The Beginning of an Upheaval


  「We haven’t come face to face like this since your duel with Larz.
You’re like a different person, Sora」


  Elgart Quiss, a 1st tier adventurer who is at the top of the Adventurers’ guild’s Ishka branch said that and gently smiled. 


  I cannot sense any reservedness from those words or the expression on his face.
Whether it’s the faintly drifting scent of fragrant water or his neatly slicked-back hair, he was the same dandy man as usual.


  Towards that man, I responded with a cold attitude.


  「I heard you wanted to share information regarding Titis Forest.
Is that true?」 


  I skipped the greetings and just suddenly cut right to the chase.
I showed that I have no intention to make friends with him.


  After he heard that, Elgart’s smile changed into a bitter one.


  Lidelle, who was on standby behind him, gave me a piercing stare, but I pretended to not notice her and ignored her.


  Talk about what needs to be talked about and ask about what’s necessary.
That’s all we should be doing right now.


  「Yeah, that’s right.
I’ll get right to the point.
Due to the situation in the last few days, I am concerned that monsters might go on a rampage――an occurrence of a stampede」 


  In response to Elgart who skipped the details and got straight to the point, I also answered in the same manner.


  「Then I will get right to the point as well.
The depths of the Titis Forest were like a kettle that’s about to boil over.
By the look of things, the monsters of the depths will probably flood out to the outer parts of the forest soon」 


  If that happens, the monsters of the outer sections will be pushed out of the forest.


  Elgart nodded as if he wanted to say “As I expected”.


  「So you’re saying it’s only a matter of time until the monsters of the outer section head to Ishka after they overflow from the forest, right?」


And then it will only be a matter of time until the monsters from the depths follow suit」


  Ishka will probably face monster attacks on a scale they had never experienced before――That’s my conclusion after I witnessed the state of Titis Forest with my own eyes.


  Monsters on a rampage――A stampede.
Elgart has the same conclusion as well.


  Then, Elgart looked up at the ceiling with a mournful expression and muttered a few words out.


  「…So it’s going to be a repeat of the nightmare from 20 years ago, huh…」


  「20 years ago?」


  After I reacted to what he said, Ishka’s guild master responded to me with a sigh,


  「This nation has experienced a stampede in the past.
It was roughly about 20 years ago when I was even younger than you are.
The difference was that the anomaly happened at Mount Skim instead of Titis Forest」


  Because of that stampede, many villages and towns were devastated, Elgart explained.


  At that time, Elgart faced the stampede of monsters with his party and lost 2 of his companions.


  The city of Ishka could not avoid the damage either.
The reason why Ishka is surrounded by strong walls right now seems to be because of the lesson they learned from that incident.


  I knitted my brows and asked, 


  「Was the cause of the incident discovered?」


  「We presumed that it was because a volcano had become active that the monster’s ecosystem went through a big change」


  …So a whim of nature, huh?


  It might be better if it was caused by something or someone’s sinister intention, but either way, it’s a heartbreaking story.


  However, now is not the time to think about the past.


  The conclusion I came to from what Elgart said is that in the Titis Forest, something that’s equal to a volcano becoming active happened. 


  The problem is what that is.


  I accepted the guild’s invitation obediently because I wanted this information.
Information and connections.
My clan is nowhere close to being in the same league as the adventurers’ guild when it comes to those two things.
It’s a fact that I have to admit.


  ……Well, if they knew what really happened, they wouldn’t have to go through the trouble to talk to me, so considering that, there was no way that I could have gotten to the bottom of things just by coming here.


  However, I took a shot because they could have some information that could connect the dots for me.


  Then, what hit the mark on this speculation of mine was the words that came out of Elgart’s mouth next.


  「It’s unclear if this is directly linked to the current incident, but I have one piece of information that got my attention.
The epidemic seems to have made a comeback at a village located upstream of the Kale River」


  「Master?! That information has yet to be confirmed!」


  Lidelle raised her voice that was mixed with surprise and anxiety after she heard Elgart’s words.


  In return, Elgart answered her in a calm voice.


  「It’s fine, Lidelle.
This is what sharing information is」


I apologize for speaking out of line…」


  Lidelle lowered her head and shut her mouth while looking clearly unsatisfied.


  I’m the only one who is out of the loop, but I can guess the meaning of what happened just now.


  I’ve mentioned before that the water source of the Kale River comes from the Titis Forest.
So a village upstream of the Kale River, in other words, would be “a village that’s closer to Titis Forest than Ishka”.


  He said that the epidemic had broken out again in that village.


  In this context, the epidemic was caused by the basilisk that appeared before and the poison miasma from the sea of blight that was produced from the monster’s influence.


  So for the epidemic that was mostly cleared out by the antidote made with jiraiaooks fruits would mean that――  


  「The antidote is no longer effective?」


  「It would appear so.
We don’t know if it’s because the poison had become strong enough that the antidote no longer took effect or the effects of the antidote wore off.
Actually, this information arrived at the guild just this morning, and right now, our employees have headed to the village to confirm the reality of the situation」


  「……I see」


  「This goes without saying, but do not say a word of this to anyone.
It will disturb the people again after they just calmed down from the creation of an antidote」 


  I nodded to those words.
I have no intention to spread rumors around even without him telling me.
I have no intention to get back at the guild that way.


  However, I couldn’t help but think about what this means.


  When I went to the depths of the forest with Suzume, I did not notice any new blight.
That means the possibility that a new basilisk had appeared is low.


  Still, the epidemic returned? And a poison that the jiraiaooks fruits don’t work on?


  On top of that, it’s a poison that had been diluted because of the river’s water.


  Naturally, that means I can assume that the origin would be an extremely deadly poison.


  If the unusual incident this time is because of this poison…..


  It was when I thought up to that point.


  Suddenly, the door of the room was intensely knocked on, and then an anxious voice of a female came from outside of the room.


  「Please excuse me! Master, I have an emergency report!」


  「You may enter」


  The door was opened as soon as Elgart finished talking or even a second before that, and the reporter, Parfait, barged into the room.


  The expression on her face from when I saw her earlier had completely changed to one that is extremely serious.


  「Signal fire came from the Titis Forest.
The colors were white, black, and red!」


  The moment he heard that, Elgart had a look in his eyes that was as sharp as a blade.
Lidelle also looked extremely tense.


  Elgart had probably sent some adventurers or employees to scout the forest.


  And those people had made contact back in the form of signal fires.


  It was clear from these 3 people’s expressions that they have received the worst level of bad news.


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