Chapter 37 – The Misty Forest
We left the royal capital first thing in the morning, and headed to the northwest by carriage.
Equipment and supplies were stacked neatly in the back.
When I looked at the mountain of bread, thinking about how delicious they must be, Luke said that I was ‘definitely not allowed to eat them.’
I would not do something as terrible as eat someone else’s food!
If such a thing happened to me, it would feel like the worst thing in the world.
“I brought my own food, thank you very much.”
I showed Luke my personal stash of bread in my bag, and he chuckled. ‘You have nothing but bread in there.’
I felt a little happy about making him laugh.
And so, in this pleasant mood, I took one out and started to eat it.
It was the most popular custard cream croissant.
The crispy texture, the sweet flavor of the custard cream as it spreads through your mouth.
I smiled. This was the taste of happiness.
The scenery flowed past us.
I could also see people from the Royal Knights Order outside.
About a hundred people were going to participate in this operation.
Half of them were Royal Magicians, and the other half were of the Royal Knights Order.
And among these knights was none other than the renowned kingsguard, who protected the crown prince for many years…a man called Bismarck Alstreim, who was currently captain of the 2nd unit.
According to Luke, he was one of the three people, including us, who the prince had handpicked for this mission.
Why was I included with such people?
Ah, this bread tastes so good.
Unable to fully accept the current reality, I escaped from it.
On the other hand, there was a moment that made me smile and helped me relax.
It was when Luke was giving orders to some subordinates as the section commander.
He was doing his job as a leader so well, and somehow, that made me happy.
The terrible little brat was all grown up…!
It was rather moving, because I knew him back when we were still the same height.
If anything, Luke had been shorter than most children his age.
But he was so tall now.
And I feel as if I haven’t grown at all.
It was something I reproached god for immensely, but right now, I just felt proud of my friend, and felt warm inside.
Regardless, we continued to be rocked by the carriage for a few more hours.
And when we finally arrived at the forest, it was just as misty as the name implied.
Well, perhaps even more so.
“This is more like a fog.”
It was much more dense than I had been imagining.
If you stood too far from someone, you would not even be able to see their face.
“No, I’ve been here several times before, and it was never this thick. In fact, I think that it is likely that this is not a natural phenomenon.”
I thought about it, and then it occurred to me.
“It is quite likely.”
Luke nodded with a serious expression.”
“Should I blow it away with my magic?”
“It is a viable method, but it will also alert the other side of our presence. First, we must gather some information.”
And so while staying alert, we entered the forest.
The moisture-filled air felt chilly.
It was magic that searched for monsters and living creatures in the area.
What we then learned was that there were no living creatures around us at all.
There were no animals, and you could not even hear the chirping of birds.
I continued to search the forest, while being careful to not get lost or separated.
And when I found a great number of small footprints, I called out to Luke.
“I think… A goblin lord’s army.”
They were a kind of high-ranking goblin that appeared in places with high mana density.
Goblin lords were good with leadership, and tended to create powerful hordes that they strengthened with support magic.
The biggest known horde had included up to a thousand goblins.
And since they often attacked villages and towns, causing great damage, they were given a threat level of 5, which was disaster level.
That being said, goblins were not strong monsters, and a goblin lord’s horde was usually considered to be manageable by an A-Rank Adventurer party.
With so many Royal Magicians and Royal Knights here, any battle that might occur should not be too difficult.
I wanted to deal with this, and meet their expectations.
However, the mana density level was low in these territories, so it was strange that there would be a goblin lord here.
It was just as I was wondering about this.
A small ripple appeared in a puddle.
The ground was shaking.
…They are here.
“Noelle. The mist.”
“Leave it to me.”
A powerful blast of wind blew the surrounding mist away.
However, even when our vision cleared, there was no goblin horde in sight.
Luke activated a magic that erased all support magic.
I see. They had been using concealing magic. That’s why I could not detect them.
And so the thin, transparent wall was peeled away, and from behind, appeared the great horde of goblins.
I gasped when I saw that behind them were great green legs that resembled trees.
While goblin lords were large monsters, this one was much too big.
Not even an ogre was this size. This green giant was closer to a dragon.
A rare type that only occurred in places where the mana density was incredibly high… A goblin king.
They had a threat level of 8, and in the past, were known to destroy entire cities.
I understand it now.
Why the crown prince wanted Luke and the captain of the 2nd unit. Why such a team had been formed.
This was a burden much too heavy for me.
However, they had faith in me as well.
I could not just cower in fear.
“Let’s go, Luke.”
“I knew you would say that.”
Luke said with an exasperated sigh.
“But I’ll go anywhere that you go.”
Two friends, facing the enemy.
The battle was about to begin.
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