Chapter 0289 Voice of the Forest
“Movement has become easier.”
“It is just a straight road now.”
“I could understand why the adventurers and knights couldn’t return if they encountered that flood of monsters …”
Ryo expressed his feelings, Niels agreed, Amon stated the facts, and Etho considers the tragedy that must have been met by those who did not return.
After the caterpillars passed by, all the trees had been knocked down, leaving a straight path.
Monsters such as wolves, snakes, and boars all moved while avoiding trees, but the caterpillar charged forward while toppling the trees down.
Therefore, the four of them smoothly approached the World Tree through the path that the caterpillar had passed.
And then, Ryo’s <Passive Sonar> felt a strange change that hadn’t happened before.
“Um~, sonar… ah, according to my magical search, there is something over 1km tall about 800 meters away.”
Niels answered with a hysterical question to Ryo’s report.
And then, all four of them, including Ryo, look ahead about 800 meters.
“Looks normal …”
“It’s a forest.”
“But if it’s over a kilometer tall…”
“Yeah, I think it’s probably a World Tree…”
Niels said, Amon agreed, Etho asked a confirmation question, and Ryo answered.
But it didn’t look like there was anything.
“Unless … <Active Sonar>”
<Active Sonar> is usually more accurate than <Passive Sonar>.
“As expected! There’s probably a lot of Rafflesia imitations stuck to the surface of the World Tree!”
“Rafflesia mimics … Oh, those invisible plant-type monsters!”
The three people of Room 10 remembered.
When they went out to search for a point where theyyy could cross the river, they couldn’t move because of the paralyzing poison released by the monster.
Moreover, the plant-type monster couldn’t be seen until it was frozen.
“They’re on the surface of the World Tree?”
“Yes. Probably thousands or tens of thousands…”
“I guess it’s normal that we can’t see it if that is the case.”
“If we get close, we’ll be paralyzed again, right?”
They weren’t opponents that Niels, Ryo, Etho, and Amon would want to fight.
With Ryo’s <Ice Coffin>, it’s certainly possible to contain them, but…
“It’s not about fighting or dispelling the illusion, it’s about investigating. Let’s verify a few more facts before we leave without antagonizing them.”
Etho made the most realistic proposal.
Yes, the fact that the four of them came this time was just to investigate.
They just needed to investigate and return to report.
The World Tree exists, but it is covered with invisible plant-type monsters.
However, things develop beyond their expectations.
“Something is falling from the sky.”
At the same time as Ryo said that, the three of them looked up.
“A humanoid monster?”
“Three are coming.”
Humanoid monsters that Niels, Etho, and Amon had never seen before.
Three bodies landed in front of the four of them.
They were not a people.
Their entire body was gray and flat, with no eyes, nose, mouth, ears… nothing.
It was easy to tell at a glance that they were monsters.
However, they were 180cm tall, walked on two legs, and had two hands, a one-handed sword in their right hand and a small shield in their left hand.
And, at the same time as they landed, they were in battle stance, and they felt murderous intent roll over them …
“No way, are those the Shadow Stalker we’ve heard about? Either way, this … we have no choice but to fight. Me, Amon, and Ryo will fight in close quarters. Etho will be rear support.”
The moment Niels gave the order, the three monsters came toward them.
One-on-one combat occurred in three places.
The Shadow Stalkers were strong.
They were crossing blows with B-rank swordsman, Niels and Amon, at the same level.
Of course, Ryo…
((Abel, are you alive, Abel~?))
Through the echoes of his soul, Ryo spoke to Abel while clashing swords.
((Oh, I’m still alive, but I’m a little busy right now… Hn? You’re fighting an unusual one. A shadow Stalker, I guess. Moreover, this is the first time I’ve seen them with a weapon.))
((I knew Abel’s knowledge would be useful. When you are fired from being His Majesty the King, you could start an adventurer guide business. I’m sure you can make a living.))
((What the hell are you going on about an adventurer guide… Putting that aside, Shadow Stalkers are strong. Be careful. They’re said to be illusions created by the forest… The bigger the forest… the more powerful they seem to be.))
((Although they’re illusions, they’re actually real, right? After all, they’re holding a sword… and blocking with a shield.))
((It’s probably the gears of adventurers who died in the forest. The reason they are called ‘illusions’ is because they don’t have magic stones… I think? It’s a monster we rarely see in the Kingdom, so I don’t know the full details either.))
While listening to Abel’s commentary, Ryo and the Shadow Stalker’s swordplay continued.
The Shadow Stalker’s swordsmanship was faithful to the basics.
Strangely, the monster’s swordsmanship was faithful to the basics to the point that it was similar to Abel’s and Amon’s swordsmanship.
It’s Hume-style swordsmanship in the Kingdom.
For that reason, Ryo was familiar with it.
Until then, Murasame had politely parried the sword and he showed that he would receive it this time as well, before dodging it.
When the Shadow Stalker slashed diagonally downward, he stepped out with his left leg to dodge, and when the monster lost its balance, he cut off its head with a single stroke.
As soon as its head fell, the Shadow Stalker disappeared.
A second later, the one-handed sword and small shield it was using fell to the ground.
At about the same time, Amon and Niels also defeated their Shadow Stalkers.
“Phew, I had a lot of trouble.”
“These swords and shields appear to belong to the adventurers and knights who died in the forest.”
Niels and Amon had such a conversation, and when Etho and Ryo were about to join them, a voice echoed around them.
[Children of men, I ask you. What is your purpose in visiting the forest?]
It felt like it was coming from the entire area, or it was echoing from the bottom of the earth… it was a first for all four of them.
“Is this the voice of the forest itself?”
Niels and Amon whispered such a conversation.
(The voice of the forest itself, what a fantasy! It’s a phenomenon that didn’t appear in Sera’s ‘West Forest’.)
In his heart, Ryo was feeling excited.
In that case, naturally, the negotiator would be the priest Etho.
“The reason we came was to learn about the current state of the World Tree. It’s not to fight or destroy the forest. It wasn’t our intentions to fight with the three earlier.”
As expected of a priest who dedicated himself to God.
Even if the other party was thought to be the pitch-black forest itself, he was able to speak confidently.
Ryo was frankly impressed by his appearance.
“As expected of Etho. At times like this, you’re very reliable.”
“I agree, but Ryo, why are you looking at me while saying that?”
“I-it doesn’t have a deeper meaning?”
Ryo hurriedly averted his gaze as he answered Niels’ question.
Feeling that spectacle beside him, Etho was able to negotiate with the pitch-black forest in a more relaxed way than before… although he’s sure the two of them didn’t intend for that effect …
[I understand that you all hold enough power but came without harming the things of the forest.]
(Is it saying that even though we have enough power to defeat the Shadow Stalkers, we surrounded ourselves with ice walls all the time and didn’t choose to decimate the monsters?)
Ryo thought about that.
In that case, Niels’ decision to move with the ice wall was correct.
[If the weak become food for the strong is the law of the forest, I will not stop the children of men from hunting the beings who live in the forest. You can do so freely. But the children of men who lived in the city broke the promise. Breaking the promise not to touch the ‘tree’, he cut off a branch and took it home. Therefore, I will not allow you to come any closer.]
“It means …”
“Yes. Three months ago, there was a rumor that Lord Zuransu ordered a branch from the World Tree to be brought back to Ayteke-Bo.”
Amon and Etho exchanged their thoughts.
It seemed that it was in the story they heard in the city.
“Great One, we understand. That reply is enough. We will bring it back to the city and report it.”
After saying that, Etho bowed.
(The other party is probably the forest, but I didn’t know what to call it, so he chose to call him ‘Great One’… As expected of Etho. If it was Niels, what would have happened…)
“Hey, Ryo. You were thinking of something very rude again, weren’t you?”
After getting seen through by Niels, Ryo opened his eyes wide, looked at Niels and said.
“You’re great at sensing that!”
“Hey, even if you have to lie, you should at least say something like it’s not like that, right …?”
Niels let out a huge sigh.