After eating lunch and resting for a little, I told the children to go and play again.
I am also done with the freeze-dry soup, so I joined them this time.
“Now then, what should we do?”
“”Umm, you see~… picking!””
They seemed to have enjoyed themselves thoroughly with the soapy balloon in the morning, so when I checked with the children if they want to do something different, they pushed for picking herbs again.
“Well, although it may be sort of work, anything goes as long it’s fun, huh.”
“If it’s picking herbs, then the mountain plants would be better, so why don’t we go over there? Joule, Feat, can we ask for a ride?”
I got on Joule after placing Allen and Elena on Feat’s back, so we could get to the mountainside as soon as possible.
(Oniichan, would this place be all right?)
“Indeed. Thank you, Joule, Feat.”
(This much is nothing.)
(Fufu. That’s right, you are welcome as always.)
When I got off Joule and patted his head, Feat nudged closer so I patted her too.
“Well then, why don’t we start climbing from here while collecting herbs?”
(Alright, Allen, Elena! Let’s find tons of herbs~)
First, Joule took Allen and Elena along as they broke into a run.
(Should I stand on the watch? Or should Vector do it?)
(I will do it! Leave the monsters to me! I’m off!)
Next, Bolt and Vector decided who will stay on the watch for the surroundings.
However, Vector excitedly suggested himself, and promptly ran away.
(He went hunting on his own!)
(It would be nice if he minded his surroundings a little more around here, right~)
(How about I deal with monsters that Vector by a chance doesn’t notice if they get too close?)
(Yeah~ I wonder if he will bring back something nice?)
(That’s right! I will be expecting delicious meat or something like nice pelts!)
Feat, Bolt, and Mile were looking at Vector’s actions with exhaustion.
“Then, what will you do, Feat, Bolt, Mile?”
(N~ I wonder about that~? Are you going to look for herbs, Niisama?)
“Yep, I have that intention. Slowly, though. Well, not only herbs, I will look for some wild ingredients too.”
(Then, I will stick with you, Niisama. Is that alright?)
(Me too! I will search together with Takumi Nii!)
(Aniue, can I tag along as well?)
“Of course. Shall we go then?”
Feat, Bolt, Mile and I departed slowly.
(Still, this mountain is so close to the town yet there are no signs of people.)
“True. I wonder if everyone went into the tunnels instead?”
(Then it’s thanks to these tunnels that we can travel with Aniue like this!)
“Hahaha~ that would be true. But because of that, there seems to be a shortage of mountain herbs.”
(We should do our best to search then!)
“For now, yes. Well, this is definitely convenient for us, so we should gratefully enjoy this time.”
We walked slowly while chatting, and collected large amounts of tengu grass, flame grass, and some moon poems and charming flowers.
“Oh, this is…”
(Oh my, Niisama, you’ve found something rare.)
(Feat, isn’t this flame grass?)
(It’s similar, but it’s not! This is blaze grass!) Mile
Blaze grass is a high-end version of flame grass, and their appearances are nearly the same, but the blaze grass is just a little bit darker in color. And, it’s very rare.
“That’s quite unusual for Allen and Elena who walked through here first to miss it~”
(W, we thought we were walking on the same path, but they did not take a different path, did they!?)
(That’s serious! Did they get lost!?)
Hearing my words, Bolt and Mile started restlessly looking around for any signs of Allen and Elena.
(Calm down, Bolt, Mile. Everything’s fine, they couldn’t get that far.)
(Ah, that’s right. You can find them by scent, no? Rather, I just could look from the sky, hehe~)
(That’s right! Joule is with the twins anyway, so there wouldn’t be a problem!)
“Indeed. There’s no need to panic.”
Even if we don’t see each other, Joule and Feat can follow the scent. Besides, Allen and Elena are wearing Tracking Rings, so their location should be displayed on the map window screen.
“Oh? Speak of the devil.”
(Oh my, truly.)
I saw the kids running towards us at full speed.
“Welcome back. How far have you been?”
As soon as they came back, they jumped at me, so I caught them in my embrace and patted their heads.
“”You see, you see~ that way is~””
“A lake with.”
“Smoking coming out.”
“A smoke coming from… a lake? N?”
I couldn’t grasp the meaning behind the children’s words, so I turned to Joule who was with them.
(Err, that was steam. A body of hot water!)
“A steaming lake? So, there are mines here… is it perhaps hot spring?”
“A big bathtub, basically.”
“Heeh~ so you saw that. Could you guide us there?”
I am curious whether what the kids found was really a hot spring, so I decided to have them show me the way.
“”There it is~””
(Oniichan, it’s over there. There!)
“Oh, that place, huh!”
I could see steam rising up from the direction Allen, Elena and Joule were pointing at.
“… That’s quite a lot of steam.”
There was a considerable amount of steam gushing out of the hot spring (temporary) as the entire area was covered in white smoke.
“But, it does not smell of anything, huh~”
“Yeah. When it comes to hot springs, they smell of sulfur… they have a unique scent to them, but I can’t smell it here.”
“Ah~ it might be too harsh on Joule, Feat, and Vector’s noses.”
(!! That I don’t like! Oniichan, let’s not go there!)
Hearing that it smells, Joule was immediately against going to the hot springs (temporary).
“I don’t smell anything at this point, so it should be fine. Well, if you smell anything unpleasant at any point, we will turn around, how about that?”
(… If that’s the case then…)
“Then, let me know immediately if you smell anything bad, Joule.”
“Feat and Vecto… ah! Vector’s not here!”
Joule was reluctant but I somehow convinced him, so I thought of approaching the hot spring (temporary). That moment, I noticed that we were missing Vector.
(My, oh my, Vector is still out there hunting, isn’t he?)
(I have totally forgotten about him too~)
(We were careless!)
It apparently wasn’t only me, everyone forgot about him.
But, Vector will be able to find us by scent, so we decided to go straight to the hot spring (temporary.)