Chapter 230: Contagion
The village was silent. Everyone was holding their breath.
Dinner casually finished in silence without anyone lighting any lights. It was as if the entire village had already gone to sleep.
A large number of missing carriages arrived at once.
The Filo Rials pulling them and the slaves riding them were probably being controlled.
One by one, they stepped off of the carriages and began walking towards the village.
And then, carrying off the slaves who were pretending to be asleep, they returned to the carriage parked farthest from us.
“That’s enough!” (Naofumi)
I stepped out of my hiding place from a nearby house.
At the same time, the slaves being taken away began to resist.
“Oh, Niichan. What’s wrong?” (Kiel)
Kiel stood in front of me, who responded as if nothing was wrong.
I opened up Kiel’s slave management screen and tried to activate punishment.
But… as if the battery had died, nothing happened.
“Kiel, I know that you can’t act. Tell me honestly. Is the mastermind controlling you inside of that carriage?” (Naofumi)
“Control? What are you saying, Niichan?” (Kiel)
Kiel’s eyes looked strange. She stared at the other controlled children, and they all tilted their heads in confusion.
“We were finally released from Niichan’s brainwashing. That’s why it is our duty to free the others as quickly as possible.” (Kiel)
I see… they were released.
That’s the lie Itsuki implanted in their skulls to control them.
With such a reason, it sounds like Itsuki is on the side of justice.
At least, within his head.
That is… If they were truly being released…
It would be just as Rishia said.
A while ago, when I proposed the plan, Rishia said as such:
“Naofumi-san. Even after all that’s happened, I still love the legends of the Heroes. When I was little, I would read about them whenever I could.” (Rishia)
“What are you saying all of a sudden?” (Naofumi)
“Do you know of the enemy that appears in the Heroes’ tales… The Demon King with the power of control?” (Rishia)
“The Hero of the Shield, right?” (Naofumi)
Rishia slowly shook her head from side to side.
“At least, within the world of fiction, he was called as such. But according to history, there were many Heroes at the time, and along with the heroes, much death came.” (Rishia)
Was that why people kept saying I have a Shield that can brainwash?
That means that it didn’t have to be the Hero of the Shield.
The people of this world just arbitrarily developed a grudge and arbitrarily placed it on the Shield. As long as they could shift the blame, then any weapon would do.
I’ve heard about it in Manga.
The Hero and the Demon King are just two sides of the same coin.
Yet here, they are one and the same.
All the bad things are the fake’s… The Demon King’s fault.
There’s no way that someone with such dark power can be a hero.
… A Hero rejected by history.
“And… According to legend, everyone working under the Demon King was a victim bent to his will.” (Rishia)
To summarize, it’s like this:
If I don’t get rid of Itsuki quickly, it’s going to get troublesome.
Worse comes to worst, I’ll have to capture each person in my Shield Prison one at a time.
I wonder just how much magic that would take.
I guess I should tell about Ren as well.
If Itsuki decides to show his face in the village, I want to capture him alive if possible.
If that turns out to be impossible, we’ll have to kill him. I’ll take responsibility for it.
That’s what I told him.
But Ren was opposed to killing Itsuki.
I feel that his emotions are getting deeper as of late.
Before, he tried to put up a… Cool, indifferent atmosphere. I guess this is better.
By the way, if he tried to use his dark past to elicit sympathy, I planned on kicking him out.
Though, it appears that there are no problems at this point in time.
No matter what happens, I don’t think he will kill.
Also, though I made him unlock the other reinforcement methods, his curse makes him unable to get materials or money, so he can’t really use them. It will be difficult to crush Itsuki, who is currently being devoured by his own curse.
A carefree voice came from the coast.
“Is it already sleeping time? I planned on getting Atlas-chan and heading over to Naofumi’s place, but what’s happening?” (Sadina)
Sadina had a relaxed expression as she stretched her arms and walked towards me.
“Why are you coming back so late anyways?” (Naofumi)
It’s obvious that she had no idea about the emergency situation.
Why was this idiot waltzing in so easily?
“Why, you ask? …Didn’t Naofumi-chan ask me to try my hand at Salvaging?” (Sadina)
Sadina told me that plenty of interesting treasures slept at the bottom of the sea, so I asked her to try her hand at them.
Recently, she had been coming back with things like old coins.
They were things that would drive collectors insane. We got a good price for them.
That’s why I got happy and asked her to do it on the spur of the moment.
“Today, I found some nice wine and a good harpoon.” (Sadina)
Sadina held out an ornate harpoon that looked as if it were made out of coral.
Is that really something that someone lost in the sea?
“It seemed like it’d been at the bottom of the sea for a while, but it still held its shape. Its blade is quite a nice one.” (Sadina)
“Ah. Anyways… Can you step back a bit?” (Naofumi)
Sadina playfully spun the harpoon around her body before returning it to the bag on her back. She looked around her.
“Sadina-neechan. Niichan is being cruel.” (Kiel)
“Ara? What could be the problem?” (Sadina)
Kiel slowly stepped towards Sadina.
“No! Sadina-san! Get away from Kiel-kun!” (Rishia)
It happened the second Rishia shouted out her warning. Kiel changed into dog form and bit the space Sadina was in.
But at that moment, Sadina backed off at a surprising speed and created some distance between her and the dog.
“Damn… I missed.” (Kiel)
“… What are you trying to do? Based on your answer, this Onee-chan may have to issue out some punishment.” (Sadina)
Sadina immediately readied herself for battle as she pointed the harpoon at Kiel.
Kiel’s attack put her on high alert.
I should have warned her quicker.
“Hypothetically… If like in the story, we slaves were just moving at the Demon King’s whim, then…”
Rishia’s words echo in my mind. I can imagine the worst possible outcome.
“I see. Itsuki isn’t directly issuing brainwashing. He’s made a status effect that can be spread… Atlas, what can you sense from Kiel and the others?” (Naofumi)
I asked Atlas who was in hiding.
This is merely a single possibility, but I should have Atlas look into it.
“The dark energy that is wrapped around Kiel-kun has begun extending tentacles towards Sadina-san.” (Atlas)
Damn. This is troublesome.
Kiel, the controlled Filo Rials, and the controlled Slaves took offensive stances.
Currently, Kiel’s level is 70.
Just based on stats, she falls short of Raphtalia, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t strong.
Due to her race, Kiel can make quicker movements.
However, I can probably withstand her attacks.
The problem is the infectious nature of this brainwashing.
It’s like a game where you have to defend single a point from countless enemy units.
And there’s nothing we can do about it.
Neither side will seriously try to hurt the other, but when any of my side gets infected, they’ll become enemies.
“Is there anything I can do here?” (Naofumi)
Ren should also be in quite some danger right now.
I guess I should warn him.
With Kiel’s battle cry, the slaves began their assault.
… The slaves I trained as soldiers have turned against me.
I had planned to end this by capturing Itsuki.
Of course, I had considered the possibility of fighting Kiel and the others. But what the hell is it with this contagion factor.
It’s even worse than a plague.
“The stories told of the Hero’s companions having strong wills and being able to withstand the control. It was quite a touching tale…” (Rishia)
Rishia answered as she blocked Kiel’s attack.
The village has already been swallowed by battle.
Though I shouted out a warning, the enemies’ preemptive strike rendered quite a few of my combatants unconscious. We were doing worse than I predicted.
I stepped in front to protect the slaves to the best of my ability, but still, I can’t handle everything.
“Are you alright!?” (Naofumi)
“It seems that the effect isn’t that contagious, but if we continue to take attacks, then it will definitely spread.” (Naofumi)
I have confidence in my own defense, but when facing an army of Kiel-class enemies, there’s no way either side will come out unscathed.
If I want to use my Shield Prison trump card, I’ll have to gather them in one place.
Though, the quickest solution would just be to find and capture Itsuki.
“Atlas! Can you still not sense Itsuki anywhere?” (Naofumi)
“…It’s no good. An ominous aura is filling the area, and I can’t pinpoint anything.” (Atlas)
“I see…” (Naofumi)
I guess I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
Damn. Everything is turning on me.
I got the idea to defeat Itsuki and end everything from Motoyasu, but that seems to be impossible.
If the brainwashing is infectious, then it will just spread naturally.
Itsuki doesn’t even have to be anywhere near the village.
“Niichan, prepare yourself! How dare you use all of us!” (Kiel)
“Ha! Just go eat a crepe covered in dirt!” (Naofumi)
From my bad habits, an angry line escaped my mouth. The line of a cheap villain.
I really shouldn’t be provoking her right now.