Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Gradually the city of Dream Maker disappeared from view as the boat proceeded onward. The river was calm. There was nothing to worry about. Eventually even the last ship funnel vanished from sight. Only water and trees surrounded them now.
『Finally. We don’t see them anymore.』Gin said as he took out a bottle.『Why’d they have to show up so early in the morning anyway? All righty, then. How about some drinks?』
『No. Are you stupid? It’s not even noon yet.』
Wakamaru gave Gin a karate chop to his head. Hikaru didn’t even need a translation to understand what they were saying.
The boat was big enough for ten people. Its wheelhouse and cabin were at the center, with six spots where people could lie down. In reality however, the boat couldn’t carry ten people, unless they sat all the time. After all, space had to be allocated for ten days’ worth of supplies. With only three people, though, it felt spacious.
The vessel’s hull and deck were painted gray. Their cargo sat on the deck, covered with waterproof paper.
「Looks like you can make simple meals here.」Wakamaru said.「We didn’t have such a splendid boat back in my day.」
「It’s powered by sorcery, right?」Hikaru asked.
「Yes. It uses magic rocks for power. King Doriachi improved it considerably. If it weren’t for his efforts, no amount of magic rocks could move those huge warships.」
「I guess magic rocks are used primarily for military purposes.」
「Indeed. The army is our lifeline, you see. But too much power can also cause problems.」
The old man had a distant look on his face. It sounded like there was something more to his words.
「Those ships can carry thousands, right? That means it’s possible for all the citizens of Dream Maker to evacuate to the ships.」
「It would be best if it doesn’t come to that, but the fact remains we can’t do anything about the monsters. When you think about monsters stronger than the Yamamaneki roaming the northern part of the continent, running away is a wiser option than fighting to the bitter end. That’ll be our last resort, of course.」
They really are living life on the edge here, Hikaru thought. Peoples’ lives had greatly improved ever since Eiichi brought with him knowledge from modern Japan. The situation might’ve been considerably worse before he came.
「I’m guessing your lives are better now at least.」
「Yeah… A lot of things happened.」
Once again Wakamaru wore a distant look.
『Looks like you’re talking about something depressing.』Gin said.『How about a drink, then?』
『You idiot. Focus on your job more, will you?』
「Have you two known each other for a while?」Hikaru asked.
「Yes. Most people here know each other. When you’ve worked in the same org, you usually talk with everyone there. Only Gin was interested in being the helmsman this time, so I decided to join as well.」
「Oh, only Gin was available, huh? I could’ve gone alone too.」
They could’ve gotten Hikaru in their debt, but even though they were interested in Paula’s healing magic, they didn’t want to embark on such dangerous mission.
『No way we’re letting you go alone. You saved His Majesty’s life.』Gin said after Wakamaru translated Hikaru’s words.『Though there are still some people who think otherwise.』
While everyone knew that Hikaru’s party healed Doriachi, a few people remained doubtful. Some also understood the benefit of healing magic, but couldn’t trust Hikaru after he sank one of their ships.
『Dolan and Zuzun actually wanted to come, but their wives stopped them.』
『Nothing we can do about that. Only those who don’t have anyone to stop them can go to the forests. Haha.』
『Come on, man. You’re making me feel sad…』
Hikaru understood that people thought the tower investigation to be a reckless mission. Dream Maker’s soldiers had higher soul ranks and stats than soldiers from Ponsonia or Quinbland, but the forests were extremely dangerous. Hikaru’s destination, the tower, was located farther out than the maximum distance the expedition squad could go.
Then again, only Hikaru would enter the forest.
「He’s asleep.」Hikaru said as he looked at the boat’s equipment.
Gin lay out on deck, using his arms as a pillow. The sun sat high in the sky, making for a nice, warm weather. Hey, what about the boat? Drake also lay sprawled next to Gin.
「We’re just moving downstream.」Wakamaru said.「It’s better if we leave the boat alone.」
「So what are you doing?」
Hikaru was preparing some ingredients in the cooking area.「It’s almost noon, so I was thinking of making lunch.」
「Oh, you can cook? Is it something from your continent?」
「Yeah, though I don’t have a lot of seasonings with me.」
「I’m glad I lived long. I never expected to eat food from the home of the Man Gnomes.」
I don’t know if they serve this over at the Man Gnome’s native place, but telling him that would be insensitive.
The boat was equipped with a device that could purify water from the river. Hikaru boiled some pasta and made pepperoncino. They loved it.
Soon the boat was getting close to what Deena referred to as the Roots, a place where a lot of monsters gathered. Hikaru’s Mana Detection revealed a few creatures with extremely ridiculous amount of mana. They would be at the same level as the Yamamaneki, yet they weren’t as big. In other words, they were annoying monsters, small yet extremely powerful.
I’d like to not ever face one if possible, Hikaru thought.
The boat made it out of the river and was now sailing by the coast. The next day, Hikaru made stir-fried peppers and meat.
『I see the ruins… Oh, that looks delicious.』Gin said, twitching his nose.
Hikaru used the ingredients that were about to spoil, which meant not having any fresh meat for a while. From here on, he’d have to rely on preserved food.
「So we’ve arrived at our first destination.」Hikaru said.
Hikaru told Grucel he wanted to investigate the tower. However, Gin and Wakamaru didn’t really object when he said he wanted to see the ruins first.
The harbor looked serviceable, but the wharf had collapsed. Big rocks lay scattered around. The boat’s bottom might get damaged if they got closer. Instead, they moved the boat to a clearer, sandy beach.
「This is good enough.」
『Be careful out there. Like seriously. I’ll be screwed if you don’t come back.』
「Gin is worried about you. Make sure you come back in one piece.」
「Haha. Gin is not that kinda guy. He probably wants me to return safely so he doesn’t get chewed out.」
Wakamaru averted his gaze.
Hikaru removed his boots and tied it to his backpack. He then rolled up his trousers, stood at the boat’s edge and leaped, Drake wrapped around his neck.
Water splashed as he landed on knee-deep water. He then quickly moved to shore, sat down on a log and washed his feet before putting his boots back on.
He couldn’t sense any mana in a 500-meter radius, but beyond that monsters lurked here and there. Best to move quick.
Hikaru waved at Gin and Wakamaru before heading into some bushes and activating his Stealth. As he peeked through the bushes, he saw the boat moving to the open sea.
「I wonder what those two are talking about. Whatever. I need to think about getting back quick.」
His plan was to examine the ruins until dusk, spend the night in the ruins, and return to the boat the next day. Gin and Wakamaru vehemently opposed the idea of staying at the ruins overnight, but Hikaru had absolute confidence that he’d be fine. He just had to leave his Stealth on while sleeping. There was, of course, the possibility of his Stealth not working.
「I just have to pray that that doesn’t happen.」Hikaru muttered.「Do you smell anything?」
『I do.』Drake replied with a sour look, pointing at the direction of the ruins with his chin.
Walking in the forest was easier than walking on the beach. Soon enough Hikaru spotted a monster within his sights. Similar to the Forest Barbarians, also known as the guardians of the forest, its body was a murky red rather than green. What made it worse, however, was that it was bigger and grouped up with ten others as well.
With the huge trees and branches, Hikaru had to pay attention above as well. Extremely long pythons as big as a log coiled around branches, and there were even green leopards roaming about—monsters he hadn’t seen in Dream Maker’s immediate vicinity.
Hikaru’s Stealth was working without a problem. Still, he stayed away from the monsters as much as possible. He left his scent along the path. Leopards above the trees twitched their noses, noticing the smell. He even left footprints. Even without being seen, he could still be tracked.
After walking for about an hour, he reached the outer edges of the ruins. He didn’t notice it at first as trees had grown even inside the city. There was a fallen signboard on the main street that read Lands Harvest.
「Oh, right. That’s this place’s name.」
Kaglai mentioned that this was the capital of the continent. Hikaru didn’t know how big the population was, but he assumed there were many people here. It was completely empty now, though.
「He said capital… Does that mean there are other cities as well? He didn’t mention anything…」
Hikaru stepped into the ruins of Lands Harvest.