Chapter 210 – They Were Forest People!?
The high-pitched sound suddenly echoed through the forest.
It had come through the turnip that Mappa pulled out of the ground. I immediately started to cast Shield around us.
However, Baris’s reaction was faster.
He unleashed water magic around us and Mappa’s face, which helped to reduce the sound.
As for the white turnip… When I looked closely, it had a very round body and arms and legs. And it was now running away.
“Please wait! We don’t mean to hurt…!?”
Suddenly, multiple pillars of light appeared around us.
At the same time, tree roots, flowers and grass began to stretch up from the ground and create a wall around us.
By the time that the turnip had stopped and turned around to look at us, there were a lot of turnips…as well as humans with long ears, and tree giants, surrounding us.
Up until this very moment, I had not sensed any magic energy at all. I suppose it was because they were hiding in the trees. It was amazing that Mappa had noticed…
Eventually, a woman with brown skin and long ears, who had ash-colored hair and clothes made of leaves, held her bow at us, ready to shoot.
“Raise your hands! Are you Vader’s underlings!?”
Thanks to the Translation Stone that I carried, I could understand what the woman was saying.
“No, we are from an island called Sheorl.”
The woman with long ears repeated the name with a puzzled expression.
Did that mean she did not know where it was?
However, she quickly continued.
“There is no sea around here! We are in the center of the Fallion continent, which is surrounded by mountains!”
The Fallion continent.
It was to the far east of my old home, the Sanfaris Kingdom, which was on the Barleon continent.
The Vader Dragon Kingdom, which was ruled by the dragonfolk, was indeed in the center of the Fallion continent. In that case, there was no doubt about it. This was the Fallion continent, and the Lindwurms we had seen earlier were the Vader people.
However, these people were different. And since they were asking if we were Vader underlings, they must not have the best relationship with them.
And so I answered.
“I believe the Vader people have webbed ears. Do you see such ears among us?”
There was no one.
However, they remained suspicious.
When I looked closely…all of them were targeting Baris, who stood next to me.
Baris seemed to notice this as well, and looked a little sad.
“Hmmm… Perhaps I should have stayed behind after all.”
Baris muttered dejectedly. Mappa patted him on the foot.
Everyone was afraid of Baris.
Well, he was tall and muscular, with great wings… Similar to a dragon in some ways. But more than that, he was incredibly intimidating. And so it was no wonder they would be the most cautious with him.
Just then, Rienna put down her basket of collected items and spoke.
“I apologize for entering your forest, and picking the plants without your permission. We did not know that this was your home when we came. If it is your wish, we shall leave this place at once.”
Rienna was from the Berdan tribe. Before coming to Sheorl, they had lived in the forest and mountains of Barleon.
And so she had an idea of how to act in such situations.
The woman began to whisper with the others.
‘Indeed, they do not appear to be Vader people.’ ‘There is a strange Kobold.’ I could hear such mutterings. ‘I doubt that naked old man could live among the proud Vader people…’ Others said. Apparently, they were not sure what to do with us.
We had to think of something as well.
But first, who were these people?
That turnip who had first screamed… It was probably a type of monster known as a Mandragora.
And the giant trees, they looked like the legendary monsters, Trents, who were said to have once lived in Barleon.
And the people with long ears… They looked like humans, but were not dragonfolk. They all had long limbs and beautiful faces. Too beautiful to be human. Were they related to the elves that lived in ancient times?
Aside from them, there were giant flowers that could walk, and green slimes.
So many races… Did they all live together in this forest?
Eventually, the woman asked me,
“…You came down from the southern mountain, yes? This place is surrounded by mountain ranges and forests. The closest human settlement would take more than a week to reach on foot. Were you carried by the Vader dragonfolk we saw flying in the sky earlier?”
It seemed like they thought we had been exiled here, or were sent to investigate.
They were no friends of the Vader people, and were wary of any who came from outside of the forest… And so if I told them the truth, there was no risk of it leaking out to the Vader kingdom.
And so I decided to tell them honestly.
“We came through a magic gate on the top of that mountain. It is connected to an island called Sheorl, which I told you about earlier.”
Upon hearing this, the people began to mutter to each other again.
The woman told the others to be quiet and then turned to me.
“And where is this…Sheorl?”
“If this is the Fallion continent, then our isolated island would be in the sea that is southwest of here. We entered a gate on that island, and came out from a gate on your south mountain.”
The woman fell silent after hearing this.
The others began to talk to each other again.
“Is-is there really an entrance to Sheorl?”
“Then the stories from our ancestors were true after all.”
“Wait. Why should we believe these strangers!”
“Yes. Perhaps the Vader people are just trying to capture us all.”
Did they know about Sheorl?
Perhaps they knew the prophecy as well?
After thinking for a moment, the woman continued.
“…And you know where this entrance is located?”
“Really? Sheorl, the place that will continue to exist as a paradise of flowers and plants, even while the rest of the world ends?”
Rienna and I turned to look at each other.
Sheorl would survive even if the world ends. That was the prophecy that my father spoke of.
Did these people know of the same prophecy then?
However, there was one point that was different.
“Unfortunately…while Sheorl does have a World Tree, it’s not exactly a paradise of flowers and plants…”
“A World Tree!? World Tree… Did you say World Tree!?”
The woman repeated loudly.
The others also stirred in amazement.
And so I said to them,
“Uh, yes. It is still small…apparently, but we do have one. You can come and see it if you like?”
And then the woman began to talk with the others again.
“If…if it is true…what should we do?”
“But aren’t there humans living there?”
“Besides, it’s still possible that they are Vader underlings…”
They were still suspicious of us. However, all this talk of a World Tree had moved them greatly.
Perhaps they were like the ancient Arancian or Zenrada people, and saw the World Tree as something divine.
Eventually, the brown-skinned woman nodded her head with resolve towards the others, and then she turned to me.
“…We will not ask you to do it for free. But could you show me this World Tree once?”
“In that case… Can you first accept that we mean you no harm? Also, can you promise that you will not attack us?”
“I promise. And I will accompany you alone to the mountain.”
But the others suddenly raised their voices frantically.
“Princess Beruna! You must not!”
“Ye-yes! You must receive permission from your father and the tree kings!”
“A tree king council must be held!”
Apparently, this woman was called Beruna, and she was a princess.
However, tree kings? I suppose there were several of them?
Princess Beruna’s face darkened. She looked like she wanted to go with us.
I too wanted to create a good relationship with them, if possible. Sheorl lacked plants, so we would be very grateful if they shared some from this forest with us. Besides, I also wanted to know about their prophecy and gain information on the black mist.
This was too good an opportunity to waste, and so I said,
“You will be welcome at any time. We can return to the mountain now, and wait for the results of this meeting.”
Beruna looked surprised at this.
“Aye. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons for it. I am satisfied as long as you know that we are not hostile.”
“Thank you… In that case, while I doubt it will be much, you can take back anything you gathered today. And if there is anything else you need, you may take that as well.”
“We are very grateful, and will do so gladly.”
So, at least we would not be enemies. The others also lowered their weapons at last.
“Now, we will go. I will make sure that there is always someone watching the mountain.”
“I understand. You will have your answer by tomorrow.”
Beruna said, and we all nodded.
However, Haines alone had a strange expression as he raised his nose to the sky.
“Haines? What is it?”
Had he noticed that Beruna and the others were plotting something?
But Haines said,
“No… It just smells like something is burning.”
Baris tilted his head to the side when he heard this.
“Perhaps someone is cooking?”
Baris said. But Beruna answered.
“Cooking… We do not use fire in this forest. Can you really smell that something is burning?”
“Aye. There is no doubt about it… If it is not cooking, perhaps thunder has struck a tree?”
But there were no sounds of thunder.
Beruna placed a hand on a nearby tree.
And then the tree shook, and then so did the next tree, and then the next. And the vibrations continued.
Eventually, a tree giant opened its mouth.
“…The north…trees are burning! This is bad!”
“Wh-what!? Who caused the fire!?”
“It seems that someone attacked the Vader scouts earlier… Perhaps they struck back and…”
“Th-they did that again!? But surely they know we cannot win!”
“In any case, we must extinguish the fire quickly! Before it spreads!”
The others began to rush towards the north.
Rienna turned to me.
“What should we do, Lord Heal?”
“If the fire spreads, it could destroy their homes… And we can use water magic.”
And if we helped them, they might be less suspicious towards us.
“I agree. Now, I will go on ahead and use water magic to extinguish the fire.”
“Yes, thank you. We won’t be far behind.”
And with that, Baris took off into the sky.
On the other hand, Haines went on all fours and said,
“Please ride on me, Master Heal. Ms. Rienna can ride on Number 15.”
And then the Ryukin that covered Number 15’s body transformed into the shape of a horse.
“Thank you, Haines. All right, let’s go then.”
And so we rushed off to where the fire was blazing.