Forest Training and the Black Cat Familiar (Part 1)

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Author: Sasaki Ichiro Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 3415 characters
Translator: Mab English Source: Re:Library Word Count: Unknown words
Editor(s): Silva

MC is now 11 years old.


“How can I keep my soul in me, so that it doesn’t touch your soul? How can I raise it high enough, past you, to other things?”
“Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, daß sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie hinheben über dich zu andern Dingen?” 1 

  • Rainer Maria Rilke in “Love Song/Liebes-Lied”

♢♦♢♦♢

Well, it has been about 10 days since then.

My daily routine as a witch’s apprentice continued. First thing I did in the morning when I woke up was tie up my long hair with a handkerchief and go out through the back, wooden door, carrying a wooden bucket with handles with both hands. I went to the well behind the hermitage, fetched water, transferred it to the wooden bucket, filled it two-thirds full, then lifted it up——I tried to carry it full on my first day, but the weight of the water made me tip over the bucket, and I only managed to carry it when it reduced by half. Regina was very critical for my poor tact, but it was the best I could do with the arm strength of an obese girl who had never worked out once in her life.

I slumped again at the time, realizing that all the hard work I had put in for so many years in my previous life had all gone down the drain, but I told myself that I was still a kid, which meant I had a lot of room to grow, but then……right then; “——Ugh. That’s right, I’m a girl now.” I slumped yet again as I remembered that crucial thing that I had just forgotten.

As it was proven from the Olympic 100-meter run times, no matter how hard they worked out, women’s bodies were at most limited to 90% to men’s in terms of physical strength.

That being said, as a former noble’s daughter turned witch’s apprentice, I felt like training my body wasn’t exactly what I should focus on. Well, according Regina, “Ultimately, a magician will be tasked with physical trials. It’s not something you can do if you’re this plump.” So, it wasn’t exactly wrong to train my body if I considered it as my future investment. Perchance.

So, once I had managed to carry about two-thirds of the water in the bucket at a time, I put the bucket on the ground and peeked in to see my face reflected in the water surface.

I guess there wouldn’t be much visible change in just 10 days, but I felt like my cheeks had become somewhat more shapely. The waist of my skirt was also getting roomier by the day, and I had to adjust it with the apron strings. At this rate, we might need to fix the measurements for each part of my garment after a month.

However, I was still flabby and obese and still looked like a pig. I sighed and walked away, lifting the wooden bucket with both hands again.

Well then, after making several trips back and forth between the well and the kitchen of the hermitage, filling the water jar with water for daily use, I went outside again in my comfortable clothes, took off my apron, and began to do some light warm-up exercises.

On a corner of the forest where the morning haze was thick. I could see the smoke from the fireplace that I lit rising from the chimney on the roof of the sturdy one-story building.

Twisting my body around, I saw a wooden fence——that being said, it was only as tall as my chest, so it almost looked like nothing more than a reassurement, while in actuality it was imbued with the smell that demon beasts hated, and it was also applied warding magic to ward off demon beasts, which meant mindless demon beasts couldn’t enter the vicinity of the hermitage——and while I couldn’t see them as they were deep in the forest, I could hear the sounds of the critters so loudly it was annoying, hell knows if they were birds or demon beasts.

Nevertheless, I began my daily training routine. I took in the cold air, which was incomparably colder than in modern Japan.

First was the kata for unarmed martial arts. The ancient martial arts that I learned consisted of trading attacks with basic weaponries as well as hand-to-hand combat techniques in case weapons weren’t available. In standing techniques, the basic idea was to strike short and close, using only palms and elbows for striking instead of fists. The main point was on overpowering the opponent by using unique footwork and a series of strikes to keep the opponent glued to you.

When I started this 10 days ago, I couldn’t keep my breath and I wrung out all of my stamina at this stage——and my muscles were sore for a couple days after that——which frustrated me to no end. And to be fair, I could do 10 sets of 50 kata back to back without a hitch in my heyday, but now I guess just one set was my limit.

Next, I held up a wooden sword, which really was just a fallen branch I shaved away, and repeated the horizontal and vertical kata each. The sword was designed to draw blood, so many of the techniques were designed for opponents with spears and projectiles. Occasionally, I threw pebbles at the target. Originally, I should have used shurikens or throwing daggers for this, but as I couldn’t prepare them, I made-do with pebbles.

I must have been doing this for nearly an hour. I had no idea when she woke up, but I saw Regina standing there in her usual robe, looking dumbfounded.

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“You sure are a hard worker, doing this every single morning. To be honest, I didn’t expect a pampered young lady would get up every morning before sunrise to fetch water and even practice on her own.” She seemed impressed, but the moment she vocalized those words, it sounded more like she stumbled upon an unexpected mishap.

Incidentally, in my previous life, my mentor had told me that the best time to practice martial arts was between 4 and 5 in the morning, so I had the habit of getting up at that time every day. Getting up early wasn’t particularly difficult for me. Well, if anything, I couldn’t understand how Syltianna could just loaf all day and had to be woken up by her nanny or attendant——and she even slept again after that——just to get an extra 30 minutes to an hour of sleep in the morning for no reason.

“Well, a hardworking commoner is a bit better than a lazy commoner. A hardworking and competent person is just that rare, while a hardworking incompetent person is just the worst.”
“Huh, well…you’re not wrong.”

Should I be happy that I was treated as a commoner from now on?

“If you’re done, then help me fix breakfast! Come on.”
“——Y-, yes, Mentor!”

I hastily put on the apron I had removed and hurried back inside the hermitage.

♢♦♢♦♢

After a breakfast of soup with unidentified wild veggies and mushrooms plus biscuits (there were 3 meals basically, but the menu was mostly the same, with the only changes being rye bread, oatmeal, or fruits for the biscuits), I went into the forest with Regina to forage medicinal herbs and other plants for the whole morning.

Incidentally, eating nothing but those frugal meals was rough for the first three days, but after a week, I got used to it. I still got hungry, but I told myself to live with hunger.

Be that as it may, it was still the Tenebrae Nemus. It was said that there was always a demon beast a stone’s throw away from you in here. Or rather, there were hardly any animals that were just normal animals, as this was a grove full of demon beasts (which brings the question, is Regina the witch also some kind of demon beast? I feel like she’ll just hit me with her cane if I asked her the question).

“Speaking of which, I know it’s a bit late, but what’s the difference between an animal and a demon beast?”

Regina, who was leading the way empty-handed except for her cane, tediously answered me, who was equipped with a basket on my back and a sickle. “In a broader sense, demon beast is the general term used to refer to all animals that possess magical power. In the narrower sense, it’s used to categorize animals who have a magic stone, the source of their magic power, in their body.”

Hmm. If the focal point was the ability to use magic, then just a strange looking creature——like that horned rabbit lurking in the grass, who was looking at me with bloodshot eyes, and that green small person with fangs who had been following us around for a while now——fell to the category of animals too?

With her back facing me, Regina, who had apparently anticipated my next question, quickly added, “Just so you know, ‘Magic’ isn’t always about something that is tangible, like shooting fire or manipulating the wind. On the contrary, that kind of magic is the minority. Mindless beasts generally unconsciously use body enhancing magic——for example, extraordinary physical strength, horns that other animals don’t have, or fertile like crazy, it’s easy to tell them apart since they’re all specialized in one thing.”

“……Errm. If so, then, by any chance, the animals that have been targeting us in the surroundings, they are……?”
“Obviously, demon beasts.”

The instant Regina off-handedly affirmed my suspicion, the demon beasts all around us all turned frenzy with rage, to which I held up my scythe to see if they would attack me at last. But at that moment, a black silhouette ran like a gale between the trees and, pon! And belatedly, all the demon beasts it touched exploded.

“Uwaa~~~h……” The sight of splattering blood, flesh, and guts made me recoil, had it been the original Syltianna, she would have swooned at the horrific sight. I had memories from my previous life where I was up close and personal with open fractures or people vomiting blood after training and things like that, so I somehow managed to keep my wit around——and the one responsible for creating this scene in an instant approached us without any sound of footsteps.



References

  1. Mab: Keep this one or not, do it as you see fit. I’m just putting it here as a sense of achievement after racking up my brain like crazy and digging up quote sites and poem sites, English AND Japanese ones, to find it.

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