“You made the right choice.”
“But it’s also true that they are suspicious.”
Although she planned to apologize to them, it didn’t mean she had freed herself from doubting Zich and his companions.
“Don’t worry. I will try looking into them.”
“Yeah. If you work on it, I will feel reassured.” Browning nodded eagerly.
“They really weren’t exactly pleasant, twisting someone’s goodwill like that.”
She glanced behind to look at Glen with her eyes filled with trust.
“That woman talked as if you were treating me like a shield even though all I did was just voice my thoughts while you respected them.”
“There’s no point in trying to talk some sense to strangers who don’t know anything. Convincing each and every person would simply be a waste of your time. If I think about it, I really did let you get mixed up in our argument like she said.”
“But you defended me in the end.”
“Well, that’s nothing.” Glen shrugged and Browning smiled.
“Thank you, Zenard, for defending me.”
“Any time.” Glen smiled back. “Browning, can I make one request?”
“What is it?”
“Could you not tell other people about this ruin’s secret site?”
Browning was surprised by Glen’s unexpected request. “What? Why? We have to inform the city of such a dangerous place right away! The shadows from there might pour into the city!”
Considering the strength and number of shadows, the city didn’t seem like it would be able to come up with an outstanding solution, but they could at least be on guard about it. Furthermore, if it was impossible for the city to combat the shadows with their army, they could always get support from the nation.
“Besides, confused tourists might go into that place! You saw those people we just met!”
By ‘those people,’ Browning was talking about Zich and his companions, who said they entered the forbidden grounds to look around the ruin where there were few people. Thinking about it now, their excuses seemed suspicious, but the important part was that there were many tourists like them.
“You don’t have to worry about tourists getting mixed up in this mess. I don’t think the secret door opens easily.”
“…Do you know how it opens?”
“I can make a good guess. Since the shadows seem like they can’t escape out of the door, the city will be safe. If we actually tell people about this place, people would be anxious that there’s a ruin where strange monsters linger right under the city. Tourists will try not to come here too, and Violuwin will decline.”
“That’s only if nothing happens to the city. Can you really be certain that the city will be safe?”
“What’s the reason?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Okay.” His response was unbelievably simple. He gave no reason or explanation; a person who didn’t know him would have probably gotten angry at him, asking if he was joking. Yet, Browning accepted his response easily.
“If you say so, there must be a reason.” Her acceptance was based on her immense trust in Glen, so she believed almost everything he said easily.
“Okay, I won’t say anything, but everything won’t be solved even if we keep our mouths shut. What if those people talk?” Lyla brought up Zich and his companions again.
“We have to chase after them and try to talk to them.” Glen said this, but he wasn’t worried about this point.
‘Since they already have Estellade, that means they already knew about this part of the ruin. I’m sure Violuwin doesn’t even know about that secret site.’ Glen thought the city would have dispatched investigators or have done something if they knew about that place’s existence. Glen continued his train of thought, ‘Those guys must not have let anyone else know of this place then.’
However, he needed to act more convincingly for Browning. She thought it was her fault, and as she glanced at Glen in guilt, she grumbled, “We shouldn’t have let them go then. Let’s quickly chase after them.”
“Is this the place we came from?” Browning asked.
To not arouse her suspicions, Glen led her to the entrance he had originally come in with Browning. Right now, he wasn’t supposed to know of any other entrances except this one.
“Take the lead since I don’t know the way.”
“Will we be able to catch up to them?”
“We have to hurry.” However, Glen was carefree. The path he and Browning had originally taken was the closest to the tourist site. If Zich and his companions continued on the same path they were on previously, Glen and Browning would be able to catch up to them in no time. It didn’t matter if Zich and his companions took another path in the middle. Since they were taking the shortest route, they would arrive at their destination much earlier than them. After they got out, all they would have to do was wait at the entrance of the tourist site.
Getting tired of the complicated path that Glen was guiding her into, she asked, “But those people will know their way inside the ruin, right? Since there’s another entrance besides the one we took, they might have gone another way.”
“We’ll have to go around looking for them then.”
“Hmph! I hope they get lost and suffer a bit,” she muttered jokingly.
“Ah, but Browning.”
“You know your weapon…” Glen talked as if he was talking about nothing and spoke in a very light tone, “Rather than trying to find balance between your sword and shield, wouldn’t it be better to focus all your attention on your shield?”
“Are you talking about that again?” Browning had never seemed offended by Glen’s comments so far, scowled for the first time.
“It’s just my suggestion because I see your great talent in that area. I am simply saying it for your sake.”
Browning didn’t answer.
Glen sounded ridiculous since in terms of skills, Browning was better than Glen. However, there was a reason why Browning didn’t refute Glen’s claims immediately: it was his geniusness. Her skills might be above Glen at the moment, but she knew that Glen would soon catch up to her skills and surpass them. The foresight he showed her from time to time was chillingly accurate and detailed. Thus, it was Glen whom she admired and respected, saying that she had no talent with the sword.
“I respect your decision, but I can’t say right to what’s wrong. If that’s what you want to do, you can keep holding onto the sword,but...”
Browning was unable to see Glen’s face as he walked in front of her, but his every word clearly pierced Browning’s ears.
“You won’t be able to go up any higher.”
Browning looked down at her hands. Her hands were filled with scars from wielding the sword without stopping for a single day. However, Glen said that all her efforts had been in vain.
“…I’ll think about it.” Browning barely managed to say these words. Between reality and dreams, these were the best words she could manage to say to him. After this, all talk ceased between them. Only the sound of their footsteps as they tried to catch up to Zich and his companions could be heard. They saw a familiar off-limits sign and went back into the tourist site opentothe public.
“…There’s no one?”
Browning was surprised. Even though they originally went through the restricted section in an area with few people (since they couldn’t brazenly enter a restricted site), it was strange that there was no one at all.
“No way!” Browning freaked out as she thought of something. “Zenard! What if those shadows…!”
“It’s probably not that.” Glen shook his head. “If the shadows came all the way here, there would be traces of battle. You also fought with them, so you must know this. Even though they had basically no defense capabilities, their attack capabilities were very high. Their speed was great too.”
Then they looked around their surroundings.
“If those guys invaded this area, there should be some kind of traces left—whether it be corpses or blood.”
“Then what happened? There’s no one at all.”
Glen quietly tilted his ear to the side. “I hear a loud noise. Let’s try going over there.”
Glen and Browning quickly moved their feet towards the sound. As they moved closer, the sound became louder. However, Browning’s worry that it might be screams lessened as they moved closer. It was definitely the sound of cheering as they moved out of the ruin. There was a large crowd of people outside as if all the people nearby had gathered here.
“What’s happening?” Browning looked at the center of the crowd. They saw several people surrounded by the crowd.
“Ah? Those people.” There was a clear sense of surprise in her voice as the people who were surrounded by the crowd were Zich and his companions. Did they get caught for going into the restricted section? However, the atmosphere didn’t look serious. Instead, the situation looked more like a crowd flocking to see a group of heroes. Browning grabbed a person nearby and asked, “May I ask you what’s happening right now?”
“The heroes have come here!”
“The heroes who saved the city! Those great people have come here!”
For a moment, Browning was unable to understand the words of the people in front of her.
“A-are you saying that those people are…heroes?”
As if she could not believe it, her hands trembled as she pointed towards Zich and his group.
“Yes, of course!”
Browning was shocked beyond belief; Glen’s face also became stiff. However, people paid no attention to them, and the cheering continued.
* * *
It was a coincidence that the crowd caught Zich and his companions. When they reached the entrance of the ruin, they were stopped by the people standing there; ofall the peoplethey could possibly meet in Violuwin, the people who had stood close to them during the monster ambush were there.
Of course, they instantly recognized Zich and his companions and loudly shouted out the identities of Zich’s group to everyone around them. As a result, the citizens of Violuwin were praising their heroes, and the tourists were looking at Zich’s group with curiosity written on their faces. Zich and his companions stood in the middle of it all. While his companions looked flustered, Zich had a look of intense annoyance.
They were also able to move their lodging to the fanciest room in the city. The city’s officials said they couldn’t give shabby treatment to their heroes and reserved a special room for them. Zich thought about refusing the city’s offer, but since they were caught anyway, he thought it would be more comfortable to accept the city’s generosity.
‘We’re not going to stay here for long anyways.’
Zich lay down on a soft sofa and recalled a recent memory. Even though the memory of people praising him as a hero brought chills down his spine, Zich was able to witness a curious sight. He spotted Zenard in the crowd and saw that Zenard looked very surprised.
‘Hah! A Demon Lord who is getting treated like a hero in front of a hero.’
Even before his regression, he had never experienced such a bizarre event. Zich relaxed his body.
‘Thinking about it, I forgot to ask about Tornium.’
To be precise, Zich was curious about how Glen could use Tornium with his current level of skill. There was one more thing that Zich was curious about, but Zich ended his thoughts about Glen.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m just a bit curious about it.’
Zich got up from the sofa and threw his body on the bed. He was planning to leave this city tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. The mayor seemed as if he wanted to make Zich and his companions parade around the city like clowns to attract more tourists. Of course, Zich had no intention to stand in front of people as a clown.
‘I can’t just kill him for daring to try to use me like I did in the past, so I should just quickly leave before things become troublesome.’
Zich thought he was becoming so generous and fell asleep while laughing to himself. He had already lost all his interest with Glen Zenard and Lara Browning. However, Zich had no choice but to think about them again the very next day.
“It’s been a day since we last met. Have you been well?”
Glen Zenard smiled as he sat in front of Zich.