Chapter 492 – The Curse of the White Mist
On a hot, scorching summer day. At the stuffy church’s dining room, when all the other orphans had finished their lunch despite sweating due to the heat and humidity, one Evramian little girl—Ursula, was still slowly having her meal.
Lukewarm soup in a crude, darkened thin wooden bowl. Her spoon sluggishly scooped up the beans soaked with the soup and carried it over to her mouth.
Distasteful. Just as usual. As such, Ursula being the last to finish was also nothing out of the ordinary.
And like that, the girl was finishing up her meal, taking up almost all her lunch time, when suddenly she was interrupted.
“Hey, Ursula, there’s something I’d like to ask~.”
A girl came and spoke to her.
She was a bit older than Ursula, maybe over 10 years old. She looked up at her slowly with her blue eyes and was expecting to see the somewhat popular cute girl, but for some reason, her face was covered in white mist so she couldn’t understand what kind of an expression the girl was making.
“Did you see my ring?”
She slowly shook her head. She hadn’t seen it—she had no idea the girl wore a ring to begin with.
“Ehh, but that’s troubling~ that was a precious ring I got from my mother~”
The kids were allowed to keep their parents’ memento. However, these accessories are sometimes precious metals and as such are strictly maintained and kept in custody by the church’s priest generally.
As such, this girl could not have lost her ring.
“Do you really not know~? Could it perhaps be in your pocket~?”
There was no way for it to be there—however, without even thinking such an obvious thought, Ursula willingly listened to the girl and started searching the pockets of her cheap short pants.
She could feel something firm at the tip of her fingers inside her pocket, which should have nothing in them. She brought it out to see that it was a silver ring that she had no recollection of.
“Aahh~!? That is my ring~!!”
The girl’s shout reverberated throughout the dining. With that, all the kids’ vision went towards Ursula at once.
“That’s terrible! That’s so awful of you, Ursula, to steal my ring!!”
She tried to deny it.
“You’re the worst!”
However, she couldn’t say it out loud. The girl slapped her hard on the cheek.
As if to drown out the echo of the noise from the slap, the girl started sobbing out loud. Not Ursula, who had been slapped, but the other girl, for some reason.
“Oi, what happened?!”
“What, what? Why’re you crying?!”
And before she realized, the kids in the surrounding area started gathering around. While still on her seat, gripping her spoon, Ursula had been surrounded by over ten boys and girls.
“Listen to this, Ursula did this—”
There was no space for her to interrupt. Even if it wasn’t Ursula, who hadn’t spoken to any of the other orphans till now, they couldn’t possibly interrupt the crying girl who was accusing her of stealing.
“Ehhh, is that true?! So awful!”
“Oi, apologize, you thief!”
The children’s opinion unanimously turned to the girl’s support and Ursula’s denunciation.
And it was just natural for it to be so. There were their own rules as they lived together as orphans under these special circumstances.
For example, tattling on someone. No matter how small the act is, the kids would never forgive anyone tattling on others to the priest or the sisters.
And stealing someone’s personal belongings was even bigger of a sin.
As they were orphans, they did not have much personal belongings. Most of their things were shared between the kids. While that was only the natural decision to not cause discrimination between the kids, that only raises the value of their personal belongings even more.
“Thief! Apologize already!!”
At this point, it didn’t matter if the crying girl and the others were in on this together. After all, the kids had already acquired a justified reason to get angry.
They won’t forgive stealing. They won’t forgive betrayals. As such, blaming Ursula was the only justifiable thing to do.
Not only was Ursula unable to plead her innocence in response to the angered kids and their jeers, she couldn’t even apologize and do as they say. Her mouth just moved slightly like a goldfish and no words came out.
It got harder for her to breathe.
“This thieving brat—!”
As if her silence went and poured oil into the fire, one of the hot-blooded boys went and grabbed her wavy silver hair and pulled her to the ground.
Her small groan upon crashing to the floor was drowned out in an instant amongst the heating up angry voices.
She felt a sharp pain on her forehead as it landed on the floor with all the dust and leftover food. She felt her head all the way to the nape of her neck get wet. Taking the chance, the boy had spilled the soup from the bowl on her head.
Despite the food being spoiled, Ursula just gripped the spoon tightly in her hand.
She saw everyone glaring at her with hatred as she looked up. Countless bad words resounded in her ears.
Being surrounded and blocked off—she had no way to run.
Fear—it was the moment she had regained that emotion.
Although she couldn’t understand the meaning of those words, it strongly reverberated throughout the dining hall. Words—or rather, it was more like a roar from a monster.
Due to the intensity of the voice, the kids couldn’t help but look towards it. The same goes for Ursula, who was on the floor.
She spotted the owner of the voice through the many legs covering her vision.
“Wh-what is it, Reki?!”
“You got anything to say, huh?!”
This Reki kid… she didn’t know if the kid was a boy or a girl. However, Ursula thought she was like a starving wolf.
Her characteristic trait was her sharp blonde hair, resembling a dog’s ear. Her red eyes were glaring with bloodthirst and her strong glance gave it another layer of intensity.
“Listen to this, Reki, she’s so terrible!”
The self-proclaimed victim among the kids took a step forward. Maybe because she was confident of getting Reki’s sympathy, her expression didn’t even look that grim.
“Ursula, she went and stole my precious ring—”
Her loud voice shook everyone to their bones. It was so loud that it resounded in all their ears.
Reki threw her right fist straight at the girl’s face and sent her body flying through the air. The blood from the girl’s now broken nose cleanly spiraled through the air.
Fortunately, the tables in the dining room were cleared of all tableware. The girl landed on the flat table and kept rolling from the momentum and finally fell off before stopping.
“Wh-wh-what are you doing?!”
The place got noisy due to Reki’s sudden violence. The girls began crying as if it was the end of the world and the boys had a fire lit up their fighting spirits.
“Come on, baby!”
And as such, a big brawl shaking the whole church had started.
Reki, a girl, versus about 10 boys. The difference in power was evident. However, for some reason, the fight dragged out.
“Go to hell!!”
As Reki’s fist landed on the kids’ face, it broke their noses, their teeth and brought about unlikely damage to such a children’s fight.
He bit on to the boys who came to grapple her and dragged them about by their hair before sending them flying by a kick to their groins. She leaped, punched, kicked, tossed—Reki played out a terrifying fight scene.
The boys’ numbers were decreasing and just when there were about half of them left,
“What is happening here?! What is all this ruckus?!”
“Ahhh, Reki!? You again!!”
The priest and the sister of the church came into the dining room. Of course they would notice from this much noise.
“Stop it! Hey, Reki, just, stop—ow?!”
“Oh my, how terrible… Ah, God…”
Reki continued her rampage, the boys she beat lied on the floor like corpses and the other girls shrieked like no tomorrow—just then, among all that chaos, Ursula, who was still groveling on the floor, awakened.
An extreme culmination of anxiety, fear and chaos awakened the “curse” in her.
It was as if a blizzard from a snowy mountain in midwinter had suddenly manifested. The raging white mist cut off everyone’s vision at once.
Just as Ursula had wished, the white “darkness” erased everything—
Hearing Reki’s frail voice, Ursula regained herself.
And before she realized, the mist had disappeared. And like the calm after a storm, everything became awfully quiet.
Ursula, now with her vision back, saw everyone except Reki on the ground. The kids, the priest and the sister—everyone except Reki, were lying on the floor as if they died.
The terrifying scene took her breath away. And more than anything, it terrified her that this was all caused by her.
Ursula had already caught on. The fact that she was the one who brought about that mist. And now, her body felt unusually light and good as if she was filled with a sense of liberation.
“Oh, my, God…”
However, the most mysterious thing there was how Reki gave a very satisfied smile and then collapsed.
—They had succeeded in repelling the goblin squad.
There were a total of 4 doltos’, two at the front and two at the back, and now with them—the biggest threat—out of the picture, all they had to do was get rid of the other enemies in order.
Although the back gate was broken, with the doltos gone, there were less than 50 goblins left. I shaved off their numbers with my grenades and left the rest to the vigilante squad there before returning back to the front gate immediately.
While I was away, everyone did a great job at holding the frontlines with Ryan at the core—mowing down enemies head on with his silver knight armor on. And with me back on the frontline, the enemies were annihilated within 5 minutes as I added my gunfire into the mix.
Realizing that they couldn’t keep up, the goblin chief quickly gathered its forces and retreated back into the forest. However, the threat to the village is not gone as the chief is still alive. Although there is a chance they won’t target this village anymore after experiencing such a defeat, there’s also the possibility of them coming back for revenge with an even greater force.
It is risky to chase down the goblins who retreated to the forest. Considering that chief’s intellect, it may have fixed traps or ambush troops in place. If we were to get caught off guard in the forest where vision isn’t good, there will be casualties for sure this time.
And as such, I chased them down alone.
Without the vigilante squad accompanying me, I could run at full speed and didn’t have to worry about protecting anyone either. Quite the easy situation, really. My opponents were a dozen goblins, a few rank 1 monsters and a single magician.
When I had caught up to them, the chief was only able to launch an “El Sagita” towards me. I didn’t allow a second attack as I blew it away along with its defensive magic with my Grenade Burst.
The rest was just a normal survivor hunt. Hunting down fleeing goblins—a very simple task. And like that, I had succeeded in annihilating every single one of them.
“Oh, you’re back, priest. That was fast.”
It seems they were also done clearing out the goblins left behind by the chief it ran. Ryan called out to me as I came out of the forest.
“Were they able to run away?”
“No, it’s fine. I cleared all of them.”
“Oof, as expected. Turning you into an enemy—those goblins sure were stupid even among monsters.”
Ryan laughed out loud as he smacked my shoulder. “But you were the one who snapped at me first, weren’t you?”—I restrained myself from letting out such a retort.
“More importantly, do we have any casualties?”
“None whatsoever. God’s miracle, I suppose.”
I felt relieved hearing that. The back gate was broken and I left a decent amount here when I went to chase the chief too. It wouldn’t have been unusual for there to be casualties in such a situation.
They really are lucky. I still have no intention of thanking the White God, though.
“But we do have many wounded. The old woman is very busy with them.”
“She is the only doctor in the village, after all. Do look after her and make sure she doesn’t fall ill as well.”
“Heheh, right, the only magic the priest can’t pull off is the holy healing magic, huh?”
Ryan and the other vigilantes were well aware of the fact that I couldn’t use healing magic. I did beat them up during training but didn’t heal any of their wounds from those training sessions. When I boldly declared that I couldn’t use healing magic, I got booed a lot.
“People have their strong and weak points, alright?”
“Being strong at killing, where does that put you as a clergyman?”
“It’s fine, God will be very happy with the enemies gone.”
And with such sarcasm, I decided to leave that scene behind.
Once the fight is over, a priest adept at killing like myself has no role to play. As there are no deceased, I don’t have to do funeral service either.
Well, I probably have to help fix the gate and fences later on, though…
“Well then, I leave the rest to you, Ryan. I have something to talk about with Reki and Ursula.”
“That Reki, I heard she killed one of those big’uns all by herself. That’s a big achievement, do make sure to praise her, she’ll be very pleased.”
“Go, Ursula and Yuri are probably worried as well.”
Thanking Ryan as he left me with genuine words of concern, I hastily made my way to the church.
Now then, I think I’d have to deal with a new problem just when we succeeded in properly intercepting the goblin army.
After all, I now know of the monstrous strength she is hiding.
A heavy silence filled the church’s narrow bedroom.
At the moment, Sariel, Reki, the core problem at hand—Ursula, and I were gathered here. I sat on a small chair with a desk and faced the three sisters who were sitting on the bed.
Ursula, who was in the middle, was right in front of me, looking towards the floor with a very grim expression as she avoided making eye contact with me.
Now, all four of us knew the situation for which we gathered here. Sariel hadn’t seen the scene itself but I briefly explained it to her beforehand. I did ask her to follow up with me appropriately but you can’t really expect much from this robot-like personality who can’t understand the subtleties of the human heart.
Either way, since I gathered them all here, I should break the ice. To be honest, I don’t know where this will lead to but… ah, whatever happens, happens.
“I swear to God that the discussion we will have here will be a secret between us. Ursula, can you talk to us about the power you’re hiding? No matter how terrifying that may be, I promise to not hurt you.”
While I did get the ball rolling, there was still pin-drop-silence in the room. There’s no way they didn’t hear me but being unable to bear the deafening silence, just when I was about to repeat myself, a response came back.
“Ah, um, priest Kuroe, Uru is… a bit… uhh… umm…”
Clearing trying to cover for Ursula, Reki tried giving off an excuse but couldn’t even quibble.
However, maybe she saw Reki trying her hardest, Ursula hardened her resolve and raised her head.
“….It’s okay, Reki. I thought a day like this would come, sooner or later.”
Ursula stopped Reki by shaking her head sideways.
And she started speaking with a very low, trembling voice .
“Kuroe, my body… is cursed.”
I reflexively glanced at my own hands and saw my gray gloves.
To me, the word “curse” is more of a reliable partner than something detestable, as it becomes the source of my strength.
However, the curse Ursula speaks of is probably not like that.
“Is that white mist the curse?”
“Does that appear out of nowhere? Regardless of your will?”
“No, it doesn’t come out normally. I can decide on whether to use it or not but… it also comes out by itself during dangerous moments…”
“Then, you used it out of your own will this time, to protect Reki.”
I honestly praised her for it and stroked her head. It makes sense now.
The reason why Ursula went outside the shelter, risking her safety. There’s no doubt Ursula is well aware of how risky and pointless going outside out of worry would be as she didn’t have combat abilities.
She went to Reki despite that because she had the “curse’s power” for emergencies.
It’s also possible that Ursula didn’t need my saving the day we met—she probably would’ve turned Mashram into a corpse of bleached bones in another 10 seconds or so.
“But you can’t completely control that power, right?”
“I’m sorry, I almost ended up killing Reki there.”
“That’s not true! Reki is completely alright so Uru did nothing wrong!”
That said, it’s still true that Reki might’ve ended up dead if it went wrong.
The moment I spotted them, Reki was surrounded by the white mist. Ursula tried to stop it by distancing herself from Reki and that was the right decision there.
However, although the result would’ve probably been the same, the process was different as I was present there. First, I picked up Reki and threw her into the church. Then, I took Ursula and isolated her in a nearby house.
As Ursula also knew that was the best course of action, we were able to move quickly and I could join the frontlines soon after.
“That’s right, Reki is fine, as she says. I’ll let this pass because of that.”
What’s important is not to explain to Ursula how dangerous her power can be. What I need first is more info.
“Ursula, can you tell me everything you know about that power of yours?”
Although she agreed, her expression looked very bitter. A clearly gloomy expression which you wouldn’t expect from her, considering her usual expressions.
“You probably faced many hardships because of the curse. And so, if there’s anything you really don’t want to talk about, it’s fine if you don’t.”
“No, it’s fine… If it’s Kuroe and Sister Yuri…”
“Is it really okay?”
“The people who see my curse either get scared or try to kill me. Kuroe didn’t try to kill me so that in itself is worth trusting.”
I couldn’t say anything back seeing Ursula state that indifferently.
To her, I am someone who can kill her anytime. And here I thought I got quite close to her. I thought they admired me, even if it’s just a bit.
How foolish I was. I am probably a subject of terror to Ursula just by having superhuman abilities. No matter how close we get on the outside, the stress she feels just by imagining what would happen if I got to know about her curse… it’s probably unimaginable.
“I’m sorry. But it’s true that I trust Kuroe and Sister Yuri.”
I probably had a grim enough expression that she had to follow up like that. I just can’t help but feel pathetic towards myself.
Ursula didn’t pay any heed to that and got into the main topic, which is knowing more details about the curse.
“My curse has been with me from birth..”
It seems she wasn’t cursed by someone or was possessed by an evil being. She knew about her curse ever since she could remember.
“However, my parents didn’t call this power a curse, they said it was a very wonderful thing.”
Perhaps it was taken as a divine protection of some sort by the Evramians.
“I don’t know the details of it. I only remember my parents really being affectionate towards me as I had this power. I don’t remember their faces or how I came to part with them.”
It looks like she was taken in by the church one day. She got to know that she was taken in as an orphan a whole year after the church took her.
Ursula’s memory being vague is not something that unnatural. If a kid ends up losing their parents in an unfortunate accident and was taken in by the orphanage, they might not grasp the whole situation immediately.
If one day, a child’s whole lifestyle changes and they become unable to meet their parents, that would be a big stress for their mind and would leave a deep mark in their memories. It wouldn’t be weird if it became a trauma.
However, from what I am hearing, Ursula doesn’t seem to have that. Before she realized, she was in the church and was leading a natural joint lifestyle with the other orphans.
“Reki was in that church as well… it seems.”
“Reki remembers a bit about the time Uru arrived.”
“I see, so that’s where you two met, huh?”
“No, I didn’t talk to Reki at all at first.”
“Uru didn’t talk to anyone and was always alone.”
“Then how did you two become friends?”
“My curse caused an incident.”
Ursula was all alone at the time as she couldn’t mix in with the other orphans. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child or not, if you’re all alone in a cohabitation like that, you’d end up drawing attention. And it seems Ursula wasn’t any exception either.
“But it wasn’t that bad for me. The monitoring there was quite strict so they couldn’t do much.”
Even then, bullying is still bullying. Being talked behind her back and ignored was probably only normal to her. It seems she also experienced her stuff getting stolen a few times.
“I also don’t really remember what they did to me back then. I didn’t care much either… However, I clearly remember the incident.”
One day, a more extreme teasing had taken place.
“I was falsely accused with stealing a ring—”
And so I heard everything about the incident.
“Sorry, give me a moment…”
I felt like crying. Or rather, I might’ve spilled a tear or two already. My eyes felt hot.
Ursula and Reki looked at me with warm glances.
“Ah, sorry… You might not want any sympathy from me… It seems I’m a bit weak towards that kind of story that I thought.”
A girl getting bullied in an orphanage—there are plenty of stories like that. I feel like I saw a drama like that and such a situation might be happening in Japan right now too.
But getting to know that a kind girl I know went through that experience… Maybe I truly felt how tragic of a past the orphans are burdened with.
“It’s okay, it’s in the past now.”
“You’re very strong to be able to say that, Ursula.”
Having faced tough experiences myself, I know how hard it is to get over them. After all, I seriously considered running away with Lily and Fiona, abandoning the fight with the Crusaders.
“That said, Reki was quite the mischievous brat, huh?”
“Nooo! That’s all in the past!!”
Like a university student reminded of their embarrassing middle school game character names, Reki felt embarrassed as she covered her face with her hands and rolled around on the bed.
It isn’t that embarrassing of a story, though, I think.
“Punching the bully all of a sudden, that’s pretty cool in my opinion.”
It seems she doesn’t like talking about those times, huh? I am very curious as to how such a reckless girl turned into such a bright and energetic one but I’ll put that aside for now.
“Sorry, let’s get back to topic. Well, what happened after that? More importantly, was everyone alive?”
“No one died. I would’ve probably been executed if anyone died.”
That’s no exaggeration either.
According to Ursula, after that incident, the priest called her “the cursed child who’s possessed by a demon” and appealed to the Church to immediately execute her.
Making dozens of children and the clergyman faint, Ursula was immediately taken by the Inquisition.
I am not quite sure what the Inquisition are but from what I’ve heard from Fiona, they’re like witch hunters or the sort. In other words, the moment they are put on to trial, they are guilty as charged. They’ll be convicted in the name of God.
“But priest Nicolay saved me.”
And there’s where my predecessor and the official priest of this village, Mr. Nicolay, comes in.
He pleaded for the dismissal of the action as Ursula was still just a child. It wouldn’t have been accepted under normal circumstances but it seems Nicolay was quite well-known in the Church and so his request was heard.
However, it wasn’t an acquittal. The conditions for letting her go was that Nicolay would take her in and religiously convert her as well as perform exorcism on the demon possessing her. That was the official stance of him taking in Ursula.
Either way, that was how Ursula was safely sent under priest Nicolay.
“Then did you part ways with Reki there?”
“No, Reki came along with me.”
“I was worried about Uru!”
“They were just getting rid of another nuisance.”
Reki being Reki, was also pushed onto priest Nicolay as she was a problem child.
However, what’s great about priest Nicolay is that he happily took Reki in, thinking that she would make a great friend for Ursula after hearing the gist of the incident. And the fact that he was right is proven right in front me as the two were messing about with each other.
“I see, and that’s how we get here.”
“My curse’s power came out a few times after that as well but… Nothing as big as that incident happened so it didn’t become much of a problem. However, priest Nicolay was very cautious of me.”
“Did priest Nicolay say anything about your power?”
“No, nothing in particular. Just that the curse will probably be lifted if I live a proper life as a Sister.”
Although solving the problem at its core would be impossible, considering Ursula can use the power at her will, she won’t need it as long as she leads a peaceful life.
“Then, as expected, you know next to nothing about your power?”
“The curse moves as I want it to but… the power is too strong and I can’t suppress it properly.”
That’s probably why the mist was starting to cover Reki after getting rid of the doltos. It was clear that she couldn’t control the power.
“Is there anything more to the mist other than turning the power of reducing the doltos to its bones?”
“I think… it’s all the same. If I make it strong, it turns them into bones… and if I make it weak, it just makes them faint, I think.”
“So it’s basically the same power.”
“Also, I can hide myself if I so wanted.”
“That’s… pretty impressive. The mist may be of the light attribute and might be able to reflect…”
“I don’t understand it well. But thanks to this, I was able to hide from that man in the storage shed.”
I see, now that I think about it, I could only spot Reki there at that time. So she had hidden herself in the corner of the storage room.
“Do you have any other powers?”
“No. I can only use this.”
“I see… Thank you for telling me.”
I patted her head again but this time around she looked much happier than before. She probably feels much more at ease now that she talked all she wanted to about the curse.
And… is it just me or is Reki kinda pouting at me?
“Ursula, can I ask you just one question?”
Now that’s a good expression. She looked bold as if she had nothing to hide anymore.
“Have you ever heard the curse’s voice?”
“Voice? I didn’t hear anything like that.”
“I see, I get it now—”
While being relieved hearing that, I also resolved myself.
“—Ursula, would you like to be able to control your curse’s power?”
“…Can I.. really do such a thing?”
“If you have the determination, you’ll definitely be able to.”
“B-but… it’s dangerous. Just by touching that mist—”
“There’s no need to worry. I will be fine.”
As for the reason behind it—
“I have faith in being able to control curses, after all,” I said, brimming with confidence.