Chapter 1: Adventure Start
Section 4: Swansea Forest
Shortly after entering the Swansea Forest, we found a rocky where we could set up a fire. Unlike the highway outside, the forest bed had very little snow because of just how thick the tree canopy was. The fact that the Swansea Forest’s leaves can hold back the weight of the falling snow even during the middle of winter only proves that the stories I read about this place weren’t exaggerations.
“Ah~, I’m completely soaked.”
Everyone else gathered around the fire, hanging our wet mittens on some nearby branches to dry. As for me, I was grabbing some ingredients from the back of the wagon to make lunch. I always keep our food in a hemp bag, but this season really helps to keep the food from rotting.
“Ah~, I’m saved……….”
Toslin nodded happily while holding her hands close to the flame.
“I’m hungry already. Iris, make it quick.”
“Yes yes. Wait just a moment.”
I used a medium sized rock Toslin had prepared for me as a chair-substitute and set my portable cutting board across my lap. Charlie gave me some bread before we left, so I can easily make up some sandwiches after chopping up the vegetables and slicing off portions of our smoked barbato. But that wouldn’t be very satisfying, so I spread out a mixture of lemon juice and mayonnaise on the bread as well.
“Nevertheless, it truly is dark in this forest. It’s feels like twilight has already come……….the villagers would have to carry torches with them during the middle of the day even.
I took a good look around us at Rose’s words. It is probably just a little after noon, so the sun would be at its peak. Here and there you would find a pillar of light that managed to cut through the dense foliage, and you would see the blue sky up above. But if this were the middle of the night, then everything here would be covered in inky darkness.
“By the way, that fairy before said something about Iris having magic didn’t she?”
Carol sat down next to me on the rock, lightly swinging her legs back and forth.
“Ah, she did say something like that, but I didn’t hear it that well. Rose?”
“Umm, I was absorbed in our battle, so I don’t remember that well.”
Everyone’s gazes inevitably fell on me. I did my best to ignore them pretending I was too wrapped up in sandwich preparations to have heard them, but the weight of everyone’s eyes boring into me is too much for me to bear.
“Actually………it’s just a little……..but magic power…………I have some. But it really is just a tiny little bit!”
I unconsciously looked over at Toslin. Isn’t it going to sound like I’m being a little sarcastic towards her since she doesn’t have any magic? This is bad, really bad.
“Hoh, that’s not a bad thing. Why were you keeping quiet about it? Even having a small amount can be called a magnificent talent.”
But, Toslin looked so happy as if the news was about her. I’m, starting to get a little embarrassed now.
“It is, especially when there’s somebody nearby who doesn’t even have a drop of it. Right Rose?”
“Eh? Ah, um…………well, everybody has their strengths and their weakness, and we cannot generally say whether a person is capable over what those are until………..”
Rose was giving an unusually disorderly reply. Naturally that was because Toslin was there as well. But after Carol had her head hit, Toslin turned back towards me.
“So, what kind of magic can you do? You were already aware you had some magic power, so does that mean you took a lesson or two?”
“Eh, yes……… A few. When I was ten years old, a mage grandpa in my neighborhood taught me some magic.”
I didn’t want to betray Toslin’s expectations, so I told the truth. Not that me lying would have been very different from the truth.
“But well, in the end I wasn’t able to pick anything up. Ahaha, the grandpa told me I could memorize the spells if I worked hard, but……….I quit.”
“Eh~. That’s such a waste. If I had magic power, then I definitely would’ve become a mage.”
I finally finished making enough sandwiches for everyone and started handing them out.
“Back then, I was satisfied just reading books. I never thought I might end up like the characters in them. Of course, even now I………….anyways, I quit. So I’m still just the simple daughter of a bookshop owner.”
“You don’t regret it?”
Seeing Carol looking at me with her sandwich in had, I had to look away.
“Mm. I don’t. I was able to read all sorts of books every day, learning about various different nations, and came to know about the different worlds out there. I don’t have any regrets. Mm, none.”
I was talking to myself as much as her.
“Now come come, hurry up and eat. I’m confident in the taste this time.”
“Right. Well then thanks for the meal~. *CHOMP*………..*CHEW* *CHEW* *CHEW*………Yummy~!”
Probably being really hungry at this point, Carol ended up focusing entirely on her meal as she happily chowed down.
“Really though, this is extremely delicious. I never knew you could change the taste of bread so much just by adding some mayonnaise.”
“Indeed. And even though this is the same meat we always eat, you’ve made it taste so fresh here.”
It sounds like my sandwiches are going over well with Toslin and Rose as well. Good. Then I can bite into my sandwich with peace of mind. The fragrance of the bread, the sourness of the mayonnaise, and the flavor of the meat spreading through my mouth. This is the kind of information you can’t get from just books. Above all, this is my journey, not someone else’s that I’m just following.
“Mm, good, good job.”
I go ahead and give myself a little praise as I chew on my hard work. Gazing up, the fantastical scenes of the day began playing out across the black ceiling. I encountered goblins. Met a fairy. Saw a golem in motion. I might have gone my whole life having not seen any of that if I had done nothing but manned the shop’s counter my whole life. Thinking about this, there is one truth I have to admit.
I have no regrets about living as the daughter of a bookshop owner. But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied.
For the next few hours we continued on our way through the forest. Even after the sun had set, we relied on lamps to light our way and kept walking. But then Carol’s stomach started growling, and we had to stop. We decided to set up our tents there and camp in the forest for the night.
We finished up our dinner quickly, and because of how tired everyone was after the incident with the goblins, we decided the lookout order and got ready for bed. I volunteered to take first watch, but since there wasn’t much to do while on lookout, I sat near the campfire and drew out a map. Well, it’s not so much a genuine map as much as it is a drawing. It’s meant to be a sort-of diary I’m keeping that tells me “This is what happened here, and then this happened here”
“Nn? What’s wrong Carol? Can’t sleep?”
Carol was rubbing her eyes as she crawled out of the tent, but judging by the progress I’ve made on my map, not even four hours should have passed yet.
“Huh, Iris? Ah………I see, it hasn’t been that long”
“Yeah, there’s still some time before my shift ends. You can sleep for a little longer.”
“Mm, but I can’t sleep. My eyes won’t stay closed.”
Carol came over and sat down on the stone next to me. It’s chilly outside though, and her feet are going to get cold if she stays out here too long. That’s why I lifted up the poncho we kept for whoever was acting as the lookout and invited her in.
“Uwa, you’re so warm Carol. It feels really great to snuggle up to you~.”
I thought she’d be cold out here, but then she ends up being warmer than I was. As it turns out, Carol’s body is naturally really, really, really warm.
“Really? I’m not sure.”
Carol wrapped her arms around me while dazedly peering up towards the sky. Following Carol’s gaze up, I found a plump, bulging moon peeking through a break in the tree canopy.
My voice leaked out. It was a beautiful full moon that easily took my breath away. And if a werewolf like Carol were to see a moon like that………
“What’s wrong Iris? You just made a funny noise.”
I timidly looked down, and Carol’s unclouded eyes were looking right back at me.
“Oh, um………nothing. But I was just thinking………..the moon is really beautiful tonight.”
“You don’t have to try and hide it. It looks like you’ve heard some things and were wondering if it was fine for me to be watching the moon.”
Carol’s clever. She might not be that good at counting things, but that doesn’t make her slow. These bright eyes that shine like moonlight are able to easily see through my thoughts.
“Well, it’s not like there’s no reason why you’d be worried. I do get excited when I look at it, and I’m sure it’s why I can’t sleep tonight. As a matter of fact, when I saw Iris after looking at the moon…………..I thought about how delicious you looked.”
I felt something cold run up my back as the corners of Carol’s lips slowly curled upwards into a dubious grin.
“Uhh………….you, you’re joking?”
“Yeah, I’m joking. Well, it is true that Iris looks really delicious in another way though.”
“Knock it off. Are you a drunk old-timer or something?”
Without even realizing it, Toslin was suddenly next to us and bopped Carol on the head.
“That hurts dammit………”
“That’s what you get for saying strange things. Iris, you’ve got to get angry at her too sometimes.”
“Eh………yes, b-but……..sometimes I don’t know what she means and…………”
My words apparently shocked Carol, but I think she’s acting a little too surprised here. Because I really don’t know what she means here.
“And Toslin………sorry. Did we wake you up?”
“No no, I’m already feeling well rested. And I figured it was about time for the shift change. So then, what were you talking about?”
“Whether I was going to be fine after seeing the moon~? was the topic.”
Carol was still rubbing where her head had been hit and was sulking a little when she answered.
“Ah, that…….. Well, in truth she’s as fine looking at it as you are.”
Toslin took a look towards the sky as well and gazed at the beautiful moon.
“It doesn’t affect you at all?”
“Yep yep. A full moon is just like any other moon. For some reason though, it’s just me that feels a little off when I see the moon. I heard that other werewolves don’t have any problem with it. Seriously, why is it just me? Is it because I’m only half werewolf?”
“It’s because your behavior during the day is so bad. Now Iris, good job as lookout tonight. I’ll take it from here, so get some rest.”
My eyelids were slowly starting to feel heavy for a while now actually, so I decided to take her up on the offer.
“O, Okay. Thank you. Well then, I’ll do just that.”
“Yes, good night. You too Carol. Go back to bed with Iris.”
“Eh~. But, I’m not sleepy.”
“You say that now, but come noon tomorrow you’re going to start complaining about how tired you are. So go lie down.”
Doing as Toslin told us, Carol–although grumbling all the way–and I crawled into the tent. Rose was still peacefully sleeping on one side, so we stepped carefully in the narrow space and looked for a spare blanket.
“Carol, I found one over here. Let’s sleep together.”
I lifted up the blanket I found and beckoned Carol and her cozy, warm body over to me.
“Uu~. Why do I feel like I’m being used here?”
Dang it, this girl is always really sharp when she doesn’t need to be.
“You’re paranoid, now come here come here. I’ll pet your head.”
“If, If you think that’s enough to lure me in, then you’re making a huge mistake.”
Despite what she was saying, Carol still slipped in under my blanket. She really is cute.
“Haa~………so warm……….. Carol is such a good girl right? I just want to hold you tight from now on.”
“Toslin said that same thing before, but once summer roles around she yells at me to quit sticking close to her. I wonder if Iris is just after my body too.”
“N-Not at all~. Of course that not true. Now now, let’s get some sleep. Good night……..”
I started petting Carol’s head as promised. But before I noticed, I had to giggle when I saw that she was already snoozing away.
After spending the night in the Swansea Forest, we managed to reach Relton Village the next day just after noon. The whole way here my heart was thumping imagining running into that golem again, but luckily nothing happened.
Relton isn’t a very large village. Located within the forest, the buildings that are here are tightly packed together to fit in the clearing that was made by cutting down trees. As to be expected, the sunlight blocking green canopy was gone allowing the people who lived here to enjoy a bright, open sky over their heads.
Heat from the sun was slowly melting some of the snow that had accumulated on the roofs of the log houses causing bits and pieces to drop to the ground. The falling snow exposed the moss covered roofs underneath, creating a vivid contrast between the white and brown worlds. Rifront Village had about a thousand people living in it, so the population here would be around five hundred I’d think. Maybe a little less?
“Ah~……….we’re finally here………Let’s find an inn already and take a break.”
Stomach grumbling, that was the first thing Carol had to say when we entered the village. I have to admit my stomach was grumbling a little too, but stepping foot into this new and unusual village, it’s the furthest thought on my mind. The log houses make the village seem as if it were truly a part of the forest, and it’s all so lovely.
“You……….realize already that we came here on a job.”
Toslin took a look at Carol and shook her head. We got a lot of curious looks as we walked to the center of the village, but I had my own questions as well. For some reason the only people around were women and children. There wasn’t a single adult man in sight.
“The first thing we should do is hear from our client before it gets too late.”
“That’s right. That’s first on our list.”
Toslin nodded at Rose’s words. Well but if I’m being honest………my feet feel like sticks after walking all day.
“Ugh……….more walking………I want to take my boots off already. My feet are soaked.”
Carol unconsciously looked up towards the sky as Toslin’s amazed voice flew.
“That’s right there’s more walking. Walking is part of being an adventurer, and we’re adventurers. You could say walking is the majority of our job.”
Carol slumped down, so Toslin and Rose took Goldmund’s reins and walked further into the village. Left in the rear, Carol and I looked at each other and sighed.
“Ah, seriously……………I’m so hungry I feel like I’m about to die……..”
“L-Let’s keep doing our best. It’s just a bit more, and then we can rest. I hope.”
I’m able to be more cheerful than usual because of how unique this village is, but the truth is it’s really hard to keep going. What I was saying started sounding fake about halfway through.