The forest is deeper than what he imagined. When Kurando asked Marika, it seems this forest didn’t have a name. It’s not particularly special either. It’s dark, dense, and full with unpopular trees growing so close each other. To make matters worse, brutal monsters rampant in the depths of the forest. According to the neighboring villagers who gather lumber for their living, it isn’t exist other place except the outside part of the forest. The rumor said that at even the lumberjack and hunters didn’t dare to enter this forest.
Aside from that, this forest is as safe as any other*. It’s mean that deep inside this forest, there is a faint animal trail of large mammal animals passing by, and it was extremely difficult to walk inside. Different from the modern Japan, there’s not even a red rope to prevent one from losing their ways.
Though Kurando is walking ahead by following his own instinct, it’s surprisingly accurate. After walking for a while, they had lunch a in a depression with somewhat nice outlook. It was just hard black bread, toasted with ham and cheese sandwiched in between. Since Marika is unexpectedly an extremely skillful cook, there is no particular complaint.
When Kurando licks the grease on his fingers, Marika silently take out a handkerchief and wipe the palm of his hand. Just when you think that she’s indifference, there’s a part of her who is quietly taking care of others which is completely like a mother. Or maybe she’s just love cleanliness, or maybe it’s just that his ill manner didn’t suit her.
「If we’re advancing in accordance with this map, it should take 3 days at least to arrive at the destination」
「Moreover, adding the fact of the swarm of monster, it might need four days, let’s make it five days to be safe」
「I give up. Food aside, we’re not even carrying water」
Taking into consideration that they’ll keep going on foot, and have some combat along the way, 2 liters of water is needed for one person in a single day. To put it simply, they need around 20 liters.
Though it’s possible to replenish their supply of water occasionally in a water hole, they have to dive into the dungeon where the evil god resides too after that. In short, the provision in their hand is simply won’t be enough for two person.
「Should we return」
「Like this. Space Distortion(Room)」
When Marika wave her cane, the space immediately flicker as if there was a heat haze in there, and then producing a dimensional rip. Staring at that distortion left him agape. Beyond that distortion was Marika hut that they just left few hours ago, in sepia color.
「What the heck is this?. Somehow, staring at it too long made me feel sick Woa……」
「This is a non-attribute space magic. If it is a place that I’ve visited before, I can transfer to that place instantly by recalling it from my memory. Well, it’s impossible for a normal magician though」
「WOOOW！You, aren’t you a genius?」
「M-Maybe I wonder. Maybe something along that」
Maybe because she’s suddenly being praised, Marika turning away brushing up her hair. The truth is that this is truly a convenient skill. In fact, they can actually create warp points in the map, even if they’re moving on difficult terrain; it can be passed with shortcuts. Her skill deserves the highest praise.
「But, if you have that kind of spell, is there any need for my power?」
「Magic isn’t omnipotent. This magic need great amount of magical power, long aria, just like controlling two spell at the same time, it’s different case if it was intermediate or elementary spell but, high-tier and above level spell is already impossible for me today. I can handle it alone if it’s just small fry but, if the opponent is the evil god, I need someone to become my shield and protect me from physical attacks no matter what. You are unexpectedly a softhearted person」
「Yes. I see. But, it’s not like I’m okay with that alone. Let’s do our best together」
「Though you don’t seem to be so good at the sword, too 」
「Guh. Don’t say that」
Marika winding the carpet laying out below her knee [they have a lunch on a carpet], cancel the magic and pushed Kurando out of the carpet. She raises her index finger and let out an alluring smile.
「Well then, we can return anytime with this. And after this too, please keep up as baggage carrier-Tank 《Porter》, Swordsman-Sama」
「Guh. I understand」
Their adventure continues after the short break. By the way, they’re only advancing forward according to the map. Unfortunately, while he’s paying attention to Marika who’s floating behind him, a two meters black colored monster was standing before them behind the greenery.
This monster is from moth species, its whole bodies are covered with black hair, and it has an awfully glittering yellow colored eyes. Kurando drawing his sword from its scabbard rush toward that moth. Marika wasn’t fast enough to stop him in time.
「Kurando, don’t look into it’s eyes！」
Marika’s warning was a little too late. When the eyes of the Mothman shined brightly, Kurando instantly felt his power seeped out of his body, draining his strength ,made him weak and then he fell on his knee right on that place.
The Mothman raising a metallic-like screech moves its thin feet little-by-little reaching out its mouth to the collapsing Kurando in front of it. They are close to the blood-sucking species in which will suck up blood of the small animals that are unable to move due to the effect of its hypnotic eyes.
「、！ ！ ！ 」
「Continous Magic(Continous Magic)、Blazing Bullet(Flame Ball)！.Wind Sovereign Lance(Aero Javelin)！ ！ 」
The surprised Marika instantly fired continuous elementary magic1.
The blazing red fire ball slammed at the body of the Mothman and burned it.
She’s saving the next bullet to the place where the Mothman retreated then pierced it with the lance of gale made of wind element magic. The vacuum spearhead shoot through both of its leg and piercing the boulder behind it then broke into small bullets. From behind, the Mothman which lost its legs, become no different than a rock falling forward.
Kurando didn’t let go of this chance. Grasping tightly his long sword, he pointed it tip towards the head of the Mothman who was falling in his direction. When he’s looking at the tip of his sword, the longsword pierce to the back of it head from its mouth. The Mothman let out its death throes while its limbs moving violently and finally stopped moving after spitting a dark-bluish colored fluid.
「Why are you suddenly charging forward?. At this rate you won’t live too long! 」.
「I wonder if that was a little dangerous situation just now?」
「It’s not a Little, you know」
「Then, It was really in a great danger. Isn’t it? Something likes that」
「……Geez, fine then. Haah, you’re not being affected by it at all, it’s not even worth worry about you 」
「Though that it might be a little lonely」
Marika was pouting and averting her face, and remaining silent.
（How childish. If you don’t like it you can go alone you know? ）
Kurando was walking, the floating Marika was following from behind, when he peeks behind, she had a completely unnatural pose as if she’s plainly saying 「I’m irritated」
Even when Kurando is calling her name, she’s pretending to not hearing it, completely like a child throwing a tantrum. Although he thought that she was just joking at first.
A moment later, he was speechless when he understands that she’s showing her anger in her own ways.
Geez, just how come it became like this.
As far as he know about her, though she possessed wisdom and intelligence, he never thought that she was completely beyond childish in regard to restraining her emotions. She, who’s fallen asleep for thousand years, even assuming that she, was only active for 19 years; her actions are still too young. Seeing her average behavior, and the fact that he must deal with it only made his stomach ache3. She had a pretty face, since it’s as if she’s a fairy herself, her grace made one think that she’s a noble daughter.
In short, it might be because her personal experience is zero. Assuming that she never left her hut even once, and then she probably never comes in contact with anyone except for her mother. Been a beauty, it was just like she’s living in cheat mode with just that much, or so he thought but, this parallel world isn’t so sweet. But, he really couldn’t come with any solution at all, and just like that they continue walking and gradually saw the slope. They carefully descended on the wetland and the next thing they saw was an open meadow.
Tachibana* and dandelion** are growing all over that place. When they’re walking slowly while being showered by wet green wind and petals, a gigantic tree was towering alone in the center of that meadow.
Kurando rubbed his hand on the rugged part of that tree trunk. For some reason, it lighten his mood.
Viva nature. Viva huge tree.
「Oooh, It was in this place. It had become a really a big guy」
Marika who was silent up to this point cancelled her floating magic and getting down to the land, muttered toward the tree. The big tree had a rough and enormous trunk that made one thinks of its long age. When it was called Ento, its trunk shivered a little and then after it made a big sneezing, it opened its eyes wide.
This voice is, OOOH.
Long time no see」
「How do you do, Ento. By the way, you were moved to this place huh. I didn’t know」
「The tree just SPOKE……！ Wooow, how the heck he’s talking? Where are the vocal cords? 」
「Please forgive this, Ento. Even though it’s our reunion after a thousand years, I brought along this ridiculous thing」
「Fumu, Marika. Is this man, your spouse? 」
「Wha ……… Fool, please don’t say such stupid things！ How can me, a noble high-elf, of all things been paired with a man like this? 」
「OyOy. Please don’t forget that this Kurando-san is still here mind you? I really will cry at this rate you know」
「Fufu. I see, it’s better if you didn’t lie to yourself, Marika. Your mother Tarika as a result of being picky was unable to marry for almost 3000 Years. It won’t be strange if you’re looking for a partner soon. Otherwise, if you’re not being paired with anyone, you will live a lonely life alone. ALONE!!! 」
「E-erm, Ento. Please, don’t put so much emphasis in me being alone. I’m not a lonely woman」
「Am I wrong？」
「You’re wrong, I’m just in the middle of choosing right now. If I feel like it, I can have one or two spouse」
「Stop with that bluffing. I know that from thousand years experience of my life. There’s nothing that I don’t know in this world. I know everything. And see through everything」
「Thousand years huh……。Even so, come to think of it, aren’t you also a bachelor?」
「I’ve five already. And have many children in other places. It should be around three hundred years ago that I’ve separated with my last wife2. Bachelorhood is just poison to any living being. It corrupts your blood, ruin your mind, made you lose any aspiration towards life, strengthens your grudges, and increases your grumblings with every passing day. Remember that」
「Never. In my case, my past days were never wasted. Absolutely not wasted」
「Fu~mu. So, for you to come as far as this place, it doesn’t seem that you came here just to meet me. It’s around thousand years since you fall asleep, and if there’s some change . Is it because the seal of evil god loosened? 」
「Yeah, that’s right. That’s why I’m stopping by in this place, and this man is tagging along the way」
While his branches rustled, Ento is looking at Kurando with his large deep black eyes.
「It might be dragging our talk but. This man isn’t evil. On the contrary, he’s rare kind of human. He has a pair of untainted eyes」
「Oi, just say that it was my face please. I wonder if that mean that I’ve yankee-like face with veins bulging from my forehead like in some manga」
「Ento. You, just don’t know the wickedness of this man. He just suddenly came to kill me, grope my breast, peeked at my nude body, and then grope my breast while I was sleeping. Or should I say, that he’s groping my breast so much that this pervert is almost like a baby wishing for his mother milk …….!！ 」
「Ah, you noticed huh」
「Nou, what so bad about that?」
「you know Marika-san. You’re making a scary face right now」
「That’s what I mean by rare. This man is, in addition of not a wicked one, is also a man who really wants you. In the first place, you should be able to easily kill him with your power as many times as you want. In other words; for you to not do that; Marika. It’s because you already trust this man, and there’s no other reason aside from that」
「Uhhmm. Anyway, now that I know that during the thousand years I didn’t meet Ento, you’re unexpectedly turned into a pervert old man. That’s why I should take a little detour whenever I pass this area in the future」
「No need to be shy Marika」
「That’s right, Marika. Just quickly open your crotch, and heart to me3」
「Kurando. You just blurted the wickedness in your heart」
「Let’s go back. What are you waiting for, Kurando」
Marika turns her heels, and quickly distancing herself from Ento´s place.
「Oi, Marika. Geez, it’s that okay. Didn’t you just meet after a long time? 」
「He should wither and explode already4」
Kurando screaming [Uwaaah] loudly while being frightened by Marika in his heart. Then, he noticed that they’re start to speak normally again. When he looks behind, he saw Ento winking at him.
He’s such a good natured old-man, despite being just a plant. Today somehow turned weird.
「Marika, and Kurando ……Take care」
「OU！ You too Ento-jiisan, live a long life！ 」
Kurando is half running after Marika who’s puffing her cheeks in irritation.
「Isn’t he your old acquaintance？」
「Yeah, he was raised in my backyard a long time ago. In thousand years, he had grown up this much. The time flows really fast right」
「Despite talking like an old man, he’s younger than me. When he grew considerably big, the garden wasn’t enough for him anymore so my dear mother who knew that move him somewhere in this forest I’m surprised, never I thought that we’ll meet again at that place. Fuuh, I feel awfully tired for some reason today. Let’s go back」
「yeah. There’s also that useful magic」
Marika’s using the no attribute magic to create distortion in the dimension all the way till the hut. Marika taking Kurando hand walks into the distortion rift that was drifting in the air. Her hand was soft and small. When he intentionally entangled their fingers, Marika glared at him as if she’s angry.
「Should I toss you into the dimensional rift？」
「Please pardon me from that since I’ll really cry in that case 」
Marika muttered [baka] while passing the dimensional rift and then instantly arrived in front of her hut. The time is already passing the evening; it’s already so dark that they can’t even see each other despite being right next to each other.
「Anyway, didn’t we advanced at considerably fast pace today? Right」
He was trying to get an agreement. At that moment, Marika collapsed into his embrace.
（OiOi, first a sharp tongue, and suddenly captured her flag！？）
When Kurando catch her body, Marika’s eyes are shut tight, and she’s breathing roughly. When her body falls into his embrace it feels hot like it was on fire, her porcelain white cheeks were flushing red. When he gently places his palm on her forehead, it was hot and wet with her sweat.
「Oi, are you alright！ Hang in there! 」
「Nn. So noisy, I’m just a bit tired, that’s all. Release me at once……」
Though Marika is trying to put a strong front by leaving Kurando arm, two, three steps, her steps are staggering as if she’s jellyfish then staggering she crumbles to the floor. Kurando rush to her side to lift her. She’s already unconscious, and beads of sweat appeared all the way til her nape.
Kurando carry Marika on his back and put her on her bed in her hut. She won’t respond no matter how many times he calls her name. If it is a special chronic disease, it would be beyond his ability.
He left the hut and went to the backyard to fetch the water from the well and then he borrows a towel from the closet in her room, and placed the dampened towel on her forehead.
Kurando has never catch a cold, or to be precise he’s never fall sick5. Call the doctor is what he’ll do in an usual case but, even if he’s going back to the village, he doubt whether there’s such person in that kind of deserted village.
In the first place, even if they have one, there’s no way they’ll lend their hand at the supposed to be perpetrator who’s causing the constant assault of monsters in their village. To begin with, if he says that the witch has caught an illness, they might misunderstood that Kurando is betraying them, or in worst case the villagers might think that this is a chance and come to this hut.
「What do I do, all paths are blocked…..」
He’s in a desperate state where he’s unable to find any solution. While looking at Marika who’s breathing roughly in pain, the pain he felt in his chest is as if it was ripped apart. In the first place, he’s an extremely passionate man. Even if he can bear his own pain, he can’t endure seeing the suffering of others .
Though it just someone he meet a few days ago, he already felt an undivided empathy toward her. It’s different from like or dislike of man and woman, he want to help Marika, if can, he’s willing to swap places right now.
「Hang in there, HANG IN THERE. Marika」
Speaking of what he can do, Kurando is just like an idiot clasping her hand from her side. A little while later, Marika opened her feverish eyes.
「Ah, this place is……？」
She’s confused why she’s in this place, and then look at her side with perplexed eyes.
When Marika’s looking at Kurando from up close, her lips warped as if she’s mocking herself with moistened eyes.
「Sorry, I bring trouble to you. So, what will you do? 」
「The current me is powerless. You promised the villager that you’ll bring my head and then you’ll get your reward for that; am I wrong? 」
「You, don’t joke around at time like this」
「That’s the fact right. Even if you say that, you are an adventurer right. You should just ignore the evil god, that’s the simplest way to do. My magical power is extremely faint. Even you can strangle me to death with your bare hands before I can even complete my aria」
「There’s no way I can do something like that. You’re just too paranoid！」
Overwhelmed by Marika’s words, a bright red spark lit inside his head. When he almost shouting loudly at her, she closed her eyes and bites her lips as if being frightened. That was just like a kid being frightened by the adult rebuking them. Maybe because she’s frightened, her body is shivering as if she has caught a fever. Kurando felt a tingling bitter feeling in his chest.
Why he was shouting at her? Even though, she is just feeling a little uneasy.
Kurando gently stretch his arm, Marika with half-opened eyes thought that he will hit her and shut her eyelids tightly. He was holding back his power as much as possible, gently patting Marika’s face. Her red pupils looked in amazement. He continued to do that as if trying to calm her.
「It’s okay already」
He keeps on gently brushing her face, and before long Marika falls into a deep sleep as she feels secure. And just like that her breathing soothed soon, curled like bear and her breath calmed down *.
And then, she woke up a while later.
「Oi, are you okay now. What do you want me to do?」
「Sorry, I’m just shaken. I’m okay now. This, I think this is just a common fever……」
「Is that so? 」
「Yeah. It always turned out like this every times I move a lot or using great amount of magical power. Now, I’m catching cold. So I must rest for a while」
「I see. Is there something I can do for you? 」
「Uhm, about that」
「That’s, though I think it’s good if you can do that. I put medicines at the top most shelves of the closet. Please take that, and then, could you also fetch water while you’re at it」
「Yeah, leave it to me！ I’ll nurse you back to health」
Marika who’s unable to lift even her head, with her hazy consciousness was showing Kurando the place to get the medicines.
（That is strange. Can an ordinary fever worsened to this level? ）
He made her drink the powdered medicine while supporting Marika head. This was all he could do for her. He pulls the chair from the living room, placing it at the side of her bed, and then clasped her hands. Looking at Marika’s suffering was also painful for him. Time passed by, now is dawn. He replaced the towel on her forehead for several times, though when he wiping her face, he knows that her condition was only worsened.
Around the noon, Marika seems to be almost run out of breath; her pale skin became even more transparent. No matter how he thinks about it, this is definitely not a common fever. On the other hand, he has no clue other than the fact that this isn’t a fever.
Suddenly, he remembered about Ento who he met yesterday. The conclusion is that he can’t think of anything aside Ento, for her who’s living a life without any relative. If he’s looking for aid, the village would be at the bottom of the priority for their grudge toward the witch, and it’ll take a few days to reach the village.
At the time when he was walking along with Marika in the forest, they were walking while confirming the situation in their surroundings, though it need 4 hours to reach Ento´s place, maybe he can bring it down to 3 hours for a round trip by running and only bringing his sword.
「I’ll be back immediately. Wait for me, Marika」
He then separated their clasped hand. Though her consciousness was hazy, her grip strengthened for a moment.
Kurando steeling his resolve undid her fingers and leave the hut without turning around. He knew from the light that shone through the windows that it was a nice weather after a long time. He made sure to carry the map, and walking the path that he already imprinted in his memories. He takes several deep breaths and then, sprinted in one go. He remembers perfectly the path that they’re traversed once before. Pushing through the bushes, he’s running at full speed traversing the animal trail. While at the same times only worrying whether Marika condition is worsened or not. He prays in his heart so that he won’t meet any monster while he’s running at full speed. Or at least the two kind of monster called Mothman and Locust Swarm he met just before. As for this time, if he happens to meet such opponent then he has no choice but to flee at full speed. Without draw his sword as much as possible. As he didn’t has any leisure to do that kind of thing. Marika is waiting for me.
After wondering whether he already did a full dash for one hour, his breathing become rougher and his heart is beating like crazy. This is completely different from a pavement road with asphalt, this road consume several times more stamina and concentration to move on. His whole body feel like it’s about to ablaze, sweat trickling down non-stop from his forehead traversing his chin, and then fallen to his chest. The steep path is kept on coming showing no sign of end. As his tongue stretched out like a thirsty dog, he descended toward the seemingly endless slope. This is a shortcut. The twigs were sometimes poking into his face or eyes. He ran while enduring the pain. Whit his hand wiping the flowing sweat on his ears and nape, the flowing sweat becomes salt and a crunchy sound of salt is heard. It reflects the intense sunlight today.
He somehow managed to arrive at the field of his memories, and catching the sight of a soaring big tree in the middle of it, he felt relieved at heart. Somehow Ento already noticed Kurando presence, and looking at him with his big and black gentle eyes. To summarize it, he then told about Marika condition till yesterday and, Ento immediately gave his verdict
「Maybe、that’s due to Poison. When one’s bitten by that bug, the animals will fall into a hot fever but, it’ll prove fatal for an individual with frail body」
「But nothing happens to me despite being bitten by them」
「Marika is a high-elf. And of course that made her a little different. She has a really frail body but, have an extremely high magic resistance. A trifling cut wound can turn into an extremely terrible wound」
Fortunately, Ento have the knowledge about how to make the antidote. He’s gathering the necessary ingredients with the forest small birds and skillfully handling it with his arm-like-trunk, mixing and adjusting the ingredients to make the medicine.
「By the way, Marika can be considered as a full-fledged high elf. Though she most likely won’t die just because bug poison, there’s still extremely small chance for it. Now, quickly give this to her. Since I’m unable to leave this place to deliver it and see her」
「Sorry for the trouble, I’m indebted to you！」
「Hahaha. For you to say such words right away. For you who can be considered as an infant for her. Kurando, please take care of her. She actually feels lonelier than what she show」
Since there are many descending slopes in the return trip, he returned faster than he estimated. He doesn’t even meet the monsters he was worrying the most. The sky that shows the sign of coming spring dyed in a beautiful light blue color. Cotton like clouds drift around sparsely. The rise of the temperature made one’s feel uncomfortable when they put on a coat. While continuously descending the slopes, the fatigue is gradually piling up in his knees, and it seems that it won’t hold any longer. He grit his teeth and enduring the assailing pain. Since he feels that he can return to the hut at a faster speed.
When his tightened mind lessens while descending a slope, he suddenly felt a terrifying killing intent from his back. He then jumps from the slope which made his body move like swimming in the air “Swishh”, the sound of something cutting the air next to his ears. And then the sound of arrows piercing through something. Kurando turned his head to look at his back.
There he saw the shadow of 4 black clothed people. There’s no doubt about it. It were the assassins that suddenly come out of nowhere to attack him few days ago. And he can see that those four silently draw their swords. Marika’s hut is so close. He mustn’t involve her who is suffering with poison. It seems he’s left with no choice but to kill all of them in this place without sparing any of them. As he set his stance, he throws his scabbard and then fiercely runs along the slope.
1. TL : Elementary? That name is too cool to be JUST an elementary spell (it even cooler than medium rank magic) ↩
2. TL: Just how the heck a tree can have wives?][ED: life will find the way ↩
3. TL: -_-‘ ED: Well… he is honest I’ll give him that ↩
4. TL: the kanji for wither[枯れ] is also can read as die, or explode; ED: so a riajuu tree huh; TL : Yeah, Ento is a Riajuu tree ↩
5. TL: Only stupid person can’t catch a cold ↩