Chapter 5-21 : Encounter Ⅰ (part 1)
Kurumi’s keen sense of smell was very accurate.
All we needed to do was dig the spot she pointed at and we would find Misanon plants every time.
Thanks to her we have zero trouble collecting Misanon Roots.
Digging through the frozen ground took a bit of time, but the four of us managed to collect quite a lot of Misanon Roots in less than a day.
Now that we already had enough Misanon Roots to make a Hair Growth Agent for Prince Ferik, there would be no need for us to stay any longer in this cold winter mountain, so we decided to return home.
「Oh, no… Looks like we can’t just go home without facing any trouble…」(Sarasa)
「What’s wrong, Store Owner-dono? Did you feel something dangerous with your Sensing Magic?」(Iris)
It seems that we have entered the habitat of Giant Snow Centipedes before we realized it.
On the way here, we took a detour to look for a cave to avoid the blizzard a few days ago, so we didn’t pass this area, but we took the shortest path on the way back now. However, we didn’t realize that this area was the habitat of one of the most dangerous monsters in this kingdom.
Actually, I had a feeling that we might end up here since the areas around where Misanon plants grow were red zones according to Marley-san’s map.
The reaction that was caught by my Sensing Magic this time was clearly different from the ones I had sensed until now.
I could tell that it wasn’t an animal or a weak monster. It was a very strong monster for sure.
「It’s most likely a Giant Snow Centipede, and it’s heading here.」(Sarasa)
「Dammit! Do you think we can avoid it?」(Iris)
「We could run into the forest to hide, but as you can see, there are no trees here. We’re surrounded by this white landscape.」(Sarasa)
We are currently walking through a snowy field. It has a great view, honestly, but there are no trees for us to hide.
We can run without a problem on the snow thanks to the snow boots artifact I made, but Giant Snow Centipedes can slide across the snow really fast.
I don’t think we can escape from them even though Iris-san and I use body-strengthening magic to run while carrying Lorea-chan and Kate-san.
「So we have no choice but to fight, huh?」(Iris)
「ーOr we can dig the snow and hide beneath it until that monster passes.」(Kate)
「No, Kate-san, I don’t think it’s a good idea. If that giant centipede sensed us and attacked us, we would be done for. We wouldn’t be able to dodge since we were trapped in the snow.」(Sarasa)
「She’s right. That’s too risky. It’s much better to fight. Don’t worry, Kate. We have Store Owner-dono with us. There’s no way we will lose!」(Iris)
「I see. Yeah, you’re right!」(Kate)
Oh, please. Don’t expect too much from me. It only gives me pressure…
Well, I can fight, but fighting is not my forte. I’m an alchemist after all.
I will only fight if it’s necessary.
「I really hope we don’t need to fight it, but… Here it comes, guys.」(Sarasa)
I pointed my index finger to the small hill about a mile away from here.
There was something long and big sliding on that hill. There’s no doubt about it… It’s a Giant Snow Centipede.
Lorea-chan clung to my arm the moment she saw it.
「Sa, Sarasa-san…! Isn’t that too big for a centipede!?」(Lorea)
「That’s why they’re called ‘Giant’ Snow Centipedes. If they were small, no one would be scared of them because you could just kill them with insecticide or by stepping on them.」(Sarasa)
「That makes sense, but… Ugh… I didn’t expect it would be that big.」(Lorea)
While squinting her eyes, trying to see the giant centipede that was a mile away from us more clearly, Lorea-chan hugged my arm even stronger.
「No, Store Owner-san, Lorea is right. It’s too big! I think it’s bigger than the Salamander we fought a while ago.」(Kate)
Kate-san, who has the sharpest eyesight among us, confirmed that it was larger than the Salamander we fought.
I couldn’t tell exactly how big it was but I could tell that it looked just like a centipede.
It has a long body and many legs. It also has a pair of long antennae and strong-looking jaws.
It has a metallic body that shone in seven colors. Mostly green. It looks so flashy while moving on the pure white snowfield.
「It may be bigger, but it’s weaker than the Salamander.」(Sarasa)
「Are you sure? …Hold on… There are people surrounding that giant monster!」(Kate)
Just as Kate-san said, I could see small figures of people around the large feet of the giant centipede.
They seemed to be running away from the centipede.
There were some of them whose feet were buried in the snow. Perhaps because they were not wearing snow boot artifacts like us. However, they didn’t stop running.
They were not running fast, but they managed to dodge every attack from the giant centipede. They must have a lot of stamina.
「I wonder if they are Collectors.」(Kate)
「Most likely, but… I’m not sure.」(Sarasa)
The nearest village from this mountain is our village. However, the Collectors in our village are mostly taking a break, so I doubt they came from our village.
There are some other villages surrounding the Great Sea of Trees but they are not as close as Yok Village. I think they came from one of those villages.
However, what makes me curious about them is their number.
Normally, Collectors make a party with no more than six people, but there are clearly more than ten of them.
Collectors will make a party of more than ten people only when they want to subjugate strong monsters such as Salamanders.
Do they want to hunt Giant Snow Centipedes from the beginning?
No… I don’t think so…
Salamanders are good subjugation targets because their scales are precious alchemy materials that can be sold at a very high price.
Other than that, they sometimes harm people after they are carried away to nearby villages by the lava flow when the volcano where they live erupts. That’s one of the many reasons why people hunt them.
However, unlike Salamanders, Giant Snow Centipedes don’t have body parts that can be sold at a high price. They also don’t come down to human settlements and harm people.
In other words, you have no reason to hunt Giant Snow Centipedes unless you’re tired of living or want to face danger to challenge yourself.
Did those people come to collect Misanon Roots just like us?
Hmm, I think that’s the most possible reason I can think of.
「Oi, oi…! I think they’re approaching us!」(Iris)
For some reason, those people were running toward us with a Giant Snow Centipede chasing after them from behind.
As soon as they noticed our presence, they raised their hands and shouted at us.
「You there! Please, help us!!!」(man)