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[N POV]
As old as he might be, Orsted was always filled with vengeance in his life. Never once did he feel the need to converse more than necessary, which is why he cherished the normal conversation Claude had with his friends at the point of the story.
However, the time for that soon ends.
As Claude previously stated, it is his desire to travel the world.
Isolte felt sad at the notion, but she let him go. As one would expect, Isolte felt that something was missing when Claude left. But, knowing nothing of the feeling, She just let it go and continued her training with Eris and Nina.
Time passed, as Claude spent his time travelling. He met a variety of people, races, and even the secrets of a few kingdoms.
On the way, he was called the chef.
Not because he cooks well and tasty food.
It’s because his act of giving the food to the slum citizens, his act of kindness, was something new in the place. Reigning him under a new name as the Saint of Food. Of course, this title is a mockery bestowed upon him by others, because he demonstrated such kindness.
All is well until the time he comes back to the holy land.
There stood a barren field, leaving nothing intact.
Corpses appeared everywhere.
The closer he was towards the holy ground, the stench of corpses was getting heavier.
He can see the mission staff and people he knows among those corpses.
They were all corpses that had already decayed.
A rotten corpse
“What’s happening here?” is the only word Claude can say.
Based on the rotten stench, these corpses should already be left with bones. But, by the surrounding aura left within the corpses, he can tell that it’s a zombie.
How can they become zombies?
Is this real?
Filled with confusion, Claude continues to tread the path.
“There’s no way that something like this can stay unnoticed… what’s happening? “
The entrance of the Holy Land was destroyed; the wood was already rotten and the gate was broken.
“It’s desolate…”
At the entrance, there’s someone standing there.
Claude knows this person very well.
“Yah… I never expected you’d come back this late. “
“Jino.. what are you doing here?”
Jino’s body is bandaged, but his left arm isn’t there anymore.
Then, Jino told Claude what had happened to the Holy Land of Sword in the span of 3 years since he left.
“A labyrinth suddenly appeared…” Jino said, while gasping for breath as Claude tended to his wound. “At first, Sword God thinks it’s normal and tells a Sword saint to check out the labyrinth.”
They didn’t come back, and then the Sword King and Emperor followed after.
They come back, but as zombies.
The news came late, and more started to get infected. To make the infection not spread, they stopped the information from being spread, trying their best to stop all the zombies in place.
Soon, even the Sword God was infected.
He didn’t want to be one of the zombies, so he killed himself.
“You might be questioning, how can the outbreak be stopped, right?” Jino stopped. Claude nodded at the question.
“number 2, the Dragon God suddenly comes and decimates everything in this place…” Claude’s eyes shook, then he looked towards the graveyard.
“Everyone died, huh…” Claude said.
“Yeah.”
“You too?” Claude tightens the bandage. He can see there’s no blood left in the bandage.
“My blood stopped flowing…” I don’t know the reason, but I survived. Isolte had a message for you…” Jino said, looking forlorn.
The arm Claude bandaged fell off, showing the rotten meat hidden behind Jino’s clothes.
Claude held back his tears and asked for the last words.
“I’m sorry, I failed to fulfill our promise… She said” Jino did his best to say so, tears trickling from his eyes. As he said so, his body started to disintegrate bit by bit.
Jino Britts does his best to stay alive all this time, as a sentient zombie. He’s the last sword practitioner in the Holy Land of Swords. Knowing that, Orsted let him stay alive by using the magic to prolong his life.
even if the body can withstand them. Jino’s soul was filled with grief, so much so that his soul self-destructed.
He is filled with regret.
All the regret is eating away at his body.
The event might seem long, but the zombie infection was something that only happened in 6 months. All it took was 6 months for the experts in swords to be decimated.
One might laugh at it, but the people that know what lies in the labyrinth will feel dread.
Even now, the Kingdoms still keep the matter secret. After 2 years since the Sword Expert was decimated, there’s still no one that can deal with the labyrinth.
Orsted had already entered the labyrinth, but he never came out.
The Water God and the North God had heard the stories and entered the labyrinth. But, they never come out.
Despaired, the kingdoms surrounding the Holy Land of Swords fortified themselves in the dark and locked the area.
Jino stood there as the gate keeper, to keep anyone from passing through the gate, whether it be the zombies or humans.
which is one of the reasons why his body was worn and torn.
2 months. That’s all it took for Jino’s body to completely disintegrate.
Within that span of time, Claude and Jino defeated all types of undead monsters together. He learned all he could to protect the gate from Jino until the end.
“We spent two months together, huh? It sure is great to spend my last day with my best friend…” Jino said weakly.
“The spell stopped working…” Claude said, while looking at Jino.
“Yes… for something that can defeat the number 2, it must be something dangerous… The Flying Castle needs to respond to this. “
“Never thought that the Dragon God would get his hand tied, and stop the spell… This must be a catastrophe never before seen,” Claude said, warily looking at the entrance of the labyrinth.
“My journey might end here, but I know that you will survive and keep defending the entrance.” Take care my friend, I hope we don’t meet soon. ” Jino said his goodbye as his body disintegrated in the wind.
Claude just stared at the ashes and gripped his sword harder.
Another year passed, and Claude wasn’t the only one defending the gate at this time. The surrounding kingdoms within the central continent help him to protect the other places.
Even so, an outbreak occurred.
Within the labyrinth, hordes of undead come, devouring everything in their path.
In his last breath, Claude remembered his promise to Isolte.
“When you come back, I expect to get my answer,” Isolte said, giving Claude a tight hug.
“I can already answer you now, though.” Claude patted her back.
“Nope, I don’t see the feelings in your eyes.” This meeting won’t be our last. I can promise you that at least…” Isolte breaks the hug and bumps her fist on his shoulder.
“Well, I will keep the promise. I hope I can answer you when the time comes. “
“Sure mate, always remember the girl that loves you here, okay?” Isolte said, shyly.
“I know, see you later, Isolte!” Claude waves.
“See you later, Claude!”
Even at the end of his life, Claude never understood his feelings. Even so, he knew this was not love.
So, in his last breath,
He regretted never thinking about the feelings he had for Isolte.
“I might find my answer when I meet you again in the after life.”
That’s what Claude said in his last breath, as the Undead devoured his body.
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Mushoku Tensei FF Chapter 67: Memories [6]

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