Dream Life Vol II Chapter 54.1: “At The Foot of the Caem Mountains”

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 It is May 9, year 313 of the Tria calendar.



 It is May, and the forests around Doctus are changing from the bright jade green of the young leaves to dark green.



 We continued to hunt monsters steadily throughout the winter, and my Swordsman level has risen to twenty-six, and my Sword Arts level to thirty. As for magic, I still have wind attribute as the highest at level 30, but my gold attribute has quickly improved to 28, due to the fact that I am the professor’s assistant.



 My Sword Art is improving steadily, thanks in large part to the training I received from Gerald, a second-rank adventurer I met while hunting the Black Panther at the beginning of the year.


 He has been giving me lessons on rainy or snowy days when he is not out hunting monsters, which is only a few times a month. However, Gerald is a high-level swordsman – level 65 – and surprisingly good at teaching others. Furthermore, he uses the same bastard sword as I do, so my Sword Arts were improving at a good pace.


 The other day, Gerald gave me his seal of approval, saying that I am now a full-fledged swordsman.


 However, he also told me that it is important to continue to improve my skills from now on, as it is said that it is difficult to increase the skill level after 30. However, I was also told that it is more important from now on, as the skill level becomes harder to grow after 30.





 Today I went to the mountain for the first time.


 For the past few months, we have been hunting ghouls, which are cannibalistic monsters equivalent to the seventh rank, so Sharon and I moved up to the fifth rank yesterday.


 Beatrice, who has been overprotective of us, also gave us permission to subjugate the soldier ants that had swarmed at the foot of the Caem Mountains because we had reached fifth rank and had become skilled enough for Gerald to approve of us.



 Soldier Ants are insect-type monsters equivalent to sixth rank, but a swarm of 30 or more is considered equivalent to the fourth rank. This time, since the request was for the defeat of a swarm, it was a fourth-rank request.


 The guild seemed to think that a Soldier Ant nests was splitting, and the possibility of the Queen Ant’s migration was pointed out.


 When a Queen Ant migrates, the Soldier Ants become more aggressive, and since they migrate by the hundreds, the surrounding monsters move down the mountain, causing more damage to the city streets.


 The guild decided to add a special reward to minimize the damage. This led to many adventurers accepting the request.



 We chose this request this time partly because the reward was good, but there was another reason.


 When we fought a Giant Centipede before, we had a very hard time. So I wanted to get my revenge with a Soldier Ant that had a similarly hard outer shell and seemed to be resistant to heat.


 Last time, I used an [Air Hammer] to levitate it and attacked it by hitting it in the belly with [Flame Bolt] and the like, but I still had quite a bit of leverage. This time, I have a plan.



 It takes about five hours to reach the destination on foot.


 Go about five kilometers west of Doctus town, go north from there, pass through the forest, and enter the foot of the mountain.


 Since the round trip takes about 10 hours, we plan to camp out this time. We had already scouted a safe place, so we have a plan.



 We received the request at the guild at 8:00 a.m. and proceeded westward along the Aurella Road, which connects the western commercial city of Aurella with the adventurer town of Pericritor in the east.


 It was a relatively large-scale strike, and other adventurers were entering the forest as well. This time, since we were not jointly taken on, there is no leader like Gerald was at the time of the Black Panther.


 However, because of the sheer number of enemies, they were all somewhat familiar with each other. We were also working with a party of Beatrice’s acquaintances, and I noticed that they looked down on me and Sharon.


 Liddy and Beatrice also noticed this and decided to separate at some point.



 When we entered the forest and said we were going to take a break, they bluntly sarcastically said, “That’s what you get from kids with no stamina.” Beatrice looked like she was about to say something, so I signaled to her that this was just the right opportunity, and she meekly backed away.


 Once they were gone, Liddy began to complain to Beatrice.



“What the hell was that? If they were going to be like that, we would have been better off going alone from the beginning!” (Liddy)



 Beatrice looked apologetic and said, “I’m sorry, but they used to be nice guys.”



“I’m sorry to say this, but if they were as good as Gerald’s party, they could be a liability at that level of skill. But are they really fourth-ranked?” (Zack)



 The guys who entered the forest with us have recently been promoted to the fourth rank. Everyone was in their late twenties, and the party consisted of two swordsmen, two spearmen, one archer, and one healer, but at least the swordsman’s level seemed to be the same as mine.


 Our party consisted of Beatrice at the third rank, Liddy at the fourth rank, and myself and Sharon at the fifth rank, but they were clearly inferior to us.



“They’ve been working hard for ten years. Even they can defeat a monster equivalent to seventh rank with no problem. Well, the rank goes up if you do a lot of requests. I guess they didn’t get much higher because they were dealing with weaker monsters. I haven’t heard the details, but I’d say they are somewhere around level 30 or so.



 Adventurer rank is a measure of accomplishment.


 Beatrice is right, the more you do, the higher your rank will be. In particular, here in Doctus, there is a special rule that even after-the-fact reports are considered as requests completed, so even low-level adventurers can reach the fifth or fourth rank. In other cities, such as Pericritor, a city for adventurers, at least level 35 is required to reach the fourth rank.



“Well, they have just been promoted to the fourth rank. If they get hurt during this request, they’ll probably rethink things a little.” (Beatrice)



 Even from Beatrice’s point of view, their abilities do not seem to be at a level where they could participate in a Soldier Ant hunt.


 Having said that, we are at a similar level, but we’re much more useful than they are because Sharon and I are capable of casting fire magic, which is effective against insect-type monsters.



 After one o’clock in the afternoon, we finally left the forest and arrived at a gorge-like wasteland with large boulders lying around.


 Technically, we were at the foot of a mountain, but the view from here felt more like a mountain to me.


 What lay before us was a grassy plain strewn with rocks several meters high, and we were now facing the mountain at a much steeper elevation than before. Ahead of us was the steep ridge of the Caem Mountains, and I felt like a mountain climber entering the trail.



 As we passed through the forest, the sky was blue and we decided to have a little late lunch.



 Sharon had prepared a lunch box, with bacon sandwich and soup. Dried meat and dried vegetables with salt and spices were prepared. Ingredients are placed in cups, water is magically brought out and heated by [Peltier Effect]. After warming the water until it boils, dried bread is dipped in it as a crouton to complete the dish.


 This was a very good food in the forest in the middle of winter. When I served it to Beatrice for the first time, she, who had been an adventurer for a long time, was half impressed and half stunned, saying, “I didn’t know you could eat this kind of food in the forest so easily.”



 After lunch, we immediately began looking for Soldier Ants.



“It would be easier if we could find the migration tracks of the swarm, but even without that, we could find them…” (Beatrice)



 Beatrice explained that if they were moving in groups, they would be knocking down the grass, so it would be easy to follow the herd if we could find their tracks. But that would mean finding a single line in this wide foothill, so you’d have to be lucky to find them.



 Another tracking method is to use the Soldier Ant’s habits.


 Soldier Ants have a scout and a soldier. When the scout finds food, it returns to its nest or swarm to inform the soldier. At that time, secrete a scent marker. If you find this scent marker and follow it, you can reach the main group.



 Especially in the case of a nest splitting up like this one, scouts will go out in all directions to find a safe route. In other words, if we could find a trace of one of them, we would be able to reach the main group.


 I wondered if humans could detect the special smell that Soldier Ants give off,



“You say we can follow the scent, but can we recognize the scent?” (Zack)



“Well, it’s impossible for humans. But for beastfolk, there’s no problem.” (Beatrice)



 It seems that only beastfolk, with their superior sense of smell, can track the monsters.



 The Soldier Ants seem to prefer wastelands like this one, so they should be moving along the foot of the mountain. We head north through the wastelands to find traces of the Soldier Ants.



 A Soldier Ant is about two meters long and one meter tall, with a hard black chitinous outer shell and huge jaws up to 50 cm long. It also has a bee-like poisonous stinger at the tip of its abdomen.


 Its hard outer shell repels arrows, making it a monster that makes archers cry. Not only that, but it has no fear, and even if it loses a leg or two, it will still come at you without a care in the world. Its appearance is eerie and different from that of the undead.



 We searched for two hours, but could find no trace of what Beatrice had described. Judging from the information from the guild, we went ahead of them, but it seems we went too far.


 We searched for more traces of Soldier Ants while looking for a possible encampment.



 In the end, we found no trace of Soldier Ants that day. After 5:00 p.m., we found a suitable place to set up camp and started preparing for the encampment.


 However, since water could basically be magically produced, the only thing we had to do was to secure firewood for the campfire.


 We set up camp in a rough area near the forest and gather firewood. Then, we build a fire against a nearby rock.


 The fire ignited quickly with my [Ignition], and the four of us were able to make a nice campfire to surround it.


 It felt somewhat like camping, but this was a dangerous area with monsters. It was far more dangerous than the forests near the town we had been visiting, and we could not afford to be careless.



 The night guards will have two shifts of two people each, and we will be divided into two groups: me and Liddy, and Beatrice and Sharon.


 Tomorrow morning we will start at dawn, so we will go to bed as soon as we have dinner.



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