Chapter 45:

Chapter 41: What Lies Underneath

The Immortal Witch's Death Wish

The next day, thick tenebrific clouds loomed over the village as rain droplets showered the atmosphere with a nice high speed bombardment. The skies seemed devoid of sunlight and an eery lens overlayed the atmosphere. The cool blue light made it appear almost as if it was night time yet, illuminated the village as if the moon had grown ambitious. In her room overlooking the village, Lusha had just now realized something for the first time. - The skies were silent. This was prime time for birds to flutter about. This unnerving silence, she realized, had been encompassing this forest since they first got within 10 miles of this place. It didn't just stop at birds. Deer, and normal fauna that would be generally found within a forest was nonexistent. Bookmark here

Usually, animals know before even the greatest magicians. This sensory for danger was something that manifested in the beastmen as well. She began to wonder about the status of the beastmen. They were nigh extinct as of the last time she was conscious. The Beastmen had a long and rough history through the years. Whatever remnants she believed there were all went in to hiding and split off to different locations. Since then its been over 200 years. Who knows what had happened during that time.Bookmark here

The first signs of activity began to stir in the streets. It was nearing just around 11AM. The skies remained the same as they were earlier. "Ohh. Rinn- it looks like things are picking up! Let's go sightseeing."Bookmark here

Rinn quickly gulped down the rest of her food. She was a rather slow eater if one would allow her the time. "A.. y-yes." Bookmark here

"Good."Bookmark here

Lusha placed her foot on the window sill. "Eh? You're not leaving through the front door?" Bookmark here

She shook her head. "Nope. They're waiting outside the door. I'd rather not have to deal with those annoying worms." To this, Rinn only tilted her head in confusion. She had no idea who this 'they' were. Bookmark here

​Lusha turned her head and held out her hand to her. "Don't ask. They're some annoying prissy holier than thou troglodytes." Rinn nodded. She too have seen more than enough of the type while she grew within her noble estate. Though there were occasionally those who helped shape her mind greatly. Usually they don't stay for too long however. As soon as they begin to exhibit kind behavior they were somehow removed from her life the very next week. The closest thing to nice that stuck around would have had to have been Katz with all his neutrality. Bookmark here

As soon as she grabbed onto Lusha's hand, Lusha carried her like a piece of luggage and launched herself out of the window with force that threatened to break the window itself. Luckily, the sill and the entire structure was composed of highly reinforced singular stone. Rinn flapped about in her arms, struggling to contain her scream as the wind blew her cheeks back to her ears. Then just as abruptly, Lusha came to a halt in the sky. This prompted Rinn to vomit with a loud and irrepressible feeling of climbing disgust building in her stomach. "Euquergh!!hhe...ehr...y- you did that on purpose!!"Bookmark here

"Ya know, you seem to have a motion sickness problem don't you?" she recalled when Rinn had previously thrown up from her encounter with Elim and Soka. Bookmark here

"I-'m not used... erh.. to moving that fast." She let out a shudder throughout her body one last time. Bookmark here

As they floated over the small village, they observed very few people outside. While there were still a small few people that came out to set up their markets and shops, no one else was around. The entire town circle was empty aside from other vendors. Every now and then a man would walk by, presumably to a relative's house. Or another man would trod upon the beaten roads and purchase a little bit of food before heading back to their home. What she found particularly odd was the fact that they were not talking and refused to maintain eye contact. Bookmark here

She quietly descended after the man had left and approached the fruit stall that was set up. The man noticed the duo approaching and nervously shifted behind his stall, averting his gaze from the two even up until they were right in front of his stall. Still the silence and nervousness persisted. "Hoiii... old man." He tensedBookmark here

"We're wanting to make a quick or-" Lusha was stopped mid-sentence by the presence of a couple other people. The fact that someone could hide their presence like this was no easy feat. This was a skill that either took years perfecting... or was born of pure natural talent. Bookmark here

"Ahhh. It's alright Inora. Hey hey hey... listeenn." This annoying voice declared to her. She peered back over her shoulders to see a group of 4 standing behind her. Immediately her eyes flickered to the tags around their necks. Adventurers. Bookmark here

They were by no means anything to scoff at. These adventurers were a cut above the rest, with one of them containing a diamond tag. The rest were all gold. Bookmark here

The man that spoke stared down at Lusha. His short trimmed blond hair moved ever slowly under the wind's influence. "Heyy, listenn lady.. we've been traveling for the past week without food. Is it okay if we order before you?"Bookmark here

Lusha made eye contact with the mans' light green eyes. And there was a moment of feigned contemplation. "mmm... okay. sure."Bookmark here

Another man in the back laughed out loud. "you hear that, Inora!? we're fucking saved!"Bookmark here

"come on, let's hurry!" Bookmark here

As Lusha peered behind the man there were 4 others behind him holding this girl who seemed as if her soul had abandoned her body. Her frail arms made a beeline for the stand, but in slow motion. The same speed a turtle might have progressed to its favorite dish. She was utterly hungry.Bookmark here

The Two supporting her dashed over as fast as they could and began to shell out money. The vendor was clearly distraught at the development. They rushed him with orders faster than he could process them. In truth, they didn't care what it was they were ordering, they just wanted a lump sum of food. Bookmark here

The man nervously put his hands in front of him, trying to assuage the excited group. "Okay okay... please just- just give me a second." The man hastily grabbed a bag full of different vegetables and fruit. The older woman, Inora quickly grabbed the bag and made haste to a park bench that she had eyed earlier. No plates, no utensils, just a huge sack of fruits and vegetables. This place clearly wasn't built for luxury. Bookmark here

Lusha slowly grabbed Rinn to her side and approached the man who she had assumed to be the leader. Unlike how others did it, she didn't reach that conclusion just based on age and appearance. She could tell solely because the tag the man wore was diamond. "You're all part of the same group, I take it?" The diamond ranked adventurer stared down at Lusha. He towered at least 2.5 meters in size. After observing her a bit, and realizing the tag she bore. He nodded. "Team Dreamsbane. And you are?"Bookmark here

"Lusha, of team Infinite. Are you their leader?"Bookmark here

"Hm? oh- n-no. Nothing like that. The leader is my sister Inora." The man pointed over to the young girl eating voraciously with the other two." Bookmark here

It was actually quite a surprise. Not only was the young girl 2 ranks lower, but her age didn’t seem to be any older than her early 20’s or perhaps even younger. She also seemed to have no manners or etiquette.- Not that Lusha was one to care about the notions of etiquette. Bookmark here

Still, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of admiration for someone who cares very little about others' perceptions of them. “May I ask… this isn’t really the hotspot for tourism, and it doesn’t appear to be the biggest traveling point on the map.” Lusha began. “What brings you all through this way?”Bookmark here

“Haha-” The man began scratching his head. “Well, ya see. There we’re actually here to pick up another member of our team. He set out to take a solo mission here just a month ago. Bahh- but we haven’t actually heard from him in quite a while.”Bookmark here

He stretched out and gave a hearty grin. “Knowing him he’s probably out here drinking it up with the ladies.”Bookmark here

Both Lusha and the man could easily determine that was an unlikely outcome. There was a tinge of worry underneath the man’s smile. - Something that easily told Lusha that it was an uncommon scenario for the man to have no contact.Bookmark here

Though there was something that she wasn’t familiar with. “Forgive me if I sound a little ignorant. But what benefit is there in an adventurer’s team member doing missions solo?”Bookmark here

“Well, generally speaking, there are a lot of benefits to working solo even to the team. Moving by yourself generally may get you promoted faster. There’s more merit in it. You don’t have to split the funds, and all the credit goes to the sole member. However, if you are in an adventurers group, it is possible for everyone to take on missions higher than their projected level. That is so long as they are all within the same class.”Bookmark here

He totally decided to give a full on lecture just now. There was certainly an easier way to answer that question. She nodded quickly, wanting to get the explanation over with. “I see… though I’m assuming he’s of a similar rank to you all then correct?”Bookmark here

There was that question again that has been bothering her. Something wasn’t quite right with this whole situation. “Then…- what kind of mission was over here, that would require adventurers of your rank?” Just upon first glance, there shouldn’t be much that plagued this small little town. Nor should they have the funds to hire adventurers each time an event occurred. Bookmark here

Her eyes peered back at the giant castle overhanging the cliff. “Do you… happen to know the mission he had come out here to complete?”Bookmark here

The man thought about it for a second. “Ah… it was… well- he didn’t quite divulge to us the details.” Bookmark here

“Well, if there’s one person you should talk to in order to get information, it’s the old fool up there.” She pointed at the giant towering structure above. There was something that she had also wanted to confirm. But for now, she really did not want to deal with the man’s presence. It would only annoy her more. Bookmark here

Rinn, who had been standing quietly beside her softly tugged on her pants. Lusha spared her a quick glance, before nodding and giving a light wave to the man that spared his time for them. “I wish you all luck on your endeavors. Mr…”Bookmark here

“Roy. I wish you good tidings as well, Lusha of team Infinite.” He shared a glance to Rinn and politely waved as one would to a child. Roy quickly turned his back to them and left to meet up with his group. “Thank you for the help!” He said one more time before gathering the others. Bookmark here

“What’s going on, Rinn?”Bookmark here

“Was this city… like this yesterday?”Bookmark here

She nodded. “It was just as silent and empty as when we arrived yesterday. I can sense people all around us, yet they seem too wary of outsiders.”Bookmark here

Rinn pointed at the old man. “They’re all the same…. Feelings.”Bookmark here

“It’s a strange feeling. . . this mix of fear, mix of guilt, and hopelessness.” It loomed over the town in one mass amalgamation of despair. She had never witnessed something like this before. For everyone to feel the same thing at once. “-its…” as soon as she placed her finger on the answer, it disappeared from her mind and tongue. Bookmark here

Lusha nodded. “There’s definitely something more at play here than just bandits. I’m aware of it.”Bookmark here

“That old man of house Ozun. I’m sure he knows quite a lot he’s not letting on. I’m not sure what the goal is… but for now we’ll play along.”Bookmark here

“In the meantime, how about we explore this place a little bit more.” Bookmark here

“E-explore?”Bookmark here

“-Yes.” She answered quickly. A finger poked her nose “Ex-plo-ring.” She placed a hand on her chin and quickly thought of something else. “This may also be a good opportunity for you to train as well.”Bookmark here

“Should we get Gro--” Bookmark here

“Mm-mm.” She shook her head. “It may be a little too distracting with Grodd around while you’re training.” She recalled Grodd’s huffing and puffing regarding the earlier training and his boredom with witnessing her debacle.Bookmark here

Besides, Grodd may very well be interested in doing some exploring himself. The Goblin clearly had not interacted with humans enough to know their culture and customs. A largely empty village would make a fine first step in observing proper mannerisms. Bookmark here

“Erm… wh-what kind of game will we be playing?”Bookmark here

Lusha ushered her to the edge of the small village. We’ll be playing a game of I spy. “Depending on how well you do, I may commend you for your contribution to this mission.”Bookmark here

“Eh? I spy?”Bookmark here

She nodded. “But your eyes will remain closed. We will be using mana to detect different life-forms amongst us. If you’re lucky you’ll probably end up finding what we’re seeking for me.”Bookmark here

She nodded and bit her lip, readying her determination. “You mean… the bandits…?”Bookmark here

Lusha feigned as if she had not heard the response she said just now. “No… if you manage to find the bandits, we’ll take that option. But I don’t believe we’re truly dealing with such a clear cut situation.”Bookmark here

She wrapped a blindfold around the apprentice and led her by the hand.Bookmark here

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