Outside the eastern section of the city walls is a huge forest covering more than the kingdom’s size in diameter. Every tree stands almost a hundred meters in height and their thickness varies in considerable size as well. The trees that had lived throughout a long period of time spread into the distance. While it seems that it stretches out far into the horizon, deeper into the heart of the forest is where the nation of a certain race called elves live.
It has been said that the elves' lifespan greatly differs from humans. The main reason for that is their natural amount of essence. Thanks to that, elves far surpasses other races in terms of magic and knowledge as well.
Elves have been known to isolate themselves from other races and chose to live within the center of the forest. It is a fact that nature itself is rich in essence which is probably one of the reasons why they chose to live in it. This also means that, in addition to their great natural essence, they also have access and utility over the forest's power which further enhances their advancement.
Though the elves had control over most of its resources, the forest far outstretched a whole country and while it is true that they lived at the heart of the forest, which probably holds the greatest amount of essence and resources, it is a hundred kilometers away from humans.
The point is, the forest is big enough for anyone other than elves to gather resources from. In the first place, no one has ever reached the elves' territory due to how deep into the forest they were. Moreover, monsters and other dangerous animals roam around. The deeper you are into the forest, the more likely the chance that you encounter one.
That said, around the entrance of the forest, you'll rarely encounter a monster and if ever you did, it would be one that sits on the lower level of the pyramid of monsters like goblins.
Incidentally, it is also the location of the flowers that we were tasked to gather for our quest.
Currently, we were walking towards the entrance of the forest. Alyss-san led in front while me and Raiz followed beside her. Lisa-san and Rion-san followed closely behind. Since this is a quest that we had taken as students, Lisa-san and Rion-san would only be watching from behind and also guarding in case something were to happen.
Considering the details of the quest, we’re only tasked to gather the required material which is a medicinal flower called Alyssia. Apparently, they were in season and can only be acquired once a year.
It must be due to the certain nature of the forest that flowers like this had special characteristics which allowed them to grow on specific occasions. Since the forest is dense, so is the amount of essence and because of that, it has developed its own special traits different from what is normal.
Which is why, despite this being only a gathering quest, we’ll still need to proceed with caution. It is also probably the reason why the quest required more than one person, especially for students and for important figures like Alyss-san, additional precaution is required.
Though this might be an easy task for experienced adventurers and veterans, it was a new experience for us students especially when we were just starting out as first years. In other words, we’re basically newbies both as students and in taking on quests.
Despite that, Alyss-san strode forward with cheerfulness while humming to herself. It made me think if she really understands our situation or if she’s normally carefree like that. The memory of what happened at the guild earlier resurfaced from my mind and made me anxious.
I also remembered Lisa-san sighing endlessly as we walked through the forest. I smiled wryly and just cheered her on in my mind. Please do your best...
Meanwhile, as I glanced around the area, I noticed that despite how dense the forest was, it still gave a clear view of the skies, sunlight seeping through the gaps of the trees. It was like a path was made. Because of that, it made traversing quite easy.
While taking a look around, my eyes landed on the sword hanging around Alyss-san’s waist. Although I wasn’t able to see the blade completely due to its expensive looking scabbard, the hilt of the sword was adorned with gold and intricate symbols, one of which I assumed belonging to the royal family.
“That is quite an important sword.” I said, staring at its shiny hilt and delicately looking scabbard. Alyss-san noticed my gaze and gently tapped her sword.
She looked at it and felt it with a warm smile. ”Yeah, it was a gift from my mother when I was training with her during my childhood.” She said while remembering what seemed like a good memory.
That means that she had been training before when she was younger which would explain how she became as strong as she is now. Earlier at the guild, she easily handled one of the drunkard adventurers who’s supposed to be experienced in the field. I wonder what would have happened had she used her sword instead? As someone who’s experienced fighting her before, I think she can manage even if those adventurers were sober.
Though given the circumstances back there, it’s really hard to tell since they were inside a tight and crowded place.
That said, she was still able to skillfully pin down one man who’s larger than her without even using her sword; just her pure skill. That alone made her worthy enough to be called strong.
“I’ve always kept it ever since I got it.” said Alyss-san. “So yeah, it’s really an important sword.”
Alyss-san looked down on the sword in brief silence then suddenly looked back at me with a playful smile. “That’s right!” she voiced out like she just remembered something. She pointed a finger at me while I tilted my head in wonder. “What was that earlier? You single-handedly defeated those adventurers in an instance without using any weapon, did you use any magic?”
Apparently, she was talking about how I handled those group of adventurers back at the guild. While it’s true that I did defeat them, I didn’t use magic or anything in particular. I just handled them the way I knew how to handle them. It’s clearly thanks to my memories of my past lives. Though it’s not like I could tell her that.
“I just trained really hard ever since I was a child.” I said.
“Why do I feel like you’re just avoiding the question... “ said Alyss-san as she peered closer to my face with both hands on her waist. “You also did the same when I asked you last time regarding the test. Do you really want to hide it that much?”
Even if I say that I have a set of memories from my past lives, which is where I learned how to fight... she probably won’t even believe it and it’s not something I could disclose easily after all.
“...It’s not like I’m hiding anything though.” I lied.
“That’s what someone says when they’re hiding something.”
While I ran out of reasons to convince Alyss-san who’s persistently doubting me, thankfully, she let me off the hook for now.
“Well, I think that’s enough messing around.” she chuckled. It seemed that she was just teasing me. I sighed in relief, knowing that my secret was still safe. Alyss-san looked around for a moment in thought then spoke her mind. “We’ve been walking around for a while and we still haven’t seen the flower.”
I looked around as well to check but as Alyss-san said, I also didn't see any signs of the flower we were looking for. All I see are large trees and rocks on the ground.
“It’s said that it should be around in this area but... “
Alyss-san started to worry as she pondered and double-checked the surroundings. Lisa-san and Rion-san stood behind in wait as they looked around as well. Though I’m sure that even if they had seen the flower, they wouldn’t tell us since it would defeat the point of us doing the quest. That was when I heard Raiz who had been awfully quiet called us.
“Is this the flower we’re looking for?” He asked as he pointed out from behind a large tree trunk.
Me and Alyss-san went over to look. We saw a group of flowers behind the trunk. The petals were as blue as the sky, blooming neatly onto the ground. It was mostly blue in color but when observed closer, they are also a variety of colors like white and pink. Even so, I’m sure it was all the same type of flower.
“This is it... !” Alyss-san said in excitement. “It’s the Alyssia flower we’ve been looking for.”
Based on the quest details, Alyssia flowers are a type of medicinal flower that only grows in certain areas within the forest once a year. Once it blooms, it can be picked up and processed into medicine.
While I don't know the exact way of how it works and how they process it, I’ve heard that Alyssia flower has a characteristic that can heal certain types of illnesses. Though it didn’t specify what, it had been known throughout the kingdom that the flower can cure and work on people who’ve been sick. It seemed that the principle of how it works is still unknown to most and the only reliable source of information are those who experienced it working.
As I stared at the Alyssia flowers that Alyss-san happily picked up, it made me ponder more about its traits.
For as long as I can remember, in this world, healing magic does not exist. Well, it does not exist on Earth as well since the concept of magic is just considered fantasy over there. Instead, it makes up for it with its advanced medical technologies and science. However, in this world neither one of those exist yet which is why back in my time here as the hero, many had suffered from illness and injuries especially during the war.
Well, in other words, something like restoring a broken limb, healing a wound, or curing an unknown illness is something far unimaginable for humans. Maybe the elves who’ve advanced in magic far ahead from others might’ve come up with something but that’s only my assumption. From my memories as the hero, something like healing is considered a holy magic meaning the only one that could possibly achieve something like that are Gods themselves.
Meanwhile, Alyss-san counted the flowers she got from her hands.
“Hm... we still need more. Though it looks like plenty, it’s still not enough.”
If I remember correctly, we need at least 20 Alyssia flowers to complete the quest. Any extra will be considered for an additional reward—in our case, points—or we could also just simply keep it.
Right now, we only have 14 in hand. Considering how we got that many in one place, it can’t be helped to think that the next one would fill up what we need. Alyss-san put away the flowers inside her shoulder bag.
I glanced at Raiz and asked him something, “How did you find it?”
I had noticed that he had been quiet for a while and the suddenly, he had already found what we’re looking for. I thought that he might’ve experienced this kind of thing so I asked.
Raiz scratched his head before speaking. “Well, back in my hometown, we actually grow our own flower field. It started out as my ancestors' hobby then it started growing into business until they had passed it on to succeeding generations. When I was young, I had been helping my parents tend to the field and they also taught me different things about flowers so I know quite a lot about them and how you find them in the wild.”
Raiz sounded a little bashful at the end that it was quite unusual for me. Is he perhaps embarrassed? Meanwhile, Alyss-san’s eyes gleamed and praised Raiz.
“That’s amazing! Good thing you came along or this would’ve been more difficult.”
At Alyss-san’s unexpected reaction, Raiz blushed and turned to the side. Hey, don’t act embarrassed like that... you're ruining my image of you.
Lisa-san was also surprised and nodded to herself like she just renewed her evaluation of Raiz. Huh...
Now that I think about it, aren’t I the only one who’s yet to give any contribution? I sighed anxiously in my mind.
Motivated, Alyss-san started running off to find some more flowers. “Then, let’s find more flowers so we can finish the quest. If we’re lucky, we might even get some extras then... “
Suddenly, I sharply looked to the direction to my right. I gripped my sword, ready to draw it and called out Alyss-san.
“Alyss-san, wait.” I said with a serious tone.
Alyss-san and the others noticed the change in atmosphere. While they wondered for a moment, their expression suddenly turned serious when they heard the rumbling sound of foliage.
There’s one on the right, and on the left as well, although that one’s still far.
Lisa-san sensed the trouble looming towards us and drew her sword. Rion-san did the same as well.
“Princess, please stay within the group.” Said Lisa-san as she went near Alyss-san, her sword pointed forward.
As expected, Alyss-san instantly understood the situation and stayed closed while drawing her sword. Raiz also did the same. My hands remain on the sword’s hilt, ready to draw on a moment’s notice.
Since I didn't bring any weapon when I came into the academy, I bought this sword from a weaponsmith earlier when we were walking down the streets. It’s actually quite cheap which is why I was able to buy it immediately. Though it might not compare to Alyss-san’s sword, as long as it can cut, I’m satisfied with it.
Although Alyss-san and the others had something to say or two when I was about to buy the sword, I bought it anyway. I thought that since I couldn't go unarmed when going through this forest, I might as well buy what I can.
And now it will come into use.
Suddenly, Lisa-san, who had been waiting with a serious expression, immediately tensed up. “This is... “
This is kinda bad. I thought.
Everyone else noticed as well and prepared themselves. Although you’ll rarely encounter any monsters around these parts, the possibility was never zero. And while it is only low-level monsters, it could be troublesome when they are grouped together like this.
My eyes darted towards different directions. The sound of rustling and a lot of footsteps entered our senses.