138-Go out to the forest

 We decided to go to the forest near the village to disguise the procurement of lumber.
 The rest of the group was almost the same as when we were exploring the labyrinth.

Let's go out! Wow, this is so much fun!
"I want to stay in bed and warm.
It's so warm today! It's so warm today! It's so warm and sunny.
"It's really a luxury not to leave the house at such times.

 It's really a luxury not to leave the house when it's like that..." The ones who are talking to each other in resonant voices are Tinya and Mia, who have become good friends.
 They have been given permission to go out by grandpa Eugen, who acts as their teacher, since they have finished their spellbooks.

 The girl, dressed in a yellow one-piece dress, stretched out her hand happily to block the sunlight.
 Perhaps it's because we're in the second half of March, but as Mia said, today the sky is blue and spring-like.

"I'm here!

 Yoru and Kuu were also in a good mood, walking beside me with their kappa, Kakko.
 Yoru and Kuu were in a good mood, walking close together with Kappa, Kacchan.
 I put my hand on each of their shoulders and we walked along in a connected line.

 It is said that Kacchan is basically timid, so the two animals protect her by holding her firmly.
 They look like they are playing with trains unintentionally, which is quite adorable.

Hey, are you okay?
Excuse me, sir.

 Perhaps because the area around the forest had not been cleared, there were more bumps underfoot, making it difficult to walk.
 When Paula stepped on a stone and stumbled, I gave her a hand and she smiled happily.

 She lightly squeezed my fingers, so I kept my hand in hers.
 I knew that Paula, with her advanced level, would probably not be able to collapse her torso over a stone.

 I know that, but I still lend a hand, and Paula doesn't dare to say anything.
 It's a really nice day today.

 The red and blue slimes seem to be playing with each other, taking turns bouncing on top of each other.
 If they were the same color, they might have disappeared, but I'm relieved that they didn't.

 As I casually turned my head to look, I saw Mr. Etan, who was walking in front of us, staring at us with expressionless eyes.
 I was scared.

Did you write the letter, Mr. Etan?

 As soon as I asked, Etan's face, which had been shrouded in darkness, suddenly lit up.
 The arboreal man, with the expression of a dreamy maiden, reported to me in a buoyant voice.

I hope you get it soon. I hope it arrives soon.
"Yes, I hope it arrives soon.

 This outing to the forest had another purpose.
 In light of the recent shortage of manpower in the underground labyrinth, it was an urgent matter to recruit more.
 Therefore, it was suggested that Etan's childhood friend should come to the village.

 The letter that was just discussed was for that purpose.

 The Dragon Arm Forest, located a short distance from the village, was a vast area that occupied half of the eastern side of the continent and was also the home of the tree race.
 It was also famous for its demon pools.

It is also famous for its magical element pools. ...... It's surprisingly bright.

 The trees are so dense that even in the daytime it is dimly lit.
 Deep thickets covered the area, and the voices of eerie demons echoed in the air.

 That was the image I had in my mind, but what I saw before me was an unexpected landscape.
 The trees were neatly spaced, and there were no conspicuous clumps of underbrush.
 There were no fallen trees in sight, and the sun shining through the trees created a beautiful lace pattern on the ground.

 It was truly a peaceful view of the forest.
 I was wrong, but Mr. Etan easily explained the reason.

The magic element is very thin in this area. You won't find any troublesome demons here.

 Well, if you think about it, there is no way you would build a village near such a dangerous place.
 Even in the game, there were only simple quests near the entrance to the forest.
 As we walked, I heard that the people of the arboreal race patrolled such a place where the magical element was thin, and took care of it so that it would not be ruined.

There's an open area a little further in, let's take a rest there. It's a good place to put some things.

 As Mr. Etan had said, there was an empty space.
 From the number of old stumps lining the path, it seemed that the sky had once been covered with branches of trees.
 But now it was a pleasant square filled with clean air and dazzling light.

 At the far end of the square, you can even see a spring filled with quiet water.
 It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a perfect resting place.

It's been a long time since I've been here! It's so relaxing.

 Mia stretched out, and I asked the former inhabitant of this forest a question that came to mind.

"Could this stump be?
"Yes, it's the remains of a tree that was cut down for the village of beginnings.

 When I asked him about the details, he told me that the village chief had personally gone to the forest to negotiate with the tree people.
 As a result, Mr. Etan also helped to develop the village.
 This background was never mentioned in the game, so it was quite refreshing.

 It seems that through the logging site, Etan and the tree-huggers got to know each other and had a good time.
 That is, until the tragic incident that occurred last year.

 On the flat ground in the center of the plaza, I piled up the logs I had taken from the item list.
 These are lumber from the eighth and tenth floors of the underground labyrinth.
 It's very troublesome, but I plan to have them carried from here when I use them in the village.
 It would be too suspicious to suddenly bring logs from the middle of nowhere.

Now that I'm done with my business, what's next?
"Okay, it's my turn. Oh, there it is. It's this tree.

 Ethan ran up to a tree by the fountain and held up his hand happily.
 It was rather large, but he could not tell the difference between it and the other trees around it.
 However, it seemed to be a very important tree for the tree people.

 Etan hung his head at the base of the tree and attached his head to the trunk.
 Then, the green leaves and stems in his hair started to move without wind, and became entangled in the thick trunk.
 The next moment, the middle of the trunk opened noiselessly from side to side, and a large hollow suddenly appeared.


 The little ones, who had been spinning around the stump for no reason, jumped up with their eyes wide open at the sudden change.
 They climbed on top of the stump and squeezed together around Kacchan.

"Oh, I remember this tree. "Oh, I remember this tree. You put letters in it, right?
I remember this tree. The tree can't read letters. It's stupid.
No, it's not stupid! It's a different person who reads the letters!

 Smiling at their noise, Mr. Ethan gently placed the letter in the tree's hollow.

This is just a storage place. It's just a storage place, the person who manages the place goes around and collects the letters on a regular basis.
"I see, so it's safe because only arboreal people can open it.
"That's an interesting system.

 While Paula and I were admiring the letter, Mr. Etan continued to pull out another letter.
 On the front of the letter, there were a number of marks that looked as if they had been scratched by fingernails, making it difficult to tell what was written on it at first glance.
 At first glance, I couldn't make out what it said, but the nail-shaped letters were so unique that I immediately thought of the sender's name.

"Is that Heimo's letter?
"Yes, he asked me to send it along.

 The beastmen and the arboreals had been in contact for a long time, and they would deliver letters to the Dragon's Back Range if you asked them to.
 Etan put the two letters in his cloak and pressed his forehead against the trunk again.
 Immediately the surface of the tree moved and the hollow disappeared as if nothing had happened.

"Okay, that's it.
"What, no more business?

 Behind Mia's disappointed voice, Tinya was lying on the sunny grass, yawning.
 Before I knew it, the little ones were playing enthusiastically with each other on the stump.

 I looked up at the clear sky once more, seeing everyone enjoying themselves.
 It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.
 I looked next to me and saw Paula sitting on a stump looking at me with a small smile on her face.

"Well, I guess we'd better slow down.

 On the way home, after a lot of fun and a good meal.

 I was a little curious, so I asked Mr. Etan.

Did you encounter the herd of big-toothed cats further into the forest?
Yes, that's right.

 Last year, Mr. Etan and Emma, the village chief's daughter, were attacked by a large number of demons in this forest.
 Mr. Etan barely escaped, but he was badly injured, and Emma is still missing.
 Mr. Etan's lovely face instantly clouded over as he remembered the incident.

Why did you go so far into the woods?
"Well, I needed some herbs and I was going to ...... get them.
What's wrong?
I'm sorry, I can't remember. I'm sorry, I don't remember. I don't know why I tried to go that deep into the .........

 Mr. Etan pondered bitterly and let out a few words.

I think there was another person there at that time. ......