48.1 Rare Beasts of the Forest
After taking a short walk on the highway, we branch off on a path that leads to the southern area of the Dragon Forest. By going south, we also arrive at a river that is one of the water sources to the vice capital. The river is wide, but a stone bridge connects the two sides. It’s only next to the vice capital, but it gives the impression that the area is properly maintained.
On the other side is the Dragon Forest. To my surprise, many people travel back and forth over it.
Ruiseine explains, “The blessings of the Dragon Forest is the same in both the capital and vice-capital.”
We continue straight to the forest alongside all the other people. However, upon entering the forest, everyone set off to different depths of the forest for their own purposes. By the time I notice, we were the only ones walking down this path.
Of course, the kingdom also strictly controls the Dragon Forest in the southern part of the vice capital, so logging is prohibited. But since many people enter and leave the forest every day, paths forming are only natural. These paths can be found in various places, even in the forest beside the capital. That said, they are only wide enough to serve as animal trails.
Carts are prohibited from being brought into the forest. While blessings can be taken for personal use, large amounts cannot be taken for the sake of doing business. Even though no official law states that, it’s a tacit understanding among those who use the forest. Should too much be taken, even the Dragon Forest might end up withering away.
We follow the path at first, but once there are no more signs of people around us, we step off the path. Priscilla-chan waves her hands as she happily takes the lead through the forest. She has always been energetic, but she is much more so in the forest. That trait of hers proves she’s a dweller of this forest, of the Long Eared Tribe.
Ruiseine, worrying whether he shrine maiden’s garments will get caught on a branch, walks while holding Mistral’s hand. Somehow, she looks more childish than Priscilla-chan.
“My, my, well, well, Ernea-kun is thinking something not good.”
“I’m not, it’s a misunderstanding.”
Apparently, I messed up by staring at Ruiseine. I deny her accusation in a fluster.
“More childish than Priscilla-chan, nyan~”
Nymia announces what she reads in my heart.
“Yes, I am still a child after all.”
Ruiseine turns her head away from me in a huff, “tsui”.
“I-it’s a misunderstanding…”
I try to explain to Ruiseine, but Mistral drives me away with her hand, shu. They’re treating me harshly. Seriously, this is all because Nymia went and said that.
I approach Priscilla-chan so I can take revenge on Nymia. Why approach Priscilla-chan to take revenge on Nymia? That’s because Nymia, like always, is relaxing on Priscilla-chan’s head.
However, just as my hand is about to reach her, Nymia hops away and flutters her wings, pata pata.
“Nnmtto, tag game!”
Priscilla-chan chases after the flying Nymia. I join Priscilla-chan and also give chase. Nymia evades us by dexterously slipping between the trees.
“Hey, don’t go too far away!”
“Rather than me, Ernea-kun seems completely more like a child.”
Mistral and Ruiseine exchange glances and laugh.
Mumumu, so since I think this is very fun, it means that I’m still a child…
Nymia escapes from Priscilla-chan and flies toward Mistral and Ruiseine. There, she plunges into Mistral’s chest.
Ah, how envious.
“Are you jealous, nyan? But, they’re small, nyan~”
Nymia probably wanted to triumph over me, but that last part was completely unnecessary. She is crushed against Mistral’s chest.
As Nymia screams out, Mistral gives her a cold smile.
That’s no good, Nymia. Mistral is the type of person who will even raise her hand to Old Sleigstar when she gets angry. When prohibited words are spoken, there will be no escape.
I press my hands together and pray for Nymia.
Priscilla-chan misunderstands the situation and leaps into Ruiseine’s open chest.
“My, my, well, well.”
Ruiseine skillfully catches her.
“They’re bigger than Mistral’s!”
Mistral stiffens and trembles. Ruiseine can only make a strained laugh.
“Th- they’ll grow from now on!”
“That’s right. From here on is the season of growth.”
Tears can be seen welling from the eyes of Mistral and Ruiseine.
“Ahahaha,” as I release a dry laugh, I feel a presence just a bit within the forest. Mumumu, this is…
Coming out before me is the usual large, gray, wolf demon. The demon beast remains in place as it stares at me. The others also discover it once they follow my gaze.
Ruiseine moves before everyone else. She hides Priscilla-chan behind herself and readies her naginata. Her reaction speed is instantaneous, as expected by from war shrine maiden.
“Please be careful, it’s a demon beast.”
That it is a demon beast can be determined in an instant.
Ruiseine holds on her naginata ready and chants ritual prayer all while remaining vigilant to the demon beast’s every movement.
However, Priscilla-chan’s unexpected action leaves her staring the next moment.
Priscilla-chan leaps out from behind Ruiseine and space jumps. Immediately after, she is mounted upon the demon beast’s back.
“Doggy came to pick us up!”
Priscilla-chan squeals from atop of the demon beast. The demon beast doesn’t exhibit any dislike towards the action either. It instead takes care to not let Priscilla-chan fall from its back as it approaches us.
Ruiseine is confused.
Mistral, with a troubled expression, places a hand upon Ruiseine’s shoulder.
“That one is fine. It’s Priscilla-chan’s manservant.”
“Yes? But that’s a demon beast?”
Ruiseine alternates her gaze between Mistral and the demon beast. Uncertain over what to do, she lowers her naginata.
I explain to the situation to the bewildered Ruiseine.