To the Mountain Where the Dragon Dwells
The Three Hour Walk to the Summit
“Maaan Kehma-san, Rokuko-san sure does love you huh.”
Oi, Wataru. Don’t say anything about that to Haku-san okay? Seriously, don’t. Like, not a peep.
Well, setting that aside, we began to ascend the mountain.
There was pretty much no trail to use at all, so we were just walking uphill and over the rocky terrain toward the summit. Even using my golem assist, it felt like I was going through one of those dreaded leg days. Talk about tiring.
“Oh yeah, I’ll say this so this isn’t misunderstood. I called us a subjugation group, but our goal is solely to prevent damage from happening to the village. We don’t have to defeat it.”
“I see. So in other words… Kehma-san will think of something!”
“Eh? Ah, yeah. Well, something like that.”
“Maaan, I didn’t even need to be here then huh!”
I had no clue why, but Wataru suddenly started acting like he could rely on me for stuff.
Though him not needing to be here is true.
“You can head back if you want.”
“No way! I have to see Kehma-san’s secret plan with my own two eyes!”
… Which is why this sucks. Oh well then. Guess I’ll have to think up a better way for this hero to not be a witness.
I can’t go with what we’d come up with in that meeting with Igni. Me coming up with a secret plan in time is a definite… probable… kind of… maybe… wish… Yeah.
“I’m getting pretty worn out here, can we take a break?”
I proposed a rest to everyone around halfway up the mountain.
“Kehma, we’ve not even been going for an hour… Well, I figured as much. You’re strong, but you have no endurance eh… oi, Wataru, carry him with this wood shoulder rack here.”
“Sure. Oh, hey, is that why you invited me?”
“Heeeh. Now that’s a luxurious way to use a Hero-sama, haha!”
“‘Course not, chief jokes a lot. Now Wataru, please.”
“Your village is so great, neither Kehma-san nor I get preferential treatment.”
Wataru was smiling. Was he an M? Maybe that trait’s why he supports women (Nerune).
With that, he started carrying me on his back like a stack of firewood. Aaah, so comfortable.
Gozoh, glancing over to me as I started to think about the preparatory meeting I’d had about this while I was being carried, sighed.
“You’re really just going to let him carry you, Kehma? Don’t you feel like you’ll lose something as an adventurer?”
“Eh? Gozoh, you’re the one that suggested it though? The slowest one among us was me anyway. To put it another way, this is the most efficient way we can travel. How logical. As expected of one of our village’s adventurers.”
“Seriously, Kehma. What’re you doing, having our strongest person do something like that… to be honest, I prepared that to carry back an injured or dead person.”
“That’s fine. We’ll just make it so that no one dies or gets injured, then I can do it on the way back too.”
“But the ladies, Ichika and Kuro, are walking…”
“Ahahaha, what’re ya sayin’ Gozoh? Isn’t slaves walkin’ beside their master the way of it? More like shouldn’t Goshujin-sama be on my back?”
Ichika spoke up, followed by Meat nodding in agreement.
Come to think of it, my party members are all slaves huh. I half forgot about that.
“Oi, Wataru, you say something.”
“Kehma-san’s light, it’s fine. I mean, won’t we get there by noon if we go with it?”
“… Really. Roppu, what about you?”
“I would not want to as an adventurer, but if Kehma-san is fine with it, shouldn’t we just let it go?”
“Haah, is it just me then?”
As Wataru said, at this pace, we’d make it to the summit by noon. I really was slowing everyone down.
… Maybe I should train a bit? I mean, I am more or less a hero now, so I should get stronger if I train… still though…
Let’s not. Too bothersome.
I can just keep sleeping in the inn, there’s no reason for me to train at all. I’ll just keep pushing the annoying stuff and the adventures to Wataru.
Sleeping in my dungeon master-esque room really agrees with me.
Like that, we made it to the summit.
Looking around to make sure that the flame dragon wasn’t there, I saw traces of something big entering the dungeon [Flame Cavern].
I’d asked Igni to make sure she left marks beforehand, so I guess she did it.
“… Looks like it’s not here? Did it hide somewhere…? We can try luring it out, but I guess it’s definitely in there.”
“Yeah. There’s no doubt about it, those marks appear as though it’s gone in and out several times. That’s what I think as a hero.”
“[Flame Cavern] huh… well, I had a feeling that might be the case, so we came prepared.”
We would rush into [Flame Cavern]… though before that, we decided to take a break next to the entrance first.
“Here’s your lunch, and your lunch… Kinue’s lunches are great~”
“You won’t be getting any food tonight, so make sure you enjoy it yeah?”
“Why!? I was just wantin’ to help out Rokuko-sama and Goshujin-sama’s relationship though!”
“Hahahah, Ichika, you said you want red pepper paste to drink? That’s what you said, right?”
“Don’t take my drinks tooooo!? Please forgive meeee, Goshujin-samaaaa!”
We ate our sandwiches as we talked. As expected of Kinue-san’s sandwiches, the vegetables still had a freshness to them.
“… The sun’s still high up, we should be able to make it back before night.”
“Oi Kehma, there’s no way we could yeah? Looking for the flame dragon inside [Flame Cavern] then actually slaying it will take a good bit of time.”
“Oooh, yeah, I guess.”
Whoops, I was careless. I was thinking this would be done and over before the day’s end since I actually know where Igni is and can just have a talk with her, but Gozoh and the others didn’t know about that.
But since delaying my return might cause a bit of that, let’s take the initiative here.
“… Well, I’m already used to [Flame Cavern]. There aren’t many traps in the upper floors, so I already have a rough idea of where the dragon’s going to be. Leave it to me.”
“Oi oi. Wataru’s been carrying you this whole time yeah? You barely even leave your room, how could you coming here enough to be accustomed to it already?”
Gozon had a point… I mean, he’s right. Who would want to leave their room?
“Please wait, Gozoh-san. How Kehma-san is used to [Flame Cavern]… is something I believe I know!
I felt a chill go down my back. No way, did me knowing Ontentoo get leaked… no, there’s no way, but Wataru, what are you going to say…?
“Please, recall this. [Flame Cavern] is connected to the dungeon in Golen, [Cave of Desires]! Kehma must have used that connection to secretly scout it out!”
“Y-Yeah. Right. Wataru, you figured it out, huh?”
“Reeeeally? Hmm, well, if that’s the case, I guess it does make sense, but…”
That was close, seriously. I was so surprised… Guess I’ll have to say some excuse now.
“… Well, in truth, I purchased information about this dungeon from the construction mage1. After confirming whether the information was accurate with Kuro and Ichika using the route Wataru mentioned, it turned out to be very accurate.”
“I see, so in addition to that masterful mage’s information, the two ladies are experienced in exploring it? If that’s how it is, alright.”
Looks like Gozoh was able to come to an understanding, so that’s great. I pat Meat on the head.
Mm? Ichika, you want me to pat you too? Eeeh, you want me to cancel your dinner ban instead? … Sure, I’ll consider it. Make sure you’re useful during this farce of a dungeon delve.
Once we finished our lunch break, we entered [Flame Cavern].