Today, the rain isn’t as hard as yesterday. But our line of sight are still limited so we decided to stay here. Alishia is training with Mary again. The ball of water is much more stable now. It will still get disturbed when Mary pokes it though.
Frank who can’t find anything to do is sleeping like a log. He has been sleeping all day long but he can still sleep. I grant him the title of “Sleeping Druid”.
Yuni is preparing lunch. Because it’s still raining outside, she can’t cook. The menu will more or less be the same as yesterday. Mary is helping her with magic while keeping an eye on Alishia.
What am I doing, you say? I am patrolling the perimeter. There are so many warnings last night so I will check the barrier. Suspiciously, the warnings stop at dawn despite it has been going from around dinner time. And the warning comes from all direction. It’s like there is something out there that is checking our defenses.
I arrive at the barrier that send the most warnings. It faces the deeper part of the forest. This something should have come from the depth. I confirm that the barrier is fine then I go out of the barrier cautiously with sword on hand. Whatever it is, it might still lurks around.
There are many footprints outside the barrier. From the shape and size, it is most likely human’s. They have been wondering around the barrier for a long time. The footprints are almost gone with the rain. I search around for any sign of messages but I can’t find any. There is also no sign of life around here.
I decide to leave some messages around the barrier. I carve the message at the trees. The content is “Whoever is out there. Approach the barrier but don’t touch it. I will come to you after that. Please wait a bit.” Hopefully they will see this and wait.
I go around the barrier and carve more message to trees around the barrier. Nothing happen during the whole process. I see more footprints around the barrier. It looks like there are a lot of them. I go back to the wagon after finishing the message.
“Welcome back. Any news?”
“I am back. I found some footprints out there. Most likely human’s. I left messages all around the barrier, so I hope we can meet them.”
“I see. We should be nearing the pass now. Maybe they are the magicians stationed there?”
“Possibly. If it is, then we are in luck. How is Alice?”
“She get around 25% of the control now. At this rate, she can control the mana the day after tomorrow.”
“I see. She is pretty good.”
“I think so too.”
I reach the wagon and climb up after taking off the rain jacket like yesterday. Alishia is sleeping in Mary’s arm. Her sleeping face is very comfortable. She really likes sleeping there.
On the other hand, Frank that is also sleeping on the floor of the wagon covers his whole body including his face with blankets. With so little movement, I wouldn’t be surprised if other people think it is a corpse. Truthfully, I also thought what is that thing when I climb up just now.
It’s about lunch time now. Yuni opens the cloth that warps around the toast bread. The smell of the bread spread around the wagon in an instant. The corps-- I mean Frank suddenly sits up from his lying position and drops the blanket. I almost throw the canteen in my hand to his head. Meanwhile, Mary wakes Alishia up to eat lunch.
Night comes and the warnings start sounding off from all over the place. I jump down the wagon and proceed to meet who are out there. But considering the number of warnings from various places, it might not be travelers. I prefer to not meet bandits again.
I go to the closest barrier with Yuni. She will watch me from afar. It is a reassurance so that we can warn others immediately if something goes wrong. This barrier not only is the closest one to the wagon but also has the most number of warnings.
When we approach the barrier, the warnings stop. Whoever it is, they have gone. We still go near the barrier to see. We see a large number of new footprints covered with water and mud. The shape is again similar to before. They are most likely humans but why they go back without meeting us? I go back inside the barrier where Yuni waits.
“Let’s go to another place. The footprints are human’s. I don’t why they go back but other places still have warnings. Let’s go there.”
We move to other places while observing the outside. The warnings start to disappear when we are inside 20 meters from them. The barrier we left behind has started to sound warnings again after we are outside the 20 meters range. Our line of sight is only 5 meters ahead even with the torch light. The mist that appear out of nowhere is obstructing our view.
“This mist is unnatural. At first, I thought it is because of the rain. But now, I am starting to doubt it.”
“Now that I look at it, I think so too.”
“Another thing is whoever it is out there, they will go away when we are around 20 meters away from them.”
“Yeah. I checked the warnings and it will be gone when we are nearing them.”
“Let’s go back. It’s not like we can talk with them. They also can’t break the barrier except they throw a huge rock on it.”
“Yeah. Let’s hope we can move to the pass tomorrow. It’s getting creepy here.”
That night, a lot more warnings are sounding from the barrier. I turn off the small warnings while leaving the big warnings on. I will know if the barrier is breached.
The next morning, the rain has stopped. The longest and hardest rain I have ever seen. Sometimes, it will still lightly rain. I am picking up the barrier sticks now. Just like yesterday, the warnings are concentrated at night and when the dawn come, the warnings stopped. The others are preparing the wagon to go and brushing the horse.
The scene outside the barrier is now visible with the sun come out every now and then. There are no signs of life outside the barrier but the footprints there are showing that they are indeed a group of people around. Judging from the warnings, there should be more than 50 people. Mary has search around for any signs of animals or humans but has no luck. With that in mind, I guess I should quickly take the barrier sticks and get back before any creatures come out.
After picking up the sticks, I return to the wagon. The wagon is ready to go and everyone is aboard. I climb up the wagon and tell the others about the footprints. We should stay vigilant even with no signs of anything around.
We are about half a day from the pass. The speed of travel is reduced with the muddy path but we will still managed to reach there before sunset. Frank is driving the wagon. Alishia is training. The rest of us are keeping our eyes on the surrounding.
Along the way, there isn’t any notable thing that happened. Even the usual small birds and squirrels that gather when we are eating lunch are not around. Looks like the magic is so strong that it affect the nearby forest as well. Some of the trees here also show signs of withering. The illusion is strong.
We find more footprints when we approach the pass. The soldiers in the pass should be patrolling around this area. The problem is the surrounding is too quiet. More and more trees can be seen withering. The smell of rotting woods are getting strong. We are starting to think that they are really withering.
We eat a simple lunch halfway there. No one is on the mood to cook with the strong bad smell around. We quickly finish our lunch so our food ingredients didn’t smell bad.
Nearing the pass, we see signs of blood all over the place. There are broken swords and bows all around. No corpses or skeleton so far. All of those stuffs might just be a decoration so the haunted rumor looks real.
We are now in front of the pass. The rotten smell is getting stronger. We are looking for any signs of magicians around. Mary who is supposed to find them can’t find them. There is a stronger feeling of magicians inside the pass but they are too far inside to be the one who receives new magicians.
“It can’t be helped. Mary, cast dispel on use. The magic is making me dizzy.”
The next moment we are shocked by the scene in front of us. Mary quickly closes the eyes of Alishia beside her. Yuni grimaces at the sight and Frank nearly falls down on the spot. I quickly take out my rifle and look around.
There are corpses of soldiers inside the pass. Some of them still have sword sticking out of their body. Others don’t have arms or legs. A few of them have no head. Dry bloodstains paint the ground. It should have been days since this happened. Why didn’t clean this up? There will be disease going around.
“Yuni, take Alice back to the wagon. Don’t let her see anything outside. Frank, guard them. Mary, help me set up a perimeter.”
“Yes! Come here Alice. Don’t watch.”
“I will do my best.”
The wagon is moved farther from the pass until we can’t see it from here. I set up the barrier sticks around the wagon and in front of the pass. I move some of the corpses inside the barrier to examine. We are still a bit far from the wagon so it’s find.
The corpses have cut wounds and some looks like they have been crushed by blunt weapon. Looking at the wounds, it should be another human and not animals or monsters. I heave a relief sigh when I think about it. With the perimeter set up, humans won’t be able to push through the barrier except they have siege weapons.
There are a lot of bodies and since it is nearly night time, I will burn the bodies tomorrow. I burn the ones inside the barrier. Somehow, I see them move inside the flame. Not the natural movement when being cremated but the unnatural struggling. It is only for a brief second but I hope it is just my imagination. They are dead after all. I offer my prayer and go back to the wagon.
“I checked the wounds. We are saved inside the barrier unless the enemies have siege weapons.”
“How do you conclude that?”
“They have a cut wounds from sharp things like swords and crushed bones from blunt weapons. Most likely they are fighting against another army.”
“Let’s grab some food. We will need them to calm down.”
“Food for calming down.... Are you a glutton?”
With wind magic, Mary blows away the rotten smell. She then take out some ingredients. I pick up some stones and dry woods to use for camp fire with Frank. Yuni is guarding Mary and Alishia in case something unexpected happen.
After a while, we are enjoying a slightly more luxurious dinner than before. We are stuck with bread for two days so today’s fish soup is refreshing. Why fish? Because the fish is going to rot soon. Better use it before it rot.
When we are eating dinner, warnings start sounding out from my bracelet. We ignore it because they won’t be able to get in like the other day. When we are about to finish the dinner, a medium warning sounds out. That means the barrier is taking damages faster than its repair rate.
“Mary, I am going to see what happen.”
“Understood. Be careful.”
I quickly finish up my dinner and stand up. I take my sidearm and some mags then a torch light. I will use the pistol to threaten them. Tonight is much better than before. I can see farther than before.
I walk to the barrier in front of the pass. There are some warnings slightly farther than there but most of them are now concentrated there. The other day, they will scatter around the barrier but today, they look determined to breakthrough.
When I am about to reach there, a big warning resound from my bracelet. That means a breach. I quickly run towards the breach. When I reach there, all I see are human figures creeping in. They are moving slowly with unnatural walking style. I see the barrier recharging is at 50% but I activate it anyway. I have to stop the breach.
The breached barrier is re-established. The human figures inside didn’t seem to care about it. The outside ones are starting to pound on it with great force again. It will only hold for a while. I need to talk them out first. I shine the one inside the barrier.
....I almost vomit on the spot.
They are the corpses of soldier earlier. Rotten smell starts spreading again. They are undead soldiers or zombies to be exact. They are looking like they are in pain.
“Erwin, I heard a big warning. What happ--!?”
“Mary, create a wall so no more will get inside. I will take care of these ones. Quick! The barrier won’t hold out much longer!”
Mary quickly rise an earthen wall while pushing out the zombies near the barrier outside. I keep pointing my torch’s light at the zombies inside the barrier. It looks like the enchantment in the torch works. It is an enchantment to handle evil spirits and black magic influenced creatures. They are most likely raised with necromancy magic.
I throw out the mag in my pistol and attach another mag taken from the storage. The mag contains similarly enchanted bullets. While still pointing the torch’s light at them, I aim the pistol and shoot. One bullet for each of their head. The enchantment will clear out any spirits or black mana from the target. It works fine too. The zombies collapse.
The wall is being pounded from outside. Cracks appear on various place on the wall. Mary is preparing another magic while repairing the wall. When she is ready, [Earth Spike] magic is cast.
Numerous earthen spikes surge out of the wall to the zombies. They stab into the bodies of the zombies while pushing them away. Effectively preventing them from pounding at the wall. But even with this, they can just destroy the spike and then pound the wall. Mary is preparing another magic now.
The next magic is a [Pitfall]. Like the name, it create a pitfall in front of the wall. But the scale is much larger. It will be more appropriate to say that a moat is created outside the wall. Correct it. The wall also falls inside the moat. The zombies fall down one after another into the 3 meters deep moat.
“Wow. I don’t know you can make a moat.”
“I.... don’t. I thought of making many pitfalls. But the scale is much larger than I thought.”
Looking at the large 2 meters wide moat across the wall, it looks like the zombies won’t be able to get up here. They are too few to climb out now even if they piled up on one spot. Mary takes out the barrier sticks on top of the submerges wall. I set it up again behind the moat for further safety.
We go back to the wagon after that. Many questions are floating but we will leave them for tomorrow. Let’s grab some rest. Yuni and Frank look like they want to ask things but they refrain after seeing us tired. I hope I don’t get a nightmare after seeing real zombies for the first time.