“That’s the fifth one…” [Ryouma]
The rimel birds would find the target from the sky, then I would send the slimes to search the area, and then I would com to confirm their findings and record the location. With everyone working together, we were able to find the tunnel ant nests throughout the plains quickly. All that’s left now is to report our findings and I could technically end the job here, but being able to complete the job so easily kind of leaves me feeling unsatisfied.
Although my job is just to find the nests, since I still have plenty of strength to spare, why don’t I prepare a more detailed report? I think it would be great if I could find out the size of each nest, as well as the number of enemies. If I send the slimes in, I should be able to investigate the nests as well. But if I did that, then they would surely encounter an enemy ant. In that instance, we’re likely to end up fighting them.
It wouldn’t be a problem if I could wipe the tunnel ants out, but if there’s a lot of them, some of them might slip through and run away. Especially, since tunnel ants are monsters that can travel underground… “Search.” [Ryouma]
“…No good, huh.” [Ryouma]
The flow of mana is too complicated. Probably because the tunnels inside the ant nest are too narrow. I can’t use the spell on anything other than the entrance. If I try to use the spell while visualizing the tunnel and pouring in a lot of mana, I’ll end up using too much mana.
I continued to worry like that for 5 minutes when I accidentally stepped on the dug out earth, and a clear footprint was left behind.
Alright. Let’s give it a shot.
I used my search spell once more, but this time I used it with earth-attribute mana. I used the same image I would use when casting Rock or Break Rock and imagined my mana spreading into the ground.
“Search… Oh!” [Ryouma]
My mana passed into the ground and spread, reaching places with no earth. Through the wide open empty space that I could sense from the scope of my search spell, I was able to understand the shape of the nest. I’m not detecting any tunnel ants.
I’m not searching inside the nest, so I can’t tell the exact number of enemies, but I can tell that the ants haven’t been provoked yet. Also from the size of the nest and a tunnel ant, I can give a rough estimate of how many can fit in the nest.
I made sure to make a rough model of the shape of the nest to ensure that I don’t forget it. It was simple enough with the Rock spell. I also noted down the time the data was procured… Good. From here on, I’ll also search the nests with the earth-attribute Search spell…. Calling it Earth-Attribute Search sure is a mouthful, though. It’s a Search spell, but it doesn’t use neutral-attribute mana. Oh, I know. From now on, I’ll call it Earth Sonar.
“Alright! Let’s go to the next nest!” [Ryouma]
I took the slimes with me and went to the next likely location.
Right, left… There are many paths I could take, but which one should I go for? Huh?
On Eins’ eyes was reflected a smallish cart pulled by a group of 6. Judging from the stature of the 6, they seem to be children. I feel like I’ve seen them before somewhere… Ah! I know! It’s Berk’s group.
“I should greet them.” [Ryouma]
The six of them seemed to be taking a break, so I approached them with a loud voice, so as to not scare them.
“Ryouma? We’ve been bumping into each other a lot lately, haven’t we? …Are those your slimes behind you?” [Berk]
“Well, we do live in the same town. These are my metal slimes and iron slimes.” [Ryouma]
“As usual you sure have a lot of them…” [Wist]
Wist-kun’s face was cramping as he said that. I wonder if he’s bad with slimes.
“So, what’s your business here?” [Berk]
“I’m looking for tunnel ant nests. Tamer Guild work. I just happened to see you guys, so I called out… Are you here for the tunnel ants too?” [Ryouma]
“We’re here to exterminate them. Sort of.” [Martha]
“Our real objective is to acquire the carapace of the tunnel ants… Desu.” [Finia]
These guys should be the half elf, Martha, and the half dwarf, Finia. They came here for the carapace?
“A member of the senior group entered into apprenticeship as an armor craftsman. He told us that if we brought him materials, he’d make us armor at an affordable price.” [Ruth]
“He might say that it’s just for practice, but the senior craftsmen have already acknowledged his abilities! He’s the real deal!” [Rumil]
The two Dog-Man Tribe pair of older brother and sister added.
“It’s just as Ruth and Rumil said. Ant carapace is lighter than metal and sturdier than leather, so it can be used to make armor and shield. If we can get a lot of materials, we’ll get some discounts, and we can also get paid for the ants that we kill, so I thought of using this chance to get everyone outfitted.” [Berk]
“And besides… W-We used to frequently get herbs from these plains… So, it would be nice if it could go back to the way it was sooner…” [Wist]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
I see their cart has only one tunnel ant corpse, though.
“But yeah… As you can see, we’re not exactly doing so well.” [Berk]
“We just can’t seem to find any tunnel ants…” [Wist]
“I guess we really should have gone in the evening.” [Ruth]
“That is what the big sister at the guild says… desu.” [Finia]
“But the night is dark, and there’s no telling just how many ants will come out during it.” [Rumil]
“Yeah. If there’s too many, it’ll be a huge problem…” [Berk]
It seems they took their safety into consideration too…
“Want me to point you to where the ants are?” [Ryouma]
I tried suggesting.
My job is to ‘find the nests’. I just need to find them. There’s no need to destroy them too. But approaching a nest means I have to kill the guards watching the entrance, so I could leave the extermination of the guards to them whenever I approach the nest if they want.
“…That would help us out for sure, but why would you do that for us?” [Berk]
“Hmm… Cause I feel like it.” [Ryouma]
Although our encounters with each other weren’t exactly very good, they have been working hard. Seeing them like that has made me want to cheer them on. That’s all.
“What a weird guy… But, fine. If you’re willing to lend us a hand, we’re not one to shy away.” [Berk]
Berk then told everyone that break was over.
I don’t know why, but they seem fired up.
With 6 more members in tow, I went back to work.