Chapter 17

It had decomposed skin, rotting eyeballs, missing nose and ears, and dirty bones sticking out from all parts of its body. It was a human corpse that moved by receiving dark energy, and this zombie’s appearance was a truly gruesome sight to see.

“Urgh!” Hans gagged.

During their trip, he saw a monster’s corpse and actually killed a monster himself. And because he had served the Steelwalls rather than other families, Hans was more used to death and corpses than the average person. However, the creature in front of him was on a different level.

Grrr! Grrrr!

Under its torn skin, they could see its Adam's apple bobbing up and down.

Step!

The zombie walked slowly but boldly towards the two, and Hans took a step backward.

“S-s-sir Zich! T-that is!”

“Be quiet.”

Clang!

Zich moved past the stuttering Hans and pulled out his sword. The sunlight dyed the blade red, making it look like the sword of judgment that an angel might use.

Step! Step!

Zich followed the footsteps of the zombie that was coming towards him. Behind him, Hans clutched his torch and gulped his saliva.

Grrrrrrr!

As Zich closed in on it, the zombie stretched out its hands. In its open mouth, dirty teeth hung irregularly, and the zombie’s long and black fingernails looked sharp enough to rip a person’s skin into pieces and take out their bones. Its discharge was toxic enough to rot a whole body.

But...

‘It’s still just a zombie.’

Whoaaaaaaa!

The zombie wildly moved with its tangled-up legs, and Zich dodged to the side and swung his sword.

Slice!

The sword cleanly cut the zombie’s neck. Even as the zombie’s head flew to the sky, it clacked its teeth at Zichbut that was only for a moment.

Drop!

Thud!

Two different types of collisions could be heard: the sound of the zombie’s head falling to the ground and the sound of the zombie’s body shedding.

“Eick!”

The zombie’s head rolled to the bottom of Hans’ feet, and Hans backed off with a shriek.

“I-is it dead?”

“Yeah.”

With a scowl, Zich looked at his sword’s body; it was smeared with the zombie’s fluid.

“Ah, damn it! This is why I hate zombies! If I am dealing with the undead, clean ones like the skeletons are much better!”

Zich took off some tree leaves and intensely wiped the zombie’s fluids off his sword before he placed it back inside its sheath. Then, he walked to the side of the fallen zombie, and Hans also snuck around behind him.

“Why is it here, sir?”

“Hm, I don’t know either. Why would it be here?”

It wasn’t even a small village; it was uncommon to see a monster hiding inside a city, not to mention a zombie that feasted on human flesh.

“Well, let’s inform the Magistrate for now. It might have come under the cover of darkness, or it might have been an unlucky guy who got mixed up in a crime and got sold to the city’s black market.”

“Then, could it be a coincidence, sir?”

“It is likely, but—”

Zich glanced at the zombie’s head which had stopped moving with its mouth hanging wide open.

“I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

From his experience, he had felt this feeling when something big was about to happen.

                                               *   *   *

Zich and Hans handed the zombie over to the Magistrate. The officers asked them a couple of questions and soon handled the corpse.

Zich furrowed his eyebrows.

“It’s strange.”

“Sorry?”

Zich stared at the spot where the officers had taken the zombie away.

“If this was the first time this happened, they would have asked us much more questions to dig up as many details as they could. A monster, especially a zombie, appeared within the city. But the officers didn’t ask us that many questions as if this is a common occurrence.”

“Then, are you saying that something like this frequently happens in Porti, sir?”

“I can’t say for sure, but it’s likely.”

Hans gulped his saliva back down. Just the thought of these disgusting creatures walking around the city was enough to make him shudder.

“But it probably hasn’t been for long. If it had been going on for a while, rumors would have spread by now, and public sentiment would have grown terrible. However, you can’t sense that in the city yet.”

“W-what should we do, sir?”

“There’s no need for us to do anything. The higher-ups will handle the matter by themselves. And if we encounter another zombie, we can just hand them over to the officers again. We just do what we have been doing.”

Hans nodded.

                                                                      *    *    *

“Let’s express our gratitude to them.”

[Thank you!]

A soaring spire quietly looked towards the ground in a magnificent temple. Age and long years had spotted its corners with ashy stains, but they couldn’t have dropped the place’s worth. On the contrary, these spots added to the temple’s deep history and made the temple more familiar to its visitors.

In front of the temple, a nun and about fifteen children were bowing their heads. The people they were bowing to were Zich and Hans.

“Alright. Before I come back, you must listen to Sister well and be kind to each other. Do you all understand?”

[Yes!]

Their tones and tempo played separately, but the children yelled vigorously in front of the temple and their voices echoed. At the children’s waving hands, they waved their hands and walked away from the temple.

When they couldn’t see the nun and children anymore, they let down their hands.

“Good, today’s good deed was also perfect!”

Zich’s voice was mixed with pride. 

Hans shot quick glances at Zich.

“What are you looking at?”

“Ah, no, sir. I just thought that you found the exact answer this time.”

Hans thought Zich was beyond the boundary of common sense again since he had interpreted the advice of helping those in need to helping thugs before. However, Zich had surprisingly decided to help a nearby orphanage.

Hans wanted to keep his mouth shut most of the time, but this time, curiosity pushed him to speak. It also helped that Zich didn’t strike out in violence after they began traveling, and it seemed like Zich would generously allow most questions from now on. So, in the end, Hans asked, “Did someone else give another piece of advice, sir?”

“Nothing of that sort. I mean, what do you think of first when you think of the weak? It’s children. Especially children without their parents. Isn’t that just common sense?”

‘I thought common sense didn’t go through to you.’

Of course, Hans didn’t say this out loud.

“But besides that, what do you think about the work?”

Since Zich went to volunteer at an orphanage, the servant, Hans, had no choice but to follow Zich and also work. Hans nodded his head vigorously.

“Of course, sir! Even though it may not seem like it, I learned all kinds of work in the Steelwall residence! To mention a few, I learned cleaning, laundry, and even some administrative work! Even if there’s a lot of work, I won’t falter with this much.”

Hans’ voice was filled with confidence.

‘By the looks of it, isn’t this guy a high-quality talent?” 

Besides menial works like cleaning, laundry, and other housework, if Hans had learned administrative work to run the household, it meant that he was a servant undergoing training to take the place of someone higher.

“But Sir Zich, are you alright? Aren’t you not used to working like this?”

It seemed like Hans wanted to ask if Zich was used to menial tasks since Zich grew in a noble family, but his true feelings were different.

‘With that hot temper, can he even look after children well?’

But contrary to Hans’ expectations, Zich was adjusting very well.

“Did you forget? Who prepared everything for camping? Menial tasks are nothing for a genius like me.”

Hard labor was easy enough to make a person yawn, especially if they knew how to control their mana. With Zich’s sharpness, he could pick up things immediately. After all, he really was a genius born once in a century.

And above all, he had gained a lot of experiences before his regression.

“Also, even if I can’t do menial tasks, I am really good at playing with the kids. Did you see how the kids acted when we were leaving? They were so sad to see us go.”

‘That is true.’

Hans didn’t know what Zich did, but the children’s eyes were full of sadness and regret when they were leaving.

“Did you do anything special?”

“What do you think children like to do the most? Isn’t it to play hero?” Zich expanded his chest and boasted, “I am amazing at acting as the Demon Lord. I can act really badly and also act the part of getting defeated by a hero.”

Since he had done all of these things before he regressed, Zich was probably better at acting as the Demon Lord than anyone else. 

While they talked, Zich and Hans saw two officers in disguise sticking something on the wall. They hurriedly snuck past Zich and began to walk away with bundles of paper in their hands speedily after they were done.

“It must be a wanted list.”

There were already a couple of people whispering in front of the notice. It seemed like it was a wanted poster for an incredibly wicked criminal since everyone stared at it with shock.

Hans craned his neck forward to look at the poster, and Zich also stared.

“What?”

“What?”

 Zich and Hans spoke at the same time.

“S-sir Zich. That is!”

Hans pointed at the just posted wanted notice. In the poster, a drawing of an incredible beauty stared back at them.

[Wanted]

[The Witch, Aine Lubella]

[Sins Committed: Responsible for the assassination of the Deputy Mayor. Attempted to cast a ‘Great Curse’ on the city of Porti.]

After they had parted a few days ago, Lubella, who should have received the Saint's title, was titled as ‘the Witch’ and was on a wanted poster with her sins listed.

                                                                     *    *    *

In the shop, next to Porti’s commercial district, vendors and laborers were relieving their sorrows with alcohol after their work was over. It wasn’t a high-end bar, but the place was enough to please the workers who lived paycheck to paycheck.

“Hey, did you see that?”

“See what?”

Two men began talking with large beer glasses between them.

“You know, the wanted list for the Witch.”

“Oh, you mean the Witch from Karuwiman.”

Zich and Hans, who were drinking near them, perked their ears.

“My business is a mess because of that. People were not spending their money, and officials closed the palace walls to catch the Witch. They investigated so thoroughly that the freight volume went down by a lot.”

“That’s not the only problem. They say that because of the Witch’s curse, the undead are roaming around the city. Officials say that we have to go back home before the sun sets.”

“I heard that at Grotel’s place, a child went missing.”

“Yes, without even a trace.”

“Damn it! All of this because of one damn witch!” 

“They haven’t captured her yet, right?”

“They would have told us as soon as the Witch was caught. This isn’t just a trifling matter.”

The two men insulted Lubella until their faces became red. Everyone else beside them was the same: they were all talking about Lubella. Since Porti was a business city, they were more sensitive to economic matters, and news spread faster.

After drinking a bit more, Zich and Hans left the bar. Because they didn’t drink much, they were barely drunk. 

Hans suddenly asked“Sir Zich, was Lady Lubella really a witch?”

Zich sternly denied it.

“Then, are all of these false rumors, sir?”

“It’s likely that the assassination of the Deputy Mayor and Porti’s curse is not a lie. However, it’s common for people to falsely accuse someone to create a scapegoat.”

“How are you so sure it’s a false charge, sir?”

It was because Zich knew that Lubella had worked as a saint before he regressed, but of course, Zich didn’t intend to mention that.

“I know that much even without seeing it.”

“…”

Hans tried to control his facial muscles to not look at Zich absurdly.

‘Did this happen before I regressed?’

Porti’s Great Curse and Lubella, charged as the WitchZich didn’t remember any of these events. But it could also be that Zich just couldn’t remember. Yes, that was most likely. The world before he regressed was an extremely chaotic world where various incidents and problems erupted everywhere with no exceptions.

Seeing the darkening sky, Hans got ready to light up his already-prepared torch.

“Wait.”

Zich halted and stared at one side of the view in front of him.

“Huh? What is it, sir?”

“Follow me.”

Hans lit up his torch and trotted behind Zich. 

Zich went inside an alleyway. Although it was getting dark, there were still traces of lights remaining in the sky. However, the alleyway was a peerless, dark color like it was in the middle of the night. The darkness seemed to hiss threats at the torch light that Hans was carrying. 

Zich walked inside as if he was in a familiar place, and it happened after they turned another corner.

“Huh?”

Hans saw something. At the alleyway’s dead-end, something was crouching in the corner. Hans gulped as he saw the shadow in the shape of a human figure. Thankfully, the lights revealed that the shadow wasn’t a zombie.

The figure looked at Zich and Hans with a look of worry and fear.

“You were here, Lady Lubella,” Zich said while looking at Lubella.

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