Having crossed the Sinus territory, we continued to advance through the forest.
"Monica told me that there is a village down the road called Noelia."
"It seems to be a small place where many humans live. They say it's in a valley, so they serve delicious wild vegetables."
"I'm looking forward to it."
While riding the Behemoth, I look at the map and am filled with anticipation.
A village in a valley, which means the mountains must be nearby.
Someone once told me that mountains are a forbidden passion of men.
The farthest peak is where a man must aim.
If there is a mountain, I will certainly climb it.
"Are there ruins in that place?"
"I don't think Monica mentioned anything about those. Because it's a human village, I guess the elves haven't paid enough attention to it."
"Hmm, then I guess we won't find any treasure."
"I'm sure we'll find a great adventure soon. There are quite a few ruins on this continent."
It's a fine day, with the white clouds beautifully standing out against the blue sky.
"Master, there seems to be a river nearby."
"Let's take a break there."
Once we reached the river, I got off Ichiro and sat down on my knees in front of the stream.
I dipped my hands in to scoop up some of the crystal clear water and bring it to my mouth.
It is cold and delicious.
I took out my water bottle and filled it.
Then I washed my face.
When I turned around, Kaede was behind me, offering me a handkerchief with her outstretched hand.
"Um, if you don't mind, Master, you can use this."
The handkerchief was embroidered, and on the bottom corner was a small knit image.
Dark hair, round face… Oh, maybe it's me?
Did Kaede knit this..?
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. After all, it's for you, Master."
"When did you make it?"
"Monica-San taught me how to do it. I know it didn't turn out very well, but I thought I could at least use it to clean my Master's face."
She looks down and her face is slightly red, as if she's nervous.
However, her tail is wagging vigorously, so it's obvious she's expecting a compliment.
I pat her on the head and thank her.
"Thank you, I'm very happy about this."
"Master, Master, Master, Master, Master, Master, Master!"
Kaede hugged me and buried her face in my chest.
She kept sniffing me.
I have too tender a slave.
Frau, who was scanning the surroundings, saw Kaede and frowned.
"No fair, Frau wants some petting too!"
"Now now, it's alright."
"Hehehe, this feels so good. I love you, my lord!"
"Uhmm... Thank you."
Suddenly a window appears in front of me.
《Notice: Experience saving repair has been completed.》
I knew it was about time.
The words keep popping up.
《Notice: the level of the Camouflage Ring has increased to level 3》
"The fog is getting thicker and thicker."
"It's not like a normal fog."
"I can feel a bit of magic in it. It's like someone created it."
The area was completely white because of the fog.
Ichiro and the other two slowed down and advanced cautiously.
The fog seems to cover a large area, and even if we advance, we can't get through the white maze.
Is it the work of a monster or a person?
"Hey, isn't that the village?"
"Yes, but, there is a strange smell in the air... Is it blood?"
Ahead of us, we see a shadow that looks like a group of buildings.
We get off right near the village and decide to go inside.
"There's no one here."
"True, but I can still sense people."
The village was quite small.
A dense fog had crept in and filled the place with an eerie silence.
It gave the impression that the village itself had fallen into a deep sleep.
"Master, there's a person over there!"
I find a person sitting down, leaning against the wall.
I approached and saw that it was a middle-aged man.
He seems to be sleeping soundly and doesn't seem to wake up when I shake him or give him a light tap on the cheek.
This is clearly abnormal. What is going on in this village?
"I found another one lying on the ground over here!"
"Gather them here for now."
We found three people.
They are all of different ages and genders, but one thing they have in common is that they are in a deep sleep.
If this is a poison or a curse, I can do something with the medicine I have.
"They have a sleep irregularity I've never seen before."
"So someone is probably behind this."
"That's the most likely explanation."
"Why would someone do this? Could it have been a bandit with magical powers?"
"I don't think that's possible. From a thief's point of view, it's true that the residents are a nuisance, but why are all the houses' doors still locked? Would a thief take the time to re-lock the doors?"
I open the door of a nearby house.
Inside, there was a figure of a person sleeping soundly in a chair.
There were no signs of a robbery anywhere.
Could it be that the person responsible for all this really isn't a thief?
I heard what sounded like an explosion and there was a tremor.
Outside the house, black smoke rises from the center of village.
Come to think of it, Kaede said that she smelt blood earlier.
Maybe there are people still awake and fighting.
We ran in the direction of the explosion.
A group of people staggered down the street, letting out screams.
They looked like zombies, or puppets.
They noticed our presence and turned in unison.
The whites of their eyes were clear to see and drool was coming out of their slightly open mouths.
Their movements were slow, but there was a restlessness about them that made me take a step back.
"Master, they are still alive. The state they're in is a result of mind manipulation...''
"The residents of this village have become puppets. Kaede, can you stop them from moving?"
"No problem. 'Solid Ice'."
Opening her iron fan, Kaede danced gracefully.
The ice instantly incased the villagers' feet, blocking their advance.
That will buy us some time
We have to find out what is causing this. We left the residents behind and ran toward the center of the village.
"Die, die, die, die, die!"
The young man swung his sword in fury.
He cut down the swarm members mercilessly.
"When are we going to end this ☆"
"...Ask Zig - I'm not interested in these things."
"He's not very nice☆ But I admit I like to make the dead shine."
A woman who appears to be a wizard unleashes a burst of flame with her wand.
The impact destroyed the villagers and the buildings.
There was a black knight beside her, his face covered, so I could not see his face.
However, the speed of his sword is quite fast, and even the simplest attack reduces the number of people in the blink of an eye.
I felt a strange nostalgia for that move.
I've seen it before, but where?
Something tells me this won't end well.
They probably don't realize that the villagers are being manipulated.
"Kaede, blow the villagers away with magic. Don't let them hurt them anymore."
Kaede waved her iron fan and a strong wind descended from the center of the sky, blowing the crowd of people away.
"Frau, let's go."
I instantly closed the distance between me and the young man with the sword, and made him stop.
He was about to kill a girl.
"Who are you? Get out of my way."
"Listen. The inhabitants of this place are just being manipulated. What needs to be eliminated is the cause of this situation."
The young man laughed at my words.
"What's up with that? These guys are human, right?"