To the Sacred Mountain
We departed from Cath Palug and headed west. The weather was great and I started to feel trickles of sweat pour down my face as we trampled over the snow.
Even the snow in the trees was starting to melt, and they dripped down with loud thuds. It had been a while since there was a blizzard. The most we got was very light snow during the middle of the night and early morning.
“It seems like the icesnow phase is ending soon.”
I muttered to Daniela as I took off my cape. It was too warm for it now.
“We might start seeing monsters that are leaving their nests early.”
“We’ll have to be careful then…”
That being said, the world was still covered in silver. You couldn’t tell where the nests were by looking. The only thing I could trust was Presence Detection.
And so I tried widening the detection range, but there was nothing. Hmm… While the sea of trees was known for being the home of many monsters, it appeared that the nests weren’t just located anywhere.
“Was it called ‘Paralyze Viper?’ That monster that came from this forest.”
“You mean the one that is lurking around Yukka?”
“Yeah, that one. So there are monsters that are active even when it’s cold. We’ll have to keep our guard up.”
“Hmm… Well, that is a very rare case.”
According to Daniela, these reptilian monsters almost always hibernate during the icesnow phase. So, why was this monster active in Yukka?
“My guess would be that it moved before the start of the phase. Perhaps it had attempted to hibernate in that unfamiliar territory, and then was awakened by Adventurers.”
“Huh… That makes sense… Still, why did it leave the sea of trees in the first place? Isn’t there plenty of food here?”
“I do not know.”
Well, that was no surprise. Daniela wasn’t some monster professor. Still, we would have to keep this Paralyze Viper in mind. Perhaps we should have just hunted it when we had the chance… No, that would have negatively affected later developments.
□ □ □ □
We walked through the trees for several more hours. We had taken a few breaks in between, but I was still tired from walking. And yet, the forest showed no signs of ending.
“Let’s just rest for the day…”
“Yes. We should prepare.”
Awesome. I was about to revolt had she insisted that we continue. I immediately sat down and started to stretch my legs and massage my feet.
“Are you that tired?”
“Walking in the snow is a lot more exhausting than I expected.”
“I suppose you are still not used to it then.”
And to think I used to live in a place with a lot of snow. Well, it didn’t last long, though. But before I moved, I spent several winters there. And there was not a day that I didn’t slip on the road.
However, I now had a good grasp on how to walk. Though, it was still pretty stressful.
The sun had started to set by the time we finished pitching the tent and got the bonfire blazing. The trees around us had a warm, red glow, giving the silver forest a feeling of warmth.
As the firewood crackled loudly in the flames, I set up a tripod over it and hooked on a pot in order to heat up some soup. It was chicken soup I had bought at a stall. But I customized it with some spices I purchased in Usk. It would be quite spicy, which was perfect for a cold night.
I stirred the pot with a spoon and tasted it. Hmm. Not quite as spicy as I would like. Well, maybe I had tasted it too many times and my taste buds were going numb. Hmm. Maybe a few more sips will…
“Asagi. Are you tasting it or having a full meal?”
“Tasting, of course. I am trying very hard here to make the most delicious soup possible.”
“Lets just hope that the pot is not empty when you are finished.”
Worrywart. As if I would do something like that. That being said, it would definitely be defeating the purpose if I was full by the time dinner was ready. Being particular wasn’t bad, but speed was also important. A good restaurant should be able to serve their food quickly. Speed was the most important thing in life.
“Alright, it’s finished. Let’s eat.”
“You took long enough. I would have probably left if this was your restaurant.”
I didn’t think it was that long, but gluttons cared more about speed and quantity more than anything else. I would have to be careful.
I filled the deep bowls with soup and added some bread I had been baking on the side. Daniela immediately tore into the bread.
“Mmm… This is delicious.”
“Freshly baked bread is the best.”
“Indeed. Food must be eaten while it is still hot. To do anything else would be a great insult.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
I enjoyed the fragrance and the texture of the crispy bread while slurping the soup like a dog. My mouth felt tingly. It really was quite spicy. But the chicken was sweet and rich. And the melted vegetables helped to even everything out.
“Well, you clearly succeeded.”
“Perfect for a cold night, eh?”
I was glad that she liked it. It was worth the effort.
Our hands didn’t stop moving until we had eaten everything. A pale cloud of smoke floated in the air as I sighed. I was stuffed. I turned to Daniela and saw that she was lying on the ground.
“You look like a cow.”
“That is fine with me…”
She looked tired too. Her eyes were hazy. She would probably fall asleep if I left her there…
“You should go to the tent if you want to sleep.”
She rubbed at her eyes as she got up and trudged towards the tent. In spite of it all, she was quite tired as well. I decided to let her get a good night’s rest.
So, I would stay up all night alone… It had been a while since my last night shift.
□ □ □ □
It wasn’t so much midnight, as early morning. But the sky was still dark and countless stars and a large moon shone down over me.
Daniela had been sleeping for a while now, but I had yet to sense anything nearby. Zero. All I could hear was the sounds of the crackling firewood.
I let down the thin tree I had been dragging. It was about as wide as my arm. Then I used the Schwartz Tempest to split it in equal parts. After that, I just needed to use the Glampanzer to cut off the branches, and I had firewood.
I liked to make firewood during nights where I had nothing to do. Of course, I still had my guard up while I was working. Presence Detection was activated the whole time, and I occasionally used Eyes of the God Wolf to look farther out. However, I kept that to a minimum, due to that incident with Ash.
I sat down near the fire now that I was finished. It was a nice, comfortable kind of fatigue. Like I could fall asleep immediately if I lay down.
Even though I didn’t sense anything nearby, it would be foolish to fall asleep here. Maybe if it was in a tree…
“…Ah, that’s right.”
Speaking of trees, I decided to climb one of them and get a look at the land. It was good to see things with your real eyes once in a while.
And so I checked the area with Presence Detection again to make sure nothing had changed, and then I started to climb.
“Hmm. That one is taller…”
Hadn’t I done something similar in the town of Alessa before… It was with such thoughts that I climbed up the tallest tree.
While it was still dark around me, the horizon to the east was slightly paler. The sun would rise in just a few hours.
And then I looked to the opposite side, which was where we were headed…the west. The forest still continued, but I could see huge mountains as well. I had never seen mountains that were so big before.
They were covered in the snow, from their peaks to the bottom. Like white clouds floating in the darkness.
It was mystical and beautiful.
“It’s like…a sacred mountain…”
And that is where Arthur was. A white mountain for a white orc… A strange coincidence.
Well, I should get down now. It would be morning soon, and I would have to prepare for breakfast. And then I can rest a little. Staying up all night was tough.