I Work As A Healer In Another World’s Labyrinth City - Chapter 39
Less than a hundred meters from the city, a stone's throw away, a second Krankheit Turtle's corpse is laying there.
...While we were travelling along the highway, Ruruka's group told me the reason why the subjugation unit's main force separated from the smaller search party and hurried back to the city. Seems it was because they discovered a Krankheit Turtle egg.
Oh yeah, I have a feeling I saw it. Back when we were subjugating the Krankheit Turtle, that blackened egg that Fran burnt to a crisp with her area-of-effect magic.
Outside the labyrinth, monsters pair up, mate, and bear children just like regular animals. Which is to say, the fact that there was an egg means that there were at least two Krankheit Turtles within that forest. I didn't have time to think about it since I fell into the river, though, so it slipped my mind. But the existence of an egg must have been an unexpected bad omen for the knight brigade.
Sera told me this while we were on the march, but the Krankheit Turtle has the tendency to migrate during heavy rainfall. And yesterday evening, when we subjugated the Krankheit Turtle, it was really pouring down. Supposedly the knight brigade hurried back in case the second Krankheit Turtle was moving closer to the city.
As of yesterday evening, a number of the knights tasked with defending the city were off with the subjugation unit, so there were fewer of them around than usual. In particular, most of the healers attached to the knight brigade were sent out with the subjugation unit. Additionally, civilian healers in the city also answered the call for exceptional folks to participate in the subjugation.
The Krankheit Turtle is a special monster that's difficult to face head-on without healers periodically casting curative magic. Even if knights within the city managed to detect the Krankheit Turtle at an early stage, they might not have been able to subjugate it before it approached the city. That seemed to be what they were concerned about.
And now, that Krankheit Turtle's corpse is lying mighty close to the city. That means their concern turned out to be right on point.
The Krankheit Turtle turned up at the city in search of prey, but they were short on healers. As a result, the knights were unable to fight it head-on due to the poison mist, and the Krankheit Turtle ended up getting that close to the city. That about sums up the details.
This situation is awfully unpleasant. The Krankheit Turtle scatters poison mist over vast distances. What will happen if such a monster gets that close to the city?
...The poison might might've spread inside the city.
「T-That can't be...!」
Seeing the corpse of the Krankheit Turtle right next to the city, Fran moans out. Her expression gives off an impatient feeling. She's stunned for a second, then seemingly makes up her mind and rushes into the city.
「Just a moment!? Fran! Wait right there!」
「Fran, calm down!」
Sera and Ruruka race after her. They enter the city with me hot on their heels.
...When I enter the city, things there are different from the usual Merhatz.
There's none of the usual bustling, cheerful commotion. The number of street carts and pedestrians is much lower than normal. Instead there are priests, in their characteristic monastic habits, and armor-wearing knights, busily running about.
And, along the streets of the deserted city, the hospitals. Those alone have gathered huge crowds.
「T-This is just...」
Among the knights of the search party, Marietta speaks out in surprise.
The city is in a bizarre state. The masses crying out anxiously, the knights trying to manage the disorder, that's what the city has come to. It's especially awful around the hospitals. Looks like the townspeople have already come to understand the situation.
「We will head for the station immediately. We need to receive our next orders. I'm afraid the discussion regarding your remunerations will have to wait for another day, so please excuse us.」
One of the search party knights speaks quickly. Time is precious, that's the kind of feeling he's giving off. They just returned from the subjugation, but the knights probably won't get any rest.
The city is just about on the verge of panic. Well, if they were battling such a huge monster so terribly close to the city, of course the residents would notice.
...I'm worried about Eris, running the hospital by herself. I need to hurry over to Eris' hospital.
When I reach Eris' hospital, unsurprisingly it too has gathered a crowd. It's never seen business booming quite like this. But Eris probably isn't happy about that. There must be 20... no, 30 people there.
...There's no way Eris can handle that many by herself.
I'm in front of the gates. I get a better look as I approach, and there's a knight in the middle of the crowd. The knight is raising his voice trying to restrain the people who are scrambling to enter the hospital first.
This is chaos. Perhaps the knight brigade has been dispatching personnel, simultaneously serving as security for the hospitals. I was worried that Eris would be getting shoved around by the crowd, but it seems that won't be an issue. I leave the knight to deal with the crowd, and use my key to sneak into the hospital through the back door.
It's the same hospital as always, and Eris is there.
Eris has her eyes closed and brows furrowed, casting healing magic on a single patient. However, it looks like she's struggling considerably. So much so that she hasn't noticed me entering the hospital. Her face looks pale too.
...Eris seems to be out of magical power already. I must come to her aid.
「Must be rough, huh?」
When I call out to her from behind, Eris gives a huge sigh of relief.
「Ah, Shiki, so you've returned. I presume you understand the situation since you came from outside the city, but the townspeople are in a panic due to rampant rumors that poison mist has spread inside the city. And because of that, I don't have any magical power left, so... gah!」
Then she starts talking as she turns around, but once she sees my appearance her eyes snap open.
「W-Wait a minute! You're in tatters! A-Are you alright!?」
Eris' attention is on the habit I'm wearing.
...Oh right. I got carried away by the bizarre atmosphere of the city and utterly forgot. The clothes I'm currently wearing are blood-spattered, smeared all over with mud, and shredded.
Now that I think about it, even though the hospital has gathered such a crowd, nobody has solicited me for treatment. It may be in tatters, but I'm wearing a monastic habit.
...Don't tell me they saw me not as a healer, but as a homeless bum or something? It's lucky that I avoided getting bothered, but I have mixed feelings about it.
But there's nothing I can do about that. My change of clothes was bisected when I threw it at the Armor Ogre. I couldn't exactly return to the city wearing a habit that's completely missing all the fabric from the waist down. I wish I had put more clothes into my item box, but considering that there was Slime Jelly straining nearly 90% of the capacity, I wasn't able to.
「Ah, I'm fine now, no injuries.」
Well, Eris is worried, but I don't have any injuries anymore. For the time being, I give Eris custody of the still-sound-asleep Yuel and cast Heal and Dis-Poison on the customer in front of me. That should be good enough for the Krankheit Turtle's poison.
-I heard about the characteristics of the Krankheit Turtle's poison at the subjugation unit's strategy meeting. Although from what I heard, it sounded closer to bacteria than poison.
The features of the Krankheit Turtle's poison are as follows.
The Krankheit Turtle's poison mist contains a unique, slow-acting poison. Once exposed to the poison mist, after a certain amount of time has passed, the symptoms of a high fever occur. It's what Fran and Sera had earlier when they were bedridden.
The amount of time before symptoms develop varies depending on the amount of exposure. If you're in melee range of the Krankheit Turtle they can occur in less than a minute, but for a minor exposure it can take a long time for symptoms to develop. And depending on the amount of poison, they apparently may not occur at all.
And after developing a high fever, black spots break out all over the body as time passes, and if left untreated, death occurs within a week. That's the kind of poison the Krankheit Turtle produces.
...It's seriously vicious. For delayed symptoms to develop even from a small amount and so on, I'm convinced that the poison mist is actually a cloud of germs. And if the amount exceeds a certain level, the human immune system loses and the germs produce toxins throughout the body that cause the high fever. That's the kind of image I'm going with. I don't know a whole lot about things like bacteria, and in the end the knights didn't really understand and were saying it was a poison curse.
Well, that's all beside the point.
First of all, Dis-Poison is necessary to treat the poison, and it should be even better to add Heal which is effective at strengthening immunity and reducing fever.
Changing places with Eris, I treat customers and new ones replace them. I steadily proceed with the treatment. I treat them one after another. Another one. Another one. And another one.
It starts getting tedious after 10 people.
「Eris, how long until this is over?」
「...It's not going to end. There's a rumor going around that a slow-acting poison mist entered the city... I don't know who started it, but a few hours earlier there were sounds of battle from outside the city, and a fog really did roll in to the city. This area is particularly close to the gates, so everyone's in a panic.」
Assuming there's someone who spread the rumor intentionally, it's most likely one of the healers living in the city who knows about the Krankheit Turtle. In consideration of the profits it would bring to their hospital. Nah, once you develop a high fever from the Krankheit Turtle's poison you can barely move, so urging people to seek treatment at a hospital before that happens could be considered an act of goodwill.
「There are probably also a lot of people who don't need treatment, huh.」
It could also have been because I treated her wound with Heal earlier, but unlike Fran and Sera, Ruruka didn't develop a high fever. If only a small amount of diffuse mist made it into the city and got inside buildings, symptoms wouldn't develop all that quickly. The fact that the city's inhabitants are panicky is likely because the Krankheit Turtle's poison is slow-acting and they don't know when symptoms might possibly develop.
And, as we're discussing such things, I hear a small moan from Eris' lap. Looks like Yuel is awake.
Rubbing her eyes, she stares at me in a daze.
「Master, where are we...?」
「Good morning, Yuel. It's the hospital. You really worked hard today.」
I praise Yuel and pat her head. She looks around restlessly, then makes a tiny relieved smile.
-But that smile quickly turns solemn.
Yuel's eyes go wide;she's staring at a single point. Staring fixedly at my arm as I pet her head.
Each time my arm moves to pet her head, her pupils sway from side to side. What she's staring at is... my wrist.
Then, having confirmed something, she shifts her attention timidly to her own arm.
Yuel's expression darkens at once. It's as though she's lost something important. With that same expression, she keeps glancing back and forth between my arm and hers.
「T-The bracelets were...」
Then Yuel mutters in a quivering voice.
The bracelets. Oh yeah.
They shattered during our battle with the Armor Ogre. She didn't have the leeway to feel down at the time since we were engaged in combat, but now is different.
Yuel is such a delicate girl that she became gloomy just from losing a single cheap knife that I bought for her. So if it comes to breaking enchanted accessories? Moreover, to improve her mood at the time we bought those bracelets, I gave her a special feeling by saying that we matched. To Yuel, those were her important matching accessories with her master.
...I get the feeling it completely backfired.
「T-The matching bracelets, that M-Master and I bought for each other... they...」
Tears gather little by little in Yuel's eyes. But what should I do? What's broken is broken. Buy new ones? No, that doesn't undo the fact that those bracelets were broken. No doubt Yuel blames her own shortcomings for allowing the bracelets to be broken in the first place.
「Gh...! Hh... uehhh...」
Yuel's head tilts back slightly, and her thinned lips start to quiver.
Not good, notgoodnotgoodnotgood. I can't let this happen. Crying. She's going to cry. At this rate Yuel is absolutely going to cry. No, she's going to weep.
Yuel played an active part in the recent Krankheit Turtle subjugation. She rescued me by herself when I fell into the river, and she gallantly came to my aid when I was about to be done in by the Armor Ogre. And she wrecked that very same Armor Ogre. She should be named the MVP this time.
But now Yuel is grieving. This is no good. She deserves a much better reward than this.
Someway, somehow, I need to do something. Isn't there something I can do? Anything...!
Oh yeah... I still have a trick up my sleeve.
I grab Yuel by the sides and stand her up. Then, as she's even now on the verge of tears, I grasp her hand-
「Yuel, come with me! Eris, we're going out for a bit!」
Heading out of the hospital, we run.
「Eh, w-wait! What about the hospital!? You're going out looking like that!?」
Eris calls out from behind, but I have to hurry now. Yuel is making a gloomy face, but she's not crying yet.
If she stayed at the hospital like that, she was probably going to cry. Yuel is today's MVP. There's no way I can let her cry. I need to distract her from the bracelets.
「Yuel, go south. First off, head to the southernmost point of the city. Once we get there, look for a spot with no people.」
As we run through the city, I give Yuel instructions. Yuel makes a bewildered expression at my sudden behavior and directions.
「A-A place with no signs of life?」
But when Yuel seems to realize something, her expression brightens slightly. In this case what Yuel is thinking is probably completely different. But if it can temporarily cheer her up, I won't correct her misunderstanding.
「...Master, something seems odd about the city.」
Yuel mutters as she runs when she notices the state that the city's in. She doesn't know about the Krankheit Turtle's poison mist entering the city, since she was asleep. I need to give her an explanation.
「-Yuel, right now this city is facing a huge crisis.」
At my sudden announcement, Yuel looks puzzled.
So that Yuel can understand the gravity of the situation, I consciously lower the tone of my voice and continue talking as we run.
「A Krankheit Turtle. That monster with the poison mist that we subjugated, there were actually two of them. And before we got back, one of them attacked the city, and that poison mist spread all over town.」
I doubt it spread all over the city. There should even be people who didn't take any damage. But urgency is important for this kind of thing.
Did Yuel understand the gravity of the situation? She nods seriously.
「Look, Yuel. At all those people who are seeking treatment.」
Yuel looks at the crowd of people gathered in front of a roadside hospital.
Then she looks back at me expectantly. Seems like Yuel wants me to give them treatment. But, I ignore that and urge her forward.
Though she seems a bit bewildered, following my ’’go somewhere without people’’ order, Yuel enters a back alley.
「Yuel, you saw how tired Eris looked from using up all her magical power, right? ...At this rate, treatment surely won't be able to keep up. Without a doubt, many people will die.」
I doubt that very many people will die. They say that death doesn't occur until a week from the onset of symptoms, so between the knight brigade and the church they'll likely do something about it. Those who are unfortunately passed over for treatment, those who are physically weak such as children and the elderly, and abandoned slaves like the former Yuel... those sorts of people may die, though.
When Yuel hears my words, she makes an extremely sorrowful face. Giving Yuel a sorrowful face is not my intention.
However, this is the necessary ’’staging’’.
「Around here is good. Yuel, there's nobody watching us right now, right?」
Then, we arrive at a point deep inside the alleyway. It's a completely deserted location. Hereabouts should be good.
Yuel watches me with an anxious expression. With the city in the state it's in, why did I come to this back alley instead of treating people? She likely can't understand my reasoning.
I deliberately don't explain it verbally.
Instead, I invoke magic. With all my strength, I infuse it with magical power.
At a tremendous speed, a warm green light extends far, far, far around us. The warm ball of light spreads over the tops of buildings, past the end of the alleyway, and even further beyond.
Once again, I gather magical power and invoke a spell. A warm light of a slightly different hue drowns out the afterglow from Area Heal and extends into the distance.
As far as I can tell from the afterglow of healing magic that hangs in the sky, the range of the effect is probably around 300m. I wanted to go a bit further, but it seems like area-type magic can't withstand any more magical power than this. I feel a bit sick to my stomach.
However, it looks like this is the first time Yuel is seeing such large-scale area-of-effect magic. Yuel's pupils quiver as she watches me.
I face her as she's in that state and make a resounding declaration.
「Yuel, from this point on I'm going to save the city.」
Yuel's eyes are transfixed on me.
I don't know whether it's from seeing the healing magic or out of anticipation for what's going to happen from now on. But there's definitely excitement in Yuel's expression now.
「We're going to cast this healing magic on the entire city. If it's me, I can do it.」
Casting healing magic on the entire city. There's a danger that my magical capacity and skill with healing magic will be discovered, but with area-of-effect magic of this scale, so long as I'm not seen at the moment I cast it, I doubt I'll be identified immediately. With such a giant area-of-effect spell, it shouldn't be that easy to determine where the center is or who used it.
But, well, it doesn't matter that this is a risk. I'll use this timing to put into words what I wanted more than anything to tell Yuel.
「And I'm able to save the city like this, because Yuel protected me all the way until we made it back... we may have lost the bracelets, but the only reason I'm here now is because Yuel kept me safe. The fact that my bracelet is gone is proof that it protected me.」
Yuel is taken aback, and stares at her own wrist. Then she holds that wrist to her chest and crosses her other arm over it.
-The image looks as if she's holding an important treasure.
...With this, the matter of the bracelets should be alright.
I doubt that it would've been effective if I just told her that while she was sitting in a chair at the hospital. No matter how many times I repeat the words, I don't feel like it would be enough to console Yuel.
Letting her see the current state of the city, showing off my extraordinary healing magic. Then declaring that my healing magic is the only thing that can save the city now.
By putting on such a production, for the first time Yuel can truly believe that her actions led to saving the city. It will turn the very fact that the bracelets are gone into something she can be proud of.
And now that we've come this far, all that's left is to turn that into reality.
「But this is something that must not be discovered by other people. If bad people knew about my healing magic ability, it could be dangerous for me.」
It's not like I'm doing something bad, but if it's discovered, on the contrary they might fawn over me.
...No, from a healer's perspective it would also be a source of income. I don't know what might be at stake, so it's safer to hide it in the end.
「And so that I'm not seen by people, Yuel's assistance is absolutely necessary. Won't you help me?」
Yuel nods in reassurance. Then, I tack on another comment.
「This will be my secret with Yuel.」
Sharing secrets. Kids love that, right? And when I mention it, Yuel latches on and brings her face right up to mine.
「A-A secret just between the two of us!?」
「Huh? A-Ah... yeah. That's right, a secret just between the two of us!」
Although I say it's just between the two of us, it's a bit complicated. For instance, Eris seems to be aware of it. For instance if I, who can even use EX Heal, rush out of the hospital and come back having cast healing magic on the entire city, I expect she'll figure it out. I don't particularly intend to hide it from Eris, though.
Even excluding Eris, if by some chance I'm seen at the moment of invocation I might be found out, but if that happens then I'll deal with it at that time.
Or perhaps even if I'm not found out here, if someday my healing magic ability is discovered via some other matter. If the fact came to light that I didn't rescue the citizens even though I could have, that would be extremely perilous. I can't imagine how much resentment I would garner.
Well, such a mercenary way of thinking also exists, but-
「-Area Dis-Poison! Alright, next is west, Yuel, let's hurry!」
Yuel is having the time of her life.
With flushed cheeks, sparkling eyes, and an excited expression, Yuel runs on ahead.
This mood is like we're heroes of justice. And what we're doing now actually has that kind of feel to it. The fact that the bracelets were broken is surely already a distant memory.
From the south side of the city, we run west.
Sneaking down the city's alleyways, I invoke healing magic. This is also a chance for me to show off Master's grandeur in front of Yuel. Just by striking a cool pose at the instant I invoke the healing magic, Yuel's eyes are glittering. This is getting kinda fun.
From the west, we run north.
Every time I cast healing magic, Yuel cheers. However, at the same time I can feel my magical power diminishing. It's honestly hard to keep running with my stamina, but we don't stop running around even as the sun sets. I cast magic from the back alleys, and we keep running at Yuel's pace as she guides me.
From the north, we run east.
My legs are already shaking, but I can't let Yuel notice that. However, this is harder than I expected.
I can sense my magical power gradually diminishing. Perhaps that means the bottom of it has come into sight. Okay, casting healing magic on the entire city might have been overdoing it. The anemic feeling makes my whole body feel heavy. Maybe I shouldn't have done this after all. I'm regretting it a little.
But, I won't earn Yuel's respect if I quit here. Saying I'm tired and leaving the rest for tomorrow would be too uncool.
Then, to the south. I'm feeling dizzy, but I completed a lap of the city through sheer willpower.
When we complete our circuit, there are no lines at the hospitals anymore. The warm light from healing magic and the sensation at the moment it goes off is distinctive. Anybody who's had healing magic cast on them before would recognize that it was healing magic and not ordinary luminescence.
The sun has already gone down completely.
My body is heavy. On top of running a lap around the entire city, I continuously fired off large-scale area-of-effect magic. It's the first time I'm feeling like this, but this must be magical power deficiency. As expected, I don't want to use healing magic anymore.
Yuel's reaction was fun at the beginning, but I got worn out in a hurry. I return to the hospital on trembling legs.
In front of the hospital, neither the knight nor the crowd is there anymore. Instead, Eris is standing in front of the gates.
「Welcome home... seems like you did something incredible for us, huh.」
She makes a brief comment.
I guess she figured me out after all. Well, it would be strange if she didn't. Yuel is grinning profusely, and I'm staggering. There's the matter of the timing, too.
Well, it's fine either way. Somehow, maybe from seeing Eris' face, I feel relaxed all of a sudden.
Then, when I go to enter the hospital my legs get tangled unexpectedly. Maybe due to fatigue, I can no longer support my body. I'm falling.
「Master, watch ou...!!」
Right before I collapse, I feel something very soft. My head plunges snugly between Eris' plump, voluptuous, soft, meaty breasts.
Yuel makes a small cry as she inhales sharply. But I don't move. Not for any indecent reason, but because I really am exhausted to the limit.
Somehow it seems I've fallen onto Eris as if I'm pushing her down. I feel the soft sensation of Eris' breasts from both my hands and my face. For se*ual harassment like this I expected to be knocked to the ground, but Eris makes no sign of movement.
It's no good, I'm so sleepy. My stamina and my magical power are both empty. I really overdid it today.
My eyelids are heavy. As I feel the sensation of something pulling hard at the hem of my clothes, I lose consciousness.