Just as I was about to leave the room, a mysterious scream echoed through the air.
“…What the heck?”
I unintentionally muttered to myself.
The situation didn’t make sense, with corpses and distant screams.
Although I had just made up my mind to act, I felt discouraged.
But at the same time, I couldn’t sit still and wait for the situation to improve. I should check the situation outside.
In situations like this, a protagonist in a manga or game would immediately rush to the source of the scream. However, this was apparently reality.
It would be foolish to act recklessly without thinking about the consequences. At least in my opinion, my own life was more important than someone else’s scream.
Furthermore, it was unclear if it was even a human scream.
So my conclusion here was that there was no urgent need to hurry. I should carefully observe the situation while ensuring my own safety.
I approached the door leading outside. It was an inward-opening, rough-handled sliding door with a wooden plank standing against the nearby wall. It looked like it didn’t have a lock.
The door on the right had a French bolt lock and the handle on the left was my only option. Slowly and cautiously, I put my hand on the handle.
The door opened without difficulty, making a grating sound.
Instead of fully opening the door, I peeked inside through the crack of about 20cm.
There was a chance that it might lead to another room in the building, but what I saw was only stone paving and a forest of dense trees some distance away.
It seemed to be a door leading outside.
However, I couldn’t get much information with just a 20cm opening. So I closed the door and tried the one on the right after removing the French bolt, but there was no significant difference in the view.
The distance from the building to the trees was about 20m. There was a medium-sized courtyard surrounded by forests.
Anyway, I couldn’t find anything particularly ominous, so I slowly opened both doors.
What I saw in front of me was probably a stone-paved approach. There were three pairs of lantern-like objects on either side of the road, but no fire was burning. A gap in the trees was visible in the distance, and the road seemed to slope downward from there.
Well, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly dangerous directly in front of me.
There was nothing else that I could confirm from inside the building. Therefore, I closed the door and locked it with the French bolt. This building was currently my only safe haven, and in the future, I might need to return here to protect myself from something. So, just in case.
Now, should I go outside?
I opened the left door only minimally and slid out of it as quietly as possible. Then I closed the door, trying not to make any noise, and quickly moved towards the shadow of the lantern.
Well, it was a lantern only in name as it was shaped differently from the ones I knew. There was a symbol of some sort carved on the surface, but its meaning was unknown to me.
What I wanted to check first was the starry sky.
There was a beautiful full moon…but,
(…Something’s wrong, right?)
The pattern on the moon’s surface and the position of the stars were completely different from what I remembered.
I didn’t know what was going on anymore.
“So, it’s neither in Japan nor Earth?”
“That appears to be the case.”
“Damn it… How did I end up like this?”
(Is this one of those fictional parallel worlds?)
“That depends on the definition.”
“It’s more likely that it’s a world in the same universe where Earth’s civilizations reside.”
(I guess so.)
“But it can also be considered a parallel world since it’s not our living sphere or domain of control.”
(And there’s also a very low possibility that it’s a completely different universe, right?)
“Yes, that’s correct.”
I sigh and lower my gaze. In any case, just thinking about it won’t give me an answer. I need to act now. With vigilance, I quickly moved from shadow to shadow behind the lanterns.
As I approached the lantern two poles ahead, my field of vision opens up to reveal a path that was not visible from the door earlier, leading down to a stone staircase, just as I had imagined. About 100 meters down the stairs, the trees became sparser and I can see what appears to be rooftops of houses here and there in what seems to be a small village. Through the trees, I can see lights, but there is also black smoke rising here and there. From this distance, it’s hard to tell, but could there be a fire? Given the buildings, the village, and the corpse earlier, it seems that there are intelligent beings in this world, which is a definite conclusion.
Emotionally, I want to go straight to the village, but I don’t know if the people there will be friendly towards me, a foreign outsider. By the way, the place where I am now is on a hill higher than the village, but I cannot see anything farther away than the village because of the complex ridgelines that obstruct the view.
I turn back to the lantern behind me. There’s a building where I was earlier, and trees surround this courtyard. The back of the building seems to lead to a deep forest, and beyond that, far in the distance, I can see a tall, huge mountain with no trees. In other words, this is a mountain village in a certain mountainous area. There are no other noticeable buildings or constructions.
There are two choices. Should I investigate the back of the building or head to the village? But thinking about it, investigating the back of the building is too dark and scary, so let’s head to the village, hoping that the inhabitants of this world are friendly.
Looking down at the stone staircase.
The bloodstain leading to that corpse seems to continue from further down.
I wonder where and by what she was attacked.
There’s nothing to hide behind in the direction I’m heading.
If I want to hide, I’ll have to jump into the forest that grows on either side… but there’s one problem.
I’m barefoot right now.
Thanks to the fact that the pavement has turned into a stone staircase since going outside, I can walk, but I can’t walk barefoot in the forest.
It’s impossible for me, a modern city boy raised in a greenhouse.
In other words, I have no choice but to hurry down as quickly as possible, hoping that nothing will happen.
Sigh… I’ve already made two wishful observations in this short time, and I’m worried about what’s to come.
When I cautiously advance to the middle of the staircase, I find something unpleasant.
It’s lying at the edge of the stairs.
It’s the (provisional) corpse of a girl.
Although I say provisional, her stomach is torn open as if she were devoured by a wild animal, her intestines are scattered around her, and a large pool of blood has formed, so it’s safe to say she’s not alive.
Oh, not again… I think to myself, but I hurry over and touch the (provisional) corpse of the girl.
I don’t have time to be careful this time.
Well, I knew that.
What I wanted to confirm was her body temperature.
Worst of all, it’s warm.
Considering the scream I heard earlier, the warm body, and the gruesome wounds… if the girl screaming was the victim, it means she was attacked by something unknown and died just a few minutes ago.
That means there’s a possibility that something is lurking nearby.
I quickly look around, but the dim forest stretches out to the left and right of the stairs, and I can’t see very far away.
I should hurry and get away from here.
I quickly inspect the corpse and hurry down the stairs.
As I do, the tall trees decrease, and my field of vision gradually opens up.
I can see small houses scattered around.
When I looked down on the village from above, it was strange that it was hard to see any open space around the supposed houses, but now I understand.
Short trees, although about 2.5 meters tall, are neatly planted at equal intervals.
They’re probably fruit trees.
There are fist-sized peach-like fruits growing on the trees.
The fruit is green and doesn’t look ripe.
The house is built near the edge of the orchard, as if nestled up against it.
It seems that houses are built in certain-sized plots.
When I reach the bottom of the stairs, the pavement disappears and turns into a compacted dirt road.
I came here by retracing the bloodstain leading to the first corpse, but it’s impossible to identify the bloodstain on the dirt ground.
I wonder where that corpse was attacked…
Anyway, I wonder if this road leads to the center of the village.
I sigh at the thought of being barefoot.
“Physical scan completed,” says Mia.