Chapter 4──── The Entete Forest
I just turned around to see a scene in my eyes where a thin earth spear, clad in grass and moss, pierced the soft abdomen of the leaping giant spider from below.
The skewered giant spider let out a barely audible scream, twitched faintly, and then ceased to move in despair.
When exercising magic, it is usually done by chanting like in the battle with the armored bear, but if you are a skilled or familiar magic user, you can activate it by simply shouting the magic name.
The more advanced a spell is, the longer the spell tends to be, so this method is very useful in combat where spur-of-the-moment decisions are required, but instead the amount of magic power consumed will increase and the effect of the spell invoked will be degraded.
However, Serina’s magic, which has often ingested the spirit of the dragon species from me, can be said to be enough to bury a giant spider with a single blow.
It seems that Serina’s words about being used to fighting monsters since she lived in her birthplace were true, and even when the giant spiders attacked, she didn’t seem to be fazed by the attacks of the giant spiders, she was able to fight them back.
And just like Serina, Christine-san also fought off the giant spider without a problem, and the three dead bodies of the giant spider that were cut in half were lying at her feet. Not a single drop of the spider’s body fluid was on the long sword.
Serina let out a sigh of relief as she turned back to me and quickly crawled over to me, studying me closely from the top of my head to my toes to make sure I wasn’t hurt.
“Are you hurt, Doran-san? I wish I’d figured it out sooner, but…”
“Don’t worry about it. As you can see, I’m not hurt, and I wanted to get my body moving too. Besides, we’re only just getting into the woods. The real work will have to wait.”
After that, we fought off the occasional large-winged centipede or pack of entwined wolves, and we continued to move forward.
Then, from a certain point, the seemingly never-ending raids stopped and the presence of not only monsters but also ordinary insects and animals began to diminish.
At last, the cause of the abnormal behavior of the creatures in the Entete Forest is near.
The colors of the forest, which had been a dark green with occasional reds, blues, and yellows, began to change to violet, black, and dark blue with a poisonous impression as we moved deeper into the forest.
It even extended to the trees. The trees that should be reaching for the heavens are twisted in an odd direction and their bark seems to be in a state of decay.
The fertility of the soil has been drained from the trees and they are no longer able to nurture life.
This is terrible. Otherworldly energy, or maybe even miasma…”
Christine is also aware of the abnormality around us.
Anyone with a change in environment would understand the anomaly moreover, Serina and Christine’s spiritual perceptions of the otherworldly miasma, which has begun to blend into the atmosphere, sharply detects the miasma and gives them goosebumps.
In the deepest recesses of their minds and souls, they understand that the thing that is transforming the forest of the Entete into an ugly form is an absolute enemy that is incompatible with life in this material world.
That’s why Serina and Christine-san were ready to engage in combat in their subconscious.
As we advance, fed up with the dirty air that seems to cling to our skin and permeate our bodies, the thick smell of blood and death begins to envelop us.
Soon, a huge tree with a tangle of thin branches appeared to block our path. As we bypassed it, we found an open area where we found the corpse of a beast that had been slashed to shreds.
The blood of the beast, which was scattered on the ground and the flowers and grasses, had already turned black and dried, indicating that a good amount of time had passed since the beast was killed.
The one whose brown fur and shell had been torn apart in one piece was an armored bear. It was also a larger individual than the one that had appeared near the Bern village.
To cut through the fur and shell of such a large animal is nothing short of unparalleled sharpness.
Ugh, Serina lets out a small groan.
Christine-san and I approach, leaving Serina behind to examine the corpse in order to learn a bit of information about the lowly person who murdered the armored bear so cruelly.
White bones peek out of the cut, and the internal organs, protected by thick fur, fat and muscle, are cut cleanly enough to be called brilliant.
Even the four-limbed blade of a bladed tiger wouldn’t be able to cut so brilliantly.
“Would Christine-san be able to do the same thing?”
“Well, It’s not something I can’t do. No, but the cuts are sparse. There’s more than one individual who did it. Multiple offenders. Moreover, they seem to be ruthless to the core”
Christine twisted her good looks in an unpleasant way. I agreed with her.
“Looking at these wounds, I can see that they deliberately prolonged the death by avoiding a fatal wound. That is why they enjoyed watching it die slowly and painstakingly.”
Most of the wounds inflicted on the armored bear carcasses were not immediately fatal. The aim was to torture them to death, as I said.
So those who enjoy killing are the ones who brought about this strange change in the forest of Entete. If we had been late in dealing with them, it would have been even more troublesome.
While I am relieved that I came early, I also have to admit that this forest is more dangerous than I thought.
“It’s at least a relief that this armored bear’s soul has properly gone to the underworld.”
“Do you even know this stuff?”
At my unintentional muttering, Christine-san opens her eyes a bit and asks me. It is impossible to know the whereabouts of a soul unless one is a clergyman.
“It is an instinct. It’s just a feeling, because I don’t feel the horror of a dead spirit that hates the living.”
“Well, that’s just it. It’s more about this armored bear. If we leave the carcass here like this, it’s going to be troublesome as it’s going to become undead later on.”
“It certainly sounds like a possibility.”
If the corpse is eaten by forest animals or returned to the ground, it’s fine, but there’s a possibility that the corpse will be controlled by lowly people using the evil law, depending on the case.
Considering the location, cremation is a bit of a problem, but should it at least be buried?
After interfering with the dark, blood-sucking ground and pumping up my magic to sink the armored bear’s corpse deep underground, I felt the stench of rotten blood and flesh rushing over me and reached for the long sword in its sheath.
Christine-san noticed it right after me but, Serina, a lamia on top of that was the last person to perceive its presence. Umm, Serina-san and, let’s be a little more careful, shall we?
“Looks like we’re going to meet up with the offenders sooner than I thought. Christine-san, Serina, are you ready?”
Anytime, but it doesn’t look like they’re coming after us.”
“Someone is being chased.”
By the time each of us moved our mouths, we were already running. Christine, with her beloved long sword in hand, ran through the countless branches, root masses, and pebbles that existed ahead of us as if they were not there.
It’s as if she’s in a garden where she knows every inch of it. It’s as if my bare physical abilities can’t keep up with it.
As I see it, Christine-san is probably not an ordinary person.
Serina crawls on the ground through the trees, and I run at the back of the pack.
As I sprinted as fast as I could, I saw something shining softly in the gaps between the trees that rose like a prison. And multiple shadows were chasing it.
The faces of the shadows, with their large curved hunchback, reminded me of a lizard without eyes and nose. From face to toe, it was covered in hard skin of a single gray color, and five sharp claws extended from the tips of its thin hands, which seemed to have nothing but bones.
When I looked at the gray claws that dully bounced off the sunlight, I intuitively understood that those were the weapons that had slashed the armored bear to shreds.
“What are they?”
“It’s a low grade demon soldier. As I recall, it’ s name is Zelt. It should have a diminutive physique as it looks, with the agility to match, and a physical strength that is not commensurate with its appearance. That small body is especially troublesome. It is better to expect that it will always use the same evil sword technique that Marida-san used against Christine-san the other day, and you should always fight it.”
I was answering Christine’s question about the lead. They were beings in my memory. I had dealt with them many times when I was once a dragon.
Demon soldiers are lifeless magical creatures created by evil gods and demons that dwell in the demon world.
They do not have a consciousness, but their ruthless and vicious aggression towards life has been instilled in them.
In some cases, manufacturing methods are passed on to groups that believe in evil gods, or there are ritual vessels that give birth to demon soldiers, but this time they are either pawns of the Evil One, or those from the demon world appeared in the material world and brought them here….
As a small wrinkle creases between my eyebrows, Christine mumbles as she looks forward.
“You know it well,”‘
“There’s a lot of stuff in the books Grandma Muggle has,”
It’s an excuse that I know I’m going to be tough on. But Christine-san didn’t have time to question it.
The lower-grade demon soldiers, who were rapidly approaching in front of us, had noticed us and were turning their malicious intent and closing in on us.
“Serina, magic and magic eyes from that position!”
Serina, who was confused by the demon soldier she had never seen before, jolted her body at my words and made a sudden stop on the lower half of the giant snake that was crawling on the ground and replied to me in a panicked tone of voice in approval.
When dealing with Zelt, which has both the quickness and sharpness of the wind, in this place where there are many obstacles that block the view, it would not be a good match for Lamia.
It is somewhat doubtful that Serina has the skills to accurately aim at the numerous zealots, and considering that it will be a melee with me and Christine-san, it’s best not to expect too much magical support.
Zelt’s movements, which were only about as tall as my waist, were like a gray wind blowing through the trees.
It’s a demonic wind that rains blood with its gray blades. These eight Zelt would be the very essence of death to the life in this forest.
Each Zelt kicked the ground with our feet as their primary target. First they slash the enemy’s feet, then they dismember the bloodied enemy into a thousand or ten thousand pieces of meat.
Zelt and others slash the trunks of trees with their spread-out five-fingered blades, scraping the ground and staring at me and Christine-san with eyes as thin as the threads on their slippery faces.
Glaring back at the black, cloudy eyes of the zelts, Christine-san uses her body-enhancing magic and rapidly accelerates.
The roots of the tree that Christine-san stepped into explode and her beautiful body turns into a bullet with a human form. How much power was put into it to step in to explode the intertwined thick tree roots?
While watching that back tossing the silver hair, I aim at the three Zelt that are trying to head to Serina at the rear and activate my magic.
“Hear my voice, O Reason of Power, become an arrow and shoot at my enemy, Energy Bolt!”
It is an offensive magic that generates arrows of the same pure magic power as Serina’s arrows fired at the armored bear.
This magic mixes the magic power that fills the world with its own magic power to create arrows, and the number of arrows that can be created at one time varies somewhat depending on the strength and magic power of the magician.
The lower-grade offensive magic, 【Energy Bolt】, although its killing power is not very high, it has the ability to aim at the enemy set by the surgeon and automatically track it, and it could be said to be an extremely user-friendly magic.
Six green arrows are created around me as I finish chanting while running. And I aimed two of them at each of the Zelt who were about to pass over my head.
With a high-pitched sound, the 【Energy Bolts】 attacked Zelt and his team while drawing a tail of light.
The magic-generated demon soldiers, regardless of the type, have a magic resistance that surpasses that of humans, but the 【Energy Bolts】 generated by the magic power of the dragon species do not face any resistance to Zelt and his team’s modest magic resistance.
The Zelt’s lizard-like face and severely curved abdomen received a direct hit from magic arrows, and each of them punched a hole the size of a fist and instantly turned into gray dust and disappeared.
Five bodies left. Three of them had already been cut down by Christine-san.
Against an enemy with a dwarf physique that couldn’t even reach her own waist, Christine-san had decided from her experience fighting Marida-san that thrusting was more efficient than swinging her sword, and she was fighting with stabbing rather than slashing as the main axis.
The remaining two bodies, lined up vertically, were coming straight at me.
I also ran towards the group of Zelts. With one right hand, I grabbed a long sword and flung its tip to the lower right rear.
What’s coming? The moment those words passed through my head, a Zelt, who was running ahead of me, slowed down slightly and leaned forward with a bang.
The second Zelt stepped on the back of the leaning Zelt and kicked out vigorously to accelerate toward me.
I see. They do a clever imitation.
From above me, Zelt tried to shred my head, and from below, tried to slice my lower body into dozens of pieces.
Even a warrior accustomed to fighting would not be able to deal with this combination of demon soldiers. But…
I spilled a single word and thrust the long sword of my right hand carelessly at Zelt below.
Due to the absolute body strengthening from the magical power of the dragon species, the long sword pierced through Zelt’s head with a speed that surpassed even lightning and pierced through the back of his waist, laying waste to his body.
And Zelt flying over my head. I hold the head of the mindless demon soldier, who is upset that his compatriot has been killed, with the five fingers of my empty left hand outstretched to stop him.
The gray skin felt light and rough, reminiscent of a rocky surface. There was no warmth, and it was cold as if it was sucking the heat out of me.
I temporarily replaced my human body with that of a dragon’s a moment earlier, based on the information of the dragon’s body from a previous life that is recorded in my spirit soul.
I couldn’t help but utter an apology in my mind as I felt a tingle of pain at my apologies to my parents for giving me this body and life.
The physical abilities of demon soldiers, the sharpest of the demonic ones, are much stronger than humans in terms of durability and robustness, but Zelt’s head, held in my hands, felt more fragile than an egg.
Not only was my body strengthened by the magical power of the dragon species, but by changing the human cells themselves into those of the dragon species for the moment, my physical strength at this time exceeded that of an adult dragon.
After making sure that the two zelt turned into a single grip of yakuza dust, I turned my gaze to Christine-san and heard Serina’s chanting behind me.
Christine slaughtered one Zelt from the top of its head to its groin, cutting off the head of the Zelt that slipped aside. The other one, which was about to attack her back, was caught by the image of a demonic snake that appeared through Serina’s magic with its large jaws.
The demon serpent’s large fangs thrust deep into Zelt’s neck, and as it was, it completely chewed through his cervical vertebrae, turning to dust shortly afterwards.
Christine-san, who finished clean-up of Zelt’s and sheathed her beloved sword, looks back at Serina, who is behind me.
“I am thankful. You helped me.”
“No, I did the obvious and Christine-san would have been able to handle it without my help, wouldn’t she?”
What Serina says is true.
Christine-san already had her hand on the scabbard at her waist while Zelt was behind her. Even without Serina’s help, she would have stuck out the sheath as it was and crushed Zelt’s throat or the tip of his nose, no doubt.
And with her right leg as a fulcrum, she would have swung her beloved sword around while winding the wind and would have done enough to cut Zelt’s body in half.
Christine-san’s reaction speed and reflexes to completely capture Zelt, whose body language is as good as the wind, are completely beyond the realm of an ordinary person.
“Now that you’ve taken care of the trouble for now, can you tell us why you were being pursued, little girl?”
When I called out towards the shade of the large tree, Christine-san and Serina followed suit and turned their gazes towards it. Then the small sphere of light that had been chased by Zelt and the others earlier appeared fearfully.
Inside the sphere floating softly in the air was a girl about one-tenth the height of a human being.
The light seemed to be emitted by the girl herself.
The girl had long hair reminiscent of Jade Green Water with yellow ribbons tied up on both sides of her head. From the back, transparent butterfly wings stretching thinly through the light.
“A fairy. She is cute as if she jumped out of a picture book. Hmm.”
“Wow, I’ve never seen a fairy before. She’s so cute and tiny!”
Christine-san and Serina’s reaction to learning the identity of the one being pursued by Zelt was very feminine.
Especially Christine-san. This person somehow rarely reveals her emotions, and combined with her beauty that makes it hard to believe she’s a blood relative, there’s a part of her that doesn’t feel like an ordinary human being.
That’s why her reaction was unexpected.
I know it’s a very rude thought, but I can’t help but think that way.
If we went out a little longer, we would have more opportunities to get to know Christine and clear up our misconceptions about her, but I don’t know if we have time for that.
But I guess I should put my impressions, or rather my guesses, of Christine-san to rest. Now I must talk to the fairy girl who will know the clues to this forest mutation.
The fairy girl, dressed in a design that looks like flower petals sewn together, seemed to be on guard against the appearance of humans who should not be in the forest.
When she approached us to a certain extent, she stopped and floated in a fluffy, floating position, asking us in a frightened voice.
“Um, thank you for saving me. Are you a human-san? And Lamia-san?”
“Yes. I’m Doran. The woman over there with silver hair and red eyes is Christine and the lamia girl is Serina. We came from the nearby village of Berne. We saw a bladed tiger and armored bear near the village, so we thought something might have happened to the forest. And you?”
“Ma, Marr is my name. I’ve been chased around by that mahentee for a while now, and, well…thank you. Thank you for your help. But, I see, everyone in the forest near the human’s village…”
Christine-san calls out to Marr, whose innocent face looks down sadly, with concern.
“Ah. So, we came to investigate what’s going on in the forest, and that demon soldier is the cause of the strange event? Marr, can you tell us what you know about when the demon soldier first appeared? If we can help you, we’ll help you. We don’t want anything to happen to the forest, either. Isn’t that right, Doran?”
Although she has a gloomy expression on her face and wears a somewhat decadent atmosphere, Christine-san seems to be a gentle woman in essence.
“Fumu, it’s certainly true what Christine-san says. I’m sure we’ll be able to help you if we can help you. Marr, what do you think?”
“Well, well, you see, we’re all in great need, and Marr would be very happy if you could help us out, but we’d be in trouble if we got a human involved.”
As I was about to open my mouth to say that there was no need to worry about it, because it was for our own good after all, Christine-san and I looked up and around when we noticed the presence that was surrounding us.
Serina seemed to notice it two beats behind us.
Fumu, Serina has the same organs as a snake, so her search and detection abilities should be high, but should Christine-san and I be considered non-standard?
The emotions directed at us from those around us are more guarded and suspicious than hostile, and there’s none of the nerve-wracking, clenching, killing spirit that is characteristic of demon soldiers.
I unsheathed my long sword and dagger and placed them at my feet to show that there was no hostility. Serina follows me and closes her eyelids to seal her demon eyes.
Christine-san seemed a bit lost, but she still followed our lead and sheathed her beloved sword and placed it at her feet in a slow motion.
Then, the sound of rustling branches and leaves followed, and those surrounding us began to appear, one or two by one.
“A clan of Wood Elves, I presume.”
I responded briefly to Christine’s mutterings. Surrounding us were blonde-haired, green-eyed, wide-eyed, excellent and beautiful men and women, dressed in clothes made from the stems and leaves of plants and animal hair from the forest.
All of them were as beautiful as the rest. Their eyes, noses, and mouths and their placement are such that you can only imagine that the god of art has wielded his skills to the fullest.
Their long, pointed ears protrude from their dazzling gold and shaded green hair, with not a single exception.
There are many different races and clans of elves, but the one we see before us is none other than the Wood Elves who live in the forest area.
It is said that in the past, when the village of Berne was just being built, the village chiefs and those in charge of the kingdom negotiated with the Wood Elves to obtain wood for building and the bounty of the forest from the forests of Entete.
The elves surrounding us were probably from the same clan that surrounded us then.
We’ve got a lot of time to get to know each other, and we’ve got a lot to learn from each other.
They had swords, short bows, and spears in their hands, and some of them were holding on to their spirit magic just before they could activate it.
It seems that they have finished preparing themselves to attack if we show any signs of harm to them, so they are ready to attack immediately.
Now, how shall we negotiate?
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