"Mr. Liddy, ......?
In my surprise, I had called out Mr. Liddy's name. It would have been more convenient if we hadn't met, but it was too late.
Ms. Liddy also called out my name in a rather loud voice. Her long slit eyes widened to a degree I hadn't seen before during my stay, indicating her surprise.
"Do you two know each other?
Marius asked, making no secret of his interest. The way he asks, it's not like Marius is guiding him. He's not smirking.
"Well, yeah, I've done some work for him before.
There was no need to hide it, so I answered honestly. Ms. Liddy's face is back to her normal cool self, and she nods silently. But she's probably a little embarrassed.
I see. I see. You have a naive face and can't seem to put yourself in a corner.
"Oh, no, you don't.
Marius says with a slight grin. It's obvious that he has found a new toy. I can barely reply, trying my best to keep my current position intact.
"So, I guess I don't need to introduce myself, but she's my escort. Your mission is to bring her safely to the deepest part of the cave.
"Yes, sir. I will protect her with my life.
Marius and I have a polite exchange. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed because we know each other.
"I'm reassured that you'll be guarding me, Eizo-san. I'll be counting on you.
"Yes, I'll leave it to you.
Whether or not she knew how embarrassed I was, Liddy said with a smile that made me feel like a flower was blooming.
Even though I was a guard, there were soldiers around me, and I heard that there were not many ferocious beasts, so it was rather easy to get to the cave. Even so, we kept a minimum of vigilance so that we could always have a spear at hand.
Eventually, the forest breaks up and a meadow spreads out. Over there is a mountain that doesn't look very high, but there is probably a cave at the foot of it. A soldier who was a little ahead of us found the trail where the main army had passed, and we followed it.
Most of the beasts must have gone elsewhere, since people had passed through. We were outnumbered, but still, not many beasts would dare to attack us.
Soon, we saw a cavern with a gaping mouth, and about ten soldiers gathered in front of it, guarding the entrance. The others seemed to have already entered the cave.
Then we'll go inside too.
A man who seemed to be the captain of the remaining ten men said to us. We nodded our heads in agreement. Marius and his bodyguards are staying here, or rather, they are not going to go inside and take command. I'm sure they'll go in if the need arises, though.
One of them moved the fire from the campfire by the entrance to a torch to light it. Perhaps the advance party had cleared the area, but we did not come across anything even after half an hour.
It's so deep.
I muttered to myself.
'Yeah, it's pretty deep. I went to the deepest part once yesterday, and it would have taken me about an hour to get there without any obstacles.
That would make it less than four kilometers. Yes, it is deep. There were very few branches, and the advance party had set up torches on the right side of the path, so we were lucky not to get lost.
The only thing that worries me about using lights in a place like this is oxygen, but it seems to have been burning for a long time, so there must be places where air goes in and out. I don't feel any wind, so I am still worried.
The longer it burns, the more likely it is that stagnant magic will build up. It is said that when the stagnant magic exceeds a certain level, demons will spring up, but the details are not known.
Liddy gave us an explanation. The Kuro Forest has a lot of demonic power, but it's not the only place where demons appear naturally.
I can understand why the Kuro Forest has a lot of magic, but demons rarely appear. However, you might want to ask Samija about the existence of the cave, though I thought she would never say. You don't want them to just pop up out of nowhere one day.
A little further on, we heard a muffled metallic sound. In this situation, it must be the sound of battle. It's hard to tell if it's far away or close because it's probably reverberating.
Speaking of which, we've reached the far end, didn't we finish it yesterday?
I ask the captain as I walk hurriedly. The reason why I don't run is because when I get there, I'm not in the best condition.
"Yeah. Yeah, there's a strong one. We decided to retreat just in case.
"I see. Why are we going today?
The demons won't stop sprouting if we don't defeat it, but the new recruits just can't do it. The villagers here say they know how to defeat it, so we're bringing them along now.
I don't want to treat Liddy-san like an object, but it's like carrying the explosives needed to blow up the enemy base deep into the enemy base. Once that's decided, we just have to get them safely to the back.
We trudged on toward the sound of the battle, which was getting louder and louder.