Chapter 4-38 : Looking For An Exit Ⅱ (part 1)
Sleeping in a Floating Tent is quite comfortable, but even so, Iris and Kate didn’t get enough sleep probably because of the anxiety of being trapped in the cave.
As soon as they woke up, they shook their heads which felt somewhat heavy.
Iris and Kate then woke up Nord who was sleeping in the other tent, and then the three of them had breakfast before they continued exploring the cave.
The path was hard to walk just like yesterday but fortunately, they had not found any forksyet, so they didn’t have to worry about where they should go.
They sometimes found gaps or holes in the wall as they walked but they were too small for them to pass through. Even if one of them was connected to the outside, there would be no point if they couldn’t pass through.
They thought they were lucky that they had a clear path to follow and they didn’t have to argue with each other, but it only lasted until they found a fork at noon that day.
「The path branches… Which one should we choose?」(Iris)
「Whichever we choose, it will be hard to pass through.」(Kate)
In front of them, there were three narrow paths that humans could barely pass through.
Moreover, whichever path they choose, there were holes that were wide enough to put one’s feet in the ground, making it even more difficult to walk. They needed to be very careful not to stick their feet into the holes as they walked.
「There’s no point in thinking since we don’t know where any of them leads. Let’s proceed in order. If we find a dead end, we can go back and choose another one.」(Nord)
Iris let out a deep sigh as she imagined the difficulties they would encounter along the way.
Their exploration didn’t progress much because the path was difficult to walk. If they found a dead end and had to turn back, they would definitely be even more tired both mentally and physically. Still, they had no choice but to keep going.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the fourth day, their stress level began to reach its peak. They started to think that there was no point in exploring the cave aimlessly.
Suddenly, Kurumi, who had just been clinging to Iris’ backpack without doing anything to save energy, started to move and growled.
「Ah… What’s wrong, Kurumi…? Are you hungry…?」(Iris)
「Iris, think about it for a second! It must be Store Owner-san!」(Kate)
Iris started to lose focus from exhaustion, so Kate shouted at her and grabbed her hand to make her stop walking.
Kurumi then jumped off Iris’ bag, landed on the ground, and nodded at Kate as if to affirm that she was Sarasa.
After looking at Iris, Kate, and Nord’s tired faces, Kurumi began to write on the ground.
『Are you guys okay?』(Kurumi)
「Thanks to these Heat Proof Coats, we can endure the heat. We haven’t encountered any monsters yet, so we didn’t have to fight. But…」(Kate)
Iris and Kate once lived in a mansion, but they had been living in a harsh environment since they became Collectors and started working in the forest.
Still, because they haven’t been Collectors for a long time, they were not used to working in a tough place like a Salamander’s cave.
The Salamander subjugation mission a while ago was tough, but they had Sarasa with them back then, so they felt a great sense of security.
However, this time, Sarasa was not with them. They could still communicate with Sarasa through Kurumi, but they wouldn’t be able to rely on her when they had to fight monsters.
They couldn’t rely on Nord either because he was the person they were protecting.
In addition to the uncertainty about being able to find an exit or not, they were under a lot of stress. They were more tired mentally than physically.
On the other hand, Nord was more tired physically than mentally.
His physical strength exhausted faster than Iris and Kate’s because he wasn’t wearing a high-quality Heat Proof Coat like they were. However, he had been in a much worse environment and had experienced falling into a more critical situation than this in his career as a researcher who studies monsters, so he was less worried than Iris and Kate about their current situation.
「Sarasa-kun, we have a problem. In order to produce water from the Spring Water Bottle and keep our Heat Proof Coats working, we need a lot of magical power. We will be doomed if we run out of magical power. Do you have any suggestions?」(Nord)
In response to Nord’s question, Kurumi tilted her head for a moment and wrote on the ground.
『I don’t think you have to worry about that. Iris and Kate have quite a lot of magical power so they should have no problem with that. Moreover, they’re wearing Heat Proof Coats I made which are far more efficient in magical power consumption than normal Heat Proof Coats.』(Kurumi)
「I thought we barely had enough magical power…」(Kate)
『That’s not true. You should have more confidence in the amount of magical power you have. As long as you don’t use the orange Spring Water Bottle too much, you’ll be fine.』(Kurumi)
After reading what Kurumi wrote on the ground, Iris and Kate looked at each other and let out a long sigh of relief.
「We haven’t used the orange Spring Water Bottle even once. We have only been using the white one so far.」(Iris)
『You can use the orange one to produce sweet water at least a cup a day. You will need sugar.』(Kurumi)
Drinking something sweet can refresh your mind somehow. That’s why she included an orange Spring Water Bottle in the emergency box.
「But Spring Water Bottles are artifacts that require a lot of magical power, right? Are we really going to be okay if we use the orange one regularly?」(Iris)
『I made those bottles. Just like the Heat Proof Coats you are wearing, both of the orange and white Spring Water Bottles you have don’t require as much magical power as normal Spring Water Bottles.』(Kurumi)
「So they are more efficient than normal ones? I heard that the magical power efficiency of artifacts varies depending on the maker. As expected from a disciple of a master-class alchemist!」(Kate)
『By the way, it’s a bit of a waste but you can use monster materials as fuel to use artifacts in case of emergency.』(Kurumi)
Normally, you use your magical power or magic stones to operate artifacts, but actually, you can also use monster materials that contain magical power such as the fangs of Ice Fang Bats and Salamander’s scales.
However, the efficiency is terrible. It’s worse than using magic stones. Moreover, monster materials that contain magical power are not cheap. It would be a waste of money if you used them as fuel for artifacts.
That’s why people normally use their own magical power or magic stones since they are way cheaper.
「Alright. We’ll keep that in mind. We can’t sell expensive materials if we can’t get out of here anyway. Hahaha!」(Nord)
「Oh, come on! That’s not funny!」(Iris)