The Discovered Possibilities in the Valley Floor
I had anticipated it to a degree, but searching for the surface party from the air turned out to be bone-crushingly difficult. The trees would block everything, making it hard to find them. On top of that, from the surface, I was in plain sight. I knew that the orcs would see me in no time, and so I decided to go back down and search for them with Presence Detection.
“Hmm…someone is close by. Five of them. Definitely the surface party.”
I detected a tight group that was moving towards the southeast, just like Ness had said, and so I headed in that direction. No ordinary Adventurer could outrun Legs of the Forest Wolf. The strong winds wrecked the trees that I passed, but I didn’t think it was a big issue. I would keep a short distance away, so I could confirm it was actually them before showing myself.
I pushed some branches out of the way and look.
Our eyes met immediately. Ahh, they knew exactly where I was. I should have expected no less from a group of scouts. I chuckle awkwardly and walked up to them with some relief.
“That was some speed you had there. But we noticed it immediately.”
“I should have known. So, did you find any traces here?”
“Aye, a little. We’ve been waiting here to make a report of it.”
Ness pointed a thumb to show me. There was a single tree. Parts of its coarse roots were exposed, and it was overall very thick around the trunk. And on that trunk, were scratch marks.
“Look down here as well.”
“Hm? …Are these footprints?”
The dirt had been disturbed. It did kind of look like footprints.
“Someone tripped over something, and their weapon hit the tree…something of that sort.”
I listened to Ness’ interpretation and looked at it again. It was certainly possible. The roots would easily trip someone here.
“In other words, some of them are traversing the surface.”
Ness nodded. Could that suggest that their settlement was up here then? Of course, it was much too early to come to any conclusion. According to Ness, they had not found any other traces. And so I decided that I would leave for now and take this information back to Virgil.
Back at the base, the Adventurers stayed wary of their surroundings as they sharpened and maintained their weapons and equipment. I entered the central tent. Virgil was talking to several others but stood up when he saw me enter.
“Did something happen?”
“Ness discovered some traces.”
I told him about the discovery. Virgil folded his arms, as was his habit, and seemed to be lost in thought.
“Considering these traces, it would be natural to think that the settlement is on the surface. And yet they were in the valley…”
“Perhaps they had a tunnel created? I had thought that the settlement was in the valley, so I hadn’t considered the possibility until now.”
“Do you mean they have a settlement that connects the surface and the valley floor?”
A long tunnel dug up by the hole moles. If they could travel through it, there was no reason to leave the surface and live in the valley. There was no food. The animal carcasses that had been stored in the boxes were from the surface. There were no animals on the valley floor.
“So then it must be on the surface. They have tunnels that let them move underground and also appear in the valley.”
“If that’s true, we’ll need a surface party and valley party when we attack them.”
“We’ll deal with that. For now, I want you to relay what we just talked about to both parties.”
Things moved along smoothly when your leader could think quickly. To be honest, I was not cut out for this sort of work. I had to constantly change the way I thought. If only I was a little sharper, like Daniela or Virgil…
After wishing for the impossible, I left the tent and immediately saw Daniela, who was talking with her team of magicians. It was during times such as these, that the communicatively impaired Daniela could hide that side of herself and become a fine leader. I could see the looks of respect in their gazes as they listened to her. That was one group that would be fine. I had my own job to do. And so I headed for the valley floor.