TNG Vol. 16 Chapter 1 – Part 1

Shin was in Lanapacea, an elven village and Tiera’s hometown.

The World Tree located in the village, a pillar maintaining the world’s balance, was weakened and in danger.

Shin and his comrades attempted to heal the tree, but eventually discovered that its corruption was planned by Crissot, Tiera’s deceased father, who had fallen under the demons’ control. Furthermore, the Divine Beast Reforgerer, a being that could cause the world’s destruction, appeared too.

After a fierce battle, Shin managed to defeat Reforgerer.

Crissot was freed from the demons’ control and his soul, after saying his farewell to Tiera, rose into the skies—.

𑁋

“Okay, that’s finally taken care of, so let’s handle the other issues too!”

Tiera, who had wept as she parted with Crissot and Irene’s souls, now showed a very relieved expression.

It looked a bit forced, as she was probably embarrassed for crying so much in front of other people. Shin thought that it wasn’t the tears which made her ears look so red now.

The demons nestled in Lanapacea half self-destructed while using Crissot to further their plans.

The other elves presumably under demonic control were no longer acting wild either.

Reforgerer also disappeared at the same time as Crissot’s body.

For the time being, the factors threatening the destruction of the village were gone.

Even if there were still demons nearby, there was no way of knowing at the moment.

“Is the World Tree okay?”

Shin looked up at the World Tree after he heard Tiera’s words.

The World Tree had absorbed the globes of light, representing Irene’s soul and possibly Crissot’s, and was now shining with holy light. There was no more trace of miasmic impurity. Shin just asked to be sure.

“For the time being. It looks like a huge amount of impurity has been spent to fight against you and the others. What I felt is that Reforgerer consumes great quantities of impurity just by existing. If not, even if it was fighting against you, Shin, it would be impossible for that unnatural amount of impurity to decrease so much.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. I can see that its strength was supported by massive amounts of energy.”

It was known that Reforgerer used impurity as an energy source, but Shin and the other players thought it used impurity to power up its attacks and body.

Shin thought that Tiera’s theory was probably more correct.

If Reforgerer was considered as a creature that consumed impurity in order to preserve the world’s balance, it was perfectly plausible.

“Well, regardless of the secrets to its powers, it’s not an opponent I want to face ever again…”

Shin whispered to himself while looking at the cards of the Ancient-grade weapons rendered useless during the battle.

Shin could compete against Reforgerer only because the latter wasn’t in its complete form and Shin himself was powered up to levels far beyond his past self.

Without the “double stats” title, in particular, he wouldn’t have been able to cut the beast’s neck.

The casualties were just a few weapons.

Compared to the possibility of Schnee and the others being wounded, it was nothing. It was nothing, but—

“If it happens again, it’ll be really bad…”

Even if they did so through using Crissot, who belonged to a lineage of priestesses, the demons had successfully summoned Reforgerer nonetheless.

They knew of a way to do it. If they made preparations without Shin’s party knowing, no one could stop it.

They couldn’t rely completely on the mysterious power that Yuzuha mentioned, which supposedly led Shin to the World Tree when it was in danger.

They couldn’t say with confidence that it wouldn’t happen again. There was also no guarantee that a possible “next time” wouldn’t involve a fight against Reforgerer in its complete form.

Even in its incomplete form, four Ancient-grade weapons needed to be sacrificed. If it became complete, who knew what it would take to stop it.

Even if Shin was capable of forging Ancient-grade weapons, materials were limited. No matter how high his blacksmithing skill could be, weapons couldn’t be forged without materials.

“『True Moon』should be…”

“Still broken. If Sety pours her power in it, we should be able to go to the next step, though.”

As Shin had prioritized curing Schnee’s memory loss, he hadn’t asked Sety to pour her energy in 『True Moon』 yet.

He didn’t know what exactly would happen after she did, but Shin was sure that it operated in a different manner than the weapons he knew.

“ I guess we have to take care of the loose ends here first. The government is going to act, right? Though ever since we came here I haven’t noticed any action by them…”

“The demons probably ceased communication with the government or took control of the messenger. Otherwise the army surely would have responded to a situation like this.”

Some time had passed since the controlled elves started going wild.

At the very least, the government had to have noticed Reforgerer’s appearance.

There were military troops other than the warriors of the World Tree caretaker clans, so even if the emergency happened suddenly, it would be obvious for them to react somehow.

“They might have seen Shin’s battle against Reforgerer…”

Tiera sounded anxious.

Even if they didn’t know about Reforgerer, its massive size and the power of its beams were clear even at a distance. She was worried that they might classify Shin as a dangerous individual, as he took such a monster head-on.

“I went all out, after all…”

Shin had used Ancient-grade weapons and advanced skills without restraint. It was a battlefield that not even Chosen Ones would dare approach.

“I don’t know what kind of people there are in this country…if anything happens, can we use Schnee’s fame to somehow get away with it?”

Their most reliable asset at the moment was Schnee. They might be able to get away by overwhelming any opponent through force, but it was the very last resort.

“Shin is Schnee’s companion. She would never associate with someone who turns violent for no reason. He’s an elite warrior even among advanced Chosen Ones…if we put it like this, I believe they will respect us instead of getting any bizarre ideas.”

For the average person and Chosen Ones with only relatively high stats, advanced Chosen Ones — especially those on the level of Schnee and the others — were on a completely different planet. 

Their strength levels were too different, so they had no means to even compare them, stated Shibaid.

“A battle of that magnitude just happened, though. Some might request for such powerful warriors to stay in the country.”

Shibaid then turned towards Ordoss and the others.

They had not seen everything, but they had seen enough to realize how out of the ordinary Shin was.

Especially if Ordoss, captain of the protectors, talked about Shin’s feats, the king or other related parties might ask for him to stay.

The same could be said for Lymliss and the priestesses.

There was no guarantee that the demons wouldn’t return, so they might request for Shin to be her personal guard, or maybe even husband.

“Indeed, we have witnessed Sir Shin and Lady Schnee’s strength firsthand. If they would choose to remain here, it would be truly reassuring for all of us. And among the government’s elites, who did not fight against that monster, there might be some who could resort to the means Sir Shibaid mentioned.”

Thanks to his long life experience, Ordoss correctly understood what Shibaid implied.

Even if Lanapacea’s elves were in charge of protecting the World Tree, not all of them were pure and honest, as the current incident clearly showed.

“Lady Schnee, however, never remains long in a single place. Sir Shin and his party are also adventurers who travel often to fulfill all sorts of requests. Keeping them here would be difficult. Additionally, I doubt that the army’s late start allowed them to witness the whole battle. Lady Schnee fought the monster in a more visible manner, so if we say that its defeat was at her hands, without mentioning Sir Shin’s exploits, the top brass will not be able to say much. Furthermore, at present there is no one among us capable of stopping Sir Shin.”

Ordoss did not simply deny it, but said it in a way to admonish the other warriors.

The warriors, while reacting in slightly different ways, all nodded in agreement.

In the end, as Ordoss said, if Shin’s party said they would leave, there was no one that could stop them. The warriors had seen why with their own eyes.

“In any case, I believe that calming down the people’s discontent is our first priority.”

“Let us go together until we reach the residence, then. Even if the demons are gone, their influence might not disappear so quickly.”

“I could not ask you to do that….no, I see. If the situation was like before, Lady Lymliss and Lady Lina would be in danger too. My deepest apologies for the trouble, but please lend us your strength for a while longer.”

Ordoss bowed and the other warriors also kneeled and lowered their heads. If the warriors and the priestesses showed themselves in town, everyone would believe that the fighting was over.

“Let us go, then.”

The warriors formed a circle, with Shin’s group at the center, and started walking. Lymliss and Lina were able to speak, but they were physically spent, so they were riding on Kagerou.

Shin used his map and detection skills to make sure there weren’t any presences still rampaging in the city.

He couldn’t directly see the scanned locations, so he couldn’t be completely sure, but that was all he could do at the moment. As a result, he didn’t find any dangerous-looking presences.

The closer they went to the town, the more elves not belonging to the warrior class increased.

Everyone looked concerned: they were not panicking, probably because they saw Reforgerer collapse. 

After all, the Divine Beast’s massive body could easily be seen as far as the city.

“ Sir Warrior Chief could you tell us exactly what happened?”

The elves looked at Shin’s group while maintaining a certain distance, but one of them eventually resolved to approach them.

“Did you see something in the direction we came from?”

“Yes. A monster as large as a mountain…is that correct?”

“Indeed…the demons summoned that monster. Thanks to Lady Schnee Raizar and our priestesses, however, it has been felled. Please rest easy.”

The warrior chief nodded heavily and the elf seemed relieved.

“People, listen to me! I am sure many of you saw the monsters appearing from the forest. However, there is no need for concern! The famous elf, Schnee Raizar, has graciously lent us her powers, and, together with our priestesses, dispatched all the monsters! Go inform those not present here that the situation has been resolved!”

Ordoss probably was considerate of the fact that Tiera was worried about Shin. He did not mention him as he proclaimed that the exploit was thanks to Schnee and the priestesses.

Thanks to Ordoss’ authority as warrior chief, all elves who listened to his words looked relieved.

If Shin had spoken instead, they would have just thought that a strange Human started rambling all of a sudden. 

Shin and Shibaid were attracting a lot of attention, after all.

A Human and a Dragnil in a group of elves would surely stand out. The warriors did not say anything, however, so they probably did not think they were a threat.

At the very least, Shin did not feel any hostility or ill will from their gaze.

“We’re finally here.”

The group toured the city, with Ordoss proclaiming the situation was settled and Shin’s party attracting attention, a total of seven times. They were now finally in view of the Luderia residence.

Shin sighed, because being the target of the elves’ attention for so long was not exactly pleasant. Even if there was no hostility or malice, it was mentally taxing.

One of the elves standing guard at the gate saw the warriors approaching and ran inside the residence.

“Tiera!!”

“Lina!!”

Shin exhaled in relief as two elves rushed out of the residence, calling Tiera and Lina’s names.

They were Orlean and Herald: both of them had come to the residence. Since they were not wearing shoes, it was clear that they hurried outside as fast as they could.

Maybe because they saw that the two elves were safe, or maybe because they met Shin and the others’ eyes, they restrained themselves from running and bowed to Schnee.

“We have heard about what happened. We are deeply thankful for saving the village from the catastrophe our blunders have created.”

Ordoss apparently sent one of his subordinates ahead, as they already knew of Reforgerer’s defeat and the World Tree’s recovery.

Behind Orlean, Herald was bowing to Shin too.

“I am sure you are tired, but could you let us know what happened in detail?”

“Yes, that is why we came here. I trust you are the representative, yes?”

“Yes. As…that kind of thing happened to the head of our clan, I am the temporary representative.”

Orlean was definitely conflicted about the situation, as he answered Schnee with a stern look on his face.

Staying in front of the gates would attract attention, so they entered the residence for the time being.

People had already been sent to the room used by the clan head to inspect it. Naturally, they were people trusted not to be under the demons’ influence.

“Can we see it too? In Bulk’s case there were traps, so it might be dangerous.”

“That’s true—could we send someone from our group to see it too? Since it was used by a demon, it is likely to contain traps or other devices.”

Shin whispered a suggestion and Schnee agreed, so she made a proposal to Orlean. The room used by the father who plotted within the church was trapped, as Shibaid had reported.

Schnee made the proposal herself because Orlean did not know that Shin was the party leader. Without knowing about him, most people would assume that Schnee was the leader of the group.

“Yes, I see. There might be something beyond our abilities to find, so we would be glad to have your cooperation.”

“I’m going, then. Since there might be miasma involved, can you come too, Tiera?”

“Yes, of course.”

Shin left the rest of the explanations to Schnee and headed to the room in question with Tiera. Orlean seemed a bit perplexed, but Schnee said it was fine to leave everything to them, so he raised no objections.

The elf that accompanied them to the room explained the circumstances to the elves who were inspecting the room.

“We haven’t found anything like that at the moment.”

Since the elves heard Shin was with Schnee Raizar, they did not treat him particularly coldly, and he could ask them what they had discovered.

Tiera’s face was well known throughout the village, so they reacted with a mixture of confusion, fear, and reverence.

Based on the elves’ average longevity, they probably knew or remembered Tiera’s exile. Their attitude towards her at the time showed through their reactions.

“It’s true that it doesn’t look like there’s anything like last time in this room…”

In Palmirack it was extremely obvious, but this time not at all.

The elves said they found a booby-trapped box, so Shin activated his trap detection skill. He then felt a reaction from behind a bookshelf.

“This is pretty classic.”

It was a pretty common spot for hiding a secret room. Removing the bookshelf, however, showed a completely normal wall, so it was well hidden.

Upon closer inspection, Shin found out that opening it normally would trigger a trap that would cause multiple level X status ailments.

Since many of them affected the mind, it was probably used to control anyone who noticed the device.

Even if Shin triggered it, however, it wouldn’t affect him. It wasn’t powerful enough to exceed a High Human’s resistance.

Shin deactivated the trap and part of the wall revealed an opening. Inside there was a book and a golden crystal.

“That’s…father’s diary…”

Tiera looked at the cover and seemed to suddenly recall what it was.

Since it might contain important information, they decided to check it after regrouping with Schnee and the others, then turned towards the golden crystal.

It was about the size of an adult’s fist, glowing brighter in the center and more faintly on the surface. The center was gold, while the surface tended to the color white.

If it was a mineral, Shin’s【Appraisal】could identify it, but it only showed unintelligible gibberish. It was like so-called buggy text.

“Let’s analyze it later, then.”

They continued to examine the room for traps, but did not find even hidden safes or storages.

Shin asked Tiera for confirmation, but she did not feel any miasma in the surroundings.

“Let’s pick them up and go back to the others.”

Shin touched the crystal to turn it into an item card, but then it happened.

“Gah!?”

His sight blurred, static rushed through his ears.

In the blur he could see skyscrapers and other buildings, crowded street crossings, a classroom filled with students attending a lecture, and then— Shin himself, with his eyes closed.

—I can see.

The faces of his friends, of his beloved teachers, a house without him. His parents, slightly leaner than before. His younger siblings, grown older.

The changes brought in the time without him. 

—I can hear.

The noise of the city, cars speeding by, voices calling my name. My mother’s voice, my little brother’s voice, my little sister’s voice, my friends’ voice.

Nostalgic sounds I can’t hear now.

—I can feel.

The barrier between the real world and the other world. An invisible wall.

A crevice that separated the worlds.

𑁋

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