After waiting for Ardis to return, together with Ted and the others, the『Bright Stars of White Night』, they have departed from Thoria.
「Even preparing a carriage……」
Was he impressed, or just plainly gave up on them, Ardis muttered with a tone that can be interpreted both wise.
Certainly, a search and rescue operation is always fighting against the time. Not to say, it’s the Corsas Forest in question. If they departed before noon, then Ardis and the others would arrive at the entrance of the forest by evening by foot.
But for safety purposes, they will have to camp outside the forest, and the search will be conducted on the next day. But that would just mean lowering the already very low survival rate of the students, so that is why a carriage to the forest entrance is prepared by the academy.
Of course, a carriage is not by all means cheap. Even if it’s just rented, it isn’t at a price any usual people or mercenary can afford. To spend this much money without hesitation, it just shows how serious the requestor is taking this.
Just like what Norris said, it might be that a noble’s child is among the students.
「In any case, it’s helpful that we can enter the forest today. And, able to sleep on the way is good too. 」
It’s much faster to take a carriage than by foot. On top of that, the carriage that Ardis and the other rode on, it swiftly ran across the highway. Of course, a short distance, but running a long distance swiftly would mean a big burden for the horses too.
If the worse happens, the horse might get injured on their legs, but acknowledging even that, they are hurrying.
「Hey. Don’t sleep yet, Ardis. We have to discuss our strategy before we arrive. 」
Orphellia tried to hold Ardis back who was already nodding off.
「Since we come so far, I really want to save those bunch of students though……」
Ted’s final words sounded a little cloudy.
Thanks to the horse carriage hurrying, it seems that they can arrive at the forest just a little pass noon. At the very least, they can arrive and start searching half a day earlier than if they were to go by foot. That difference is huge.
On the other hand, the place that they are supposed to search is huge. They have some idea the point where the students have entered the forest but, to search such a wide area, it seems like taking two or three days to find them wouldn’t be out of question.
「Now then, how should we search. 」
With the carriage they rode shaking rattlingly, Ted cut to the chase.
「Isn’t it, that the students are partied up? 」
「Unn, they have five students on the top grade. 」
「Really, getting ahead of themselves when they’re still young unns……. To enter the forest while don’t even know fully their own abilities. 」
「Even if you say that, Ted. I heard that the five of them were excellent amongst the other students. They are also young, it couldn’t be helped that their nose grew longer. 」
「Fu―n. No matter how excellent they are, they are still little chicks. Amongst the bad chicks and the normal chicks, able to do little more, they are still chicks in the end. 」
「Well, it’s just as you said. 」
It seems that there isn’t any intention to defend the students. Norris laughed loudly as he agreed. Even though Ted acts like this, the way he thinks of the students’ safety is exactly opposite.
「Orphellia, can your magic search for them? 」
「You say it easily. If there is such a convenient magic, then who will be so stressed. Right, Ardis. 」
「……If the students are still alive, then it might be possible. 」
Surprised by what Ardis replied, Orphellia managed to squeeze out words after a little.
「………………I won’t be surprised anymore. By the way, mind telling me how to do it? 」
「In this forest, besides the small animals, almost nothing else groups up. At the very best, only a few countable that groups up. If we detect for mana and if there’s five of about human-sized, then there’s a high possibility that’s the students’ party or mercenaries. Of course, that’s under the assumption that they are still alive. 」
But, there’s another problem. To do a mana detection, a thin layer mana must be spread out wide. It would be at a level that normal people wouldn’t be able to detect it but, demonic being and beasts that are sensitive to mana would probably catch onto it. It might even lure them so the danger has to be taken into account.
(In the first place, I guess we can repel then when they do come. They’re not so strong in the first place.)
Ardis explained the possibility just in case but, surprisingly, Ted and the others didn’t mind it.
「Taking a little risk is much better than going around the wide forest with no leads. We will do something about it if the monsters do come. 」
「Right, we just have to hit them back.」
As Orphellia voiced her opinion, Ted rode on it.
「By the way Ardis. How wide can the detection area be with a single search? 」
Norris asked for confirmation.
「I haven’t measured it but, it’s probably around five hundred meter radius. 」
「Aah, I see. So that’s why you don’t get surprised at anything, I understand now. 」
Ted said while laughing dryly.
「Nn―, then when we arrive at the forest, Ardis will do a mana detection first……. The problem is where should we start looking. 」
Even if Ardis detection radius is about five hundred meters, thinking about the area of the forest, it’s just a small patch. If they aren’t accompanied by their luck star, then the chances of finding the students would be slim.
「Wasn’t the students’ entry point known? 」
「It isn’t a verified information though. 」
Ardis’s question was answered by Norris.
「The students have been gathering information about the forest in Thoria. They have bought several maps from mercenaries it seems. 」
It seems like they have the extent to at least investigate a little bit before entering.
「That time, no one tried to stop them? Seriously. 」
「Everyone tried to stop them, but the leader-looking boy didn’t lend an ear to them. Well, even if they were warned, it’s their own responsibility in the end. 」
Like what Norris said, a mercenary’s choice is always built on their own responsibility. Because the group were students, the mercenaries warned them just in case. But since they themselves wanted to enter regardless of that, then no one have the rights to stop them.
「And so, the map that was sold to the students is this. 」
Retrieving a map from her pouch, Norris spread it out on the floor of the carriage.
「It seems that their purpose is to 『Train』but it looks more to me as 『Overconfidence』. 」
To that, Ardis have no argument.
In the first place, if it’s just to train, then there’s no need to come to Corsas Forest. There are countless wild beasts and monster’s habitat around the capital, there’s not a single need for them to come to Thoria.
Even the veteran mercenaries aren’t guaranteed to survive, 『We survived while training in a dangerous place』is probably the honor they want.
(Being stupid have a limit too)
Indeed, it’s something that young man and young ladies that are living peacefully in the academy without ever coming into contact with danger will come up with.
「If so, then they would probably rush deep in the forest since they think just the outskirts is not enough? 」
Norris’s finger pointed at the map. Starting from the point nearest to Thoria, she slowly traced towards the middle of the forest.
「Orphellia, what about you? 」
「Guess so……. First, if we assume that they aren’t wiped out, at the very least they won’t be around the outskirts. If they fought with the 『Twin Swords Beast』, whether they won or not, they probably don’t feel the need to stay there. 」
Twin Swords is a type of beast about eighty centimeters long that is commonly found throughout the forests in the continent. They have six feet, and they attack using the two fangs that are almost one third of their body length. It is because the two fangs look like a pair of scimitars, and hence the name.
The two fangs they hold is powerful, they can easily sever if it’s like the leg of a human. And, their entire body is covered in black tough skin, so their endurance towards attack are high too.
But they are much docile than other carnivores, if you don’t approach them needlessly, they will not attack. And even if they do, they can be handled without large trouble by seasoned mercenaries.
Of course, for a new mercenary, they are no doubt a strong foe. In other words, they can also be a good measurement for a new mercenary’s ability. To be able to move around in the forest, at the very least, you must have the ability to easily deal with Twin Swords.
Closing her crimson eyes, Orphellia started talking after a short while of thinking.
「Scenario that might’ve happened, they won against the beasts on the outskirts somehow, and became more confident as they headed deeper, or they never met any beasts in the outskirts and proceeded. And then they met with some strong enemies and now they can’t exit. I suppose it’s something like that? 」
Ardis agrees to that as well.
「Yeah. The route on this map, isn’t it one that avoids the territory of the beasts and demonic beings? It’s good to use this if you want to avoid the small fries to go deeper in the forest but, if proceeding with this route, you won’t be likely to encounter any beasts and head straight to the territory of 『Ractor』. 」
「Jumping straight to Ractors without Twin Swords? It’s a cruel story for the little chicks. 」
「Well, we have no choice but to search while believing that they are still alive. Then, let’s have our search route like this. With Ardis using mana detection along the way, shall we think about what we should do after we enter Ractors’ territory. 」
Norris’s suggestion was agreed by everyone.
「Then, if we find the little chicks――」
Ted who tried to go into more detail as he opened his mouth shook unnaturally.
As he tilted his head at the unexpected occurrence, the neighing of the horse resounded loudly, and everyone in the carriage started to lean forward. And the carriage stopped in emergency.