Three days have passed since Hansrick and the others, a total of seven people have holed up in the cave. According to the appointment, it’s almost time for Clente and the others to return with help.
But because of being trapped in a narrow place for a whole three days, the students have been in low spirits. As expected from Michelle and Helena, with their experience piled up so far. They didn’t look much different from the first day.
What was surprising was Solte. It was thought that she was spoiled by the church, but she looked the calmest and firmest amongst the students.
「Good grace, they look really down. 」
「With their age, it’s a given. Even if it’s me, I wouldn’t like if we are trapped in this cave for few days. 」
Helena smiled bitterly. Even if experienced, Helena is still young, there’s no way these three days have felt short for her. On top of that, including Michelle, six lives are depending on her. It’s not a pressure bearable by normal people.
(Three days just passed like it’s nothing for me, though I don’t want to think that’s because of my age)
Michelle muttered inside her mind as she lightly sighed.
「If I knew this would happen, I would’ve brought Renya with me. 」
And Helena caught onto that.
「Renya is, the Elemental that you’ve told before? 」
「Yeah, that’s right. Rather than an Elemental, she’s an Elemental Child. That’s what she said herself. Three months ago, her grandchild was born, so she had to look after her grandchild. 」
While Michelle and Helena were having an idle chatter, Solte talked.
「Pardon me. That talk, can I have an ear in it too? 」
「Talk, about Renya? 」
「Yes. Elemental Child isn’t even a word we heard before in the academy. Please allow me to broaden my view. 」
「Well, I don’t really mind. But Elemental Child isn’t something I know too much also. Since the only one I know is Renya after all. 」
「That, Renya-san, what kind of a person she is? 」
Michelle was confused at the unexpected interest, before starting to talk about the Elemental Child named Renya.
「U―nn……. Her body is about this big. 」
Her hands showed about the size of a small pot.
「She have the appearance of a silver-haired girl. Excluding a pair of wings behind her back, and her small size, she looks just like a human. 」
「If she has wings, does that mean she can fly? 」
Helena asked deeply intrigued.
「Yeah. But not for a long time. 」
「That’s amazing. I want to meet her once. By the way, does she age? 」
「Who knows? We met for the first time more than twenty years ago, but her figure hasn’t change that much. And she said that she isn’t sure how long she had been living after all. 」
「Could it be that it’s a higher existence species close to that of a goddess? 」
Solte’s red pupils shone with curiosity as she asked.
「It’s not that, I don’t think. The first time I saw her, she had a shy and introvert personality, but now she’s an annoying one. Flapping her wings around your head and yelling things, really, it’s too much for me. 」
「Then? Taking Renya together, what do you mean? 」
Helena brought the talk back to the original topic.
「I don’t really have any proof or evidence but. Whenever Renya is around, there’re less appearance of beasts and demonic beings. 」
「Coincidence……, isn’t exactly the case right. Since Michelle is the one saying it. 」
「You see, I thought that was the case at first too. But that went on for a total of twenty years, can you say it’s a coincidence? Even more so, when I compared myself and the other peddlers. Even with the same route, it’s evident that the counts we came across beasts is lesser. Especially when Renya was singing in a good mood. 」
「Singing, is it? 」
With the cherry blossom-colored hair swaying as Solte asked with her head tilted.
「That’s right. She doesn’t seem to have realize it but, she likes to sing when she’s in a good mood. Especially when she has her favorite, an apple. And mysteriously, during those occasions, the beasts wouldn’t even come close to us. 」
「I see. That’s why you said if only Renya is here huh. 」
「Exactly that. Well, saying however much we want now wouldn’t help since she’s not here. 」
Michelle said as she looked towards Helena.
Just like what Michelle said, with the person in question not around, saying 「If she’s here」is pointless. But, to not corner themselves mentally in this narrow cave, having pointless chatter like this is the key. And that is taught by experience. That is why, she brought out a light topic that might draw the curiosity of the students, but the only one who showed interest was Solte.
(The other four over there is really troubling)
From Michelle’s perspective, the four of them are already nearing their limits. It looks like their reason is still holding control of their emotions somehow, but if the rescue will come late, or something unexpected that delays the schedule happens, it feels like they will collapse. They gave off such a feeling.
「I’m going out to take a look for a while. And also getting some water while I’m at it. 」
Sensing the awkward atmosphere, Helena left those words before heading towards the entrance of the cave. When they entered the cave, they’ve brought in considerable amount of water but, of course that wouldn’t last for three days. So, there’s a need to confirm their surroundings, and secure water.
The only member present here in the cave that is capable of walking around in the dangerous forest is Helena. Even with Ractor as her opponent, she can win, and even if it’s the worst-case scenario, she can escape. That is why she is chosen to be left here as an escort.
Helena who usually took about thirty minutes to survey the surroundings and secure water, that day, she returned early. And that’s even before one minute have passed.
「It’s bad. 」
Helena who return with a panic expression, whispered to Michelle.
「What happened? 」
「It’s the Whips. It’s preying on the Ractor outside here. 」
Michelle’s expression clouded over for an instant.
「Has it realized our presence? 」
「No, it’s enjoying its meal right now so not yet……」
Helena words blurred at the end.
Originally, the stuff burning at the entrance of the cave is beast repellant. It gives off a smell that the Twin Swords and Ractors dislike, so it’s an essential when camping out in a beast’s habitat like in this case.
But repelling beasts is what it can all do. Whips is not a beast but a demonic being. Except for those that have a strong resemblance to a beast, beast repellants are mostly ineffective towards demonic beings.
Whips are not affected by the beast repellant. There isn’t any guarantee that the Whips wouldn’t enter the cave.
「What if we fought? 」
「If it’s one on one from the front, then probably a draw……, is what I expect. 」
If the opponent is a Ractor, then if Helena faced it from the front, she would be able to defeat it even if she gets a few light injuries. But even for Helena at such a level, she would have a tough time with Whips as her opponent.
There’s a chance if it’s an ambush. But if Helena lost, or if she got heavy injuries despite winning, it held the same meaning of sealing Michelle and the others’ fate. For Helena who have six lives on her shoulders, betting all or nothing is not an option.
「Then we can only pray that it doesn’t realize. 」
Fortunately, a Whips’ smell is not good, similar to a human, it relies on visual to gather information. Just that, although it heavily relies on its sight, its hearing is much more sensitive than a human’s.
If they don’t make a noise, then they most likely wouldn’t be noticed but, how much noise can reverberate out the cave is not something that Michelle can predict. A normal conversation should be fine, but avoiding screaming and yelling would be the important part.
「I guess telling those kids over there just in case would be better. 」
Helena nodded at Michelle’s words.
Excluding Solte, the students, especially Hansrick, his mental condition is already in the red zone. Hitting the nail in beforehand must be done. If nothing unexpected happens, Whips who lives on the trees would never set foot in a cave.
「Can I leave it to you, Helena」
「Understood. I will explain it to them. 」
Helena who affirmed started walking towards the students. As she explained the current situation. The students who thought what the matter was turning paler by the minute.
(Well, they are quite tough considering they are students)
Albeit reaping the seeds they sowed, they were trapped in this damp and gloomy cave for three whole days. Although she didn’t have the intention of defending them, Michelle was impressed by the spirits of the young boys and girls.
Good grace, as Michelle thought in her mind as she turned away, someone who ruined all her good intentions appeared and raised his voice.
「Don’t joke with me! You are the ones who told us to take shelter in this cave! Now you say it’s dangerous!? 」
Filled with frustration, it was Hansrick who approached Helena with a threatening attitude with a loud voice.
「That idiot! 」
Who can blame Michelle for smacking her lips at that? Hansrick’s voice echoed in the cave. She could only pray that this voice would not reach the Whips outside.
「Don’t be so loud. Understand that demonic beings might be called here because of you. 」
Helena warned him with a low volume. Starting with Solte, the other students also rushed towards Hansrick in an attempt to calm him down.
But, that effort was too late. From the cave entrance, a sound that is obviously not human reverberated.
The moment that was heard, the expression on Michelle and Helena hardened.
「What a mess……」
Because they understood that, the sound that reached them, it was the tune of inviting them to the afterlife.