[24] Quaking Mountains, Part 2
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Where the possibility of a rampaging dragon that could lay destruction by merely breathing existed, the inhabitants of this world seemed more logical than stupid. At the very least, they didn't wish to be sitting ducks.

"Everyone! We'll be evacuating towards Aclair for the time being!" Callous spoke above the silent crowd of surviving villagers.

Some hugged themselves and cried. Others seemed listless. Yet, it didn't matter. As Claire arched on, she supposed it was the natural thing to do.

"The adventurers will keep us safe while we move by foot with Mr. Melt at the lead," Callous said, "In the mean time, the group of 3 over there will investigate the mountains."

Eyes stared at Claire, Alicia, and Via. Claire merely smiled. Alicia looked as aloof as always. And Via had her arms crossed.

"Be prepared to move within ten minutes! You're dismissed!"

There was no longer anyone injured or unable to travel due to Alicia's healing ability. So that problem was resolved rather fast.

The only thing left was the grieving.

The town had survived two monster hoards, one more akin to an ocean, but survival did not mean no casualties. Bodies of beasts and men mingled, upon its floors and the outskirts.

Boris Melt looked at his cup of tea and placed it back upon an ice table. Then he glanced at the commotion around and his nose rang with the smell of blood.

"How can you two be so calm during all of this. . .?" He asked, voice shaking slightly.

They were aways from the breaking crowd of people. A circular table was between the group and the group of four surrounded it upon seats of ice. Via shivered slightly and Boris, though cold himself, stared at the cups filled with orange juice the girl had disappeared then came back out with.

On one side, Via had her ears folded as her expression strained. She seemed to struggle with the surrounding commotion. More so the crying of children and mothers.

On the other side, both Claire and Alicia sat perfectly fine and seemed to momentarily ignore the world entirely.

One didn't care about anyone but Claire.

The other. . .

A cup clinked as Claire placed it down. She tilted her head and stared at the man.

"Hmm? What do you mean?" She asked.

Mr. Boris Melt had long taken off his straw hat, braided dreads falling behind him. He held the thing and played with it, eyes shifting through the cold surroundings of the village of Cron.

"Well. . ."

Claire looked around as he struggled to find the right words. She blinked her azure eyes at the scenery. Though this was an isekai, of course, dark times still existed. She didn't think of the people of this world as NPCs. She never had. She thought of them as she always thought of most people.

"Though I would never wish for such a destruction to have befallen them. . ." She opened her lips before he did, understanding him. "I don't know these people and their town. I can't grief for them. I've done what I could by helping protect them, and I'm doing more through going about investigating the mountains."

She had never been one to become attached to a group of people she didn't know. Yes, she would rather no one had died. But if people did die, it wouldn't be something her mind would remunerate over unless it was someone she cared for.

"Essentially," She said, "There's no weight on my heart."

Boris Melt blankly looked at the girl as if taking her in for the first time. Nothing she said sounded wrong. In fact, it was quite logical enough to be right. But it didn't feel right. He felt the coldness in her words and he feared that, if the rest of the town heard, they might be angered.

Claire smiled at him.

"Do you think that's cold?" She asked.

"No." He shook his head and decided. "Whether you're attached or not, either way, you're still helping."

"Naturally," Claire said, "I still have my morals, after all."

Via rolled her eyes and hopped off of the chair of ice.

"God I'm freezing here. And all these noise is annoying my ears. Can we get going, now?" She said, already beginning to walk out of the village.

Claire smiled at the visage of the bunny-girl whose ears were sensitive enough to pick up more than most. Though Alicia also had similar hearing abilities, clearly one of them was more empathetic than the other. Even if she did like to put up a brave front.

She stood up.

"You're such a tsundere," She said. Then glanced to her left.

". . ."

". . .?"

Alicia paused from eating a skewer.

Claire narrowed her eyes.

". . .I thought I placed those in the fridge for later?" She asked.

The vampire gulped down the thing until none was left.

She blinked her eyes.

Then smiled.

"They are too delicious though. . ."

Claire rolled her eyes. "You know I can't get mad when you smile."

Alicia chuckled and jumped from the chair of ice. As always, for a vampire that didn't need to eat, she certainly was gluttonous.

Claire looked at the remaining seated member.

"Well, mister, seeing as you're going back to Aclair with the village. . ." She smiled at the man, "Do you have a map on you by any chance?"

"Of course. What's a carriage-handler without a map?" Boris quickly shifted a hand into his pocket and brought out a piece of paper before handing it to Claire. "It covers this region all the way into Tress. Keep it, you'll need it."

Claire took a glance at the thing then handed it back.

"No, this is good enough. I've memorized it."

Boris raised a brow. "You already. . .memorized it?"

"Of course." Claire nodded then turned. "Let's go, Alice."

"Hum hum."

". . ." Boris watched as the two wagged off towards a shaking mountain range—joining Via—with confusion.

"What an odd bunch. . ." He muttured. Then smiled as he stood, picking up his hat and placing it upon his head. "Odd, but damn near the most powerful group I've seen."

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