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Even after several hours, a thick fog still enveloped them and blocked their way. From the sun’s direction, they were able to determine their approximate direction and knew not to turn back, but their mental fatigue was mounting.
On the way ─ KikiKikiKiki! They stopped several times because they heard the sound of the raven butterfly over and over again. The raven butterflies were probably also looking for their prey, which included Ain and the others.
They eventually found a small, narrow river and decided to take a break and drink some water. Roland and Leonardo’s fatigue seemed to have reached its limit, and they sat down on the ground and collapsed.
“Oh, come on, Leonardo. You don’t have to put up the barrier.”
“Mmm, why not?”
“I’ve heard from my father that it’s not uncommon for monsters to notice the barriers and attack you when they’re lifted. In addition, you should save it for emergencies.”
Some cunning monsters can detect the existence of barriers and attack as soon as they are lifted. The raven butterfly is one of those cunning monsters, and that’s why Batz was not happy with the barriers.
“You’re really… the result of your father’s, Baron Krim’s, education.”
“My father is constantly fighting monsters in dangerous places, so he’s taught me a lot.”
After that, they took a short break and listened to Batz.
The raven butterfly’s weakness is fire. The second is sunlight. If they are in the mist, they are perfectly fine, but if they are exposed to direct sunlight, their bodies will collapse.
However, the current situation is that they are in a deep fog. No one can use fire magic, so there is no weak point.
“How can we rest tonight? I think Leonardo and Roland will reach their limits if they don’t rest.”
“We’ll have to take turns staying awake. We’ll leave just before the sun comes up. I want to make it through the fog while the sun is still up.”
Eventually, the four of them arrived at a slightly open area in front of a small cave. There was a reason why Batz, who was walking in the lead, did not enter it.
“Oops, Ain. Don’t go into that cave, okay?”
“Eh? Why? Is it better to go into the cave… since there’s a danger of monsters, right?”
“Look at the gravel at the entrance. It’s purple and almost melted, right?”
“It’s a cave that produces miasma. Old magic and monster corpses are mixed in, and it’s a messy environment. It is poisonous to both monsters and people who do not live in that cave. Even if you don’t breathe it, it’s bad just by touching your skin. However, there is no need to worry about the entrance.”
“…I see. I’ll be careful.”
It’s not uncommon for the cave itself to emit a poisonous substance. Ain looked inside the miasma cave with great interest.
“Are there any monsters in there?”
“Of course there are. But I don’t think it’s a big deal here. There are probably some big insects in there. By the way, the miasma affects the raven butterfly. I don’t think they can handle the miasma, though.”
“Wait a minute! Stop talking nonsense, both of you… Come on, help us with the preparation…”
“Oh, sorry. I’ll help you.”
Leonardo thought that the matter of the miasma cave seemed to have been brushed aside lightly and hurriedly approached him.
“Batz! Are you sure it’s safe to be here?”
“It’s not a problem. The entrance is still okay, but no matter what happens, don’t go inside.”
“O-oh… I understand…”
Leonardo was convinced, and everyone began to prepare for the encampment. Leonardo had to put up a barrier around the sleeping area because of the danger involved.
However, the only food they had was fruit they had picked up along the way, which was not enough.
“…I guess it’s better to have something to eat, but it doesn’t give you much strength, does it?”
“Yeah, I can’t really fill my stomach with it, to be honest. But as Ain says, it’s better than nothing.”
“Well, well, well! It’s fresh and… doesn’t taste that bad in my opinion.”
──When the camping preparations are complete, Ain sat down on the ground and pondered.
(I still can’t shake the feeling of discomfort… Why is that?)
There were several suspicious points. It’s not only the fact that they’re separated from Dill, but also the presence of a cunning monster called the Raven Butterfly.
(I know, there is no way they would send the crown prince to such a dangerous place, and at least if I am coming, they must have done a thorough investigation beforehand. In addition, I don’t think Dill is the kind of man who can be easily distracted.)
──And above all.
(Warren-san was also present; he would never think of a sloppy plan. If that’s the case, what’s wrong is…)
Suddenly, Ain realized that the assumptions were wrong. The discomfort he was feeling in the first place might itself be a mistake.
(I don’t know what’s going on here…)
He looked behind the trees in his surroundings. Naturally, there was no one in sight, but he had a feeling there was.
That’s just foolish. Ain shakes his head and regains his composure.
──After having an unsatisfactory dinner.
Ain, who had been idle for some time, talked with Batz.
“Do you know about the big monster… I mean the sea dragon?”
Ain also remembered the words.
“It’s said to be a dragon bigger than a battleship that comes out after a period of a hundred or two hundred years.”
“Yeah, Chris-san told me about it. How are we supposed to defeat it?”
“Well, you know, we’ll just have to work together.”
Batz said it as if it were someone else’s problem, but Ain could only think of a similar solution.
How would he fight it? There are many ways to do it, but there is no way it can be fought with a sword.
“It would take more than a hundred years for it to grow to its full size. And then it would rampage through the waters around Ishtar, destroying port cities and ships. I’ve heard from my father that countless knights have sacrificed their lives to defeat it in the past.”
“──It would be nice if it didn’t come out, though, wouldn’t it?”
“Of course. Maybe you can talk to the sea dragon with the royal family’s absolute command.”
“Eh, what do you mean, “absolute command”?”
“I don’t know much about it. However, there are certain commands that the royal family can only use… and if you don’t know about them, what are you going to do about it?”
Then, Ain replied with a wry smile.
(But… I’ve heard of sea dragon before from grandfather.)
Sylvird also mentioned that there is a powerful monster called the sea dragon. Ain reconfirmed that the monster was so dangerous that even the king considered it dangerous.
“I have to go to pee for a moment. In the shade over there.”
“Oh, go ahead.”
There was a swarm of raven butterflies in before the sea dragon, but what to do now? Ain thought. Then he went to the shade of the miasma cave, did his business lightly, and then started to return with a tired look on his face. However, on the way, he stopped at the entrance to the miasma cave. He unintentionally stretched out his arm toward the entrance.
(Hmm… It’s just like poison.)
The toxin decomposition works secretly, and the purple air that was leaking slightly loses its color quickly.
He made a bitter smile at the power of convenience as usual.
“Hey, Ain! What are you doing?”
Batz, who noticed the appearance of Ain, raised his voice.
“I just nearly fell down, that’s all! I’ll be right there!”
However, the presence of the miasma cave reminded him of what Batz had said before the break. In addition, it reminds him of the magic tool that Roland made that can store water.
“…Huh? It’s a quick thought, but it works.”
It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, but it seemed like a good one. Eventually, he returned and called out to Roland.
“Do you have a minute?”
“Hmm? What’s up?”
“Roland made a magic tool for storing water; can it also be used to store other things?”
“…Well, you can do a lot of things with it. But why?”
“There’s something I’d like it to hold, you know…”
It was good to have him with us. Ain thought. Ain thanked him from the bottom of his heart and borrowed his skills.
But after they had fallen asleep, something happened that Batz had feared.
A few raven butterflies were watching them from outside the barrier. But they weren’t a good match for the open space. The fog was thin here. Knowing this, the raven butterflies disappeared into the dark night forest, hoping that their prey would leave the barrier and go to a better hunting ground.