Black Village – Part 01

Translator: Kell

A clear, blue sky greeted us the next morning. The sunlight was so intense that the ground had already dried from last night’s rain.

Breakfast was quite lavish. Leftovers from last night, baked bread, and milk.

I would have loved to take my sweet time savoring the food, but we wanted to get to the village before this Corruption fellow found the Coven of Zero’s lair. Zero could follow traces of Magic used in the village to locate it. We might find signs of Sanare as well. If things went smoothly, we might be able to find the lair faster than Corruption.

I paid the rest of the lodging fee. As we were about to leave, I suddenly remembered something and turned to Liza.

“How about telling me your tomato stew’s secret ingredient? You know, as a parting gift.”

Liza blinked a few times. Then with an expression of both anger and laughter, she shooed me away like an animal. “Don’t show your face around here again.”

Still a no, huh?

Smiling, I gave a shrug and glanced at Lily. The little Beastfallen was hiding behind Liza as always.

Feeling uncomfortable under my gaze, Lily wagged her long tail to say goodbye. I couldn’t help but chuckle at how adorable she was.

We left the ramshackle inn with the top-notch food.

“Now then, priest,” Zero said. “Where exactly is this village? You will show us the way, yes?”

“You seem to be forgetting that I can’t see during the day. Leading you to a place I’ve never been to before is practically impossible.”

“Quit acting cocky and just say you’re useless,” I said.

The priest’s staff darted at me with incredible speed. I dodged it just in time and laughed, but something caught my foot, and I fell flat on my face.

I totally forgot. The priest had two weapons—his staff that transformed into a scythe and the strings extending from it. I untangled the strings from my feet and got up.

“Pathetic,” the priest said. “I can’t show you the way, but I received a map from the Church. It should indicate the route to the village.”

Could’ve shared that with the class earlier.

“It’s been bugging me since yesterday,” I said. “Why do we need to work with this guy? It would be easier for us if we just killed him here.”

We were not trapped on a ship anymore. While we shared the same objective, we differed on what to do with the copy of the grimoire afterwards. If we would ultimately become enemies, we might as well end him now.

Casually spreading out the map, Zero dismissed my grievances. “Silver-haired women are treated as witches at the moment. Having the priest around works to our advantage. I thought mercenaries used each other for as long as necessary.”

“I know, but still.”

“For the record,” the priest said, “if you show even the slightest intention of fighting me, I will immediately report everything about Zero to the Church. You know what’ll happen afterwards, right? You can’t be that stupid, after all.”

My brows furrowed. If we lost the priest’s protection and he informed the Church about everything, the Knights Templar would go all out to hunt us down. We wouldn’t be able to find the books then.

“You heard him,” Zero said. “We will simply cross that bridge when we get there.”

“You make it sound easy.” I sighed.

Zero smiled. “I am counting on you, Mercenary.”

“You only count on me in times like this.”

“What do you mean? I have always relied on you, have I not? Right now, I want you to carry me.”

“No way. It’s too hot.”

“You are so cold. Then I will ask the priest.”

“I don’t want to,” he answered with nary an expression on his face. “You’re too heavy.”

Zero chuckled. “You have become quite mean, priest. I wonder which one is the real you: the benign one from before or the spiteful one now? I have not changed, while you are like a different person.”

“Both are the real me. Humans are multifaced. It’s normal to change one’s attitude depending on who they’re dealing with.”

“I see. Perhaps you are right. If both are the real you, I like the current you more.”

“Are you trying to seduce me?”

“Heavens, no.” Zero tugged on my cloak. “I already have someone I love. The problem is, he never looks at me. I would rather seduce him than you.”

Here she goes again. Saying shit she doesn’t mean. What’s she gonna do if I take her seriously? I glanced at her and found her smiling.

“You can take me seriously,” she said.

Breathing a sigh, I started walking ahead.

According to the map, the village was about a day and a half away from Lutra on foot. A horse-drawn carriage could get there in a day, but since horses fear Beastfallen, we had no other choice but to walk.

Damn, it’s blazing hot. How hot was it? It was so hot that walking with two people with shorter strides was taxing. My legs felt heavy, and I was getting dizzy.

Zero stopped and shot me a concerned look. “Mercenary, are you all right?” She clearly noticed I was acting strange. “You have been tottering for a while now.”

“I’m fine. Well actually, maybe not. I just remembered that when I was around these parts, I basically went out at night and spent the day under the shade. This is my first time walking for hours under the sun.”

“He certainly looks like he doesn’t do well in the heat,” the priest said.

He was wearing a priest’s black garb. Black absorbs heat. In fact, he was probably quite exhausted already.

“Hmm. I think we should rest somewhere for a while,” Zero said.

“Rest where?”

Wastelands stretched out as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t even a single tree that could provide shade.

Zero unfolded the map and groaned. “According to the map, we should be able to reach a small river by nightfall. In the meantime, we can pour some water on you to cool you down. If we go on like this, you will be roasted.”

She poured the contents of the flask on my head. Dripping water sizzled and evaporated as soon as it touched the ground.

Yo, sun. Can you tone it down a little?

“Hey, Witch.”

“What is it, Mercenary?”

“Didn’t you mention that there was Magic to control weather?”

She said something like that back when we got caught in a storm out in the sea. If Magic could trigger storms or bring rain…

“Don’t you have any spell that’ll make it cooler?”

“A perfect spell like that cannot possibly exist.”

“I see. Of course.”

“Oh, wait.” Zero slammed her fist on her palm. “There is one.”


The priest scowled. “How bold of you to talk about Magic in front of an adjudicator.”

“Now, now. This is an urgent matter,” Zero said. “You can afford to be a little lenient. There is a Magic spell in the Chapter of Harvest that lowers temperature to preserve meat and vegetables. You cast in a specific area, so you can not cool yourself down while moving, but you can at least rest in it now.”

Zero picked up a twig from the side of the road and drew a circle. She then placed stones on four sides, pushed me into the circle, and began chanting.

“Chapter of Harvest, Page Five: Luinaros! Grant me power, for I am Zero!”

A chilly breeze blew through my scorching fur. Ah, so cool. The sun was glaring down from above, yet I couldn’t feel its heat. My entire body temperature dropped quickly, and my dizziness faded.

“How is it?” Zero asked. “Do you feel a little better now?”

A little? It was more than that.

“This is awesome!” I exclaimed. “It’s freakin’ great! I will never let you go ever again!”

“I am glad you are feeling better, but first you treat me like a dryer and now a temperature-controlling contraption. Poor me.”

“Look who’s talking. You’re the one using me as a blanket, a bed, and a vehicle.”

“I have the right.” Zero turned to the priest. “Come. Let us rest.”

“I’m an adjudicator. I will not accept a witch’s grace.”

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