V2 Chapter 53: Omen

I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night.

There was no alarm ringing, nor any roar thundering. I listened carefully, but I didn’t feel anything unusual. The only thing I could hear was the breathing of Suzume and the others sleeping in the next room, separated by a single sheet of tent cloth.

Maybe it was because of the alcohol I drank with Joel, I thought as I turned over. The time was still late at night, too early to get up.

But strangely, my eyes were clear and I couldn’t sleep.

I reluctantly moved the bedding and got up, being careful not to wake up Suzume and the others as I left the tent. As soon as I did, a chilly breeze brushed my neck and made my shoulders shiver.

I had felt it in Berka too, but the desert area had a drastic temperature difference between day and night. Even inside the city walls, I felt cold, so you can imagine how cold it was in Reero Oasis, which was right in the middle of the desert. And when the sun rises, the temperature will rise at once. The desert is a strange place indeed.

I looked up at the sky without thinking and saw a frighteningly large moon looking down on the ground coldly. As I gazed at the moon, I asked myself.

—So, what is this feeling that has been haunting me since a while ago?

The boiling sensation in my body that keeps me from sleeping. Even though I can’t see anything, nor hear anything, my lips naturally curl up.

This might be what they call a premonition. Anyway, something is about to happen—no, it’s already happening. It was more than a hunch, it was a conviction.

The problem is what exactly is happening, but well, it’s a well-known fact that I, the dragon slayer, am in this oasis. I’ve also met the leader of the “Desert Hawk” by chance, so if something happens, they’ll let me know. I thought so and shrugged my shoulders slightly.

…I learned that Aluet Oasis had been attacked by a horde of monsters shortly after that.

The information of the attack came in the middle of the night. Naturally, most of the residents and adventurers were asleep, but their reaction was quick when they heard the report.

In the Catalan Desert, it was not uncommon for an oasis to be attacked by monsters. Depending on the size of the herd, they sometimes abandoned the oasis, and in that sense, this attack was also a “usual thing” for the desert dwellers.

However, having said that, not all of the residents of Reero Oasis were able to act in unison. Even if they were used to abandoning their homes, they would prefer not to if possible, and there was some disagreement over whether to focus on defending or abandoning the oasis. The one who told me this was Joel, the leader of the “Desert Hawk”.

He was busy enough to need a cat’s paw, but he came all the way to me and explained the situation in a calm voice.

“I heard from the guys who escaped from Aluet, but the situation is pretty bad. They said that monsters came from three directions: west, north, and south, almost at the same time. The east was open, so they managed to escape, but they were hit hard by the pursuit.”

“…That’s a pretty tactical move.”

If they completely surrounded them, the enemy would fight with desperation. To prevent that, they deliberately left a hole in the encirclement and let the enemy escape there. Once they start running away, there are not many people who have the spirit to fight back again. Then all they have to do is trample on the fleeing enemy from behind as much as they want.

I felt such an intention in the movement of the monsters. Of course, there is also a possibility that it was just a coincidence, but Joel readily agreed with my opinion.

“Sand lizards are good at ambushing, and Catalan ants form groups and hunt. The golden scorpion even pretends its shell is a gold nugget and lures humans in. It’s not a new story that desert monsters are cunning.”

Joel advocated abandoning Reero Oasis—as quickly as possible—but there were also many who opposed this.

If Joel’s argument prevailed and they abandoned the oasis right away, they would have to move through the desert at night in large numbers. The evacuation would not go smoothly, and there was a high possibility of being caught up by monsters. In that case, they would have to fight a horde of monsters face-to-face in the desert with nothing to block them.

It would be better to fight back at Reero Oasis, which had a strong defense. This opinion was natural and could even be said to be orthodox.

In addition, not all of those who escaped from Aluet Oasis had made it to Reero. There was also reason in their argument that they should not abandon them.

Joel himself said he understood that. But still, he insisted on abandoning the oasis because—

“I have a bad feeling about this. It’s like I have an invisible blade pressed against my neck.”

The leader of the “Desert Hawk” said that and felt a shiver run down his neck.

“I’ve always had this feeling before something bad happens. I get surrounded by enemies, or a sandstorm breaks out, or I get poisoned. I’ve had this feeling since before I got word from Aluet—no, since a little before that. So I thought, this place is dangerous too.”

Hearing that, I widened my eyes slightly. It seemed that Joel had felt something similar to what I had felt.

The only difference between me and Joel was whether they perceived the impending danger as a “crisis” or an “opportunity”.

As I thought about that, I opened my mouth.

“I get it. So what do you want me to do?”

I asked him why he had come all the way to me. He didn’t just want to explain the situation to me and leave.

Then Joel said with a smirk on his lips.

“Well, I just wanted to know what you’re going to do. To put it bluntly, I want to know if you’re going to fight or run away. Either way, I want to ask you for a favor—no, on behalf of Reero Oasis.”

If you’re going to fight, help out the refugees from Aluet. If you’re going to run away, request reinforcements from Berka.

Either way, I was the best candidate because I could fly in the sky, Joel said.

The amount of money he offered was so high that I blinked my eyes lightly. He seemed intent on paying in cash as well; before I knew it, he had a cloth bag in his hand that made a clear sound.

He showed his sincerity by coming himself and offered a good profit. He was indeed a leader of one of the best organizations in Berka, with no flaws.

I shrugged my shoulders lightly and responded to him.

“I’m not going to run away by myself in this situation. I agree to help out the refugees. But I’ll have to decline the request.”

“Oh, why is that? You’re doing the same thing anyway. You’d be better off with money.”

I didn’t answer that question, but just smiled slyly like him.

Once I accept the money, I have to treat Joel and the bigwigs of the oasis as my employers. If that happens, there will be situations where my actions will be restricted.

I’d rather cooperate without going through the request. That’s what I thought. I don’t want to be accused later of “The dragon slayer took a lot of money by taking advantage of the crisis of the oasis”!

“Use that money for the people who are fleeing from the west.”

“Hahaha! You’re like a hero of a story. You remind me of that guy Arrow.”

With those words, Joel left the scene. He probably intended to discuss the future policy with the influential people again, taking into account my strength.

I had to explain the situation to my companions. By this time, Lunamaria and Wisteria had sensed something was wrong and got up, and the others woke up as if they were following them.

I asked the two priests, Iria and Katia, to treat the people who had fled from the west. According to Joel, they had been hit hard by the monsters, so priests who could use healing miracles would be appreciated.

I asked Lunamaria and Suzume to help out the two priests.

In the meantime, I headed west with Wisteria on Clau Soras. I brought Wisteria along because I considered the possibility that Anima would activate in tonight’s attack.

Since the situation was what it was, no one objected, and we started our action quickly.


“…This is”

Wisteria, who was riding on the winged beast Wyvern and looking down at the scene below, was speechless for a while.

A demonic torrent that looked like the desert itself was moving.

Even for Wisteria, who had slain many monsters as the chief swordsman Gladius, the number of monsters running on the ground was unknown.

The desert climate was harsh for even the most resilient monsters. Where did they all come from? And before that, what did they eat to survive until today?

Then Sora, who had been silent until then, opened his mouth.

“There are more of them than I thought. I wonder where they all came from.”

“It’s a formidable scale. And this speed. If this continues, there’s no doubt that the group we saw earlier will be caught up.”

Wisteria remembered the small group he had seen just a while ago. They were probably the last group to escape from Aluet Oasis, with less than a hundred people.

There might have been a later group, but looking at the horde of monsters below, the outcome was clear.

“…What do you want to do, Sora?”

“Of course we’ll fight. That’s why we came here.”

The answer without hesitation was favorable for Wisteria. However, considering the size of the enemy, annihilation would be difficult. The best way to deal with this situation would be to use the flying speed of the winged beast Wyvern to delay them.

Wisteria was about to start preparing to call out to the higher spirits.

But before she could do that, Sora spoke to the winged beast Wyvern.

“Clau Soras, drop me off in front of that herd.”

Hearing that, Wisteria involuntarily broke her concentration.

The winged beast Wyvern, on the other hand, seemed to be used to it and replied with a snort, turning to follow his master’s command.

His body swayed greatly on the saddle, and Wisteria clung to Sora’s body in front of him. In that position, she opened her mouth.

“So, Sora?”

“Hm, what is it?”

“…I don’t think you’re going to do this, but are you planning to fight them head-on?”

“That’s exactly what I’m planning to do.”

He got a casual affirmative answer to her timid question.

Wisteria was speechless again. She knew very well how strong Sora was, but she still thought Sora’s decision was reckless.

In a battle, numbers are a threat that nothing can beat. No matter how brave he was to repel the demon god Pazuzu, there was no way he could fight that many monsters.

Ignoring Wisteria’s concern, Sora had a somewhat playful smile on his face.

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