Chapter 7 – To the Forest Where Evil Lurks
2 days has passed since they accept the request.
Renya and his other team mates have already arrived at the request destination point, the forest on the mountain base.
After actually coming here, the forest really isn’t that dense. It doesn’t yet reach the level where trees are overgrown everywhere and obstruct the sunlight from coming. The spaces between trees are also sparse, which make humans or monster alike won’t get much trouble wandering inside.
There is a normal safe course to this forest by using the highway to get to the closest fortress then get straight to the forest but they don’t use it. Because going that way might gives bad stimulus to the neighborhood kingdom in this peace treaty negotiation time. Instead they go there by crossing another forest so they won’t get detected.
Traveling through uneven land while keep straining their senses in anticipation for attacks from monsters, they go to the forest in the hard way. This kind of marching would usually exhaust normal people mind and body but as expected of those who called handpicked elites, they reach the objectives point on time without much trouble.
Renya and Floria can be spotted marching together with the group. They kinda look a bit tired. But it’s not exhaustion from the march. It’s an exhaustion caused by anxiety! And the cause of that anxiety is coming from a girl that is standing right behind them.
(Where did things went wrong I wonder…)
Renya can’t help but to think of such thing. He starts remembering the meeting with the girl that was just the day before yesterday.
“Well then it’s a pleasure to work together with you”
“We feel the same, it’s a pleasure too”
Renya and Floria meet the 3 peoples from the warrior guild on the rendezvous point at the outside of city gate. All of them are man and their appearances are what people usually call ‘muscular warrior’. They all equipped with a similar kind of steel armor as uniform. Despite the weight of those steel armors, they wear it normally without any discomfort. Eventhough they response to Renya’s greeting politely, their ambience as veterans still overflows.
Grais, the team captain, is a guy in his prime who uses a heavyweight Tomahawk.
Arda, the team vice-captain, is a giant guy who uses long spear and a big tower shield.
Darel, the team member, is the youngest in that team who uses a long sword and buckler.
By just a glance, Renya can discern that those three levels are far above from the peoples of warrior guild that challenges him and got beaten up the other days ago. He already know that the top class of warrior guild will be coming but he can’t help but to be surprised by how large the difference of power inside the guild.
“I kinda have a bad feeling about this job, let’s face it while being cautious with all that might come and let’s guard each other back”
“Yeah let’s do that. Our captain premonition comes true most of the time. Let’s do this job carefully boy”
Renya gets even more shocked after having a talk with them. The usual crude image of a warrior guild gets destroyed in a good way as he starts marching together with them. They plan ahead everything about the path to take, supplies, dangerous spot and such. Their meticulous plan for every scenario that might happen ahead amazes Renya.
“Eventhough they have the same muscle head image like daddy how come they can be soo good at using their head?”
“Don’t waste time thinking about that Floria”
Renya tries to console Floria who are also in a different way shocked by that fact by patting her head. Renya is 174cm tall while Floria is 160 cm tall with a petite build. With that difference in height, their skinship naturally flows this way a lot.
Nevertheless, there is a pair of eyes that locked those two while they flirt to each other. That pair of chestnut colored eyes belonged to a girl that has a shoulder length blonde hair. She’s a beautiful woman just like Floria, no to be exact a beautiful teenage girl. Her face still have some childish feature left. She’s been glaring at Renya and Floria with doubtful faces for a while.
Renya had greeted her a while ago. She is the rumored magician girl who introduces herself as Brenda.
“Do you have anything to say Brenda?”
“……. No… nothing in particular…”
After that she’s just turn her face away and end the conversation there.
Renya can’t help but to get curious about Brenda’s behavior but now is the time to plan on how they will do this job so he just focus his attention to the discussion.
He thinks that Brenda’s weird behavior will be solved by itself later, but he was wrong. Brenda keeps focusing her attentions to Renya and Floria for all that time. He can sense that there is no ill will in Brenda’s behavior but it was not a good one either. While keep getting that kind of weird unclear stares, even Renya starts to wear down.
If her stare has ill will behind it he can just simply warn her. It was not a stare filled with curiosity either. And to be clear it was not an amorous gaze either. He just doesn’t know what to do against that stare.
The result, even in the end no monster attacks them during the march, because he keep strained his consciousness to that stare, he got a considerable amount of mind damages. It’s been a while since he feels tired from traveling.
And he still can’t understand the reason behind Brenda stares until the end.
“We have arrived at the destination point”
With Grais word, Renya awoken from his deep thought. He reflexively checks his surroundings.
What unfolded in front of his eyes was an empty land. If one took a bird eye view from right upside, it would seems like the forest has a hole right in the middle. There are no trees in that place, only debris from some kind of building.
When he looks closely, there are some kinds of plants that he hasn’t seen since the start of the march grows on that debris surrounding. The shape of those plants had some similarities as the surrounding vegetation but there’s a big difference too. He don’t know what kind of plants it is, but seeing as those plants can only grow around those debris only, he grasp the importance of this place immediately.
“It seems like there are no abnormalities in sight. Shall we spread out and search around?”
“No abnormalities in sight making it even more suspicious if you ask me”
“Eh? What did you mean by that Renya?”
“Well you see, this place supposed to have abnormalities you know? But the surroundings seem normal… too normal if I had to say”
Floria tilts her head cutely. She doesn’t understand what Renya mean by that. But Grais in the other hand reacted to what Renya says.
“Sir Renya, Can you please explain what did you mean by that?”
“One of the possibilities of what behind this request is that there are powerful monsters appeared right? If it was monster then people who came here to pick these ingredients were attacked and died here right? But if that’s the case, then there should be marks of battles, bloods, corpses, or even just the articles from the deceased that can be found easily. And this place don’t have it”
“Yes, that should be a logical”
“The possibilities of bandits laying in wait to attack those who came here is also close to none. This place doesn’t have a road to begin with so ambushing people by waiting them to pass through is an impossible task. What more, there should be no people capricious enough to come to this place and stays for a long while. Bandits will go straight to the highway rather than coming here”
“That should also be true. Moreover with the border guard fortress nearby this place should be avoided by bandits”
“Then what was it that makes people disappear here? There should be some bizarre abnormalities here seeing from how ‘normal’ this place seems”
“Hum, that one great point to notice. Well then shall we ask how is it from a magician point of view?”
Satisfied with Renya’s opinion, Grais then ask Brenda who were keeping her silence since a while ago.
“Miss Brenda, is there any way to solve this problem with magic?”
“There is a barrier which is able detects human or other living things and then there are also magic items that in accordance to that detection can give some kind of action accordingly. But to capture all the people that come to place from every direction, one must have otherwise an enormous amount of magic power or enormous amount of funds to be able to do something like that”
With just that explanation from Brenda, everyone here all think that it will just give more loss than gains. Seems like this in not the kind of phenomenon that happened by the hands of man.
“In the end this place still needs to be investigated further. Sir Renya, let’s split into 2 team and do a thorough investigation shall we?”
“I have no objection with that. So how will we split up?”
To make each team balanced, the team split up into Renya’s team with Floria and Darel while Grais team has Brenda and Arda.
First, they search around the circumference of the area… Negative.
Then they search the surrounding plants and trees… Still negative.
By eliminations, it means that the place with problem is the debris area.
Tensions start to rises among the group. Arda silently set up his shield getting ready for anything that would be coming. Renya took 1 step further than the rest of the group. With eye contact, he tells the other team mate to let him go ahead and be the decoy. Grais returns his eye contact with a nod, his expression is all serious.
“Make sure that the plants needed for alchemy ingredient don’t get damaged”
He had his interest in that plant actually. Once this request is over he might want to ask permission to take some samples of them later. With that in mind, he carefully approaches the debris area.
Snap! Renya suddenly felt a rush of electricity on his skin. Renya hurriedly put his hand up to warn the other members.
It was a danger detection skill that he learned after he inherits the power of war god. Third eye, 6th sense, there are a lot of way to calls that kind of skill. It was one of the skills that will triggers automatically without him need to aware of it.
An approaching menace. Renya was able to detect that thing that doesn’t even have shapes.
Right after Renya screams, the scenery around starts to get warped. It was like a kind of heat haze appears on a few spot on the surrounding area. The mood in the area then changed radically to the worst.
They have been trapped.
No one actually says it but each one of them felt it that way. Rather than trying to understand this puzzling situation, Grais group immediately set up their weapons in preparation for anything that could come.
The group response quickly to danger, the six of them had already put their fighting stance and examined their surrounding carefully when it happened. A heavy something was falling down from overhead. Their focus then moved reflexively to the sky. Seeing that, Brenda starts muttering unpleasantly.
“…… Warp magic circle……! Then we have been lured in here…!”
The thing that fall from the magic circle is a giant lump of crystal. That thing height easily surpasses Arda who was the tallest in the team.
It was not just a lump, it was shaped here and there making it form look close to a giant human.
The inanimate monster created by piling up things like stone or other mineral, Renya instantly recognize what kind of monster that is.
“It’s a golem!”
There was no time to find out who was shouting that right now because that golem is swinging down its heavyweight fist toward the ground. The party quickly disperses. Because that attack came out of nowhere, the party was divided which is a bad news. But the misfortunes still won’t stop coming yet.
“Captain! There are more golems falling down from above!”
“Ugh! What the hell is going on!?”
2 more golems come down swooping. Those 2 sizes are not as big as the 1st one but those golems too made of the same material as the 1st one so they should be off from a similar type. Renya who haven’t been long in this world doesn’t yet know what kind of material it is. But he knows how dangerous those giant autonomous golems are by seeing Grais group’s expression.
Anyway what he should do now is to get out from this sticky situation, then after that he needs to drag out the one behind this. If he fails doing so, this place will still be dangerous and the mission will fail.
“Brenda, tell me how to stop those golems! I don’t have experience facing that kind of inanimate monster!”
“There are a few way: destroy it into bits pieces, or destroy the core that controls it. One from that two”
“And where did the core is?”
“If the core destroyed then the golem will cease functioning so it won’t be placed on an easy to destroy place. But in the end it was all up to the creator so I can’t say anything!”
“No textbook rule for that eh. Ah by the way, from what material did those golems made of?”
“…… I think it was a magical alloy made from mixing various metals. Atleast those alloy is harder that other common steel you know!?”
In short, what Brenda says was that finding this golem weak spot will be difficult because it was not created to have similar weakness like human is which was either on the head or on the heart.
Because of its tremendous weight the movement is slow but in exchange, its attack power is no joke at all. Even Arda who’s a specialist at defending using his tower shield does not recklessly accept those iron fist attacks directly.
“Okay! Anyway I’ll do something about that small golem! Floria, Brenda, you two attract the other small golem attention! And Brenda, please cast spells that can damage those golems. You should know some right?”
“Hey hold it! Are you stupid!? Even if you have confidence in your skills golems is not some average enemy that you can fight alone! And look! You don’t even have any weapon to fight doesn’t it!?”
“If it was about weapon then don’t worry about it”
As saying that there are no time to argue, Renya quickly dashed forward. He passes through the giant golem that is being held by Grais team and headed toward the smaller golem so it won’t join force with the bigger one. With a quicker move than the bigger golem, the smaller golem swing down its fist toward Renya.
“Your turn have come – My armaments which is the symbol of my power!”
Renya then easily slices that golem with a sword he held in his arm.