Here is today chapter.
Chapter 12 – Apricot Grass And Turtle
I stayed under until I couldn’t anymore, and burst out of the water, coughing and gasping for breath. Lusha was also breathing hard.
「Hiroki… are you okay?」
It felt like I’d stayed under as long as I could normally hold my breath, but in reality it had likely been less than a minute. Lusha and I started to make our way out of the river, swimming to the bank while gasping for air, and somehow got onto shore. I looked around after a moment, and realized we weren’t in the forest where we’d just been. This was a cave.
「Where is this? Was the river connected to a cave?」
Lusha was still breathless, but managed to stand up and check our surroundings for monsters. For now, the only thing I could hear was my own desperate panting.
「There was a moment where the flow sped up, so it’s possible we ended up going down a side path…」
「Yeah, I guess that’s possible. There were so many monsters before, I only came to the surface for air.」
It was likely we unwittingly got sucked into a side passage that went through this cave. Following Lusha, I also stood up, completely drenched. I took off my heavy clothes and wrung them out. If we had any fire magic, we could have dried them quickly, but there was nothing nearby that could be useful as kindling.
「I’m sure glad it’s not winter.」
「Yeah, me too.」
Lusha also squeezes the hem of her clothes briefly and drains the water.
「Well, for now, it’s better we keep going on foot rather than dive back in. We have no way of knowing what lies ahead that way, and if we’re unlucky, we could end up somewhere full of monsters, or even with no air at all, and no way of coming back…」
While Lusha speculated worst-case scenarios and watched the path further into the cave, I nodded gently. Even though the river flowed through this cave, we had no idea what other kinds of places it could end up. Besides, caves have a lot of magic, so I had hopes that we could find some apricot grass here.
Nonetheless, there may be stronger monsters here, so we needed to be careful.
「Right, first of all,【Heal】.」
「Oh, thanks, I got a scratch earlier.」
「I should have healed you right away, sorry about that.」
「No, it’s fine.」
Lusha bowed with a smile and pointed to the passage ahead, saying we should continue. By the way, the other direction was a dead end that only intersected the river, so going back was impossible anyway. All we could do was keep moving on the path in front of us.
「For now, I’ll do mapping.」
「What do you mean by mapping? Are you making a map?」
「Yeah, it’ll be especially dangerous if we get lost here, and we don’t yet know what kind of place it is.」
Luckily, our magic bags had an extra effect where the things inside them didn’t get wet. The notebook and pen which I got from Ren were still in pristine condition. Lusha was looking at the notebook and pen curiously, so I gave a rough explanation, “It was made in my distant hometown.”
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It had been a few hours since we started walking. Most of the monsters that came out were demon bats with red fangs. We’d also occasionally encounter a demon golem, about one meter in size, that would come out and block our way.
Lusha’s arrow smashed into the waist of the demon golem that was trying to punch me. It crumbled into rocks and stopped moving.
「Phew… it’s a really tough enemy since it’s made of stone.」
「They move very slowly, though.」
Lusha’s accuracy is even more of a disadvantage here because the demon bats can move very fast. Archers do seem to have poor affinity for fighting in caves. It would be nice if she could acquire skills that will increase both her power and accuracy, but that has to wait, because she can’t get it without a Skill Acquisition Book.
Once we solve the issue with Ren’s curse, it’ll really be a good idea to look for more.
「But we should have found a way out by now. How much farther will we have to walk?」
The path forked in multiple directions along the way, but I followed the wind every time. If we keep this up, I’m sure we’ll find a way out eventually… what a pain in the ass. If we can’t find a way out soon, the stress will start getting to us.
At that time, Lusha’s ears started twitching.
「Ah, I hear something.」
「Could it be from outside? Or maybe there’s other adventurers…?」
There was a high probability of it being a monster. Lusha pinpointed the sound to be about twenty meters away, around the next corner. When I listened for it myself, I could tell it seemed different from the demon bat or the demon golem. This might be a problem.
That sound was more of a dull, low sound, resonating through the earth, rather than something coming from outside the cave. I was getting a bad feeling about this.
「Lusha, back up―way up. I’m almost certain it’s a monster. I’ll be the one to check around the corner.」
I walked slowly so as not to make noise, and peeked half my face around the corner.
My breath caught in my throat.
What is that?!
There was a large space where I was looking, with holes in the ceiling that let in daylight. The river must have been flowing just above, and at least part of it was flowing through the hole as a waterfall. The river itself could be supplying all of the water in the cave; the waterfall had been there so long it had carved a bowl-shaped pool into the floor.
It gave off the impression of being a mystical place; it was fascinating to look at. However, admiring it could wait.
「A turtle monster… and it’s huge.」
Sitting in the waterfall was a massive turtle monster, about five meters long. I wondered if it was a demon turtle. I took a deep breath and backed up to tell Lusha there was a dangerous being inside.
「Dangerous being? ….. Yikes, that’s a demon turtle!」
Bingo, I guessed the name. The surprised Lusha was about to raise her voice and and immediately holds her mouth with her hand.
「Is that thing really dangerous?」
「Uh… I really don’t know. But I feel a sense of dread just looking at it.」
「I know what you mean.」
The turtle looked so majestic sitting under the waterfall, it presented a grand appearance.
Because it’s a turtle monster, it definitely has a tough shell, so its overall defense will be high. Its shell is a dull sandy color, and its skin is green. There seems to be quite a bit of moss on its shell, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume it’s been here for many years.
「What the―? Hey, Hiroki…」
「Hmm? What’s wrong, can you beat it?」
「I don’t really know the answer to whether I could beat it, but I’m more concerned about the back of its shell! Look, near its tail!!」
Lusha whispered, “There!” while pointing almost behind the demon turtle.
When I squinted, I saw a small young bud of something that wasn’t moss. I quickly realized I could see a few orange blobs.
What’s with that turtle, sitting around so long even grass can grow on it? I almost laughed involuntarily.
「Hiroki, be quiet!!」
「Heh heh heh…」
I was about to yell and Lusha blocked my mouth immediately. Thanks to that, the demon turtle hadn’t noticed us yet. Relieved, we realized we’d have to come up with a strategy.
Then, right when I was about to start thinking, a small shadow quickly passed by.
「Eh, the shop fairy!?」
Lusha, who had followed the shadow with her eyes, blurted out their identity when they went into the light. Apparently the shop fairy was also aiming at apricot grass… of course, because I’d asked her for a curse-cleansing potion.
「I feel like this meeting’s going to be a bit different.」
If possible, I wanted to collect the apricot grass myself. The shop fairy could sell the completed curse-cleansing potion, but it’s still better if I get it myself.
I rushed out after the shop fairy towards the demon turtle.