A Mistake in the Night Forest
Passed the mining town of Alessa, between the mountains, spread the Berulu forest. That forest was dark during the day, due to the branches and leaves growing so thick that they covered the sky. But the forest that we were now in was a quiet place where the sunlight leaked through the leaves. I wasn’t sure what kind of trees they were, but they looked coniferous. Most of them seemed to be an even distance away from each other, suggesting that they had been planted here by someone. But that also made it easier to get lost. Everything looked the same. Wouldn’t that be typical? Getting lost in a forest.
“This forest has a clear view and should be safe.”
“You will get hurt if you let your guard down like that.”
Daniela warned me with a little elbow jab as I walked leisurely next to her. Well, I was raised in a relatively peaceful country, so coming to forests just made me think of forest bathing, negative ions, and healing spots. But I was aware that I was no longer there. That wasn’t a place where I could wander around with a greatsword on my shoulder.
One thing to be wary of while fighting in the forest was how much space you had to swing your sword. Swinging a long sword around here might just turn you into a lumberjack. Cutting trees instead of monsters is not the best way to stay safe. Of course, a greatsword like mine would be close to useless.
However, because of this very reason, wouldn’t it mean that if I somehow managed to be able to use it here, that I would be able to use it anywhere? I started to seriously consider this possibility. Unfortunately, not a single monster had appeared yet. It was peace itself.
“I think we might be out by tomorrow if we keep walking like this.”
“If things stay like this, yes.”
Daniela widened her reach of Presence Detection and constantly looked around as she walked. At a glance, you might think was a traveler who was enjoying the scenery, but I knew that her hand could reach her sword in an instant. She was not letting her guard down at all.
Was she being too cautious? I couldn’t help but wonder. It was starting to make me nervous. What if something really did happen? I lowered the hands that I held behind my head and decided to walk like Daniela, so I could enter a defensive stance at any time.
However, nothing did happen that day, and it was now night. I listened to the familiar sounds of crackling firewood as I took the first watch. With a sword reminiscent of a certain seasoned mercenary, I stared at the flames and spread Presence Detection’s range.
“This is so boring…I’d rather be making out with Daniela…”
She was sleeping in the tent. We always took turns sleeping when we camped outside. Never let your guard down. That was one thing we never did.
“Ahhh…getting used to the old routine makes it hard…”
I mumbled, but there was no one to talk to. I really was letting my guard down in a way, recently. It was the same when I worked the night shift. Being alone there with no one to rely on, I had been so cautious that I wouldn’t even go to the bathroom until morning during the first days.
But then you get used to the job, you understand what time there are likely to be customers, and so there was one time that I was so relaxed that I had fallen asleep in the office. It couldn’t have been much longer than five minutes. I woke up and frantically checked the security monitors to see that someone was waiting in front of the counter. My mind went blank then. Fortunately, if you can call it that, it was a regular customer who was kind enough to say, ‘It’s fine. You’re here all alone, so it can’t be helped.’ I could only apologize as they chuckled.
Waiting for just one minute at the cashier felt too long. There were some customers who would get angry if they were made to wait ten seconds. Had this been a different customer…that made my shudder.
Of course, I never allowed that to happen again.
“I’m in the same situation now…”
I really was. A new place. A new task. And I was now familiar with it after repeating it so many times. It was just in these moments where I was likely to fail.
I slapped my cheeks hard, in order to pull myself together. Alright, I felt awake now. The trick to living a good life was to not repeat your mistakes.
Still, there were always times when humans make mistakes that they have little control over. And so it was when I had pulled myself together, extended the range of Presence Detection, and concentrated on raising its precision…
…that I was unable to deal with the ambush from above.
Suddenly, a large object fell down onto the bonfire in front of me with an explosion of sparks and wood. The sparks covered me for an instant.