Chapter 5: The Source
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
As a bounty hunter, Carringer’s work is far from complete. It is not enough to kill a few infected animals, he has to find a way to make it all end.
He stayed in the second floor guest room of the ‘Pleasing Song Cottage.’ The rooms here have just been cleaned up, and are much more comfortable than those in the moon tower.
After lunch that day, he went up the mountains for a walk. He did not encounter any danger, infact, there was no sight of any creatures lurking in the dark, the rustling prowlers stopped moving, and the malice flowing through the air had dissipated.
Is it because the sun is rising? That doesn’t seem right. Abyssal creatures do prefer to hunt in the dark, but it is not because they are afraid of light. Once upon a time, villagers were in danger even during the day. It was more dangerous at night, but not safe during the day either.
Carringer went back to the village just in time for dinner. After eating, just as the sun set, he returned to the mountains.
If he met any monsters, he could kill a few more. If he didn’t, he should also be able to meet the mage’s four legged monster, and enjoy the mage’s curse.
He really did meet the spherical quadruped, and two in a row this time There were no swearing sounds coming from the spheres today, they just followed him from a distance, as if to watch him.
Carringer goes through the hillside and deeper into the forest with soft lighting again. Now it was night, but he had not encountered any monsters along the way.
Today’s mountain forest is quieter than yesterday. This is not an illusion.
Carringer found the cliff that he saw yesterday, the entrance to the Moon Tower. Without the mage, he couldn’t find the gate.
Moving closer, Carringer found a piece of paper on the wall. The paper is fixed by an arm long component of the construct and pasted on the lower part, which was at the human eye-level.
Carringer tore the paper off and it was obviously a message to him:
[I guess that maybe you’ll come back. Give up. I won’t treat you any more. I only asked to stay yesterday because it was very dangerous in the mountains. Today, it’s not necessary. The situation is much better. You don’t need my protection and I don’t need your help. Don’t talk about the responsibilities of a bounty hunter. What’s your job got to do with me? But if you’re really desperate to help those people down the mountain, look down.]
Down? That’s the end of the letter. Carringer thought about it before he realized that the elf meant for him to look at his feet.
He looked at the bottom of the cliff. There are some small pieces of gravel scattered in the weeds. Among the gray and the green, a crimson flannel box stood out conspicuously. The box is the size of a palm and weighs a little bit in his hand. Carringer opens it, revealing an oval tin box the size of a duck egg.
A piece of paper was pasted on the inside of the cover, it was folded twice. Carringer opened it and saw in very small words:
[It’s none of your business what the fuck is in these mountains. If you want to be useful, take this back to Black Tree Village. There are some medicines in the tin box, which have just been prepared today. Go find those stupid people who went up the mountain last time and give them the medicine, one pill for each person, and watch them take it. Remember, it was Sheriff Marlowe who went up the mountain last time. People who went up earlier do not need these drugs if they are still alive, they’re okay. It should be done as soon as possible, don’t take too long.]
Carringer opens the tin box. Inside are small white balls, like frosted pearls. On the cover was another piece of paper, which read in smaller words:
[You don’t have to give the box back to me. It’s not worth the money. It can be used as a decoration for Pleasing Song Cottage.]
Carringer chuckled. He collected the box and walked around the cliff again. No other messages were found.
On the way down the hill, Carringer took another longer route. He deliberately went everywhere to look for the infected body, but still did not find any.
But this time he found something else.
Above the hillside, there are no normal animal or insect activity in the forest. The area was either attacked by monsters as it was yesterday, or completely silent like today. Below the hillside, where ordinary hunters can go during the day, the sound of insects and small animals could be heard.
Carringer also noticed the shape of the area, it is not fenced, but extends back and forth. From the highest point to the lowest, it is at least a quarter and a half up. The warning zone has been left alone over the years, that is to say, the guarded area is expanding year by year. At first, the danger zone only surrounded the high mountain forest, but now it has expanded to the lower part of the mountain.
If you think of alien infection as magma, then this mountain is a slow and gentle volcano. Magma flows slowly from the crater and towards the bottom of the mountain. As long as you don’t get too close to it, you won’t be hurt.
As a bounty hunter, Carringer is also a little bit of an outsider. According to the knowledge he has mastered, many of the points above are unreasonable.
People often say that a ‘demon’ is actually a kind of alien creature, it does not come from religious domains like hell, but from the abyssal plane. According to the local legend of Black Tree Village, there are ‘demons’ inside the mountain due to the resurrection of ‘The demon.’ However, this was impossible.
Living demons do not cause infection. Even if the demon runs in front of a person, kisses the person hand in hand and then marries them, the person will not be infected.
This is because even if the demon is alive, the abysmal power of living creatures is limited to the soul. Unless he transforms the power into magic to kill, those forces can not be released passively or react with elements in the standard plane.
It’s the inanimate objects from the abysmal plane that really cause the infections. For example, if a weapon from an abyss is not properly preserved, it may infect the owner. Infection means literally: erosion, illness, alienation and death.
After the death of the infected person, they are completely transformed into another kind of life form and become a real abyssal creature.
‘Objects’ also include the bones of demons. Therefore, if there are demon bones in the mountains, they may cause an alien infection.
But generally speaking, the scale of ‘infection’ is not very large. The power of objects is limited. A skeleton can kill at most one or two humans or large animals. In order to reach the level of infection around Black Tree Village of such high frequency and duration, he was afraid it would need more demon bones than the number of villagers.
An infection will end sooner or later, and the abyssal element will not spread endlessly. It will gradually dissipate and eventually be offset by the normal elements of the standard plane.
However, the infection situation in the mountain forest of Black Tree Village is very special: it has lasted for hundreds of years from mild to serious, spanning several generations of people’s lives, whilst the surrounding areas have been safe this whole period.In recent years, the infection has become more and more serious, constantly eroding the living things in the mountain, and gradually spreading out of the forest What could be this out of control and powerful enough to eat so many animals?
It’s not hard to deal with infections: kill all the infected within the range. The infected body itself is an ordinary creature, and their corpses will not continue to emit elements, so it is safe to kill them. Most of the ‘demons’ killed by bounty hunters are not real demons, but ‘fully infected bodies’ – animals that have become abyssal creatures after being attacked.
There are not many real demons in the world. Plane travel is not an outing. It is not easy for demons to come here.
There have been more than one mage in the mountains near Black Tree Village. The mages are obviously trying to suppress the alien infection, and the results have been fairly good. But they have been working on it for so long that they can’t eliminate it completely. Even if they can’t find the source of infection, can’t they just kill all the infected animals?
Carringer thought it was strange. Perhaps it is due to lack of important information, or that the infection has touched a blindspot in their own knowledge.
The most direct solution is to find an insider and ask for an answer.
But Carringer can’t do that. With years of experience, he can tell which method is suitable for whom. That Rime is by no means a general mage, asking enticing or coercing him won’t have an effect.
Carringer tried to dive deep into the moon tower yesterday. Later, after he’d calmed down and thought about it: even if he succeeded in the descent, he would not have found anything useful.
The inside of the tower was crude and unguarded. What was really important must be protected by magic. He would have not seen it even if he went down another hundred stories.
Carringer returned to the foot of the mountain and looked back at the whole forest. That’s what is happening in Black Tree Village; It’s not twisted and sticky and understandable that other bounty hunters don’t come. Ordinary people really don’t have this patience.
It was early in the morning when he returned to Black Tree Village. Carringer walked through the silent streets to the door of ‘Pleasing Song Cottage.’ The poet and the shopkeeper didn’t wait for him. The gate was locked. He knocked for a while and no one came to open it.
However, there was a ladder under the second floor window on the side of the building, it wasn’t there before. Obviously, it was put here specially for today.
Carringer just laughed. The local conditions and customs of Black Tree Village are really unique. This village is not suitable for a demon attack, it has no tragic or melancholy temperaments at all.
Having said that, the world is no better than a drama, and there is often no rule to follow.
Carringer climbed into the guest room on the second floor, sat down, opened the tin box and observed the pills.
The elf said he should distribute the medicine to the people who went up the mountain last time. Judging by his instructions, this medicine should be used for preventing infection.
But when he thought about it, it’s a little strange.
How can you be so susceptible to infection unless you spend every day next to objects that leak the power of the abyss? In the face of the infected body, whether you hit it, touch it, get stained with its blood… you won’t get infected. Infection is not a plague. It is not spread by contacting the corpses of monsters. The principle of infection is fundamentally different.
As a bounty hunter, Carringer knows that.
Infection is a very mysterious thing. It erodes soil and water first, and then living things.
It’s more like a ghost of a spreading territory than a disease. It will take advantage of the weak or loose-willed creatures and slowly turn living things into the same things as themselves.
When the elements invade you, you and the people around you may not be able to detect it at all. By the time it can be detected, it is often too late.
Carringer carried the tin box around with him and sat in the room thinking for a while.
All of a sudden, an idea flashed in his mind. He had a theory about the elf’s intentions.
Carringer didn’t rest longAt dawn, he went downstairs and knocked on the door. He woke up the poet and asked him to take him to Marlowe, the sheriff, and the five village militia.
Carringer delivered five pills that morning. The five militiamen lived not far away. They heard that the elf in the mountain gave them the medicine and took it with gratitude.
The sixth pill is for Sheriff Marlowe. Marlowe’s 10-year-old son opened the door. He explained that Marlowe’s wound was infected and he had a severe fever, so his brother, sister and mother had accompanied his father to the city to see a doctor.
The sheriff has gone to town. That sounds just right. Carringer goes back to ‘Pleasing Song Cottage’ and takes his horse out of the backyard. He is going to the city next to find the city guards who had been up the mountain.
There is no heavy rain blocking the road today, hence Carringer could ride much faster than last time. Carringer arrived in the city before dusk. He had dealt with the city guards before, so he quickly found the ten soldiers – nine in reality, since one had returned to God’s divine embrace.
Carringer explained his intention, distributed the pills to them and watched them swallow it on the spot. After that, he asked them where the doctors in the city lived. Guided by the soldiers, Carringer rushed to every clinic in the city. Sheriff Marlowe is not in any of the clinics, or, to be more precise, he had never been there.
Carringer repeatedly confirmed with each clinic and the guards at the gate that not only had Marlow not been treated by a clinic, but he had never even been to the city since that mountain exploration.
Carringer had a terrible premonition in his heart and immediately returned to Black Tree Village.
It was already dark. Carringer galloped down the rolling country road. He gritted his teeth in secret: I was stupid. A ten-year-old kid cheated me. I shouldn’t have left at that time. I should have forced myself into Marlowe’s house.
After the sixteen people went up the mountain to explore, it was not fifteen who had survived.
It was fourteen.