Chapter 5-19 : Snowy Mountain Ⅰ (part 1)
After the preparation was completed, Iris-san, Kate-san, Lorea-chan, and I gathered in front of my store.
We are wearing the winter clothes I made in the last few days.
Because I used sheep fur to make most of the winter gear, and because the transmutation process made the fur more fluffy, we looked all white except for our faces. I think the people who see us from afar would think that we were sheep.
I could have dyed the fur, but I decided not to because I thought that we might be able to use these white fluffy winter clothes for camouflage to hide in the snow in case we were chased by monsters.
The only one who wasn’t in white was Kurumi.
Since she is a Homunculus that has stronger resistance against extreme temperatures than humans, I didn’t make her any winter clothes.
By the way, Kurumi will be by Lorea-chan’s side all the time as her escort to protect her while we are working.
「Guys, are you ready to go?」(Sarasa)
「I’m good to go!」(Lorea)
Everyone replied to me energetically.
「Alright. Before we go, there’s something I need to confirm.」(Sarasa)
I turned my gaze to Lorea-chan and looked at her with a serious face.
「Lorea-chan, did your parents really allow you to go with me?」(Sarasa)
「Yeah. I’ve gotten their permission to go with you. I told them that I would be gone until spring just in case.」(Lorea)
「I see. I don’t think we will be staying on the snowy mountain until spring… Probably.」(Sarasa)
「Store Owner-san, you should be more certain.」(Kate)
「Well, we don’t know what will happen on the snowy mountain. The chance we’ll have to stay until spring is low, but it’s not zero…」(Sarasa)
I hope everything will be going smoothly so that we can return home as soon as possible.
「Lorea-chan, Daruna-san didn’t say anything when you told him that you would be gone until spring?」(Sarasa)
「He was a little surprised, but he thought that I would be fine as long as I’m with you.」(Lorea)
「Ughh… I’m happy that your dad trusts me, but it gives me a lot of pressure…」(Sarasa)
「Store Owner-dono, you don’t have to worry too much. We should be fine. After all, we’re not going with a researcher like Nord-san this time! Hahaha! Ha…」(Iris)
After making that joke, Iris-san glanced at me and fell silent all of a sudden.
「We should be fine… right?」(Iris)
「Hey, it’s true that I do experiments sometimes, but I’m not Nord-san, okay!?」(Sarasa)
「Don’t worry, Iris, she won’t do anything reckless as long as Lorea is with us.」(Kate)
「You’re right. Lorea is truly our lifeline.」(Iris)
「I said I’m not Nord-san! Geez! Enough joking and let’s start moving, shall we?」(Sarasa)
I let out a heavy sigh and started walking, leading the three to the forest.
◇ ◇ ◇
A few days after walking through the forest, we finally reached the mountains.
Thanks to Lorea-chan’s delicious meals, we were able to keep walking without much stress.
「So far so good~」(Iris)
「Yeah, but it’s just the beginning.」(Sarasa)
「The real deal starts from here, huh?」(Iris)
「To be exact, it will start when we cross this mountain and get to the next mountain which is the location where we can find Misanon Roots.」(Sarasa)
Our destination is much further north than the mountain which was once inhabited by the Salamander we had defeated, so we still have quite a long way to go.
The area around here has been snowing since early fall, so the snow is kinda thick, but thanks to the winter boots I made, we don’t have a problem walking on the snow.
However, I’m still worried about Lorea-chan.
「Lorea-chan, let me know if you’re tired, okay?」(Sarasa)
「Don’t worry. I’m not tired at all. I’ve been practicing my physical strength after all.」(Lorea)
Now that she mentions it, when she still worked at her family’s general store, she sometimes helped her neighbors work in their fields in exchange for some crops, so her stamina is different from children who grew up in the city.
Since she started working at my store, she rarely does farm work, but recently, she has been training with Iris-san and Kate-san so that she has enough stamina and physical strength to keep up with us.
「I see. But remember not to overstrain yourself, okay?」(Sarasa)
「Iris-san, Kate-san, how about you? Are you tired?」(Sarasa)
When I asked them a bit worried, they both smirked at me as if telling me that my worry was unnecessary.
「Store Owner-dono, you know how tough we are, right?」(Iris)
「We work in this forest almost every day, so walking all day long here is nothing to us. You don’t have to worry about us.」(Kate)
Now I feel stupid for asking them that question.
They indeed work in this forest almost every day. You can say that this forest is their workplace.
Still, I was worried about them because they had been fighting monsters that tried to attack us along the way.
Moreover, they have more luggage than Lorea-chan and I.
「Both of you have been carrying heavy luggage while walking and fighting monsters. Of course, I’m worried about you.」(Sarasa)
「Store Owner-dono, you’re so kind. Thank you for your concern, but we’re really fine.」(Iris)
「That’s right. Besides, there are not many active monsters in this season, and the monsters we have fought so far were weak, so we still have a lot of stamina.」(Kate)
Monsters in winter are not as active as they are in the warm season.
The number of encounters with monsters is small compared to when we went to this forest to hunt a Salamander a while ago.
Moreover, the monsters we have encountered so far were not strong monsters. Iris-san and Kate-san were able to kill them easily without my help.
Of course, we didn’t just throw away the monsters we defeated.
We butchered them so that Lorea-chan could cook the meat and I could use the other parts as alchemy materials.
「If you still have a lot of stamina, then that’s great because you will need it to climb this mountain.」(Sarasa)
When I said that and pointed my index finger to the top of the mountain, Iris-san, Kate-san, and Lorea-chan swallowed nervously at the same time.
「Climbing this mountain will be quite tough, so please don’t push yourself too hard and let me know if you’re tired.」(Sarasa)
「Good. Now let’s keep going!」(Sarasa)
After reminding everyone once again, I started walking up the mountain.