Chapter 99 - Great Forest (1)
Nobody could answer. No, it was more accurate to say that they had no spirit left to answer.
Moving from the capital to the border in a single space transfer transcended common sense. The difficulty of the magic rose exponentially according to the distance and number of companions. However, as soon as Orta completed this, he used another magic.
It was a magic which was difficult to even understand, let alone know the principles behind it.
'I wouldn't know just by looking at the movement of the magic power. This is the White Tower Master's magic...!' Theodore looked at the White Tower Master with admiration.
He recalled the words he had heard from Veronica before leaving on this journey. She had been disappointed that she couldn't come with him, but she hadn't been worried about his safety. Veronica had evaluated the man standing before Theo.
"Well, there is no need to worry if it is Orta. He is a more competent escort than me."
"More than Sister?"
"Yes. Of course, I can win in a frontal battle. However, I have no way to catch Orta if he runs away. In a situation where victory isn't needed, his mobility is frankly frustrating. In the last war, he escaped from the siege of three sword masters. Is this something you could do?"
At that time, Theodore had shaken his head unknowingly.
Sword masters were supermen who had gone beyond the limitations of life. Their flesh was an excellent weapon as well as a vessel for aura. They had the strength of an ogre, and their durability was better than a metal golem. It was only a matter of time before one would be caught by them.
In fact, some sword masters were famous for causing shock waves with their movements. Their range of movement was a few hundred meters in one breath, regardless of the length of the swords in their hands. Once a person was caught in the eyes of a sword master, there was no way for them to escape.
'But Orta is able to do it.' Theo could accept it now.
Orta could escape from a sword master who was faster than an arrow. A few hundred meters in one breath? That wasn't even half of Orta's steps. There would be no way to stop Orta from going where he wanted to. The White Tower Master's space magic had reached the level of transcendence.
Gluttony was the only one who realized the essence of the magic.
-Hoh, is that Shukuchiho? (Wiki)
'Shukuchiho?' Theodore asked reflexively.
It was a unique pronunciation. Somehow, Gluttony seemed to know the White Tower Master's space magic, and Theo's curiosity was stimulated. Above all, if Gluttony initiated the conversation, then his right to ask a question wasn't consumed. As always, the greedy grimoire responded to its owner's expectations.
-Reducing the axis. It means the land. It is an eastern immortal technique allowing the user to jump great distances by narrowing the space.
'Immortal technique? A type of magic?'
-It is a little different. It is sloppy to compare it to magic that has a system. This relies on the natural qualities and building up of strength over time with mental power. It is closer to a superpower rather than magic. Then suddenly, Gluttony changed his tone. -However, a magician recreated Shukuchiho using pure magic. He distorted space precisely and switched the points around himself. Humans are really capable of wonderful feats.
It was rare for this guy to praise someone, so it must be really impressed. This was something which wasn't recorded in it, so the grimoire respected the magic of modern humans. Theo wanted to ask a few more questions, but Gluttony fell back to sleep.
As the sky changed, Theodore continued looking up at it.
A minimum of six circles was needed to use space magic. Theo didn't know if he had the aptitude for it, but there were many options to choose from. However, the 'wall' was the problem. Theo made fists firmly as he renewed his determination again. He would make as much progress as possible in Elvenheim.
The 10 delegates crossed the northern border, the Red Plateau, at an unprecedented rate.
* * *
In the end, the White Tower Master's declaration was right. Just before the sun crossed the horizon in the west, the delegation was gazing at something other than the wilderness. The Great Forest finally stretched out before them.
A sound of amazement popped out from someone's mouth, "This is the Great Forest in the north...!"
Since ancient times, this was a place which hadn't allowed human feet to step in it. On the surface, it was just a thick and beautiful forest. However, no one would say the same thing after going inside. Only transcendents who had reached master level could guarantee their safety in that forest. A country without a person of the master level wouldn't be able to trade with Elvenheim.
Faced with that sight, the White Tower Master finally stopped moving.
"We will enter the Great Forest tomorrow. We will camp here tonight and enter the forest when the sun rises. Please return the rings that you are wearing."
He received questioning expressions, but the party pulled the ring off their fingers with awe-filled eyes.
Orta stored the ring in the box and placed it inside his robe. Perhaps the rings were what allowed the party to accompany him when he used Shukuchiho. Theo put his baggage down as he recalled Gluttony's explanation.
The camp for 10 people was set up quickly. Sleeping bags were placed in tents which would keep out the wind, sand, and cold, while a campfire burned in the center of the camp. Magicians were usually seen as desk people, but that was a wrong perception in Meltor. Due to the long war and the missions, the delegation could set up something like this blindfolded.
"...Master, how did you do it so quickly?"
Vince had set up his tent a few minutes earlier than Theo and was sipping tea from a cup. By the time Theodore and Sylvia finished their setups, the rest of the group had already prepared everything for dinner.
As the two people sat down with blushing expressions, the others chuckled and waved their hands.
"Hey! We were all like that when younger!"
"Don't mind it and take a bowl. This is the best meal when eating outdoors."
"You were still quite fast. ... They are much better than you when you were younger."
"Hah? Do you want to try it?"
The people comforted Theo and handed him a bowl, and some of them started talking about their youths. Thanks to that, the Red Plateau felt warm despite the cold breeze blowing. Theo ate a spoonful of the beef stew and looked around.
The White Tower Master was looking at the Great Forest while the rest were still busy eating. Vince had on a serious expression as he discussed something with a Yellow Tower magician, while Sylvia was swarmed by two Blue Tower magicians giving her food.
At that moment, Edwin came to his side. "Benefactor."
"Ah, Sir Edwin."
The beef stew didn't fit with Edwin's tastes, so he was eating an apple. Then he threw the apple core toward the distant Great Forest.
Edwin looked around for a while before sitting next to Theo and saying, "I didn't know we would arrive so soon. Human magic has already surpassed our imagination. My species would doubt that anyone could cross the Red Plateau in just one day."
"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it directly." Theodore smiled and empathized with Edwin. Theo would've had the same reaction if he hadn't already experienced the White Tower Master's magic previously.
A land where water and life didn't exist... A land which killed those who weren't fully prepared... Even the creatures of the Great Forest gave up crossing the Red Plateau in one day. Magicians truly transcended common sense.
The magician and elementalist formed a consensus, and an easy conversation flowed between them.
"Benefactor, was there no change?" The story of Mitra was quickly brought up.
Theo looked down at the ground and hesitated before saying, "Mitra."
[Hoing!] The little girl came out with a cheerful sound. Except for the bud sprouting from her hair, her size and tone remained the same. It was cute, but that was all.
Edwin was also confused, but he didn't have an answer. He just thought they would find out naturally once they entered the forest, just like Ellenoa had said. The conversation between the two people ended without a great result.
After their meals finished, the delegation went to bed. Theodore and the White Tower Master were excluded from the guard roster as heads of the delegation, making Theo feel subtly uncomfortable as he entered the sleeping bag.
'I understand that it is because of my position, but I feel bad sleeping while Master is on guard.'
Therefore, sleep didn't come easily. After he tossing and turning around a few times, Mitra approached him from where she had been playing near the entrance. Her round eyes seemed to be asking, 'What is the matter?'
Theodore just smiled slightly and shook his head. "It is nothing."
Mitra repeated her worries about Theo several times before jumping onto his chest and sitting there. The weight was almost imperceptible, but it was embarrassing. Just as he was about to fall asleep, Mitra raised her head.
Then at that moment...
Wiiing! With a slight oscillation, the bud coming from Mitra's head started to shine with a green light. Was it a rotation rather than a vibration...? The bud spun in a clockwise direction, looking like a waterwheel. Mitra was amazed as she spun around with a [Hoi] sound. The bud didn't stop.
Before Theo could take any action, something happened.
Mitra, who was moving around, was unable to overcome the dizziness and fell toward his forehead. The collision wouldn't hurt either one of them, so Theo didn't avoid it. The shining green bud rested on his forehead.
"Ah-" It was an unexplainable sensation, like his body had changed into the soil and trees. However, Theodore's flesh was still human, and it was just an illusion.
Then, what was he hearing?
Kwaaaaah! There was a terribly loud roar.
The source of the roar killed a goblin and became more excited by the smell of blood. A heavy paddle was dragged behind it. Its thick belly was full of blood and oil, and its stubborn skin would quickly heal.
The number of creatures couldn't be counted. The shadows ran through the trees and bushes like rats. They were heading towards 10 tents.
"Heook!" The sensation was cut off, and Theo jumped up. He pulled Mitra away from his forehead and ran out the tent. It wasn't a mere illusion. He might've thought that it was just a bad dream. However, Theodore was convinced by the sense of realism.
The one on guard shift was Vince.
Vince was surprised by his disciple's emergence and even more surprised by the tension in his face. He didn't bother asking for an explanation from Theo as he fired magic toward the Great Forest.
Flash! As the darkness was peeled back for a moment, the area around the camp brightened. The shadows lifted, and the light of the campfire was overshadowed. The magical flash spread throughout the darkness.
The intense movement of magic power caused the magicians to wake up reflexively, and...
It struck the nerves of those who were approaching from a few kilometers away.