Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Traversing the Plains」
The next day, when the sun had yet to illuminate the landscape.
However, unlike the humans of this world, the low levels of light wasn’t a hindrance to elves and beastmen. Even with sunrise still being a while away, the residents of the town were already energetically moving about.
After receiving the dragon mount and obtaining a saddle, we spent the rest of the day buying the equipment and other items we would need to traverse the plains before checking into an inn for the night.
While the old stable owner considered the dragon mount a nuisance because of the resource its maintenance drained, the beast’s sheer size and strength easily allowed three people to ride it.
From the stable owner’s point of view, taking in the dragon mount caused such large loss in profit that there were tears in his eyes when he saw us off yesterday.
At the very least, our agreement to return the dragon mount to the tiger tribe must have been a weight lifted off his shoulders.
That’s what has happened up till now.
Currently, we were waiting on the bridge in the northwestern district of Fernandez that hung over the Dojasu river.
The river beneath the bridge was about two- or three hundred meters across.
The were multiple small ships anchored on the side of the town that faced the river, and I could make out the figures of a few sailors from here. This river probably acted as a natural canal.
I turned away from the river bank and looked ahead.
The bridge was a drawbridge that extended to river’s opposite bank, thick chains connected half of the bridge to the town wall. It was most likely designed this way to allow larger ships to pass through.
We, along with several others, were currently waiting for the bridge to drop into place.
The other people waiting could be divided into two categories, there were the adventurers dressed in light armor and the farmers holding various gardening tools.
As usual, all eyes were focused on us.
As a cat-eared person Chiome didn’t stand out all that much, but my silver full-body armor and jet-black mantle blowing in the wind couldn’t go unnoticed. The same could be said for Ariane golden eyes and white hair, since dark elves were a rarity in this town. To top it off, our baggage was packed onto the dragon mount’s massive body.
The dragon mount was more than four meters long and it stood taller than I did. The fact that only members of the tiger tribe have been seen riding this beast also guaranteed that our group would arouse attention.
Instead of sitting in her usual spot atop my head, Ponta was comfortably resting in the dragon mount’s white mane.
Occasionally she would happily wag her tail and the dragon mount would start yawning, not seeming to mind the little fox’s presence.
Since the mane was pure white it was easy to spot Ponta’s fluffy tail at a distance, even though she was moving around on her own.
“……Are you gonna be alright at such a height?”
Ponta tilted her neck to the side when that comment slipped from my mouth.
While the dragon mount’s head was only slightly above my own, I worried as I looked up to Ponta.
“Fufu, maybe she wasn’t attached to you, Arc, but to the feeling of perching in a high tree.”
After seeing my interaction with Ponta, Ariane voiced her thoughts about the situation.
Chiome shook her head and shrugged her shoulders as she listens Ariane’s comment.
Suddenly the sound of metal scraping metal filled the area as the drawbridge was lowered.
With a ‘thud’, the two sides of the bridge connected at the center of the river and people begin to moving at once.
When I climbed on the back of the dragon mount, Ponta leaped to her usual spot atop my helmet.
I wonder if it was a racial trait as I sighed and held out a helping hand to Ariane who was still chuckling about this whole thing.
After I took her hand, Ariane agilely climbed up and settled herself behind me.
Chiome managed to leap onto the dragon mount’s back and sit in front of me.
We had decided upon the sitting arrangement beforehand and once I took the reins and lightly kicked its sides, the dragon mount began to advance.
Contrary to its appearance of a slow-witted, armored reptile, the dragon mount skillfully maneuvered its six legs and kept pace with the crowd.
“Hey, Arc, aren’t you going a little fast?”
Ariane suddenly clinging to me caught my attention as she appeared to have lost her balance.
In order for everyone to ride the dragon mount, I had to tie my shield to the side of the mount. As a result, the sensation of Ariane pressing her twin hills against me was transmitted through my armor.
However, I was still in armor so I couldn’t actually feel anything. Such a pity.
Ariane’s eyes started to bore into the back of my head the moment I had that trifle thought.
“Arc, did something indecent just cross your mind?”
“…… Whatever do you mean?”
Fearing Ariane’s nearly psychic intuition I sidestepped her suspicions and focused one the scenery.
Unlike the well-maintained large field I saw on the side of the river Fernández sat at, there were only small disorganized fields on the opposite bank.
Since we’d been told that many monsters inhabited the Singalika plains beyond the river, there was probably a limited amount of cultivated land.
Since humans had apparently settled down in the land beyond the plains, this setup was probably a defensive measure.
After watching the farmers tend to their personal fields for awhile I looked away as we passed them by.
As the dragon mount left the cultivated zone, a seemingly endless plain opened up before our eyes. Small bushes were clustered around the trees and I occasionally caught sight of monster shadows moving about.
It was comparable to the savanna.
“Hmm, I don’t see any sign of the ‘Black Forest’ the stable owner mentioned……”
When I made that comment while taking a look around, Ariane and Chiome began to scan the area as well.
The stable owner we received the dragon mount from warned us to avoid entering the “Black Forest” at all cost.
It was a large forest that spread out south of the two major plains and was also referred to as the “Demon Forest” and the “Forest of Death”. A place only the foolish would enter without being prepared.
“This is a considerable large plain, we might not come across it unless we deviate south…….
Chiome’s cat ears stood up as she continued to survey and looked up to me.
“You’re probably right. However, it’ll be hard to judge the direction without a landmark.”
It hadn’t been long since we crossed the and if I looked back I could still spot the town, but the scenery will eventually start to fade into itself once the road ended, and we could simply get lost.
……Hmm? I remember having a similar thought somewhere before……
Before I could ponder about my feeling of deja vu Ariane poked me in the back.
“Since Chiome and I are here, you just have to look forward and hold the reins properly, Arc.”
I simply shrugged my shoulders and tightened hold my on the reins in response.
When I gave the single to start running, the dragon mount began to increase its speed. My body was pushed back by the sudden acceleration and the scenery started to pass by in a blur. The rocking also intensified as a result.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a speedometer, but we must have been going the speed of a standard-sized car.
While I was marveled at the dragon mount’s impressive physical capabilities, an unexpected scream reached my ear.
“Kyaaー!!? Sl-Slow down, cut back! Kyaa!!?”
Ariane basically clung to my waist as she screamed and pleaded.
When I looked back I saw her eyes were shut and she was holding on for dear life.
I eased up on the reins and allowed the dragon mount to lower its speed as I called out to the teary-eyed Ariane.
“Ariane-dono it’s unusual to hear you scream……, are you bad with rides?”
“……I-I’m just not used to it! You’ve seen the place where I grew up, so shouldn’t you understand!?”
Ariane breathing was erratic and her lilac cheeks were flushed as she glared at me.
Her words along with remembering the scenery that surrounded the village made it click in my head.
It was near impossible to traverse the Great Canada Forest on horseback. I don’t remember coming across a single mount when I stayed in the village.
It seems that she wasn’t accustomed to riding mounts at all.
“A-Alright, how about you don’t increase the speed until I get used to it……?”
A mischievous urge budded inside me when I heard Ariane’s hollow plea.
“Hmm, it’s such a rarity to hear Ariana scream like a maiden and I’d like to enjoy it a bit more……”
I received seven blows to my back from her as she silently blushed behind me.
Since there wasn’t any help for it, I allowed the dragon mount to continue at a relatively slow speed and used 【Dimensional Step】 to increase our pace.
However, it was hard to call this solution effective.
Every time we transferred the dragon mount would become disoriented, freeze up for a moment, and look around before it started moving again.
The dragon mount’s earlier car speed was actually preferable to this start-stop moment we had now.
Even if I tried to use 【Dimensional Step】 for the entirety of trip, we’d only cover about six or seven kilometers at most.
That was assuming that this world had the same diameter as Earth.
As we advanced through the wide, open plain the landscape started to bleed into itself as the sun gradually set in the direction we headed.
The clear blue sky was gradually dyed the shade of crimson and a shadow appeared on the far-off horizon as twilight approached.
I had to block the setting sun with my hand as the day drew to a close.
“We’re gonna need to find a campsite soon……”
“Let’s set up camp near that wooded area.”
Chiome pointed out a small patch of trees as she voiced her opinion on what to do.
I followed her suggestion and guided the dragon mount towards the area where we could have a light meal before we slept.
An oppressive feeling overtook our camp as darkness fell, and the fact that we set up camp in such a wide open area conversely increased my unease over the situation.
Being in such an area was unnerving for me, someone who spent the majority of his life in closed-off environments.
Ariane usually spent her time surrounded by a densely populated forest, and as a result she was also restlessly looking around.
Chiome, on the other hand, was accustomed to camping in such areas and proceeded with an experienced ease.
I could see Chiome’s lips form a small smile as she watched Ponta running around and around in circles.
For thirteen or fourteen-year-old girl, to show such poise in the middle of this plains, made me question just how much of a sheltered life I had lived.
If I was in my flesh and blood form, I doubted I would have been able to last a single night in this place.
I could only manage because my emotions were diluted in my skeleton form. Even so, it would be detrimental to rely on this form forever.
Our first night in the plains passed by with Chiome carrying out her work and Ponta playing about as I thought over my no-win situation.
The next morning, I conducted my routine training with Ariane.
We lacked the wooden swords we normally usual, so we made due with some branches and mainly focused on footwork.
Both Chiome and Ariane stressed the importance of how essential repetition was in conditioning one’s body for combat.
In order to properly utilize my strength and speed, I had to become accustomed to this body. However, even with Ariane helping me with my training, Glenys was still far beyond me.
Once training was over, we had a light breakfast before setting off again.
As this day came to an end, a mountain range appeared in the southern direction.
The coat of snow that covered the top of a few mountain peaks indicated just how tall they were. However, looking in the opposite direction revealed that the mountain range didn’t cross into the plains.
“These would be the Kinrei Mountains the stable owner mentioned. If I’m not mistaken, the Sheila river flows from those mountains so we should be nearing the Kuwana plains.”
“That’s right. We should be crossing into the tiger tribe’s territory soon……”
Chiome looked towards the mountain and seemed to agree with my comment.
As we come towards the edge of the mountain range, another large plain appeared in the distance.
In front of us was the figurative gateway into the tiger tribe’s home, but I eyes were dragged to the forest that ran parallel to the Kinrei Mountains
Something there managed to hold grab hold of my full attention.
“……What is that?”
In the center of the forest stood a single tree…… a tree that towered over all of those that surrounded it.
There was quite a bit of distance between here and the forest, so I couldn’t get an accurate scale of the tree’s size, but it reminded me of the Dragon King’s Tree.
Is this what it’s like to see Tokyo Tower from a distance?
However, the Dragon King’s Tree didn’t have such a canopy, and this tree gave off a slightly lanky impression.
But, that wasn’t the issue.
The huge Tokyo-Tower-sized tree was actually moving in the southern direction.
Each time the huge tree moved, a cloud of black figures would fly out of the nearby trees. In all likelihood, it was some type of monster.
“……Could that be a treant?!”
Ariane let out a surprised shout when she looked back and saw the creature moving about.
“Treant’s are considered a form of monster……”
When I questioned Ariane about what she said, it was Chiome that answered me as her blue eyes tracked the enormous walking tree.
Ariane continued the explanation when Chiome went silent.
“……Many humans consider them all to be monsters, but there are various types of Treants. The name is a general term that refers to any tree that is inhabited by a spirit, only corrupted ones actually possess magic stones. However, that is the largest Treant I’ve ever seen.”
As we watched the Treant slowly and steadily walk in the southern direction, Ariane let out an amazed sigh.
“Isn’t that forest connected to the ‘Black Forest’ in the south?”
“I don’t understand, but some Treant’s can be rather violent, so it’s best that we don’t approach it recklessly.”
I listened to her speak and continued to stare at the walking Treant.
The creature’s sheer size alone made it a dangerous to approach it. If you found yourself in its path you’d be trampled instantly.
“For now, it’s better that we don’t tread in the forests that are off-limit……”
No creature with the desire to live would ever intentionally approach such a creature.
“Should we look around the Sheila river, near the northern edge of the mountain, to set up camp?”
Taking her eyes away from the tree monster, Chiome’s cat ears began to twitch about as she started to looking for a place to set up camp for the night.
When I questioned Ariane about it with a look she nodded her head in agreement.
Tomorrow we would enter the Kuwana plains.