Necromancer Academy's Genius Summoner
[Translator - Ramen]
[Proofreader - Artethrax]
Aaron then explained the exact details of the performance assessment.
It was currently a little past noon, but the assessment lasted until midnight at the latest. Once the time limit is over, Kizen will teleport you back wherever you are in Death Land.
Aaron and his assistant teachers will build a camp here and stand by. If you put the zombie in your subspace and bring it to the camp, Aaron will evaluate it, and the group can return to Kizen. Evaluation can only be taken once per group.
If a problem occurs during the search, a request for help can be sent with the tongue pad given to the group leaders. Aaron or his assistant teachers will rush in immediately, but it'll be treated as giving up on the assessment.
"There are all kinds of undead in Death Land. In particular, there are many forms of natural zombies."
"Zombies are typically level 2 monsters, and there are strong entities here that go beyond level 4. I believe you guys know this after studying zombies, but fighting them isn't recommended."
Simon, listening to the explanation, nodded.
Zombies react sensitively to sound, and when you fight zombies, other zombies who hear the sound will flock to you. If you don't want to be surrounded, it's best to avoid them as much as possible.
"As this is a dangerous place, fighting between Kizen students is strictly prohibited. Also, there may be necromancers or other corpse seekers who have come to obtain materials besides us. Avoid getting involved with them if at all possible. They're crazier than the zombies."
Said Aaron while looking at his watch.
"The summoning performance assessment of Class A begins now!"
* * *
Death Land was a huge city, not a forest like one may expect it to be.
After Simon's eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could finally see the outlines of the buildings. The city was large enough to be compared to Langerstine.
However, it was dark, gloomy, and abandoned. It was by all definitions a ghost town.
"…Damn. The atmosphere here is insane."
Said Rick, his eyes constantly darting across the room in fear.
Camibarez held onto the hem of Simon's blazer, shuffling close behind him as he walked. She looked frightened, but smiled when Simon met her eyes.
"Are you okay, Cami?"
"We might be in a scary place, but all four of us are together, right? We can do this!"
"Yeah, let's do our best as a team."
Meanwhile, Meilyn was more enthusiastic than anyone to search the city. She strode down an alley and was running her palm across a wooden building.
"It's amazing that the shape of the buildings remained intact like this. Excluding the darkness and the zombies, it just looks like a normal city."
"Gosh, don't just go by yourself!"
Said Rick, horrified.
"Do you know no fear? Zombies are lurking everywhere!"
Meilyn looked back at Rick and smirked.
"H-Hey, what do you mean ‘scaredy cat’! I'm a necromancer of Kizen! It's my job to deal with zombies. There's no way I'd be afraid of—"
Meilyn kicked a nearby stone. Rick and Camibarez, who were tensed up, squealed and hid behind Simon's back.
"If you feel like you can't make it, just stay at the camp."
Said Simon with a wry smile.
"Meilyn and I will somehow find a good zombie and return."
In fact, there were students who were so terrified that they wouldn't enter Death Land no matter what. They were under Aaron's protection at the camp.
"N-No can do!"
Camibarez screwed her eyes shut and pressed her head to Simon's back.
"Please don't throw us away! We'll do our best!"
"Hm? N-No! I don't mean to throw you guys away…"
"I need to reach the end."
Rick tried his best to smile despite his trembling lips.
"If I give up here, It's obvious that Meilyn will bully me the rest of the semester, bringing up things like ‘teamwork’."
"It's good that you know~"
After making the thinly-veiled threat, Meilyn went on her tiptoes and peeked through a window.
"There's no one inside."
"I mean, of course there's no one there! There's no one anywhere! It's just undead!"
"By the way, Rick?"
Simon scanned the gloomy city covered in darkness, then asked,
"Did people also live here in the past?"
"…Huh? Oh. Of course."
Rick nodded and lowered his voice.
"Professor Aaron uses this place for his performance assessment every year, but the truth is, it seems many within Kizen are strongly opposed to it."
"Is it because it's dangerous?"
"There might be that, but also this place is like Kizen's embarrassing past."
Rick continued with a solemn face.
"Actually, this was a city of the old Talheren empire."
If it was Talheren, Simon knew of it, too.
An empire that rebelled against Kizen suffered the 'Rose Withdrawal' at the hands of ten great necromancers and eventually collapsed.
And in the days of Talheren, Death Land was the second most prosperous city after the capital.
"In the history books, it says that the Emperor was captured in the capital after the Rose Withdrawal, where the army of 50,000 who went to attack Kizen became undead and turned on the capital, right? But apparently, that's not quite true."
Before Rick knew it, Meilyn and Camibarez were also listening to Rick's story.
"The Emperor safely fled from the capital amidst the chaos and tried to resist against Kizen by finding a new base. The successful bid for that base was this place, Death Land. At that time, Death Land was ruled by the powerful Swordmaster of the Empire, and there were many resident troops led by him. The Emperor thought of launching a massive counterattack using this place as a base."
Death Land was an iron-walled city with a tall fortress and a large population.
In addition, the existence of a swordmaster, one who could deal with a high-ranked necromancer, made it perfect to prepare for a long fight.
"Kizen was concerned about the Empire regrouping and opposing Kizen, so they decided that overwhelming fear was necessary. As such, they dropped a terrifying, military-level dark spell on this area."
Rick shrugged and gestured around.
"And it became like this."
Camibarez covered her mouth in fright.
"After the Empire's second city was blown away by a single attack, the Emperor completely lost his will to fight and surrendered to Kizen. Or something like that."
Everyone went quiet.
Eventually, Meilyn broke this silence by putting her hand on her hip and saying,
"It couldn't be helped, right? If the Emperor had safely entered this city, he would've pushed all the people of the Empire into the fires of war because of his pride! An all-out war between Kizen and the Empire! That's just a tragedy, and millions would’ve died! It was Headquarters' decision to cut them off before the situation got out of hand, and it makes sense tactically."
"…I pity the people of this city."
Meilyn sighed in admission.
She said it ‘makes sense tactically’ but didn't say it was the correct way.
"Now! Enough with the history lesson. Let's get back to the main topic."
* * *
Translator - Ramen
Proofreader - Artethrax
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* * *
Rick clapped his hands.
"To use the zombie summoning magic, you must find a corpse first. Not all creatures in Death Land have become zombies. There are some that remain as un-decomposed corpses, and finding them is a matter of urgency!"
Meilyn stretched out her hand.
"Then, let's search the houses. Maybe we'll be able to find something."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
"We could do it this way......"
Simon suggested splitting into Team Meilyn and Team Simon to expedite the work.
"Hey! Are you really planning to send me off with an idiot like him? He's no help at all!"
"Since we still have a lot of time, why don't we act together as the four of us? It's also a very dangerous place, so…"
Simon resigned, agreeing to go as a four. As Camibarez said, there was no need to rush right now. Safety was more important than grades.
Group 7 decided to search the houses with the full group of four.
Rick knocked on the door with a very serious face.
"Nobody's home, right? Sorry for the intrusion!"
"Don't be such an ass and go in already, you idiot!"
Meilyn pushed Rick aside and strode in. Simon came in after her and looked around.
It was just an ordinary family home. This place had really maintained its appearance before the curse fell.
"There's nothing on the second floor, either!"
Said Meilyn as she came back downstairs before anyone even noticed her go up.
"Let's head to the next house!"
The four of them searched house after house diligently.
"None over here!"
They searched every house for almost two hours. Still, nothing.
"Woah, this is harder than I thought."
"Let's take a short break here."
The four of them entered a house and locked the door. While they sat in comfortable positions and quenched their thirst with water bottles from their subspaces…
"Ow! Shit! That startled me."
At the strange roar outside, Rick had fallen back in fear.
"Shut up, you dumbass!"
Warned Meilyn, placing her finger on her lips.
As the four of them kept their mouths shut and exchanged glances, they heard a sound of feet dragging along the floor outside the house.
It was very close. It came right next to the window.
Simon glanced out the window and signaled to the others. The four immediately lied face down on the floor.
When Simon raised his eyes, he saw a silhouette through the window.
A corpse with a horribly disfigured face was shambling about.
Camibarez covered her mouth, Rick just kept his eyes fixed on the floor, and Meilyn prepared to use dark magic in case of an emergency.
Simon's heart was pounding fast. The zombie turned its drooping head and looked through the window. The neck was torn open and all the bones were exposed.
There was silence for a moment, making it even more suffocating.
Soon, with the distinctive sound of feet dragging, the zombie moved away from the window.
Sighs of relief resounded from everywhere. Rick said while patting his shoulder,
"Ah, thank goodness. I swear, I won't be able to sleep for a week!"
Meilyn stood up from her seat.
"Let's move already. Zombies are starting to roam here too, and it seems like it's pointless to look around this area any further. In my opinion—"
Simon, who had been quietly listening to Meilyn, felt his eyes go wide.
Behind Meilyn, something was protruding from the window frame of the warehouse door which had clearly been pushed open.
A gray hand, pale like a corpse's, covered Meilyn's mouth and dragged her to the warehouse door.
As she struggled, the other hand of the zombie could be seen slipping through the bars.
It was Simon who reacted first.
He rushed in like lightning and pressed his elbow down into the arm holding Meilyn.
As Meilyn freed herself from the zombie's hand, Rick slammed the door shut with his whole body and blocked it.
Beyond the bars of the warehouse window, the zombie was struggling, its arms having been forced out the window. The door could be locked from the inside, but a foot stood in its path.
The door rattled and sounded like it was going to give at any second.
"Leave it to me!"
Camibarez, who calmly completed her dark spell, sent a carpet woven from blood through the bars.
She cleverly wrapped the carpet around the zombie's neck and pulled, letting Rick fully close the door and put his palm on the doorknob.
Rick reinforced the worn hinges with jet-black.
"It's fine now, Cami!"
At Rick's shout, Camibarez nodded and deactivated her blood silk. The zombie cried out again before charging at the door.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
However, the door didn't open, the hinges reinforced by the enchantment.
All four of them let out sighs of relief simultaneously.
Simon looked at Meilyn and asked,
"Ah, yeah. Thank you."
She stood up, holding Simon's hand for support. Rick scratched his head.
"Woah, I almost had a heart attack there."
"Sorry! I should've checked more carefully."
Even though they were all frightened, the fact that they reacted quickly when in an emergency made Simon think that they really were Kizen students after all.
Simon looked proudly at his comrades, then turned his head to take a look outside the window. You could hear more and more wailing from the darkness.
"It seems like the zombies heard us. Let's get out of here."
The combat power of the individual zombie wasn't anything scary, but the fact that other zombies could hear the commotion and gather was threatening. Everyone nodded and prepared to escape.
Simon took a long breath and gripped the doorknob.
"Alright, let's go."
Everyone's gaze focused on the door. The moment Simon opened the door and went outside…
His eyes fell on the zombies roaming around the outside of the door.
At that moment, Rick threw the table he was holding at the zombies and shouted,
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