Going back in time to before the news of Nino’s disappearance reached Vermudol.
The Great Jiol Forest that spread out in the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
Within that, a single young woman and a single young man were walking.
No, more accurately, the man was following along after the young woman……that is probably how it should be described.
The one walking in front was the young woman with green hair, Nino.
The one walking behind her was the blond haired and blue eyed man, Nefas.
Nefas was making a very serious face, but Nino was making a displeased-looking expression.
「……As expected, you’re getting in the way. Why don’t you go back?」
「But, you promised, didn’t you?」
*Tsk* Openly clicking her tongue, Nino continued walking.
When they had met again a few days ago, Nino had completely forgotten about Nefas, but as a result of Nefas’s intense self-appeal, he finally got into Nino’s annoying guy box and got her to remember his face and name.
To Nino, Nefas was a stranger below acquaintance.
To begin with, in Nino’s person relationship chart, there was probably only “Vermudol, everyone else omitted……” recorded down.
As for what the promise that Nefas mentioned was, it was related to Nefas’s actions over the past few days.
Nefas Albania, who was the son of a Duke House of the St. Altlis Kingdom, had come to the Jiol Forest Kingdom by going alone with his father.
The Duke accepted the rising tension between the St. Altlis Kingdom and the Jiol Forest Kingdom, and visited the Jiol Forest Kingdom in order to search for peace between the two countries.
However, receiving news of the Zadark Kingdom entering a treaty of friendship with the Jiol Forest Kingdom as he was doing that, the Duke continued to stay within the Jiol Forest Kingdom for the sake of gathering intelligence and further negotiations.
After all, the two countries entering a treaty of friendship, for the St. Altlis Kingdom……no, for any other country as well, far from being a great surprise, it was a shock similar to being thrown into the 『Sea of Farthest Ends』 while in their sleep.
Mazoku were the minions of the wicked Demon King, and cursed life-forms born from defective Life Seeds……that was mankind’s common recognition of them.
Those Mazoku had created a nation, and even joined hands with the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
In order to ascertain the truth of the matter, the St. Altlis Kingdom gave the duty of investigation to Duke Albania who just happened to be within the Jiol Forest Kingdom, and even the other countries had hastily sent delegates to the Jiol Forest Kingdom as well.
After all, the other party were Mazoku.
Everything might be a scheme and a plan for a grand invasion.
To begin with, person who was the King of the Zadark Kingdom, Vermudol, just what who was he?
The many countries that obtained some of the effigies that were circulating within the Jiol Forest Kingdom also continued gathering information on that.
There were rumors that he bore a striking resemblance to the Adventurer named Shion who had gone missing, but there were many viewpoints that were denying that. After all, Shion was a Human, and not a Mazoku.
Receiving news that the two countries had entered a treaty of friendship, the St. Altlis Kingdom was the first to quickly raise voices of criticism.
As the country where the Hero legend had taken root, this could be said to have been only natural, and even as a nation of mankind, this was a response that could be understood.
The Cylus Empire did not show any particular attitude as a country, dispatched a delegate to the Jiol Forest Kingdom, and seemed to be trying to carefully probe the situation.
And then, the Canal Kingdom.
A large-scale political upheaval had broken out in this country, so they became unable to get a grasp on the situation of other countries.
The Third Princess had exposed the evil deeds of her father, the King, and defeated the administration……minstrels were spreading that sort of delightful sounding story.
In any case, the Canal Kingdom was in that sort of situation and did not display any sort of response to the treaty of friendship.
The responses of the smaller countries other than these three varied.
If there were countries that approved of the St. Altlis Kingdom’s criticism, there were also countries that displayed understanding of the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
Within this sort of situation, Duke Albania’s son, Nefas, coincidentally met with Nino again in town, and then, with the justification of 「investigating the state of the town」, he was going around following Nino.
Of course, Nino had refused to deal with him at first, but Nefas persistently requested it to her, and he finally got Nino to promise 「if you find some prominent information, I will allow you to travel with me」.
The result of that was the current situation.
Should Nefas’s tenacity be what is surprising?
「Beside, something like a handwritten memo of the Hero’s at the time……you wouldn’t have obtained it without me, right?」
What Nefas had obtained was a memo that the Hero Ryuuya was said to have written down when he was staying in the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
It was preciously kept safe in a certain location, but there was a situation that caused it to circulate to the outside world……it was that sort of extraordinarily suspicious article, but Nefas didn’t know if it was real or not.
If they had the hero Luuty who had traveled together with the Hero Ryuuya, she might be able to discern its authenticity, but unless they were to brazenly bring it to the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s royal palace that she was at, as expected, they didn’t have that sort of connection.
However, it was much better than not having a clue to the Hero and the Gods at all.
Nefas obtained that memo, which had Preservation Magic cast on it so that it remained in the state it was during those times, by paying a lot of money……that is how it was.
And then, according to the memo, the path leading to the God of Wind Wyrm’s temple should be close to here.
That being said, from Nino’s perspective, it was extremely questionable.
If she were able to confirm that it was the real thing, she would run to Vermudol’s side right away, but as expected, she hesitated to bring him something so questionable.
An event of her triumphantly bringing back trash and having Vermudol being disappointed in her must absolutely never happen.
That is why, in order to check if the contents of the memo were authentic, she had come to the Great Jiol Forest like this……but.
「……What a weird forest.」
Nino muttered that.
Nino possessed special eyes called 【Magic Eyes of Greenery】, so not only could she manipulate plants, she could also get a certain degree of understanding of the condition of the plants.
Seen through Nino’s eyes, the Great Jiol Forest was an extraordinarily strange forest.
After looking at Nefas’s face behind her, Nino immediately returned her face to the front.
As she thought, Nino hadn’t noticed.
Nino thought that this was most likely the normal reaction to it.
This Great Jiol Forest was filled with concentrated magical power.
In a land filled with such a massive amount of magical power, the trees should have had some sort of change.
Just like the plants in the eastern region of the Zadark Kingdom, it wouldn’t be strange if they were moving or flying about.
However, although the trees of the Great Jiol Forest contained magical power within them, they were not Maju (magical trees) but normal plants.
Normally, that was impossible.
There were some other strange points as well.
The affinity with people of the magical power of this forest was too high, so the flow of magical power within the body would be thrown out of order.
As a result, the body’s balance would be disrupted, and they would lose their sense of direction as well.
Furthermore, scene the forest’s dense magical power would inhibit Magical Power Perception as well, people who lost every possible guiding principle would surely end up wandering around in this forest.
It was said that the reason why the Jiol Forest Kingdom was founded within such a forest was due to an agreement with the Gods.
There also seemed to be rumors that one would naturally be guided through the forest if one was truly loved by the Gods.
「Still, no wonder this place is called a holy ground.」
「What do you mean?」
「We haven’t met with a single monster, right?」
Hearing Nefas’s words, Nino said “now that you mention it” and noticed it.
Certainly, they had yet to meet with a single monster in this exploration.
Even though the Goblins of the Shutaia Continent were especially dumb and were said to create settlements anywhere without thinking, not even the figures of those Goblins could be seen.
However……thinking about the situation of this forest, that might only be natural.
In a forest like this where one would lose their way right away, a Goblin’s way of living wouldn’t be viable.
Unless one had a special power like Nino’s 【Magic Eyes of Greenery】, it should be difficult to do something like proper exploration.
That’s right, it was difficult without Nino, and that is why Nino could do it──That is why she was sent to the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
Nino had that self-confidence.
That is why Nino had to produce positive results in this mission.
While thinking that, Nino continued walking……then all of a sudden, she came to a complete stop.
「……So the story of being a holy ground and stuff was a superstition.」
Nefas didn’t have the time to ask “what is?”.
In the space in front of Nino’s group, a crack appeared.
The crack in space eventually expanded into the shape of a circle……And from there, something that seemed like an Alva appeared.
Its body that had a black luster and its bat-like wings were the same as normal Alva, but its body was muscular and enormous.
Holding something that looked like a metal club, it was emitting something similar to an intimidating pressure.
「Wh, what is this guy……Could it be, is it an Alva!?」
When speaking of Alva, they were known as slender Humanoid Mazoku that possessed high magic abilities.
However, for the Alva before their eyes, no matter how they looked at it, it was a close combat type.
Its type was a so-called Special Type, and excluding Kain and Ein, there was no one in mankind’s territory that has encountered this Special Type Alva.
Naturally, this was Nino and Nefas’s first time coming across one.
Together with the howl it made resound in the surroundings, the Alva quickly approached Nino and Nefas.
Spreading its bat-like wings and flying in at high speed, it raised its club overhead, and swung it down at Nino who was closest to it.
Shouting that, Nefas finally tried to draw his sword.
I won’t make it in time──By the time he thought that, the Alva’s club was already swung down……and smashed the ground that no one was at.
At the end of the club’s path, Nino’s figure was already gone.
「Since you’ll be in the way, Nino thinks it would be best if you get back. After all, if you get dragged in, Nino won’t take any responsibility.」
Nino was using a tree branch that was unnaturally stretched out above the Alva as a foothold.
Nefas saw……her shining green eyes.