7: Forest Survival - Middle Part

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

13 minutes
2478 words

Today I will train using the knife until dark.

I would have really liked to be able to secure food, but aside from wild grasses and berries I had no means of securing meat. So I decided to practise "knife throwing" in parallel with the knife forms.

Normally it would be inefficient to practice more than one thing when it hasn't been mastered to the point of becoming a skill, but the current me had very scarce means of survival, so I wanted to have a "trump card" however meagre.


First of all, before I forgot, I had to carefully trace and repeat the knife forms I had been taught yesterday.

Feld told me that since I had a good foundation in Body Strengthening I would be able to learn them quickly as long as I could use the forms, but I wasn't so optimistic, so I decided to trace the forms perfectly and speed up the acquisition as much as possible.


In the first place, a "level 1 skill" was not an easy thing to acquire.

If you could sprout a bunch of skills after a few days of practice, the average person would have learned a large number of combat skills by the time they grew up.

So, just how good was a "level 1 skill"?

Even if that woman wasn't familiar with close-quarters combat, at the very least she had some common sense "knowledge" to offer.


For example, a child could attain "Sword Arts Skill Level 1" after attending the town's Sword Arts dojo for several years and would finally be able to learn it at the age of 12-13 when the body was ready.

From there, to get to "Level 2", you had to pile up training at the level of actual combat, making life-or-death battles your profession.

Raising it to level 3 would bring you to the level of a career soldier or knight who has served for more than a decade, enabling you to call yourself a "warrior" unashamedly.

But it was said that this was the level that an ordinary person could reach as a "job", and that to go beyond that, one would have to sacrifice one's private life and as well as have talent in that field.


Generally speaking, nobody under the age of 10 would have a level 1 skill, and neither would anyone around the age of 20 reach level 3.

So in order for me, who was still very young, to get a skill, I had to train the forms not recklessly, but with a precision and perfection that was impossible for a child.


I kept my mind sharp and repeated the corrected forms slowly but accurately.

Children were unexpectedly good at concentrating. Most children were easily bored and wouldn't last long, but I "understood" that I needed to survive, so I never lost my concentration.

"...Fuu."

After repeatedly training in Dagger Arts for two hours, I exhaled, feeling tired and thirsty.

As my body sank into a slump, I willed myself to reach for my leather canteen filled with water and licked it lightly, concerned that the water would soon become stale.

I thought I should replenish it when Water became available in the morning.

The amount of magic power I can use today is...huh? When I thought about my remaining magic power, the information I needed came to mind from the "knowledge".

Even if you consumed magic power, in this world full of magic particles you would recover approximately 10% per hour, or 20% if you were asleep.

If so, then even if you consumed it to the very limit, it appeared you could recover all your magic power after five hours of sleep.

It has probably been two hours since I last used my magic power, so with a value of 13, I should have recovered around 2-3 units of magic power.


First of all, I washed my hands in the stream and dumped out the old water that smelled of leather from the canteen, put my fingertip near its mouth and, while paying attention to my remaining magic power, chanted Water and poured it little by little.

At my current level of training, I could produce only around a cup's worth of water with one unit of magic power. When I used Water again to see if I could do a little more, I felt just a little light-headed.

But now it became clear that my magic power recovered at a rate of 10% per hour.

It seemed that your magic power would gradually increase as you used it and gained sorcery skills, but at the moment I was unable to practice because the magic power I had available was just too small.

If so, wouldn't there be a way to speed up the recovery of magic power? ...Let's think about that later.


After a drink of water to restore my energy, I decided to practise my knife throwing.

There were two types of knife throwing: straight and with a rotation. A straight throw was used to hit targets close by, while a rotating throw could be used to aim at a slightly greater distance. ...Apparently.

Knife throwing was probably limited to 10 metres, even when using Body Strengthening. For anything beyond that, it should be more efficient to use a normal bow.

First, I tried to aim at the trunk of a tree from a distance of two metres. Whether it was a straight or a rotating throw, the way of holding the knife remained the same. The only thing that changed was the way you swung your arm and the timing of the release, so I tried throwing the knife straight.

Bam!

"..."

The knife struck the ground without even reaching the target. It's said that you throw with your elbow, but how do you get it to fly straight?

Well, I thought I'd just have to keep practising, but after several repetitions I realised that a seven-year-old's muscle strength was simply not good enough. There were dedicated throwing weapons...called "senbon" that were similar to needles that I could probably use.

That woman, why did she have such knowledge if she couldn't use it properly?


Change of plans. I gave up on knife throwing for now and tried stone throwing.

I was fixated on knife throwing because I could train both Dagger Arts and Throwing, since both were required, same as with Feld's hatched throwing requiring Hatchet Arts and Throwing.

All that was needed for stone throwing was the Throwing skill so even I should be able to use it.

As I wondered about how to throw the stone, the knowledge of the sling, a stone thrower, came to mind. It seemed to be easy to make if you had a string and some cloth or leather.

Change of plans again. It was supposed to be able to produce a relatively high amount of power even when used by a child, so I decided to make one. That woman seemed to have hunted rabbits with it when she was young, so she knew how to make it.


Just as I began making the sling, I realised that I lacked a string. Should I cut a piece of cloth into long strips as a substitute? Will it be strong enough? I think a string would be better because I need a part to hook my fingers on but... With this thought in mind, I went through my luggage and found the hair I had cut off.

I kept it to see if I could sell it, but it was around 30 centimetres long, so if I twisted it together I could probably use it as a string substitute.

First, I tied a few strands at the base and tried making something resembling a braid. It became quite distorted. When I pulled hard on it, it came undone. After that, I repeated the process several times, and when I finally managed to braid it nicely it was well into the evening.

...Let's go pick some berries.


By the time I had finished picking the blackberries it was quite dark, so I hurried back to my usual tree.

It should be about time I recovered some of my magic power. Among the wild grasses I collected in the morning, one that had been drying on a stone by the stream was quite dry, so I rolled it up tightly and used Fire to ignite it a little.

It was insect repellent grass. I tried using it because I found it in that book.

I didn't know if this was the right way to use it, as it was originally intended to be used as incense, but I've been in the woods all day and have been worried about insect bites, so hopefully this would help.

I placed it at the base of the tree, surrounded by stones. A fire of this size was hardly noticeable, so it should be alright.

I climbed up the tree and made the sling since I could still see a bit, then had a berry-only dinner.

In the darkened forest, I could see the light of a campfire from the direction of the campsite. Of course, I wouldn't try to observe them, so I calmed my breath and concealed myself.


...But I was a bit curious and turned my attention towards the campsite. Couldn't this be used as training to feel the magic particles in the air and detect presences like Feld told me?

I focused my eyes in the direction of the campsite and sharpened my senses to try to perceive the magic particles in the surroundings.

As I stared at it, trying to sense the magic particles, I got the feeling that something was there. Have I become able to feel the presence of small animals? Or maybe it's a fairy or a spirit that I heard about in fairytales when I was younger.

As if stimulated by this thought, a certain piece of "knowledge" rose up in my mind.


It was said that magic particles in this world were produced by spirits. In that case, perhaps there really were small spirits around here.

But, eh? There were just as many types of spirits as there were elements. If magic particles transformed when they came into contact with an element as I assumed, then did that mean that the source of the transformation was a spirit? If so, which spirits were responsible for creating the magic particles this forest was filled with?

Since it was a forest, were they earth spirits? Or water spirits? It was night at the moment so maybe dark spirits were creating them.

When I had that thought, mysteriously, I felt as if the forest was overflowing with the power of the dark spirits. There was moonlight tonight, so I could just make out a faint outline as my eyes adjusted, but perhaps it was this thought that made me notice a particularly dark part in the darkness of the forest.

I caught sight of the light from the distant campfire, so maybe that was what made it look even darker?


...Is that really the case?

Once I became aware of it, the darkness and the rest of the parts of the world started to look different. If that part was the power of the dark spirits—magic particles of the dark element—then what were the other parts? The trees and shrubs looked particularly different, so were those parts full of water- and earth-based magic particles?

If dark magic particles are of a "blackish" colour, what would the water's and earth's colour be? I feel like the image that water gives is "blueish" and the earth is "yellowish". If so, light would be "whitish", fire would be "reddish" and wind would be...what colour would it be? Maybe the leftover colour, a pale "greenish" was its colour?


Thinking of this, I imagined the magic particles around the trees and shrubs to be yellow and blue, and as I looked at them, I noticed that the trunks of the trees were speckled with a mixture of yellow and blue, and the light of the campfire in the distance appeared to be red.

"...Strange."

The gentle breeze that rustled the leaves of the trees felt slightly green, and as I strongly imagined "colours", the forest, which had previously only been nothing but darkness, suddenly seemed to become colourful.


Maybe it was just my imagination. Maybe it was just a hallucination that my mind was showing me this one time.

But if this was really happening...

I breathed in deeply to draw in the magic particles that I could see around me, and when I used them to match my own magic power to the "colour" of my surroundings, I felt my previously out of place existence suddenly melting into the forest.

Author's Note

What is the degree of proficiency at each Sword Arts level?

It's a rough approximation, but I've tried to translate it into the modern world somehow.


Level 1: A member of a high school kendo club that is good enough to place at the top of a prefectural tournament.

Level 2: A university student or a working adult that is good enough to take part in a real tournament.

Level 3: A policemen or Self-Defense Force officer that is good enough to take top places in national kendo tournaments.

Level 4: A person skilled enough to win a big tournament for professionals.


Something like this, I think?


Next time, Last Part: Searching for a means of combat.

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 water in her leather canteen becoming stale.
  • [–] Her thinking about the dedicated throwing weapons called "senbon" and that woman having knowledge she couldn't use. I'm assuming this was a Naruto reference (unsurprising if we assume that woman was an otaku), since that's where I found what "senbon" was. I translated it a bit liberally because it was hard to follow, which I guess is why it was cut, but it does make sense since she later buys metal skewers that she uses for throwing.
  • [–] Mention of Feld's hatchet throwing requirements. The original wording was a bit weird so it's a liberal translation, but it doesn't really matter since I don't think "Hatchet Arts" are ever brought up again.

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