A Banished Failure Survives in the Borderland and Becomes an S-Rank Exorcist - 29
- A Banished Failure Survives in the Borderland and Becomes an S-Rank Exorcist
- 29 - New Beginning
“Ugh… where am I…”
Gradually, I became aware of my surroundings. When I opened my eyes, I saw an unfamiliar ceiling above me. The windows were open, and the Twilight’s soft, red light illuminated the room. Looks like nothing’s changed, huh, I thought, as the room’s door opened.
“Oh? Are you awake now?”
“Sherry. Is it… over?”
Judging by how calm she seemed, I could sense that the city was probably safe. I felt a wave of relief wash over me.
“Yeah. All thanks to you, Yuria.”
“What… happened to the city?”
“…It’s in horrible shape, but the Army mobilised and has been leading the reconstruction effort. Things should be more or less back to normal in about a month.”
“Oh… Wait, how long was I out?”
“A week? Has it really been that long?” I asked.
“Yes. No matter what we did, you just wouldn’t wake up… We were really worried, you know?” she said, her fingers curling, gripping her sleeves tightly. I could see tears forming in her eyes.
I went into battle fully prepared to die. And yet, somehow, I’m still alive. And, most importantly… there are people who are happy about that. Happy that I’m alive. That alone was enough of a reward for me.
“Yuria!! You’re awake?!”
“Sophia… it feels like it’s been a while.”
“I’m so happy!! You’re awake!!” she shouted, also on the verge of tears.
“…It’s awfully noisy in here.”
“Oh, Eira. Hello,” I said, bowing my head slightly.
“How are you holding up?”
“Pretty well… but,” I said, hesitating. I was, of course, fully recovered by now, but there was one problem. “The Mark on my arm has grown,” I continued, lifting up my clothes to reveal my Duskmark had grown to cover my right shoulder, encroaching onto my chest.
“Your Twilight Syndrome’s gotten quite a bit worse.”
“Yes. It doesn’t hurt, though, so it should be fine.”
“I certainly hope so…”
After that, the three of them got me caught up on what had happened while I was asleep. After I killed the Ancient Spider, the smaller spiders lost their organisation and were easily overwhelmed. Things calmed down pretty quickly after that.
I could feel anger bubbling up inside of me, for some reason. I just couldn’t understand why… it had to be like this. So many people died. So many innocent people. I may have saved lives, yes, but there were at least as many lives that I couldn’t save. I let them die.
“Eira, this whole situation is…”
“We can talk about all of that later. The other S-Ranks have managed to get out of the barrier, and the military has mobilised. The city is safe, for now.”
“Actually, we were planning to hold a meeting as soon as you were up and well… How about it?” she asked.
“I’m fine. I think I can move. There shouldn’t be any lingering effects on my body, either.”
“You know, the doctors originally said there was no way you were gonna live. Later, they said your resilience and ability to recover were practically inhuman.”
That was enough to confirm what I’d been suspecting for a while: physically, I’m closer to being a demon than a human. But I didn’t mind. As long as I could use that strength to help people, it was fine. And even if, one day, I end up transforming into a hideous monster entirely, as long as I retain my human heart, I’ll be fine.
More importantly, there were far too many strange things about this attack. First off, there’s what Dan said to me. On top of that, there was that ancient barrier that not even S-Rank Exorcists could break through. Taking all of that together, I couldn’t help but feel that the attack was orchestrated. If, by chance, all of us had been trapped in that barrier, the city would’ve fallen. The Army’s not entirely incompetent or anything, but they would have been overwhelmed if they had to face all those monsters alone.
And if this attack was caused by a traitor… there’s no way we could let it go.
It could even be the beginning of another war.
“See you later, Yuria. I’ll go tell the others you’ve woken up,” Eira said as she left. Sophia and Sherry followed her shortly after.
And just like that, the battle over the First Barriered City came to an end.
However, I would soon learn that this ending was actually the beginning of something else entirely.
Afterwards, I had a conversation with an intelligence officer from the military about what I knew. I told him about my conversation with Dan, as well as my suspicions about all the other strange things I’d noticed. After my testimony was collected and organised with all the other information we had, there was a meeting.
“Now that we’re all here, let’s begin. We’re going to go over what we know, now that we’ve got Yuria’s testimony, as well,” Cyrus began.
We were in a different conference room this time. All the S-Ranks were here, along with some other people who looked like high-ranking members of the military.
“First off, we must offer our utmost gratitude to Yuria and Eira. We owe all of this to the two of you. Thank you,” Cyrus continued, turning to face us.
“No, um… I just did what was expected of me,” I said.
“Yes. I feel the same way,” Eira nodded.
After that, we got into the heart of the matter at hand.
“Considering Yuria’s testimony, as well as the ancient barriers that were used in the attack, I would like to raise concerns that we might have traitors in our midst – in quite well-established positions, at that. This became even more apparent when we learned that not only the S-Ranks, but also other high-ranking Exorcists in this city had been trapped within these ancient barriers during the attack.”
Traitors… among us? Is that even possible? And there were other Exorcists who were trapped, too? They must’ve intended to completely cripple our ability to respond… No wonder it took so long for us to mobilise, I thought.
“Hey, Cyrus… You being serious?”
“I’m sure you’ve come to the same conclusion, Roy. This attack was far too well-coordinated. Trapping our strongest forces and attacking the city in the meanwhile is far too rational a plan for monsters to come up with alone. And most importantly, the barrier around the city can only be taken down from within. That is the most obvious proof.
“Taking into account what Yuria told us, it’s obvious that there are traitors to humanity out there. When we also consider the circumstances of the attack, as I mentioned just now, those traitors are likely among us Exorcists, and perhaps even in the military. It would be hell to track them down if just anyone could be a traitor, but considering the fact that a traitor took down the barrier, we can narrow them down to three groups: the S-Ranks, the Army’s upper ranks, and, perhaps, even the royal family.”
“Speaking of the royal family, I asked them about the city’s barrier. They informed me that it had been suddenly taken down, with no suspicious activity or persons detected. We have been completely outsmarted… That’s all we know. It’s pathetic,” he said, through gritted teeth.
These traitors… They must be punished. That seemed to be on everyone’s minds, their eyes sharp after hearing Cyrus’ words. However, despite knowing that we had traitors, we could not let the suspicion divide us. We still had to fight together.
I slowly began to understand just how difficult something like that was.
“So, what now? Has intelligence begun investigating all of this?” Claudia asked.
“Yes, they have already started operations. As for us, we will continue defending the various cities as usual while dramatically tightening our defences around the First Barriered City. This city, after all, maintains all the barriers.
“On top of that… we’re going to have to prepare for war. We’ve all become somewhat spoiled by the peace we’ve enjoyed. We have to eliminate that complacency and strengthen our forces. Also, I’d like you all to keep your eyes peeled for potential traitors. If you find one, try to capture them alive. However, in case of an emergency, do not hesitate to kill them.”
This was something none of us in the room had ever experienced before. It was, perhaps, the single largest event in human history since the war 150 years ago. We had been forcibly dragged back into reality, forced to remember that this world belonged to the Twilight and the demons.
After all those long years of peace and complacency, we had suffered a horrific attack, caught completely off-guard. We had been convinced that no humans would ever betray us. But that was clearly wrong. It was because of humans like Dan that so many people had died.
We could no longer afford to sit idly by.
“Now, then. It’s time for us to go on the counter-offensive. We will find the traitors, without fail. I swear it on my life. And we will end the Twilight and bring light back to this world. These past 150 years, we have simply sat still as the world moved forwards around us. That era is now over. We must move forwards,” Cyrus proclaimed, his voice full of righteous anger.
We all felt the impact of his words. We were all furious.
I was, too, of course.
However, we failed to realise something: this attack was merely a prologue. It was just the beginning of a true, brutal battle between humans and demons.
And just like that, the clock began counting down to humanity’s darkest days.
Remaining Special Rank Exorcists: 13