Chapter 49:

Chapter 45: To the Man Who Lost Everything

The Immortal Witch's Death Wish

“It was 3 months ago… I’m not sure when it exactly began, but it was shortly after- Gagan arrived at the village. He and his team Aman had come through this village on their route to no man’s land. Everyone was excited. We-... we were all celebrating and excited to see him.”Bookmark here

Lusha cocked an eyebrow, prompting the man to stop. “I’m sorry, who is Gagan?”Bookmark here

“Y- you… seriously don’t know?”Bookmark here

She shook her head. “Gagan of team Exalt. They’re a duo. Hero rank adventurers number 8 and 9… and the heroes who saved Goumei from the wrath of the demon.”Bookmark here

She nodded. “Ah I see. Do you guys normally celebrate all heroes that come by here?”Bookmark here

“N-no.. it's just- we’re a small village. It may have been the most important thing that may have happened to this village.”Bookmark here

“Mhm. I got it. I got it. Go on.” Bookmark here

“Well. Shortly after, people began acting strange. Lord Ozun imposed a lockdown on everyone, talking of bandits and all different manners of crazed delusions.”Bookmark here

“Well, were the bandits there?”Bookmark here

“.... they were. But they had never once stepped foot in the village. In truth, we haven’t seen them since the day the lockdown was imposed. People began disappearing for days at a time whenever they left their houses.”Bookmark here

He gripped his hands together. “They’d come back… different. There was something entirely different about them. I thought I was imagining it at first… but truly, they were not the same people I knew. I grew up here, I can te-”Bookmark here

“Is that what happened to your wife and child?”Bookmark here

He froze up and his voice went back to quiet. “I-....if I had known, I would have never-- I…” tears began to well up in his eyes again. Bookmark here

“Ah… I’m sorry I asked.”Bookmark here

He wiped them away. “No… no.. i-its fine” he paused for a couple of seconds, gathering his thoughts. Bookmark here

“Lord Ozun showed up to my house… personally. He had requested that I place them in his care until the adventurers arrived… many people had been missing since then.. I thought- I thought it would have been better for them.”Bookmark here

He gulped. “When the adventurers came to the village… they were-- I don’t know what to call this? Shells. They knew nothing of their old selves. They continued talking and acting like my wife and daughter. They acted shamelessly as if I could not see through them.”Bookmark here

“How dare they parade around in their bodies like this. Talk in their bodies.” He wiped tears from his eyes. “I should have stopped them…”Bookmark here

He took the time to calm his nerves down. “Since then… several people all over the village… they haven’t been the same. I don’t know when it will happen to me too. Eventually it will happen to us all.”Bookmark here

“I understand… this is why you were so afraid? Others must have realized this too. Is this why noone will talk with us? Even though we could save them?”Bookmark here

“.... three months. In the past three months, 7 different teams have already perished in their attempt to save us. This village. Is a trap. I don’t know what he wants with adventurers. But every time, they’re gradually requesting stronger and stronger adventurers.”Bookmark here

“You say they as if you have some sort of idea who’s the one responsible for all of this. Who is the ‘they’ you speak of?”Bookmark here

“.....”Bookmark here

“Lord Ozun.”Bookmark here

Lusha’s suspicions were confirmed. Bookmark here

“I had spent all of this time thinking what this could be…. I even dissected my family in an attempt to stop their movements. I’m not sure what manner of plans he had come up with, or what study he is doing.. But I think we all know it’s him. After-all, the bloody history of the Ozun family could not be swept under the rug”Bookmark here

“Bloody history?”Bookmark here

“The Ozun family… They were masters of espionage and assassinations. With their inscription magic, they murdered scores of officials during the civil war.”Bookmark here

“Hmm? And what do you think of this current activity. What could the relation be to the war?”Bookmark here

“... I’m not sure… I suspect he’s using us all as experiments. He first tested on his own children. This is why only one of the two remains.”Bookmark here

“Two?”Bookmark here

The man nodded. “The older brother. They usually always parade throughout the village and greet everyone. They’re the liveliest bunch anywhere on Goumei. With those bright smiles… they could change anyones day.”Bookmark here

He inhaled again. “Though as I recall… shortly before all of this, they were nowhere to be seen.”Bookmark here

Lusha exhaled softly. There was something that was missing here. The time-frame, all the factors surrounding the odd occurrence… the missions and false missions. No doubt the missions were put out utilizing inscription magic. But what about the necromancy? Could this perhaps be a utilization of inscription magic? No… there was something else that was missing. Bookmark here

“Hey… Gagan… was it? Of team Exalt...when did the brothers disappear?”Bookmark here

“ was the day after Gagan’s departure.”Bookmark here

She wondered about that. There wasn’t a way that Gagan did not tie into everything. Out of all the occasions listed, this was the only unexpected occurrence. Everything else has thus-far been orchestrated. From the missions, to the lockdown, to the bandits and necromancy.Bookmark here

Lusha observed the two bodies and their moving forms. “I don’t suspect these two will cease moving soon. However, I sense no mana within them. It may be better for you to burn the bodies. Let them have their final rest.”Bookmark here

She picked up Rinn. “Thank you for your help. I will be going now.”Bookmark here

“I..-I will.” Bookmark here

“And don’t worry---” she paused for a second wondering if she had ever got the man’s name.Bookmark here

“Ehm… Holt.”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry Holt. I’ll take care of this problem for you guys.”Bookmark here

“Please... just stay safe.. everything is already over for this village.”Bookmark here

She yawned exaggeratedly loud. “I’m a cut above the rest of these adventurers. There should be no problem.”Bookmark here

“Though, I do suppose just for your safety… [Barrier Magic]; Inaccessible Void”Bookmark here

Nothing seemed to change. There was no barrier coating or anything around the man. “I’ve applied the ability to the room. See?”Bookmark here

She kicked one of the shoes at the wall. Instead of striking the wall, it disappeared and appeared back out into the room from the opposite wall. “Should anyone try to leave, they would only continue endlessly inside this wall. Should anyone try to enter, the same thing will happen.”Bookmark here

The man looked nervous at the news. “Don;’t worry. It should deactivate once I take care of the enemy. That… or once I perish. But don’t worry, that is an unlikely scenario.”Bookmark here

The man nodded. “Thank you..--”Bookmark here

“Lusha. Of team Infinite.” She carried the tired and sleepy Rinn over her shoulder. “This ones the one you really have to be thankful for anyways. I’ll be tak----!!”Bookmark here

BOOOOOOM!!! Bookmark here

DOUM!! DOUM !! DOOM!!Bookmark here

A shriek filled the skies that could hardly sound human. Alarmed, Lusha placed Rinn down near the man. “Please keep a watch on her for me.”Bookmark here

The man nodded, too scared to say anything. Bookmark here

There was a brief sensation of various different energy signatures spiking. She quickly utilized her pulse to get a clear view of the situation. There appeared to be four assailants engaging in combat against the old man.Bookmark here

At first there was cause for alarm, but upon analyzing the situation, there didn’t seem to be anything going wrong. Given the ranks of each of these adventurers, there was little to no way they would suffer a loss. Bookmark here

“Still… did they find out about the situation?”Bookmark here

For the time being there was no need for recourse or action. “This may be a good opportunity to see the current rank’s expectation.”Bookmark here

She should interfere once the match is complete should they attempt to do anything to the lord Ozun before she receives her answers.Bookmark here

“Hoh! Not a bad combination!” she exclaimed, smashing her fist into her open palm. “Yet still… is the lord supposed to be that strong? I mean…”Bookmark here

“What is it? What’s going on?” The old man asked frantically. Bookmark here

“Hm? It seems the fight’s already reached its conclusion. It was a fairly fast sequence of events.Bookmark here

“Ah- s-so… it's done with?”Bookmark here

Lusha nodded. “Lord Ozun is definitely out for the count. It will be hard to extract information from him now. Ugh. I wasn’t expecting them to go overboard and ki-”Bookmark here

“No way…- But… that’s not right? -- you fools!”Bookmark here

The next course of action was over before anyone could react, blasting through the thick reinforced walls of his castle. The sound was larger than the explosion earlier. The impact shook the ground even where she was, at least 200 meters away.Bookmark here

She could quickly feel the man’s life force deteriorate and quickly meet its end. It was actually instantaneous. Alas, the body doesn’t tend to want to give up, even when it is an impossibility.Bookmark here

She calmly went over and picked up Rinn over her shoulders. “Hey Rinn, are you still awake?”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

She responded weakly. “I need you to confirm something for me.” Bookmark here

With that, she set off. There were no worries. Even if it had come down to it, there was no way this man would be a threat. She was certain of it. She could easily dispose of him while keeping Rinn safe. Bookmark here

She quickly made haste to the man’s location. The sound of fists colliding into the ground continued. “Is he basically just a mad beast now?” The man was pummelling what was now just splatters of bone matter, gravel, dust and flesh. Bookmark here

“Hey… old man. Have you finally abandoned all the noble act and let loose?”Bookmark here

Lusha’s eyes scanned the man in front of him. Something was different. Vastly different. First, his mass was almost tripled in size. It didn’t appear to be transformation magic or anything of the sort. This mass was an organic change in body composition. His muscles rippled with grotesque detail and blood vessels readily displayed themselves. Bookmark here

Ozun looked back at the witch with a look that could only be described as pure rage.Bookmark here

“Rinn… is he?”Bookmark here

Rinn shook her head. “N-no… this one too…. Is deceased.”Bookmark here

The mystery continued to only present more and more questions. Her answer didn’t sit well with her. If Ozun is not the one behind everything. Then who would be the puppet master behind this all. Bookmark here

“Gagan… Bandits...”Bookmark here

She let out a long agitated sigh. To think that she would end up wasting this much time on a mission that wasn’t even real. “I’m beginning to tire of this all.”Bookmark here

Ozun charged at her at blazing speed. His muscles contracted, taking in one last breath before pushing out tremendous speeds. It was almost like the sound of a whistle could be heard, a loud and deep whistling noise. In what seemed like the blink of an eye his fist had come barrelling down upon Lusha. The collision from his fists would have probably crushed her skull upon impact. In fact, that’s what it should have done.Bookmark here

Comparing the masses, the moment the fist collided with her face, the barrier had already activated. [Absolute Doman] her dormant technique. So long as she didn’t make any movements, it would block everything that this man had the ability to throw at her. Of course, it does have several holes within the technique itself. However, in the face of an opponent that lacks thought or mental fortitude, there was no chance of him discovering them.Bookmark here

Rinn observed the various different inscriptions all around his body. “So you’d been using inscriptions to add power to this body… even at the expense of your own health… I suppose that would be the optimal way to use a corpse.”Bookmark here

She promptly utilized manipulation magic, hardening the tip of her fingers to that of diamond. The man, realizing this, attempted to counter and grab her hand. That proved to be ineffective as her hand bore through his, dividing the arm in two down the entire length of it. Ozun promptly attempted to retreat and create distance for his next attack, but Lusha kept her persuit. Bookmark here

Before the man could fully back up no more than 2 feet, her hands had penetrated the man’s chest. With precision that could only be described as terrifying, she carved out the lord’s heart and held it within her hands. Bookmark here

The pieces of flesh surrounding his wound quickly closed back together. His hand had now rejoined each other back to their full glory. Lusha observed carefully. The heart was still in her hand, but there was some sort of force drawing it all back to the original body. That, and it was still beating as if it was still in his chest. “Regeneration?... no not quite..”Bookmark here

This was something she couldn’t get. “Why would you go through the trouble of placing a beating heart on a corpse? It should not need anything like that… in fact, everything thus far about these corpses all mimic the livelihood of real human beings.”Bookmark here

The heart eventually flew from her hands as the force pulled even that back together. “It’s not quite regeneration… more like recuperation. The pieces were simply being all brought back together to appear as if it is still in original form. Yet, unmistakably, the damaged tissues were still damaged.Bookmark here

“Very well… tell me more about yourself, Ozun!” She smiled. Her aura began to swell inside her before she prepared to move out. The air got thicker. “[Aura-” She quickly stopped. “Ah that’s right… I almost forgot Rinn was on my back. That could have turned into a disaster…” She secretly apologized to Rinn.Bookmark here

She set the young Rinn down on the ground and turned to face the man who still had resolved himself to face her. It appeared more inscriptions were being applied to try and increase his physical prowess. She leapt into action and fully sprinted after the man to counter.Bookmark here

“That’s a waste of time. Simply lay down and die, kindly.” Bookmark here

“[Elemental Magic [Rising Geyser]” The wind instantly picked up from underneath the man and shot outwards, sending his body hurdling without warning. Any attempt to remain grounded was instantly circumvented by the force of the wind steadily increasing. Bookmark here

“Pinnacle Skill [End Flame]” A small little candle light flame appeared above her fingers. They compressed into one tiny ball the size of a marble. As the flame formed, the wind became heavy. One's clothes clung onto their bodies and the ground began to sink. Even Rinn was beginning to find it hard to breathe, despite being several meters back. Bookmark here

When the marble met with the geyser everything went silent. Not a single sound could be heard, not even the sound of the wind. It appeared as if the world had stood still for more than 10 seconds. Then came a sound, a hollow sound similar to the sound of wind blowing through a thick bottle. Bookmark here

At that time, there was most-probably no one in the village who could not have heard that sound. It was chilling. A brief feeling of death seemed to travel up Rinn’s spine as she saw all of this unfold. Then a flash of light. Bookmark here

She quickly closed her eyes, but it was no use. She could see through her eyelids. In fact, even Lusha was entirely see through, as were all the buildings. Bookmark here

BOOOOOOOM!!!!!Bookmark here

Flames as orange as the setting sun burst upwards following the trail of the geyser. The man attempted to brace himself and shield against the impact with extra forticiation, but to no avail. His entire body charred and turned to ash long before the flames touched him. Almost 400 meters up in the sky, he was reduced to nothing but a memory.Bookmark here

The geyser seemed to have prevented the force of the explosion from heading anywhere but upwards. As a result, a giant tower towering to the clouds burned brightly with its molten orange glow. Bookmark here

Rinn had already lost vision. And with the sound just now, her ears were also gone. She felt a pair of hands grab her, which she could only assume to be Lusha’s. “Sorry, I could have at least given you a warning huh?”Bookmark here

She placed Rinn on her back. “Oh that’s can’t really hear me either.”Bookmark here

“Well. I’m certain that flame decimated Ozun just now. So it turns out flames will work just as well. I’ll be heading back to the castle now.”Bookmark here

There was one last person she wanted to check with. If Ozun isn’t the perpetrator. The children will know of the events that have occurred. That was for sure. The geyser slowly disappeared after she left. Yet the smoke did not cease. The trail would probably stay there for the rest of the week.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.