— The next morning, we joined Remy at our meeting place in town.
“I think we’re all ready to enter the forest.”
“…no, umm, are you sure about that?”
“What do you mean?”
Remy was looking over us, seemingly unsure if we had prepared correctly. I looked down at my clothes. I was wearing a pair of long pants and a shirt. Both of these were engraved with Alice’s inscription magic. They were typical casual clothing.
“…is there anything wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“No, you’re dressed fine, Leon-sama. But those two are clearly dressed inappropriately….”
I turned to look at the two she was talking about.
Alice is wearing an off-shoulder top and a tiered mini skirt. The absolute territory between her knee socks and skirt are amazing. This really is my favourite outfit.
Sophia was wearing a white and black gothic dress. Her skirt is long but opens up just above her knees. Her thigh highs would occasionally be revealed when her skirt shifted. This outfit is also really cute.
“I don’t see anything wrong. They’re just cute.”
“No, no, no, they certainly are cute, but isn’t that the problem!? Are they planning on entering the forest dressed like that? The insects will eat them alive and that clothing will do little to protect them!”
“Ah, that’s what you mean. Don’t worry, our clothes are specially made.”
Obviously, this is due to Alice’s inscription magic. For these, she removed the usual lasers and in its place, these clothes have stronger defensive properties.
By the way, I never really thought about it, but it seems there can only be a limited number of inscriptions that one person can have active at any given item.
Inscription magic constantly pulls out the mana that a person unconsciously creates by absorbing the magical power in the air. So, it entirely depends on how much mana the inscriptions require, but in general, a single person can have three active at once.
If a person were to have too many active at once, this would lead to a mana deficiency, which would temporarily leave them in a weakened state similar to Elyse.
Alice and I have the ability to consciously produce mana, so we may be able to maintain more inscriptions at once.
Anyway, I explained to Remy that they were fine as their clothing was engraved with inscription magic.
“If you say it’s fine, I won’t say anything else…but if it gets too hard, we can turn back for today, okay?”
“Oh, that’s fine. Then, we should get going.”
“All right, I’ll have to cut my way through some areas of the forest, please, stay right behind me. If it’s getting hard to keep up, tell me and I can slow down.”
Near the edge of the forest, Remy made her way through a row of thick bushes. Following her words, I followed right behind her.
However…Sophia was right next to me, cutting her way through the bushes using her dagger. Does she want to walk by my side that badly?
A young girl wearing a gothic dress cutting her way through a forest with a dagger…it’s quite a surreal scene.
While thinking about this, I turned to look to my other side and saw Alice walking next to me. Although…wasn’t doing anything as she casually walked through the bushes.
I was wondering how she could be walking so casually when I noticed the bushes in front of her seemed to be moving away from her.
…is she using spirit magic? Unfair. I’m going to do that too.
But how…. Could I use the wind to push back the branches? No, the ivy wrapped around the branches would still be in my way. I could use wind to push back most of the branches and cut down any of the ivies that remain….
Ah, it’s working!
— We continued on our way through the bushes before Remy suddenly stopped in front of us. She looked astonished when she turned toward us.
“…all of you are so strange. Everything you do seems to be completely out of the ordinary.”
“Yeah, I can understand your feelings. Alice and Sophia are extraordinary.”
“…umm, that’s not…. I guess so.”
She looked at me before looking away. Is she trying to say I’m as strange as them?
Well, I am getting better with spirit magic, but…when I compare myself to these two, I find it hard to feel that special.
I wonder if Remy was able to tell how I felt…. She let out a sigh and turned around before walking forward once more.
“In any case, it’s good that we’ll be able to move forward faster than I expected. We won’t be far behind Melissa and she left a full day earlier than us.”
“Faster than you thought…? Aren’t we progressing rather slowly?”
“Normally, it would be a lot more difficult moving forward, right? Usually, the bushes don’t move out of your way.”
“I’m glad we’re making good time, but I was expecting us to be able to cover more ground…. Is there any chance we can move a little faster?”
“No, I’m worried about everyone’s physical fitness and if we start rushing through the forest, there’s a good chance we could run into a Garu Bear. If possible, I want to avoid surprising a Garu Bear and having to fight it.”
A Garu Bear is similar to an ordinary bear but it has absorbed the magical power in the air. It behaves like any ordinary bear. That is to say, if you surprise one, it will likely attack you.
If we wanted to avoid Garu Bears, we could just talk loudly or sing while walking through the forest, but that would also scare off any Lyk Skull Bears.
I thought Remy was just being overly cautious, but this was the actual reason we were moving so slowly.
“That’s right…. The forest is vast and there are many creatures within it. Even if I can detect the creatures around us, it’s only once every few seconds with a radius of thirty metres.”
“Hmm, then could we tell if there’s a Garu Bear near us?”
“Umm…I can tell if the creature is large but I can’t tell the difference between a Garu Bear and a Lyk Skull Bear. No matter what, we’ll need to see the creature to know for sure.”
“Well, this would at least allow us to increase our pace, right?”
“Remy-chan, would it be okay if we sped up a bit?”
“Umm…what do you mean?”
Remy curiously tilted her head at Alice’s question.
“Alice has the ability of heightened senses.”
“ — Ability!? Aren’t those considered to be gifts from God!? Amazing, this is the first time I’ve ever met someone with one!”
Alice showed a bitter smile in response to Remy’s respectful gaze. Sophia also has an ability but Alice has two.
“I’ll be able to tell you if a Garu Bear is within thirty metres.”
“Thirty metres…. Amazing. Can you use it while walking too?”
“I feel some fatigue, but it should be fine if it’s only thirty metres.”
“By the way, is there a Garu Bear near us now?”
“Not right now. There was one a while ago that you avoided.”
“Wow…. Amazing, you really can tell.”
“Fufu~, were you doubting me?”
“Eh? No, umm…I’m sorry.”
Alice giggled when Remy became apologetic.
“Sorry about that, I was joking…. You’re a guide, Remy-chan, you can’t rely on an ability you’ve never heard about, but as you can see, my ability is real so we can increase our pace.”
“All right then. Let’s not waste any more time.”
Like this, we increased our pace and headed for the heart of the forest.
We continued walking for a few hours.
When the sun was just above the horizon, Remy stopped us in a small clearing.
“The sun will be setting soon. We should set up camp here and get dinner ready. We’ll also need to gather firewood.”
“All right, I’ll get the sleeping area ready.”
Alice was the first to offer to help. Remy looked surprised that Alice was so willing to help.
“I’m glad you want to help…but can you do it yourself?”
“Yep, don’t worry about me.”
“Okay then. Alice can take care of the tent, after that….”
“I’ll get dinner ready!”
Sophia’s a young girl dressed in a gothic dress. She probably doesn’t seem the type to be able to cook. Remy once again looked confused.
But there’s no need to worry about her. Sophia is a great cook.
“Is that so. Then…I can go gather firewood.”
“I can come with you.”
“Eh, that’s fine…but are you sure?”
“Don’t worry. As a man, I should be the one gathering firewood. Besides, it would be dangerous if you were to encounter a Garu Bear on your own.”
“Well, then…umm, please do.”
Remy and I left the camp to find firewood.
“…what kind of person makes an earl gather firewood?”
While we were picking up firewood, Remy muttered this to herself.
“I’m the one that asked you to be our guide. I really don’t mind.”
“Okay. Umm…I was expecting to have to do everything myself, so I was surprised when everyone volunteered.”
“After all, we’re all a bit strange.”
If we were ordinary nobles, there’s no way we’d offer to help…. Well, ordinary nobles would never come into the forest in the first place.
“But, is it really okay to have them make dinner and set up the tent on their own?”
“It should be fine. Sophia’s a great cook and Alice is….”
Does she know how to set up a tent? Well, before we met, she said she was travelling. There’s a strong chance she would’ve needed a tent at some point.
Wait…Alice never mentioned a tent. She said something about preparing the ‘sleeping area.’
I’m worried about that subtle difference. Is it all just in my head…?
“Leon-sama, what’s wrong?”
“I suddenly have a bad feeling. No, it’s not a bad feeling, but a feeling that someone isn’t going to show any self-restraint.”
“Sorry, don’t worry about it. I’ve got all the firewood I can carry, should we head back?”
We returned to the small clearing.
In the previously empty clearing, I saw a small hut surrounded by an earthen wall around the height of a person.