, and that I was currently wandering around this forest in pursuit of the traces.
They silently listened to my nonsensical explanation.
“Can you guess what happened?”
When the explanation was over, the man looked at the woman.
She tilted her head and let out a small sigh.
“Maybe it was something that put your companion to sleep, or caused hallucinations, or was it captured by a monster with that kind of ability?”
That was also my guess.
However, since Asher had a high level, I thought it would only make sense unless the monster had stronger abilities.
And if that’s the case, I didn’t know why it dragged her out instead of dealing with her on the spot.
Above all, according to my game knowledge, there were no monsters specialized in hallucinogenic abilities in Hallmenta.
“Oh, come to think of it, there is a monster that comes to mind…”
But the woman seemed to have remembered something. She said that as if trying to recall the memory.
“A few years ago, there was a time when I was in the middle of walking around Hallmenta with my colleagues. I ran into it at that time and almost died.”
“What kind of monster are you?”
“Well, I still don’t know what it was, actually. I just lost my mind at some point, and when I came back, I found myself tied to something like a plant stem.”
- ··Plant stem?
I looked down at the traces on the ground that I was chasing.
It was a description that somewhat coincided with the image of something I was imagining.
“But while I was tied to the stem, my colleagues later said to me they all had nightmares. We were all lost in memories that were painful to recall. In the end, one person woke up and saved all the others, so we barely survived.”
I furrowed my brow. I was slowly getting the full picture.
Many of the monsters in the demonic land had all kinds of bizarre abilities.
And among them, there were those who dug into the weak part of another person’s heart and used that pain as their own food.
In particular, it was the kind of ability that people with weak mental power or great trauma were more prone to.
Is it that monster…?
As far as I remembered, there were no monsters like that in Hallmenta, but since this was in the past, there could be many monsters that I didn’t know.
What if this guy was a monster with that kind of hallucinogenic ability, so he easily subdued and dragged Asher away?
I followed the trail again and started walking.
The two hurriedly followed me.
“Where are you going?
“I’m chasing the trail it left behind.”
The man narrowed his eyes and looked down at the ground where my gaze was directed, then opened his eyes wide and muttered.
“Were you chasing this faint trail?”
“Uh, what do you see? Why can’t my eyes see anything?”
The woman looked around the ground, nodded her head, and said.
“Anyway, if you’re going to rescue your colleague, we’ll help you first.”
“Thanks for the information, but I don’t think I really need any help.”
“Uh, you look really strong, so it’s true… But there could still be something that we might be of help, right?”
The woman asked the man for consent.
He looked like he was going to say something, but he just nodded.
So, two unexpected strangers suddenly accompanied me and started the chase together. There was no need to refuse the help.
“It turned that way.”
And the man was well versed in tracking, so whenever I was confused by the traces, he correctly identified the direction and pointed them out.
Thanks to this, I saved time and gained speed. The traces were getting clearer, showing that they were not too far off.
And it didn’t take long before I finally found what I was looking for.
I looked at the landscape unfolding in front of me, lost for words.
A plant stem that wrapped around the surrounding trees and stretches into the air. In the middle of it, a person was tied like a prey caught in a spider’s web.
It was Asher.
“Hey, it’s that monster!”
The woman, who had been in awe for a moment, shouted that, and the man immediately drew his sword and prepared for battle.
At that moment, a wave spread like a force field around the plant.
The two people who were exposed to the waves staggered precariously and collapsed to the floor.
I looked at those two with bewildered eyes, then moved my gaze back to the plant stem.
Was this its ability?
But because of the [Soul of the King], it didn’t seem to work on me.
From the moment I heard that its ability had something to do with illusions, I expected this to happen.
I took a step back.
Seeing that I was fine, it started wriggling as if in bewilderment, and then shot out waves one after another. But there was no way to get through.
As the mental attack failed, it swung the few remaining stems like a whip at me. But those were blocked as well by the floating veil.
The high level was all because of the hallucination ability, so it was a terrible destructive power.
Drops of blood from my fingers hit its trunk.
It died instantly, and no longer writhed annoyingly.
I teleported to the upper stem where Asher was tied and stood in front of her.
I had to pause for a moment.
It was because she could see Asher’s face exposed through the stems, and the tears that were constantly flowing down her cheeks.
I roughly guessed what kind of nightmare she was having now.
I silently tore off the stems tied to her body one by one.
Her whole body was tangled up in the stalks, so it looked like I would have to struggle a bit to get her out.
“What’s your dream, Sister?”
Asher stopped the sword she was wielding and turned her head.
It was the question of my younger sister, who had thrown away the water lily and was lying on the grass.
“What are you talking about?”
“Literally, what do you want to do? Or what you want to be.”
She had never thought of that.
My sister would often ask her such silly questions from time to time.
Asher pondered for a moment before answering.
“I don’t know what I want to do… I want to become the best warrior in my clan.”
Her sister pouted her mouth.
“Ah, is that really what you want to be, Sister? That’s what the adults wanted! Every day, they praise my sister as a genius, and all they say to you is to train hard.”
“No. I want to do it.”
“That’s a lie. Don’t do it, consider it carefully, you dull older sister. What you really want to do in your heart. Surely there must be something?”
Asher thought about it again.
But nothing came to mind.
“I don’t think there’s much. I’m satisfied enough even now.”
That answer must have sounded boring to my brother.
Her sister sighed deeply.
“I don’t really understand you sometimes, Sister.”
“What about you? What do you want to do?”
“Me? Of course I’m going out of the mountain range!”
She jumped up and pointed to the other side of the mountain range and shouted excitedly.
“One day I will definitely go out to the outside world and explore the continent! And I will make my name known as a great adventurer all over the world!”
“You’re saying that again. Are you serious?”
“Then, are you going to live here for the rest of your life until you die of old age?
Asher shook her head.
It was taboo for the members of the tribe to go out into the world outside the mountain range.
If that happened, all the tribes in the mountain range, that was, the entire tribe, would come forward to block it.
Because that was the only way they could protect their home from the outside.
Her sister was having an absurd dream that would be blocked from the start.
“Aren’t you curious about the outside, Sister? What kind of world lies outside the mountain range?”
“Well, if we go out, we will just be rejected.”
“Grandpa Plovik told me. To the north of the continent, there is a land called Calderic, where all kinds of races live.”
Plovik was the eldest of the tribe and was one of the few who had experienced first-hand what it was like in the outside world.
“He said that no race was rejected there. And the one who rules it is a dragon!”
She said, with a twinkle in her eyes.
“So, if we go out, we’ll start there. A new adventure! A new companion! And a new love!”
“How come there are only boring and pathetic men around me? If I go out, I will find a true companion for me.”
Then she suddenly turned her head and asked.
“How about it, Sister? You train, eat and sleep, train, eat and sleep, and after living like this, who else are you going to marry?”
“Why are you suddenly talking about marriage?”
“You need to find someone you really love! As long as our parents bring some guy, you’re probably going to marry him. Like the son of the chieftain, for example.”
Her younger sister rolled over the grass again with a dissatisfied face and murmured.
“Anyway, so… Yeah, that’s all right. Later, when I’m going to leave the tribe, my older sister, who became the best warrior in the clan, could stop all the others by herself.”
At the absurd remark, Asher started laughing.
“Why are you laughing? I’m serious? Still, it’s your sister’s lifelong wish, so won’t you grant it?”
At that moment, the sisters turned their heads at the same time at the voice calling from afar.
A woman was smiling softly and beckoning them. It was their mother.
“Ah, I think the rice is done. Training is over.”
“You didn’t even swing your sword a few times.”
“Hehe, let’s keep it a secret from Dad? Mom!”
Seeing her younger sister running fast first, Asher also moved slowly.
In her mother’s arms, she waved her hand to Asher as if asking her to come quickly.
Peaceful, warm, and comfortable
Asher wanted nothing more special.
She practiced, she hunted, she ate with her family; she laughed and talked, and she chatted with her little sister.
Even if it’s just a monotonously repeated daily life, she wanted the happiness of the present to continue forever.
…But the peace that seemed to last forever collapsed too suddenly and easily.
“Run away, Asher! Don’t look back!”
Her father, who was covered in blood, stopped the assailants and shouted desperately.
In his arms was her mother’s body, which had already turned into a cold corpse.
A stormy night.
Those in armor slashed the members of her tribe with their swords, and those in robes burned them. A monster with a spear brutally slaughtered all the warriors of the tribe.
Even the ferocious thunder could not hide the clan’s screams echoing throughout the mountain range.
Asher took her sister’s hand and ran. Stepping on blood, jumping over corpses, wielding a sword like a demon, and moving her body that was becoming crippled.
When they reached a place so far from the village that she could no longer hear the screams, there were no more monsters.
However, the monster who seemed to be their leader did not lose sight of them.
He walked towards the two of them, who were thrown at the edge of the cliff. His spear blade, soaked in the tribe’s blood, gleamed coolly.
Asher pushed her sister behind her back. She raised her sword with the thought of dying, fighting to the end here.
Then, suddenly, there was a pain in the back.
Her sister’s hand was holding her wound tightly.
Why, there was no time to even ask questions.
Her sister suddenly pulled her body towards the cliff. Asher was thrust into the air helplessly.
She reached out and tried to grab her sister’s hand. But it didn’t reach.
Her body slowly fell into the river below the cliff.
Only the murmur of her smiling little sister with a sad face reached her ears faintly.
The younger sister, who turned right away and rushed towards the monster, and the silver spear that pierced her chest, finally reflected in Asher’s sight.
Asher slowly sank into the water.
Vision was blurred. Silence descended on the world.
Soon something hot flowed down the cheek, without stopping.
She wasn’t even curious about the outside world. If she could live in the mountains in peace forever, that was enough.
It filled her with regret and anger.
She shouldn’t have turned her back on her father. It should have been her sister who survived. She should have died fighting to the end with everyone.
Why the hell did she survive alone?
Now there’s nothing left by her side. No clan, no home, no parents, no younger sister, nothing. But for what?
The body that had been sinking down endlessly came to a sudden stop.
I heard an unknown sound. A faint light shone through the closed eyelids.
Asher slowly opened her eyes.
The scenery unfolding before her eyes was not in the water, but in the forest. She saw a face looking down on this side.
“···I was worried about whether you are alive, but it seems that you’re just sleeping.”
Asher blinked her eyes, unable to grasp the situation.
The Seventh Lord, who brushed away the tangled stalks of grass, stretched out his hand.
“Let’s get up.”
Asher stared blankly at the white hand, then reached out to it.
Whatever it was, she didn’t want to lose it again, so she grabbed it.
T/N: Correction, Asher had a younger sister not a younger brother. In the earlier chapters, the author used the word ‘dongsaeng‘ whenever he’s referring to Asher’s younger sibling. It’s a general term, so I just kind of assume that it was a brother. Only in this chapter did I know that it was actually a sister. Since she’s using the word ‘unni‘ instead of ‘noona‘ when she’s calling Asher.