Section 1: Invasion
Throwing open the door and sticking my head outside the store, I saw a visibly pale Marcus-san running down the street.
“Ah, Iris-chan!? You need to evacuate to the church right now!! Oi, Flammel, are you there!? If so, evacuate your family to the church, and hurry!!”
A sudden crash echoed from somewhere in the back of the house followed by a rain of heavy footsteps before Dad and Mom appeared right next to me with ragged, unkempt hair.
“Did you say monsters!? But the city walls……”
“There’s too many of them! They’re holding up for now, but it’s just a matter of time before they break through!!”
“Anyway, just get over to the church, okay!?”
Waiting to make sure Dad understood, Marcus-san once again started running towards Grandpa’s house next door.
“Dear, grab everything we need!”
“Y-Yeah. And then…….Hm? Iris, what happened to Saluena-san? Isn’t she with you?”
“Saluena said she was going out and hasn’t come back yet…….but, she’ll be fine. I think it would be best if we just quickly head to the church.”
Although she’s been stripped of her powers as the Dark Violet Knight, Saluena is still incredibly strong. She was able to overwhelm Toslin, Carol, and Rose-san after they had already become orange rank adventurers. I don’t know what kind of monsters are attacking the city, but I’m sure they’re nothing she wouldn’t be able to handle.
So running back inside the store, I grab a pen and scribble out a note onto a piece of paper before running back outside with a pin. After shutting the door, I flip over our open sign to closed, and I pin the note to the sign.
“This will do.”
I wrote down on the paper we would be at the church. This way if Saluena comes back here, she won’t end up running around the entire city looking for us.
“Dad, Mom, we should go!! Just like Onee-chan said, Saluena-sama will be fine on her own.”
“That’s right. She is my knight. Honestly if we stay here, we’ll probably just end up being in her way more than anything else. Let’s head for the church.”
Dad pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath.
“Yosh, then follow me. Nobody goes off on their own. Understood?”
Thus the Calvafon family rushed out into the dusk-lit city, running down the solretta tree-lined path towards the church.
The church was filled with other people who had already evacuated here, causing a booming ruckus that made this place’s serene silence during the day seem like a lie.
“Over here Calvafon sisters!!”
Although a number of people had gathered here, the church was more than large enough to accommodate everyone. There were still several benches scattered around where newcomers could find a place to sit. As my family and I walked deeper into the church in order to get away from the cold air coming from the entrance, I suddenly heard a voice calling out to me. I didn’t even have to look to know that it was Mycena.
“Oh, Flammel. It’s been a while.”
“Good to see you Roswald. Did you make it here safely?”
“Safe enough. We actually had a job mending the walls today when a huge swarm of monsters suddenly appeared from the forest. The two of us were just able to get away from it all. We managed to escape with our lives, but I won’t be able to take on any work for a while.”
A deep wrinkle formed in Roswald-san’s brow as he poked his daughter Mycena sitting next to him.
“It could’ve been a lot worse if some nearby soldiers and adventurers hadn’t jumped in to save us. I’ll have to be sure to thank them once this is all over…….”
“Eh…….Mycenyan was attacked? Are you okay? Are you hurt……”
“I-I’m fine, I’m fine. I scraped my knees, but that was when I was running away.”
Ahaha, Mycena laughed with a bright smile. But, her voice and expressions were awkward compared to how she usually is.
“That’s good then……. I’d be sad if anything happened to Mycenyan.”
Saying so, Sarah knelt down at Mycena’s feet and started brushing off some of the dirt from her knees.
Mycena fell to her knees, her usually booming voice barely more than a whisper, and she tightly hugged Sarah.
“…….it was scary…….”
“It was really, really……..scary……..”
Apparently her awkward smile wasn’t just my imagination. Mycena is always so lively and exuberant, but right now she’s shaking just like anyone else would be in her situation.
“It’s going to be okay now. So long as we’re here, we’re under the Goddess’s protection.”
Sarah returned Mycena’s hug.
“Really? But I don’t usually…….I almost never pray…….”
“It’s okay. I’ve prayed enough to cover Mycena’s portion too.”
“Uuu, Sarah-chan……thank you…….”
Mycena buried her face in Sarah’s chest as tears started rolling down her cheeks. And then Sarah began stroking the top of Mycena’s head to try and calm her down…….. I’m starting to wonder which one of them is the older one here.
“……there’s already a huge number of people here. Will there be more coming?”
“Most likely…….I’ve participated in an evacuation order a few times before, but this is my first time seeing this many people gathered together like this.”
Dad and Mom were marveling at the ever increasing number of evacuees. The number of monsters attacking is apparently so great that the entire city is being ordered to move.
“Roswald, you saw them right? What kind of monsters are attacking us?”
“……ents. But, the numbers were off.”
“It was a huge number of ents. Too many to count. At first I thought the entire forest had stood up and was rushing us…….”¹
“T-That…… No but, that’s much too strange. Even out in the deepest forests ents hate gathering together in a herd.”
Dad started explaining about an ent’s growing habits like the botanist that he is, but Roswald stopped him before he could go into too much detail.
“I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but I saw what I saw. Dozens of ents walked out of that forest en masse.”
“M-Me too……when it happened, I was in the forest with some of the lumberjacks, picking out what trees would be suitable for the wall’s repairs…… We were just about to start working when they attacked us all at once.”
As Mycena passed on what she remembered, but her trembling had yet to stop and her hold around Sarah tightened.
“Dozens of ents, all at the same time……. In that case is somebody manipulating them? No, perhaps they’re following somebody’s orders?”
Dad put his hand to his chin and started to think.
“Only a stronger spirit or something with comparable magic power could control other spirits like this……. This, might be much worse than I initially thought…….”
(Yeah, spot on Dad.)
The fact that dozens of ents have all come together to attack the town like this means that the spirit controlling all of them, the carbuncle, is still alive.
(So after all, everyone is already…….)
I felt irritated, and instead of feeling any kind of sadness or regret like I thought I would feel, there is an overpowering fury bubbling forth and spreading through my chest.
“You there, move it!!”
A sharp voice cut through the church’s constant din and interrupted my thoughts as several pairs of footsteps burst through the church’s front door.
“Go, move it!! We have an injured person here!! Sisters, priestesses!! Anyone’s fine just help Kutuna!!”
Suddenly recognizing the voices and hearing a name I recognized, my head snapped around towards the church’s newcomers.
That was when I saw Peachseed-san carrying a bloody Kutuna-san on her back.
1. The leader of this city must be named Macbeth.