Different from last time where he was looking around at one thing or another with curiosity, this time they passed through Fort Bridge Ulg in two and a half hours and arrived at the forest about five hours after leaving the town.
It was also due to Shera being somewhat excited since this was her first quest.
Though, in his heart, Diablo was also elated.
According to the request, the location the 《Spotted Snake》 inhabits is a swamp environment at the entrance to the forest.
They came to a swamp where the muddy water gave off a faint rotten smell.
If this were in the game, a panoramic view of the forest would be projected and animations that could allow the player to predict their encounters with Demonic Beasts would be streaming.
The Man-Eating Forest——
The three of them stopped their feet and gazed at the forest.
The many trees obstructed their vision, and if they were to enter inside, they wouldn’t be able to see past a few meters.
The dense and overgrown leaves concealed the sky and would steal away the sense of direction from Adventurers.
In this primeval forest that has not been touched by the hand of man, a countless number of wild animals inhabited within, and they would attack if given the chance.
This was the Man-Eating Forest. It was the forest that man would not return from once walked into it.
——Well, in the game, there was a map displayed in the upper-right corner, and since there was a path if you searched for a bit, I didn’t have any trouble even though I was cutting through it.
Though, in terms of movement, the game seemed to be a considerably tepid product in user friendliness.
Shera got closer to the swamp. She poked at a clump of bushes with the tip of her foot.
「Hey~? Where are the 《Spotted Snakes》?」
「……I’ll say this now but 《Spotted Snakes》 don’t slither about in bushes.」
「Ah, is that so?」
「……There’s no way that a twenty-something meter long snake would come out from the bushes, right? Its head is bigger than your shoulder width. Most likely, it’s inside the swamp.」
Shera jumped back from the swamp.
Come to think of it, it was a snake that was about that gigantic——is what Diablo remembered.
He had forgotten about the small details about something like a level 70 monster.
With a nervous face, Rem surveyed the surroundings.
「……I don’t know about the finer details, but they live in the swamp and they should come out when prey comes near by.」
「Is, is that so?」
「……If you don’t want to get swallowed whole, you shouldn’t get too close to the swamp. I’ll examine their state with a Summoned Beast.」
That’s right, Summoned Beasts could be used as a lure. Even if they get attacked, if their summoning gets cancelled, they’d returned to being crystals after all.
Shera tilted her head.
「Hey? We’re the only ones doing this quest, right? 」
「Then, I wonder if the Man-Eating Forest is surprisingly a place that a lot of people come in and out of?」
「……What in the world are you talking about? It’s be biggest danger zone close to Faltra City. If it’s someone that values their life, they wouldn’t go out of their way to come here.」
「Really? But there are quests that are dispatched, right? Even if it’s not a 《Spotted Snake》 extermination one.」
「……Even if it were just gathering berries, entering the Man-Eating Forest is way too dangerous. There’s no one that would dispatch a quest that no one would take up……This time, it was only taken because it was Diablo taking it.」
「Is that so?」
「……Just what is it that you’ve been wanting to say?」
「Nn? Well, I mean, there is a presence, right? It’s like there are several people in the forest.」
Rem looked at the forest.
Diablo similarly turned his eyes towards it.
The forest was quiet.
Since there wasn’t much wind, the many trees didn’t sway at all and it didn’t move as if it were a picture.
——Is there something like a presence?
Rem squinted her eyes.
「……Is that true?」
「There’s about ten of them. They’re on top of the branches. That’s them preparing to ambush a monster, right?」
「……I don’t know if you’re an idiot or a huge idiot.」
「Why do you say that!?」
Shera said that sounding unhappy.
Diablo saw what she was talking about.
What those guys that were in the forest were preparing to ambush, wasn’t a monster.
「It means that they’re preparing to ambush us.」
Shera’s eyes went round.
——Hard to believe she’s like this even though her senses are sharp.
Rem inquired with a low voice.
「……Diablo, what shall we do? I think it would be alright return just like this……This is clearly a trap.」
It probably wouldn’t be a mistake to return just like this and appeal that they “were ambushed”.
However, if things aren’t dealt with here, it’s very probable that they would be aimed for hereafter.
It was a blessing that the ambush as sensed. He decided to deal with them.
「Shera, where are their locations?」
「Over there, and over there……」
Memorizing the locations she had pointed to, he aimed to miss them just by a little.
If the opponents were of one of the races, he didn’t want to do something like suddenly taking their lives.
It was important to talk with them.
Diablo hoisted his staff.
The ball of fire that appeared in the sky burst open together with a thunderous roar. It was a level 70 ranged attack. Clumps of flame that were about the size of fists rained incessantly on the spots he aimed at.
「What the hell is this!?」
The screams of men were heard.
Several people jumped down from the many trees.
Clad in emerald green lightweight armor and carrying bows, they came down in succession.
Shera raised her voice.
It seems that the ones that were preparing to ambush on top of the trees were all Elves.
——What’s going on?
He couldn’t come up with a reason why the Elves would set a trap for him.
Right now, the only people that seemed like they would possess a grudge against him would at most be Galak. Diablo didn’t think that more than ten Elves would lend a hand to Galak in order to help him clear away his unjustified resentment.
「Kuh, using such a suspicious technique!」
One of the Elves prepared his bow and pointed at Diablo.
It was a good-looking young man.
He was thin, his arms and legs were long and slender, and his height was tall. His hair was dazzlingly blonde and it extended down to this waist.
The lightweight armor he was clad in was only a breastplate, and on top of that, he wore an emerald green poncho. With his trousers also being emerald green, it became equipement meant to blend in with the forest.
He was the owner of a beautiful face that could be mistaken for that of a woman’s at a glance. The small bulge from his Adam’s apple indicated that he was a male.
——That’s an opponent that I don’t recognize, isn’t it?
「Selsio!? Why are you in a place like this!?」
「Shera-sama, hearing that you were caught by a slave trader, we hastened to join together in order to rescue you!」
The other Elves also nocked their bows in succession.
——I see, so they were acquaintances of Shera’s.
The opponents were about ten people. It was the number of people that Shera had diagnosed.
「Oi, Shera, who are those people?」
It was hard for her to say.
The young man called Selsio shouted.
「So you’re the slave trader! I’ll have you return Shera-sama!」
「……Who told you that? I am not something like a slave trader.」
「Silence! In that case, what is that thing placed on Shera-sama’s neck!? You tricked the pure hearted Shera-sama who knows nothing of society into becoming a slave, didn’t you!?」
「This conversation is going nowhere.」
「Shera-sama is not a lady that can have a slavery choker placed on her by the likes of you……no, by anyone!」
Selsio drew the bowstring back to the limit.
It would seem that for him, Shera is a very important personage. After all, he uses “Shera-sama”.
If a person as important as that were to have a slavery choker placed on her, it’s reasonable that he’d lose his ability to make a composed judgment.
Diablo had already come to a prediction, but just to make sure, he decided to confirm it.
「Just who is Shera?」
「You insolent fellow!! Shera L. Greenwood-sama is the noble princess of the Greenwood Kingdom, which is also the suzerain state of the Elven race!」