I grew up being told from an early age that I should never go near that forest.
The area leading from the forest to the mountains has had a barrier since some time ago to keep people out, and even if one wanted to enter, they couldn’t…
It is said that those who are called by something in the forest are pulled inside regardless of their own will and will never be able to return to the outside world. This is because of the prophecy of the ancestors of the time, which is vague, telling people to “stay away from that forest.”
But I can’t help but wonder about that forest. I could hear someone calling me. I said to the nanny, “Yes”
“You must never go near it. It is said that such a person will be lured into that forest and never come back. You will never see your father or your mother again.”
And that’s what I was told. I thought that was a very frightening thing, as I had grown up very much loved by my father and mother as their only child.
The story seems to have been passed on to my parents through my nanny, and later on to my mother’s family, who gave me a guardian ring that was brought to me as a bride-to-be. The ring was too big for me as a child, so they put it through a gold chain and hung it around my neck. Then, strangely enough, I didn’t hear any more voices calling out to me from then on.
Later, I wore that guardian ring as a pendant around my neck for a long time. My mother, who loved me dearly, died before I became an adult, and the ring became a precious memento.
After that, my father died as it continued. The years have passed, and the mysterious call I had heard as a small child had been pushed to the back of my mind.
However, there is a reason why I remember it now.
I had gone into the forest with a few followers to hunt for my hobby, a bird with beautiful colored feathers, and despite my caution, I had accidentally slipped down a slope that was badly underfoot. That’s when a twig snatching my neck tore my shirt and shredded the chain that was pulled with me.
I noticed that the ring around my neck had flown off, and I looked around for it, but it seemed to have fallen under a pile of fallen leaves and I had no idea where it had fallen.
I was separated from my squire before I knew it, without realizing that I was already in the middle of some kind of operation…
“Master XXX, are you hurt!?
I heard the squire’s voice from the top of the slope, hidden from view by the trees.
I was about to tell him that I was okay, brushing the mud and grass and juice from my clothes in the thick, deep green, when I heard another voice in my ears. No, not so much from my ears, but more like a voice that went directly into my head.
“Come on, come on, come here…”
The voice was familiar.
The temptation of the irresistible voice almost drew me in, and I desperately searched for the ring that had fallen away.
My mother, who had been dead for a long time, had said, “Don’t go there.”
I felt like I heard a nostalgic voice.
But the outline of my surroundings blurred like a haze in my head.
Without realizing it, I was walking in the direction of that forest.
On the edge of the Baron Anterbe’s territory, from the mountainous farming village of Favril, there is a mountain road that leads to the neighboring territory of the Count of Chevali, if you go through the mountain from there. Rather than calling it a mountain path, it is more like a beast road.
The mountains of the Count of Chevali’s estate are rich in seasonal bounty, and the poor peasants of Baron Anterbe’s estate are grateful for those mountains.
And since the mountains around there are rich in crystal shavings, there were many people who coveted them.
It wasn’t very valuable, since it was mostly crystal dust. Most of them have been collected over a long time and the scraps are only found occasionally.
In the distant past, there was a legend that a war broke out around there for the crystal mountain.
But now, of course, it is also the resource of Count Chevali’s territory, and without the lord’s permission, they can’t be taken without permission.
It is even more so when it comes to the neighboring territory’s citizens. It seems that the long-lasting rumor still exists in Favril of a person who snuck into the mountain knowing that and still going missing.
It seems to have been around for a long time. It’s strange to say, but the reason for the commotion this time was because a child of a nobleman went missing. I found out that, up until then, there had been stories about people who entered the mountain from the Favril side and lost their whereabouts for a long time in the stories of their fiefdoms.
On the contrary, there should have been people who passed from the Count of Chevali’s territory to Favril, but I never heard of such a thing in Chevali’s territory. The entrance to that mountain from the Count of Chevali’s estate is a farming village called Marle, but the town of Galt before it is famous there for its beautiful lake resort.
The story that a person had gone through the village of Marle and crossed the mountain to Favril from there, was a story that had come from a good deal of research. There was also a secret shortcut to the next territory for the locals, but the road itself was narrow, and even horses could only enter the middle of the road. In other words, it was a loophole known only to the locals. The mountains were low in elevation, gently sloping away from the forest.
However, the overwhelmingly large number of lords entering the Count of Chevali’s side from the Baron Anterbe’s side of the territory was due to the fact that the Baron Anterbe’s territory was a poor territory, with scarce resources and scrawny land.
Originally, the loophole passed by the wickedly named private property, which was warded by the Count of Chevali, so the locals on Chevali’s side of the estate were reluctant to go near it.
But this time, Adarend Fortes, the castle’s treasurer, was the second son of the missing nobleman, which made headlines.
It seems that the second son of this Lord Fortes, who was frail and had come to Galt to rest, had somehow entered the mountain without his companions, and the locals chased after him and went into the mountain to search for him. Once back at the inn, they prepared to cross the mountain and slipped into the Baron Anterbe’s territory, but the whereabouts of the son were unknown.
So Sir Fortes privately used a man to investigate, and it turned out that the mountain path was the place where the missing person had been until now. He personally approached Count Chevali to ask for his help, but did not get a good response, and was troubled, so Sir Fortes asked the magic division to investigate.
Apparently, Count Chevali was so ill that he couldn’t get up from the floor, and the lord’s aides who responded to the inquiry were so new that the search did not proceed.
Count Chevali and his wife were not blessed with children. There was talk of adopting a child from a relative to succeed him.
For some reason, the people of Count Chevali had a short life span, despite the fact that this territory was blessed with fertile land and resources.
The current head of the family was, so to speak, the last survivor of the main line of the Chevali family.
The investigation agency of the Dairoku examined the mountain using magical tools called “insects” and “birds,” but all of them seemed to have been broken in the mountains near the barrier, and the investigation was stopped halfway.
However, this revealed a suspicious place, and finally the magic division was dispatched.
“So what’s the deal with this crew after all?”
Judy looks around at the five faces and tilts her head.
“Maybe it’s that type of work.”
In response to what Helena said in the conference room where we had gathered for the meeting, turning her gaze to one of the two members of the Third Division, the person she was looking at wrinkled his nose in disgust.
“Don’t even joke about it, it’s a coincidence.”
His name is Light Hemmings. He is a member of the 3rd Division and is good at wind magic. He also seems to be a psychic of that type.
He is a large man with short blond straight hair and blue-gray eyes.
“Haha, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you guys. I often team up with Hemmings in the same division, so maybe it’s because we’re both former partners. It’s a long expedition that includes research, and we’re compatible with each other, so I’m sure the top brass thinks we’re a good fit with you guys.”
This person is Bulgari Wilt. He is in the third division, and is good at fire magic. Both of them had worked together with us in Marquis Comona’s territory for a mission. He has wavy platinum hair about mid-back length, which he wears tied behind his neck with a blue cord that matches his eyes. His bangs are longer than before, hanging down to cover the right half of his face. He looks like a gentleman and speaks in a light tone of voice, but he is a caring man. He is the oldest of the five.
Apparently these bangs were annoying to Helena.
“Wilt-san, I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, but aren’t your bangs bothering you?’’
“No, it doesn’t bother me because it’s been like this all the time lately. I can’t be bothered to go and cut it.”
“Okay, yeah, that’s okay.”
If it’s fine with him, it doesn’t matter, Helena seemed to have lost interest.
“In that case, it might be quicker to have Hemmings-san’s wind magic cut it off with gust.”
Then, this time, Judy interrupted.
“Oh no, that’s scary. It’s my face.”
Wilt-san looks troubled and flaps his palms in the air.
“I don’t use magic for that.” Hemmings-san responds to that in a disgusted tone,
“It’s a joke, of course, and you still don’t get it, Hemmings.”
Judy wasn’t fazed at all.
The conference room had a corner to make tea, and I was listening to the conversation as I made the tea and almost blew it off.
Everyone seemed to be the same as before.
Both of the two members of the Third Division looked the same as before, with Hemmings-san seemingly twinkling and unapproachable, and Wilt-san being the follow-up.
“But Hemmings-san is a scaredy-cat, will he be OK?”
Judy gave him a sideways glance and grinned with a hand to her chin.
“Don’t be silly.”
“Hey, Hemmings-san, don’t spit on me from above.”
With her hands on her hips, Judy is complaining to Hemmings. The scene where Judy, whose appearance is contradictory to her charm and personality, is unabashedly complaining to the large body of Hemmings-san, would be surprising to a stranger, but the other four people here are used to it, so it was nothing.
Hemmings-san’s mouth is agape at the words of the unreserved Judy, and his face is red. Hemmings-san is a big man, but he is in fact very shy. He was more of a tossed around object during the last expedition.
Helena and Wilt-san are looking at them like troubled children.
I’ve been to Helena and Judy’s parents’ house on vacation before, and I saw the same scene as now.
All of Judy’s older siblings were large like Judy’s dad, and Judy had the same kind of reservations about her big bodied brother. Her preference seemed to be for dainty, fairy-like men like Helena’s brother. In front of him, she seemed to become a lady who matched her pretty looks.
“Well, I’ve made tea, so everyone please take a seat.”
I carried the tea set to the table in the conference room in the wagon provided.
“Thanks, Fiara. You’re the best at brewing tea, so I left it to you. It smells so good.”
Judy is happily enjoying the scent of tea. She is the daughter of a wealthy county family.
Because her family is of knightly descent, she was raised to focus on that side of her own will, so she is not used to making tea by herself. Or rather, to be frank, she’s put more effort into martial arts than doing dainty things like a woman. They say it’s a matter of likes and dislikes. She lamented that she had no taste in these things and could only make bad tea. It seems that Helena felt the same way.
“Yes, don’t worry, I like to make tea at home and I make it myself, so leave it to me. Besides, I brought a tea package with me today.”
Some noblemen may frown when they hear that a nobleman’s daughter makes her own tea, but since there are many people who live in dorms within the Magic Division, and there is a tendency to do their own things, no one cares about it.
It’s the time for tea after work, so everyone rushes to take a seat when they hear it’s a tea break. They looked like children begging for a snack.
“Fiara, what is this?”
First, Helena asked curiously as I spilled it from my portable can into my plate.
“Dried sunset-colored grapes? It’s a different shape and in a shade I’ve never seen before, but it’s beautiful. I don’t really smell it…”
Helena is analyzing them carefully.
She looks at it with a sidelong glance, plucking one, and Wilt-san looks at it suspiciously. She smells it, but tilts her head back. It’s an oval amber-orange berry about the size of a finger joint, but you can tell it’s a dry one by the hardness and feel of it in the hand, but it has almost no smell.
Dried grapes, for example, are wrinkled, but not so wrinkled.
“It’s a date palm fruit, a dried fruit from the east. They are very sweet and are good for relieving fatigue. Oh, be careful, there are seeds inside.”
Wordlessly, Hemmings-san threw a date into his mouth first, so I called out to him.
They all looked at him as he chewed and then spat out peanut-like seeds in the palm of his hands.
I put a small plate down to leave the seeds.
“What a rich sweetness. What kind of dried fruit could be this sweet and delicious?”
He said as if surprised, and then drank the tea I brewed, this time with a gulp.
“This tea is good too.”
Hemmings-san poured himself some more tea from the pot. There were many people in the wizardry corps who were not afraid to do their own thing even if they were born into a noble family. However, those who thought it was only natural for people to do everything for them could not make it in the magical order in the first place.
And when I saw Hemmings-san break his good manners and pop another one into his mouth with a delicious look, everyone reached for their plates and took a mouthful of dates.
“Delicious! It’s crunchy on the outside but kind of soft on the inside, it’s like a candy.”
Judy, too, took out the seeds and took another one and put it in her mouth.
“It’s true, it’s pure and elegantly sweet, but it’s so rich and delicious.”
Helena takes a small bite, admiringly. She didn’t have a sweet tooth, a quality she didn’t like very much.
“It’s good. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but this is good.”
Hemmings-san’s reaction had been positive. He didn’t seem to have a sweet tooth either.
I thought that the aristocracy’s idea of tea cakes, where sweets were considered to be a luxury, would change in the future when sweets with a different taste, such as the ones made by La Dia, began to appear in the future.
“Are there any more?”
Was Hemmings’ words.
“I have no more to bring today, but I’ll bring some again. I’ll bring it with me on the expedition, so you can look forward to it. But be careful not to eat too much.
“Wow! I’m so excited!”
Judy claps her hands. Since there is no classification of this kind of snack in the aristocratic culture, everyone will be pleased if I take it on an expedition because it’s easy to eat. It will last for a long time, so I don’t have to use the advanced preservation magic.
“Then, now that we’ve had our tea, it’s time for a meeting.”
As I thought, I was impressed that this kind of transition was Wilt-san’s doing
This expedition would involve moving with a magic circle to the town of Galt in the county of Chevali and move from there as a base. It was said that there might possibly be an encampment. I made reasonable preparations and borrowed a set of magic tools for the encampment from the Dairoku.
The plan is to enter the village of Marle from the town of Galt, where the lord’s house is located, but since it’s a really small farming village, there are no accommodations or other facilities there. Besides, I was told that Count Chevali’s side was uncooperative. But first we must meet with Count Chevali.
The royal castle had asked Count Chevali to visit, but they were refused because of his poor physical condition. Since the lord cannot move, it seems that he informed everyone that he didn’t mind having the magic division conduct its own search
After finishing the meeting, we were set to leave the next day. I could also look over the ongoing information. Wilt-san said that he would finish the work if he took over, and the meeting was adjourned.
“Hey, Fiaragent, take care of the ‘dates’, more than anything. I’ll take care of the luggage.”
Hemmings-san came slinking over to the side and said so. He seems to have a sweet tooth, after all.
“Yes, I’ll make sure to bring plenty.”
The newly harvested crop had just arrived from Cross Island.
“Oh, well, then this time too.”
Hemmings-san raised his hand happily as he left.
“Fiaragent’s really great. A feeding success. I didn’t know he had a sweet tooth. Well then, good luck on the expedition.” Wilt-san said as such and left.
“We should get ready for our expedition too. Then we’ll go home for the day. Fiara doesn’t have to put the tea utensils away, Judy and I will do that and go home. We’ll just go back to the dormitory, so we’ll be fine. Fiara should have a carriage waiting to pick her up by now.”
“Right, and you know, Fiara made the tea so we’ll clean up the mess.”
“Hmmm, if that’s okay, then I’ll let you do that.”
“Yes, you were a big help to us too.”
The two of them said as such, so I decided to take them up on it.
“Yeah, you can always tell me if you want it to change, so please.”
“Ok, leave it to us.”
Then I parted from them, called out to Filgred who was at the carriage stop waiting for me, and rode back on the Duke of Valmonter’s carriage.
“Judy, be careful not to drop the plates.”
I called out to Judy as she placed the cleaned dishes on the table one by one, washed and dried.
“I know, I’ve practiced in the dorms and gotten used to it, so it’s fine. I’m hoping to learn how to make tea from Fiara one of these days.”
Judy is wonderfully good with magic, but apparently that has nothing to do with doing housework.
“You say that, but didn’t you smash your cup against the pot in the dormitory the other day and chip it?”
I give Judy a scowl.
“How did you know?! Damn it, I don’t know who tipped me off. Helena, don’t talk to Gilbert about that.”
“What? Why do I have to tell my brother every single story about Judy’s failures?”
“Eh, well, I mean, whatever–I don’t care!”
Judy turned bright red and behaved suspiciously.
Immediately I used the provided dustpan and broom to quickly clean up the pieces of dishes. It’s quicker to use tools to clean up these things quickly instead of thinking about using wind magic, which is not my strongest magic, to gather them up.
“Ugh, why doesn’t healing magic working on the dishes!”
“I’d be scared if it worked!”
I responded to it appropriately as I always do.
“Hmm, I’ve got a long way to go to be able to make tea as gracefully as Fiara…”
“You can aim for it, but let’s treat the broken things with care first, shall we?”
We both nodded in agreement and cleared the area.
T/N: I think the Judy/Gilbert ship is cute! Maybe Helena will end up being Judy’s wingwoman, hehe.
On another note, I wanted to give special thanks to Rcbolan, Gogo, and Anonymous who all donated to me in the last few months. It is much appreciated and gives me more encouragement to translate after I finish work! I’m planning to buy an updated japanese-english dictionary for some of the confusing phrases, so I’m looking forward to that. I hope my translations will get even better for you guys in the future ♡!
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