8: Forest Survival - Last Part

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

15 minutes
2906 words

The next morning I woke up with the sunrise again. There should still have been people at the campsite. Looking closely in that direction I had a feeling I could see a faint red colour.

It was harder to tell in the daytime than at night, but I could still recognise last night's elemental magic particles by "colour". Apparently, it wasn't just my imagination and my brain really did "perceive" magic particles as having a colour.

But both Feld and that woman's master said that magic particles should be "felt". So maybe "seeing" was unorthodox. Currently, I could feel the magic particles around me within a few metres, but using my "sight" I could see a little further.

I had a hunch that this would become my "weapon".

If I practised feeling the sensations of the magic particles a little more, I might be able to expand the range to which I could see them. And I'll train myself to see the colours more clearly by becoming strongly aware of my current perception.


I began my daily routine of gathering wild grasses and blackberries away from the campsite, while looking at the colours of the magic particles and feeling them with my senses.

The food supply was really scarce. The dried meat and cheese would be finished by tomorrow, so should I head into town soon?

I stopped halfway up the stream to clean the blackberries and eat them before washing my face. I rinsed my mouth well and rubbed my teeth with the stem of a shaved herb, which was something of a habit that my parents ingrained in me after repeating it many times when they were alive.

Lastly, while refilling my canteen with the Daily Life magic, Water, I thought about the thing I became able to do at the end of last night.


I became able to see the colours of the magic particles, and by consciously inhaling the colours of my surroundings and matching my magic power to them, I felt as if my presence had melted into the forest. If it wasn't just my imagination, it could be very advantageous for stealth.

"..."

When I looked closely while being conscious of the fact that magic particles had colours, I could see the surrounding scenery becoming faintly coloured and even the places that I couldn't see before became "visible".

Recalling yesterday's sensation, I breathed in the magic particles, turning the clear, non-elemental magic power inside me into a "colour" similar to that of my surroundings.

Why were my magic particles non-elemental when my surroundings were full of elemental magic particles? Speaking of which, the reason why you entered a starvation state if you used too much magic power was because the creatures in this world took in magic particles as one of their nutrients. So did that mean that the body only took in elemental magic particles?

I left investigating that for later, taking in a small amount of the yellow coloured magic particles of the earth, the blue of the water, the green of the wind, the black of the dark, and in exchange took in a larger amount of the white magic particles of the light.

...It didn't become exactly the same. It wasn't so much the proportions of the elements that I inhaled, but rather my inexperience in controlling my magic power to fine-tune those proportions. Moreover, the proportions of magic particles in the surrounding area changed as I moved, so I had to fine-tune my magic power each time.

...Do I have to keep doing this while using Stealth?

Feld also said that while operating covertly, I should read the flow of magic particles around me and match them. By magic power's flow...he might have meant matching the density of the magic particles and the elements unconsciously.

It's so tedious...but well, I have no choice but to do it.


I resumed collecting wild grasses while training to match the colours of my magic power.

Having learned my lesson about edible wild plants yesterday, I focused on picking herbs that could be used for making medicine.

The medicinal herb used regularly as a household remedy grew practically everywhere. It seemed to be able to kill germs in wounds, cure stomach aches caused by light food poisoning and could act as a type of antidote with antiseptic properties.

—!

At that moment, a green snake suddenly appeared from a nearby bush.

The green snake was a type of snake about a metre in length with only a weak paralysing venom, and was a docile snake that wouldn't attack prey larger than a field mouse. Even so, they would still attack if threatened, and their bite could leave you paralysed and unable to move properly for up to an hour.

It wouldn't be much of a problem in a settlement, but I didn't want to be paralysed in this kind of place.

"..."

But the green snake didn't notice me standing right beside it. Could it not see me because I was matching my magic power?

According to that woman's "knowledge", it seemed that snakes could feel the heat of other living creatures. If that was the case, could matching your magic power be used to deceive even heat detection? No, maybe the snakes of this world could sense the magic power of living beings instead? Either way, I was relieved to discover that I was able to hide to such an extent that wild animals could not detect me.

I pulled out my knife while matching the flow of the wind around me and swung the blade straight down at the snake's head. The green snake flailed and tried to entangle itself around my arm. I slowly and without panic stabbed deeply, then severed the neck and squeezed the blood out.


I returned to the campsite by noon when it was no longer occupied by travellers, and after making sure there were no merchant carriages, I built a campfire and began preparing my meal.

I hated eating half-boiled wild plants, so I decided to grill them safely today.

Feld could skin a snake in one go with a single cut, but I lacked such muscle strength. So I thought about cutting it into pieces and peeling the skin from each one, however due to the bones I had a hard time doing even that, but when I circulated magic power throughout my body, which also served as Body Strengthening training, it became a little easier to cut.

It would have taken Feld a few seconds, but it took me over ten minutes to finish processing it.

I then put the chopped snake on a prepared skewer and roasted it over the fire. In addition, I toasted the washed herb roots, cheese and dried meat next to the fire.

Compared to yesterday, it tasted better. When I ate the herbs that I had left for the end just to be safe, their flavour completely ruined the whole meal.

While cleaning up the campfire, I noticed that there were still some fragments of yesterday's clay bowl. The bowl solidified with Hard should have returned back to mere clay when the magic power ran out.

Could it be that only the side that was exposed to the open fire became unglazed pottery?

If produced skilfully, rather than a haphazardly made bowl, it might perhaps become a proper unglazed bowl.


In the afternoon I trained with the knife and practised using my newly created sling.

For the knife, I only traced the Dagger Arts forms accurately. I did that over and over again while occasionally using Body Strengthening while being careful of my remaining amount of magic power.

Fundamentally, it seemed that the reason why it took so long to get a level 1 close-quarters combat skill was because of the time required to become able to use Body Strengthening, which should be learned during the training process. So if I trained while interweaving Body Strengthening, I expected the acquisition to be faster compared to other children.

For the sling, I repeatedly threw pebbles from the stream against the trunk of a tree.

The stones that at first refused to fly straight started to occasionally hit the target after an hour of continuous practice. But still, three metres was the limit if I wanted to hit the it properly, so more training would be needed.

"...Eh?"

But then I noticed a strange phenomenon.

As I was training in using the sling while simultaneously practising letting my magic power flow through my entire body, I suddenly felt like my hit rate had increased.

Did I unconsciously use Body Strengthening...? But does Body Strengthening have such an effect in the first place?

No such record could be found in the knowledge. When I circulated my magic power through my body while holding the sling once again, I noticed that only the string part of the sling, which was made of my own hair, had a faint amount of magic power flowing through it.

Even though it was detached from me, my hair still retained a small amount of my magic power, and it reacted in a familiar way when I poured my magic power through it.

Since I was now able to recognise my own magic power, I was letting it flow along with my blood. I thought that magic power flowed with the blood on its own, but maybe I was moving the magic power itself with my own will.

If so, there was a possibility that I was unconsciously moving my hair as an extension of my body, subtly correcting the trajectory in order to hit the target. I felt that the sling's hit rate would be even higher if I were conscious of it being an extension of my body and poured my magic power through it.

Besides, I felt that this could become part of my arsenal, so while it was still bright I started to make a "new weapon" out of my hair.


"...This might be useable."


In the twilight of the evening, when I tried to use the weapon I had made, I came to the conclusion that it was just barely usable...assuming my opponent was willing to let his guard down, but thinking that I managed to create another way to fight, I decided to move to the next stage—the neighbouring town.


I had spent the rest of the day replenishing my water supply and organising my luggage, packed the bare essentials and half of the money into that woman's bag, and set off the next morning just as the sky was beginning to brighten.

A grown-up's legs would be able to reach the neighbouring town by evening if they left early in the morning. Since I'm still very young, I wonder if it would take me around 50% longer?

I wanted to get there by tomorrow morning if possible, even if I had to take a lot of breaks.

I ate only blackberries again while walking and chewed on some herbs to prevent food poisoning.

As a person who held that woman's "knowledge", I was impressed that such a thing was enough to prevent illness, but then that same "knowledge" rose in my mind—the higher a person's magic power value was, the less likely they were to get sick—and I was convinced.

I wonder if eating a diet that is a proper mix of multiple elements would make my body more resistant to illness.


As I walked, I trained to sense the "colour" of the magic particles, and occasionally mixed in some Body Strengthening.

Since the only way to know the passage of time was through my own senses and the angle of the sun, I was particularly careful not to use too much magic power.

I decided to use this time to practise the Daily Life magic I hadn't learnt yet, Light and Dark.

Light was a magic spell that gave out light the size of a small candle, while Dark was a magic spell that blocked out light and cancelled out the effect of Light. The reason I put learning these two magic spells off was that, unlike the other four, I didn't understand their principles.

For water it was enough to imagine collecting the moisture from the air, and for wind it was only necessary to circulate the air by pushing its magic particles.

After becoming aware that elements had different "colours", I began to consciously collect magic particles of the water element, which enabled me to produce more water.

If so, could it not be used by collecting the white magic particles of light?


"Light."

A tiny light appeared in my hand when I chanted. The light, so small that you wouldn't have noticed it if you didn't know it was there, disappeared the moment I let my mind wander.

...What am I doing wrong? If Light was successful, the light should have lasted for approximately fifteen minutes. Come to think of it, I have a feeling the lights in the orphanage were attached to something.

I detached my magic power from myself. To sustain the light that magic power was burning up little by little...just like how flames needed to consume oxygen to fuel themselves?

"...Light."

I tried attaching Light to the tip of my knife, which resulted in a flash of dazzling light.

"Da-Dark!"

When I hastily gathered up dark magic particles and hit the light with them, they cancelled each other out and disappeared.

Was the strong light I saw just now the result of gathering up light magic particles? Perhaps it was due to the image of combustion I held that I felt as if the magic I had detached had instantly burned out instead of dispersing.

I wouldn't be able to use this properly without practice. But I was able to use not only Light but also Dark on the spur of the moment, so let's be satisfied with that.


I slipped into the woods to avoid the passing carriages and travellers, picked berries and filled my stomach with the last of the dried meat and cheese, roasted over a small fire.

The only food left were the blackberries and wild grasses collected from the forest. I still couldn't catch a rabbit with my sling, and while I could have looked for a snake, I prioritised going to the town.

As the sun began to set in the evening, I began to wonder whether I should use Light to continue further or hide in the forest and wait for the morning, when I suddenly noticed a change in myself.

"...I can see...in the night."

It has only been two days. But as a result of using that time to strengthen my "awareness" that magic particles had the colours of their element, I had become able to identify the plants, the ground, and the sky by the colour of their element despite being a little faint.

I felt that if I concentrated more, I could even see the position of the animals, which were without element.

The radius of what I can see around me is around 20...no, 15 metres? But if I could see that much I could walk even at night.

I dived into the forest once again, looking for the water element's "blue", then picked blackberries, which contained a lot of it, and rested my body.

Today I will keep going for as long as my stamina lasts. Maybe it was thanks to my frequent use of Body Strengthening, but I didn't feel that tired yet.

After a short meal break, I continued down the main road while matching the colour and size of the magic particles around me to erase my presence.

Then, having taken a couple of breaks as I continued along the dark road, I finally saw the wall of the neighbouring town late into the night.

Author's Note

I plan to leave out a lot of the training, including the setting.

Next is finally time for the first battle.


Next time: Trespassing into town.

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
  • [–] The whole section about her cooking the snake plus other things. Makes sense it was cut, since it almost makes it seem that she's eating lavishly. Also, that part about the pottery was useless for sure. Don't remember her becoming a professional potter in the future, even if she does create such things with Hard at times.
  • [–] The whole block of text that starts with her mentioning that she "wanted to get to the neighbouring town by next morning even if she had to take a lot of breaks" until her wondering if a diet of multiple elements would make her healthier.
  • [+] Her saying that if it was something she could do, she'd do it as much as possible, before starting to train Light and Dark.
  • [–] The description of how to use Wind after Water was described.

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