Alone in the Great Forest
A loud bang echoed behind him. It’s starting, Hikaru thought.
He already took into account that monsters were going to charge straight for Borderzard. If a town got destroyed, the chances of the ceremony getting cancelled would be high. Borderzard had to be defended no matter what.
「I’m going too.」Lavia said after Hikaru told her he was going to the forest to back up the subjugation team.
She insisted she was perfect for taking down groups of monsters. He felt reluctant to send Lavia some place dangerous, but in the end he gave in.
「I have Stealth too, so I’ll be fine.」she added.
Hikaru himself knew just how powerful the Stealth skill was. He edited Lavia’s Soul Board so she could move independently.
Age: 14 Rank: 29
With this even if Borderzard fell, Lavia could escape. Hikaru instructed her to run once monsters entered the town.
A moving artillery equipped with a Stealth function. Terrifying.
Hikaru hoped Lavia would gain a few ranks from killing hordes of monsters. Once she started firing her spells, she would definitely draw attention. Unfortunately they couldn’t do anything about that. She could just take advantage of the confusion to escape. As long as no one saw her face, withdrawing would be easy.
What are the chances they will win? 70%? 80%? Either way, I can’t fail.
Hikaru didn’t expect Lavia to kill all the monsters. The other adventures could handle the rest. At this point, however, Hikaru didn’t know that the Four Stars of the East were in Borderzard.
The sun still stood high in the sky. After traversing the wide plains, Hikaru set foot into the forest. He used Detection to sense monsters nearby, proceeding onward while avoiding monsters moving in groups as much as possible. He just had to go towards the direction the creatures were running from to find his target.
Gotta be careful I don’t get lost…
Fortunately Un el Portan didn’t have a magnetic field that rendered compasses useless. If he just checked his compass, the sun, and his location constantly, he wouldn’t get lost. Leaves formed canopies high above. Sunlight filtered through the trees, shining on Hikaru, yet the atmosphere was anything but peaceful.
Near and far, monsters still kept moving. I guess the first ones to reach Borderzard was the first battalion, so to speak. He could feel the creatures advancing in groups, though not as overwhelming at the first batch.
Hikaru spotted a group of monsters gathered around, cowering, and a flock of birds twittering as though arguing with each other. Not all monsters escaped. There were creatures that stayed behind, going about their usual business.
Hikau stopped in his tracks. A swarm of butterflies appeared out of nowhere like a cloud of smoke, their scales scattering in the wind like sparks. They passed by his side.
Hngh?! He felt his head rock. I feel dizzy!
Hikaru quickly backed away, and the sense of vertigo gradually disappeared. It seemed the butterflies released something in their immediate vicinity — most likely the scales, but he had no proof.
I have to focus.
It would be quite pathetic if he simply collapsed without the enemy even noticing. Hikaru proceeded with more caution this time. It would slow him down a bit, but it was safer this way.
Trees were starting to grow thick. He didn’t spot any monsters nearby. After all, he used his Detection skills and chose his path carefully, one with the least monsters. Roots of huge trees crawled on the ground. He’d come across shrubs every now and then, but otherwise it was an ordinary forest with a humus-covered floor.
I’m all alone.
None had perceived him as he had his Stealth on. In some way, he was “alone” in the truest sense of the word.
When I first came to this world, there was Roland who gave me his body. Then I met Lavia and I’ve been with her ever since.
He’d never felt solitude in a while. He left Lavia when he went to Forestzard, but there were still people around him, like when he took a carriage. It had been a long time since there was absolutely nothing around.
This isn’t the time to be sentimental. I have to think of what to say to Lavia.
He needed an explanation as to why he tweaked Paula’s Soul Board. Ever since he told her everything, he used Lavia’s, Claude’s, and now Paula’s Soul Board. He honestly felt he was using it too much — a powerful ability that shouldn’t be used all willy-nilly.
In Claude’s case, he edited his stats to be within normal range, nothing out of the ordinary. Regarding the girls, however, he overdid it. Which was why he thought Paula should stay close to him. Hikaru couldn’t ignore her. He couldn’t just walk away.
As a matter of fact, he trusted Paula because he wanted to. He couldn’t deny that he didn’t think things through before helping her. Still, he couldn’t let someone he knew, someone he talked to before, just die before his eyes.
I’m too soft.
He felt regret. Yet at the same time, he knew he had no other choice.
I’m sure Lavia will understand. Yes, definitely. She won’t get mad, right?
He was worried because he edited the stats of a girl. It didn’t really mean anything, but she might take it the wrong way.
I just have to clear up any misunderstanding.
An hour had passed since he entered the forest. Hikaru found a nearby tree and sat down, leaning back on the trunk. His body was drenched in sweat. When feeling elevated, he might just walk on without feeling tired. But when treading soft and root-covered ground, fatigue surprisingly accumulated fast. So he decided to take breaks every once in a while.
He drank water from his flask. Spirit Magic Gem was inside so water gradually filled the container over time. As for food, he brought five days’ worth of preserved goods. It wasn’t particularly heavy as most of them were dried.
Three days to get there and two days to get back… I sure hope my guess is right.
Traversing Un el Portan on foot took twenty days. The adventurers subjugation team’s camp was located a day’s trip away from Borderzard. From there they proceeded to hunt the monsters and spotted the dragon.
Hikaru then estimated that the dragon’s location would be at most three days away from Borderzard. Of course, the creature could have moved. But then it would be heading to either Ponsonia or Quinbland — which was a good thing. Forestia would be safe. The monsters would go back and the ceremony would proceed as planned. Though that meant the other two countries would suffer great losses.
Contrary to what he hoped, his target was nearby.
The next morning. As he was sleeping up a tree with his Stealth on, Hikaru heard the earth rumble. It wasn’t a spell or an earthquake. It was the sound of a gigantic creature moving. And it was headed for Borderzard.