Chapter 22 – Excessive Firepower
We started preparations immediately. Pino handed me a small bottle for collecting the Great Tree’s drops. “Put the lid on before you bring it back, so it doesn’t spill!”
“Come on, I’m not that clumsy.”
“And make sure it stays on.”
Naturally, I don’t want to make her upset. She told us to be careful, and put the small bottle in my bag.
“There are strong monsters along the way, so be careful.”
“Really? But we didn’t encounter any monsters at all between here and the dungeon’s exit.”
Hassan explained, “Oh, there’s medicinal herbs planted all over the place around here specifically to repel the monsters, that’s why they don’t come around here.”
I nodded in understanding. There were so many kinds of medicinal herbs, all of them useful, but I didn’t know which one was used to repel monsters.
“I don’t think you’ll get lost, because it’s a straight path from here, but there will be numerous cliffs. With the foliage being so dense on this mountain, it’s easy to miss them and fall.”
“Alright, in that case I’ll be extra careful.”
“Good. Please do.”
“Okay then, we’ll be going now!”
Pino, Hassan and Liliana saw us off and we started down the path that led to the top of the mountain.
◆ ◆ ◆
The path was a fairly steep incline, and as we moved higher, we noticed more and more rocky areas. The number of unusual plants, such as those with rounded curls and leaves, and transparent petals, was also increasing.
“There sure are a lot of mysterious plants here.”
As Ren approached one such unusual plant and reached out to touch it, Lusha immediately stopped him.
“Ren-san, please be careful! Some of these plants are carnivorous. I’ve recognized a few of them around, so I can’t guarantee any of them are safe.”
Ren hastily retracted his hand. I certainly couldn’t laugh anymore if my fingers were eaten. I watched Ren’s face turn blue in fear. It’s actually fine, because I gave them Shield before we started out ― well, let’s keep that a secret so they’ll actually be careful.
“Hiroki, it seems like there’s a strong monster ahead.”
There didn’t seem to be anything else, and Ruri breathed a sigh of relief. When I went a little further, I came upon a golem made of rock. As soon as it saw me, it swung its fist at me, seemingly with a militant personality. Naturally, it missed and smashed the ground with a loud thump.
“Man, that’s a lot of power… But it’s useless if you can’t hit me.”
Right punch, left punch, the left and right hooks, no matter what form its attacks took, it never hit me. Even a strong monster’s attacks can be avoided if there’s only one of them.
Lusha’s and Ruri’s voices overlapped as they began their attacks.
“Alright, [Wind Arrow]!”
Lusha’s arrow was enveloped in wind, and Ruri added her fire to it as well. The power of the fire was enhanced by the power of the wind, and a tremendous blow pierced the golem through. It collapsed loudly and unceremoniously.
“Whoa, that’s amazing…”
Lusha’s arrow which normally has low accuracy was probably under the control of Ruri’s magic skill. She only fired one arrow, yet it hit the target dead on. Lusha looked impressed as well, her eyes glowing with excitement.
“Those girls are too strong…”
Ren commented stiffly, “Seriously, that’s overkill.”
I looked back at the shattered golem with a wry smile. I’m sure Hassan and the others wouldn’t have expected such a strong monster to be knocked down so easily…
“I wonder if all of them will go this well,” Ren pondered.
“Don’t jinx it, we can’t assume they’ll all be like this one… [Search].”
“How is it?” I asked.
She said with a smile, “There doesn’t seem to be a problem. There are some strong-looking monsters, but they’re spread out and acting alone.”
“So it really is going to be easy, then?”
“Looks that way.”
If there’s only one monster at a time, they’d never get through my evasion. There’s no opportunity to use my new skill, and that’s fine. We defeated several more monsters after that, but it goes without saying that our greatest enemy was climbing the mountain itself.
◆ ◆ ◆
Along the way, we managed to defeat several golems, demon orcs, etc., and stay overnight along the way, eventually reaching the mountain summit exhausted by the climb. I looked down at the view from the summit while trying to catch my breath.
“This is amazing, huh Hiroki?”
“Yeah. I never expected to see something like this.”
The clouds were below us, and it felt like we were standing in the sky. At the base of the Great Tree at this mountain summit was a lake about 20 meters in diameter. The Great Tree rising in the center was just wonderful, and with the leaves reflecting the sun’s rays, it was like the whole thing was made of gold.
I smiled at Lusha as she stood enraptured, but I remembered what Pino told us. When we dived deep into this lake, we should find a spot where we can collect drops from this Great Tree.
“There seems to be no living thing in this lake, it’s cold and pleasant.”
“Should we take a break before we dive?”
According to Ruri’s Search, there were no monsters in or around the spring. You could imagine it’d be hard to find what we were looking for if we also had to fight off monsters underwater, so that was a relief. The four of us sat lakeside and rested for a while.
As I laid there, I wonder what kind of structure there was in the spring. I wanted to think it couldn’t be some small and dark room, just big enough to collect the drops, but… was it even safe for all of us to go? If we all went together and drowned since it didn’t have enough space for more than one person, it wouldn’t be funny at all. In the first place, how deep is it?
“Well well, we meet again!”
Someone behind me suddenly called out, and I turned around to see none other than the shop fairy.
“Are you here to collect materials for the curse-cleansing potion?”
“Yeah,” Ruri said. “We found an alchemist that can make it for us.”
“That’s good then!”
I also told her that I couldn’t buy the curse-cleansing potion from her. “And yet I’m the one who asked you for it, so it’s my bad…”
“It’s fine, this curse-cleansing potion is rare, so I have no problem letting it sit in my store for a little longer.”
According to her, there would be other buyers.
“Come to think of it, why would a shop fairy be in a place like this?”
“What do you mean? I thought of opening my shop here, of course.”
I couldn’t help feeling it was an interesting joke, given we were the only possible customers. It’s fine if she’s assuming us to be customers, but targeting us is useless because we don’t have that kind of money. That was what I expected, but the shop fairy shrugged.
“Well, we open up shop wherever we want. Whether we get customers is a matter of luck.” [TLN: It seems to be my mistake from the start, the shop fairy said “Boku-tachi” here, so it seems that she’s not alone, or at least isn’t the only shop fairy.]
“That’s kind of vague…”
“It’s a good thing, you know. When I open a shop like this, sometimes I meet unexpected and interesting people. That’s how I got to know Hiroki and others, after all, isn’t it?”
She made an interesting point. As she started to arrange her items on the sheet,
“Come to think of it, which one of you is actually going into the spring?”
Her question confused me a little. “Which one? If you’re putting it like that, is it actually not possible for everyone to go at once?”
“I thought we were going all together, but…”
Lusha and the others seemed to have the same expectations, and it seemed strange that there hadn’t been any objections. I hadn’t confirmed it, but I assumed everyone could swim. The shop fairy briefly explained, saying, “Ah, it’s your first time here.”
According to the shop fairy, there was a small cave under the spring, and when you go a little further down the side hole, you’ll find the place with the Great Tree’s Drops. It’s not a particularly dangerous place, but it’s so small that it’s better for one person to go.
“I see… thanks for telling us about that.”
“So just one of us, huh? …It’s really cold up here at the summit, and it will probably get even colder in the spring, so I think it’s better if Ruri and Lusha wait here.”
“I’ll go.” Since Ren was a headstrong guy, he immediately told me he’d be the one to go. It would be difficult to let a girl jump into the spring, but it’s an even worse idea to make Ren go. If the curse triggered when he was alone, he’d suffer underwater and drown.
So, there’s no choice but to go myself.
“Ren, you have to wait here. If something happens to me, you’ll have to protect the others here.”
“…Okay. I’m counting on you to get those drops.”
“Leave it to me.”
I was able to persuade Ren to stay dry, and he went ahead and started preparing the bonfire while I went to get permission from the girls. Apparently the support was unanimous.
“Actually, I wanted to go, but… if something unexpected happened, Hiroki’s more quick-witted.”
“Just in case, I used Search before, and I didn’t get any reaction. And if there is a monster, I’m sure Hiroki could avoid it, but Lusha would be in a tough spot, so it’s more dangerous for her to go alone.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
Apparently, Lusha was trying to go before Ren called dibs, but Ruri had stopped her.
“Well, the best option is for me to go ― I can avoid anything that might be down there, after all. I’ll be back soon, so take care of yourselves here.”
I took off my dark blue jacket and gave it to Lusha. It’s cold, but it’s better not to go in the water with all my clothes on. I wore a thin black shirt under my jacket, so it’s perfect. …Is it alright to keep my pants on? Since I’m using boots, too, they’re likely to get weighed down by water, but I’m hesitant to go barefoot in places I don’t know about.
“Be careful. If anything happens, don’t overdo it and come back immediately!”
“You’re not going to leave your bag behind, aren’t you? Did you bring the bottle?”
“Ren, you sound like my mom.”
I laughed at their antics and said, “I haven’t forgotten anything.” I won’t overexert myself, so I told them that they don’t have to worry about it. The only trouble is the fact the water is so cold. Then I did a few warm-up exercises, and finally jumped into the spring.