Here, animals in the forest became few and far between. Except for the occasional thick-furred rodents, even experienced hunters had a hard time replenishing their food supply in the forest.
Yaruta cut a small piece of the meat jerky and put it in the bubbling pot. The soup in the black iron pot was made up of wild plants. The steam rose up as if to melt the snow on the branches.
The old noblemen certainly wouldn’t eat something like this, but this was a regular meal for hunters.
“We’re about to run out of rations…” In his mind, the young man turned over the furry pouch and only found some stale bread crumbs. He let out a small sigh in his heart, though he had expected this. They were already running out of food before they headed into the mountains this time — his older sister said that after this expedition, they would have saved enough money to travel to Karsuk and join their relatives there. He sniffed at the delicious smells wafting out from the pot while his stomach grumbled.
He looked up at the row of neat and beautiful tents pitched on the other side of the landing. The sounds of argument kept coming from over there. He knew that the hunters from the town and the noblemen were having a difference in opinions, mainly because the hunters didn’t want to cross the river to the north and keep going.
Yaruta had shivered when he thought about the river to the north.
Across the Fogweaving Woodland, the Nugan River was the border to the Falling Needle Hills to the north. This river was connected to Lake Vallendaren and downstream to Lantonilan’s Azure Lake. Ice floated on top of the surface of the river year round, but there were even more terrifying rumors. When night falls, “things” would come out in the Frost Stained Forest Labyrinth and anyone who saw them never came back from the forest.
Legends like these have been passed down from generation to generation. Gradually, the region north of the Nugan River became known as the forbidden zone.
Even if Yaruta had heard these stories, such as “Treetop People” or “Knight Who Lost his Mind”, a million times, he couldn’t help but shiver in fear when he recollected the stories older hunters told around the campfires.
He glanced back in the direction of the hills. Every night for the last couple of nights, he had seen something blue, like a spirit, in the forest. He only told his sister but his sister said he had just been seeing things.
“Even if they’re ‘things that wan
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