The dawn’s early light shone upon the outskirts of the Unnamed Forest and illuminated the path of a group of what seemed to be adventurers who were cautiously advancing into the forest. Their clothing and armor were dyed and crusted with blood. It was very evident that they had just been through a very bloody fight.
“I’m sorry Bella. It was all because I wanted to hire some mercenaries…”
“No problem, boss Ivy. You can make it up by paying us an extra ten percent after we finish this mission.”
“You don’t need to call me boss, we’re friends, aren’t we? Call me Ivy.”
Last night in the duchy’s capital, Bella and the others had to endure until nightfall before they were able to make their escape. Fortunately, her subordinates who had been previously messing around somewhere finally arrived around the same time and launched a surprise attack on the beastmen advance guard, inadvertently helping the escape of Bella and the others.
Due to the low visibility, Ivy and Susan weren’t able to see what had befallen on the beastmen forces. They were only able to hear the terrified screams and death throes coming from the opposing camp. After an entire night of traveling, the party finally managed to make it to the outskirts of the Unnamed Forest.
“Can we rest for a bit Bella? I’m getting tired.”
Bella didn’t have any objections to Susan’s suggestion. After all, they had traveled non-stop the entire night and were fatigued, thirsty, and hungry because they had no time to bring rations with them during their escape. They currently only had two choices: return to Bella’s church for a day to rest and make preparations again, or they could rest on the spot and find a way to solve their hunger.
Considering that Susan, Ivy, as well as Roland and Annie were still human and not the demon kings or gods that Bella and the others were, they were probably too tired. Additionally, it wouldn’t be suitable to return to the church currently. It would be best if they could find a place nearby to rest.
“Angel, is this place safe?”
“About this, sis Bella, there aren’t any… so I’m not sure either, sorry.”
Angel was confused as she was unable to sense any spirits in their nearby vicinity. If there weren’t any spirits wandering the area, Angel’s scouting ability would be heavily limited. To not incur the suspicion of the holy maiden, Susan, Angel decided that it wasn’t the best idea to evoke spirits from further away to help.
“No problem, it should be fine as long as we’re careful.”
Bella lightly patted Angel’s head to comfort her as this wasn’t her fault. It was just that the uncertainties involved in this expedition would dramatically increase without Angel’s scouting.
The forest was very quiet so early in the morning, and they had not run into any monsters yet. Previously, Bella had led a bunch of her subordinates on extermination runs throughout the forest’s outskirts and it would probably be quite a while before the monster population here recovered.
Bella followed the tracks of the wild animals in the hope of finding water, and her hard work paid off. After around an hour, they heard the sound of a moving body of water.
As they got closer, they found a large stream with crystal clear water and a gentle current. Mia approached the stream and studied it for a while before giving confirmation to Bella with her eyes. Bella understood that this water didn’t have any problems; at the very least there weren’t any curses or poison in it. She trusted Mia’s expertise in this field.
Seeing a clean source of water, all the other girls immediately wanted to go and clean themselves of the blood that had covered every exposed inch of their body. Now that they finally had time, nothing could stop them from cleaning themselves, even Dolores seemed to be really eager. Even though she was really into it while killing, it was as if she returned to being a normal girl right after who just wanted to be clean.
“Why aren’t you stripping Bella? Your clothes are just as dirty as ours?” While she was stripping, Susan turned back to see Bella just standing there and asked curiously.
“You all can wash first, and I’ll go patrol the surroundings for now. I’ll wash later.”
“Alright, stay safe!”
Bella actually really wanted to stay behind and bathe with these beauties as only a dumbass would refuse such a boon.
Bella instinctively realized that girls were the most vulnerable while they were bathing and were less able to deal with emergency situations if any were to occur. This was a place notorious for the number of monsters after all, and she had to make necessary preparations to prevent any monsters or perverts from getting close.
Bella came to a large patch of unnaturally long grass not too far from the stream and drew a large and peculiar magic formation on the ground. As soon as she finished the last stroke on the formation, there was some stirring from the ground below her, as if something was breaking out of it.
Seeing that the ritual had been completed, Bella swiftly left the area. Not long after she left, several zombies in a high state of decay broke through the ground with many more still on their way out as the formation was still pulsating. These zombies were all the adventurers in this area who had been slaughtered by the monsters and had been buried in the ground for god knows how long. They probably contributed to why the grass in this area was so unnaturally long.
This 《Summon Undead》 was a dark magic formation that Mia had taught Bella, who then modified it so that the summoned undead would only attack males. Now Bella could finally return and bathe with the girls without the worry of being interrupted. If any pervert was fortunate enough to wander into the area, he would be in for a lifetime of enjoyment.
Bella had a sinister smirk on her face as she left. She withdrew not because she was afraid that they would attack her but that she was scared of having nightmares after seeing such decomposed zombies. As for the possibility of a stray monster, most of them would avoid being anywhere near such a large number of zombies.
Only Bella who set the formation would be able to cancel it from the distance. If anybody else wanted to do so, they would have to find the heart of the ritual where the actual formation was located and then destroy it to stop the summoning. Bella believed that it wouldn’t take long for all the dead near the stream to be awoken.
As Bella was about to return, she saw an article of clothing drifting downstream. As she had spent all her time around a large number of girls, she was easily able to recognize that it belonged to a female.
“Eh, which one of them was so careless to let their clothes fall into the water while bathing?” Bella picked up a branch from near the stream and used it to pick the piece of clothing out of the stream. Right after, she remembered that Ivy and the others were bathing downstream, so their clothes couldn’t have floated upstream. This article most likely didn’t belong to any of the girls in Bella’s party.
Bella felt the material of the article, then studied the design and was able to confirm that this did not belong to anyone in her party. As they had already changed into the outfits designed by Bella herself, from their outer garments to their underwear, she only needed to feel the material to know if it was one of her designs.
Bella brought the piece of clothing towards her nose and sniffed it. A faint but elegant and pleasant scent traveled into her nostrils. Bella had smelled this kind of scent on the other beauties in her company. It should be the natural body scent of beautiful girls so the owner of this garment should be fairly good looking. The scent, however, was slightly different and Bella couldn’t connect it with any girl she knew as she had remembered the scent of all the girls in her party.
What to do? The owner of this garment was probably bathing somewhere upstream. It would be very awkward for her to discover that she had lost her clothes, and it would be rather bad for the owner if she only brought one set of clothes in such a dangerous place and lost it.
Right as Bella was hesitating, the gentle current brought another piece of clothing with it. Seeing as it was the same type of thermal underwear that Roland and Annie wore previously, Bella stopped hesitating. She decided to follow the stream and look for the owner of these lost articles of clothing, and to see if she needed any help.
Right as Bella was traveling upstream, in the forest near the stream, a well-equipped party of adventurers was engaged in combat with the zombies that Bella had summoned. This party had at least a hundred adventurers and were all fairly skilled, not panicking under the assault of such a large number of zombies and being able to maintain their formation’s integrity.
If these were normal zombies, the adventurers would have beaten them off long ago, but these were those that Bella had summoned. She had placed several drops of juice from the 【Devil’s Wisdom】 on the summoning formation, causing the summoned undead to retain some intelligence and combat ability from when they were still adventurers.
Seeing that they were unable to break through the party’s defenses, the zombies chose to back off and encircle the adventurers. During this stalemate, there was a constant stream of new zombies joining the already large group. This party of adventurers didn’t have any mages or clerics with them and only had archers as their ranged units. They were forced to fight passively.
“S***, where did all these zombies come from? I thought that there were only monsters in the Unnamed Forest!” A handsome swordsman with golden hair was complaining. He hadn’t expected to run into any evil beings during this expedition into the Unnamed forest, which was why he had not brought any mages or clerics with him. Now, he was shocked when he ran into zombies who seemed to have some semblance of intelligence and didn’t just rush at them like normal.
“Don’t be so impatient Leonard. Kriss shouldn’t have run too far. We just found some of her clothes near the stream, did we not? She is probably bathing somewhere upstream, hehe.”
“I’m warning you, Edwin. Kriss is my fiancée. Don’t even try to make a move on her!”
“Che, if it wasn’t for your dad having good relations with the Gabriel Empire’s emperor, would you still be able to get engaged with Kriss? I am the Kristoff Empire’s (Assassins/Archers) third prince after all, and my standing isn’t any lower than you, the young master of the Gabriel Empire’s Brittany family. I still want to compete for Kriss.”
The golden-haired youth was busy arguing with a male archer with short-cut brown hair. They didn’t discover that at the back of their party, a somber look came onto a swordsman with his head lowered. His facial features were heavily distorted, and it definitely wasn’t an expression that a human should be able to make.
“I didn’t expect these two to have such close relationships with the Gabriel Empire’s number one hero, Mathilde Kriss. That girl put me through hell last time. I’ll regain my dignity from her friends this time, hehe.” Clement looked at the two males of noble birth who were still arguing about who Kriss belonged to, and a sinister smile crept onto his face.
Leonard and Edwin did not know that currently, some distance away, after receiving news from 【Master of Faces】 Clement,【Bone-corroding Duke】 Adrian and【Hell’s Warden】 Maltz were on the way with their personal armies of bone-breakers and ghouls.
Bella followed the water upstream for a while and came to the river head, a small lake. Even from a distance, Bella was able to see a girl swimming around agitatedly as if she was looking for something. Bella then looked around the lake but wasn’t able to find any clothes that might belong to the girl. This girl seemed to be the one that had lost her clothes to the current.
This girl had beautiful silver-white hair. To Bella who had loved silver hair even from her time on Earth, this was quite a sight. Currently, the only silver-haired girls in Bella’s company were the two lolis, Angel and Mia, and evidently not enough to satisfy Bella’s obsession with silver hair.
Due to the angle, Bella could only see the silver-haired girl’s porcelain-like back and not her face. Right as Bella was hesitating over whether to go and greet the girl or not, she saw a large black snake about six meters in length swimming upstream against the current towards the girl.
“Isn’t that a deep-sea serpent? Why is it in a stream? S***, that girl is in danger!” Bella’s subordinates had previously given one of these serpents to her as a tribute. Although these deep-sea serpents weren’t very strong fighters, they were able to unleash a strong paralyzing poison into the water whilst hunting prey. When caught unaware, these deep-sea serpents were equally dangerous as other monsters of its size.
This serpent was evidently much more dangerous than the three-meter one that Bella’s subordinates had offered. The serpent last time was killed so easily by an evil suzerain because its toxins had no effect on any sort of dark existence, but this silver-haired girl didn’t seem like a demon at all to Bella.
After she realized this, Bella looked for a place to dive into the water to go and save the girl. Seeing as the serpent had not immediately attacked, Bella quickly undressed and got into the water. She had to strip because this serpent’s toxins were able to corrode normal clothes. It would be rather awkward for Bella to save someone but be left without clothes.
The deep-sea serpent hesitated for a while before finally deciding to attack. It swam quickly towards the girl, jumped out of the water, and flew towards her. The girl turned around to see the source of the commotion and came face to face with the flying serpent and froze in shock. In the nick of time, however, Bella finally managed to swim close enough and sent a right hook that sent the serpent flying and leaving it seeing stars.
The power behind this punch was nothing to laugh at. It was just that she wasn’t wearing her metal gauntlets. If she was, that punch would have been able to tear straight through the skull of the deep-sea serpent. Luckily, she didn’t because snake type monsters usually had their magic cores inside their skulls. It would be troublesome if she accidentally shattered it as it was the only cure to the serpent’s poison.
Bella also didn’t want to scare this silver-haired beauty with the bloody scene of her beating the brains out of this snake. Because of this, the serpent quickly recovered from its dizziness and turned its giant mouth towards the new attacker.
The silver-haired beauty behind Bella either seemed to have been scared witless or had been paralyzed by the deep-sea serpent’s poison. After seeing the golden-haired beauty that was Bella, the serpent immediately froze. It had some semblance of intellect and was able to sense that even though she had the appearance of a human girl, her distinct scent of high-tiered evil being drove fear into its small brain.
This deep-sea serpent had just escaped that dangerous place and had only wanted to hunt some prey for sustenance but had run into some girls who also had the dangerous scent of top-tier evil beings downstream. It was spooked into furiously swimming upstream. Here, it finally found a prey which it felt that it could handle even though this silver-haired beauty also… but it decided to give it a try to not starve to death.
Unfortunately, Bella had stepped in and quashed its hopes. It originally \wanted to try fighting but after seeing Bella’s ravenous eyes, felt that it would definitely be killed if it stayed. Bella wasn’t going to let the prey get away after it had entered her sight. Noesha and the others downstream were still hungry after all!
Bella straight up leaped towards the monster and delivered another thundering punch, much heavier than the last, sending the serpent flying out of the water and partly onto the shore. As it was about to struggle to make its escape, several terrifying shadowy hands reached out of the bushes and forcefully dragged the six-meter long monster into the shrubbery.
“That Tanpur is finally here. I’ll leave that deep-sea serpent to him.” Only now did Bella remember the silver-haired beauty on the side. She turned around and made eye contact with the girl’s beautiful violet irises. Why did this girl seem so familiar?
Bella thought for a while and froze. Wasn’t this the girl that Clement had drawn for her previously? The first princess of the Gabriel Empire (Swordsmen), Mathilde Kriss. But according to Clement’s drawing, Kriss was supposed to have black hair. It didn’t match up at all; was Clement messing with her?
Only later would Bella find out that the evil being Clement was completely color blind and couldn’t differentiate between any color. The only color he remembered was the black locks of Bella’s true body when she created him, which was why he drew Kriss’s hair as black as well.
Right now, Bella only wanted to run. She hadn’t brought a weapon with her and Kriss’s blades reportedly appear from thin air. Bella didn’t think that she would be able to win against Kriss in this state.
After recovering from the shock of the deep-sea serpent’s attack, Kriss didn’t take any hostile actions towards Bella but instead grabbed Bella from behind before she could make her escape.
“Please don’t leave. Can you help me? I’m scared by myself!” After hearing Kriss’s feeble plea for help, Bella stopped in her tracks as she couldn’t hear any hostility in her voice. Even though Kriss was very likely a transmigrated hero just like Lisha, she didn’t seem like the type to start a fight at first sight as Lisha did.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.