(312) I won’t ride on that back!
The mountain path became quite treacherous so, along the way, I gave Nanawat some reasonably sized wild bird which I had in storage and returned it to My World.
I inadvertently doubted my eyes.
There was a herd of Sugyu at Lake Landau — — The lake found at the base of Mount Landau.
I’m certain. That was the Sugyu herd I saw when I was heading to Goats Rocky with Kikkori and the others.
Why did they end up here?
Even though Kikkori claimed that they would definitely not come to Lake Landau.
“Seeing this makes me wonder if the Dragon is actually a lie.”
Carol commented as she looked at the Sugyu herd.
“It certainly is an idyllic landscape.”
They seemed to be bathing in the lake due to the hot weather.
… Ah, seeing them bathe in water, we would enjoy dipping in the sea at any time in My World. Hmm, maybe after this task is over, before we receive information from Grust-sama(?), maybe we could enjoy dipping in the sea for a bit. It might even be a good idea to make a beach hut.
“Haru, do you pick up Jofre and Elize’s scent?”
“Erm, it continues until the cliff there.”
The cliff Haru pointed at was …
“Don’t tell me they fell off the cliff?”
“No, it continues below the cliff and I detect their scent from a different location as well so they are probably still alive.”
“ … So they decided to travel off the beaten path huh.”
I can imagine those two idiots taking unimaginable actions. I know it is contradictory but I am sure I am right.
At this rate, it would be impossible to find them by chasing after their scent. In fact, it might be better to ignore the two of them and head for the summit.
As such, we aimed for the summit. Along the way, I didn’t forget to use Hawk’s Eye to look for Jofre and Elize from the sky.
“Are you okay? Carol.”
“Yes … I am all right.”
That said, she was lagging behind a little.
As expected, the stride of a child was different from that of an adult.
“Carol, can’t you alter the length of your stride by changing into your adult form?”
“Ichino-sama, that is nothing but an illusion to make it seem that way.”
“ — — Ah, that’s right.”
Hn — There’s the off chance that something might happen to Jofre and Elize if we are too late. That said, Carol’s good eye in observation and her knowledge would be useful in finding the dragon.
In that case, there’s only one option.
“Carol, I’ll piggyback you.”
“ … Understood.”
She probably doesn’t wish to drag us down but she probably hated being treated as a child either. Carol seemed a little dissatisfied but she likely thought it was fine and consented.
“All right, let’s go.”
After making sure that Carol was holding on firmly, Haru and I picked up the pace.
“Carol, you’ll bite your tongue if you talk.”
“I forgot to mention but Carol’s Illusion Transformation isn’t limited to the entire body, I am able to transform certain parts only as well.”
“Transform certain parts?”
“For example – -”
For example what?
That transformation happened before I could ask.
I felt two large bulges on my back.
“Carol, my back is touching something.”
“Your back is not touching something, they are touching your back.”
“… Can’t you let me focus for now?”
“Don’t worry, Carol is properly keeping vigilance.”
But I can’t focus.
I have almost never seen a real-life large breasted loli. That might be the greatest situation for people who like that kind of thing. Although I’m not saying that I hate it in any way.
“Ichino-sama! There might be a cave to the left.”
I looked in the direction Carol commented but I couldn’t see it clearly.
But I didn’t think that she would be wrong.
“How big would it be?”
“I don’t know but something seems to have been entering and exiting from there.”
“That’s all the information we need.”
We were heading to the summit but that didn’t mean that the dragon would definitely be there. It was only in games where the Demon Lord waits at the very depths of the castle.
I originally wanted to reach the summit because I could see the entire mountain from there. If the dragon was on the summit, I would have probably seen it a long time ago.
I’m confident the dragon made its nest in a place away from human eyes. It would be a place to store treasures.
For example, a cave.
“Haru, this way!”
Under Carol’s guidance, Haru and I both headed toward the cave.
Just like Carol said, there was a large cave there.
“This is a complete dead angle from the climbing path so how could you tell?”
“From the footprints.”
Looking closely, they were faded but there were footprints from some kind of animal on the ground.
Those were — —
Kobold — — a dog-like monster that walks on two feet. The first monster I defeated after coming to this world.
“Kobold? But I thought other monsters won’t come close because a dragon lives here?”
“Yes, regular monsters won’t come near. That is why weak monsters that are targeted by other monsters will make their nest near the dragon nest.”
“It is different from symbiosis. Since the dragon will eat the kobolds as well. It is better to call it a last resort.”
That’s true, that wasn’t a symbiotic relationship.
“Master. I smell blood.”
“Blood!? Is it human blood?”
“No, it smells of beasts — —it most likely belongs to the kobolds.”
The kobolds are injured?
But it can either be that the kobolds met with some accident and got injured, or they were being eaten by the dragon, or there was also the possibility that Jofre and Elize defeating them.
“Do you detect Jofre and Elize?”
“I am sorry, the cave is filled with the smell of blood so it is difficult to detect other scents. However, I do not detect Jofre-san and Elize-san’s smell from the entrance.”
There was still the possibility that they entered through a different entrance. They are people who entered the Goddess Statue room without going through the boss room after all.
At any rate, I guess we should enter.
The piggyback ride would have to end here.
We entered with the formation of Haru in front followed by Carol and then me.
The cave was quite spacious but it seemed a little too narrow for a dragon the enter.
I wonder if the ancient dragon was actually at the end of the cave?
I became a little doubtful.
“Master, please be careful. The smell of blood is near.”
“All right — — we are approaching the presence as well.”
It became dark so I used the Petite Light spell to ensure a light source.
The opponent would notice it but it would be much easier to fight in compared to fighting in the dark.
“ … It’s dead.”
Something large seems to have tackled it and it smashed into the wall. The back of the kobold’s head painted the wall red.
“Haru think so too as well?”
Haru and Carol seem to have noticed something.
What was strange?
“Master, we thought it would be either the dragon or Jofre-san who defeated the kobold.”
“But this kobold was not defeated with sword or whip. And this path is too narrow for the dragon to defeat it this way and most importantly, the kobold’s body is still intact.”
“That’s true. Wait, that means – -”
Haru nodded after I came to the realization.
“There is a possibility that there is a different monster other than the dragon here.”
A different monster other than the dragon huh?
My copper coin flick had enough strength to shatter a flock boar. Thinking of it that way, even though the Kobold was defeated by a body blow, given that it retains its original form, the strength of that body blow can be assumed to be lower than my coin flick.
There was still the possibility that the monster did not use its full strength to perform the body blow so I can’t say for certain but there was no need to fear it unnecessarily.
When we moved deeper into the cave, a kobold came attacking.
Haru who was in front defeated the kobold with a single Slash.
【Ichinojo leveled up】
【Advanced Alchemist skill: 「Alchemy II」has skilled up to「Alchemy III」】
Advanced Alchemist became level 2, Alchemy became rank III and I acquired recipes as well.
I’ll leave confirmation of what I received till later.
“Is it fine to leave the corpse?”
“Yes, Kobold pelt doesn’t sell for much so there is no need to dismantle it.”
I asked the question from a moral or environmental standpoint but all right, I’ll leave it be.
“ … Master — —”
“Yeah, something is there.”
I sensed a presence.
“No … I think. I smell kobold blood.”
“The monster huh …”
I drew White Wolf Fang while Haru drew her Fire Dragon Fang and Guardian Sword.
“I’ll head in after 3,2,1. Carol, if it evades my attack, try activating your charm.”
“Haru, protect Carol.”
Then, I counted.
“3, 2, 1 … shit!”
I dashed out and readied the copper coin to flick – – and saw just as I was about to flick it.
(You’re … kidding!)
I couldn’t stop my hand.
But — — I changed its trajectory.
The copper coin I flicked deviated largely to the left and pierced into the stone wall before shattering.
Thank god it didn’t lead to a cave-in.
I drew a sigh of relief and kept my katana.
“Master, that is — —”
“Haru, don’t think. It will make your head hurt.”
I could understand.
But it was really pointless to think about it.
I rated Jofre and Elize as idiots because they were truly extraordinary.
“Ichino-sama, it seemed that it came looking for the food supply the kobolds hoarded during summer.
“That seems to be the case …”
We looked at the slow donkey — Centaur rummaging through the seeds that the kobolds hoarded and sighed.
“Haru, Carol, stand back a little.”
I had the two of them stay back before placing a tomato on the floor.
Centaur crossed the distance in an instant and bit into the tomato.
“All right, Centaur. I still have five tomatoes. So please listen to what I say for now. Nod your head twice if you understand.”
Centaur stared into my eyes without moving after I spoke.
I knew what Carol wanted to say but I ignored her and raised the numbers to reel in Centaur.
When I said that, Centaur nodded its head twice.
“Listen here, don’t bite my hand. If you bite my hand, I will never give you tomatoes ever again. Eat them slowly.
I said before laying out ten bright red ripe tomatoes.
Centaur silently started eating the tomatoes.
“Master, have you acquired the skill to speak with animals as well?”
“No. I’m now able to understand bird speech but I don’t understand the sounds of other animals. Centaur understands me without any effort.”
It was more like an obsession with food.
It was an amazing beast.
“Monsters who understand human speech appears often in lore but I fear even if we unravel the long recorded history, a slow donkey that can understand human speech so well will only be this Centaur.”
Carol said as she looked at Centaur finish eating the tomatoes.
Even if we unraveled the long history, this was probably the only slow donkey with such gluttony.
“Haru, did you notice the smell of the nuts that Centaur was eating just now?”
“No, they weren’t nuts that had much smell. Even with olfactory enhancement skills and with a lack of the kobold’s bloody scent, it would be difficult to notice it from the outside.”
“I guess that’s normal. But Centaur noticed. Its olfactory sense is amazing.”
I asked centaur.
“Centaur, I have something I want to ask you. Is there a space in this cave where a large being can stay? If you lead me to such a place, I will give you 20 tomatoes. Nod twice if you understand.”
Centaur nodded twice after I said that.
Then, it lowered its body down in front of me, inviting me to get on its back.
“I will absolutely not ride.”
I resolutely refused.