41. Nothing good will come out if we get any closer
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After picking up their crossbows, Luz and Lewis continued their journey, searching for the low-grade magic herbs under the moonlight. It took them another hour to finally reach their destination deep in the woods.

Panting, Luz dropped the wolf carcass he had carried until now before leaning against a stone. 'Finally, we reached the destination,' shot through Luz's head as he watched Lewis diligently and carefully pick up the herbs.

After resting for a few minutes, Luz gently petted the luminescent petals while asking, "So this is the place you have been talking about earlier?"

But Lewis immediately slapped his hand away while swearing, "don't touch the petals. They will lose their value otherwise."

"Fine, fine," Luz sighed as he took his hand back to himself before taking a nap.

After plucking anything of value and putting them gently into his back, Lewis remarked, "Stand up. We will be going home now."

As for their way back, it went as one might expect. Luz complained endlessly about the pain he felt due to wearing the wrong footwear.

Likewise, Lewis ignored his whining, and everything went smoothly.

Until it did not, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, they heard the scream of a human in pain.

Frightened by the sound, the duo got jolted awake from their half-sleep mode.

While caressing the trigger of his crossbow gently, Luz immediately asked, concerned, "should we ignore the source of the sound, or should we take action?"

But Lewis remained silent even after the screams intensified before hesitantly giving an answer. "Let's help. After all, we don't shy away from danger, or am I wrong?"

Nodding, the two slowly approached the place, and as they got closer to the source, they soon saw swarms of insects the size of their thumps flying everywhere.

At the sight of so many insects flying so close to the source, Lewis immediately gripped his hunting buddy's arm before whispering, "Bro… I changed my mind. Let's get the fuck out of here. Nothing good will come out if we get any closer."

But his partner merely chuckled while slapping an insect to the side. "Bro, are you really going to let someone die just because you are scared of some bugs!? Common, bro."

Grinding his teeth, Lewis followed Luz as they walked under the tense atmosphere closer to the source. The screams from earlier grew weaker, and one could only hear a soft panting that got drowned under the insects' wings beating.

Nevertheless, the duo soon found the source of the noise. It was a girl around their age, resting against a tree. It was not anything unordinary if it weren't for her twitching uncontrollably while wearing general village attire that was ripped into pieces and stained by blood and dirt.

But that wasn't all. The insect surrounding the twitching girl was tenfold of the surrounding, and Luz regretted provocating his buddy. Hesitantly, he shouted while gripping his crossbow tightly, "Why did you scream for help?"

The girl weakly opened her eyes, and she coughed, "Please… save me," as tens of insects began flying out of her mouth.

'WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!?' Luz thought as he got scared shitless by what he just saw. 'Did she just spit out hundreds of flies!?' Nevertheless, Luz masked his insecurity before asking with a smile, "how can we two help/save you?"

Weakly she lifted her shirt, exposing herself to her savior. Instead of seeing her soft white erotic breasts, what one might expect, the duo saw something that scared them shitless.

"Her skin… it's missing!?" Lewis stuttered in horror as he saw the tens of millions of tiny holes all over the body. But that wasn't all. Thousands of insects continued pouring out of her body every second.

"Please… end the pain…" the girl cried with teary eyes as a mixture of blood and insect left her mouth. "Th-they a-are eating me… from inside."

Upon hearing that, Lewis immediately puked, while Luz shook his head, suppressing his desire to do so as well. "I wish I could save you…" he sighed as he watched more and more insects pouring out of her body in horror. "But… I think that's already too late."

"Please…" whispered the girl as bloody tears streamed down her cheeks as she cried while boring her fingers into her cheeks, "Please just k-kill me."

Luz, who could no longer continue watching the girl in pain, merely shifted his gaze towards Lewis. But seeing how the latter was still puking, Luz calmly whispered, "as you wish," before casting a spell.「"Blaze."」

A fire stream shot out of his palm, setting the poor girl and every insect around her ablaze.

Horrified by what was happening, Lewis puked again as he heard the bone-chilling pleads of the girl that began to move in the burning fire.

His partner Luz, on the other hand, didn't face the situation better. Tears began streaming down Luz's cheeks as his face twisted into shapes unknown to man.

The smell… the sight… the screams… It reminded Luz about the day he lost everything, about the day a dragon brought destruction to his village.

Even after the girl's scream grew quiet and it was clear that she was long dead, Luz didn't stop. He continued pouring down his wrath and mana into the fire with teary eyes, burning her into crisp.

Lewis gently placed his hand on Luz's shoulder and stuttered weakly, "It's enough… Let's leave this godforsaken place, Luz."

But Luz didn't move an inch.

"Luz…?" Lewis asked, and upon receiving no answer, he immediately realized what had happened to his hunting buddy.

"I see… you are experiencing some trauma… My condolence," Lewis sighed as Luz continued crying and burning the girl till he fell unconscious.

After catching Luz, Lewis sighed loudly, "I told you…nothing good will come out if we get any closer," before moving back home, leaving the two carcasses behind.

A few hours later, a creature crashed into the place where Luz burned the girl.

Dust swirled into the air as one heard the ominous sound of wings beating and the rattling sound of the exoskeleton.

But after the dust and ash settled, the creature got visible. A man…? No, an insect…? No. It was something in between. An abomination resembling both a human and an insect slowly arose as its blue hair moved in the wind while his four pairs of insect wings began to beat.

Quietly the half-insect-human hybrid hovered a few meters over the ground before examining the place with its thousands of kaleidoscope eyes while gently stroking its chin with its claws covered in an exoskeleton.

After asserting the damage, the creature grew enraged. Its whole body began to tremble, and even its long stinger began to move as it slowly landed next to the burn victim.

With each breath the half-insect-human hybrid took, the entire skeleton continued rattling loudly, and after calming itself down, it gently stroked the head of the burned girl.

As it did that, the creature asked in a hoarse voice, "Who did that!?" while looking for any potential clues.

But after finding no clues as to who it was, the creature roared in a fury. Blinded by its anger, the half-insect-human hybrid destroyed the girl till only dust remained.