148. Chapter 148
After passing the city gate, Walm ran straight towards the slums.
Most of the undead, including the ghouls, were concentrated in important facilities within the walls, but the cityscape that stretched beyond the walls was no exception. Corpses with shattered heads lay scattered here and there along the main street. Many of them belonged to undead-ized citizens, the ghouls.
The clear difference from inside the city walls was the number of dead people walking around. Even Fausto and the others weren’t able to reach the entire city, and the loss outside the walls was less than inside the walls. With the exception of those unfortunate enough to be attacked during the initial attack, many had taken refuge in buildings or near towns.
Now, the city’s defenders and adventurers had begun an organized counterattack.
Defeating the undead facing the adventurers from the side, Walm left the main street. He crossed many alleys and reached the Suderin District, which was located on the outer edge of the city. The story of the guild employee ran through his mind.
After the Unification War, the Labyrinth City experienced a period of expansion, and due to the influx of workers and population growth, people flocked to the city even outside the walls, causing a serious shortage of houses. The Marquis Borgia family cut down the trees in the forest, once called Suderin Forest, and created a new area for the poor.
This sounded good, but it was a policy that pushed the poor and criminals to the outskirts of the cities and put them under collective control. And this area clearly deviated from the landscape of the Labyrinth City that existed until now. Many shacks were strung together in an unplanned fashion, and the road was winding.
Walm frowned at the landscape. The intricate passageways and narrow road widths alone made it easy to be ambushed. There were castle towns that had been built with the concept of using houses as defensive walls to separate enemy soldiers trying to enter the town. It was unclear if the slums in front of him were intentional or if they were houses that people built naturally, but ultimately they functioned similarly.
“No, it’s more than that.”
Due to excessive building, the convenience of the road had been extremely lost, and the slums in front of Walm had become a kind of tiger’s mouth where he couldn’t foresee the future if he ever entered.
Walm, entering the compartment, was exposed to the gaps in the dilapidated walls, the overhanging windows, and countless stares as soon as he lifted his head. It was a mixture of vigilance, fear, and various forms of jealousy.
During his stay in the Labyrinth City, Walm thought he knew the city, but he realized he was wrong. In the dim darkness, where the sun didn’t shine, lurked many people with negative afflictions. It was uncertain whether they were related to Fausto. Still, there was no way anyone would show affection towards Walm.
While walking on a road where it was difficult for people to pass each other, Walm heard the sound of something being pulled down from above. He tilted his head to see the boxes approaching from above. He would have said that the contents were sand or pebbles. He dodged such a primitive weapon of mass by holding on to the wall. The wooden box shattered with a dull sound.
Using the falling object as a springboard, a man with a butcher knife on his hip rushed in, spraying saliva. He was followed by a person with a sickle and a person with a hoe. Their movement was aimed only to do a single deadly hit, disregarding other techniques such as defense.
At the same time, a person with a broken sword and a person with a dagger approached from behind.
The demon mask trembled with joy as if enjoying the situation.
Skill didn’t matter to them. Their willing-to-die movements were exactly like those of dying soldiers. With such a half-hearted posture, their legs could easily be caught by weight and momentum.
Walm, pushing the halberd according to the space constraints, executed a half stab.
The spearhead ripped through the knife-wielder’s soft throat, severing an artery and reaching his spinal cord.
Walm took the clenched butcher knife like a relay as he pressed the dying man against the man with the hoe. Quickly, he aimed the butcher knife at the sickle that was about to strike his head. The knife cut off the fingers of the sickle-wielder and pushed the sickle aside.
The man who dropped the sickle cried out in pain for a moment. Losing his weapon, he tried to press down Walm without hesitation.
Walm, who had lowered his center of gravity, grabbed the man and rolled him toward the duo approaching from behind.
Before Walm could breathe out, a hoe was aimed at the back of his head. Swiftly, he used the claw blade of the halberd that he held in his right hand to catch the hoe, then he pulled out the longsword with his left arm, which had discarded the butcher knife. He swung the longsword he held in a reverse grip and struck the skull of the hoe-wielder assailant from the temple.
Three huddled enemies still lay alive on the ground, but as soon as Walm looked at them, a falling object again approached from above.
Walm, knocking over a fist-sized stone with the longsword, threw down the halberd and raised the longsword above his head.
Mana flowed into the longsword, and a 《Strike》was aimed at them.
Even as the longsword cut through the wall, its speed didn’t slow down, and just like that it sliced the arm into nothingness along with the protruding dagger. Of course, the man didn’t survive. When the tip of the longsword grazed his throat, blood spurted out uncontrollably and he lay twitching on the floor.
The man who picked up his sickle back and the attacker with the broken sword evaded the attack by using the man who blocked their way.
Walm, who had been expecting it, swung the longsword again from below toward the place the two were running.
The longsword that entered from the dagger-wielder’s flank came out from his chest.
The sword-wielder thrust his broken sword, not wanting to miss the opportunity to sacrifice his comrade, but Walm stroked it away. A high-pitched metallic sound echoed through the alley.
Through the demon mask, Walm peered into the attacker’s eyes. For the first time, the color of fear showed, but by then it was too late.
The longsword thrust into the man’s flank stirred his viscera.
Gliding his gaze upward, Walm twisted and pulled out his longsword.
The one who was enjoying throwing stones froze like a statue. After a moment of hesitation, the person turned around and tried to escape, but a fireball spread to the fleeing person along with the roof.
Just like that, in the alley where blue flames blazed, people other than Walm were gone from this world.
The two raids that followed ended up just piling up more corpses in the slums. There were already no more bored residents who wanted to look at Walm.
Though Walm had been ambushed three times, it was safe to say that things were going well. The information he had received from the guild employee wasn’t wrong.
Deepening his conviction, Walm stared at the facility built in the center of the slums.
Even in a slum with many buildings, the space around it opened up as if it were a forbidden place that should never be touched.
Topographically, a waterway flowed around the outside of the facility, and it was partitioned by walls that easily exceeded a person’s height. And although Walm was visiting from the front, there was no one that give him a greeting.
Climbing over the wall, Walm descended onto the property’s land. In addition to a warehouse of unknown use, there were wooden dolls and raised land.
Walm walked into a particularly large building. The slums had given the impression of being messy and dirty, but the buildings that could be called mansions were surprisingly organized and well-maintained.
“The fact that you’re here, means that Fausto is dead.”
Words were thrown at Walm, who opened the door and walked down the hall.
“Yeah, I killed him…… So, who are you?”
Walm looked up while answering.
A man in his thirties was leaning against the railing.
“Hah? Me? My name’s Giesel. You can say, I’m the person in charge here. More importantly, is killing my friends and my younger brother your hobby or what?”
Walm had too many things on his mind. Besides, he had already killed many people before coming here.
“Guisto, the leader of the mercenary group you killed at Carorolaia Mithril Mine, is my brother.”
If it wasn’t that long ago, even Walm still remembered it well. Even more, since there were only a few people who still approached him while enveloped in blue flames.
“I remember him.”
“Hah, of course. As you know, you can’t run away from ties in this world. I’m a bad person. I’ve killed women, and children, alike. I’ve instigated the people of the slums, agitated them, and made them join my group. You see, I can’t throw away my loyalty, especially to my only blood relative. The guy who keeps silent after his brother is killed, isn’t a family.”
What popped out were the words brotherly love and loyalty, which were far from the man’s ferocious appearance.
Walm narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth.
“That loyalty of yours, can’t you give it toward others even a little?”
“Hah? In this slum, there’s no room to care about unrelated strangers!! You’ve seen it, haven’t you? What’s so good, what’s so peaceful about this place? And you want us to be a loser for the rest of our lives? Are you kidding me? It’s not over yet!”
They both had a void in their hearts that would never be filled. The matter wasn’t even at the stage where it could be resolved with words.
Understanding this, Walm asked the man for confirmation.
“Is that, all you’ve got to say?”
“Hah, a’right. Let me say this, if you light up the 《Demon Fire》, good citizens will get burned to death, you know?”
As Giesel looked around, the three minions were dragging a group of people tied to a rope. Their hands and feet were tied with rough rope and their mouths were sealed.
Giesel’s intention was easy for Walm to understand.
“Do I look like the kind of person who appears in a heroic tale?”
Walm said this without even giving the hostages a glance.
Giesel shrugged his shoulders, drew the sword from his waist, and casually cut down one of the hostages nearby.
“Hah, you guys are useless. Mercenary, COME!!”
Giesel, who had just decapitated a citizen, invited Walm. He held a sword and a shield in each hand.
Seeing that Giesel didn’t kill everyone, Walm thought that the hostages would probably be used as insurance to limit his usage of 《Demon Fire》.
Accepting the invitation, Walm accelerated with a wind attribute magic, ran up the atrium, and slammed the halberd.
Giesel didn’t pull back, and instead wrapped the sword in his hand with mana. Shortly after, his enchanted weapon and Walm’s halberd crossed as if they were pulling each other.
At the point of separation, Walm did a small thrust.
Giesel jumped in without hesitation. He shielded the thrust and thrust his sword back from a blind spot.
Walm flipped the sharp blade with the bottom of his halberd.
Giesel, who followed Walm tightly, slashed his sword up and down, not slowing down his attack. In addition to his “polite” swordsmanship, he skillfully incorporated a shield play into his offense and defense.
After exchanging a few “greetings”, Walm could tell that Giesel was a man who completely contradicted his own appearance and behavior.
Three subordinates of Giesel intermittently aim at Walm with arrows and stones without a major mistake in timing. However, seeing the desperation on their faces, they clearly lack the spirit of Fausto and those who had ambushed him.
“What’s with that strange face? You’ve killed my men and Fausto without consideration, so as you know, I’m short of manpower!”
For Giesel to challenge close-quarters combat alone was proof that his three minions didn’t have the skills to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Seeing an opening, Walm tried to kill Giesel’s subordinates, but a shield was thrust at him as if saying not to look the other way.
Walm dodged the shield bash by moving his upper body, but arrows and stones flew at him as if they had made arrangements.
Surrendering himself to his kinetic vision and reflexes, he bent his upper body forward and moved as if rubbing against the ground.
Despite lamenting the shortage of manpower, Giesel’s subordinates planned attacks with a really nasty distance and timing.
Giesel also matched the projectiles. Twisting the trajectory of his sword to Walm’s upper body when it got close, his sword was aimed to cut off Walm’s knee.
Walm extended his halberd to keep the distance.
As he stepped back Giesel tried to defend against the piercing attack with his shield, but Walm reverse-gripped the halberd.
Walm clung the claw-blade of his halberd into the reinforcement of the shield and pulled it toward him.
The gap closed once again in an instant.
Giesel deftly swung his sword up even at a small distance that was getting cut.
In response, Walm quickly pushed his body to close the gap faster.
Thus, Giesel’s blade slapped in vain on Walm’s back, which was protected by armor.
Even the annoying subordinates stopped their attacks completely, since they were so close to each other. There was nothing they could do if they only wanted to aim at Walm.
Giesel threw away his neat sword skills and stuck out his forehead.
Walm, still gripping his halberd, slammed the cheek in front of him with his bent elbow.
Giesel’s jaw was shaken violently, and his body, which had lost its sense of balance, trembled. Then he backed away. But as he retreated, protecting his face and neck from attack, Walm immediately accelerated with wind attribute magic.
The projectiles sent Giesel’s subordinates only grazed Walm’s back.
Giesel’s sword and the sharp edge of his shield, were pushed by Walm to his chest. And immediately, Walm pushed open his wound, feeling the sensation of cutting his collarbone.
“Guh, ugh, oooh, hoh, oohhh――argh”
Pierced through the chest, Giesel fell on his back and never got up. The remaining minions responded by pointing their weapons at Walm, who had set his eyes on the three men.
The result came quickly. The demon mask was bathed in the fresh blood of the three, making noises in a good mood. Ironically, the last man alive was the mortally wounded Giesel.
“It’s the end.”
Said Walm to Giesel, who was lying on the ground.
A man, who couldn’t even breathe properly, laughed as he vomited blood.
“Heh, heheh, I’ve failed, but, it’s not in vain. Inside the city, I’ve exhausted, the most troublesome people, and bought time. I’m just, a supporting actor, in the opening act. The leading role, will begin, the show. Walm, you, will like it.”
Walm tried to finish off Giesel, who was spouting words, but the man stopped breathing before he could do it.
“Is there another force? The city gate has been cleared. The garrison is counterattacking the Labyrinth-related facilities, and the urban area… ah, the former royal castle?”
Walm, searching his memory, recalled the point where the forces appeared.
Walm wanted to head out immediately to greet the armed forces, but he needed to make sure that no more nasty combatants were left in the vicinity. Besides, there was still one souvenir left from Giesel.
One was slashed to death, but the other hostages remained tied to ropes. Walm moved around, cutting the ropes of those restrained. They were perplexed and grateful, but he didn’t have time to explain in detail.
“The Labyrinth City is under attack by armed forces and undead. Inside the walls, it’s especially dangerous. Search safe place outside the city――”
As Walm sensed a presence from behind and turned around, a blade was approaching right in front of him. Hastily, he stuck out his palm, letting the blade cut in. When he looked at the bad person, it was a hostage who had just been released.
The woman had the characteristic dull red hair, someone he had once seen on the battlefield. As Walm clutched the dagger with his stabbed hand, she pulled out a second dagger from her waist and shrieked.
Walm thrust the halberd he held in one hand.
The woman’s throat split open and blood poured onto the floor. Falling from her knees, she dropped silently into a pool of blood. And, her dull red hair was dyed vermilion.
Moving his eyes from the silent woman in front of him to the bound ones, Walm declared.
“Are you all, also friends with these guys? I’ve killed them. If you want to play revenge, I don’t mind.”
Those whose hands and mouths were blocked made a gesture, while those whose mouths were free proclaimed their innocence.
Walm pulled the dagger out of his palm and handed it to one of the hostages he had freed.
“You do the rest.”
TN : The woman most likely Lycka, the fire magic-user of Guisto’s group who ran away to report the incident at the Carorolaia Mine to Giesel.
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