It has been a month since I returned home to the village of Rathmore.
Compared to the time when I was alternately visiting the academy and the forest in Doctus, time passed more slowly in the village.
Even so, since I do my morning training at dawn and spend most of the morning with the neighborhood watch training, from a normal person’s perspective it would not seem so leisurely, but time spent in a familiar home is different.
Beatrice is the least familiar with this village, but she is getting more comfortable here by the day. She herself liked the village so much that she said, “I could move here from Doctos. After all, there is a big bath and good wine.” These two things are what is all about.
I shook my head slightly and thought in my heart.
(Hey, hey, I’m not Shosuke Ohara from Aizu… well, they don’t let me sleep in the morning, so I won’t ruin myself…) (Zack) [T/N: Shosuke Ohara is a character from folklore. It’s about a man who loves sake and is also impossibly kind, who ruined his life being kind to others.]
Permission for Mel and Dan to go to Doctus also came more easily than I expected.
The decision was based on the fact that Sharon and I were making some money as adventurers, so we were deemed to have no financial problems, and that we had a solid adult guardian in Beatrice. Speaking of guardians, Liddy has been with me from the beginning, but in terms of trustworthiness, Beatrice, who I have known for a short time, seems to be far more highly regarded. As to why, I have nothing to say.
Furthermore, there was also the matter of Mel’s state of mind.
When I went to talk to Mel’s father, Hector, and mother, Polly, about taking Mel to Doctus, Hector told me.
After I left the village to enroll in the academy, Mel’s emotional ups and downs became very intense. She would show anger at the slightest thing, laugh, cry… and apparently, the combination of the physical changes of puberty and the emotional burden of my absence had made her quite unstable.
He was particularly worried about her reckless sword training.
At first, he was adamantly opposed to her entering Mount Schiehallion to practice swordsmanship, but I heard that he had no choice but to allow it because he felt her heart would break if he didn’t. On the surface, Dan and Mel are two people who are very close.
On the surface, it was just Dan and Mel holed up in the mountain, but in reality, Hector and Dan’s father, Guy, were always concerned about her.
And after seeing how much she had changed since I came back, he thought it would be better for her to leave her with me rather than to oppose her going to Doctus.
“I am truly sorry for the trouble I have caused you, Master Zack, but please take care of my daughter…” (Hector)
Hector, who usually had a jovial smile, said with a melancholy look on his face, and the couple bowed their heads together.
Hector added with a wry smile, “Daughters at this age are difficult.”
(A daughter of her age. …puberty, huh? I feel like there was a time when that was the case. …Well, what am I going to do…?) (Zack)
I was at a loss, but I reconsidered that the only thing I could do for now was to confront her properly.
Despite all that had happened, it was still fun to have more close friends.
I thought about what to do after we went to Doctus, and the four of us, the Zack Quartet plus Liddy and Beatrice, went into the forest to confirm our coordination and so on.
Changing the subject, Dan did not trust the effectiveness of the camouflage cloak at first, but after actually using it in the forest, he was surprised at its effectiveness. And he seemed to like it a lot.
Not only Dan, but also veterans Guy and Hector, hunters like Rob, and other men who often go into the woods gave it high marks. It looks like it could seriously become official equipment for the Lockhart family.
What we all felt when we entered the forest was that it was peaceful.
If we are in Doctus, the moment we enter the northern forest, you feel something like a deadly atmosphere. But in the forest near the village, you hardly feel anything like that. It is almost as if it were a peaceful, quiet forest in Japan where you could have a picnic.
As one moves away from the village, the atmosphere of the forest changes. In particular, demons frequently appear in Mount Schiehallion to the north of the village, as they do in the forests north of Doctus.
Mel and Dan had been holed up in this dangerous mountain for a month.
It is true that encounters with monsters are frequent in this mountain, and it would be convenient for them to level up. However, it would be a different story if they were to stay in the wild with just the two of them. Even though Hector and the others were watching over them in hiding, they were unaware of this fact.
Even if they took turns taking non-sleeping shifts, they would still be fatigued.
If the fatigue that had built up during the night continued to set in, there was no denying the possibility that even a lower-ranked monster would take them down. We must have been lucky to have hunted as many as we did in such a last-minute situation, not to mention our ability.
Beatrice, who is a veteran, also mentioned this and was amazed at how they had managed to stay alive.
Regarding that point, regardless of Mel, it seems that Dan has been quite troubled.
He had taken all possible precautions in his own way, using a small cave in a rocky area with a good view as their campsite on the mountain, and he had also placed a warning bell to warn them.
This may have had something to do with it. To my surprise, Dan’s ability as a scout had improved dramatically.
I myself had been in the woods with the hunters since I was in the village, and after I went to Doctus, I had been under Beatrice’s tutelage, and I was proud that my skills in detecting presences and concealment were quite high. But Dan had become a better scout than me in just one year.
Dan never said anything, but I guess he was always on the edge to protect Mel, the girl he loved. The result seemed to be that he was able to raise his skill level several times more efficiently than the average adventurer.
Beatrice, a veteran adventurer, was amazed at this, and while she said in dismay, “These kids are really all geniuses,” she acknowledged Dan’s ability and endorsed the idea that there would be no problem entrusting the scouts to this girl.
One such summer day passed, and we set off for Doctus.
As with the journey from Doctus, we were not escorted by squires. In fact, my father had been reserved in suggesting it, but I had refused.
Although there were more children, Mel and Dan, than on the outward journey, the six of us had a fighting strength comparable to a third-class adventuring party of the same number. Especially when it came to long-range attack strength, we were no match for a party of second-rank adventurers.
We had three magicians (myself, Liddy, and Sharon) and Dan, who could use a bow. According to Beatrice, a party in which four of the six members have long-range attack skills is more than unusual.
But that does not mean that they are not good at close combat.
In addition to Beatrice a third rank and myself a fifth rank, we have Mel around fifth rank in terms of ability, Dan in seventh rank, and Liddy, who has the skill of a fifth rank when it comes to defense, so we can sufficiently fight off about ten orcs in close combat.
Furthermore, Beatrice commented, “It’s best to have two excellent healers.” As a healer, I don’t really feel it, but in this world where there are no emergency medical institutions, it seems very reassuring to have a healer with you.
It’s true that you can’t call an ambulance, and once you’re injured, it’s hard just to move to a safe place. It seems that even a healer who can easily stop bleeding is valuable from the point of view of weakening fighting power, it is still an advantage.
Then the day of departure came, August 15th.
It’s the first time for Mel and Dan to travel, but the anticipation of the future seems to outweigh the anxiety of leaving their parents’ homes, and last night they seemed to be nervous like children before a field trip.
Since our destination today was the town of Kilnarc, about 25 kilometers away, and the weather was clear and cloudless in the summer, we decided to leave around 10:00 am.
After an early morning workout and breakfast, I say goodbye to my family.
As expected, the adults were all smiles, but my younger brother, sister, and other little kids started crying when they heard we were leaving.
After calming the little ones down, we mounted our horses and we headed down Castle Hill.
The villagers knew we were leaving and lined the path between the hills, waving us goodbye.
I left my hometown once again.