Chapter 3-11 : Investigation Ⅲ
After we climbed the volcano for another hour while avoiding places where steam is rising, we found a huge reddish-brown lizard about one and a half meters from its head to the tip of its tail. Its torso was bigger than a human adult’s, and its body was covered with rugged, hard scales.
It doesn’t notice us because we are observing it from a distance, and from its slow movements, I don’t think it’s watchful of its surroundings.
「That’s a freaking big lizard… Sarasa-chan, do you know what that is?」(Andre)
「That’s a Lava Lizard. They’re also called “Pseudo Salamanders”. It is said that they can swim in lava, but…」(Sarasa)
「No, no. They’re indeed called Lava Lizards but they don’t swim in lava. It’s just something people like to believe… Probably.」(Sarasa)
I shook my head when Andre-san looked at me with a surprised face.
There are some ponds with reddish hot water in a volcanic area like this, so my expectation is that people saw it wrong. They thought that the lizards were swimming in lava, but actually, they were swimming in those ponds.
Still, they have a strong resistance to heat. They can swim in boiling water like it’s nothing, and they’re also quite resistant to fire magic.
On the contrary, they are extremely weak against the cold. They can’t even move at the temperature of early spring. In other words, only a place where the ground is warm all year round like this is a suitable environment for them to live in.
「Store Owner-dono, I think the Hellfire Grizzlies who lived here were chased out by those lizards.」(Iris)
「Hmm… Their staple food is flame stones just like Hellfire Grizzlies, so yeah, that’s possible.」(Sarasa)
「Are those lizards very strong?」(Kate)
「Actually, they’re not that strong but they have hard scales that even Hellfire Grizzlies’ claws can’t scratch. On top of that, they can spit fire and have stronger heat resistance than Hellfire Grizzlies. Also, they can swim in hot water ponds and eat flame stones in the ponds unlike Hellfire Grizzlies.」(Sarasa)
「In other words, the lizards can eat flame stones from both the ground and the ponds while the bears can only eat the ones on the ground, right?」(Iris)
「So the bears lost the competition for food and went on a frenzy?」(Kate)
「Yes. Maybe that’s what happened.」(Sarasa)
The small number of flame stones we found along the way strengthened my guess.
Perhaps the population of Lava Lizards here has increased drastically for some reason, and that’s why the Hellfire Grizzlies lost.
「So… Is our investigation finished?」(Gil)
When Gil-san asked that, Andre-san replied with a nod.
「In conclusion, the reason why the Hellfire Grizzlies went into a frenzy is because they lost the competition for food against the Lava Lizards.」(Andre)
「Yes, and the chance that they will attack the village again is quite low since they are gone. We haven’t found a single Hellfire Grizzly here. Looks like I won’t be able to get any more Hellfire Grizzly materials, but that’s okay.」(Sarasa)
This Great Sea of Trees is enormous, so there might be another Hellfire Grizzly habitat somewhere, but I don’t think I will go look for it just to get materials from them.
「So our job is over? But, Store Owner-dono, we haven’t gone to the summit yet.」(Iris)
「No, we better not go there.」(Sarasa)
「Do you know why Lava Lizards are also called “Pseudo Salamander”?」(Sarasa)
「Umm… Because they are resistant to heat and can spit flame just like Salamanders?」(Iris)
「Not only that. It’s also because they have a similar habitat.」(Sarasa)
Whether they are in a complementary relationship or it’s just a coincidence, Lava Lizards and Salamanders are often spotted in the same area.
「So, if we go higher, we might encounter a Salamander?」(Iris)
「I see. But, Store Owner-dono, you’re strong. You can defeat them, right?」(Iris)
「I don’t think so. At least, it’s impossible without any preparation.」(Sarasa)
Perhaps I can defeat them if I wear armor that can withstand their fire breath and bring some disposable artifacts that can help me fight them, but… I don’t know. I’m not sure.
The book I read only said that Salamanders are strong monsters, but it didn’t say exactly how strong they are, so I can’t just say that I can kill them easily.
「I’ve never fought a Salamander before and I don’t know much about them. I might ask my master about them later.」(Sarasa)
When I said that, Iris-san waved her hands a little flusteredly.
「I-It’s not that I want you to kill them. I’m just curious if a strong person like you can beat them or not…」(Iris)
「By the way, Store Owner-san, is there a possibility that they will attack our village just like the Hellfire Grizzlies?」(Kate)
「I don’t think so. Salamanders don’t usually leave their territory. Unless this volcano has a huge eruption and the lava flows all the way to our village, they will never come to our village.」(Sarasa)
「If that happens, the lava will swallow our village before we can even do something about the Salamanders! Hahaha!」(Andre)
「Oi, Andre, that’s not a laughing matter.」(Gray)
Gray-san frowned at Andre-san who made too dark of a joke.
「I’m sorry, but there’s no point in worrying about that. Sarasa-chan, you can use detection magic, right? Can you tell if there are Salamanders up there?」(Andre)
「I feel a strong reaction, but I’m not sure if it’s a Salamander or not. Even if it’s not, there’s no doubt that it is a strong monster. That’s why we better not go any higher.」(Sarasa)
「I see. Well, we can’t risk our lives here, so I think we should go back. Any objections?」(Andre)
「No. How about you girls?」(Gray)
When Gray-san asked Iris-san and Kate-san, Iris-san thought for a moment.
「Umm, we have no objection either, but… Since we’ve come this far, at least I want to hunt some Lava Lizards before we go down.」(Iris)
「She’s right. It took us a long time to climb up to this point but all we have found so far are just some small flame stones.」(Kate)
「Come to think of it, you’re right… Sarasa-chan, do you mind if we stay a bit longer to hunt the lizards?」(Andre)
We didn’t find many flame stones along the way, so I understand their feeling. Besides, I might need materials from Lava Lizards in the future.
「I don’t mind, but the problem is whether you can hunt them safely or not. None of you guys have ever hunted Lava Lizards, right?」(Sarasa)
「Of course. This is the first time we have seen such a big lizard. Right, Kate?」(Iris)
「Same. We have never been on this volcano before.」(Andre)
「Alright. I will show you how to kill them, so please pay attention.」(Sarasa)
I pointed to the Lava Lizard that we have been observing for a while.
「First of all, you need to be careful with their fire breath and tail attack.」(Sarasa)
Even though their tails look weak and squirmy, their tail attack is as dangerous as their fire breath. One swing of their tails is powerful enough to break an adult’s leg, so attacking them from behind is quite risky.
「Their claws are very sharp and can even tear Hellfire Grizzlies’ thick skin easily. However, they will only use their claws when their enemies are not able to move, for example, when they broke your legs with their tail attack. They have a habit of luring their enemies to muddy places so that their enemies have difficulty moving, so please remember not to chase them too far and always pay attention to your footing.」(Sarasa)
The safest way to kill them is to use a long-range magic attack or a long weapon such as a spear, but unfortunately, we all use swords as our main weapon except Kate-san.
There’s nothing wrong with swords. You can still kill them with a sword. It’s just that swords are not suitable to be used for fighting Lava Lizards.
I can use my spells, but I want to demonstrate to the others how to kill them with a sword.
「One thing that you should know before you fight them is that the scales on their back are hard but the ones on the stomach are not. You can aim for the stomach from the side, or you can find a way to flip them over and stab their stomach from above.」(Sarasa)
「That sounds hard to do… Are their scales really that hard?」(Andre)
「Yes, you won’t be able to cut them through the hard scales with a sword.」(Sarasa)
As I said that, I looked at the Lava Lizard and prepared my sword.
「Alright, first, I will attack its hard scales to show you how hard they are. After that, I will show you how to properly kill it.」(Sarasa)
Right after I said that, I dashed toward the lizard.
The Lava Lizard noticed my presence and turned its head toward me, but when it was about to release a fire breath, I jumped into the air and swung my sword vertically at its neck that was covered with hard scales.
Before I realized it, I ‘accidentally’ cut its head off…