6: Forest Survival - First Part

Part 1: Vagabond Arc "Ash-crowned Princess of Slaughter" Chapter 1: The Heroine Went Against Fate

12 minutes
2345 words

That day, no travellers visited the campsite and just like that morning came.

Nevertheless, there was a possibility that carriages with merchants or the like may stop by around noon for lunch.

A normal adult would simply be vigilant of a street urchin, thinking they may be a thief. A sly adult, seeing a child with a knife and money on this road without guards, may decide to steal them.

It would be better to think of Feld as a special case and not trust adults so easily.


But still, hiding was not enough, so I began to train my Daily Life magic, while picking wild blackberries again to subsist.

I could feel my own magic power, and while immature, I could use Fire and Water, but it wasn't at a practical level yet and I couldn't use any other Daily Life magic.

The next convenient one to learn would be Light, but I was thinking of deliberately learning Hard before that.

Hard was a magic used for hardening earth into a solid mass, which was generally used in construction for fixing a mud wall in place until it dried so other work could be done, shortening the construction time...apparently.

I wasn't sure because it was an unpopular magic that few people learned, so that woman's "knowledge" didn't have much on it.


I looked at the lump of earth in my hand and was a little troubled. What does it mean to "harden" something?

When I grasped the earth in my hand firmly, it took a solid appearance, but when I touched it with my finger it crumbled easily, so this couldn't be called as "hardened".

After a few times of grasping and crumbling, the earth, which had dried and turned from a light brown to a yellowish colour, was no longer able to clump together even when grasped tightly.

"...Water."

As I chanted Water for practice, with a little more quantity than last night, water dripped from my fingertip and was sucked into the dry earth.

It could harden again like this. But this time there was a larger amount of water so it became mud.

Dried earth was more like fine powder than smooth sand. To harden it "something" like water was needed to tie the earth grains together.

"...Hard..."

When I chanted to bind the grains of earth together with magic power, the lump of earth in my hand became hard in its original shape.

"...Did it work?"

Did I learn Hard with this? Just to be sure of how solid it was I threw it at a nearby tree. When the lump of earth hit the tree, it easily crumbled and turned back into ordinary earth as the magic power dispersed.

I could use it, but it wasn't perfect. Do I really need to learn it from someone else after all?

In the special training that woman's master made her do, she also kneaded a lump of earth with her bare hands in a similar way. But was something different? The earth that woman used had a greyish colour.


I put that off for a bit and returned upstream temporarily. I washed the berries I picked up, which I used as substitute for breakfast. I washed my hair, which had hardened from the sweat and ashes, in the stream before it became too uncomfortable and wiped my body with a wet cloth.

Once the ashes were gone, my pink-blonde hair that was the same as Mum's glistened and stood out, making me feel restless. Leaving the ashes made my hair stiff, so maybe I could use the grey earth by the riverside as substitute...wait, is this...? I spotted a grey layer on the ground near the stream, so when I dug it with a nearby stone and fiddled with it with my fingers, the "knowledge" told me what it was.

"Clay?"

I tried chanting Hard while pouring magic power into it. But not only did it not harden much, it felt more difficult to do so than with normal earth.

What am I doing wrong? What's different between earth and clay? I was trying to pour magic power in order to fill the gaps but...

"Ah, I see."

When I fiddled with the clay with my fingers, I noticed that it was so fine that there were no gaps. And that woman's knowledge taught me that clay had much finer particles than ordinary earth.

"...Hard."

This time, instead of letting the magic power flow to tie the "grains" together, I imagined it permeating the gaps between the "particles" and binding them together.

When the hardened clay was thrown against a tree vigorously, the clay did not chip but the tree trunk was scratched. Moreover, the magic power did not dissipate as soon as it left my hand, it still retained its magic power and hardness.

So this is Hard... If I didn't have the knowledge of that woman's "previous life" I may not have been able to learn it. Afterwards, I picked up some of the clay to see how long the hardness would last.


I wanted to learn some other Daily Life magic, but while it was still bright I took that hand-written medicinal herb dictionary out of my luggage. It contained not only a variety of medicinal herbs, but also mushrooms and minerals that could be used for making medicine, which were described with great detail and accompanied by illustrations.

Although the me right now had "knowledge", I haven't made it completely my own. I had to learn the letters as if I were looking up each word in a dictionary.

For now, mushrooms were difficult to identify, even with illustrations, so I spent a lot of time looking for edible wild grasses nearby in the dictionary, and when I found one I read it letter by letter to make sure it was safe.

After a some time, while I was engrossed in the process, I could smell the faint scent of a campfire in the distance.

...Is it around noon already? A merchant's carriage probably stopped by for lunch. If they were not here at this time, the carriage would not be able to reach the other town before evening.

I gathered up dead branches while returning to the wooded area near the stream where I had left my luggage. As I approached the campsite, the scent of burning wood from the campfire became stronger.


Feld told me to feel the magic power around me, to sense the flow of the wind and to smell its scent.

I went back one step at a time to check and feel the intensity of the scent. When I compared the magic particles I felt around me with the flow of the scent, I had a feeling I could "see" the movement of the magic particles a little.

"...Wind."

When I chanted, pouring my own magic power to match the movement of the scent and the magic particles, albeit slightly, the scent dissipated.

I had been practising feeling the magic power of the wind, so I thought I would learn it quickly, but I learned it more easily than I had planned.

If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that I was interested in the wind and that it was my element.


I had planned to hide deep in the forest when the travellers came, but now that I could use Hard, I changed my plans and started to collect clay.

After a while of kneading clay, the scent of burning wood disappeared from the air. Using clay was surprisingly enjoyable, but it wasn't like I was just playing with it.

I took some rabbit meat wrapped in leaves from my luggage and a bit of food, as well as some dead branches and wild grasses I had gathered from the forest, and headed carefully towards the campsite, where I found that there was no one left.


When I approached the site of the campfire and touched the ground, it was still warm, but to my annoyance, the campfire had been doused with water so I couldn't use it.

I picked up a nearby stone and dug a hole in the ground next to it. It would be difficult to dig with a stone that wasn't sharp, but that wasn't a problem since I wasn't digging deep.

"...Fuu."

Once a hole had been dug, I placed a fresh leaf in it, crumbled some dry cheese over the rabbit meat, wrapped it in a leaf again, placed it in the hole, placed another fresh leaf on top, and covered it with earth.

In addition, I placed dead leaves and a small amount of dead branches on top of it. I was more or less prepared, but I didn't light the fire yet.

"Hard."

I solidified the distorted clay bowl I had prepared with Hard, added the wild grasses and dried meat I had chopped with my knife, and poured water over it with Water.

"...Uuh..."

I felt a bit light-headed. I already used too much magic power today, but I shouldn't enter a starvation state if I used magic one more time.

"...Fire."

I placed the clay bowl beside the new campfire and ignited it. Sparks flew and smoke rose slightly from the dead leaves.

It would be tough to use Fire again, so I blew on it, placing well dried dead leaves on it little by little, and was relieved when it successfully ignited.


My magic power value was 13, and today I used Daily Life magic 8 times.

Apparently one use of Daily Life magic consumed one unit of magic power, so my remaining magic power was 5. This was probably the bottom line, so while feeling my remaining amount of magic power I made sure to memorise the sensation.


Since the bowl was only placed near the fire, I thought it would take some time for the wild grasses to be cooked.

But the hardening of the clay with Hard only lasted approximately one hour. In the meantime, I began making a spoon with my knife by carving a branch from a tree I had picked up, hoping it would be cooked by then.

"..."

The blade of the knife wasn't that thin, so I couldn't cut very well with it due to my lack of strength. To begin with, my hands were still clumsy and I was afraid of cutting myself if I put too much pressure.

Even so, I patiently kept on making a spoon...was what it was supposed to be called, but the result was a distorted and bent spatula. ...Well, it's better than nothing.

The wild grasses were almost done cooking...at least that's how it seemed. But considering the duration of Hard, it would probably be the limit soon.

I carefully pulled the bowl away from the campfire using a branch, and then dug into the almost extinguished campfire to retrieve the rabbit meat from it.

"...Whoa..."

The leaves were hot and soaked in the fat from the meat.

I carefully peeled off the leaves with the tip of my knife to reveal the perfectly roasted meat, which I picked up with my fingers and ate a mouthful.

...Mhm. It's quite fine.

The taste wasn't too bad thanks to the cheese, but it wasn't salty enough and had a strange leafy flavour attached. It might not be a bad idea to wrap this with wild grasses of the herbal type.


Next, I tried eating the wild grasses stewed with dried meat.

This is...awful. The side closest to the fire was cooked, but the rest of it was raw, and the astringent taste of uncooked wild plants was too intense. There was some flavour from the salty dried meat, but not enough to mask the bitterness and strange smell.

It may be a good idea to be more careful when selecting the kinds of wild grasses I use in my cooking from now on...


This time, I tried cooking for the first time in order to cook the cheese and dried meat, because I was afraid to eat them as they were, even if they were preserved, after leaving them in the forest for a whole day.

In the end I thought the result to be a failure, but I considered it to be worth the experience as I now knew a bit more about what to do next time.

The wild grasses soup tasted worse than the salt soup made by that old hag in the orphanage, but it was not poisonous, so I finished it. Then again, both were awful so it wasn't really any different.

More importantly, rather than eating meals consisting of nothing but meat, eating wild grasses somehow calmed me down.


When I finished eating, I wrapped some new ashes in a small leaf and returned to the forest to train my knife since it didn't require using magic power.

Author's Note

She will gradually learn more and more things.


Next time: Middle Part.

Differences when compared to the light novel

Legend:

  • [+] Something that was added in the light novel.
  • [–] Something that didn't make it into the light novel.
  • [≠] Some difference in details.
Show differences
  • [–] Mention of Hard being an unpopular magic so she didn't know much about it.
  • [+] She went into the forest and dug out some soft looking earth before looking at it.
  • [+] Hardened clay making a sound like porcelain.
  • [–] Her mentioning that she'd think her element was wind if she didn't know any better.
  • [–] The huge meal preparation of wrapping the rabbit meat with fresh leaves.
  • [–] Her actually preparing a fairly good meaty meal. Maybe it was removed because the survival part wasn't portrayed as difficult enough?

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