“…You didn’t forget, right?”

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“This is bad! We need to get you registered quickly!”

Aria suddenly starts panicking.

“Wait, shouldn’t it be fine even if it gets done in spring?”
“They don’t charge immigration tax in winter! It’s a significant difference, even for just one person.”

Aria says so and starts running towards the village.
Oi oi, this is the Demon Forest, so don’t do something which will get you separated.

I chase Aria from behind, and grab her hand.

“It’s too dangerous to do that.
In any case, We’ll be fine as long as we return to the village.”
“… T-that’s also true.”

She seemed to have calmed down and stopped running.

“Fuu.
I was worried after you started running out of nowhere.”
“I’m sorry.
So, umm…”

Aria glances at me, and indicates something she couldn’t bring up.

“… My hand, could you let it go? I won’t run anymore.”
“Eh? Aah…”

I say that and let go of Aria’s hand.

***

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“Aria, Lain, be careful as you go.”
“Milia, Kili, sorry for leaving but please take care of things while I’m gone.”
“Leave it to us.”

After returning to the village, we immediately left for the town.
It seems that it will be snowing soon, making it difficult to move.

Even if it snows, I can manage with magic if I’m alone, but if Aria is with me, then the things I can do reduce greatly.
Well, I have nothing I want to do right away, so I don’t see a problem in accompanying her.

“Sui and Reno should continue practicing [Water Manipulation] and [Soil Manipulation] magic.
Try various things like increasing the distance, or placing an obstacle in the way that has to be broken.
Your MP will increase accordingly, so train yourselves to succeed in every situation.”

“Understood.”
“Ouu! I’ll make Lain nii-chan surprised by the time he comes home!”

Well, if you’re like the theoretical Sui or the sensory Reno, a week flies by like nothing if you’re busy.

“Well then, we’re leaving.”
“Get us souvenirs~”

We get chased out with such light feelings.

***

It seems to take 2-3 days to reach the town.
A round trip should then take around a week.

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After leaving the village, the two of us continued walking in silence.
We left after noon today, so our legs were moving faster than if we had left early morning.

I was fine, but Aria seemed to be struggling.
When asked “Should I carry your bag?” I always get a “No it’s fine”.
Eventually the act of replying itself tired her, so she stopped talking.

If we don’t cover the necessary distance within a day, we’ll end up sleeping on the roadside, which is pretty dangerous.
Even if you sleep in the fields, you can create a wider range of counters just because of the plaza like area which gives you a wide vision.
As a result, you will be fighting at a considerable advantage.

(That reminds me, we didn’t bring something like tents, so how are we supposed to set up camp?)

As the sun went down and it was almost dusk, I started wondering how we would camp.
As if she had had enough, or if she had given up on reaching the camping spot while it was still bright, Aria drops her pace and starts catching her breath.
I was wondering if now would be a better time to converse.
Thinking so, I question Aria.

“That reminds me, where are we stopping to sleep for these few days?”
“In the fields, obviously.”
“Uhe-“

Hearing the foreseeable answer, I let out a strange voice.
I then receive dirty looks from Aria, who heard my strange voice.

“This time there are two of us so we can sleep in turns, but the last time, I went alone and couldn’t sleep during the night at all.
This is much better.”

Apparently, she had to struggle a lot the last time.

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This world is clearly not an easy one.

“Why did you go to town alone last time? You should have taken Kili or Milia with you.”
“I wanted to leave as many people in the village as I could, in case a monster attacked.”
“Ah.
By the way, did you pull monsters to the village sometime recently?”

Once a village gets attacked by a monster, it may get attacked by the same type of monsters traveling through the same route.
Well, the frequency of the attacks gradually decrease, and it reaches zero in a month.
Which is why their fear of monsters a week ago seemed over-exaggerated, since over a month and a half had passed since the youths dragged monsters into the village.

“Yeah we have that.
At a pace of once about every 3 days, a greywolf comes out of the forest to scout the village.
We could always defeat it if 2-3 people ganged up on it, but we only have 5 now.”

I stopped when I heard this story from Aria.
Seeing me stop, Aria turns towards me.

“What’s wrong?”
“Monsters had been coming out every 3 days?”
“Eh? Yeah.
that reminds me there haven’t been any this past week.
Well, we didn’t see any today either while entering the forest, so I guess they must have been reduced in the winters?”

I have a very bad feeling.
First of all, there is no way for monsters to decrease unless you do it yourself.
Moreover, to have disappeared for a week and not be spotted this deep in the forest, leads me to think something bad may have happened.

(The only thing I can think of…)

I remember the crater I made a week ago.
If that was the reason why monsters from the depths of the forest came out to shallow places and preyed on greywolves.

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Then they might come out of the forest after eating all the greywolves!

“Damn it!”
“W-what’s wrong?”
“We’re returning to the village at once.”
“Wait!”

Aria stops me as I was about to run towards the village.

“If you don’t register now, you’ll get charged with immigrant tax! The immigrant tax is quite high you know.”
“If it’s 100 or 200 gold pieces, I’ll pay myself.
If we don’t go back now, things might go past the point of no return.”

Aria doesn’t let me go.
She might begin arguing any time now.

“It can’t be helped.”
“Eh? What?”

I pick up Aria into a princess hug.
Her face turns deep red, but this is not the time to care about that.

“It might shake a bit, but it was Aria’s fault for not letting it go!”
“Wa-, sto-, wh-…..
Kyaaaaaaaaa!”

I hurried back to the village with a screaming Aria.

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