Revenge of the Soul Eater Volume 1 Chapter 7 part 1

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Chapter 7: Rotten Sea

That day— the day I spoke to Fiodor at the inn, I immediately sprung into action as soon as he left.

To accept the slave trading association’s request and protect Suzume, it was crucial for me to contact her as soon as possible.

Fiodor admitted to having discovered a Kijin but remained silent about its location. It was surely a precautionary measure. Regardless of my ability to ride a Wyvern, it’s impossible to locate a girl in a forest as vast as a country. By withholding the location, Fiodor must have decided not to worry about me potentially surpassing him.

Fiodor probably never imagined that I could find the Kijin before him.

In fact, I was one step ahead of Fiodor.

However, the difference in our progress was so small that it wouldn’t be strange for him to overtake me at any moment. That’s why I needed to find Suzume immediately.

Well, knowing Suzume’s whereabouts was important, and I had a faint idea about it.

The Jiraiya Oaks tree where we parted should be nearby. Searching that area shouldn’t be too difficult to find Suzume.

By strengthening my body, I could significantly enhance the strength of my legs and physical power.

If Suzume’s home had some sort of magical or spiritual protection, it might be beyond my control.

Force might be a solution, but if it resulted in the barrier disappearing and Suzume getting captured, it would be a catastrophe. Considering that, I decided to bring Luna María and Seal along.

Luna María, a forest fairy elf, would be more sensitive to unnatural places in the forest, such as barriers to keep people out, compared to humans.

Next was Seal, an Ocelote with the keenest senses among the beastmen. Having her with us would make it easier to find Suzume.

The deep area was a place even high-level adventurers refrained from entering. In that sense, it was dangerous for both Luna María and Seal. However, as slaves, they couldn’t disobey my orders.

So, we ventured into the depths.

——————————————————————

“This is the depths of Tittis…”

Upon entering, we arrived at the cliff with the Lord of the Flies’s nest. When Luna María looked at the cliff, she exclaimed in surprise.

“The spirits are very active. It reminds me of the original forest in my homeland.”

Unlike Luna María, who narrowed her eyes with nostalgia, Seal looked at the forest with a tense expression.

“It’s incredible… It’s making me a little dizzy…”

She said that and stayed by my side, probably on high alert for the magical beasts in the surroundings.

Seal had grown a lot in her adventures but hadn’t reached a level where she could fight deep within the forest.

Before we set off, Luna María expressed her consideration, “I wouldn’t mind going, but I can’t say the same for Seal.” Despite that, I had to protect Seal.

With that in mind, I held Luna María on my right side and Seal on my left. They seemed nervous, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.

This was the fastest way to descend from the cliff, just as I had done when helping Suzume.

I leaped down the slope with the two of them. The cries of the elf and the beast girl merged with the sound of the wind blowing deep into the area.

Afterward, the two of them looked at me with worried face and puffed cheeks, then we headed toward Jiraiya Oaks.

Suzume and I had parted ways at this place. That meant her home must be somewhere nearby where she could return on her own.

I thought that by using this as a base for exploration, we would eventually find some clues.

However, as soon as we reached Jiraiya Oaks, I stumbled upon a clue that was easier than expected.

When I heard a surprised voice saying, “Wow,” from behind, I turned my attention to it. Seal furrowed her brow and covered her nose. When I asked her what was happening, she responded with some distress.

“S-Sorry! There’s a very strange smell in this area…”

“A strange smell?”

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I also sniffed, but I didn’t detect anything noteworthy. I mean, in the Tittis forest, untouched by human hands, you could smell the earth, herbs, animals, monsters, living and decaying trees adrift, but I didn’t sense that “strange smell.”

Surely, Seal could detect the subtle differences. I suppose it was worth bringing her.

“What kind of smell is it, specifically?”

“It smells rotten. I don’t know exactly, but it tickles my nose and throat…”

Seal coughed a bit.

“Hm… Could someone be using smoke to ward off monsters? Can you determine the source of the smell?”

“Please wait a moment.”

Seal closed her eyes and continued to sniff for a while. And when it seemed like she had noticed something, she nodded and looked at me seriously.

“When the wind blows from the north, the smell becomes particularly strong. Maybe the source of the smell is in that direction.”

“Great, good job!”

After praising Seal, we headed north as she suggested. But I didn’t forget to cover the nose and mouth of the beast girl with a cloth. This would help minimize the smell.

As we moved forward, I noticed that the smell Seal described as “tickling my nose and throat” grew more intense.

Now, the odor was so overpowering that it could be clearly smelled even by a human nose.

Then, Luna María spoke up. She had a tense, sharp, and alert expression.

“Be careful, master. The spirits are screaming. They have been crying out for help for a while… It’s an incredible amount. It’s as if the plants and trees around here are all in pain.”

Luna María covered her mouth, feeling nauseous. Seal also made a pained expression. It seemed that the smell couldn’t be avoided even with the cloth.

After a while, the two of them regained their composure, and we continued moving, but they would surely reach their limits soon.

Should I return to the nest and let the two rest before that happens? As I pondered that and cut through the branches obstructing the path, “it” entered my field of vision.

— It was a sight of the dying forest.

The trees had deteriorated, the grass had withered, and the ground was rotten. A poisonous miasma constantly rose from the muddy soil. It was this miasma that Seal had been suffering from since the beginning. Just standing there made my nose and throat ache, and tears streamed from my eyes. It was a highly toxic atmosphere.

From the vegetation that had turned a dark purple color, a bittersweet scent reminiscent of overripe fruit emanated. When the leaves from the trees floated in the air and came into contact with the decaying ground, they turned black, like leaves thrown into a bonfire.

Upon seeing all of this, Luna María let out a scream as if warning us.

“Could this be… the Rotten Sea!? This is bad, master! We need to get out of here immediately!”

I nodded without hesitation.

We hurriedly retraced our steps and quickly moved away from the “Rotten Sea” as Luna María had called it.

She was appealing as much as she could with a desperate look on her face, so I held onto both of them and ran back to Jiraiya Oaks.

“Back to square one, huh?”

As I left them at the base of the tree, I let out a sigh while saying that. In a way, they didn’t react to my words and were breathing deeply. The two of them, especially Luna María, seemed to calm down, so I asked her for an explanation of what had happened earlier.

“The Rotten Sea is a phenomenon of land corrosion under specific conditions.”

Luna María, who responded to my question, began explaining while placing her hand on her chest.

“Think of it as a natural phenomenon that occurs in lands where the miasma has intensified due to some reason, such as volcanoes or battlefields. However, it’s really rare for it to intensify, and even if it does, it will naturally disappear in a few days, but…”

“No matter how you look at it, it’s unlikely to disappear on such a scale.”

“Yes…”

Luna María weakly nodded at my words. The Rotten Sea we had seen earlier was only a fraction of the vast Tittis forest. However, it was true that it was the size of a small town. I didn’t want to dwell on it, but it was possible that on the other side, where our eyes couldn’t reach, it was eroding immensely.

“I don’t think this is the only place rotting. I mentioned that the Rotten Sea is a natural phenomenon, but sometimes it’s caused by monsters. It is said that the enormous Rotten Sea that spread south of the Sacred Kingdom was the result of a poisonous Hydra dragon falling in ancient times.”

“Hydra… Do you think that mythical species has appeared? I’ve heard rumors that mythical species live in the deepest part of Tittis.”

“That would be impossible, master. According to the stories, a Hydra has nine heads, each longer than the walls of Ishka. There’s no way a giant beast like that could go unnoticed. At least, surely this incident has nothing to do with a Hydra.”

“Hm. Well, it’s a coincidence that a mythical species would show up.”


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