Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The Hidden Village」Part 1
Early the next morning, before the sun appeared in the sky……
The base of the mountain the Dragon King’s Tree sat on was covered in mist that created a truly breathtaking view.
Once we said our farewells to the Dragon King, who was still bathing in the hot spring, I invoked 【Transfer Gate】 to take us to Rhoden’s capital, the closest location I knew to the Blade Heart Clan’s village.
The breathtaking scenery of the Dragon King’s Tree piercing the sky was instantly replaced by an open prairie that was half converted to farmland.
The capital’s southern wall was barely visible from where we stood and the morning fog could be seen blanketing the cityscape.
The still drowsy Ponta let out a big yawn on top of my helmet before she slid down a little bit.
When I looked back, I could see the nearby forest that surrounded the Calcutta Mountain Range.
Since the Blade Heart Clan’s hidden village was located at the base of one of those mountains and there was no direct route there, Chiome led the way.
While only a few monsters would appear in the shallow sections of the forest, groups of bandits would occasionally set up their bases here.
“The bandits set up base, but they should all be cleared out soon……”
Chiome began her explanation about the area as she brazenly made her way into the forest’s depths.
This place was a suitable thieves den thanks to the closeness of the capital and the distance from the major highways.
If they were going to be cleared out soon, then……
“Chiome-dono, does your clan police this area as part their territory?”
When I said that, Chiome stopped walking and looked back at me.
“What do you think a ninja’s usual work is?”
While I was confused by her sudden question, I thought about their behavior so far and answered her.
“Isn’t it to gather intelligence and free your captured brethren?”
Chiome smiled a little at my answer.
“While that is certainly part of it, bandit hunting is my main job since knives and metal ores are rare commodities in my village and bandit dens are easy prey for the clan. The agents we have placed throughout the city collect information on the bandits and relay it to the village, and then the ninja corps is dispatched to attack their base.”
Ariane seemed rather impressed as she nodded at Chiome’s explanation.
Given the dangers of stealing in the capital under the watchful eyes of those in power, it was the wiser choice to attack bandits outside the city.
Based on what I saw of her during the raid of the Etsuato company, it wasn’t hard to imagine Chiome cutting down average people without much difficulty.
“Chiome-dono, how do you avoid suspicions about the People of the Mountains and Plains’ involvement when you take the bandits’ supplies after killing them?”
“It’s thanks to our agents. When news of bandits spreads through the city, they stage a fake attack and claim that they killed the bandits when they escaped. Everything is fine as long as the rumor of the claim spreads among the humans. When people are sent to investigate the bandits’ base it appears as if they had moved. Thanks to us, the damage caused by bandits around the Calcutta mountains is rather minimal.”
Chiome’s tail rose proudly as she said that and resumed making her way through the forest.
The People of the Plains and Mountains lived a more robust life then I imagined.
We cautiously made our way towards the mountains, moving through the undergrowth and trees until the scenery eventually opened up.
Somehow we were already halfway up a small mountain.
The ground became more rocky and ragged as we passed over the top and descended into the deep ravine beyond it. When I looked into the depths below, I could see a thin layer of fog between the nearby mountains.
Chiome pointed to a mountain on the opposite side of the ravine then looked back at us.
“Beyond that mountain is the true Calcutta Mountain Range. Because strong monsters dwell in that area, humans rarely set foot there.”
Nodding at her explanation, I glanced at the mountain upon understanding her intentions.
The trees were sparsely placed in on the mountain, so it should be easy to transfer there.
“I think I can reach the opposite mountain from here.”
Ariane and Chiome nodded before they placed their hands on my shoulder as if they were used to it. Once they were ready, I invoked my transfer magic.
My view changed instantly, we were now facing the open area behind the opposing mountain, I could even see where we had been standing when I looked back.
“The village is just beyond these mountains, let’s go.”
I nodded when Chiome urged me on and continued to trek deeper into the mountain range.
The Calcutta Mountain Range was literally several mountains connected to each other. However, in-between the peaks and valleys were areas of densely packed forest.
Just as Chiome had said, the figures of fierce monsters would appear every now and again, raising the danger of the trek even higher.
The three of us weren’t having too much difficulty advancing, but if humans encountered even one of the monsters we came across, they would label this land uninhabitable due to them being constantly preyed upon.
While those that lived here wouldn’t have to worry about human encroachment, they did so at the risk of their own lives.
I was a little scared to think of the fate that might have befell the multiple women and children we rescued from the capital.
Currently, I was carrying on my back the dead body of the large ferocious monster that had attacked us a while ago as we walked.
Chiome and Ariane had called the monster an Umbra Tiger, a powerful monster that inhabited mountainous regions and said that an entire squad would normally be dispatched to deal with one of them.
It was about four meters tall and five meters long from head to tail. The tiger-like monster had fangs on its upper jaw that reminded me of a sabretooth tiger, its eyes were blood red, two purple horns grew from his head, and its whole body was covered in black fur.
The monster was normally nocturnal, but I happened to come across it when I was pushing some foliage aside.
Normally the creature would blend into the night as it preyed upon its victims, but a large, black tiger in broad daylight was hard to miss.
Faster than the instant noodles from my former world could cook, the three of us had slain the Umbra Tiger.
“Sorry, Arc-dono. It’s not too heavy is it?”
Chiome suddenly looked back at me with a worried expression.
It was her request that we take the Umbra Tiger with us.
When the purple horns on its head were filed down, they could be shaped into knives stronger and sharper than steel.
In fact, the dagger Chiome carried was made from one such horn.
In addition, its fur could be tailored into a coat useful for mountain winters, and the large fangs could be ground into medicine. The fur and fangs were also a luxurious item for humans and could be sold to raise funds for food and weapons.
“It doesn’t weigh as much as the Giant Basilisk I killed before.”
I lightly bounced the Umbra Tiger on my shoulder and chuckled when I said that.
Ariane, who was carrying Ponta beneath her breast, made an amazed comment when she heard that.
“Arc you’re beyond normal in a different way from mother……”
“It’s a little embarrassing to receive praise from you.”
Ariane had an unreadable expression on her face when I made my joking remark.
Maybe she hadn’t been complementing me.
Chiome had continued to lead us through a patch of densely packed forest as we talked. When we cleared the area she pointed out a mountain on the other side of a steep cliff.
“My village is in front of that mountain. We should arrive before nightfall. That is, if we continue at our current pace without stopping.”
Chiome’s gaze traveled up the mountain as she said so.
“Then let’s cover the rest of the distance. Chiome, we can take a rest once we reach the village, right?”
When Ariane nodded, we crossed the valley with transfer magic.
The day had almost passed, and dusk was gradually fading away by the time we finally set eyes upon Chiome’s hidden village.
An outer wall composed of wooden logs and an inner stone wall surrounding the village and the sharpened point atop the wall made it seem like a fortress rather than a village.
The main entrance was a drawbridge that was currently sealed tight to keep out intruders.
The village’s houses were built along the slope and windmills were built at the top of the mountain. The was also a small field in-between the wooden and stone walls.
The landscape was reminiscent of Machu Picchu.
From here I could see the shadows of people maintaining the fields. Since monsters thrived in the mountainous regions, I ignored the emotions the picturesque view invoked.
It was impossible to say that this was an easy place to live in.
“The village is set on such a terrible slope……”
Ariane’s honest impression leaked out as glanced up at the village.
The majority of the Calcutta Mountain Range consisted of mountains and valleys, so it was next to impossible to find suitable land to build on.
This mountain face was probably the only somewhat flat area around.
“It’s praiseworthy that a village could be built in this place, but how many people live there now? I can’t imagine that there are all that many……”
It was an impressive achievement to build a safe haven in such a mountainous region, but the village was considerably smaller than Ariane’s childhood home, Raratoia.
Chiome’s blue eyes listlessly stared at her village as she answered my question.
“After the raid in the capital, the population surpassed one thousand people.”
“I see…… that’s quite the number of people.”
When I voiced my surprise, Ariane nodded while staring at the village as she agreed with the statement.
Only Ponta let out a large yawn while gently wagging her tail in Ariane’s arms.
She had decent insight when it came to food, but not for anything else. However, a spirit beast like Ponta fretting over things like population density would be a problem in it of itself.
When she saw Ponta’s innocent behavior, Chiome cleared away her melancholy expression.
“Well, let’s introduce you to the current head of the Blade Heart Clan.”