Holy hell, I’m so sorry, I thought I had posted this a while ago… For my defense, I was sick as hell ><
Anyway, won’t happen again, let’s all let bygones be bygones, Chapter 25 is here now, I hope you’ll enjoy it despite the delay <<
After leaving the bar, Kurats stepped towards the swampland.
The bar owner had told him over and over gain not to approach that place, but, of course, Kurats had not listened.
It couldn’t be helped since the swampland was most likely where the parasitic monster who had attacked Lunaria was located.
The large forest at the north of the Isengard territory was infested by monsters, and it was located in an area that separated between the human and the demonic territories.
It was part of unexplored woods called the Sea Of Trees and, together with unexplored mountains called the High Peaks, they both represented 50% of the whole continent.
Those who reigned at the top of those ecosystems were monsters with many special abilities.
Most monsters were not very smart beings, but it was said that the closer they lived to the center of the High Peaks, the more intelligent they were.
Legends said that the High Peaks were ruled over by the monster king and his four dukes.
Bernst thought to himself that he absolutely had to visit that place one day.
After Kurats walked for about an hour through a narrow path within the dim forest, the rays of the sun finally came back as the trees made way to a considerably large swamp.
Although it was large enough to be called a lake, the water was not deep and there were withered trees sticking out of it like grave-markers, making the area overflow with a sense of desolateness.
The shore was muddy and looked like it would drag anyone who carelessly put his foot on it to the bottom of the swamp.
In this gloomy scenery, there was one element that stood out.
Even though it was sunny here, it was still very strange to see a middle-aged man fishing while wearing a straw hat and a linen shirt in this muddy place.
Kurats reflexively rubbed his eyes at the sight of this odd scene.
【”…You can fish here?”】
【”Yeah, it ain’t all that easy, but for those in the know, the fish in this swamp are high-class ingredients.”】
【”O-oh, who knew!”】
In the first place, it was questionable whether any being at all could live inside this swamp of death, but thinking about it carefully, there were monsters living there, which likely meant that the swamp already had a proper ecosystem.
【”Do you come here often?”】
Asked Kurats in a casual manner.
Kurats figured that if this man lived here, then perhaps he would know some rumors regarding the forest’s swampland.
However, the man’s answer failed to live up to Kurats’ hope.
【”No, I only came yesterday actually. And if I don’t get home soon with some fish, the wife ain’t gonna be happy, that’s for sure, Ahahahahaha!”】
The man laughed with a comfortable tone of voice, like he was not in a hurry at all.
(This guy is no amateur.)
『I suppose you are right. He looks like a normal middle-aged man that you would find anywhere, his acting is flawless.』
Kurats and Bernst had seen right through the man’s calm demeanor.
The question was whether this was a subordinate of the mage that the bar owner had mentioned, or just someone who had come to investigate the situation just like Kurats.
【”Are you alright though? I heard this place’s famous for being the site of a lot of disappearances.”】
Kurats did not overlook the faint gleam that appeared in the man’s eyes.
【”It’s the first time I’m hearing of that. If it’s okay with you, can you tell me about it?”】
【”Oh well, I don’t know the details but….”】
Kurats summarized what he had heard from the bar owner.
【”I see, I’d never have figured all of that happened…”】
The man started thinking to himself with his hand on his chin, like he was realizing that he had made a mistake.
(This man is way too careless.)
Even without the people going missing, this forest was already dangerous enough.
Kurats had never been to a place where he could feel the presence of such a dense population of monsters, although he did not know if the forest was originally like this or if it was due to the work of that mage.
【”You caught one.”】
While holding himself back from laughing, Kurats pointed at the man’s fishing rod.
Although it was hard to tell since it was covered by mud, the float attached to the fishing line had moved. The next moment, it instantaneously sank into the water.
【”Oh! It’s a big o-…Aaaaaaaaaaaah!”】
When the man lifted his fishing rod, what came up was an aquatic monster.
It had a huge mouth with thick and overcrowded fangs. It looked like a deep-sea fish.
The opening of its mouth was around 40 centimeters (16 inches).
The man had fallen down, but had he stayed up, the monster would have bitten off half of his face.
【”Keep your sickening face under there!”】
Kurats picked a pebble nearby and threw it.
The pebble hit the side of the monster’s head which was ripped apart like it had exploded from inside. Its blood and entrails scattered right over the man who had just fallen down on his backside.
Perhaps due to the man’s own bad luck, the aquatic monster’s fiendish mouth clung right on his face through the work of the laws of inertia.
After letting out an ambiguous scream, the man fainted on the spot, but that was only natural.
【”Hey, if you’re gonna fall asleep in this kind of place, you can’t complain if you end up disappearing like the others.”】
It seemed like that man and Kurats were being targeted by the forest’s monsters.
With the sound of water splashing around, several monsters appeared from the swamp while a couple of 2 meters (7 feet) tall killer apes came from the depths of the forest.
Judging by the dense blood thirst in the air, it was obvious to Kurats that the mage he was looking for was already aware that the familiar he had left in the bar had been killed.
【”Doesn’t matter though, that just means I’ll have to crush them all.”】
After saying so, Kurats clenched his fists with a ferocious laugh.
When one of the monsters rose up from the swamp to try to attack him, Kurats released a kick behind him without looking back.
Rather than ‘kick’, perhaps it was more correct to say that he had sliced the monster with his foot, cutting it into two perfect halves which then fell back to the swamp.
At the same time, one of the killer apes took advantage of its long arms in order to attack Kurats, while hopping above him from tree to tree.
Killer apes were far stronger than normal humans, and their sharp claws were like knives.
Even a professional forest hunter would not fight such a monster alone, but it was not Kurats’ match at all.
No matter how nimble it was, there was no way it would surpass Kurats.
Before it could reach his neck, Kurats casually grabbed the killer apes’ arm and smashed its bone to pieces.
Without paying attention to the cries of pain of its companion, another killer ape came to attack Kurats’ chest, in an attempt to deal a fatal wound.
The killer ape’s strength coupled with the hardness of its claws were enough to go through the trunk of a tree, but Kurats used his hand as a blade to cut the monster’s hand starting from its wrist and then proceeded to stab its chest in the next moment.
【”Such weak claws would never go through my muscles, but you made holes through my clothes and that’s just not okay.”】
The other killer ape, which was still suffering from the pain of having its arm broken, let out a a shriek while trying to escape.
【”Just die already.”】
However, Kurats was not softhearted enough to silently let the monster go after it had attacked him with killing intent.
Kurats picked up the claw that he had sliced down earlier and then threw it at the back of the head of the killer ape that was trying to use the concealment of the forest’s trees to escape.
The claw came out of the killer ape’s forehead, making it look the monster had grown a horn, before it collapsed on the spot.
【”Incredible… You’re incredible. I’ve never seen an adventurer use such a brilliant way of killing.”】
Seemingly before he had even realized it, the middle aged man had woken up and started clapping at Kurats’ performance.
However, the light in his eyes showed that he was very vigilant and was actively trying to see through the true identity of Kurats.
【”Shouldn’t you hurry and run away, uncle?”】
This man was likely a spy sent to investigate Isengard.
Someone who had genuinely fainted just because a monster had jumped at him could not be a subordinate of the kidnapper.
Just like the man had been observing him, Kurats ―― Or rather, Bernst, had been inspecting the man’s every move.
If he was a spy, then allowing him to return alive was going to be convenient for Kurats.
【”…Are there any monsters left?”】
Kurats shrugged his shoulders and smiled like he was enjoying himself.
【”The one who was manipulating those monsters is going to come out now. Mages know when a familiar under their control dies. I bet he’s hurrying towards here as we’re speaking.”】
Indeed, when Oliveira realized that his connection to his familiars was cut off, he quickly rushed towards the swamp.
He had left most of his familiars loose inside the forest in order to hide them from any public attention.
So to him it was a godsend that the man he was looking for was inside the swampland, where he could easily get the monsters to attack him.
【”Good grief, you’re not going to die, are you? It would feel pretty bad to abandon the guy who saved my life.”】
Despite his words, the middle aged man still stood up with a detached expression and dusted off his trousers.
He seemed to be aware that he would only be a hindrance if he did not leave.
【”My name is Kurats Hans Almadianos. How about you, uncle?”】
【”Uncle? You’re awful, man, I’m just 30 years old. I’m Argus Becker. Next time we meet, just call me big brother.”】
Argus dropped his shoulders like he was seriously hurt.
Being sensible about becoming thirty was a feeling that could only be understood by those who had experienced it.
Of course, there was no way Kurats, who was only 18, would understand.
【”Anyway, putting that big brother thing aside, depending on the situation, I might need you to act as a witness for me, uncle.”】
【”If you want me to be your witness, you better drop the “uncle” and call me big brother.”】
As he casually conversed with Argus, Kurats sensed something very powerful approaching from the depths of the forest.
【”Either way, you’re running out of time. You better hurry and go.”】
【”Woops, sorry! If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be leaving now.”】
Argus put his hands together as a sign of thanks, and then hurriedly left the swampland.
That man was quite likable, so much so that Kurats wanted to doubt whether he really was a spy, despite his better judgement.
【”Well then, he should be appearing soon.”】
As the strong presence that came from the Isengard castle approached, Kurats realized that the number of monsters approaching from the forest was considerably larger than he expected.
If you’d like to read Chapter 102 of death flags as well as Chapter 26, 27 and 28 of Almadianos right ahead, please do consider supporting the translations on my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/defiring