Ch 108 -- The Forest of Ishtam
We stayed that night at an inn called "The Spinning Wheel", recommended to me by the Guild Master Rodolpho-san. In the morning I tried on the clothes I bought the day before. They felt really good, comfortable and easy to move in with a texture I had never experienced before. I wondered if I could ever go back to the sorts of clothes I had been wearing when I arrived in this world. My shopping expedition had been a definite success.
It was now time to fulfil Rodolpho-san's request so we got ready to head off to the forest of Ishtam to collect Venom Tarantula threads. I didn't want my new clothes to get dirty but there was no helping it.
"Fer, ready to go?" I asked.
"Uh huh." As usual I got on Fer's back with Sui in her bag on my shoulder.
"Okay, let's go." Fer ran off towards the forest of Ishtam.
* * * * *
"That seems to be the forest of Ishtam, isn't it?" I said as we paused for a moment, gazing at the gloomy forest spreading wide before us. It had a creepy atmosphere.
"Looks like it." Fer agreed. A low sound like creatures calling to each other, "Giii Giii" resounded from the forest.
"Let's go." Fer said, pacing slowly up a slope and into the forest of Ishtam. Although it was still before noon the darkness enveloping the trees was disconcerting.
"Oh, that's right. Rodolpho-san told us there are lots of poison-insect monsters here, can you handle them OK?" I said nervously, looking around. The darkness could conceal anything, after all.
"We have the Goddesses' blessings and my Barrier as well. Don't worry." True, Fer, Sui and I all had blessings from the Goddesses. But, I worried, I only had Deplo--, ah, Wind Goddess Ninril-sama's blessing (small), would that protect me properly?
"But I've only got a blessing (small)," I reminded Fer.
"Don't forget what Ninril-sama told you. Yeah, it's a blessing (small) but unless it's an instant death poison your blessing has the power of state abnormality invalidation so it will nullify any lesser poisons." Ah, now that he had mentioned it I remembered what the Goddess had said when she bestowed her blessing (small) on me so long ago. "From what I can detect," Fer continued, "there aren't any monsters with immediate death poison in this forest so you don't need to worry." I was glad to hear it. Safety first, after all.
"So, do you know where any Venom Tarantulas are?"
"Ah. I've got an idea where they're likely to be found. It's pretty deep in the forest. Let's go." Fer headed for the place he thought the Venom Tarantulas would be. Giant moths and other insect monsters like huge mosquitoes attacked us as we passed but they were dealt with casually by Fer's claw-slash magic without him even slowing down. It just showed how inconsequential he considered them as opponents, I supposed. Bad luck, insect-sans, to encounter Fer today.
However a bit further on Fer suddenly came to a halt. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"Something big's coming." As Fer spoke an enormous centipede appeared before us, at least a metre wide at its head and its seemingly-endless body receding back into the forest's darkness.
"Giiii-" it screamed.
"Hey, is that a Giant Centipede?" I asked worriedly. I had been warned about them by Rodolpho-san, they were A-ranked monsters and really dangerous.
"Yeah. Get off and wait behind me." Fer bared his fangs and faced off against the Giant Centipede which raised its head...
Pew. Thud. The Giant Centipede fell down sideways. There was a big hole in its head running from its underside all the way up through what was left of its brain and out the top.
"Yay! Sui defeated the big creepy-crawly!" Sui bounced around happily. Su-Sui-chan...? When did you get out of your bag? And how...? Fer was shocked that Sui had dealt with his intended prey.
"Uh, sorry, Fer-ojichan-" Sui apologised for butting in, a bit late perhaps.
"Humph." Fer conceded, not very graciously. Since the Giant Centipede that Sui had defeated was an A-ranked monster I put it into my Item Box.
"Right then," Fer announced, "We actually came here for Venom Tarantula, didn't we?" He looked at me. "Didn't we?" Yeah yeah Fer, the A-ranked Giant Centipede that cute little Sui-chan one-shotted through the head was a mere distraction and hardly worth your attention and you're definitely not annoyed she killed it before you got the chance to fight it yourself. Sure.
"Let's go then. Get on." Fer said brusquely, not meeting my gaze. I resisted the temptation to pat him on the head and say 'there there' as I climbed back on board after collecting Sui again.
"Is there something else to pew-pew where we're going-?" Sui asked eagerly. Fer's hackles rose.
"Ah, let Fer-ojichan do it this time, will you?" I said, trying to defuse the situation. For a country-destroying monster Fer's feelings were more easily hurt than I had anticipated.
"But, Sui wants to pew-pew some more-" she persisted.
"Help Fer with knocking them down but only if he needs it, OK?" I told her.
"Yeah, I got it-" Sui sounded disappointed.
I hoped there would be plenty Venom Tarantula-sans where we were going since battle maniac Sui wanted to go pew-pew a lot more. I got back on Fer and he ran off quickly. After a little while we came to a place where there were curtains of thick spider webs between the trees. I could see a huge spider with a blackish-purple body about 1 metre wide in the middle of the webs.
"Is that a Venom Tarantula?" I asked.
"Yup." Fer confirmed. I'd been told you can eat Venom Tarantulas but was that really true...?
"Rodolpho-san said we only needed two Venom Tarantulas to meet the request so go ahead and get this one for now." Fer could probably find another Venom Tarantula quite quickly...
"I'll get all of them." Fer said, immediately firing off his magic. What did he mean, all of them? I could only see one...
Blam. Blam. Blam. Blam. Blam. Blam. Blam. Blam. Lightning Magic? It was like a super-powered stun gun.
Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Eight Venom Tarantulas fell out of the webs. There had been some kind of hidden nest behind the one spider I could see where more of them were lurking, apparently.
"All done, no assistance required." Fer said with some satisfaction, glancing at the bag Sui-chan was peering out of.
"That was quick." I was a little reluctant to approach the spiders lying immobile beneath the webs. "Are they all really dead?"
"Uh huh. I fried their brains with electric shocks." Well, that was us finished the request then. Fer's a quick worker, I mused as I packed away the 8 Venom Tarantulas into my Item Box.
"Is it Sui's turn now-?" Sui-chan appeared out of the bag.
"Sorry Sui, next time maybe, yeah?"
"But Sui wanted to pew-pew and knock down the Bad Guys too-"
"Oh no, that's... ah," I struggled to avoid disappointing cute murderous battle maniac Sui, "Uh, you see, there's a dungeon in the next town we're visiting, you can pew-pew and fight a lot there. "
"A dungeon, is that full of Bad Guys Sui can pew-pew?-" Sui asked hopefully.
"Yes, that's right."
"Dungeon-! Dungeon, dungeon, fun~ " Sui bounced around happily. Sh- ... I never thought I'd ever agree to enter a dungeon again.
"Kukuku, you're committed to going into that dungeon now." Fer sniggered. Damn you, Fer, it's not a laughing matter but I couldn't deny darling Sui her chance to go pew-pew at Bad Guys.
"If Sui is looking forward to it I'll have to go with her. Make sure nothing bad happens to us, OK?"
"Hah, there's nothing to be scared of in a dungeon." Fer stated authoritatively, glancing over at Sui who was still eagerly bouncing around. "I'll make sure Sui doesn't get hurt." Uh, me too Fer, right? Right? I sighed, if Fer was with us I'd probably be OK too. I was his meal provider after all.
"Are we done here? Should we head back to Claire?" Fer asked. I think he was hoping to run into another Giant Centipede or two but I demurred.
"Yeah, let's go back." We had what we came for. I got on Fer's back and he started running back the way we had come until we left the forest. The sun was still quite high in the sky, it wasn't that late in the day.
"We got done really quick today, I'm surprised."
"Yeah, we've got plenty of time to get back to the city." Fer stopped and looked around at me. "I'm hungry. Let's eat something here."
"You think so?" I shrugged. "Okay, gimme a minute and I'll start getting it ready." The day's work was done, time for a well-earned snack.