When we had made it to the one-kilometer point, Daniela detected the presence of humans up ahead. As she was keeping the detection range quite small, she was able to tell that they were humans. Still, that didn’t mean they were Adventurers. But it was hard to believe that they could be anything else.
As we discussed this, we finally reached the spot that I had seen with Eyes of the God Wolf. The trampled snow. I went down to my knees and inspected them closely. Yes, they were made with boots. And they covered a pretty wide area. We hadn’t seen any other footprints until we reached here. And on further inspection, I saw that they were coming from the right.
“Hmm… We came straight here from Adlus’s camp, but it seems to me that they headed east first.”
“What reason could they have had?”
“Maybe there were goblins?”
“But would he really have taken all the Jades for such a detour?”
Besides, these were just goblins. They weren’t very strong monsters. I don’t see why he would need to have everyone go around. Well, unless it was a particularly large group of goblins.
“Perhaps. Or maybe they found traces of something else that made them move…”
“…Where are the people, according to Presence Detection?”
“Northeast. They are in a tight group. But they are still quite far away.”
Hmm. So maybe they had only come here to kill the goblins.
Likely, they had sensed the goblins with Presence Detection, and so Adlus had sent some Jades here to kill them. However, the snow slowed them down, and quite a few escaped. The Jades had no choice but to turn around and go back. And so we ended up killing the escaped goblins instead.
That was the likely scenario. Daniela agreed, and so we changed direction and headed northeast instead of north.
□ □ □ □
On our way northeast, we discovered a hardened path through the snow. A lot of it was covered by snow that had likely fallen from the trees. In any case, we had finally found their tracks.
Now we had a clear path that we only had to follow.
And so we were able to reach Adlus’s camp before the sun hid its face completely in the west.
“Phew… We made it, somehow.”
A Jade who was on watching duties detected us with Presence Detection and started waving. I waved back with a sigh of relief.
“We would have had to sleep outside tonight if we did not catch up with them.”
“What a horrifying thought… Well, it was quite possible…”
They must have had people who could use ice magic, because a great wall had been constructed between the trees, barring monsters from entering. It was pretty well thought out… It would have been exhausting, but now they had a nice fortress. It was strong, hardened ice, and as it had been made from snow, the magic depletion wouldn’t have been too bad. That also meant the area inside was cleared of snow.
A pretty ideal campsite, given the circumstances.
“It’s great to see you. I’m happy that you are well.”
“Thank you. Is anyone hurt?”
“No, we are all safe. Mister Adlus is waiting for you.”
The Jade on top of the wall of ice explained the situation to us. Good. Nothing like the Queen’s Knight Goblin had shown up.
We entered through the gap in the wall. There were a number of igloos and bonfires. The rising smoke suggested they were cooking. But they stretched in thin streams through the tree branches, and I doubted they could be seen from far away.
I waved randomly at the Jades who greeted us and then made my way to the center of the camp, where Adlus was sitting on a tree stump with a map in his hands. Manager was also there.
“Do you want me to stand in the hallway?”
I joked as Adlus glared at me.
“Hmph. This is no school for children.”
“Hehe. Of course.”
Then we chuckled. I had doubts at one point, but in the end, we had been able to reunite like this safely.
“Rindo. Has anything happened?”
“No. Things have been peaceful for the most part. And you, Daniela?”
“Protecting Asagi is quite exhausting work.”
Daniela must have been very relieved, as she rarely made jokes like that. …It was a joke, right?
“I’m glad that you made it here safely. Also, you’re timing is actually perfect.”
I looked at Adlus in puzzlement. His answer was most surprising. I learned that our timing was miraculous in a way.
“The location of the Queen’s Goblin…the goblin nest. We have found it. The entrance is a giant tree up ahead. It leads underground.”
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