Chapter 2 – Part 1
The next day, Shin contacted Schnee via Mind Chat after breakfast.
“(…and so, I’m going to help them for a while. I’m sorry, but please take care of Hermie and the others.)”
“(Don’t be, we’re just waiting for the ship to reach port here. I doubt that the ship will be attacked again like yesterday after all.)”
Shin told Schnee that he was going to help Kanade and entrusted Hermie and the others to her. Even if they were subjected to an attack of similar magnitude, they had enough fighting power to withstand it, so he wasn’t particularly worried.
Shin ended the Mind Chat with Schnee and spoke to Kanade.
“Lady Kanade, about what we talked about yesterday…could you tell me the name of the herb you went looking for?”
“This? It’s called Dead Snake Grass. Depending on the concoction, it can become a potion, or so they say.”
Hearing the name of the herb, Shin was more and more confident that the situation could be just like the quest he remembered.
“…I apologize in advance for such a personal question, but could you tell me in detail what symptoms your sister has? Ever since I saw that medicinal herb, something was bothering me, and I finally remembered what it was. I might be able to help in curing your sister’s sickness.”
As Shin finished his sentence, Kanade and Karin looked at him with astonishment.
“I am nothing but thankful for such a proposal, but are you sure? We essentially fled from the main house, I doubt we can properly reward your assistance.”
“I realize this might seem suspicious, but there is nothing in particular that I want. A friend of mine lost her life because of a sickness, so I am weak to such circumstances.”
The shadow of Marino, Shin’s passed girlfriend, appeared in his mind. He also thought that he being too kind, but he couldn’t ignore a situation like this after all.
“I see….to be frank, we would grasp at any straw in our current situation. We gladly accept your offer.”
Maybe because she felt something in Shin’s expression, Kanade spoke about her sister’s symptoms after a few moments of silence.
Karin had probably felt how serious Shin’s expression was too, as she did not even try to stop Kanade.
A few minutes later, Kanade stopped talking. What Shin heard was extremely close to the quest he had remembered.
“I see…this is difficult for me to say, but if what I know is true, the medicinal herb you have will be of little use.”
“!? What do you mean?”
“Sir Shin, please do explain!!”
Shin calmed down the surprised women and proceeded to explain.
“Lady Kanade, you think that those leaves come from Dead Snake Grass, correct?”
“Indeed I do, but from your words, I suppose you mean that this is not the case?”
“I do not know if you have been deceived or the person who sold it to you did not know either. But that is Mimic Dead Snake Grass, not a medicinal herb but a poisonous one. If you doubt me, please have someone with the skill 【Appraisal】 examine it.”
“What did you say!?”
Yes, Dead Snake Grass was an herb used to make grade 4 potions, but Mimic Dead Snake Grass was nothing but a toxic herb, which would inflict the status ailment Poison III to anyone unfortunate enough to ingest it.
“The merchant who sold it to us said it was Dead Snake Grass, without a doubt.”
“The appearance is almost completely the same, after all. The base of the leaves, here, is colored purple, isn’t it? The real one is red though.”
Looking at the explanation displayed by 【Appraisal】, visible only to Shin, he explained the difference between Dead Snake Grass and its Mimic counterpart.
“How can this be…”
“Sir Shin. Do you have any idea where we can find a replacement?”
“I have some myself, but not enough to make medicine with. I could ask some acquaintances, but is it really not possible to find within Hinomoto? I heard that it should grow spontaneously near the peak of sacred mountain Fuji.”
Shin mentioned his game knowledge as if he had heard it from someone.
In the quest history page, one could find the locations items had been retrieved in as well.
As the geography was now different, most information was not useful anymore, but if the location corresponding to the original map was still there, there was still a chance.
However, Kanade’s answer was not a hopeful one.
“That is indeed so, however…”
“Is there a problem?”
“The peak of Mt. Fuji is a forbidding area, which does not allow human presence. It is shrouded by mist at all times, which sways the senses not only of humans but of monsters too. In olden times, many brave warriors challenged the peak, but none returned. Even now it is one of the most perilous zones of Hinomoto, where no one dares go to.”
Karin explained the current status of Mt. Fuji’s peak for Kanade. But when Shin had looked at the mountain he had seen the peak too, without any mist, so he felt somewhat doubtful.
“If from afar, looking at the peak is possible. No one knows the reason why though.”
Kanade answered while shaking her head when Shin revealed his doubts. Shin could not remember any quest corresponding to the situation the two had described.
“In any case, it seems that the only way of saving Lady Kanade’s sister is to go to Mt. Fuji. That mist you speak of intrigues me too, so I suggest we pass by it on our way back.”
“What are you saying now? To willingly go to a place none have ever returned from is pure folly. I am thankful for your concern about our circumstances, but do not be hasty. I do want my sister to heal, but I would never just send you to your death so easily.”
Shin’s casual proposal had prompted Kanade to stop him sternly. Her eyes showed how she couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
“I’ll try to go, and if it looks like things won’t work out, I’ll give up. If we could at least get rid of the mist we wouldn’t get lost. I will contact my acquaintances about it too of course.”
In the game era, the monsters on Mt. Fuji were around level 500. Their unique characteristic was that the level increased together with the altitude. The boss monster was a phoenix-type residing on the peak, Kagutsuchi.
This was an important monster, as it dropped an item essential to learn the skill 【Shiden – Kagutsuchi】, which Filma had used in the battle against the demon Adara.
At the very least, the typical monsters wouldn’t be a problem.
What Shin was concerned about was the presence of unique monsters such as the Skullface Lord, which he had encountered in the past at Wraith Plains. The situation was different now from that time, but as a phenomenon not present in the game era, it was still on his mind.
“Milady, I propose that we at least try to go there. From the battle on the ship, we clearly know that sir Shin’s fighting prowess is out of the ordinary. There might even be the chance to break through the mists.”
“Of course, I would be the first to request for his help if it was possible…but are you really sure? Your party’s companions are not with you now, are they?”
Kanade and Karin, who had traveled alone until now, knew well the dangers of adventuring solo.
Yuzuha cried as to protest against Kanade’s words. She might look like a baby fox, but her fighting capabilities were far above the average monster. In addition, Demon Foxes excelled in illusion magic. There was a high probability that she could do something about the mists said to sway human senses.
“I have my partner here, so I’m not really on my own. She might not look it, but she is pretty strong too.”
“Is that so? Well, if it is the partner of a formidable warrior such as you, I should not judge her by her youthful looks.”
Even while saying so, Kanade was eagerly stroking Yuzuha’s fur.
“By the way, when we were on the ship I remember she used a powerful magic spell. If I didn’t witness it with my own eyes, I would doubt that such an adorable creature could perform such a feat.”
Karin was just looking at Kanade at first, but probably lost to the temptation and started stroking Yuzuha too. Cute things were their weak point too it seemed.
The group left the cave and walked along the coast. After roughly an hour, they reached a small fishing village.
There they asked about their current location and the directions to Mt. Fuji, and once again departed on their journey to the sacred mountain.
“How is your condition, you two?”
Just after they lost sight of the village, Shin inquired to his companions.
“Nothing out of the ordinary. Rather, I must say I feel even more lively than usual.”
“I have nothing to report either. Is something the matter?”
Shin wondered if they were tired, as they had taken turns standing guard the night before, but the answers he received were very reassuring.
Looking at them, he didn’t feel they were putting up a facade either.
“Well, walking at this leisurely pace is nice too, but considering your lady sister’s sickness, I think we should speed up a bit. Judging from our battle on the ship, I don’t think either of you are average adventurers; if we raise our pace a little, we can shorten the travel time considerably.”
“You had seen through us, after all. Yes, while not as far removed as you are, neither I nor Karin are simple adventurers.”
“People such as I and Milady are called “Returned Ancestors” in Hinomoto. Sir Shin, I assume you are familiar with the term “Chosen Ones”?
As expected, they were both Chosen Ones.
When they introduced themselves to Shin they both mentioned to be rank C, but other than their levels, the weapons they equipped were of Legend grade.
They also carried equipment that required stats impossible to achieve only through level up, so he was sure they had to be Chosen Ones.
Judging from their speech and equipment, it was not difficult to imagine that they came from a household of high rank.
“You too must be a Returned Ancestor, I suppose. I have the ability to read others’ level and job type, but in your case the information I see does not match your actual abilities at all. For someone with your strength to be under level 200 sounds like a joke.”
Kanade could use 【Analyze】, apparently. Shin’s status was modified by skills, so for Kanade, who had seen the battle on the ship, it must have seemed unnatural.
“To tell the truth, there are skills that allow you to hide your status. In the guild of the country where I registered as an adventurer, I was told that there are few people of high level with an appearance close to mine. When appearance and actual ability do not match, in some cases unnecessary trouble occurs. That’s why I’m hiding it.”
Shin had until now taken part in the extermination of the irregular Skullface monster, the “Great Flood” at Balmel, Hermie’s rescue at the Church..all events that would attract a great deal of attention, so he wasn’t sure anymore that hiding his status served any real purpose.
“Indeed. An adventurer’s ability cannot be judged by appearance, but those who will judge a book by its cover can be found everywhere…”
“We are sometimes treated lightly as “just a woman and a kid” as well, so we understand how you must feel.”
“So you had a similar experience too lady Kanade.”
They looked like sisters with a wide age gap, after all. People probably thought that even if they could fight monsters, they could only defeat small ones.
“Just punishment was administered to anyone who acted improperly towards us. Mainly by Karin though.”
“It was troublesome to see how many uncouth people there can be.”
“I can imagine.”
From Kanade’s words, Shin had imagined that Karin wouldn’t keep quiet if someone had dared to look down on them.
His prediction seemed to have been correct; Karin looked sour as she was recalling such situations.
“By the way, are there guild branches in Hinomoto? It is completely separated from the mainland after all.”
Compared to the mainland, Hinomoto was just a small island country.
Shin was wondering how many branches the guilds had located in it. Kanade, as a good representative of one of the ruling houses of the country, answered after pondering for a few moments.
“Certainly there are. Hinomoto’s government structure however, is slightly different from countries; because of this, guilds are only present in large cities.”
“There are guild branches in the city at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Sir Shin, do you have business with them?”
“No, nothing in particular. If there are guilds, in case of necessity we could sell materials to obtain funds for our journey, so I wanted to make sure it was possible, that’s all.”
The reward Shin had obtained after Balmel’s “Great Flood” had been split with Schnee and the others, with everyone managing their part on their own. Shin was carrying a considerable amount, so there was no risk of finding himself without funds for the road.
There was always the possibility of sudden expenses though, so he wanted to know if there were guilds to change materials into money.
“Now that Shin’s doubt has been cleared, let us depart soon. Fortunately, the path is simple enough that we run little risk of losing our way.”
“Let’s go then.”
Kanade was in the lead, with Karin and Shin in tow. As expected of Chosen Ones, their running speed was faster than a horse’s.
As they could always see their destination, Mt. Fuji, in the worst case they would pass through the forest, but the relatively well-maintained road was naturally easier to run on.
Shin’s entourage of three thus kept running towards the mountain, while surprising passing travelers and carriages with their speed.