Escape from the Snake
Daniela blocked the entrance of the cave as I took out a magic lamp and turned on the light. After that, we rested for a while. It was only just an hour, but it did wonders for my exhaustion.
In the meantime, Daniela continued to use Presence Detection. But the snake showed no signs of following us inside, and there were no other monsters in the cave. Apparently, this place wasn’t a nest after all.
It was as we made a small hole in the wall for ventilation, that we noticed something. A draft was blowing from the far back. In other words, there was another hole to the outside.
“I do not know where it leads to, but it is comforting to know that we can get out if we follow it.”
“There must be something behind this wall here.”
Well, my instincts were telling me that there was, anyway. It probably led to the center of the mountain. And that must be where Arthur is.
“Then we have no choice but to go. Can you walk?”
“Yeah, I’ve rested enough. Let’s go.”
It was a very narrow cavern. I couldn’t swing a spear around here. When would I be able to get any use out of it? Now that I thought of it, I rarely used spears in any of the games that I played as well… Even if there were situations when I could have used it, I always relied on my sword. I suppose that I would just have to put more effort into using it when possible. That would be the first step to growth.
“A spear? In a place like this?”
“It’s because we’re in a place like this. The enemy will only be able to go forward or back. I just have to thrust.”
Up until now I had avoided using them in favor of weapons that handled better in tight spaces. But when you really thought about it, what could be more powerful than a thrust? Well, if you had good aim, anyway.
As we were now prepared, we slowly started to make our way forward. Every time the lamp swayed on my belt, our shadows would change size as they were cast on the stone walls. There was something unsettling and demonic about them.
Our footsteps echoed. Ahh, this reminded me of that abandoned mine.
“There really are no monsters here.”
“That being said, we should still be careful… Maybe they are using Presence Block.”
Perhaps they are camouflaged into the rocks. They could jump out of hidden holes and attack us. Such worries plagued me. That’s why I hated tight spaces…
We had walked for some time now, but there was still no light shining from up ahead. And so we decided to rest for the day. Having magic barrier tools that used thunder ore was great for your sense of security. It wasn’t visible to the eye, but I could sense the electricity in the air. Anything that tried to force their way in would be subject to a brutal shock. And so I put two on each side of us to create a shield. Yes, this was good.
“I finished setting up the barrier.”
“Thank you. And I finished preparing dinner.”
There was soup that had been heated with a magic stove and some bread. How I wish we could barbecue some meat…
“A fire would be too dangerous… You will have to wait until we are back outside.”
“How sad. I hate caves. Oh, well, meat skewers it is.”
I wasn’t half as obsessed as Daniela, but it was still hard to live without meat. And so I took some of them out of the hollow bag and tore into them. They were really good, but were no replacement. It was as if there was a little Daniela inside of me that screamed for the real thing.
Still, we ate until we were full. And then I sprawled on the ground over a blanket.
“I will take the first watch. You did a lot for me the last time.”
“Thanks…ahh… I’m pretty sure an earthquake wouldn’t wake me up if I fell asleep now… Hehe…”
“Just shut up and go to sleep.”
Well, if you insist. Fine. It’s not like an earthquake was even remotely likely.
□ □ □ □
“Asagi! Get up!”
My body suddenly rolled over and my face slammed into the dirt. I frantically got to my feet and saw that Daniela was holding the blanket that I had been sleeping on. Apparently, she had pulled it out from under me. I might have complained about the violence of it all, but I suppose it was that much of an emergency.
“What happened? You would not wake up no matter how much the ground was shaking!”
She looked shaken and I was confused.
“Aye, the ground moved… Something terrible must be happening now.”
“How much did it shake?”
“Uh…maybe this much?”
Daniela grabbed my shoulders and shook me. While my head swayed from side to side, it didn’t seem all that bad. I was used to earthquakes. Magnitude three perhaps?
“…Ah, now that I think about it… I remember reading that people who live on large continents are sensitive to earthquakes…”
“Continents? What are you talking about!”
“Uh, nothing… Well, I think we’re fine.”
Even when considering the fact that we were in a cave, it seemed like there hadn’t been much effect. Nothing had crumbled. Still, I wanted to know what the cause was. Though, all that talk about tectonic plates was outside of my expertise…
“It probably broke through that wall.”
“By the entrance… So it’s the snake!”
“I believe so. We should leave at once. We have no chance of winning here.”
Indeed, the cave would have likely shaken if it forced its way through. And we really couldn’t fight it here. We would have to try and get out.
Daniela quickly put away our belongings as I warily watched the tunnel behind us.
“Alright, we are ready. What about the light?”
“There’s no point in turning it off. Let’s go!”
It didn’t matter when our enemy had infrared vision. Just being in its vicinity was enough. It would sense our body temperature.
Hmm… Body temperature?
“Wait a minute.”
“Did you think of something?”
“Yeah, maybe we can escape like this…!”
I gathered azure energy into both of my hands and sent it into the ground. And then I created a thick wall of ice to block the tunnel behind us. Now the temperature would fall and it would be harder for it to detect us…maybe.
“Do you really think that will work?”
“Uh…I don’t know. Don’t get your hopes up.”
Well, it will at least be an obstacle. A physical one.
And with that, I picked up Daniela and used Legs of the God Wolf and practically slid through the cave. Every time I had to dodge a rock or a boulder, Daniela would let out a little shriek.
“Ah, Asagi. This is frightening…!”
“Sorry. But I’m concentrating right now.”
My eyes were open wide as I took in the landscape and avoided obstacles while maintaining my speed as much as possible. I kicked walls, bounced off ceilings and slid on the ground. Daniela gulped every time. It was quite different from flying in the air. And I started to feel pretty bad.
“…Ah, Asagi! It is behind you!”
“It was no use!”
Apparently, an ice wall was nothing. Snakes were so tenacious. However, if an ice wall did nothing, perhaps there was more at play than just infrared vision. Perhaps this monster just had an instinct to chase after everything it encountered.
Well, the only thing to do was to run. And I was quite confident in my ability to run away from something. No monster was ever able to run as fast as me. …Or so I thought.
But as we ran, I noticed that things were changing around us. It seemed that the walls were becoming smoother. Less angular and more round, perhaps… And also, they were getting wider. It was hard to run on the walls or ceiling when they were this smooth, but the wider tunnels meant it was easier to run over all. In fact, the path ahead was now just a straight line.
“Maybe we are close to the exit!”
Daniela said. And so I activated Eyes of the God Wolf for just a second. Was there really an exit up ahead? Were there any monsters?
“…There’s an exit!”
What I saw was the gaping hole that was the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t see what lay beyond that, but it would at least take us outside.
Having that assurance made me run even faster. The wind around my legs grew stronger as I shifted into high gear. My senses became sharper to prevent the speed from overwhelming me.
As I ran at top speed, the path began to curve. To the right and then the left, it was like a snake. There were no more sharp rocks jutting out, everything had a smooth surface. We must be close. It was likely the work of the wind and the rain.
“I can see it!”
Daniela shouted in my arms. It seemed like she had seen the exit for a second. As for me, I was more concerned about what was behind us. The snake clearly sensed our presence as it chased after us. It had already passed the spot where we had rested.
“I don’t know what’s up ahead. But we’ll have to take the chance!”
“I will create a shield! Just keep running!”
One of her arms unraveled from my neck and stretched out in front of us as she created the Wind Shield. It was translucent jade, and I could see through it to the exit. At the same time, Presence Detection was telling me that the snake was very close. It was less than three hundred meters away now.
“Here we go! Hold on…!!”
As Daniela’s arms tightened around me, I covered the remaining distance at full speed.