|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3629 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1810 words|
The morning after Mira departed towards the headquarters of the Fifty Bells Union, she decided to eat breakfast outside the wagon, like a picnic to mix things up a little. Once she was done, she climbed back into the wagon and took for the skies.
Mira had told Garuda to rest if needed, but since flying required around the same amount of effort as breathing for it, there was no need to rest at all. Flying continuously without a hitch like that, they had already covered half the trip, and they arrived at their destination ahead of schedule.
The trip had gone smoothly, and Mira used that free time to read some comics, or study more about summoning. It was a rather relaxing time for her.
The sun began setting without any important events happening, only a circular section peeking out of the horizon. As the sunset sky turned darker, the last slivers of light shone from the sun.
When the sun had set entirely, the moon filled the night with its light as Mira’s stomach began rumbling. Outside the window, Mira saw a tall cliff like a wall in her way, illuminated by the moon.
「Did we arrive already?」
Mira’s face peeked through the door leading to the driver’s seat. An imposing mountain range spread on both sides, with a sheer cliff impeding her route to the front. It formed a striking view, dark mountains accompanied with a starry sky behind them. It was the Four Treasures mountain range which surrounded her destination, the Four Seasons Forest.
According to her clock, the time was a couple of minutes past 7 pm. It was still relatively early, so Mira considered crossing it then, but she also thought they might find it strange for her to visit at night.
In the end, Mira let Garuda land on the shore of a lake near the foot of the mountain to spend the night there.
Summer had already started, but the night air still felt cold, the wind blowing down from the mountains caressing her like smooth silk. The next morning Mira, still half-asleep, went to wash her face in the lake reflecting the mountains like a mirror, which seemed to be embracing her all around.
After washing the remaining drowsiness away, Mira looked at the natural wall surrounding her, the tall and sheer cliffs that seemed about to release an avalanche shining white under the morning sun. They left a different impression from the one they gave off at night.
Mira turned around and headed back towards the wagon when she spotted three black lumps a distance away. After a closer look, they were Night Raiders, a type of tiger-like monster. They were nocturnal and hunted in packs, the Union had categorized them as C-rank due to their strength.
Looking around a bit more, Mira spotted the Holy Knight she left keeping guard. Its shield stood tall, and its sword was drenched in blood, proof that it had swiftly accomplished its duty without waking Mira up.
(He’s looking really reliable.)
Having witnessed the usefulness of the Holy Knight once again, 「Good job」 she said, fully aware it could not understand her, and sent it away.
When Mira was done eating breakfast and getting everything ready, she finally set her gaze on the peak of the mountains. The cliff was clad in clouds like mist, and further up there were traces of snow. The peak was higher than even the Abandoned City in the Sky, but Mira felt confident in the wagon. She was sure it would take her up there.
Mira climbed inside the wagon, peeked out the driver’s seat and summoned Garuda to take her all the way to the Forest of the Four Seasons.
As the wagon went up in altitude, Mira checked that the airtight seals were closed correctly in the way the manual described. That way, even at the altitude she was going to, the Thin Mist Grass would keep the air clean and she would not suffer from altitude sickness.
The cliffside seemed to move down at a quick rate as Mira looked out of the window, smiling brightly as if she was bidding farewell to a foe.
Around twenty minutes after she started her ascent, the wagon finally rose above the mountains, while Mira looked at the scenery outside with a triumphant look.
Seen from above like that, the mountain range with snow specks looked like it split into four, with a large basin in the center. It almost looked like the remains of a humongous giant that tried taking hold of the earth from space, only to leave its petrified hand and forearm there.
In the very middle of it all, surrounded by the steep mountains, there was an unusually colorful forest. That was the Forest of the Four Seasons where the Fifty Bells Union had its headquarters. But seen from above, Mira could not see a building like that, all she saw was a forest with a large lake in the middle.
Mira walked away from the window and spoke into a tube installed beside the door leading to the driver’s seat: 「Garuda, land on the shore of that lake.」 Her voice traveled perfectly through the tube and reached Garuda, who slowly began its descent towards the lake.
The forest trees soon filled the window, their treetops swaying from the air pressure of Garuda’s wings while multiple small animals dispersed towards all directions seeing the unexpected visitor.
The place Garuda chose for its landing was a small grassland devoid of trees between the forest and the large lake the size of a small village.
Once she was certain the wagon was on solid ground, Mira opened the door and stepped out, inhaling the fresh air and breathing slowly as she looked around the forest.
The Forest of the Four Seasons really made justice to its name. There were colorful plants in full bloom like in spring, others growing full of strong green leaves like in summer, fruits maturating like in fall, and others remaining as small buds in wait like during winter. They grew everywhere making the forest have barely any space for other things. To a point it looked chaotic, but the colors repeated everywhere created some form of cohesion in the forest’s appearance. In a way, it was the forest equivalent of a prose poem.
(This sight impresses me no matter how many times I come here.)
Beholding the Forest of the Four Seasons, Mira was filled with the same feelings as past times. Spirits then appeared from the lake, the sky, and the forest, surrounding Mira.
(Looks like a welcome, albeit not a warm one.)
The spirits Mira usually encountered in the forest always had a pleasant expression, given that Mira would help them every so often with random things they needed. But the dozens of spirits surrounding her now had a different look to them, their eyes like glass marbles had a sharp gaze like they were judging Mira, keeping as far away from her as they could, wary of getting closer.
Chimera Clauzen was still on the loose, and their main enemies, the Fifty Bells Union, had their headquarters in the forest. Taking that into account, it was not hard to imagine the spirits in the surrounding areas would be briefed about that group.
Then Mira, who had suddenly dropped out of the sky, was both an intruder and someone subject to suspicion. Mira was aware of that much, she knew they would clearly be wary of her, but Garuda could not stay still seeing its master held in such contempt.
The air seemed to freeze as the wind vanished, even the slight rustle of leaves stopping. The only noise that remained was that of Garuda’s thick claws like tree trunks digging into the ground.
It stood beside its master, ready to protect her as it held its wings spread wide while glaring around. The spirits gasped seeing how the air itself seemed to obey the creature’s commands and its overwhelming appearance.
「Garuda, they are on our side.」
Mira’s voice rang calm and composed amidst that stillness. After she said that, she struck her hands up towards Garuda, who calmed its imposing aura as if someone was returning a sword to the scabbard, and lowered its beak to let it rest on Mira’s hands. 「Don’t worry.」 Saying so, Mira sent Garuda away, also thinking that would help the spirits realize she was not trying to attack them.
When Garuda’s imposing figure vanished, the spirits seemed to calm down as the spiritual energy that was surrounding them softened. Mira looked around to make sure things were going well before she bowed towards the spirit that looked the strongest.
「I’m sorry for appearing out of the blue like this.」
Hearing Mira, the spirit took a step closer and bowed back to her.
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「Excuse our rudeness too, we rarely see visitors, you see.」
The spirit that appeared to be the head of the group looked like a long-haired apparition. She wore a white cloth, while her waist-long hair had a bright green color, like leaves under sunlight. Her facial features peeked out of that hair, while her voice sounded femenine, but with a deep timbre. She had lost the usual friendliness spirits held for humans.
Even if never exposed to human contact, spirits were amiable by nature, so hearing her brought the name of Chimera Clauzen up in Mira’s mind again. That was probably another effect of the group’s existence.
「Are you the leader of this group?」
「Indeed. That you can tell just by looking at me makes me think you aren’t just a common spellcaster.」
The green-haired spirit replied after Mira asked. When Mira heard that, she tilted her head, she could tell simply because she had seen bigger energy particles floating out of the spirit, so it was no big deal for her.
「First of all, I don’t mean you any harm. I heard the Fifty Bells Union’s headquarters were here, and I wanted to talk with them.」
From what she had seen so far, there were spirits there, but no human presence. The place looked like any random place in the middle of nowhere. The spirits seemed aware of that, but Mira still continued with her introduction and went straight to the point of her visit. When the spirits heard her, they started murmuring among themselves. They sounded disturbed as all their eyes focused on the green haired spirit, full of wariness.
「Where did you hear such a thing?」
「From someone I met in the Forest of Praying Children, they were called silver or blue-something. This is the letter of introduction they gave me.」
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