Chapter 101 - Great Forest (3)
The next day, the people, who had spent the night almost entirely sleepless, entered the Great Forest as soon as the sun came up. The sight of trees and bushes which far exceeded a human's height was really fantastic. As they stepped in, the rays of sunlight shining down disappeared, leaving just a few streaks behind.
However, that wasn't the only thing that changed for the party.
"It will be faster if we proceed to the right."
"Ah, is that so?"
Unlike yesterday when the White Tower Master had been in charge, Edwin and Theo were now leading the group. Apart from Edwin who knew the forest, why had Theodore taken up this role? It was because of last night. His detection ability allowed him to notice creatures faster than anyone else, so it was inevitable that he would have the full trust of the White Tower Master.
As a result, he was the second guide for this mission.
'Well, to be precise, it is Mitra's role.' Theodore was conscious of the weight of the small girl on his head.
Every time he took a step, Mitra's bud would spin like a pinwheel. The bright and cheery voice rang out from above his head, matching with the beat of the spinning. He didn't know if it was because she liked the environment of the Great Forest or for some other reason, but Mitra was really excited after entering the forest.
"I'll have to depend on you once more."
As if she had been waiting, Mitra spread her arms wide open. [Hoing!]
She was now familiar with the way to use the power, so the bud sprouted naturally. The mysterious green light spread, and the scenery transmitting into Theo's head. The path split to the left and right, so he checked all the possibilities. Theodore found that there was nothing on the left path, then he looked down the right.
However, a subtle expression soon appeared on his face.
"Does this forest have wolves with horns on their foreheads? If we go three kilometers down the path on the right, we will meet them."
"Wolves with horns on their foreheads... Perhaps it's the thunder-horned wolf."
Edwin accepted Theo's words without any doubt as Theo had proved his skills several times already. In a forest where they couldn't see beyond 100 meters, Theo's detection ability was extremely useful. Thanks to that, they didn't encounter any creatures even once and were able to go through the Great Forest without any interruptions.
"Then we should avoid them. It will be annoying if they bother us."
"Are they dangerous enough to cause harm?" The White Tower Master asked from where he had been listening to their conversation.
"No, they aren't dangerous. It isn't a creature that can survive in the depths of the Great Forest. The greatest threat from the thunder-horned wolf isn't its combat power but the noise."
"Thunder will emerge from the horn on the forehead and produce a burst of sound which is exactly like real thunder. It will draw all the creatures in the surroundings and then run away to survive."
Indeed, it was better to avoid them. The delegation nodded at the easily understandable explanation.
The magicians specialized in particular fields, but most of the creatures living in the Great Forest weren't known to them. So, the advice of Edwin, who had lived there for hundreds of years, was more reliable than any guidelines.
Thanks to the guidance of these two people, the party was able to reduce any unnecessary friction. When there were occasions in which they had to encounter creatures...
Edwin only needed to fire his arrow once for the creatures to vacate the place.
It was different from the storm arrow which had caused massive destruction. This was a fast, translucent arrow which divided into dozens or hundreds of pieces and pierced the heads of the creatures. It was a technique which fit perfectly with the term 'rain of arrows.'
Dozens of headless bodies would roll to the ground instantly.
'Amazing. This is a master-class strength.' Theo admired Edwin inwardly as he looked at the dead bodies. It was incredible that the powerful Edwin was so polite to him.
Regardless of whether they were trolls or ogres, all those struck by the arrow would die. Despite lacking in power to Theodore's Magic Bullet, the arrow's speed and extraordinary trajectory were really scary. Even if Theo predicted it with his sixth sense, he might not be able to avoid or defend against it.
No, considering that Edwin wasn't serious right now, his arrow was quite possibly more threatening than Magic Bullet.
"...I'm really glad he is friendly, right?"
[Hoi?] Mitra made a questioning sound, but Edwin had finished arranging the situation and returned. He pointed at the vacant space where dozens of creatures had previously been and said, "Benefactor, we will take a break here."
"Yes. In the future, there will be many habitats of powerful creatures, and it is likely that we won't be able to completely avoid them, even with Benefactor's abilities. This is the last place where we can rest properly."
Theodore was convinced and looked at the White Tower Master.
Orta raised his hand in agreement and said, "Take a break in that empty spot. We will start moving in two hours, so you are allowed autonomous actions until then. Eat, sleep, take any action that you think you need. If you cause an unnecessary disturbance, you will be severely punished."
The magicians' eyes shone at the words 'autonomous action'. Why had they come here? It was to find out the secrets of the mysterious land called the Great Forest. They didn't care about the fatigue which had accumulated in the past day or two as they picked up any material that caught their eye. Someone even got out a shovel and started to dig at the ground. The image of an elegant magician had already long disappeared.
Edwin looked at the scene with a bemused expression. "...Benefactor, human magicians these days are much more active than I thought."
Even Sylvia was placing a few bottles of stream water into her dimension pocket. It was impossible to reconcile with the images of magicians depicted in stories. The only one who didn't move was Theodore. Additionally, the White Tower Master was also standing still.
Orta walked up to Theo and Edwin and opened his mouth to say, "Sir Edwin, can I ask you one question?"
"For us humans, elves are known as keepers of the forests. I was wondering if this gathering activity is rude."
"That rumour is half wrong and half right."
Elves were traditionally known as a species which defended the forests. In fact, they often burned forests, ruthlessly slaughtered animals, and attacked those who invaded them.
Despite this, Edwin didn't hesitate to say that the rumour was only half right. "We defend the order of the ecosystem, not the simple trees, plants, and animals. Your collection of samples is nothing compared to this vast forest, so there is no reason for me to stop it."
"Hoh, then what about creating a road with attack magic? The vitality of the forest means it won't be hard to restore such damage."
Edwin's eyebrows twitched at the words. "...Your words aren't wrong. But there is no reason to create unnecessary confusion. I don't believe it is right to do such things just to hasten our steps a little bit."
"These are the values of an elf. You don't feel the need to smash the framework for progress?"
"That framework is what we must protect."
Both voices were calm. Nevertheless, Theo could feel the tension between the two of them. The minor altercation started from a trivial story to an area which was hard for Theo to understand. Humans and elves... Was it possible that different species saw another landscape when stepping foot into the area of transcendence?
Theodore decided to just listen quietly to the dialogue between the two masters. Then Mitra suddenly jumped out.
[Hoiiit?!] Mitra, who had fallen asleep on his head, suddenly raised her voice and looked around.
The two masters were amazed by the sound and looked around in a hurry, but they couldn't feel anything. There was only the forest stretching out as well as the sound of birds. Only Theo, who shared his senses with Mitra, was able to hear it.
-Excuse me, who are you?
...Someone's voice was calling out. It wasn't a physical sound but a voice transmitted through a mental connection, like Gluttony.
The voice was broadcasted through his connection to Mitra. He recalled that Ellenoa had once spoken to him in this way. However, before Theo could react, he heard someone speak again. It was a different person this time.
-Why is it so noisy... The ringing voice was drowsy, like the person had just been sleeping.
-What, did something interesting happen? The next voice resonated like a well made bell.
-Don't talk to me about nothing. Then it was a low voice, like a beast growling.
-No, I clearly heard it! It was the first voice Theo had heard.
The four unknown voices touched Theo's head, and he couldn't help asking, '...Who are you?'
At that moment, his head suddenly became quiet. However, that silence didn't last long.
-What?! Someone has really connected to the neural network?
-Who? Reveal your true identity!
-Tita! You don't think that girl is fooling around do you?
-No way. She would've reached the snowfields by now.
-Then who is the guy who just talked?
Theo had a headache due to all the voices. It was a headache he didn't feel when he talked to Gluttony, Mitra, and Ellenoa. Was it because he wasn't accustomed to talking in this way? For now, it seemed necessary to calm down the agitated voices.
Theo unconsciously grabbed his forehead and said, 'My name is Theodore.'
-Eh, I think I heard it before...?
-I don't know. Who was it?
Finally, the owner of the light-toned voice changed the atmosphere. -Ah, I remember! The human who saved Ellenoa! Am I right? Answer me!
-Excuse me, how much progress was made? That girl is still neutral right? Did you catch her? Kyah, a romance between a human and elf after a long time! If my memory is correct, it has been 1,500 years!
It was the first time Theo had ever heard such a chatty person, so he couldn't help being dumbfounded. He wasn't unsociable, but the other person gave him no room to even talk. Despite only one person talking, his forehead started tingling again.
Fortunately, the voice of salvation came quickly.
-T-Theodore?! How are you already...?
He was so happy to hear her voice that he cried out her name. Edwin was watching Theo and made a startled reaction, but Theo couldn't afford to pay attention to him. Having heard the voice of an acquaintance, Theo asked hurriedly about this unprecedented phenomenon.
Ellenoa replied in a surprised voice, -Theodore has accessed the neural network of Yggdrasil, called Ratatoskr. Only Arv's direct descendants can touch it.