155 Inner Gate, Arrival
We arrived at the gate. Dozens of heavily armed men were there.
Looks like they're in groups of three to four men each, they're doing maintenance on their weapons.
I approach what look to be the gatekeepers without minding those groups and ask.
"Hello. We'd like to leave the country."
But there's no response. The guards are discussing with each other looking flustered.
"Hm? Ah, ya folk wanna go pass this gate? Ya better not, look at how frail you are. Over yonder is the Great Forest where reckless bunch gather to hunt magic beasts and strike gold quick. I'm telling ya fer' yer' own good, head to another gate yeah?"
One of the guards noticed and gave a reasonable explanation. The men hanging around the gate must be among this bunch.
But that's not reason enough for us to withdraw after coming this far so I ask again.
Besides, we're not here to hunt magic beasts. We just want to leave.
"Do we need some special license of some sort if we want to go through this gate?"
"Naw. Anybody can pass. Hey wait, ya got a deathwish?"
He looked at me strange, but I resumed.
"No no, not at all. Since there's no special procedure or anything, we're free to go right? Ah, thanks for thinking about our safety. But there's nothing to worry about. Good work out there."
I put on the business mask from my past life and ended the conversation flat out saying, 'Don't mind us'.
The elves live deep in the depths of this Great Forest. But there's a lot of hurdles if one wishes to reach the place.
One of reasons why humans haven't turned the forest into a habitable zone is this frequent spawning of magic beasts.
There were times when this caused huge damage but it came to an equilibrium overtime.
The other reason is how trees will keep growing the day after you fell one, the forest keeps taking over back regardless of deforestation efforts.
Since this makes perpetual wood supply possible, it's actually quite a welcome phenomenon.
Then one last thing is the existence of 'Barriers' spread all over the forest. Even if you go in a straight line, you'd find yourself lose in an entirely different direction due to those.
This doesn't happen in the forest near the city walls, but apparently it turns into a hellish maze the deeper you go in.
If those barriers are installed by the elves, they should be ineffective to Serena's group. Pretty much solves the issue of reaching the elven land for us.
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The reason for the abnormal growth of trees is the vast scale of the forest which makes the land abundant of mana and life.
And this abundance of mana results in the frequent spawn of magic beasts.
People in the empire who are confident in their skill make use of this point to hunt those magic beasts for money.
Of course it comes with great danger, sort of high risk high return thing.
It's only natural the guard tried to stop me when I look this frail.
Afterward, I waited with the elves and listened to the information they had gathered, that was when a particular group of men showed up.
"You guys must be new here huh. You don't look like you're here for magic beast hunting. Yet you're not turning around and going for another gate either. What's your deal?"
A dirty looking man who seemed to be the group's leader suddenly threw that ill mannered question. His face is unkempt, his leather armor is all tattered. But the aura around him is that of a veteran.
"It doesn't concern you guys, please stay back."
I refused flat out. Not gently. I don't want to get involved in this crap.
"So how about hiring us as your escort? I'mma make it cheap for ya. Our fee is negotiable depending on how far deep you guys wanna go in this forest."
The man started negotiating on his own. The elves were getting furious. Proof of this man's rudeness.
"There is no need. Please get away from us."
As the only calm person here, I attempted another peaceful talk over. Purely because I don't want them to mess with us.
But of course there was no way for me to tell that it was already too late by the time this man talked to us.