As a new morning paid its visit to the central district plaza, the exhausted townspeople finally lost consciousness, as suddenly as the snapping of a cut thread.
Rather than sleep… perhaps it would be more fitting to say that they had fainted.
Even Ryan found himself sound asleep with his back against a wall.
After all, even though his wounds had been healed by magic, restoring his stamina would not be an easy task.
The Silver, Lala, and Tzar took turns keeping watch at Faltowns vital points.
All I had told Ryan about them so far was that they were reliable and trustworthy.
Still, Ryan understood, and so did the rest of the townspeople.
Reid and Mana were now asleep, with their backs leaned against the others.
So was Reyna, surrounded by the children, occasionally puffing out soft sleeping breaths as she slept.
Adolf was the one who had surprised me the most.
I did remember him being the most competent among the ones who had attended Manas Combatant Class, but he had become so different after just two and a half years time.
Although he couldnt measure up to Mana and Reid just yet, Ryan had even said that he would be the one to watch for in the future.
Tifa, on the other hand, was now a particular point of concern.
Apparently, she had departed from town only a few weeks ago.
She was headed to… Beilanea, of course.
The path she would go down was not yet set in stone at this point, but if she were to enroll into the Magic University, then the letter of recommendation she had taken with her wouldnt do any good…
I would be fine and all, if we knew for a fact that she was safe, but for some reason, the townspeople did not seem to show any worry for her.
Could this be an implication of just how much Tifa had grown since then
Now, the utmost issue at hand is… that guy.
Cleath, the one who had attacked Faltown.
He possessed abnormal strength, ability to strategize and grasp the flow of battle, and was also brutally decisive.
All across the board, he was above the top-grade adventurers.
To be honest, I would never have been able to take him on alone.
If he were to be graded by monsters standards, his abilities would put him on an equivalent of Rank SS.
To add on top of all that, his black magecraft… Devil Conquest, was it now
When Cleath had initiated the drawing of that magecraft formula, I had felt a dreadful degree of bloodthirst, as if the muscles around my spine had been frozen over.
Chances are, that was fabled, dreaded black magecraft for devil descent – for the practitioner to call their contracted Devil down from beyond to annihilate their opposition.
From what I had previously heard from Tūs, the capabilities of one of the Devilkin was apparently comparable to a Holy Warrior.
As Tzar had said, if the descent had been successful, things would have gone south really quick.
Still, couldnt Cleath have just summoned his Devil after he had escaped and hid himself Wouldnt that be an easy victory if he were to come back for another attack
[“-and thats that.
Have any ideas”]
[“Devil Conquest, eh… Id thought yad be better off not knowin, but since yer enemyd used it, I oughtta teach ya.
The Devil Conquest black magecraft is, simply speakin, a super-strong version of the Magic Point Reduction spell.”]
[“So you mean… while a summoned Devil is active, MP would be drained”]
[“Fast as lightnin.
‘Cos of that, its a double-edged sword – using that would blow everyone around him away, so not like it was goin to cause much danger if ya play yer cards right.
Chances are he figured he aint got enough MP to run off, call his Devil, and then come back.”]
[“Huh, so thats how it works… Still, do you have any idea why he would attack this town No offense, but its not like this towns got anything special, you know”]
[“…Like I used to tell you, the treasure trove of knowledge, thePhilosophers Stone, may reside in the neighboring regions, or even in Faltown itself.”]
[“…Hey, you never told me that.”]
[“Oh Did I notBout that stone you need tostruct the Craft Circle of Limit Breakthrough, the secret ancient formula”]
[“H-hell if I know! Did you seriously keep something that important to yourself!”]
[“H-hey, wait a sec! Whats the Philosophers Stone like! Shape! Color! Size!”]
Oh, for the love of… he hung up! …Bastard wont even let me reconnect!
Damn it, Id made the false assumption that Id be able to contact him at any time!
And he threw at me important stuff so randomly, as if hed just remembered them!
I swear, this is why I hate dealing with geezers…!
Ugh, now… lets get the situation sorted out.
Faltown was attacked because of the Philosophers Stone presumed existence, even though, for all I know now, it was just a vague possibility In which case, it was now clear as day why Faltown had been abandoned by the Nation.
As the Philosophers Stone was a key for one to attain great power, it was the duty of the Devil Kings advance party to intercept it… gah, the more I know, the more troublesome this business gets.
I wouldnt be able to reach a verdict on the situation by myself.
I suppose itll depend on how much information Mel has managed to gather.
And THEN we would be able to plan our next move, huh.
Tūs, on the other hand… he said he was “kinda busy”
He would have been fine being on call while doing his usual stuff… really, what is he doing
Anyway, right now, weve got to do something about Faltown.
The place once had a population of almost a thousand, but because of the incident, there were now not much more than two hundred left.
That hadnt had much in terms of valuable manpower in the first place, and neither the means to increase their population.
The townspeople had children, of course, but in reality, the elderly had been passing away faster amid the harsh state of affairs.
I would like to do something, anything, but the Pochisley Agency cant possibly accommodate them all.
Moreover, some people would surely prefer to remain in this town.
While I laid face down, lost in deep thought, Bruce came up to sit next to me and sparked a much-needed conversation.
Thinking about stuff by yourself again”
“Yeah, considering how many people are in need now, wed need to migrate away, but I cant come up with any good plan…”
“Hahaha, youre trying to take care of absolutely everything, man.
Of course, you cant.”
“I-I mean, should I not If I dont do anything, everyone would die here, right”
That turned out harsher than I would have liked.
Having heard me say what I had said, Bruce proceeded to pick his ear with his little finger, with half-exasperation painted on his face.
“People live, people die, man.
Everyone does – same goes for you.”
I understood that Bruce was speaking of something other than ones life span.
Still, I couldnt quite get a read on his intention, and could only stand myself up.
“If they keep living here, theyre gonna die.
With how harsh this region is and how bad the places become now, almost absolutely will, I say.
But just look at the people.
Even in a bleak place and time like here and now, they havent lost hope.
I know weve been traveling for a long time ourselves, but this is the first time weve seen people like them.
Theyve got old Ryans power with them, but thats not all.
Its you, Asley – youve supported them when they needed it most.
Whats important is that they never became too dependent.
Everyones got the will and guts to fight for their lives.
Theyve been living without you spoiling them every step of the way.
And now youre saying you need to do something Say that to them, and itll be like you pouring warm water on them.
Do that when things are cold as they are now, and THAT will kill them off for real – got it”
Bruce showed me his rare streak of anger.
Still, those words resounded with me.
I felt something – not quite explainable with words, but definitely something.
“…These guys arent kids, you know – just give them the stuff they need once theyre relocated to Beilanea.
The towns in need of manpower now, so theyre gonna get themselves a job easily if theyre not picky.”
Id thought Bruce was angry, but then he softened down as he talked more, seeming a tad bit embarrassed.
While he did that, Ryan silently approached him.
Ryan looked at me, then at Bruce, and said the one sentence that dispelled all my fears.
“I propose that… we move away from Faltown, sir.”