Chapter 135: Wooden Settlement
Translated by Zzonkedd
Edited by Gumihou
“Hakkoooooon! Food, food!”
From the moment Shui leapt onto me, she had been screaming non-stop for food. It was actually quite scary. Well, since I had some Karaage heated up, I handed them to Shui.
“Hafu, chomp, hauuuu, delicioooooous!”
She was howling as she ate, sending fragments of Karaage all over the place. Here, take this chilled cola as well. If you feel like food’s stuck in your throat, please wash it down with a refreshing drink.
“Thank you for your assistance. Before we exchange our stories, could you please supply food for everyone?”
Hunters had been staring enviously at Shui who was chomping down at her food so enthusiastically. They were surprised to see objects floating through the air via telekinesis, but easily accepted the phenomenon after Hevoy explained my existence. That, or they were just too happy to see food. Of course, strange phenomena like food coming out of a metal box and floating over through telekinesis may be something that is quickly acceptable in a world of magic and Gifts.
“Kuhaaaa, it’s been a while since I had meat. It’s too awesome.”
“I’m so done with vegetables…”
“Fat is best!”
From their cries of ecstasy, these hunters have apparently been surviving on vegetarian meals for a long time now. Poor things, let’s ignore nutritional balance and just go for a luxurious, meaty diet.
Let’s see, shall we go for a Karaage or Grilled Meat bento?
Speaking of which, Havoy, is Mishael here?”
That’s right. If Mishael were here, we would finally know where everyone had been sent to by the teleportation circle.
“No, only Shui and I were transported here.”
“Hau’n, han, hyoufuhyahya yo.”
Shui, please just focus on eating your meal.
So, Mishael isn’t here? I did hear that he used to explore the dungeons solo. His fighting abilities is top top-ranked, so I feel that he would be safe even if alone. In fact, he would probably find it more mentally taxing to have to communicate with someone he had little connection with.
That’s right, no matter where he got sent to, Mishael would be fine.
“This place is abundant with natural ingredients and fields, so while we do have a lot of vegetables, we don’t have much meat source.”
I see, so that was why they were all diving into the meat like that. Shui was shoving the Karaage into her mouth so fast that I could see afterimages…
“A vegetarian diet can’t seem to satisfy Shui’s hunger. I even caught her staring at the soil in the fields,  probably contemplating the earthworms living there? Anyway, I had to manipulate her senses to think that she was eating meat each time we had a meal.”
What an unexpected use of this sensory manipulation.
Is that why she was still so energetic despite the mostly vegetable diet?
“I’m guessing the oddly placed trees in the village used to be people, right?”
“So, you noticed? That is correct. The gate was forced open once and a large number of demons flooded in. At that time, all the elderly, women and children who inhaled the Floor Boss’s pollen transformed into trees.”
“If demons happened to rampage in the village, wouldn’t the houses be destroyed?” asked Ramis.
Good question. I wanted to know too. Just what kind of monster attack leaves houses and roads still intact?
“Ah, that? It’s because the buildings here are made of wood. The monsters on this floor have an extreme aversion against harming plant life, even cut-down trees. Knowing that, the village was built entirely of wood, even the floor is made from wooded planks.”
“Really? But, wouldn’t the trees get angry if we cut down trees to build houses and stuff?”
“That’s true too. Apparently, it’s pretty difficult to cut down even a single tree here.”
So, even monsters under the control of the Commander can’t go against their instincts? Wait, since the commanders also emphasized their instincts to kill, their instinctive aversion to harm plants is also enhanced, right?
“But, how did you survive the Floor Boss? Did Hevoy defeat it?”
“No, no, nothing like that. Since plants are naturally weak against fire. We drove it away with torches. We didn’t set them on fire since it could turn the entire village into a sea of flames.”
What an awkward situation. Everybody knows that plants are weak against fire, but they can’t use this knowledge because of the fire hazard thanks to the many wooden buildings?
Under the same logic, we could set fire to the forest to eliminate the monsters, but the fire could swallow up the whole village.
“Also, there are occasional strong winds on this floor which could flame the fires and cause them to go out of control. So, the use of fire as an strictly prohibited as a form of attack, this includes Fire Gifts and Fire Spells.”
“That’s right, while it’s easy to defeat them with fire, it’s a double-edged sword that could quickly turn against us.”
How frustrating it must be to know the fatal weakness of these monsters, but are unable to use it? We considered moving all the residents here to Clearflow Lake Floor and setting fire to the whole thing, but, there’s still the question of what to do with the residents who had transformed into trees.
“Return… no return?”
“You’re saying that we should not leave before returning the residents into their original form, right? Hakkon?”
Thank you for interpreting as usual, Ramis.
It’s like telepathy between elderly couples. My parents used to have conversations that go like ‘Did you do that thing’ and the answer would be ‘Yeah, yeah, I did it’ without any context at all. I used to wonder how they understood each other, but now I understand.
“If we defeat the Floor Boss, the cursed people could return to normal. The people who have turned into trees don’t need to eat in this state either, so they are safe even after becoming like this.”
I’m guessing that these tree-people are using photosynthesis for food and absorbing water and other nutrients through their roots. In a way, being a tree is pretty safe in a land filled with tree monsters.
Knowing that they could return to their original form makes it even more impossible to recklessly torch this place up. First, we should defeat the Floor Boss. We also need to capture the Commander. Otherwise, we would never achieve a true resolution. Somehow, we must achieve both objectives at the same time.
When it comes to plants, aside from fire, herbicide would be the next best thing. However, vending machines don’t carry herbicides or pesticides, because of their toxic nature. Poisonous drugs could not be sold as a commercial product.
Large amounts of saltwater could cause plants to wither, but the process would take a long time. Moreover, once the plants finally die, the soil would be dead too. I guess that since this is a dungeon, the soil would probably recover quickly? However, since there’s no way to know for sure, I’d rather not risk it.
“But how do we find the Floor Boss in this forest?”
Surely it can’t be easy to find one Boss Tree in a forest of trees?
“Oh, it’s actually pretty easy. The Boss is the largest tree on this Floor. I think… yes, there it is, over there.”
We looked in the direction Hevoy was pointing and saw the crown of an incredibly tall tree that stood waay above the canopy line.
It was so huge and far away that I could not quite wrap my head around just how big it was. Even though I could see it clearly, I could not comprehend just how tall it was. It looked like it may be as tall as a high-rise building.
As for the size… the trunk was so thick that it looked like it was as wide as a few trees together, so there’s no way to miss it.
“Hey, if it moves, won’t it knock down other trees around it?”
“Well, since it’s the Floor Boss, the ordinary trees would move away from it. Even grass and bushes would get away from its path.”
Woah, so it’s like the parting of the forest? It might be a little inappropriate, but I sure would like to witness that sight.
Does this mean that the Floor Boss has the power to manipulate plants? Since he’s the Boss Tree here?
Would it be possible to manipulate the other plants to coordinate an attack on us too? That sounds like a really formidable and troublesome opponent.
“Since everyone is in such great spirits today, let’s discuss this matter tomorrow.”
Hunters who had just filled their stomachs with greasy fried and grilled meat had started to relax for the first time in a while. Some of them had even eaten to the point that their stomach had distended far out. I could even hear snores from the ones lying down from food coma.
Only Mishael’s whereabouts are unknown, but there’s no need to panic anymore.
While I do want to return to Clearflow Lake Floor as soon as possible, with Director Bear and the rest having returned there safely, there was no need for us to worry. Surely it’s fine to spend some time to think about how to properly challenge this Floor?
“I shall keep watch. Everyone, you may take off your shoes and rest.”
“We’re fine. We’ll keep watch too.”
We had just arrived on this floor not long ago, so we’re not tired at all.
Moreover, it’s difficult to tell whether Hevoy’s suggestion for us to take our shoes off was plain kindness or buried with some hidden motive.
“I am thankful for your help. A certain someone is in that condition, after all,” Hevoy smiled and nodded at a certain direction.
I followed his gaze and found Shui lying on her back, her belly swollen as her limbs sprawled out in all four directions.
There were plastic bottles and wrappers scattered all around her.
“Ugh, I can’t eat anymore. I can’t even move…”
Shui will be useless for a while. Well, it’s my fault too for giving them food without considering the limits. So, as apology, I shall watch over this place with Ramis while they recover.
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At the lookout tower near the gate, we could see a dark forest spread out from the walls of the village.
I had imagined a brilliant green forest, but the green of the trees here was so dark that it was close to black, making the place look even darker. The sky was clear blue with plenty of sunlight shining down, but… there was something really wrong with the forest as it seemed to absorb the sunlight.
Looks like the name ‘Dark Forest Floor’ was no joke. This kind of phenomenon was clearly unnatural. I wonder how dark it would get when night falls.
“The forest is really dark, I wonder why though?”
Ramis was leaning out of the lookout platform, cheerfully peering into the distance. I was placed in the corner of the platform and could not help but worry that she might fall.
The lookout tower was about five metres tall, so with Ramis’ Gift, she probably would only suffer a few scrapes at worse, but my ingrained Japanese sense could not shake off the notion that something bad would happen.
“Yeah, I’ll be careful.”
She was now sitting on the railing of the lookout platform, swinging her legs and looking too cheerful for my peace of mind. Even under this kind of situation, she looked oddly happy.
“Right? It’s been a while since we spent time together like this.”
Now that she mentioned it, it’s true. Even though we met up again at the Labyrinth Floor, and were together most of the time, there were always other people around. The time we spent alone was rarer than before.
While I was thinking about this, it looked like the sun was setting, bathing the place with an orange glow.
I found myself a little captivated by Ramis’ smile as she continued to swing her legs against the backdrop of the evening sky.
I had always thought of her as cute, but she looks best when she is smiling.
If I had stood here as a human person, the scene would probably be quite picturesque. However, a single girl smiling at a vending machine would probably look strange no matter what.
“I think I’ll get scolded for saying something like this, but when I’m with you, Hakkon, I feel like I can do anything.”
I felt the same way too. Like I can do anything with Ramis.
If only I could respond to her words with something pretentious and dramatic, the moment would be perfect. However, I was just a vending machine with limited vocabulary and syllable count.
“Yes, thank you”
“It’s so weird to say thank you to that, Hakkon.”
Her grin was so wide that her eyes had narrowed into slits.
What is this bittersweet atmosphere… is this what they call a good vibe? Even though I’m just a vending machine?
Hm? Ramis is walking this way? Um, what, what’s this? Is this the start of an outrageous romantic comedy between an inanimate object and a girl?!
A power arm shot out and the force of the punch was so strong that it caused wind to scatter everywhere. The sound of something being shattered to pieces was heard.
I was too flustered just now to keep watch, but it looked like a monster had climbed up to the lookout tower? Ugh, I’m just a vending machine. How could- this kind of misunderstanding is too embarrassing.
“Humph, it’s too bad that we’re on watch.”
You’re saying something that could be misconstrued again! Ugh, maybe it’s just me being too sensitive.
I need to take guard duty seriously.
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