Chapter 56: Light of Hope
We followed Father Luke and went below the ground. Inside, there was a staircase built of soil. We went further down to the basement. After going a few steps in, I heard a sound above my head, as I looked up, I noticed that the open floor door closed automatically. Furthermore, the stairs we walked a few seconds ago had disappeared completely.
「Is this, perhaps…the work of magic? 」
「Yes. This is Lady Eich’s earth magic. There are a few other entrances to the underground settlement besides the one in the abandoned house. But, even if someone finds one entrance, the beasts won’t be able to come in because of magical mechanisms.」
The witch Eich applied her earth magic to create a secret settlement underground for humans to live in. Earth magic was a magic that could create a vast underground space if the invoker was highly skilled. However, that required one to have the talent of one in a million people.
I wondered if Father Luke guessed what I was thinking just by looking at my face. Father Luke smiled at me.
「Lady Eich is the younger sister of the legendary wizard Colt. 」
Colt…If I remember correctly, he was the wizard who accompanied Seiya to defeat the demon forces in the previous attempt to save Exfolia. I was sure of it. Just like the others with him at that time, he became a prey of the Demon King…
The wall next to the stairs was lit with lights at regular intervals. Unlike lamps or torches, the stones embedded in the soil seemed to emit light. I thought it was a “magical stone”. It had enough power to emit light on every passage we came through.
Seiya asked Father Luke while we were going down the staircase.
「But, why do you have to stay underground? If you people can use magical earth attributes this well, won’t you be able to get out of this town?」
「No. We can’t leave Galvano because of the “Cursed Sphere”… As long as Bunogeos has his magic tool, people will become ashes if they venture out of town. However, even if we got out from here, there wouldn’t be a safe place to live in Exfolia…」
「Ah!! I wonder if we can’t go back to the God’s realm because of that magic tool!! 」
I was speaking of the white wall that appeared inside the portal to the God’s realm. I heard Father Luke say 「Probably 」.
「The evil beast Bunogeos, with the Cursed Sphere, was a newly created monster when the Demon King made this world his own after benefiting from the powers of the “evil god of the mottled hair”. Bunogeos and this town are under the control of the Beast Emperor Grand Leon. The Emperor reigns over the Radral continent where we live in.」
I became astonished after I heard Father Luke’s words.
「Wa…Wait a minute! Are you saying that Bunogeos is not the boss of this continent? 」
「Bunogeos only rules this town. The Beast Emperor Grand Leon is the one who controls the continent. They say that it’s a monster that can easily defeat Bunogeos.」
Bunogeos’ status surpassed the strength of the Four General Kings in Geabrande!! He truly had ridiculous status!! Even so, there were demons more powerful than him!?
Without knowing what was on my mind, Seiya knocked his chest with his fist.
「Okay. There are no shortage of enemies. 」
「Oh! Our chosen hero is so brave! How reliable! 」
The priest looked happy…Well, but, I was truly sorry. This hero was only brave with his mouth. As it is now, Seiya will lose against Bunogeos by a good margin. Yes, without a doubt…
「…Okay, we’ve arrived. 」
Finally, the long underground stairs were over. I could see a large door in front of us.
I wondered if they had a secret signal. When the priest shook the hinge five times in an irregular rhythm, the door was opened with a cracking sound.
I was surprised when I saw what was beyond that door.
There was a vast area that didn’t look like an underground. There were several houses lined up. Numerous magical stones installed in the high ceiling lighted every one of them. In the distance, vegetables crops grew in a field.
Seiya was also impressed and nodded in amazement.
「Oh. Incredible. There seems to be another town underground. 」
「This is a very humble place. The fields are not extraordinary as well. But, it is self-sufficient and allows us to keep on living. Because the light we have is made of magical powers, the crops don’t grow very healthy though…」
The people of this place probably knew that we were coming here in advance. In front of me, there were dozens of men and women of all ages standing in a row.
I tried to wave my hand to the residents with a smile, but there was no response.
In Geabrande, the people had great respect for the hero and the goddess. However, all those in here were looking at us with apprehensive eyes.
When I felt uncomfortable, a young man dressed in steel armor walked towards us from the crowd. It was a shorthaired man with sharp-eyes.
「This person is the leader of our settlement “Light of Hope”. His name is Lord Brut… 」
Even though the priest was introducing him, Brut did not stop walking. He headed on Seiya’s direction without slowing down and grabbed his chest violently. He spoke with a heated voice.
「This face…I wasn’t wrong after all!! You bastard!! You’re still alive!! 」
「Wha…What! Who are you!? Why are you acting so brusque!? 」
Not only me, but Father Luke was so startled that he spoke with panic.
「What’s wrong, Lord Burt!? 」
Brut raised his voice against the priest while staring at Seiya.
「Father!! You don’t know this person!? This man is the hero who failed to defeat the Demon King one year ago!!」
Father Luke was speechless. Burt continued to speak loudly.
「I heard that the Demon King killed both Lord Colt and Princess Tiana from the Tarmine Kingdom!! But, only this guy managed to run away and hid somewhere else!! And now, after all this time, he appears like this as if nothing ever happened before!!」
I see…I was Princess Tiana once. But, I was reborn as a goddess and I spent a hundred years in the God’s realm because of the difference in the flow of time. My appearance was totally different from Princess Tiana based on what I saw on the crystal ball. But, for Seiya, everything happened just a year ago. His face and appearance hardly changed that much. In other words, people who met Seiya before will recognize him for sure.
Brut pushed Seiya aggressively.
I ran to the fallen Seiya. The people, who were watching the situation from behind, began to raise their voices.
「It…It’s true! I’ve seen him one year ago! He is the former hero! 」
「That’s right! He said, “Leave it to me”, shouting confidently with his big mouth! But, in the end he was defeated by the Demon King and Exfolia was destroyed!」
「It’s your fault! All of my family died because of you! 」
Almost everyone in the settlement started to speak in a hateful way against Seiya. Suddenly, before I knew it, the people grabbed sticks and farming tools, and surrounded us.
…No…No way!! Not only the demons with unusual status, but the humans living in Exfolia are also hostile to us!? So…This…This was the true degree of a SS-rank difficulty world!! What were we going to do, Seiya!?
Nonetheless, Seiya looked back at me in a calm state.
「Hey, Lady Goddess. What the people are saying is true? Have I been to this world before?」
I won’t be able to hide this any longer. I told him the truth then.
「Yes…This is the second time you came to Exfolia. And you failed to save this world the last time you’ve been here…」
「I see… 」
The fallen Seiya remained in the ground, and then made a Dogeza*.
That was an unexpected sigh for me! This was unbelievable! Seiya was prostrating himself in front of the people! In addition, he spoke with an agonizing voice!
「I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me. 」
Do…Don’t! What was this! I truly disliked this! Seiya was kneeling down!! I knew that what he was doing was a good action…but…but…I didn’t want to see Seiya on that state!!
After Seiya apologized to the people, there was a brief moment of silent. Before long, one man began to shiver with anger.
「Sto…Stop messing with us!! Don’t you think that everything will be fixed just by lowering you head to us!!」
「Lord Colt and Princess Tiana were killed because of you!! 」
「Yes, that’s right!! 」
Someone threw a stone at Seiya. That stone hit Seiya’s head because he didn’t want to move away from it. And with that action, the people of the Light of Hope started to harass Seiya.
「Hey, wait!! Stop!! Stop this already!! 」
「Shut up!! 」
I tried to stop the outrage, but someone pushed me and I fell to the ground.
「I said to stop it!! Don’t be that cruel to Seiya!! 」
I yelled but the violence didn’t stop. The older women were looking at me with cold eyes.
「Hmm. What a useless goddess. They aren’t that different from human beings. 」
「The red-haired goddess we had last time was also hopeless. The Demon King ate her that easily. She wasn’t great to being with.」
「Don’t you dare say anything bad about Aria!! 」
Before I noticed, the situation got much uglier.
「This world was destroyed because you guys were careless…! 」
Then, they approached me.
…Wh…Whoa!! Were they going to hit me too!?
The hero stood up in front of me when he noticed I was in fear.
「Please, stop it. I am the bad one. 」
「Broadcast didn’t do anything wrong. 」
What…Who’s that!? How could he call me a name that became so different from Listarte!? When will he remember my name for real!?
However, it seemed that the people became angrier when Seiya protected me. He began to get beaten again. Seiya’s level was over 50. He didn’t get much damage because his defense points were high…Even so, I couldn’t stand to watch this anymore.
…Why!? We came to save this world, and this is what we get in return!?
At that time, I was about to burst into tears.
「Please, stop it now. 」
A high and dignified voice echoed. The hands of the common people stopped immediately.
A girl was standing at the end of everyone’s line of sight. She was dressed poorly like the other people in the settlement. But, her thin arms were adorned with ornaments.
「Lady Eich…! 」
Someone muttered loudly.
「Everyone. Please, stop. I’m sure my bother Colt wouldn’t want you to behave like this. 」
The witch Eich. She was the one who created this settlement with the usage of earth magic. She was far younger than I imagined her to be. She looked like she had, perhaps, six or seven years old. The voice of this girl was more imposing than Elle’s. The riot that was happening in the village quickly settled down.
「Tha…Thank you… 」
I thanked Eich. But, her eyes were also cold-looking like everyone else.
「Goddess and hero. Thank you for coming. However, coming here is useless. There isn’t anyone who can defeat the Demon King Artemaeus.」
….The Demon King…Artemaeus…!
An unpleasant feeling ran through my body when I heard the name of the ultimate demon of Exfolia. I thought this reaction happened because my soul was killed by that demon before.
「It’s no longer possible to save this world. 」
When the riot was over, Eich turned back and left us. The people also left with her as they spit on the ground while looking back at us.
Who remained behind was Seiya, Father Luke, Brut and I.
Brut was staring at me.
「Hey, goddess. You’re called “Broadcast”, am I right? 」
「No. My name is Listarte… 」
「Whatever. Are you really planning to defeat the Demon King and save this world? 」
「I intended to do that…but… 」
「Then what can you do? 」
I wanted to say “Healing”. However, my powers were sealed.
「…I have the Appraisal skill. 」
Brut showed me a bored face.
「I can do that too. What else can you do? 」
「I…I have wings. I can fly in the sky. 」
I thought that the Great Goddess Isister would be able to give me permission to activate my Lista Wing…!
I raised my voice. But, nothing happened.
…Yes. It was useless after all. I couldn’t communicate with the Great Goddess Isister. If I couldn’t go home then it was obvious that my connection was lost too.
「So you can’t even use that. 」
Brut looked at me with piercing eyes. I strengthened my tone.
「I…I can’t die! Goddesses never die! 」
「Immortal? Really? 」
Brut did not ask me that. He looked at Father Luke instead. The priest nodded in agreement.
「Tradition says that gods and goddesses don’t die. 」
Eh! Now what? Did he finally change his mind about me? Ah…But…But if I think carefully about it, the enemy could kill me if he has the Chain Destruction…And, in Exfolia I’ve seen that fearsome power in the hands of the werewolf and Bunogeos…
I decided to be honest.
「To tell you the truth, I can die occasionally. 」
「What do you mean you can die occasionally!? Then, you’re not immortal!? 」
Brut was stunned. But, after a bored sigh, he scratched his head.
「A goddess that can die occasionally and a hero who failed once before. This is an absurd joke. It seems that the heavens do not intend to save Exfolia after all.」
Then, Brut gave us a cold look.
「Still, you must have something useful if you came all the way here. Defeating the Demon King will be a very difficult task. But, can you defeat Bunogeos at least, no?」
「A…About that… 」
Seiya’s level was MAX when he defeated the demonic Warlord Emperor back in Geabrande. Even though Bunogeos had a similar ability value as the Emperor, Seiya’s current status was only at level 50. But…
「Okay. We’ll take him down. 」
Seiya has been silent until now. He spoke without speaking to me beforehand. Brut explained.
「Bunogeos created a market where monsters can buy and sell out of town. That’s the place where he raises slaves. You must defeat Bunogeos and free the humans.」
I didn’t know if would be able to defeat Bunogeos. Still, we had no choice but to try or we’re not going to get out of here. However, though, above the ground was a den full of enemies with high ability statuses.
「Let…Let us prepare at least! 」
I requested that preference to Brut. We had to wear some weapons and armors even if everything was of humble origins in the Light of Hope.
Brut snarled and touched Father Luke’s shoulder as he walked away. Father Luke was left behind with us. He smiled at us while he pointed to man sitting in front of a house a little further away.
「That’s the tool shop. 」
Just like what happened in Geabrande, the Great Goddess Isister gave me the currency of Exfolia in advance. I took a sachet of money out of my pocket and we headed to the tool shop…However, the only tools available were the magical stones and agricultural tools that emitted light. Only the things necessary for daily life were displayed in the shop. I was hoping to find an item that could cure Seiya’s confusion, but they didn’t even have medicinal herbs or poison-scented herbs.
「Father Luke. Besides the tool shop, don’t you have weaponry and armory shops too?」
「Unfortunately, we don’t have any of those shops. We don’t have enough supplies here.」
It was exactly as Aria said to me. Exfolia was unlikely to have any decent equipment.
I sighed as I dropped my shoulders. Then, I heard someone’s voice.
「Hey, you. Do you want to change jobs? I’ll change it for you if you want me to.」
It was an old man with few front teeth. Father Luke introduced him to us.
「This person is Enzo. He is the “Baptist” of the Light of Hope. You can change your current job if you ask the Baptist.」
Seiya had a very confusing expression on his face.
「Job? Isn’t being a hero my profession? 」
Enzo shook his head.
「In this world, there is no profession as a hero…Let’s see. Well…Your current job is a “Magic Warrior”. More precisely, a “Fire Magic Warrior”.」
When Seiya was in Geabrande, he learnt a variety of different spells and magical attributes. But, Fire Magic was always his main attribute to being with. Just as before, Seiya already acquired powerful fire magical sword attacks, such as the Phoenix Drive and Phoenix Thrust.
「A wizard and a warrior…It’s a great position combined with two different professions…the “Magic Warrior”. Only those who can accomplish this feat are heroes. But, if you want to quit being a Magic Warrior, I could give you two different jobs in exchange…So, what will you do?」
I wanted to ask him what kind of other jobs were available for Seiya…
「No. I don’t mind the job I have now. 」
Seiya answered immediately. If this Seiya was the cautious Seiya, he would have asked for the job options and would’ve examined them carefully…But, I agreed with him not change the current job. Magic Warrior was a great “job”. It’s surely not possible for any greater job than this one to exist. And even if he changed jobs, he probably had to take some time to get used to it. We couldn’t afford that now.
「Okay. We shall go now. 」
Seiya walked to the exit of the Light of Hope. When we got closer to the exit, Father Luke remembered something and said 「Wait for a little moment 」, and went away in a hurry. Then, he came back holding a scabbard on his hands.
「Please take this sword. It’s a bit rusty, but it’s better than nothing. 」
「Tha…Thank you very much! 」
「Good luck… 」
I said thanks and waved goodbye at the priest.
When I looked at my side, I noticed that Seiya was looking attentively at the sword.
「Hmm. There’s a 120% chance that I can win with this. 」
「No…Don’t be too self-confident! You sound as if you have the “Excalibur”! That sword is a bit rusty, you know…?」
「Gonna be Okay. 」
「Don’t keep saying that. You should be saying Perfectly Ready instead… 」
「What’s that? 」
I left the Light of Hope with an indescribable anxiety that told me that we were about to get crushed for real…
*Dogeza is the most extreme form of apology in the Japanese Culture, it requires one to kneel down and bow one’s head to the ground and apologize.
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