5: Training Inside the Forest
Part 1: Vagabond Arc "Ash-crowned Princess of Slaughter" Chapter 1: The Heroine Went Against Fate
Somehow it wasn't enough, so I uploaded one more.
The good-natured giant, Feld, declared that he would spend a day drilling the basics into me.
While I more or less trusted him, I was still about 30% wary of adults, so I was planning to leave before I fell asleep, but given Feld's true strength, I didn't think I could escape. And I was worried that woman's "knowledge" of close-quarters combat wouldn't be enough, so I decided to obediently receive his help.
The next day, we woke up at sunrise, shared some of Feld's rye bread and lightly roasted it over the fire for breakfast.
The children of the orphanage often complained that they wanted to eat white bread because rye bread was hard and tasteless. Certainly, at times it was so hard you'd think you were biting off a leather sandal, but I didn't hate it that much.
It wasn't as soft as white bread, but the inside was sticky and had a decent taste when chewed. The reason why it tasted so bad was because people used poor quality rye flour and did not take the time to make it properly, instead of grinding the flour to a very fine powder and preparing it carefully.
But even so, the rye bread at the orphanage was the absolute worst.
"Firstly, boy. Have you ever seen your own 'status'?"
I shook my head at Feld's words as he stood imposingly.
While there wasn't such a thing in that woman's "previous life", this world had a useful technique for expressing one's strength such as vitality and magic power in numerical form.
Status was the information about an individual's abilities that could be seen through Appraisal. But there was no one near that orphanage who could do that, and I didn't remember examining it when my parents were alive.
But according to that woman's...or rather her master's lesson, the Appraisal that was commonly used wasn't a great sorcery that would connect the soul to the information of the world or steal the information of the other person's soul, but rather it was a way to sense the other person's ability through sight, hearing, skin and magic power, which was then converted into a numerical value.
Therefore, it was said that the only thing you could see by appraising an opponent's information was their magic power, stamina, and comprehensive combat strength, which was a numerical measure of their power.
There was another way of seeing an opponent's information perfectly called Complete Appraisal, but that woman's master told her never to learn it even if she had the chance to.
The reason being that the act of stealing a peek at another person's soul or the world's information placed a heavy burden on a mortal's soul, and the price for that seemed to be one's own "lifespan", so with the exception of the dragon species, which had eternal life, and mankind's ancient elves and high elves, it was never used.
In the past, there have been people who have gained such appraisal abilities through "divine protection", but they were so paranoid that they didn't tell others about their abilities, and they reduced their lifespan unnecessarily without even realizing it.
A handy ability that could be used without any visible compensation...especially the cheats that woman longed for would be better thought to have something hidden behind them.
"Can Feld use it?"
"Yeah, recently I finally became able to use it as a skill. This is your ability as I see it. Can you read?" Feld said as he wrote it on the ground with a wooden stick.
Magic Power: 13/13 Stamina: 22/26
Comprehensive Combat Strength: 21
"...Well, for a child that's just about right. Did you memorise the values properly?"
It seems my values are awfully weak. I nodded with a conflicted expression as I was comparing the characters with my knowledge when Feld threw something at me.
"That's something called Appraisal Crystal. If you look through it at a living creature, it will assist you with reading their quantified strength and magic power. After using it many times, you'll become able to use Appraisal by yourself, but for now look through it at your own body and wish 'I want to see my strength'. It should be good for two more uses, so make sure to imagine the previous numbers you saw in your head while you use it.
A tool to assist you with appraising, huh. When I did as I was told and looked through the crystal at my own hand while wishing, some sort of numbers emerged on it.
"Compare the numbers you see with the values from earlier. Do they match well?"
♢ Alicia Race: Human ♀
⦗Magic Power: 13/13⦘ ⦗Stamina: 21/26⦘
❮Strength: 3❯ ❮Endurance: 4❯ ❮Agility: 5❯ ❮Dexterity: 5❯
◼Comprehensive Combat Strength: 21
When I nodded to indicate that they matched, Feld activated his Body Strengthening and told me to appraise him next.
♢ Feld Race: Human ♂
⦗Magic Power: 177/210⦘ ⦗Stamina: 354/370⦘
◼Comprehensive Combat Strength: 1378 (During Body Strengthening: 1764)
...Is Feld really strong or am I far too weak? The difference is so excessive that I don't have the slightest idea of how strong he is. After I read out the numerical values, he silently nodded.
"Well, they mostly match. There will be small differences in the values depending on how each person reads them, but that crystal should be engraved with 'the general way to read values on this continent', so if you memorise it properly then when you encounter another person it should be easier to compare."
After staring at Feld's numerical values for a while the characters vanished, and soon after the Appraisal Crystal lost its light.
"How many times do you need to use this to learn Appraisal?"
"Let's see...for me it took around sixty times, but, well, normally it takes people no less than a hundred times."
"This, is it sold?"
"Usually each one can be used for around ten times, costing approximately three silver coins.
Quite expensive. No, maybe I should think of that as cheap if this allowed me to see the strength of my opponents.
But one silver coin could be used to stay at an inn for three days with breakfast included, so I didn't think this was something that normal adventurers used. Considering that, those capable of using Appraisal would probably be limited to people with money.
"That should have given you the basis for using Appraisal Crystals. If I go by your combat strength you don't seem to have any combat skills at all. Well, that's to be expected, but let's go hunting next!"
After Feld suddenly put the great sword on his back and plunged into the forest, I hurriedly chased after him.
"Crouch. Don't make a sound."
As I was desperately trying to chase after the leading Feld, he crouched down so suddenly inside a bush I almost lost sight of him for an instant due to his thinning presence and the quickness of the action.
"Lower your voice, too. I'm also not specialised in stealth, but even so by having experience hunting in the forest I have a level 1 Stealth skill. Also, don't use Body Strengthening, alright? Sensitive prey will notice you. I'll teach you the way to use magic power afterwards, but for now sense the "magic particles" that the forest is full of."
Perhaps, the prey Feld mentioned was nearby. As I was also holding my breath in order to calm my slightly disturbed breathing, I turned my attention to the surroundings, trying to feel the magic particles in the area.
"Feel the magic particles that flow in the wind. Smell the scent inside the wind. It's fine even if you're not able to do it right away, but there will be a considerable difference in learning speed depending on how much you concentrate."
For now, I nodded deeply, but I didn't really understand it.
I somehow became able to sense my own magic power, and while I was able to faintly feel the presence of the surrounding's magic particles, I couldn't tell whether they belonged to the magic power of plants or animals.
"Sense the difference between your own magic power and the surrounding's magic particles. If you only move quietly the animal will notice you. Match the surrounding's magic particles with your own magic power. If the flow and size became completely identical, your presence will grow thin."
So you really meant it when you said you'd drill the basics into me in one day? I realised that I would end up doing nothing if I stayed in a daze, so I at least concentrated on trying to sense the magic particles in my surroundings.
Read the magic particles in the flow of the wind. Would that mean that the "atmosphere" that was in that woman's knowledge was full of magic particles? If so, rather than trying to read the wind using magic particles, would it be more accurate to say that the magic particles that flow inside the atmosphere were the flow of the wind itself?
When I concentrated my consciousness on the movement of the surrounding magic particles I could feel something moving, but I still couldn't grasp it clearly.
Concentrating but without stopping, I followed Feld through the forest, desperately trying to keep up with him.
"Boy, stop. Look over there. Can you grasp that something is there?"
He probably meant the bushes ahead, but I couldn't sense anything from there.
"Plants and trees spread their branches and leaves horizontally unless there is an obstacle. When exposed to the sun, the branches will grow with their leaves pointing towards it. If so, can you spot the unnatural branch?"
Certainly, when I looked closely, I could see an unnatural bend in a branch, and as soon as I became aware of this, I began to notice unnatural areas in the forest.
"If you noticed it, then look at the movement of the leaves. There is a part that differs from the flow of the wind."
The leaves swayed from right to left with the wind's flow like a wave. When the flow ended, there was a branch that was making a slightly different motion.
"Over there is where the prey is. Can you sense it? The feeling is the same as when you used Appraisal. Sense the presence of that creature."
...Don't ask for the unreasonable. But after becoming aware that it was there, I certainly got the feeling that something was there.
"A rabbit. We'll hunt that one first."
Suddenly, Feld readied his hatchet and threw it from the bush.
A faint cry entered my ears. I followed him as he went towards it and found a rabbit on the ground with a hatchet roughly stuck on its back, killing it instantly.
"We'll move on after processing it."
Then, for the rest of the morning, we hunted in the woods. With no regard for my understanding or stamina, Feld drilled the bewildered me on how to bleed, skin and gut the prey we hunted.
Once back at the camp, he moved away from me, who was collapsed with exhaustion, and started to stick the rabbit meat on the wooden skewers he had carved out.
"Oi, boy! Let's roast some meat!"
I stood up frowning, not because of my tired body, but rather due to the nutritional imbalance of eating nothing but meat since yesterday.
Feld's Daily Life magic ignited the dry leaves, after which he threw in thin branches and finally thicker ones.
He could use sorcery, but it wasn't his speciality. He didn't learn all six types of Daily Life magic like that woman, but he could at least use three: Fire, Water and Light.
While sticking the skewers around the campfire, I stared at the flow of magic power of Daily Life magic, which I had never seen up close before.
That woman's master made her watch the burning fire continuously while kneading her magic power as training for learning Fire. She watched it for so many hours every day that when she fell asleep, she had dreams about fire.
Perhaps this was the same as what Feld said about "reading the flow of magic particles"?
The physical phenomena of this world were closely related to the existence of spirits. Spirit worshippers claimed that fire burned because of the presence of a fire spirit, and indeed fire could only be fuelled by magic particles of the fire element.
Putting aside whether there were spirits or not, physical phenomena were influenced by magic particles. Could it be that magic particles, which were initially non-elemental, become "elemental magic power" when they come into contact with an elemental creature or substance, thus becoming the fuel for the elemental magic?
Do people with elements convert the magic particles they take in to their own elements?
So...perhaps the Daily Life magic that a person learns will become their "magic power's element"?
...No, that woman was more or less able to use all six types of Daily Life magic. Her master also said that learning all six was a requirement for being a proper sorceress. So, was it wrong to think that Daily Life magic was linked to "magic element"?
But Feld could use Light sorcery and Fire sorcery, which were almost the same as his Daily Life magic types. Perhaps "magic power's element" was simply a matter of "affinity", so just because it was harder to learn didn't mean you couldn't.
The first Daily Life magic that woman learned was Fire, which she spent the most time and effort on.
And since that woman was able to use Fire sorcery and Water sorcery, perhaps it was simply because it was the sorcery that left the biggest impression on her.
But...if that was the case, why were there so few people who could handle multiple elements? There should be people interested in all the elements.
Perhaps...by possessing a large amount of magic power, the heart will produce a "magic stone" of that element. But maybe there was some harmful effect from having multiple elements.
"It's done roasting, boy. Eat up, eat up."
My thoughts interrupted, I received the rabbit skewer that Feld offered me.
Frankly speaking, I was so tired that I didn't have much of an appetite, but with no guarantee of getting any decent food next time, I forced it down my throat while searing the image of the magic particles in the burning fire into my eyes.
"Get up, boy! Let's start the next training!"
When I was nodding off with a bulging stomach, Feld's voice woke me up.
Apparently he was going to teach me how to use a weapon next. When asked what weapon I wanted to use, I said a knife, and Feld thought for a moment and nodded deeply.
"The fundamentals of combat are based on Sword Arts, but if it's just the first level, you can learn Spear Arts and Dagger Arts relatively quickly, so it's not bad. I use Sword Arts, but since I use great sword techniques, I can't use my Battle Techniques with a one-handed sword. The reason why Sword Arts and Dagger Arts are separated is because they are handled in different ways. But even if I can't use my Battle Techniques, I can still handle a knife to some extent."
In short, just because you only had a Sword Arts skill didn't mean you were an amateur with a club.
Since only the techniques that can be used were burned into the soul, it seemed that, for example, a person with a level 3 in Sword Arts could manage to use a club or a dagger up to at least level 1, as long as the handling was similar.
"What are Battle Techniques?"
As far as I remembered from the "knowledge", it was a "special move" used by warriors. But although that woman had the Dagger skill, she didn't learn a Battle Technique.
"It is said to be a monosyllabic, non-elemental magic that can be used with the application of Body Strengthening. It's more or less considered to be a high grade non-elemental sorcery equivalent to elemental sorcery."
"How do you learn it?"
"H~m...recently, if it's only a Rank 1 Battle Technique, the Adventurers' Guild can teach it. It costs money, though. Any more than that and you'll have to learn from someone who can use it, or become an apprentice somewhere."
Was it just like sorcery where you had to learn it from someone else? Troublesome.
Feld then corrected the way I held the knife, the way I swung it, the way I stabbed, and the way I defended myself. It became clear to me that woman's Dagger Arts were rather crude.
I was instead amazed at the fact that she was able to acquire the Dagger Arts skill.
I was taught a few basic forms and my movements were corrected with strikes to the arms and waist. But I didn't have time to learn it perfectly, so once I was able to move reasonably well, I was trained by using it all in practice.
I used my knife and Feld used a wooden stick, but in the end my knife couldn't even break the stick, and afterwards I was thrown around a lot to practice falling safely.
I knew he was doing it out of the kindness of his heart, but was this really the kind of training a seven-year-old should be doing?
After a while, I couldn't move again because of fatigue, but Feld's Water splashed over my head, and Heal forced me to recover my stamina.
"Normally, it's not good to use Heal too much during training because it won't help you build up your stamina, but we're short on time so I guess it's fine. Boy, I've been thinking about it since you counterattacked me in the forest. You have a lot of courage and I think you can become very strong. After you learn the Dagger skill, if you also learn Body Strengthening...wait, you're already able to use it, aren't you? I doubt you'll get the skill yet, but be careful not to run out of magic power."
"...What will happen when your magic power runs out?"
"Normally, you'll faint. Generally, a good night's sleep will restore your magic power, but if you run out and faint, you won't wake up for half a day. Besides, when your magic power drops to the lowest level, you will become starved. Don't use all your magic power unless you really have to, because if you're not careful, you could starve to death while unconscious."
Certainly, that was dangerous. Especially in my case, there was a risk of being killed by wild animals while I was unconscious. Let's be careful even when the risk to my life is small.
Afterwards, Feld taught me how to use Body Strengthening and what to look out for.
Normally, in the process of acquiring the first level of a close-quarters combat skill, you would naturally let magic power flow through your body, which would enable you to learn Body Strengthening.
It was said that close-quarters combat skills and Body Strengthening were closely related, apparently having the same usage level.
I was also told that although it would depend a little on the individual's mastery of magic power manipulation, if you're not used to it, you'll consume one unit of magic power for every hundred seconds or so, meaning I had to learn how long I could fight.
In my case, I already had the foundation of Body Strengthening, so if I learned the forms of the dagger well, I could learn the Dagger Arts skill relatively quickly.
"Well, it was in a hurry, but I was able to at least cram the basics of the basics into you. I can't stay any longer, so stay healthy, boy!"
It was nearly evening and Feld, who had run out of time, said this as he picked up his luggage.
A sudden encounter followed by a tough training. But, his words and actions showed the kindness and warmth of an "adult" that I had not felt since I became an orphan.
The "child" part of me looked down, feeling a little lonely. Feld roughly patted my head, covered in ashes and sweat, and before it got too dark walked towards the town with his large back facing me.
I watched him disappear into the sunset until I could no longer see his back and swallowed the loneliness in my heart with a deep breath.
Most people didn't care about street urchins. I thought Feld was very good-natured for teaching me how to live, even if only temporarily.
Carrying the rabbit meat wrapped in leaves that Feld had left for me, I stomped out the campfire and hid myself in the woods before any more travellers arrived.
After checking that the food hanging from the branches has not been bitten by insects or small animals, I climbed up the tree and sat on a thick branch, listening to the sound of the stream flowing nearby. "I" didn't need live coals any more.
I put my hand out in front of me and chanted a Daily Life magic, which, though still crude, produced a small spark.
Then I chanted Water as I listened to the stream flowing, and swallowed the droplets of water that oozed out of my fingertips with small sips. As darkness began to fall, I tried to recover my stamina and magic power, falling into a light sleep for several minutes at a time as I kept a vigilant eye on my surroundings.
At the same time, in the town with the orphanage where Alicia lived, there was an "incident" that became the talk of the town.
In this country, great nobles with the rank of count and above would act as patrons that managed some dependents, which were nobles with the rank of viscount and below who were in possession of territory around their patron. One of them was Count Taurus. In his territory, in a town governed by Baron Horace that was located near the north border, two murder cases occurred.
One of the victims was a woman who appeared to be an adventurer sorceress, and it was assumed that this had been a robbery as her luggage had been taken.
Baron Horace's domain belonged to the frontier, but with a large monster-infested forest to the north, it was a land bustling with adventurers around that region. Adventurers flocked to the larger town of the Baron, which was closer to the forest of monsters, so they didn't come to such a small town, but the residents, who knew of the wandering adventurers' temperament didn't think much of it, assuming it was just a dispute between them.
But, if it was a resident of the town, the old woman who looked after the orphans, it would be a different story.
It was not because the old woman was beloved by the other residents, but because she was an "important" person who took care of the troublesome orphans for a small donation. For this reason, the adults in the town turned a blind eye to the old woman's somewhat excessive "discipline" of the orphans.
When one of the inhabitants was killed, the knight who ruled the area investigated the old woman's room and found evidence that she had been selling children as love slaves to other lords to fatten her own pockets.
Perhaps the reason the old woman was murdered was because of the involvement of a slave trafficking mafia. Attempts were made to find out where the children had been sold, but there were no records and no one could ascertain how many of the orphans had disappeared, so the case was eventually treated as unsolved.
Baron Horace asked his benefactor, the Count Taurus, to introduce him to a new manager for the orphanage, and until he arrived the orphans were looked after by the Baron's servant, who assigned them to do voluntary service for the town.
Among them, a seven-year-old girl who was in charge of cleaning the mud from a ditch picked up a half-chipped "magic stone". Her pupils sparkled with fascination at the bewitching brilliance.
"...Yes. I...want to become the 'heroine'."
From now on, I'll upload one per day.
The next step is finding a method of combat.
- [+] Something that was added in the light novel.
- [–] Something that didn't make it into the light novel.
- [≠] Some difference in details.
- [–] I don't really get the part about "still about 30% wary of adults".
- [+] A short phrase about how the Appraisal Crystal is made.
- [+] It's specified that the Adventurers' Guild was the one that decided on the way to read the numerical values.
- [–] Phrase about how probably only people with money were able to use Appraisal.
- [–] A paragraph about returning to the camp after hunting.
- [+] Feld mentioning monsters using Battle Techniques.
- [–] Feld mentioning how her Body Strengthening wasn't a skill yet even though she could use it.
- [–] Weird mention of "same usage level" for close-quarters combat skills and Body Strengthening.
- [+] Paragraph on both of them "sensing that the time of parting was approaching".
- [+] Feld telling her to be stronger the next time they meet when he patted her head and her responding affirmatively.
- [+] She compared Feld's large back as he walked away into the sunset to her father's.
- [+] She specifically mentioned she "held nothing but gratitude for him".