54. The Cause of the Miasma
It took about three days of swaying inside a carriage before we finally reached the forest that Philip spoke of.
I alighted from the carriage and glanced at the forest from the top of a small hill.
“…Wow, it’s certainly full of miasma. Good job putting up with it until today.”
Just looking at it from here, I could see the swirling black miasma.
Thick miasma polluted the air and water, and in some cases, made them poisonous.
Spirits were more sensitive to the air and water than humans.
Even so, to live in such a place… their suffering was apparent.
“Do you have any plans for abandoning this forest and moving to another place?”
Did Philip perhaps anticipate that question?
“Of course, I’ve thought about that. In fact, this isn’t the first this has happened. But, finding a place that won’t be discovered by humans is difficult. On top of that, we also have to create barriers and build houses… Moving isn’t an easy feat, and there’s a risk that spirits might die while moving.”
…It wasn’t the same as a family deciding to move.
I didn’t know how many spirits were there, but there was no doubt the number was large.
They couldn’t easily let go of their home.
“If possible, I don’t want to forsake this place. However, should I have failed to find the saint, I was prepared to accept the risks and move. I’m really glad I found Eliane.”
“I’m also glad I met you before that could happen.”
More importantly, if I didn’t come to the forest and investigate the miasma, I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the cause.
We boarded the carriage again and went closer to the forest.
“Let’s proceed as we are. Rest assured, I shall envelop this carriage in a barrier. You won’t be corrupted by the miasma as long as you remain by my side.”
Towards what I said, they nodded with serious faces.
The carriage finally entered the forest.
“Even so, it sure is getting hotter.”
Inside the carriage.
Nigel shook the collar of his jacket.
There were four seasons in that area.
Nigel’s remark was no surprise—we were entering the ‘summer’ area.
Us being inside a carriage helped, but the strong sunlight deprived me of my physical strength.
“That’s right. Once we return to Lynchgiham, I shall prepare cold food.”
“Ooh, that sounds nice. I’m looking forward to it.”
I couldn’t help but hear the excitement in Nigel’s voice.
Philip raised his right knee and closed his eyes. He didn’t seem to be the talkative type.
“The miasma is gradually thickening as we delve deeper into the forest—Philip, are we heading in the right direction?”
When I asked, Philip opened his eyes.
“As expected of the saint. As of now, we’re heading towards the lake behind the forest.”
“Is something there?”
Philip nodded and continued.
“I think the lake there is the source of the miasma. I’ve tried to purify the lake many times, but our magic was simply lacking… but, if it’s the saint…”
We wouldn’t know unless we check it.
After proceeding for a while, we eventually arrived in front of a certain lake.
“It’s a pretty big lake, isn’t it?”
“But the water is very muddy.”
“So it seems.”
Beside Nigel, I examined the lake—
—It was a big lake.
However, the water was a turbid gray, and there were bubbles in some places.
As the bubbles popped, miasma was released—the air was polluted.
“Philip’s guess seems to be on mark.”
I didn’t know the cause, but the lake was indeed producing miasma.
The miasma had dyed the entire forest, tormenting Philip and the others.
“As I thought…”
Philip’s expression distorted.
“Even while we stand here, it’s generating more and more miasma.”
“Hmm. It’s even worse than when I left the forest. While I was absent, my people were suffering… everything is my fault.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. Philip is doing his best.”
Towards Philip, who bit his lips, I said so.
Although he may be a kind-hearted spirit, he was being too hard on himself.
As the Spirit King, that may be a good trait, but if he were to continue shouldering everything by himself, someday, it’d lead to his own ruin.
I was really lucky to meet Philip before that could happen.
“Eliane, what do you think?”
Philip was on his last straw—he gazed at me with anxiety.
“Yes, it may be a foul miasma, but I think I can purify it just fine.”
The light of hope shone in Philip’s eyes.
“I’m going to start. However, I don’t know how long it will take if I were to cast the purification spell from here…”
It might be necessary for me to pray all day long.
It mustn’t—the other spirits were suffering.
I had no choice.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
“Eliane? What are you going to do?”
Nigel widened his eyes.
I took off my shoes and lifted the hem of my skirt.
Perhaps because I rarely exposed my skin in front of men, I felt like I had just done something I wasn’t supposed to.
I dipped my foot into the lake.
When I was immersed in the lake, the gray, muddy, lake began to shine an emerald green.
***T/N: Make way–! Make way–! The WH Saint Water Purifier is here (the WH stands for ‘Wide Heal’)–!
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