Chapter 17 – We Were Able To Use The Abandoned Mines!
—It was an oddly pleasant sensation. The thing on my stomach.
What is it… It was soft and fluffy, so that you just wanted to keep petting it.
It was different from the squishy sensation that I felt around my head…which was Wiz the slime. I couldn’t help but grin at this.
I then opened my eyes and sat up.
And then I saw that a girl was rolled up with her head on my stomach.
She seemed to be in her early teens and had short, ash-colored hair.
“Huh? …Who is this?”
Was she one of the Kijins?
But I didn’t see any horns.
Instead, I saw fluffy ears and a bushy tail.
“Faahhhh… Ah, morning, Joshua.”
She muttered as she opened one eye.
“Uh, is it…Melk?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
So the girl was Melk.
She was a werewolf. It was only natural for them to be in human form during normal times.
But it was still a little surprising. I had assumed she would be younger.
“G-good morning. So you know my name.”
“Yes. Iria told me. She said you were her gentleman, but then Mette started arguing with her. They were very loud all through the night.”
My eyes went down to where Mette was sleeping with a drooling face, and Iria, who had a cool expression. Unlike Mette, who snored loudly, Iria was almost eerily quiet. Also, I thought her eyes had opened for a second…
I understood why she didn’t want me to leave the village, but I already intended on staying for a while, So there was no need to act so desperate…
After a moment, Iria then got up as if nothing had happened.
“Ah, good morning, Sir Joshua. We are going to the abandoned mines today, are we not?”
“Uh, yes. That’s right. Thank you.”
“I said, and then Melk hit me on the stomach.
“Melk…wants to go too.”
And so I headed towards the abandoned mines with Iria and Melk.
…Ah, Wiz was always with me. Currently, it was hiding in my pouch.
Mette was left in charge of defending the village in our absence, while the Kijin and werewolf elders would discuss any decisions that had to be made.
Still, it would be best to finish the investigation of the abandoned mines quickly, and return as soon as possible. We didn’t know what might happen.
As for travel, it was easy, since we had acquired the horses.
Yesterday, I taught the Kijins how to ride them.
As five of the Kijins picked it up immediately, they would come with us today.
And they all carried their own pickaxes, so they could then learn how to dig in the mines.
However, Ira was still not used to riding on a horse.
And so she rode with me, and sat in the front.
Iria pointed up ahead.
“Sir Joshua. It’s to the right of that great tree!”
“Ah, I can see it.”
But it was hard to relax like this.
While we had been sleeping together earlier, it seemed like we were even closer together now.
On the other hand, Melk was in her wolf form and running alongside us.
And she would occasionally pass us and run on ahead.
Unlike her lazy way of talking, her running was the height of agility.
Well, these horses weren’t military horses, just cart horses.
They could not run that fast, so it was no wonder that Melk was much faster.
Regardless, we soon arrived in front of the abandoned mine.
“So this is it… Yes, it does look like a mine.”
The walls of the entrance had marks, showing they had been carved by someone.
There was no doubt about it. It had been a mine a long time ago.
“All right. Iria and I will take a look inside. Everyone else, wait here. And if you notice anything strange, shout for us.”
The Kijins all nodded.
“Melk will go too.”
However, Melk had every intention of following us.
“No, it’s too dangerous inside.”
“It’s fine. Melk will know if something is there.”
Replied Melk in a calm voice.
Werewolves had superior hearing and sense of smell compared to dogs.
And so it was true that she would be better than Iria and I when it came to detecting danger.
“Very well. Then come with us. Torch…”
I used magic to create spheres of floating light around us, and then entered the cave with Iria and Melk.
According to Iria, no Kijin had ever entered this place.
The reason for this was that they had all been taught that such caves were the lairs of bears, and they were not to go near them.
Indeed, it would not be strange if something had made this place its home…
And so I was wary of my surroundings as we walked forward.
Right now, the only things I saw were spiders, bugs and bats.
However, after a while, a shiny wall came into view.
“Ohh, this is iron ore. And I can see there is copper and coal as well… We’ll be able to make steel then. This is what I was searching for.”
“That is good to hear! I always knew that there must be something here.”
Iria said happily.
But suddenly, Melk opened her mouth with alarm.
“…Joshua, something is coming!!”
I looked deeper into the cave and stood ready.
“Indeed… No, this sound…”
Iria unsheathed her sword and Melk nodded.
“You noticed it too, Iria? I think it’s a snake…devil…?”
“A Devil Snake…”
Said Iria. ‘That,’ Melk replied.
Devil Snakes were snake-like monsters that could swallow humans and all kinds of beasts whole.
They were about the length of three humans together.
And the poison from their mouths was powerful enough to cause paralysis. And humans would use their poison often.
It had a distinct way of hissing, which was probably why Melk recognized it so quickly.
While it was a powerful monster, it wasn’t something we couldn’t defeat… Or not!
Because what appeared before us was a Devil Snake that was three times larger than usual.
It opened its mouth wide and was about to unleash its poison.
I quickly cast Magic Shield on everyone.
But at the same time, Iria and Melk rushed forward.
“Both of you! It’s dangerous! Wha-!?”
But there was no need to worry.
The Devil Snake’s head was swiftly severed by Melk’s claws and Iria’s blade.
“…Melk. Did you get hurt?”
…She was strong. I had known that Iria was, but Melk was also amazing.
However, Melk then raised her voice.
“Joshua… Something else is coming now. This time, there are a lot of them!”
Melk was always so expressionless, but she now looked quite frantic.
In other words, something was coming in large numbers.
And so I cast Magic Shield once again.
“…Everyone. Don’t do anything reckless. If it’s too dangerous, I’ll block the passage with boulders…”
While we had discovered a good mine, there was no point if we couldn’t dig there safely.
And so if we could not defeat the enemy, there was nothing to do but run.
It was just as I thought this.
Wiz the Slime jumped out from my pouch.
“What is it? Wiz? It’s dangerous to come out now!”
Wiz was always so intelligent, and never did anything that would trouble me.
And so it was very unusual for him to act like this.
However, I found out the reason soon enough.
Because what appeared before us was a horde of slimes.
“There are so many slimes!?”
Even to the north where humans lived, you could sometimes find them living in caves like this.
Wiz had been such slime once.
And now, Wiz went out all alone in order to confront the horde.
“Wiz! Come back!”
But Wiz ignored me and continued to hop towards them.
I could do nothing but cast Magic Shield.
And then the slime horde suddenly stopped in their tracks.
Wiz began to hop in front of them and twist its body as if to communicate to them through gestures.
This continued for nearly a minute.
And then Wiz came back to me and made its body change shape.
A circle… I don’t understand. Do you mean everything is fine?
“So we can use this place?”
I asked, and the slimes all nodded.