Just as planned, the group reached the dungeon-town of Mosted (mor-sted) by nightfall. The light of the silver moon guided the tired dungeon raiders. Although none had died, or suffered any major wounds as Alicia healed those that did, it was clear to see that almost everyone was beyond exhausted.
"So this is it. . .? I never knew they built towns inside of dungeons. It looks like a place I would find anywhere," Vander spoke with awe as they walked closer, his figure blurring in and out of the physical world.
Claire watched him for a moment, wondering if the boy even noticed the state he was in, decided it was an issue not for her, then turned to the site before them.
"It does," She nodded, "Even more surprising then a city etched out of a mountain."
"I like the city more," Alicia said, "It smelled like meat. This place only has the scent of the sea."
". . .do you choose favorites from smell?"
It was a rectangular stretch of land that laid at the edge of a river; though the edge of said river was filled with pale, white, sand. The place held squat buildings made of wood, none taller than two stories, but most making up for their short stature with increased width. In essence, it was a rectangular town, with rectangular buildings, encased within a rectangular mote of short, wooden, walls that faced them.
Behind the site was a crystal clear river gleaming with moonlight and an iron tower floating atop—just barely touching the water.
"Finally," Via goodwill was the first to hurry forward, her person bloody as she descended a small hill of rock that faced the town. "God I need a bath."
"I will be asking around for any sightings of Aither and the nearest Dungeon Portal. Everyone else should look to book an inn, maintain their gear, or replenish their supplies," Albert Stref spoke, following after her and signaling Vander with him. "We will meet back at the center of Mosted tomorrow afternoon at 12pm on the dot."
Claire's feet met sand, abandoning the rocky land behind them, and her eyes took in the litter of high torches that illuminated the small town. There was a stone boulder at the 'gate' seared with the words, 'Welcome to Mosted—Paradise in Hell. Flickering flame in heart. Pass through, venture, and seek your blazing legacy.'
"What poet wrote that?" Claire arched a brow, passing through the wooden walls with Alicia at her side.
"The one and only Erza Lamillion, founder of Mosted," A certain knight in armor spoke. "She has a certain way with words. . .I hear."
"Oh, I see," Claire nodded.
"You don't seem surprised to hear that name?" He turned his head to her.
"Am I supposed to be?"
"Naturally, she's the princess of Tress and the current holder of the Fire Seed. Those who don't know of Mosted are always surprised at its origins."
Claire stopped her steps.
"You wouldn't happen to know who and where the holder of the Space Seed is too, would you?"
"Bam Veronica? Nope. Not a clue. That girl is always hopping around. Maybe she's sighted once or twice a year somewhere, maybe not." Allen stopped, shrugged, then continued walking. "Anyway, I have a thing or two to attend to, see you two tomorrow."
Claire nodded his figure along and walked on. The streets were sparse and, really, she had nowhere that needed going to. So, she spoke as she walked, enjoying the sight of a town upon a beach in the dead of night.
"Alice, I know where we will head after this adventure." She said.
"Hmm? Tress?" The vampire tilted her head, "Maybe?"
"Bingo, you're right. Wouldn't it be nice to meet a princess~? In addition, being another seed holder, she might know where Bam is."
Claire liked this world, but she also liked earth. She still wanted to know if there was a way to hop right on back, or maybe even travel between both worlds. Would that not be neat? As far as she knew, the mere idea of someone who controlled space seemed a likely fit for this.
In addition, that non-teacher ghost of hers had also mentioned a Space Seed holder, a person named 'Fren', as the one who designed the rooms within the Crystal Tower. With how modern they were, it had to be someone from earth or a person who had visited it.
As her thoughts rang, she suddenly felt a tug at her clothing.
"Look forward," Alice spoke.
Before them was a group that consisted of one girl and two men. The girl stood at the middle, hair of velvet, and an attire reminiscent of a ranger as she wielded a sword parallel to her leg. At her hip was a crimson belt. To her sides, the men wore similar attires of black and wielded the gleam of blades.
"Yo, name's Velsi, Vanisher Velsi they call me. Hand over all your Demonic Cores, would you?" She raised her sword and twirled it in her hand.
Claire blinked, then frowned. She supposed seeing a town within a dungeon had given her a false sense of security. The streets were currently deserted, and sand shifted below her feet. A single torch illuminated the space and she sighed.
"Get out of my way," She said. "This is far too cliche for my taste. And a waste of my time. Please, get out of our way and save my memory space."
The woman looked shocked for a moment, then she scoffed with a skewed smile.
"Oh, you're funny," She said, "Daniel, please bring her here, carefully."
The man at the left blurred as he took a step forward, leaving only a dent in the sand.
'Fast,' Claire thought, 'But in no way fast enough.'
A hand blurred even faster than he and Claire felt the rush of air hit her face. Before her, the man's arm was grasped within the grip of Alicia's small hand.
A crunch signaled breaking bone.
The man screamed.
"Do. Not. Touch. Claire."
Alicia's voice fell and her eyes glowed crimson. The gem upon her mask flashed and, immediately after, the group shuddered.
Claire watched as the two men stood rooted. One had already forgotten about his broken arm, simply standing with widened eyes and clanking teeth. The other was in much the same boat.
The woman showed the same reaction for only a few moments before she shook her head, body stumbling as if just escaping out of an hazy dream.
"What the hell was that!?" She glared at the girls.
"Your deaths." Alice said, stepping back and releasing her grip, a fang showing from the visible left-half of her face.
Velsi gnashed her teeth.
"I. . .I can see you girls are strong. How about this, I walk on along, okay?" She moved to do just as she said.
"No." Claire answered back.
Before the woman could even take a step forward, her feet found themselves frozen in ice.
"What the—when did yo—!!"
The figure of the woman blurred as a a spear of ice shot through where her leg had been and struck sand, sending dirt into the air.
She looked at the spot the girl disappeared from—figured either a skill or magic had been utilized—then glanced at the two man who stood paralyzed. Her white hair flapped back to black as she relinquished her mana.
". . .what death did you show them?" She asked, curious.
"A slow chill."
"So, in their minds, they froze to death?"
"Yes, I showed them what would happen if they touched you. Their minds were weaker than I thought, but they should be back to normal, soon."
". . ."
'This partner of mine. . .really, she wouldn't happen to be a Yandere, would she?' Claire thought. Along with the notion that the adventurers must have been beyond mentally weak to be defeated with only that much.
"Let's acquire some food, then sleep well. We can decide on anything after resting. . .I really want a hot bath too," She said, already putting the occurrence into the back of her mind. To her, a bath was worth much more thought.
Upon a two-story building, a girl of velvet hair appeared, breath hard as she watched the Claire and Alicia walk forward down below.
'I almost died just then. . .' The girl thought, staring at their figures. Her hand gripped her sword tighter as the half-cape attached to her back fluttered in the dead of the night.
At that moment, a face covered in a half-mask glanced back directly at her.
". . ." A jolt shot through the girl's body.
"Wha-what a monster. . ." Velsi stumbled, purple eyes incredulous, and hurriedly disappeared once more.
"Yup, time for a new job. Robbing isn't for me."
Only her voice lingered.
The author wondered if she would meet Baron Cliff. Or maybe that's a foreshadow.