-March to the Dark Forest-
I go back to the room Deo had prepared for us after finishing up the conversation with Diadora. Christina-san, Selia, Marle, and Fio greet me. Entering, past the door, there are two beds against the left and right side of the wall. On each wall, there are refreshing flowers arranged inside vases sitting on top of the lantern fretwork decorated with patterns of a dancing fairy on it.
On top of the wooden floor, there is a thick layer of white carpet with exquisite embroidery design skillfully put in place. Lastly, the cushions are made up of plant fibers and fully stuffed with cotton. Selia is relaxing comfortably as if she’s at home. Covering the large window is a simple and neat laced curtain. The moonlight shining on the see-through curtains caused it to appear pale white.
“Fio and Marle, you two came over. I heard that staying up late at night isn’t good for your skin.”
Fio changed her clothes and is now dressing in a thin and loosed green sleepwear piece. Beautiful fabric with a smooth luster, it must have been made from the threads harvested from the silkworms of Ente. The fabric around the sleeves and neck area seems thick but it is in fact light.
When such high quality material can be traded in the future, people who are interest in the cities will certainly pay a large amount of money for it.
While such worldly thoughts occur in the corner of my mind, Fio raises the wooden cup in her hand and replies.
“It’s alright. If someone drinks this flower tea mixed with Falena honey, their skin will remain smooth and healthy for a long time.”
Fio gives me a reply. On her skin, no dirt, no pimple, and no stain, are visible. The Wood Elves aren’t the only Elven race that have beauteous features, and thus food and drinks are not the key element which support their good looks.
“Fumu… Still, old age will not leave the skin undamaged.”
“A girl loves to consider herself beautiful all year-round, Dran.”
Fio replied in a cold, harsh tone, which I find interesting. I can only shrug my shoulders lightly and give a follow up reply.
“I’ll keep that in mind”.
Perhaps the reality is, that this Wood Elf girl’s actual age might have exceeded three digits. Well, only speaking about outer appearance, which I can alter if I so choose, denying Fio’s words is unneeded. I proceed to sit down on an unoccupied chair and Selia considerately passes me two cups each on a dish, filled with still steaming soup.
The cups and dishes have various details and cleverly carved designs such as of ivies, flowers, and pecking birds. Each feather on the small bird was carved in detail, the flower petals look so fresh and soft as if wanting to sway in the wind. Wonderful craftsmanship and artistic skills were put into creating these.
Cultivating plants and the artistic nature of those who live in the forest is a big part of what defines who they are, specifically for the Wood Elves. I am touched, I think to myself.
“Dran-san, please. Here is today’s supper.”
“Thank you, Selia. Fio came over and supplied the meal, it seems.”
“Um. I fought against that person on an empty stomach so it was difficult.”
“It’s delicious-ni. Christina-san and Selia-san said it was delicious-ni.”
Marle, seated on top of a blanket made from leaves on top of Fio’s lap while eating a cookie held by both hands, spoke up to me with a smile on her face. The purest sincerity contained in the voice of this little fairy captivated me. Feeling like so, I let out a small smile.
“If Marle says so, then it must be true. Now, I will gratefully accept it.”
The large dish is filled with thin rice porridge and gives off a sweet aroma of vegetables used in the cooking process. My stomach only had dried meat and bread earlier during the day, thus it is growling due to hunger. After all, the Wood Elves’ ingredients for their daily diets can only be found within the Ente forest.
Already, Fio, Selia, and Christina had finished their meal as the girls’ dishes are empty. It seems that some of the seasoning such as salt and pepper was not put into the soup, but by using various vegetable, a complicated and hard to describe taste of sweetness was created. Although the meal is quite simple, I would not grow tired of eating and drinking this everyday.
At first, the rice porridge’s fragrance suggested a taste slightly like boiled wheat, but after deeply thinking about it, from the sweet smell and a tender sweet taste, it’s closer to that of honey. Taking the first spoonful of the rice porridge and putting it inside my mouth, my tongue immediately flickers due to honey-like sweetness spread out on top of it. After tasting such refined flavor, I feel satisfied from the bottom of my heart and let out a breath of relief.
“My mind feels at ease after having a taste of this. I feel like I can eat this forever.”
“Fufu, it’s good that you’ve taken a liking toward it. Christina-nante finished eating hers in a blink of an eye. When she was eating, she looked comfortable and beautiful.”
“I’ve displayed something embarrassing.”
Says Christina-san. On her pretty face floats a shy and embarrassed smile. Since even before coming into the forest of Ente, we had nothing but preserved food prepared for the duration the trip, I have to agree that our appetite for different kinds of food had risen greatly. This person’s desire for a fresh meal easily betrayed her noble atmosphere. I can imagine what it was like despite the fact that we only know each other for a short period of time.
“Ha~ Christina-san, she ate so much yet she still retains her slim figure. If only I can improve my figure to be as fit as hers, I’m so jealous.”
“It is in my constitution to not gain fat. I do not miss any of my training. Everything I eat, I intend to be use. It is because I followed these guidelines strictly that I am how I am today.”
“But Christina-san’s waist is really tight, for you to show that appearance. As a woman, I am dreadfully envious of you-desu.”
“When you put it like that Selia, the same thing applies to you.”
Christina-san replies to Selia shyly. It doesn’t look like she is accustomed to this type of conversation, or else it could be that when talking to someone of the same generation and sex, Christina-san’s tongue freezes and becomes dull.
“I take in life energy as food and because of that, I don’t have any excessive useless meat on my belly or under my arms.”
“From my perspective, Christina-san and Selia are plenty beautiful with large breasts and splendidly narrowed waist.
I, as a Wood Elf, inherited my race’s slim body trait. We can only gain muscle to some extent. Do you think both of you are in the position to complain about your appeal?”
Fio starts to touch herself at her chest and then around her waist line making petapeta sound. Doing something like that in front of a man’s eyes is a little improper, but it’s just an innocent act. Well, taking a look at Fio’s figure closely, I am certain that in her chest region, behind her sleepwear, two small breasts are present. Those curves just aren’t as highly drawn mountains as Christina-san and Selina’s. Looking at her proportions a little closer, Fio’s long and slender body lines were elegantly drawn. That and the tender skin covering her limbs makes it seem like she is a delicate piece of artwork that would shatter if the slightest amount of force was to be exerted upon it.
Giving off the impression of a lovely and transient girl just like a flower, which blooms in a field. It’s also a form of beauty. Fio’s currently blessed with a slightly voluptuous chest and overall modest looking proportions. Speaking of which, because director Olivier was wearing a robe, her curves were hidden from my sight, thus her figure are unclear. However, that’s not to say that there’s no compliment for her voluptuous figure.
While I was rudely taking a close look at Fio, wearing her one piece nightwear, Fio herself and Christina took notice of my gaze, then Selia too, noticed and gives me a look full of criticism and in fact, the gazes feel as if they are piercing through my body. Although I did not look at Fio with lust, it would seem the ladies are very much one minded and had decided that I had given her that kind of gaze.
“Dran, can you stop staring in this circumstance? Your action isn’t something to speak well of in any way.”
“You are a young man who had his coming-of-age. I understand that you would have interest in such things. You’re a man after all, but please consider the time and place….”
Fio doesn’t seem to be angry and instead speaks to me in a teasing manner, while Christina-san uncomfortably lets her gaze wander, mildly showing me rebuke. Selia too, starts to pout and puffs her cheek, her eyes narrow and her gaze sharpens to the point I feel as if it will puncture a hole in my face. Marle is the only one who doesn’t care about our little exchange as she keeps nibbling on a small piece of a leftover cookie.
“Please don’t feel so downhearted. Fio doesn’t need to feel envious about anyone else, I was just speaking out mindlessly.”
“Fun~. Well, let’s just leave it at that. Since there are one man and four women, I sort of feel like teasing Dran.”
“Eee, Fio wants to tease Dran-san -ni?”
Staying quiet up until now, Marle speaks up and enters the conversation, Fio’s speech is then thrown into disarray as her best friend looks up at her.
“Its not like that, Marle. I was just saying, just saying. Really, I’m not intending to tease Dran.”
“If that’s the case, then it’s ok -ni,” Marle replies feeling relief and lets out a small smile. Afterwards, we start talking about the outside world, outside of the forest, for some time. The stories we tell each other paint a picture of flowers blooming energetically in a field*, and for the first time since we met, I feel our relationships have greatly deepened, that is until Christina-san begins to share her story, then, the flowers couldn’t help but wither away. (T.L. I’m pretty sure it meant the atmosphere.)
Christina-san is enrolled in the Magic Academy in the city of Galois located south of Bern, and since she is on a long holiday break, she chose to stay in Bern for the time being, she also states that someone of her bloodline is living in Bern. Following that, the subject of her story focuses on details about life at the magic academy rather than herself, Christina-san’s red lips hesitate to open up, it’s obvious that she has difficulty putting words on her tongue.
Who could it be in the village of Bern ―― the village’s Chief would be be my first guess ―― but it doesn’t matter, the lineage of this silver haired scarlet eyed beauty isn’t a concern at this moment.
Fortunately for Christina-san, no one tries to follow up with questions, seeing her stuttering speech. Taking notice of Christina-san’s frowning expression, Selia quickly changes the topic of the conversation to about herself. Seeing that she is attentive, I am impressed.
“It’s my turn, I come from the village inhabited by Lamias called Jarura located on the southern side of the Moresu mountain range!”
“Is that so? Even though there are snake people living near Sai-West, there are no Lamia, I’m quite eager to hear your story.”
Selia intended to change the flow of the conversation and Fio went with the flow. Seeing that the attention is no longer on her, Christina let out a sigh of relief. In the meanwhile, Selia continues to tell her story. She talks about what a Lamia’s community does and how it functions, and the ways they carry out their everyday life. Judging from her story, it’s obvious that it is a society that hasn’t been influenced much by human beings. The same thing could be said of the Wood Elves, Fio is very interested in Selia’s story and focuses all her attention on Selia.
“A Lamia and a man from another race, they have children and live happy together. There are various Demi-Human tribes living in the Moresu Mountains as well, and we would exchange goods from time to time.
Aljen’nu-san’s carapace colour texture is different from Arachne-san, while there are Slime-san, and Harpy-san living near by as well. Beside, most recently, Lizard-san was moving and settling near the lake close to our village, and sometime you can even see the beautiful appearance of Dragon-san too.
The mountain range is vast and no one knows exactly how vast it is, but even so, Water Dragon-san lives in the lake, sometimes Wind Dragon-san would soar over the sky, and it’s certain that in a cave somewhere, Earth Dragon-san would be dozing off.”
Arachne, Slimes, and Harpies: Although all them had sometime, in the past, tasted human flesh, I believe that it is possible for all races to come to a mutual understanding.
Maybe by using Selia and the Lamia race as a medium, and opening up a new route into the Moresu mountain range, trading with these races can be done.
Now is not the time to think about that matter, it is best to keep those thoughts in the back of my mind and focus more on the ongoing story. Currently in the back of my mind, the Beast race and the Wood Elves living in Ente, the Arachne, Slimes, and Harpies living in the Moresu mountain range, as well as Lizard tribe, all gathering at Bern, all the different races with their own respected culture history intimately exchanging words, money and goods, as well as different type of foods and drinks, putting prior consideration into it, such is the way which I imagine what the future can be like.
“For generations, Jarura was governed by the Lamia Queen, but this is not heredity. There would be candidacies or recommendations, and in the end, the people would vote for who will be queen.”
“It’s an election then. Here inside Ente, we Wood Elves do things differently, Mikohime-sama would listen to Yggdrasil-sama’s voice and the partrich of each village would assemble together to assist Mikohime-sama. And that is because Mikohime-sama is someone who speaks for Yggdrasil-sama, and she does not take part in political affairs thoughtlessly.”
I find the stories they tell are unexpectedly useful, meanwhile the moon continues to rise further up the horizon.
Without having to worry about the Devils attacking, the conversation heated up and continued well into the night up until midnight, after which we went straight to bed. As I greet my consciousness as I’m awakening in the morning however….
“Fumu, it’s stiff.”
It’s somewhat painful. It feels almost as if I’m being squeezed on all sides and directions. I try to move my arms and legs but my limbs barely move, this situation is far from what you call freedom. Opening my eyelids slowly, I find myself inside a room and see the morning sunlight illuminating the curtain, the air smell differently from when I usually get off of bed in Bern.
This is inside Sai-West, my lungs are filled with the mixed smell of flowers and trees everywhere. And there’s another one that’s different from those, a sweet scent is being emitted from the back of my spinal cord and down to my aching lower abdomen.
Whatever it is, it looks like it is still half asleep, but it looks like Selia’s serpent lower half is trying to strangling my body like a game to it’s death――So Selia is the one at fault here――her serpent half had completely coiled around me. Although my body was being coiled around by Selia’s lower half and was lifted off from the bed, I was still able to stay asleep in such a posture. For two people to be sharing the same room, no one seems to be on guard at all, it’s most likely that Selia did it subconsciously.
While Selia’s lower body was like that, well, her upper half had her arms wrapped around my neck, hugging my turned head. Being hugged so tightly, I might be mistaken for a certain someone’s stuffed hugging animal or something, and her face is nearly touching the nape of my neck. The sweet scent from earlier had been stimulating my male part, it is in a Lamia’s nature to be sending off alluring pheromones to seduce the opposite sex of another race after all.
Even if there’s someone with a mind made of iron and was able to withstand the scent, their iron will would be melted away with just a gentle tempting touch on the cheek and their reason would be utterly blown to pieces with a luring whisper in their ear. Any male would fall prey to the demonic snake’s charm. Although, when one sees Selia’s innocent and comfortable looking sleeping face while mumbling, no sane person would think that this girl is a demonic snake. That charm is something Lamia possess, and is mostly used to ensure that their prey won’t escape their grasp.
“Time to get up, Dran.”
“Good morning to you, Christina-san. Even though the sun had just risen, you’re up early.”
I took off my gear and went to sleep like Christina-san did, and Christina-san who had woken earlier than the rest of us sits down on top of the bed. With Selia coiling around me, I turn and give out a small smile. Already with her face cleansed, she’s preparing to look fresh, Christina-san then ties up her silver hair using a deep blue ribbon with gold thread embroidery on it, then she proceed to put on her armor and hangs her sword on her waist, now she’s ready to head out and fight.
“Have you gotten a little excited perhaps? Your eyes seem to be much clearer than usual. You didn’t take notice when Selia was making her way crawling into your bed. Because I thought that surely you weren’t going to be attacked, and because you were asleep while I was drowsy, I didn’t do anything to stop it.”
“Perhaps she was probably searching for the warmth of a human’s skin, and it’s likely that she was doing it while being unconscious and also to replenished life energy for the upcoming battle.”
“She did that, by chance?”
Christina-san raises her lovely eyebrows in suspicion making small wrinkles appear on top of it. Lamia would often suck the life energy out of their prey, robbing their prey’s life. Whether it be conscious or unconscious, if by chance Selia was to suck away my life energy, my life would be in danger, this is probably what Christina-san fear happened.
“Fumu, the amount of life energy Selia took was only in small quantity. It will not hinder me in battle in anyway, it’s ok to not worry about it too much.”
Sometimes, Selia’s lower body would move up and down rubbing against my body while making the “ZuriZuri” sound in the process, the superb feeling of countless scales rubbing against me gives me so much pleasure that I am unable to move. Then, Selia’s hair and cheek sweeps over my neck, and I would feel that my whole body is being tempted every time her lips touch my skin. I release life energy along with the sexual pleasure, the sleeping Selia sips up my power, completely oblivious to her surroundings. I had intended to share with her my vigor before the fighting start, but there should be no problem if it’s like this.
I take a glance at Selia’s face and notice that her lips curl up slightly. Her eyelids shake and in turn make her golden eyelashes tremble, her attractive glossy red lips shine with the morning light, her straight and graceful nasal bridge is very lovely, an absolute beauty that would make others completely forget they had ever seen a demon prior to seeing her. Although I want to brush her golden hair to reveal even more of her white cheek, my arms are being tightly restrained by Selia’s lower half. And due to Christina-san and I conversing with one another, Selia was finally starting to wake. Her eyelashes tremble greatly, but she manages to open her eyelids completely revealing her blue eyes and the first thing she sees is my face.
Seems like her mind is still fog with sleep, Selia said my name with her tongue not completely functioning. The difference between our position before and now is that we are facing each other and are close enough to feel each other’s breath, all of which still hasn’t sunk in yet. Selia knows that it is morning and it takes her time waking up, I will wait for Selia to realize the situation without rushing it. Christina-san unnecessarily decides to butt in.
“Good morning, Selia. Did you sleep well?”
“Hai, I’m very well rested.”
Though she said that, Selia is still feeling sleepy and uses her left hand to cover her mouth, fuwaa, letting out a yawn and in the corner of her eyes, small drops of tear leak. Rubbing her sleepy eyes, Selia’s sleepiness gradually slips away until she finally takes notice of me, her large body winces. It’s good that she starts to tremble, but her lower snake body starts to squeeze a little tighter altogether as she trembles. I bear with it and keep my voice from blabbing out. Speaking aloud, Selia hesitates as she isn’t sure who is at fault.
“That, could it be that Dran-san on my bed….”
Selia speaks in a timid tone. Shyness and bewilderment was mixed in Selia’s words, I then tell her the truth in an indifferent tone.
“I’m on Selia’s bed, no it’s quite the opposite. Turn that way, that’s Selia’s bed isn’t it?”
I use my chin and point her in the right direction, Selia quickly realizes what I said was true and turns red, everything, all the way until her ears are red.
“Ano ano ano go, gomenasai*. Ah, why did I enter Dran-san’s bed. Soot, I’ll get off immediately.” (T.L. “Eh ehh ehh, I’m, I’m so sorry!”)
Selia undoes her coiling lower body that was holding tight around me, as her tail comes off my bed, she groans as she holds both of her hands against her bright face. Seeing that Selia won’t stop trembling, I decide to tease her, I grab her right wrist and draw her close.
I catch Selia off guard therefore she couldn’t put up any resistance, and once again the tip of our noses are close enough to feel the other’s breathing. With Selia staring at my face and having my image reflect off her pupil, I whisper to Selia.
“I’m sure that was night crawling, don’t you agree? I am a man you know. So, one can say that your action was not unintentional. If Selia agree to it, then I can help end your suffering.”
In that instant, Selia’s face heats up even more and I can almost see steam coming off of her bright red face, her mouth opens and closes furiously, she doesn’t know how to reply. Her tail stands straight upward from the middle to the tip, Selia’s current mental state is in complete chaos. Feeling that I may have gone a little overboard, I reflect on my action and slowly release Selia from my grasp. While Selia and I were doing our series of exchange, Christina-san watched and her face has reddened as well, then she forcefully clears her throat.
“A-ahem hum ahem. So, Dran. I know that you weren’t being serious, so stop teasing Selia already. Moreover, please consider your action in the appropriate time and place. Present in this room aren’t just you two but I as well, for you to be doing something like this just before the battle against the devils, I disapprove of your conduct, yup.*” (TL: she speaks in a tripping manner.)
Christina-san seems uncomfortable with this kind of atmosphere.
“Fufu, Christina-san is quite innocent. That said, fumu, there’s some truth in your word so I’ll say two things. Selia, I’m sorry, I went overboard with my prank. Come now, let’s first wash our faces and then we will head for breakfast.”
To show my consideration, I lightly tap Selia’s cheek, afterward Selia’s red cheeks finally return to normal.
“Enough already! I’ll go and freshen up myself, and Dran-san, please fix your words and manner next time!
I am at fault for entering Dran-san’s bed at my own convenience, I’ll reflect on this in the future.”
“Fumu, I’ll keep that in mind.”
I reply to Selia’s demand, but her snake eyes stare at me half heartedly and holding doubt, it would seem that my words are only half as trustworthy toward Selia.
Not long after, Gio and Fio show up after I finish with breakfast, I move on to carefully sorting out the Spirit Stones and taking extra care with the Akira Stone, and then I put on my gears. By the time all preparations were finished, the sun is just short from its highest point in the sky, and so we gather at Sai-West’s village hall. Looking up at the giant tree that stood out from the countless other trees in this village, the gigantic tree along with its leaves and branches spread wide covering the sky above the plaza that is in front of the building where we spoke to the elders the day before. This tree is the single biggest and oldest living tree in the entire Sai-West village. Meanwhile, Gio goes to fetch the elders.
When they arrive, everyone rises up, from the elderly to the young, and from the injured soldiers to the soldiers who survived in order to fight back, these warriors are all ready to engage Georg in battle and close the gate. The Wood Elves’ patriarch, Deo, the Wolf-men’s patriarch, Varaiku, and the Arachne’s matriarch, Aljen’nu, have gathered all the soldiers’ attention onto themselves. Gio comes back and before we know it, we are in the middle of the soldiers’ ranks. Then, Diadora and Olivier notice us and make their way over.
Diadora and Olivier’s appearances are almost identical to how they were yesterday, apart from Diadora’s dress which is part of her body, I had thought that Olivier would have changed into her battle clothing, but she is still wearing the same robe, just like yesterday, when she was in the meeting, holding a staff. I look at her staff that is almost the same height as its wielder more closely, the staff was carved from a tree branch originating from the World Tree, and has a total of ten magic stones and each of different elements embedded in it, which are: earth, water, fire, wind, ice, thunder, light, darkness, time, and space. That isn’t an item anyone can get their hands on. As Olivier makes her way over to where I am standing, the gazes that the crowd is giving her is a little strange, specifically the groups of Wood Elves and Wolf-men who live in Ente, apparently what they are actually looking at are the clothing and equipment she’s wearing from the outside world.
It seems that beside from Olivier, no one else had ventured to the outside world. Not venturing outside of the forest――they probably don’t know the outside world’s culture very well――they lack experience, experiences that warrior from out there possess and they don’t.
“Christina, you seem well.”
“Director Olivier-san. Yes, I have no particular problem. I’m well prepared and ready to engage the enemy.”
“That’s good. Such times are truly unfortunate, I did not intend to meet a noblewoman in such a place, please don’t overwork yourself, you are still young. Please don’t put yourself in life threatening scenarios. Please retreat in case the battle becomes too intense. If we lose, the remaining Wood Elves will join hands with the Kingdom and clash against the devils another time.”
Although her expression remains unchanging like a statue, the emotion in her words was quite expected, since Olivier is a Wood Elf who holds the title of Director at the magic academy, she cares for her student’s well being greatly. In contrast, Christina-san answer with a bright smile on her face. She smiles graciously, which causes a disturbing ripple in my mind.
“Please don’t be so sorry about this matter. Olivier-san, I feel that the grey cloud that had been covering up the sky is slowly scattering, letting the sun shine. I’ve come to understand that this is something that I must do while I live because I was more or less blessed with power far greater than other people, I’ve found the right opportunity to put it to good use. I will exhaust every last bit of my life on the line and slay every last devil that tries to ill this world.”
I can sense the restlessness in her nature. Christina-san really does intend to follow her words and is willing to battle Georg to the death. Needless to say, desperation will one day turn into despair, right now Christina-san might have no intention of throwing her life away. This situation is reminiscent with working with fragile glass, even the slightest mistake can turn into a big deal and shatter everything. Thinking about the possibility of Christina-san’s life being in danger, the atmosphere grew gloomy and everyone averted their eyes.
“Christina, my noble-lady’s gloomy mindset remained unchanged even after enrolled in the magic academy. I am not worthy of being called your teacher, my lady, the most I can do will be simply showing you which road to take, but even that still cannot be realized, there’s nothing else I can do but to curse my inabilities.
Your face seems to be a lot more bright and cheerful compared to yesterday.”
While the teacher tried her best to give her student guidance, Olivier, as the teacher, raises her beautiful eyebrows in pain for being unable to give her student proper directions. Seeing Christina-san and Olivier in this state, I simply don’t know what say. Then Olivier turns her gaze and looks at me. I wonder what she will request of me to do for Christina-san.
“Dran of Bern, it seems that thanks to you, Christina looks much happier compared to the one in my memory. First, I would like to offer my thanks. I’ve heard quite a few things about you from Denzel. You chose to ignore the offer, but otherwise you could have taken the entrance exam and attended school since long ago. I look forward toward the time when we will be acquainted.”
Olivier spoke of Denzel who is Risha and Airi’s uncle, he is also the one who had inherited talent in magic from the Maguru Obasan, he had a successful life in Bern and he excelled in classes in Galious even during his teenage years. Two times a year, he would come back to Bern and visit while bringing lots and lots of souvenirs, and once the Maguru Obasan introduced me to Denzel-san and I became his acquaintance, and every time we meet?, the entrance exam would be offered to me. Denzel-san had already been working at Galious for nearly two decades, and judging from Olivier’s tone as the school’s director, Olivier most likely wanted to judge my ability in person, one needs to observe her closely to see through her personality.
“Denzel-san went through great trouble to offer me the opportunity, but I decided to reject his offer time and time again, for that, I am sorry. Is Denzel-san doing well?”
“Ah yes, he is an individual who is very eager to teach. Also, he gets very heated up whenever it comes to researching a topic or idea. However, Maguru-dono* predicted that he will live his life as an unmarried man, and that seems to be the only pressing matter.”
“Well, Denzel-san isn’t the only child Maguru Obasan had in her marriage, it can’t be helped that he doesn’t concern himself with such matters….”
“What will happen, will happen. In any case, Dran, if you ever have a change of heart and want to enroll into the academy, feel free to visit Galois anytime. When that happens, Christina will surely be in delight, and I, as her teacher, will be very happy for her.”
I will have to think about it more carefully, this isn’t something I want to answer in a breeze. The topic concerning me entering the same academy Christina is enrolling at, I was interested during the conversation but I didn’t show that I was.
Is being more acquainted with the academy really a good thing? Christina-san is probably not someone who concerns too much at the academy. Olivier, well, I will need more breathing space to answer that after all.
As Olivier steps away from us, a figure of a person behind her who had waited to talk to us is revealed. I think that was very rude of me, I spoke with Olivier while oblivious to Diadora who was waiting. Conversing with Diadora yesterday seems to have had some effect, the atmosphere around her today seems peaceful. Last night, I healed the wound she received from Rafflesia with my power, now she’s in perfect condition.
“Good morning, Dran, Christina, and Selia. Your effort in battle yesterday was plenty enough, I will head into battle myself so you don’t have to accompany us.”
She speaks bluntly, I can’t tell whether or not there are feelings of care in Diadora’s words.
“That’s cold of you. This fight had become my fight as well, the condition yesterday was favorable, yes, but we did do all the preparations to be going after one another’s throat.
Diadora is going to take on Rafflesia alone, so then we will take care of the other matters up to the point when you succeed.”
“Unfortunately, my head is only filled with the urge for vengeance. I decided to think about living after taking my revenge first. You, of all people, should value your life above all.
For us who live in this forest, risking our life is a natural thing to do, but those that don’t belong here do not need to do the same.”
“I’m glad you are worrying about us. Diadora is very affectionate. However, as long as the devils exist in this world, all those who live in it are in danger. Thus, I cannot let those who live here be the only victim of bloodshed.”
“At this time, nothing will change no matter what I say. It’s not like your reason to fight is lacking. However, make your survival the priority.”
“Indeed. Life is a precious thing.”
Really, I was able to to understand it after I passed away living as a dragon, understanding the weight of life from the perspective of a human being.
While Diadora finished what she wanted to say, I call out to Christina-san and Selia, and we being to exchange a few words. Finishing up the chat with those two, I look up to observe. There are roughly 200 Wood Elves, 150 Wolves-men, 100 Arachne, and about one-hundred warriors from other races present in this place.
Even though they had suffered considerable casualties fighting against the devils up till now, this is still only a small part of Ente, where do all these people live.
The number would be even greater if I was to factor the non-fighters into account. The Wood Elves dress in the same scheme as Gio, equipped with hardened armor made of plants, most have a bow and arrows on their back, a sword at their waist and are holding a short spear in one hand, while some don’t.
All of the Wolf-men have similar strong physical appearances, they are all either one or two heads taller than I am, they are covered in tough fur above tallow skin and these two factors make for an outstanding natural armor against weapons, thus they only wear simple and lightweight protective gear on their arms and legs and no other type of armor anywhere. Wearing minimal gear means that they can be more agile with their movements which most of the time can be used in dodging, leaping, redirecting attack, changing directions and/or gaining the upper hand even against the greatest of weapons. For those who rely on mobility, armor is useless and causes more harm than good. So instead of that, they applied magical painted patterns onto their fur, magical charm placed on bird feathers, wearing ornaments made of minerals on their wrists, waists, and or necks.
And then the one-hundred Arachne also have painted patterns, similar to the Wolves-men, on their giant spider lower body, while their beautiful upper body are clad in the same type of armor similar to the Wood Elves. The Arachne’s ancestral origin was a female similar to that of the Lamia, and coincidentally enough, both race consists of only women. They also require to mate with a male from a different race to survive, it was also said that their ancestor’s first partner was a man from the human race.
Rumour has it that their speed and agility both greatly exceeds the Wolves-men, their fine body hair can also detect their enemy’s movement through the faint movement of air flow, and their eight eyes cover almost every direction, overall, their combat capability is very high. And again, similar to the Lamia, they too inherited the same curse their ancestor had into their soul, due to that, they naturally have high aptitude as witches, each individual is a very strong caster*. The tip of their individual spider leg is like a well pointed spear and is sharp like a blade, in addition, they also carry swords, spears, and staffs that serves as a magic catalyst. (T.L. Literally “Magic Soldier”)
The time to fight the dreadful devils approaches, there are great tension within the rank consisting of different races, the three elders show themselves and look over their soldiers, the place turns from fairly noisy to dead quiet and the only sound one can possibly hear is the sound of the wind blowing the leaves on the trees branches. Out of the three, the first one to speak up is none other than Deo. While the Wood Elves look at their patriarch in silence, the majestic-like voice roars, full of vigor, shaking the open space and echoing off of the trees.
“Warriors, those who live in the blessed forest Ente. Ever since those abominations set their foot onto the land, many of our brethren had fallen to their poison fangs, we will take back our home, our beloved forest, the forest screams as they continue to sacrilege it.
I will not forget their grief. I will not forget their anger. I will not forget their hatred. My brethren, now is the time to discard your fear of death, and now, we will hammer our anger out on the enemy!”
Excluding us, the Wood Elves and the Wolvemen warriors respond to Deo’s speech by raising their hands high, roaring and cheering. The sound echos to every corner in Sai-West, the battle cry was so inspiring that it shakes the trees’ souls to the core. To drive away the foul souls that are invading the land and their unreplaceable homes, that roar belongs to those who are risking everything to fight.
This battle is also for every tree and flower in this forest. Going by the information from the wind, located in the north seems to be the main gate, and that there are three auxiliary gates which are located in the south. Our forces will move as one toward the three gates before going north, then we will separate into three groups, and each will be responsible to take down their designated gate, all simultaneously. Capturing the three gates separately and then merging into one for the main gate, this is the safest and best defensive strategy we can use with the highest probability of success.
As we move closer to the demonified forest, we lose the benefits we would otherwise enjoy from the normal forest, but in order to get to those gates, we have to travel through the miasma and avoid as much of it as possible, the plan is as such. As we are advancing through the forest, everyone pays close attention to the surrounding and we are constantly communicating with one another. I follow behind the group of Wolf-men leading in the front. Gio is in command of a separate group of Wood Elves, with Fio accompanying him.
Then, our main force divides into three, Olivier would take charge of one group as she is someone who has the most experience, another would be the strongest Flower Spirit, Diadora, and then us who unexpectedly fall into the reinforcement group, approximately 180 warriors are allocated equally into each groups. We then proceed through the thick forest, the trees voluntarily move left and right, creating an easy path to travel. Since we are in a place which is vulnerable to ambushes, the trees would give us warnings before one was to happen. The enemy forces easily outnumbers us two or even three to one, but nevertheless, I predict that we will win. There are beings inside this forest who will limit the scope of that prediction however.
The problem lies in Georg, Geren, Georudo, and last but not least, Rafflesia, these four. Each of these individuals has the strength to match a thousand men. Here lies one of those four, and one would fall victim to them if they go at it recklessly. Using my dragon’s perception ability, I can immediately grasp the enemies’ movement and discern that they knew what we are up to, the four of them, including Georg, had moved into their battle line up to defend their specific gate. I, Diadora, and Christina-san would fight them one-on-one and face our force with victory in hand, although Olivier had gone off with an unknown number, we will take victory against the greater enemy.
Sure enough, the miasma had spread, the forest’s lush green colour landscape quickly ends and we see the deformed forest, some places are red and black, some are purple and blue, while at some other places it would be bright yellow, the colours are in complete chaos. The leaves on the tree branches had overgrown, and withered dry, while some would make a sound of scorching flesh bubbles gujuguju, every tree seems to all display the agony of death, as they drip out rotten and sticky residue out of their trunk. These are just a few examples of this wretched place, the forest’s soil, vegetations, air, the Wood Elves must have suffered greatly for having high affinity with nature, I walk close to Fio whose face had turned pale ever since she first saw it.
“Fio-chan, are you alright? Do you want to stop briefly and rest?”
Fio trembles and hunches over, Selia gives a deep concerning look, Fio continues to tremble as she reaches for the inside of her small bag on her waist and take out a light pink coloured leaf, then she puts it inside her mouth and starts chewing on it. Turning my head and looking at the other Wood Elves, they all seem to have the same kind of medical plant leaf in their mouth, that seems to help them purify the effects of the miasma. They might contain some factor of tonic restoratives. Fio soon regains her complexion, and the trembling of her body subsides.
“…..Yes, I’m alright now. Hah, I did not think that it would be this painful, and we still have a fair way to go into the denser area, will it be spreading out across the entire forest?
More or less this sound absurd but, we cannot fail in defeating those guys. It must be done not only for those who died but also for those who will live here in the future.”
Fio has the same mindset as most of the warriors here, and they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and come at the devils. I will have to prove myself in battle and respond to their feelings. After seeing the determination in Fio’s eyes, Selia holds in a small breath.
Leaving Fio’s innocent face aside, at this time, a tremendous feeling of dread is fast approaching. It does not matter if you are young or old, man or woman. Here and now, you stand as a warrior who had decided to put all else on the balance to fight for your hometown and your compatriots.
Selia could not say no to Fio’s resolution, thus she yields. I watch as the demonic soldiers, clad in the miasma, rapidly advancing to our position. They number in the 200 range. Since we didn’t fully part ways, there are two groups present, and that means we are at no disadvantage in number. Perhaps they are mere scouts sent to check the movements of our forces. With the enemies in sight, all of the Wolf-men’s fur stands up simultaneously, their beastly bodies immediately prepare for combat.
Our Arachne and Wood Elves in the rear also stand to each other’s shoulders*, their minds are concentrating and readying to unleash their magic. We had already tread inside the territory of the devils, it is no longer possible for us to receive the help of the healthy forest. Our magic caster composition seems to have no difficulty casting their magic and it seems their preparations were finished, the first attack went to the Arachne and the Wood Elves, using magic. Then follows the second attack wave, which involves using bows and arrows to down as many enemies as possible, then finally it would be close quarter combat which is where the Wolf-men will join the fray. Then show up the appearance of eight figures in a line, each with the width of a wagon, they are the Gafunu and on top of them are the demonic soldiers. This seemingly creates an image like man and horse united. Then comes the appearance of the Zarutsu, whom possesses immense strength, mixed with the horde of Zeruto, whom possesses extremely sharp claws. (T.L. This basically means they stand in a line.)
With the Gafunu moving like a single living animal, they aim to destroy our ranks by ramming it, their intention is to have a skirmish with the Zarutsu and Zeruto. However, our group of casters will not let them through easily. But since the devils’ defensive and offensive attributes has risen due to the miasma, this branch of our forces could not stop them using only bow and arrows on top of magic.
At this rate, the the casters’ magic will deplete, it will cause a dramatic change in the flow of battle if that happens. I, Christina, Selia, and Fio start casting our magic at the same time.
In my mind, I imagine a dozen spears of light raining down from the sky above, the spears mercilessly go through enemy’s vanguards. Within the area of this demonified forest, the types of spiritual magic and holy magic associating with the Gods are very useful. One’s magical power must be appropriate to that type of magic in order to use it.
“Obey me Light, the same Light that illuminated the universe since the dawn of time, shape yourself into the spear that will shred my enemy to pieces, 「Celestial Javelin」!!”
For an instant, the light over our heads becomes dim and darkness spreads, then a huge spear of light forms, bigger than the dozen of spears I made earlier put together. Imagine focusing light that had appeared since the beginning of the world, a vast amount of my magical power was mixed with that light and so its effect intensifies, radiating extreme heat, this spear was made to burn the opposition to nothingness, physically and spiritually. All living things will be blinded if they were to look at the 「Celestial Javelin」’s downpouring light directly, I move the spear, and in a flash, the Gafunu receives a direct hit.
Georg and Georudo combines their effort and skews the gigantic spear made of light, the Gafunu that could not tolerate the heat and magic were disintegrated without a trace, while some Gafunu ran in random directions while burning to death. It was already too late for them to run, I subsequently crash the spear of light and skew it into the burning ground. By the time the Celestial Javelin was extinguished, seven of the Gafunu have been destroyed, leaving one remaining, with only one Gafunu and a bunch of demonic soldiers, the caster division should have no problem clearing them out.
Other magic was used too, including Christina-san’s magic that rains down onto the demonic soldiers, stopping their advance. She used sharpened wind blades, a gigantic hammer that crashes onto the earth, and a downpour of thundering arrows from the sky. Casting so many magics of that level in quick succession, there might not even be a forest to save afterward.
Despite being severely wounded, the demonic soldiers seem to be able to maintain their existence, that is until a sinister figure appears and wipes them out without a trace. When the final piece of magic had finish preparing, the remaining devils coming at us are all erased. I used more power than I had originally planned, I suppose the magic I used was a little too potent, but if I hadn’t used it then the battle against Georg leading the enemy would not have end, anxiety builds up in my chest. It is natural to demonstrate aggression towards your sworn enemy, but requires sufficient power to do so. For those who are beginners, this might be the first time they engaged in actual combat, thinking like this might not be a bit unreasonable, however, they are jeopardizing their life nevertheless.
“It’s difficult but I’m alright.”
Fio speaks, pretending to be tough, as the Wolf-men warriors are readying their poised weapon and are about to assault the enemy’s line, I say the same thing in a small voice. We will have to disappoint the demonic soldiers who may feel relief, this is also to encourage ourselves, boosting our fighting spirit for the future battles as well. Comparing our forces to the devils’, there is no way we’ll lose this one. This battle is ours, they are telling themselves.
♦ ♦ ♦
After the forces at Sai-West drove away the devils’ army, shortly after it was decided that they will be dividing into three forces, each would go and destroy one of the three lesser gates connecting the two realms, traveling through the demonified forest. After guessing that the people in Sai-West will be divided into three groups, the devils had set up defenses around the gates, their forces are concentrated and are in perfect formation awaiting the enemy. Consisting in the group here are flower spirits, and Dryades, leading them in the front is none other than The Spirit of the Black Rose, Diadora.
Dran, using his power, had completely healed the wound Rafflesia dealt on Diadora, the closer she approaches her enemy, the more bitter she grows, naturally, the place they are heading towards is filled with demonic miasma, but the group advances through it without stopping. With her whole body wrapping in thick and highly viscous jet-black magic, everyone who follows behind subsequently does the same, and they enter the the dreadful air. Entering even deeper inside this demonic forest, if some form of defense is not put into place, one way or another, one’s mind and body would deteriorate in the thick mass of miasma.
However, this is the proof that they are heading towards their target of destruction, the demonic gate. There are voices howling in the wind in this forest, already there is no hope of receiving blessing from the normal forest. As they draw deeper into the alien environment, they knew fully well that Georg along with the rest of the devils grew stronger. While this is unfavorable, that alone does not permit Diadora to falter. Above all, the thought of burning the sinners in Makai’s blazing flame burns in Diadora’s chest, and it won’t fade until they are all dead.
Suddenly, Diadora recalls the interaction with Dran last night. How he treated the wound Rafflesia inflicted on her, how he affirmed Diadora to take her revenge, and the fact that he is a human(?) male. Even though she wants to extract revenge on her foes and think about all else afterwards, why is it in this situation, Diadora vividly calls out to Dran inside her heart.
“Oh well, you said that living is good. But above all else, unless I repay that woman the favor, I will not stop my advance.”
Shortly after, Diadora halts as a certain someone shows their appearance. Arriving in front of Diadora’s eyes out of the gap in the deformed forest, Rafflesia shows up along with several hundred minions. Overnight, Rafflesia had sharpened her hatred for Dran and Diadora
and now it is covering her entire body, and Diadora senses her ill intention from every direction. The corner of Rafflesia’s mouth unexpectedly curls up. Smiling. Innocent and pure, however, behind that mask hid her wicked intention.
“It has been one night, Black Rose spirit. That human man isn’t with you today. What a shame, I wanted him to accompany you and offer you both my uttermost hospitality.”
“Dran would have turned your nakama into ashes by now. Since you have gone through great pain in offering your hospitality, allow me to accompany you.
Ara, the scratch on your cheek had yet to heal. Its lovely, very fitting for you. Since it’s like that, I’ll put a lot more scratches onto your lovely face.”
Zawat, the wind between the two starts to turn freezing cold. Diadora and Rafflesia raise their magical power to the max and while screaming like hungry beasts, they fire their power at each other.
Jet black roses collide with life sucking demonic flowers, their hatred unleashes without restraint.
[To be continued]
Editors: ContagiBro, Jalen
Check out the raw here and rate the author. -T.L.