* * *
“Is everyone ready?”
After thanking the old couple for renting the room for a day, Cadel looked back at Van and Lumen and said.
“Wait a minute.”
Van nodded immediately, but not Lumen. He paused, asking for a moment, and then began to mumble something with his eyes closed.
“What are you doing?”
Cadel asked, and Lumen, lifting his eyelids, answered dully.
“Since it’s between the borders, I prayed to Depollo from the Mainue Kingdom and Sebo from the White Kingdom.”
“Why pray when it doesn’t suit you?”
“Don’t worry, I also prayed for Leader’s life as well.”
Lumen grinned mischievously and started walking again, and Cadel shook his head as if to say he’d seen enough of this little bastard. It was so Lumen-like that he didn’t say a prayer for Van.
* * *
Cadel and the others walked for about an hour, following the prearranged location, and soon found a huge forest filling the horizon.
‘This is the Forest of Enchantment…….’
The green, evergreen forest was shrouded in dense foliage and did not get much sunlight. Reaching the entrance to the forest, Cadel did not immediately begin his search but instead called Van and Lumen to a halt before him.
“The time limit is 10 minutes. I’ll shoot a fire in the sky in 10 minutes, so you have to get out of the forest as soon as you see it.”
“Regardless of whether we find the herbs or not?”
“It doesn’t matter, the herbs I’m looking for are at the beginning of the forest, so if you can’t find them, just get out and explore another direction. It’s said that this place is not a good place to linger.”
No matter how notorious the forest was, the probability of being attacked as soon as entering was extremely low. Therefore, Cadel established the so-called ‘Operation Ding-dong Ditch’.
In a short time of 10 minutes, after clearly exploring the entrance of the forest where medicinal herbs grew, immediately escaped the forest after the time limit had elapsed. After a reasonable amount of time, they would resume their initial exploration in a direction away from the beginning. The plan was to trudge on until a single herb was caught. The method would be unappealing but it wouldn’t matter as long as the survival rate was high.
“I’ll show you again, so keep it in mind.”
Cadel held up Mamil’s drawings to help the group familiarize themselves with the herbs, and he gave Van and Lumen directions on where to go.
“You must give a signal when a dangerous situation arises, Commander. It’s a must.”
“I get it, I get it. If I’m in danger, I must shoot the flare you gave me.”
Van’s direction was northwest. Cadel was barely able to get away after giving Van pinky promises over and over again.
“Don’t forget that you agreed to reward me for finding the herbs, Leader.”
“If I don’t, you won’t even give me the herbs.”
“Of course. Our relationship is temporary, right?”
“Then just shut up and find it.”
“You’re so cold.”
Lumen’s direction was northeast. Cadel didn’t need to worry about him failing to make his escape as he was a fast-moving guy. Cadel pushed Lumen’s back as he tried to say something more.
The place where Cadel took charge was the north. The time limit was 10 minutes, so the search scope was not extensive. If they didn’t get anything from here, they would have to move west or east.
Watching the two subordinates steadily moving in the direction they were given, Cadel swallowed dryly.
A dark, shadowy forest. He hadn’t even set foot inside yet, but an uneasy sense of foreboding had settled over him. He didn’t know if it was the forest’s atmosphere or Mamil’s frightening warnings.
But a hunch was just a hunch. Nothing was certain, and he wasn’t about to give up now.
Cadel, who was determined, began to walk toward the forest.
“Ugh, it’s cold.”
The forest was as dark as it looked, and the temperature was very low. Even more so considering it was broad daylight. Cadel hunched his shoulders, pulling his flimsy robes together.
‘The atmosphere is also gloomy and……. No matter how notorious the forest is, isn’t it a place where fairies live? Isn’t it okay to feel the freshness that fits them?’
The atmosphere of the forest seemed to suggest that it was inhabited by demons, not fairies. As he grumbled and looked around closely, he noticed the grayish poisonous mushrooms, moss, and decaying, unidentifiable shells of what looked like a forest of death. He even spotted the stiffened corpse of a squirrel, which he smiled and turned away.
‘This is crazy…….’
The tension of an impending crisis, the urgency of a time limit, and the anxiety of being alone all at once, all combined to drain his mental strength in real time. This was what a character with Mental Debilitation Debuff must feel like.
‘I think it’s been about 5 minutes.’
He pulled a small pocket watch from his bosom and checked the time. It was a fine pocket watch, purchased in Drakcium for today. After checking the time, Kadell pursed his lips.
‘I have exactly 5 minutes left. If I don’t get some results in that time, I’ll have to search this stinking forest again.’
Please show me the herbs! Cadel’s eyes lit up and he scoured his surroundings.
According to Mamil, the herb he needs to obtain, the ‘Amplification Grass’, must grow at the entrance of the forest. In the first place, there was no person who entered the depths of the Forest of Enchantment and came out alive. So, if it was a herb that grew deep in the forest, no one would have benefited from eating it. How could you eat it when you couldn’t bring it out?
However, the ‘Amplification Grass’ was only rare in small quantities, and there was enough supply that the efficacy was studied and those who saw the effect spread the value of the herb. It was certain. Although there were few of them and it was difficult to find them, the origin of the herb must be at the entrance of the forest.
The moment he tried to calm his impatient mind and broaden his horizons.
「There are recruitable knights nearby.」
「Number of people: 3」