Chapter 1: Takatsuki Makoto returns to Makkaren
“Hey, what’s up with you and Jean now?”
“What do you mean?”
I asked my friend Emily, while we were having lunch.
“We’re dating, …… I mean, Lucy, you told me, you know. That I should just confess.”
“I-Is that so.”
I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, and she seemed to be doing well with her boyfriend. I was a member of the original party, but I think it was the right decision to leave. It would have been awkward to be part of a couple and a single person.
“So, what about Lucy?”
Well, of course she was going to ask me as well.
“That new girl in your party, Aya. She and Makoto seemed to be having a good time yesterday.”
“Ah, about that, Makoto said nothing happened. ……”
“But I heard they went to the hot springs together.”
Yesterday, Makoto said he would show Aya around, so I refrained from joining him.
Normally, why would two people go to a hot spring together?
“They seem to have known each other since they were in the other world. Lucy, isn’t this bad?”
Until now, Makoto and I have been a party of two. But from now on, it will be a party of three.
“I think if this goes on, Makoto-kun and Aya-chan might become a couple.”
Emily’s words made me think of the next adventure we would embark on.
–Makoto and Aya were talking about the previous world.
After the adventure ends, “We’re going to go take a dip in the hot springs together for a bit,” “Lu-chan, wait for us at the guild,” “Eh, Ehhh? Wait…..”
I was waiting for them at the guild’s stall, alone.
There, two people with folded arms and moist, wet hair appeared, …….
That’s unacceptable! I can’t stand it.
“Then go ahead and confess already.”
Emily says firmly. Damn it, you’re so high and mighty just because you have a boyfriend.
“Emily-san…… How do I confess?”
I bowed my head and asked her to teach me.
“Well, in my case, …….”
I consulted Emily about how to confess.
◇Takatsuki Makoto’s PoV◇
“Eh? Lucy, you want to join me hunting goblins?”
I was a little surprised.
In Makkaren, goblin hunting is my daily routine.
I even have a lame nickname for myself: Goblin Cleaner.
Lucy isn’t very particular about goblin hunting. She’d rather shoot a big spell and blow them all away than earn little change.
She must have plenty of money in her pocket from the Great Labyrinth. What kind of change of heart could that be?
“You know, it’s important to refer back to your roots?”
That’s a good point.
“Good! Okay, let’s go, Sasan.”
It’s been a while since we’ve hunted goblins. Just right for the first time for a party of three! And it’s safe.
“Goblins, huh? I am going to pass. Since I’ve been learning martial arts from Nina-san lately. I’ll show up there.”
She shook her head.
“Don’t look at me like that. I’ve seen a lot of goblins in the Great Labyrinth.”
It was the first time for a party of three. It’s okay. Lucy and I will go together.
For some reason, I could see Lucy making a small gut pose out of the corner of my eye.
We made our way upstream through the river that flowed through the large forest, using water magic.
Lucy was holding on to me. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” Lucy said.
“Sure, why not?”
“This spell of your “Water Walking”, does it work even if we’re not touching?”
“Yeah, I can use it even if we are apart. However, if we’re in contact with each other, the effects of the “Water Walk” will be transferred to you, saving magic power.”
Because of my low level of magic power, my habit of saving is ingrained in me.
………I do think I have a poor man’s mentality.
“So you’re not making me cling to you like this just because you want me to, are you?”
“Not at all. I mean, you can just put your hand on my shoulder. You don’t have to hug me so much.”
Lucy’s chest is pressed against my back.
And I can feel the softness and the high body temperature on my back.
“I don’t want to. Makoto’s water magic makes me feel like I’m going to be swept off my feet on a curve.”
“Ah, well, that’s true.”
It feels good to accelerate and turn with all my might. While we were chatting about this, we arrived at our destination.
–The place was lined with huge trees, the fog was deep and it was dimly lit.
The air was cold and heavy even in the daytime.
If we go further into the forest, we’ll be in the “Demon Forest,” a huge labyrinth in the Land of Trees.
We are now at the border between the Water Nation and the Wood Nation.
There are a lot of monsters that respond to the “Detection” skill. I’ve been coming here every day since I arrived in Makkaren, but it’s been a while since I last came here.
“This is it. I’ve come back.”
“…… I’ve always thought this, but Makoto, you really like hunting goblins, don’t you?”
“I don’t mind.”
It’s the quest I’m most confident about since I came to this world.
The two of us hunted goblins for a while, piece by piece.
“Lucy, looks like you’re getting better at controlling your magic, aren’t you?”
She had hit over hundred times with her Earth Magic: Rock Bullets.
Lucy’s face lit up.
“Yes! It’s because of the magic bracelet that the Great Sage-sama gave me. It seems that if you wear it, your magic proficiency increases greatly.”
“Wow, can I borrow it later?”
The manual says it doesn’t work for proficiencies over 50.
Did it come with a manual? The Great Sage-sama had perfected the after-sales service.
Looks like the magic bracelet is not going to work for me. My proficiency is over 100.[TN: I wanna make ‘over 9000!’ joke]
The Goblin hunt is starting to get boring.
“Hey, Makoto. Do you have any plans after this?”
Lucy tapped me on the shoulder and peeked up at me.
Normally, Lucy would be more forceful in pulling me along, but she seemed to be reluctant.
“Nothing special. At night we’re going to the adventurer’s guild for a dinner banquet.”
And finally, a prayer to the goddess at the end. It’s the usual routine.
“Hey, I have somewhere I want to go.”
“No problem then. I’ll accompany you.”
Lucy’s magic had improved, so it’s not dangerous at the moment.
As long as we don’t go too deep into the Demon Forest, we should be fine.
Lucy and I stood on the surface of the river using the Water Magic: Surface Walk.
Lucy clung to me tightly.
And we started to move again using the water magic.
“So Lucy, which direction are we going?”
“Well, I’d say right up ahead.”
“…… This is the Forest of the Lost, remember?”
It’s not as dangerous as the Demon Forest, but it’s a famous place where the whole forest is a labyrinth.
It is a labyrinth that should not be visited without the Mapping skill. The recommended level is Iron Rank or higher.
We meet the criteria, but we weren’t supposed to be in the labyrinth today.
“We’ll be fine. The Lost Forest is a playground for Elven children. I’ve been there a lot as a child, so I know the safest routes.”
Leave it to me, Lucy replied with a smile. If Lucy says so, I guess it’s okay.
“Then, I’ll leave the navigation to you.”
“You can bet on it!”
We made our way through the Labyrinth of the Lost Forest.
–About thirty minutes later.
“…… Lucy, are we lost?”
“No, we’re not! It’s been a while since I’ve been here, so, yeah, I should be this way.”
“……with my Mapping skill, we should be able to get back.”
Will it be okay? I looked at the lost forest that I had come to for the first time.
There are many huge trees that look as old as the great forest. The fog is as deep as it is near the Demon Forest.
There were not many monsters. Instead, there were a lot of trees and plants, and it seemed like it would be difficult to walk.
And the most striking feature is that the similar scenery goes on forever.
(So this is the Forest of the Lost, huh……)
Today is just a preview, so I’ll save the real adventure for next time.
However, as I look at the similar scenery that goes on forever, I thought.
(It’s a fantastic labyrinth.)
A natural maze created by the great forest. There is a rumor that there is a hidden treasure sleeping somewhere.
I want to conquer it someday. But, I thought, it would be a long time before I could explore this place.
“Lucy, which way next?”
“Let’s see, …… um, umm…”
“……Next time, if you go in the wrong direction, we’re leaving.”
(I’m glad I kept track of the way back with my …… ‘mapping’ skill.)
As we proceeded deeper into the forest with some anxiety, we safely arrived at our destination.
“Oh, so this is where Lucy wanted to come.”
I looked around the place Lucy had led me to and exclaimed in admiration.
“How is it? Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a secret place of the elves.”
The place was a field of flowers in full bloom.
It was a flower garden of another world, with many flowers that I had never seen in Japan.
Lucy was proud of it, and it was fantastically beautiful. I looked around and tried not to step on any of the flowers. It smelled sweet.
“Hey, sit here.”
In the middle of the flower garden, I found a rock that was just big enough for two people. I sat down next to Lucy.
I asked Lucy, who suddenly became quiet.
By the way, did Lucy have something to do at this place?
“…… Makoto, what’s up lately?”
“Well even if you ask me that”
We see each other every day, don’t we?
“How’s your Goddess?”
“…… yeah, she’s fine.”
A wild topic appeared.
Maybe she figured out that I was worried about Noah-sama.
“…… No, It’s nothing.”
“If something’s bothering you, you should talk to me. We’re friends, right?”
Lucy’s big eyes looked into my face.
Was this what she wanted to talk about?
Lucy is my first friend in this world. I don’t really want to hide anything from her.
But I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Evil Apostle thing.
I want them to wait a little more. But, looking back, I’ve known Lucy for quite a time, now.
When I was training alone in the Water Temple, I was all like, “I’m going solo!”
In fact, I was a solo adventurer for several months in Makkaren.
(But I couldn’t have done it without Lucy, slaying Griffons and exploring the Great Labyrinth.)
If I were asked again to be a solo adventurer now, could I do it? I’m stronger than I was a year ago. But I don’t want to be a solo adventurer anymore.
Lucy sat on a rock, her legs wobbling, and her brow creased.
She still has the same beautiful face. I am grateful to Lucy. For all she’s done for me, and for her continued support.
“Hey, Lucy.” “Hey, Makoto.”
We faced each other at the same time.
We looked at each other and fell silent.
I just want to say thank you, but it’s embarrassing to look at each other like that.
Lucy walked up to me. We were so close that I could feel her breath on me and her high body temperature as well.
“Y-You know, …… Makoto.”
Lucy’s big, moist eyes stare at me.
What is it? What is this atmosphere? It’s as if she’s about to confess her love to me…….
Is this the situation? When I thought about it, my heart started beating faster with nervousness.
“That …… I.”
Lucy was about to say something when —- I felt someone’s eyes on us.
“Wait ……, Lucy. Someone’s watching us.”
I was too late to notice. We’re surrounded!
I got off the rock I was sitting on and held up my dagger.
(This is not good. ……)
There is no Water Source nearby. Lucy anxiously grabbed the sleeve of my dress.
I called out to the water spirits.
But since this is the first time I’ve been in this area, I’m not getting much of a response.
It would be better if I was able to borrow 30 percent of my usual magic power. Lucy and I waited nervously for someone to approach us.
But nothing came our way at all.
“…… Not attacking us?”
“Hmmm, …… maybe?”
Lucy had a subtle expression on her face. At that moment, the trees rustled and shook.
At the same time, a lot of shadows fell. They were in the trees!
“Oh my god, we’ve been spotted.”
“Lucy nee-chan, is that your boyfriend?”
“As expected of Rozari-san’s daughter. She brought a man from a different race.”
“Hey, hey! Lucy, introduce your man to us!”
The people who had gathered spoke to her in a friendly manner. And like Lucy, they had long ears.
In other words, elves. I turned my gaze towards Lucy next to me.
“Eh! No way. Why is everyone here?”
Lucy raised her voice in frustration.
“Do you know them?”
“Yeah, neighbors from my parents’ village. ……”
Lucy looked as if she had just been caught watching something awful.
“We were having a picnic today.”
“Then we noticed that Lucy was bringing a guy with her.”
“We all hid and watched.”
Wow, I didn’t notice that at all. As expected of elves living in the forest.
I wonder if they have any secret skills.
“S-Si-Since when were you watching !?”
“”””””From the very beginning””””””
Ah, Lucy ran away from the scene.
The elven children were chasing Lucy with amusement.
“Hey, you there. What kind of relationship do you have with Lucy?”
A beautiful elf lady asked me smilingly.
She must be an acquaintance of Lucy’s.
“The other day we went to the Great Labyrinth together.”
“No, not that one. Did you guys kiss?”
She wanted a love story.
“Well, not exactly.”
“Ara ara, for a Walker, Lucy’s a little shy.”
Apparently, many women in Lucy’s family are very active in love.
So is that the case with the beautiful elf in front of me who doesn’t look much like Lucy?
“I married into the Walker family, so I’m Lucy’s sister-in-law. But since I was from the time when I used to change Lucy’s diapers, you can ask me anything. By the way, there’s a mole on her thigh……”
“Flona onee-chan! What are you babbling!”
Lucy pulled her sister-in-law along with her.
The elves Lucy knows are all very friendly.
When I thought of elves, I imagined them to be closed-minded, but it was totally different.
Also, the auntie elf gave us a mountain of fruit, and it was difficult to carry it back.
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