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Chapter 3 – The Shadow of Madness
The girl I brought with me is still fainted, so I’ll put her to bed.
As Riko wakes up, she sits me down and stands in front of me.
This posture called ‘Seiza’ (sitting in front of one’s legs) with both feet on the buttocks is quite painful. According to Riko, in the eastern country it seems to be used to show apology and remorse for most impolite behavior, but will the people of the East not be numb?
“Serra. Why did you leave me to go help her?”
“Because I couldn’t leave it alone…”
“Isn’t Serra the one who said the mission comes first? You can’t play, but it’s okay to stick your neck out.”
“I’m really reflecting on that…. I mean, this posture really hurts my feet…”
“Hey, don’t move your feet! Anyway, I’ll call Karen to report in!”
When Riko says that, she takes out the handset on the desk and turns the dial. That number is a military line.
I receive the handset from Riko and respond to the call.
“Oh, this is Serra. Is that Karen?”
『It’s me. How many times do I have to tell you to call me Major General Dashwood? This is a military line.』
From the other side of the receiver, hear a dignified woman’s voice. This is General Karen Dashwood, my substantive boss and ‘faithful dog’ of the military.
“Excuse me, Karen… Major. First of all, I apologize for the delay before making contact.”
『I’ve heard most of the situation from Riko. Anyway, you’ve gone and done it again, didn’t you?』
“…… You’re right. Also, I ran wild…”
I had intended to settle the matter peacefully, but I didn’t expect to be swallowed up by the urge.
Recently, I haven’t lost control, so I guess I’ve been relaxed. It may be time to seriously think about what to do here.
『Well, you can’t help your murder impulse. I’m not going to get angry.』
『I just doubt leaving the suspect to civilians and sending them to the branch was any better.』
Karen’s voice changes. Her tone is calm, but there is no doubt. Now she’s insanely angry.
Even though I wasn’t there, I felt my blood draw back.
“W-Well, that’s… due to the severity of my injuries my appearance was too grotesque to roam around with, so I had no choice.”
『If you weren’t immortal, I’d have you punished, seriously.』
Karen’s words made me tremble.
The way she said ‘seriously’ was really serious. The second person was ‘you’ after all.
『Well? No matter how immortal you are, there are limits. You’ll get hurt if you always bother the military too much.』
“I am very much aware…”
– I don’t like it either, and I’m involved in the military.
I almost yelled at her when she said that, but I kept it in my heart.
Suddenly, I heard a small sound from the other end of the receiver.
It was a trivial, seemingly oblivious noise, but the sound changed Karen’s atmosphere.
『And from here on out, it’s my own standpoint, however—-』
That’s where Karen’s words stop.
What will be said next? I wait for her words while my heart rate rises as I breathe in.
『Why~, isn’t it late~, Serra~?』
“…… Are you drunk?”
Suddenly, Karen cried out as a cat.
No mistake. The previous noise was the switching from military line to a regular line. The military line records all the calls, so you can’t talk carelessly. That’s why when I have a private conversation with Karen, I switch the line like this… How on earth do you switch lines during a call? In the first place, if you find out Karen will likely send heads flying (although I’m safe).
『I’m not drunk~. I thought I’d go to that place because I didn’t get in touch with you at all~.』
“Please don’t do that. And you’re busy, aren’t you? You’re a Major General.”
『Well~, I’m free for a while~, so I’m going to your place anyway~.』
“Are you coming…”
Oh, and sigh.
Karen’s assistance will likely be a great help. To be honest, this assignment is more of a private matter, so I really don’t want you to get involved. Even Riko stands utterly still though she insisted on coming along, I yielded and she followed.
“So, what do you want to do? I’d like to talk to the girl soon.”
The girl was still sound asleep in bed, seems she was tired. I’m sorry to wake you up, but your family may be worried, and I’d like to hear about it soon.
『Well, wait, Serra. There’s one thing I want to ask you.』
Karen, who talked like she was floating, suddenly calms down. The speed of such a switch might be one of the factors of its success, but it is difficult to do as an honest recipient. She is excellent even without it.
“…… What is it?”
『You know the purpose of this mission, right?』
Karen’s words stifled me.
I know. The content and the purpose of this mission. I understand it well in my head.
“The capture of the enemy, I suppose? Why do you ask?”
『Because, my dear fellow, when you heard of this mission you were the first to consider murder. You’re going to kill him as soon as you find him, right?』
“…… I have no words to answer with.”
After all, I believe you’re mistaken. I can’t help lying to her as it is, so I’ll be honest.
“Undying are dangerous people who move according to their own madness. We can’t ignore them silently.”
『So, is there any way to kill him?』
The enemy is literally immortal. Like me, even with a hole pierced through their body or their internal organs spilled out, they don’t die. We’re looking into how to kill them somehow, but we haven’t got any good results yet.
『Of course, given your circumstances, I know why you want to kill them. But this mission is a capture to the last. And to make sure he’s completely incapacitated, we’re ‘using’ you who aren’t originally military. I’m asking if you understand that.』
“I know, but… tch!”
『Well, half the time I heard that you haven’t found a way to kill him, I was relieved. I don’t mind fighting with hatred and murderous intent, but if you kill him, you’ll be made into a military experiment.』
That’s all, Karen hung up.
Gently, put the handset back on the dial.
“Serra? Are you alright?”
Riko asks behind the scenes.
I managed to hold back my tremor and looked back with a smile.
“Yes. Then, let’s talk to the girl.”
The girl seemed surprised at the unfamiliar sight as soon as she woke up, but as she looked at us, she expressed her vigilance.
Having explained the circumstances so far (she was convinced that the scene of the devastation and the sight of my tattered appearance was a nightmare) and our identity, the girl looked relieved and calmed down with tears in her eyes.
Then the girl begins to explain her situation.
First, the girl’s name is Hazel Radford. Fourteen years old. Blue eyes, hair long blonde with curls. The overall physique is slender and wearing a pink dress. Her skin is also fair, and she’s just like a doll (for some reason, when you praise her appearance, you’ll be glared at by Riko).
As expected, she appears to be the daughter of a middle-aged millionaire, and the Radfords are the most reputable family in Uls.
And why is she on the run? The cause seems to stem from about two months ago. According to her explanation….
First, a girl visited the Radford family. The girl’s name is Cecilia. She claimed to be a missionary and solicited religion. Of course, Hazel’s father refused her solicitation, but on that day, the people in the residence gradually became strange.
At first, one of her servants jumped off the balcony shouting, ‘Glory to God Arte!’. By the way, Arte is a goddess of faith in this country. Next, the cook hollowed out his eyeballs and offered them as food, calling them offerings to the gods. Then, the butler amputated Hazel’s mother’s limbs to give sacrifice to God.
Hazel’s face went blue just from talking about it, and she held her mouth with her hand.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry for reminding you of scary things? Don’t overdo it.”
“Hah… Hah… Excuse me. It’s okay, so.”
I rub her back with my right hand and pat her head with my left.
Hazel’s face is still blue, but she seems a little relieved, her body trembling settled.
“So my father went crazy today.”
Hazel says, looking up.
“Wow, he said he’d sacrifice me to God…. Everyone in the mansion agreed with that. I got scared and ran away.”
“Then, the ones chasing you at that time were your servants…”
However, it seemed that the words and actions were rough for a servant.
“No, I fled from the people in the mansion. It was Cecilia’s followers who were chasing.”
“Is there a believer who tries to shoot and kill strangers…”
You may have a point Riko, but at the same time, I am convinced.
People in a mansion suddenly gone crazy. Believers who try to kill indiscriminately. Cecilia, the mastermind, is definitely one of the undying.
“I think it’s probably because of Cecilia’s ‘Dominion’ that your family went crazy.”
Riko and Hazel tilt their heads to the unfamiliar word.
“Didn’t I explain that to Riko? It’s a special power that the undying can handle.”
In addition to the strong madness, the undying are given special abilities. That’s what is called Dominion.
By the way, I have not yet demonstrated any Dominion. Even if I can use it, I’d rather not exercise it.
“I think Cecilia is probably empowered by ‘faith’. The ability to drown those involved in profanity.”
“In other words, brainwashing…”
As Riko whispers, she shows her expression of discomfort.
I wonder if it was something she knew of.
“No, not really. Never mind. So what do you do when you know who the enemy is?”
“Well, I guess… Hazel, do you know where she is?”
The moment I called to Hazel, I was strongly stared at by Riko. I don’t know why, but I’m afraid of that gaze.
“Yes. They mentioned the church they worked for when they came after me.”
“The bully going out of his way to give his address saved us a lot of trouble.”
Hazel wrote down the address and we looked it up on the map.
The place that came out of there is….
A strange girl’s laughter echoes.
In a black nun’s habit and silver cross on her chest. Long green hair with a wimple covered the features of the devout sister itself, but her scarlet eyes were strangely glowing.
She looks at the picture of a girl. With her cheeks alight and her eyes narrowed, like a girl in love.
“Kuhi, Kuhihihihihihihihi. Oh, The Saint, Hazel Radford, chosen by the great God!”
She licked the picture with her saliva-wet tongue.
Then easily burned it away with the flame that arose from her palm.
“You will be the ‘sacrifice’ of the great God! Oh, how wonderful, wonderful!! Pain, misery, unhappiness, sorrow, difficulty, grief, shame, fear, despair, madness! Burn you, save you, become our nourishment, and God will be pleased!! Kuhi, Kuhihi, KuhihihihihiHihiHihihihihiHihihiHi!!!!hiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHihiHi”