Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Is This What They Call Damage?」
The next morning, Ariane lead Chiome and me into the fog-blanketed forest with baggage over our shoulders and Ponta sitting on my helmet.
The morning light was filtering through the tree branches and continued to illuminate the foliage-laden forest path.
A thin layer of haze covered the landscape, making it difficult to grasp our location from visual markers alone.
However, Ariane traversed this natural maze without hesitation as if it were a familiar mountain trail.
Once the magic-obstructing fog cleared, we would able to use transfer magic and reach the fork between the Rydell and Riburute rivers before noon.
Then we just had to cross the river with 【Dimensional Step】.
When we reached that location, I made sure to completely memorize the scenery where the rivers split off as we took our break.
I had to lower my head back in Raratoia when I told Ariane that we couldn’t use my long distance transfer magic, 【Transfer Gate】, to return here because I failed to memorize it when we were here before.
Without minding my personal grief, our group reached the Rydell riverbank.
The forest on the opposite bank had a radically different atmosphere than Great Canada Forest.
Despite how dense and lush it was.
We would kill the occasional monsters that popped up while we used transfer magic to cover an impressive amount of distance. As the ground began to rise, the path we were traveling along took on a slight incline and the trees’ shadows started to cover the area as the sky took on the colors of dusk.
“We made spectacular progress thanks to Arc’s transfer magic. Let’s stay here tonight.”
Ariane began cutting off low hanging branches that was blocking our way with her sword while I took in the scenery.
The clearing she lead us to had a three huge trees that had a large, nest-like object nestled between their branches ten meters above the ground.
It was a rather unnatural thing to see in this place.
There were support beams on each of the trees below the observation deck.
“Huh, what…… is that?”
When I asked Ariane about the baffling structures, Ponta happily used her wind magic to fly to one of the observation decks.
I couldn’t see Ponta anymore once she landed on the top of the deck.
“This is a rest area that we elves have made. There are multiple sites like this scattered throughout the forest for warriors to stay while hunting monsters.”
I suppose people could rest here without having to worry about the monsters that roam the forest floor. However, while I could simply use transfer magic to reach the structure, normal people would have to climb to the top. A difficult task to accomplish while carrying baggage.
If I were going to spend an extended amount of time outdoors, I’d be sure to bring a backpack full of necessary equipment.
“Elves are quite impressive. To establish such a place in the middle of this forest……”
Chiome voiced her admiration as she looked up at the observation decks.
For a brief moment, Ariane smiled and puffed out her chest, but then her expression became clouded.
“There used to be a few small villages along the river around here, so the local warriors often used this place, but when the humans’ elf hunts increased, the villages this side of the river had to be relocated.”
After Ariane had finished speaking, Chiome looked up at her face that was obscured by the growing shadows.
Ariane shook her head to remove her bleak expression and tried to laugh it off as she approached one of the trees and grabbed hold of some ivy vines that were wrapped around its trunk.
“The sun will be setting soon, we need to climb to the top and set up camp before then.”
After rearranging her the baggage, Ariane used the ivy vines and the hollow to literally run up the tree trunk.
Chiome followed after Ariane by kicking off the tree trunks to climb up.
I doubted I’d be able to copy their climbing methods.
So I stepped back from the trees until I reached a point where I could transfer to the top of the observation deck with 【Dimensional Step】.
The two of them were already rummaging through their bags for their camping gear.
Ponta was peeking over the deck’s edge at the forest floor below. She seemed to be comfortable in her natural habitat.
The deck was covered with short grass and it didn’t move an inch even with all of us moving about. The base of the terraces was intertwined with the branches and I couldn’t find any uneven sections either.
At the center platform there was a stone pedestal set up for a fire pit to be lit.
While Ariane and Chiome began gathering twigs to build up a fire, I sat my baggage down and called out to the two of them.
“Ariane-dono, since this is a rather unique and memorable location I, we could return to the village and come back tomorrow……”
I found that difficult to say when they had gone through the trouble of preparing the camp, but Ariane didn’t seem practically upset when she looked back at me.
“That is an option, but what if you visit other rest areas that look just like this one? No offense, Arc, but I doubt you could distinguish this location from the others.”
“Camp set up is almost complete anyway. Since we’re gonna be camping for several days, it’s best that you get used to it. How you ever been camping before Arc?”
I did have experience camping, but there weren’t any heat-retention sleeping bags, sturdy tents, or kerosene stoves on this trip.
In a sense, this might be my first true camping experience.
Besides, I thought that familiarizing myself with camping on this trip would be beneficial in the future.
Just as Ariane had said, if I used similar rest areas in the future, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish them from each other and I’d be more likely to transfer here since I’d seen this one first.
I’ve been told the reason my sense of direction was so terrible was because I had difficulties leaving strong impressions of my surroundings in my brain. If I relied on long-distance transfer magic, I ‘d never be able to tell these rest areas apart.
When I thought about it, 【Transfer Gate】 was a spell quite fitting for myself.
Relenting to Ariane’s suggestion, I asked the two of them if there was anything I could help with, but they turned me away saying they hadn’t done much of anything today.
With nothing else to do, I walked over to where Ponta had been laying on the grassy ground and sat near the edge to watch the two work.
Ariane reached into her knapsack and pulled out a large, folded cloth. After tightly tying a rope between two of the trees she threw the cloth over the rope and pinned its four corners to the desk with pegs.
She had set up a triangular roof tent.
The top half of the fabric was dyed green with a type of luster that was meant to keep out the rain.
Chiome, on the other hand, had started pulling out cooking utensils and dry ingredients from a bag Ariane had given her, the variety of which caused her to cry out.
“I’m amazed that we brought this much…… Usually, we don’t make such extensive preparations for camping because heavier loads slow down our pace.”
“Since elven warriors often have to pull long patrols, or cull large amounts of monsters, it’s normal to pack excess supplies. Since we have Arc’s transfer magic, we actually packed less than normal because we’ll probably reach the ‘Dragon Valley‘ by tomorrow.”
Ariane placed several pelts inside the tent while she replied before moving towards the pile of twigs and setting it alight with spirit magic.
After receiving a pot from Chiome, Ariane placed it on the fire pit, filled it with water from a canteen and started to cook once the pot started boiling.
“What’s the ‘Dragon Valley’?”
I had been skillfully running my fingers though Ponta’s fur while the two of them worked, so I asked Ariane about the unfamiliar term she used.
“The Dragon Valley is the huge canyon between the Wind, Ice and Fire Mountain Ranges. The entrance into the valley is just beyond the cavern we’re heading to.”
“Hoo, so we’re going to enter the Dragon Valley by tomorrow then?”
Ariane shook her head when I hazarded a guess about our schedule.
“At our current pace, we should reach the valley in the afternoon at the earliest. Since the cavern is home to a variety of monsters, it’ll take a while to pass through it. That’s why I think we’ll need to camp out again before entering the cavern.”
I understood, if we entered the cavern early in the morning we’d be able to clear it in one fell swoop.
It seemed consecutive camp outs were unavoidable. Towns and villages weren’t built in regulars interval in this forest.
Ariane had been stirring the soup she’d been cooking with a wooden spoon while going over tomorrow’s plans, and after a taste test she added a dash of seasoning.
The sound of the firewood crackling and the flames rising in the night stood out the most in this quiet forest scenery.
A sweet fragrance drifted from the pot as the soup began to simmer, a fragrance that caused Ponta to start twitching on my knee.
“It’ll be ready soon.”
Ariane took out some metal mugs she had also brought along and begun dividing the soup amongst them. Chiome reached into her knapsack and took out some fried bread sticks before passing them around.
Since I hadn’t thought that a warm full course meal would be prepared, I accepted the bread and soup in defeat.
Ponta was also staring at my soup with such an intensity that I was starting to get worried.
Once Ariane poured some soup into a plate specially brought for Ponta, the little fox happily wagged her tail and leaped at it.
“We’ll take shifts during the night watch: Chiome first, Arc second and me last. Are you guys alright with that?”
Ariane smiled as she watched Ponta cooling her soup with her magic and suggested the guard order. Chiome and I shared a look before nodding in agreement.
“I don’t mind.”
“I’m alright with it as well.”
“Arc, will you be fine using this to sleep?”
When she accepted Chiome’s and my agreement, she picked up one of the pelts she’d placed in the tent for me to check out.
Apparently, the pelt was supposed to be wrapped around one’s body as they slept, a type of primitive sleeping bag if you will. The problem was that the pelt wouldn’t have any effect on me thanks to my armor and I was reluctant to remove it in this place…… so I decided against using it.
After dinner, we began our sleep rotation and even though I was a little nervous about having two ladies close to me…… I eventually managed to doze off as the night passed by.
The next morning, I felt a shock run through my body and the slight pain caused me to bolt up.
When I looked around in a daze, I saw that the forest was covered by a thick fog and that the three large trees were behind me.
“Hey, Arc!? Are you alright!?”
When I suddenly heard a woman’s voice above me, I looked up to find Ariane, Chiome and Ponta looking down on me with worried looks on their faces.
Apparently I fell down from the observation deck.
I only remember sitting down in the corner after changing shifts with Chiome.
“Don’t worry, I’m okay.”
“Are you sure about that? Didn’t you just fall from a great height?”
Ariane slowly climbed down the tree trunk and approached me with a concerned look in her eyes.
Rather than reply, I stood up and brushed it off as if it were nothing.
“What the hell is up with your body? You’re not indestructible are you?”
Though she looked rather surprised, there was a tinge of relief in her voice.
I wasn’t quite indestructible, I could still feel pain from nasty hits after all.
However, I wondered if a ten-meter fall was supposed to cause only a little soreness in someone’s body. Wait a minute, it was rather pitiful that the first amount of damage I received in this world came from falling out of a tree!
For the time being, I used recovery magic on myself as a precaution and then answered her.
“I’ll try to sleep closer to the center next time……”
“I see. I thought it was something like that.”
After receiving a scolding from Ariane, we returned to the observation deck, had our breakfast and set off
The monsters we came across were no problem to deal with, but since I kept stopping to harvest their magic stones we reached our destination around noon
The trees of the densely packed forest had given way to the spectacle in front of us.
An overwhelming landscape opened up before my eyes.
The earth had opened below this cliff to reveal a lush and sprawling valley covered in thick mist. The opposite end of the valley laid at a far-off distance and two towering mountain ranges in the east and west acted as the boundary. The Wind Dragon Mountain Range sat in the east and the Fire Dragon Mountain Range in the west.
A forest rested at the bottom of the valley and the thousand or so meter drop from here to the ground floor seemed impossible to survive. It was as if a chunk of the world had been taken out.
Once a normal breeze made its way up the cliff, it had grown into a large gale. The updraft nearly blew the tiny Ponta away.
“This is the ‘Dragon Valley’, huh…… Quite the spectacular scenery.”
“…… It certainly is impressive, but it’s also impossible for me to safely get down there from here.”
I regret to say that even someone like me would struggle to descend such a height. No, I’d certainly die. It was a hundred times higher than the light fall I had this morning.
While Chiome and I had been timidly staring over the edge, expressing our opinions, Ariane urged us now from behind.
“The cavern is just east of here, along the cliff face. We’ll have to keep a lookout for the occasional Wyvern that flies by.”
Ariane began moving again and the two of us hurried to keep up. After about an hour of traversing the forest with 【Dimensional Step】, we came across a similar rest area to the one from this morning close by the valley.
The observation deck in the center of the trees was slightly lower, maybe only seven or eight meters off the ground. Apart from how close this one was to Dragon Valley, there wasn’t much difference between the sites.
Since it was close to the cavern entrance, we’d spend the night here and then rush through the cavern early tomorrow morning.
On the second night of camping, I slept closer to the center to prevent myself from falling off again.