Chapter 29:

The Lost City and Zombie

Hour Empty Child

The sixth sun of the event rose from the horizon as usual, and the PlusFire were, of course, getting up early as usual.Bookmark here

The party members woke up with a stride as they felt energetic. After all, it was their final day collecting monster parts before they are done with their objectives. The party member said their greetings and planned their day as it was the final day.Bookmark here

“Alright, let’s recap. Hinota, which zones we went through so far this week?”Bookmark here

“We went through the withered trees zone, the wasteland zone, the savannah, snowy field, swamplands and a temple. We went through quite a bit of zones here…”Bookmark here

“I see,” Kudo nodded as he listened. “What else is left?”Bookmark here

“The only places left for us to go to would be the final two zones that I heard have pretty powerful exotic monsters.”Bookmark here

“P-powerful monsters?”Bookmark here

Mick stuttered as he felt his throat clogging up from the mention of powerful monsters than the ones they faced.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Mick,” Hinota placed her hand on Mick’s shoulder to comfort him. “You guys leveled nicely throughout the week. Now you guys can handle the last two zones.”Bookmark here

“Yep, that’s right!”Bookmark here

Kudo shouted in response to Hinota’s cheer, getting the three of the members to look at them in surprise.Bookmark here

“Did you guys planned on leveling us while we were doing the event?”Bookmark here

Eruda asks as it was the question that each of them held in their minds.Bookmark here

“Sorry, we didn’t mean to be manipulative…”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Kudo. What we did wasn’t manipulative. We were only power-leveling them.”Bookmark here

Hinota said as she placed her hands on her hips with a look of arrogance on her face. The other three’s sweat dropped as they heard this, amazed at how their leaders actually fit in the time to level them up even while it was during the event.Bookmark here

“T-That’s amazing, you two…”Bookmark here

“Then, let’s move forward! Ooh!”Bookmark here

Kudo, being the positive one, extended his hand to rally up his members, which actually worked, as they extended their fists into the air to go along with the flow.Bookmark here

The PlusFire traversed the zones after picking everything up from their campsite to head towards the final zones.Bookmark here

Throughout the traverse, the group started in a conversation to pass the time as Hinota led them towards the final zones with her incredible memory.Bookmark here

“You know, instead of calling them the final two… how about we give them a name? Like ‘Double Trouble’!”Bookmark here

Lailah spoke up in the midst of their conversation as she caught the attention of the other members.Bookmark here

“Double Trouble?”Bookmark here

“Yeah! There’s two of them, and they are sure to bring in lots of trouble!”Bookmark here

Lailah made this simple conclusion as Mick felt oddly embarrassed as he heaved a small sigh.Bookmark here

“Mmh, I can’t find anything wrong about that.”Bookmark here

“Oh! If Hinota likes it, then it’s perfect! She’s great with names.”Bookmark here

Mick’s eyes opened wide to hear the two leaders agreeing to the name change.Bookmark here

“Then, we’ll call the final zones ‘Double Trouble’ from now on?” Eruda spoke up as Hinota nodded.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’ll be an interesting memory.”Bookmark here

“Yay! I got to name something!”Bookmark here

Lailah extended both her arms as she gained a glorious victory in her mind.Bookmark here

“Geez, Nee-chan, you always get excited for no reason.”Bookmark here

“Eh… what’s wrong with that?! Lots of guys like this kind of attitude.”Bookmark here

“Nee-chan, the fact that you do this to get guys is a bad fault already…”Bookmark here

“No way! I mean, Kudo is totally falling for me, right, Kudo~?”Bookmark here

Lailah suddenly grabs Kudo’s arm in a flirty grab, shocking most of the members with her sudden close contact, especially Kudo as his face glows bright red.Bookmark here

“Eh?! Ah… well…”Bookmark here

His voice stuttered as her sudden tone made him flustered.Bookmark here

“Nee-chan, don’t do that. You’re bothering him.”Bookmark here

“Tch, you always cramp my style, Micky.”Bookmark here

Lailah clicked her tongue as she lets go of Kudo’s arm, getting him to breath out of relief.Bookmark here

“You know that Hinota might get angry for that!”Bookmark here

Mick’s sudden claim rang out, reaching to the ears of Hinota and Kudo.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I know. I was just joking~! Kudo knows that and so does Hinota.”Bookmark here

“But don’t do that anyways! What if Hinota feels uncomfortable from that?”Bookmark here

“That’s right, Lailah. You should think about Hinota’s feelings regarding Kudo.”Bookmark here

“Ah… I suppose I have been a little forward…”Bookmark here

Eruda included herself in Lailah’s chiding as Lailah gazed downwards and realized that her actions were unfavorable. The rest of the conversation made Hinota finally speak up.Bookmark here

“H-Hey, why do you think I would be bothered by that?”Bookmark here

“Well, in the end, you two are like dating, right?”Bookmark here

Hearing so suddenly the words ‘dating’ left the two to nearly stumble and fall forward, nearly catching themselves in time as they turned on their heels and shouted:Bookmark here

“W-We’re not! Like I said, we’re just close friends!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah! That’s right!”Bookmark here

The way the two of them flustered as they assured their actual relationship brought the members to glare at them suspiciously, leaving them to be pressured by their intense staring.Bookmark here

“ “Right…” ” Eruda and Lailah spoke up in unison.Bookmark here

“Even if you told me before, after this week, I just can’t believe it, Kudo…” Mick said his own words regarding the first night they spent together.Bookmark here

“I told you, it’s not like that!”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

After walking for what felt like an hour, they have reached one of the Double Trouble zones, and they were astounded, to say the least.Bookmark here

What they have found was an abandoned city. A city that the Adventurers could tell that it prospered, but clearly that time ended badly.Bookmark here

The buildings were tarnished, the streets dirty and filled with gods knows what. The air filled with dust and particles that invaded their breathing with mal intent.Bookmark here

“Khh!” Kudo coughs a bit after breathing in the dusty air.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you OK?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah… I’m just not used to this dirty place.”Bookmark here

Kudo has lived his entire life living in the fresh air of Arkhem. Being in this city which air has been abandoned and could be treated as lethal, Kudo’s body couldn’t take it.Bookmark here

“Kudo, this place might be bad for you. For someone who was raised in a village filled with clean air, this might be poison to you.”Bookmark here

“D-Don’t worry!” Kudo waved his hands to assure Hinota. “If I can’t even handle this place, I can’t call myself an Adventurer. I’ll be fine!”Bookmark here

“…Adventurers are not all-mighty, you know.”Bookmark here

Eruda spoke up which caught Kudo’s attention as well as everyone else.Bookmark here

“A-Ah… I know that.”Bookmark here

Kudo remembered what happened to Eruda as she spoke these words, remembering the time where she almost died trying to save her friends from a failed hunting quest. Kudo felt a small guilt in his heart as he made Eruda remember that terrible time.Bookmark here

“Eruda, you sound so dreary! Kudo was just trying to hype himself up!”Bookmark here

Lailah grabbed on to Eruda’s arm as she made her claim. Eruda’s eyes perked up as she realized what she said.Bookmark here

“Ah… I’m so sorry! I sounded so condescending.”Bookmark here

“I-It’s fine! There’s no problem!” Kudo waved his hands frantically as he tried to help her feel better. “What you said is true too. We need to be careful in this place.”Bookmark here

Kudo furrowed his eyes as he realizes the situation he is in. Hinota nodded in agreement as the PlusFire headed towards the town’s center, looking for the exotic beast lurking within its borders.Bookmark here

As they walk, Kudo was reminded of a town like this in one of the books that he has bought before.Bookmark here

“Hey… could this town be Azuria?”Bookmark here

“Azuria?”Bookmark here

Hinota and the rest looked up to Kudo for his knowledge about this town. Kudo hesitated, but then he cleared his throat as he continued on.Bookmark here

“I heard about a town that lived near dangerous areas filled with powerful monsters, so I thought this might be it. If I remember correctly…” Kudo looked up as he remembered the words from the book. “This town was filled with powerful [Warriors] and [Mages] since they kept fighting off the invading monsters of the other areas.”Bookmark here

“Oh, sounds powerful…”Bookmark here

Hinota sounded impressed of a town that kept fighting and living all this time.Bookmark here

“But then something happened. A famous magician decided to end all the invasions, by creating his own plague.”Bookmark here

“A-A plague!?”Bookmark here

Lailah spoke up loudly as the other two were taken aback as well. Hinota asked next:Bookmark here

“What happened next?”Bookmark here

“Well, normally, it should have been used to kill off the monsters. The effect of this plague was causing the monsters to have deteriorating bodies, so they should be easier to kill. However, the magician supposedly made a mistake. The plague spread around the city, but it didn’t affect the monsters. It affected the other people living here instead.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s so terrible! One mistake and everyone suffers…” Mick’s body shook at the thought of hurting so many people. “W-Wait, doesn’t that mean that the plague is still here?!”Bookmark here

“Of course not. It happened over a hundred years ago—it’s long gone by now.”Bookmark here

Kudo waved his hand to wipe off the worries in their hearts. Then, Eruda asked:Bookmark here

“Then, what happened to the human beings here?”Bookmark here

“In the book, the humans died off one by one. But supposedly, something else appeared and took down the invading monsters that ran in.”Bookmark here

“Then…”Bookmark here

“The plague worked, just not at how the magician wanted it to…”Bookmark here

Mick and Eruda spoke in a dispirited tone. After hearing about their unfortunate deaths, Hinota stopped the group from moving forward, leaving Kudo to look at Hinota.Bookmark here

“Kudo, were the humans… really dead? Because I think I can tell what came afterward to fight off the monsters.”Bookmark here

Hinota pointed her index finger towards the front, getting Kudo to turn his sight.Bookmark here

A creature coming out of hiding from a nearby building slowly crept up outside. The creature seemed human, but its skin deteriorated and its eyes were sunken. Raspy groaning was heard out of the creatures’ mouth. It trudged along slowly outside, then faced its rotten body towards to the PlusFire.Bookmark here

GRAAHH…Bookmark here

The creature, known as a Zombie, stretched its decaying arms at the PlusFire.Bookmark here

“UWWAAHHH!!”Bookmark here

Kudo did not take this down. He screamed so loudly that it shocked the other four to the point of screaming themselves.Bookmark here

“Ahh! Kudo, what the hell?! Don’t scare me like that!”Bookmark here

“T-T-That’s…”Bookmark here

“A Zombie,” Hinota answered the quivering Kudo’s question as she unsheathes her katana. “This must be the result of the plague.”Bookmark here

“Ah… it’s so gross and scary…”Bookmark here

Kudo whined as he hastily brandished his sword out to face against the lethargic zombie closing in on them.Bookmark here

“Only one? Could this be a trap?”Bookmark here

“Hey, this makes it easier for us! Don’t jinx it!”Bookmark here

“…It’s coming.”Bookmark here

The other three members readied their weapons themselves. But really, fire fully armored Adventurers against one zombie caught everyone’s mind in a bundle.Bookmark here

“D-Do you think that we’re overdoing it?”Bookmark here

“Hold on, it’s doing something…”Bookmark here

After Kudo asked, Hinota pointed at the zombie again. The zombie then moves its slow hand towards its stomach, showing its inners. He pierces through its stomach, making the other 5 nearly retch as it pulled out something metal and sharp.Bookmark here

“H-He pulled out a sword out of his stomach!”Bookmark here

Lailah shouted in disgust as a sharp sword riddled in rotting blood appeared in the zombie’s hand as it made a stance. The zombie was then ready to fight.Bookmark here

“I-It looks like it’s a Warrior Zombie. That sword means that it’s capable of surviving close-combat.”Bookmark here

“Then, we really should be serious.”Bookmark here

Hinota brandishes her katana at the Warrior Zombie. The zombie, though its clothing was in tatters and couldn’t possibly offer it any defense, the zombie rushed towards Hinota with no regard to its safety.Bookmark here

Hinota backstepped when the zombie slashes her, making its sword miss by a wide gap. Hinota continues to sidestep, missing every one of the slow and wide attacks made by the lethargic zombie. As it attacks, Hinota quickly swung up her blade and slices its rotting stomach.Bookmark here

Grahhh…Bookmark here

The zombie groans louder, as if it was getting frustrated. Hinota and the zombie separated as the zombie felt no pain whatsoever.Bookmark here

Hinota was slightly surprised that her blade did not eliminate the zombie, even less managed to hurt it.Bookmark here

“Hinota! It’s an undead-type! It won’t feel pain unless you cut off their heads!”Bookmark here

Kudo shouted as the party stayed behind, knowing that Hinota can handle this.Bookmark here

Hinota nodded as she understood, and watched the zombie make some kind of stance. It pulled the sword back, putting it near its rotting chest as its other hand extends up to the blade’s length.Bookmark here

In Hinota’s eyes, the zombie was using an advanced charge technique, kicking against the ground as it aimed the sword right at Hinota’s throat.Bookmark here

But it was too slow.Bookmark here

Hinota easily sidesteps once more, missing the strike as she countered by slashing across its decomposing neck.Bookmark here

GRAAHH!Bookmark here

The zombie’s last groans rang out in the dusty air as the head separated from the body, leaving it to fall motionlessly to the ground along with the head.Bookmark here

“Whoo! Hinota, you’re the best!”Bookmark here

Lailah cheered as her brother and Eruda all clapped at her performance. Though, Kudo was the only one that looked away as watching the disembodiment was too much for him.Bookmark here

“Kudo! Don’t be such a pansy! It’s just an undead.”Bookmark here

Hinota noticed his weak moment and shouted at him, causing him to flinch as his brow twitched in frustration.Bookmark here

“Eh… Am I? Well, I guess to a barbarian like you, this much is nothing.”Bookmark here

Kudo shot back a similar insult which caused Hinota’s brow to twitch as well.Bookmark here

“…Is something going to happen?” Lailah whispered to Eruda as the both of them shivered as malicious aura came out of their two leaders.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you better take that back, before you regret it.”Bookmark here

“Then take back the pansy insult?”Bookmark here

“Take back that barbarian nonsense first!”Bookmark here

“You take it back first!”Bookmark here

The two leaders somehow entered into a heated argument over the insults which left the three other members to passively stand by as they watch their leaders fight on. They could tell what kind of aura they were both releasing:Bookmark here

Hinota’s aura was that of a tiger.Bookmark here

While Kudo’s aura resembled a bunny.Bookmark here

Watching this slightly apocalyptic event in front of them left Lailah to quiver in fear while the other two did the same.Bookmark here

“I-I don’t know, but somehow, I see them as our parents that fight every once in a while…”Bookmark here

Mick squinted his eyes as he vaguely recalls his parents having these lover’s quarrels before, and he could see the same thing between Kudo and Hinota.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, it really does look like that…”Bookmark here

“They really do seem like a mother and father. It’s really nice to see that in them.”Bookmark here

Though Eruda meant that in the nicest way, the two leaders heard her comment and made their own argument:Bookmark here

“ “We’re are not mother and father!!” ”Bookmark here

“Ah… now we’ve done it. Even though they stated that they weren’t dating…Bookmark here

“Nice going, Eruda.”Bookmark here

“E-Eh? W-What did I say?!”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

For a short time, Kudo and Hinota were still at odds with each other, often making the other three worried over their synergy for the expedition.Bookmark here

However, throughout the venture into the city, the PlusFire found more zombies.Bookmark here

This time, there were more appropriately dressed zombies, such as the Knight Zombie that was covered in rusty heavy armor, and the Mage Zombie that wore a dirty robe.Bookmark here

The group of zombies charged after the five, turning into a giant group battle.Bookmark here

They fought hard. All five of them used their abilities to the max, fending off against the zombie menace with their skills and techniques provided by Kudo.Bookmark here

However, they were quite stronger than the slow zombie Hinota fought before. Kudo decided to call in a retreat, pulling back the team under the guise of the 【Plus Bomb】’s smokescreen.Bookmark here

After they retreated, the heat on them decreased as Kudo called the party together to make up a plan. After realizing that their levels were higher than the singular zombie, they decided to go out with a strategic start.Bookmark here

First, Kudo heads in, catching their attention as he places several 【Plus Bombs】 onto them, and after running away in a few seconds, the bombs exploded and left them all blinded by the smoke. Eruda shot at them with her skills while Kudo was issuing the bombs.Bookmark here

After the smoke commenced, Lailah closed in outside of the smokescreen and cast her 【Flame Orb】, causing intense heat and damage to the blinded zombies after getting buffed up by her brother Mick’s buff.Bookmark here

Finally, once the smoke cleared, Hinota closed in thanks to her enchanted speed buff and slashed them apart with her favorite 【Flaming Strike】.Bookmark here

The battle was over. The PlusFire won this fight.Bookmark here

“Whaa~! That was a handful~!” Lailah extended her hands to stretch them out.Bookmark here

“I don’t want to go through that again…” Mick heaved a tired sigh.Bookmark here

“Mmh, it was quite troublesome,” Eruda muttered as she agreed with Mick.Bookmark here

As the other members conversed, Kudo, as always, was on looting duty—though he wishes he didn’t have to do it—as he excavated the bodies with a clear disgust showing on his face as he digs out their insides, trying to find whatever loot that they have.Bookmark here

“Mmh?” Kudo muttered out as he sees something shining on one Mage Zombie’s rotted finger. He sees a circular silver band, with a shining gem embedded in the middle, glimmering from the sun’s light, catching Kudo’s eyes.Bookmark here

“Oh… could this be?!”Bookmark here

Kudo hastily grabs the ring as it left the finger behind and appraised the item.Bookmark here

Name: Ring of Mana Control
【Rare】Bookmark here

The ring was made by a family of well-known mages. Through a special reforming technique, this ring was forged with a special jewel that absorbs the surrounding pure mana around the user, filling up their mana pool. Bookmark here

【Traits】 {Lowest MP Regen}
—————————————————————————————————————Bookmark here

Kudo was left in awe as his mouth gaped at the effect of the item. Hinota noticed his surprised look, and then noticed his overbearing sight on the ring in his hand.Bookmark here

“Kudo, what’s wrong?” Hinota asked in concern as Kudo slowly turned his head, as if he was a zombie himself.Bookmark here

“…Hinota, I think I just found an item that will make you more awesome.”Bookmark here

Kudo spoke in the most serious tone he could muster which got Hinota to slowly widen her eyes, making them shimmer grandly.Bookmark here

“Really?!”Bookmark here

“Yeah!” Kudo shouted as Hinota ran to him. “You gotta wear this! This ring will help you regain [MP] much faster! It says ‘Lowest’ here, so that means that you’re [MP] recovery rate increases by 5%!”Bookmark here

“So, along with my passive skill, I can increase my [MP] rate even further?!” Hinota’s tone gradually became louder as her tapered eyes widened, catching onto the excitement of the mood.Bookmark here

“Yes!”Bookmark here

“Yosha~!!”Bookmark here

Kudo gave the ring without hesitation, getting her to quickly put it on her middle right finger. As her slender finger slowly enters the ring, she could feel a rising power deep within it. Once she put it on, she felt a sense of a spiral that sucked inwards into the vast space inside the crevice, which to her knowledge, was the ring itself. The spiral sucking everything in was the power it emitted, and what’s sucking in was the mana around the air.Bookmark here

“Whoa…” During her impressed muttering, she quickly checked her status screen, and saw her [MP] points rising faster than normal.Bookmark here

“It’s working! My [MP] is rising faster now!”Bookmark here

“Alright! Congrats, Hinota! You just became more dangerous to all the monsters!”Bookmark here

Kudo clapped as he put on a show for Hinota, getting her to feel even more badass than she did before. All the while, the other members watched the scene as the two party leaders, who just recently broke out a fight, instantly got back together in excitement over a new rare item.Bookmark here

“They’re really are like an old couple that fights easily and makes up easily…” Lailah extended her sigh as the rest of the party members felt the same.Bookmark here

“It’s like the fight never happened.”Bookmark here

Eruda shared a faint smile at the two, feeling grateful as they were not fighting anymore, despite that it was a childish fight.Bookmark here

However, her ears pricked up on instinct after having heard something malicious in the air. She quickly turned her head, looking for the source of the strange sounds that the air was emitting.Bookmark here

“Eruda, what’s wrong?”Bookmark here

Lailah noticed Eruda’s frantic change as the other members, including the leaders, checked on her condition.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah…”Bookmark here

“Really? I don’t hear anything…” Kudo said curiously as he huddled his ears with his hand, trying to hear whatever sound she was listening, but there was no sound.Bookmark here

“Elves’ hearing are much stronger than humans. We can pick up even a pin drop from a mile away.” Eruda explained as she continues to listen to the strange sounds.Bookmark here

“Wow! That’s amazing!”Bookmark here

“Calm down, Kudo,” Hinota put her hand on Kudo’s shoulder to calm him. She then faced Eruda and asked for the situation. “What do you hear?”Bookmark here

“…I hear…”Bookmark here

“Hear what?”Bookmark here

Hinota asks again, getting everyone feeling tense as Eruda finally made out the sounds in her mind.Bookmark here

“…Roars.”Bookmark here

Eruda’s sudden claim got everyone on the edge! What in the name of Yarim is going on in this city? Find out next week! Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.