From the breaks between the clouds, the face of the sun would occasionally peek out, and light would pour through the leaves of the trees.
I traveled along the road that cut through the forest and went along the river. And then the path opened up and I saw a wooden fence ahead of me. Nanaze village was one village away from Suelbur, and in the corner of a deep forest.
The idea of someone coming all of this way to deliver antidote herbs. I had no idea why you would even put out such a request.
The first thing that I saw was vast farmlands that were surrounded by a durable fence made of thin logs. It was a common sight for regions with a lot of monsters. It seemed like having a fence over so much land would be a lot of work. However, such fences could usually be taken apart. So it was likely that it was added little by little as the lands expanded.
Of course, there were other conditions, such as water and terrain, so it could not expand without limit. Regardless, the size of these farmlands suggested that the village had a long history.
The gate on the road was closed in spite of it being midday. Clearly, it was to protect against monsters.
On the inside of the gate, there was a watchtower. And a man was looking at me from on top of it.
“I’m an Adventurer. I came after accepting a quest from Mezerir.”
I said after making Mulze halt. The guard signaled to the people below, and the gate was opened just a little.
“Dismount from your horse and come in!”
I did as they said, pulling Mulze by the reins as I walked through. There, another man was waiting. And so I showed him my Adventurers plate. He looked surprised to see that I was C-Rank.
“Huh, C-Rank, eh? And for gathering the antidote herbs?”
“Aye, so you know…”
“Everyone in the village does. Mezerir’s house is the one with the round, red roof, near the edge of the village. You should also visit the chief’s house when your business is finished. It’s the largest house in the center of the village. You’ll know when you see it.”
“Very well. I shall do that later.”
Even though I was inside of the village, there was some distance to the district where the houses were located. And so I got back onto my horse and continued on my way.
Perhaps visitors were rare, as passersby would stare at me. Well, it was the countryside, so it could not be helped.
On the way, I passed an especially large house, which must be where the chief lived. I see. It was obvious now that I saw it.
The houses were all lined up with quite a distance between them. Some had stone foundations with walls made of dirt, while others were made of wood. An idyllic scene.
I went to the outskirts as instructed, and a distinct house with a round, red roof came into view. Apparently, it was some kind of shop. But there was no sign in the front. I suppose there was no need, since it was just for the villagers.
A bell rang as I opened the door. Various kinds of medicine were on display. Well, since they wanted antidote herbs, I had assumed they were a pharmacist. And I was right.
“Oh? I’ve never seen you before. Are you an Adventurer?”
Said a woman, who stopped her work near the back. She appeared to be the owner of the store. And from between her long, light green hair, pointed ears poked out. There was no doubt about it. She was an elf.
“Are you Mezerir? I came from the Adventurers guild.”
I showed her the quest sheet and my plate. But as I started to take out the bundles of antidote herbs from my sack, she looked at the Adventurers plate with a troubled expression and opened her mouth.
“Yes, I am Mezerir. So, is your business with Amernisus, or with me?”
Her brown eyes looked at me assessingly. She had the fine features typical of elves, but sharp eyes. And though she appeared young, elves had long lives, so I had no idea what her age actually was.
“Well…both, perhaps? I see you don’t waste any time.”
“A high-ranking Adventurer would not accept this quest without a reason. Besides, I have told the Suelbur Adventurers Guild to recommend this quest to anyone who has business with the elves.”
So that was why. I recalled the receptionist’s smile.
“I see. So that was the meaning behind this request.”
I said as I shook the flimsy paper in the air. That was why they had it on the questboard, even though it was ignored by everyone.
“It is true that we lack the antidote herbs. And so if one is going to come all of the way here, they might as well bring us some of it. Don’t you think? Besides, it also shows that the guild does not see you as a suspicious person.”
After checking the condition of the herbs, she took the quest sheet and signed it.
“You did a good job with the gathering. The quest is complete. Now, what is the business that brought you here?”
“If I tell you, will I be able to enter Amernisus?”
“I could help you, depending on the reason. Even if the country is closed off, we still have ears to hear.”
I see. So this Mezerir was their front desk. I was not feeling optimistic about being let in, but it was worth a shot.
“Well…I came to see the elf homeland. That is all.”
So I could use Reverse Age without worrying. And so the rumors would die down. That was part of it too, but ultimately, that was my reason. Regardless, I could not tell others about Reverse Age.
Mezerir’s eyes widened a little, and then narrowed with suspicion. I expected such a reaction.
“Do you really think you can travel through closed borders with a reason like that?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“I see. So you knew, but came anyway. Yes, there are people like that, occasionally. And it is my role to inform such people.”
Mezerir sighed and sat down in a nearby chair. She crossed her legs and with her elbow on the table, rested her chin in her palm and sighed tiredly.
“Do not enter the forest north of Nanaze village. It is not too bad at first, but the deeper you go, the more powerful the monsters. And even if you get through it, there is an elven barrier that will affect your sense of direction, causing you to wander through the forest. You would never reach Amernisus, not even by accident.”
“…Is it called the Lost Forest by any chance?”
“Oh, you knew? I wonder where you heard of it.”
It was a typical name for an elf forest. But I never thought I would be able to actually see it. Now I really must go!
“Uh, I just heard about it in a story. I would very much like to get lost. So can I go in?”
“Why is that your response! I just told you that you won’t reach it!”
“That’s fine. If it’s the Lost Forest, then it would be a waste to not get lost inside of it.”
“And once you enter, it will be very difficult to get out. Even going in means you are risking your life. I must tell you, it is not some simple barrier that you can trick by leaving marks on trees.”
Oh, so you can’t do that. And the return trip would also be difficult.
“What about string? I could tie them in different places as I advance. That way, I should be able to return without getting lost, right? Even if it’s not in one day, I feel like I could manage it.”
“How much string do you intend to bring? There are monsters and beasts in the forest. If the string gets cut along the way, you will be trapped and die.”
“So as long as the string isn’t cut, then it will be fine. But about your sense of direction being affected. Is that like seeing illusions?”
“Not just that… Wait, why am I explaining the secrets of the barrier to you! In any case! Do not enter the forest if you value your life! For your own good, listen to the words of an elf when it comes to that place.”
She said, standing up and pointing a finger at me. While it seemed like she was leaving no room for argument, I could also tell that it was because she was worried. While I was disappointed that I could not see the Lost Forest, it was probably a good thing to listen to her advice.