|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
“Good work, Maya. Anything wrong with the forest?”
Seeming like she was familiar with Regina’s brusque attitude, the silhouette——a jet black cat that looked about 4 to 5 mertes long, from the top of her head to the tip of her tail, and 1.5 mertes tall——lowered a one-eyed, eagle-sized demon bird in her mouth to the undergrowth and mewed.
In terms of size, she was comparable to a large tiger, but in style and silhouette of a cat by any measure. The only difference was the two, long tentacles that grew from her shoulders, and the way she purred was quite charming. According to Regina, she was a demon beast called a Caru.
When I first saw her, I stiffened on the spot, and when she drew closer to me with her tentacles all wriggling and licked me with her coarse tongue, I was prepared to die all over again. But, fortunately, whether she took a liking to me or she compromised with me in the sense that I was an accessory to Regina, we seemed to have an amicable relationship for the moment.
“And you, Jill. I don’t know if it’s your morning practice, but you have very good eyesight and instincts.”
“I don’t mean that as a compliment. It’s the opposite! You’re too dependent on your physical senses, you obstruct yourself from feeling magic power. The bird Maya caught is a Nightingale. It was targeting you from overhead, hiding its presence, and did you even notice it? You would, if you sensed its magic power. Are you even in on this?”
Regina turned her head to me, her face wrinkled like a raisin as she spat those words to my face.
She lifted me up then pushed me down the abyss——she didn’t mean to be malicious, but it was drilled into my bones in the first 10 days that this was the way Regina usually was——and her words made me hang my head and bite my lip.
“You need to feel the magic power in you first. The world is brimming with magic power, but as it is, it’s no different than air. Rouse the magic power in your body and work it on.”
Even when she told me to do that, frankly speaking, it was basically the same as being told to move an arm that didn’t exist, and it vexed me. Without saying anything else, Regina quickly turned on her heel and zipped deeper into the forest.
I rushed to follow. Maya, who had taken a bite out of the nightingale that she had caught, was positioned at the end of the line and was protecting me——I supposed, but I felt like she rushed me, so I opted for a half-run.
“That one with red stem and black leaves is maura grass. It can reduce fever if you dry it and drink its broth. The white one next to it is egilio grass, an ingredient for poultice. Don’t reap the whole of it. Leave the roots in so it can start propagating.”
As she was sitting on a fallen tree nearby, all Regina did was give me instructions as she pointed her staff at things, while I had to run around in the little clearing in the woods around a watering hole like some spineless mouse.
I picked up the medicinal herbs and wildflowers she pointed to and placed them in baskets on my back. If I picked something wrong or handled it poorly, she would reprimand me with the fierceness of a wildfire, so I had no choice but to take it very seriously. Fortunately though, it was all just an ad hoc reprimand, and not something that involved physical punishment that would have lasting effects, such as skipping meals or leaving a child outdoors overnight.
“Also, those mushrooms growing at the roots of the birch over there.”
“Ah, yes, this one mentor?” There were brown mushrooms growing there as she had said——they looked plain and looked like mushrooms the size of an adult’s thumb that you would normally find in supermarkets——I pinched one of the rows of them and pointed. “Are they edible?”
“Sure, you can eat it.” Regina nodded peculiarly, then broke into a wide grin before she let out a suggestive chuckle. “You can put any mushroom in your mouth, once. That one, though, you won’t get a second.”
That meant it was poisonous enough to kill me in a single bite.
“——d’eEh?!” I hurriedly threw it away, washed the hand that pinched it with water, then wiped it with my apron.
“Don’t waste it. It’s still an important ingredient for medicine. Make sure you take it! Oh, right, be careful to separate it so it doesn’t get mixed up with other medicinal herbs.”
“Eh……! But, it’s a poisonous mushroom, right? And, you said, you use it……”
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Ugh. I forgot she was literally a witch secluded in the forest of darkness. Of course she’d have some 10 or 20 shady ploys……
“What’s with that look? I’m telling you, poison and medicine are two sides of the same coin. One measured dose of that mushroom can be a medicine for heart disease.”
She looked at me sharply as if she could see right through what I think, so I hurriedly searched the pockets of my apron and found nothing, so I untied the handkerchief that had kept my hair together (one of the few personal items I had from the start) then spread it out to put some of these poisonous mushrooms on it before tying it up and put it away in the basket.
By then, I felt Regina’s face twisted as if she wanted to say something to me, but when I turned to her, she looked at me as if she was seeing something boring and blatantly threw her face away from me.
“You’ll find a cluster of verdi flowers beyond that small hill. The bulbs have hemostatic properties and are delicious steamed as is. Go ahead and pick them, but make sure you leave one for every two flowers you pick!”
She was still loudly telling me what to do, not seeming to be any different from before. As I headed there, I couldn’t help but let the question slip out of my mouth.
“I’m surprised you can find such a hidden cluster of flowers. Familiarity, perhaps?”
“How many times do I have to tell you the same thing again and again, you ragweed? You sense the magic power! Medicinal herbs contain more magic power than other weeds. Don’t look with your eyes and think with your head, just feel it!”
Regina spat it out with a bitter look on her face.
(“Don’t think, feel” my arse. This isn’t some kung fu movie, it can’t be that easy.)
With a sense of disappointment, I start digging up the roots of the flowers with the sickle. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that easy to reach the deep bulb.
(Magic power……huh.) I tried to sense it every morning whenever I worked out and when I had free time, and I just couldn’t.
(It would be much easier if it had a beginner-friendly manual to follow the steps in, like, say, plug the key in, turn the engine on, shift the gears, and whatnot.)
Then, I suddenly realized something. Or perhaps, my mindset shifted gears.
(That’s right. Regina said that I “have the talent,” which means the key is already plugged in. Next I just need to figure out how to get the engine running, and where to get the fuel……ah, so that’s what she means by harnessing the magic power that fills the air around me. So human magic is like an external combustion engine with external fuel. In comparison, demon beasts have magic stones that are their internal fuel——or perhaps, condensers?)
Somehow, magic was taking shape in my mind. As I put strength into my hand digging the bulb, I pushed the idea further.
(Which means, human’s sorcery is basically a kind of igniter that uses what little bit of magic power inside the body to excite the external magic power——or is it more accurate to say that the body is a dynamo, the kind that sets the whole place on fire at once? In other words, the magic power within the body is an impurity once mixed with the atmosphere.)
Until then, I had thought of magic power as some cool, mystical force, but once I clearly defined it as ‘impurity,’ I consciously decided to try the breathing technique.
“——hm?” Regina, who looked bored supervising me, raised her eyebrows, while Maya, who was lying at her feet, raised her face startled.
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While I kept them in the corner of my vision, I focused most of my awareness inside my body. Using abdominal breathing technique and its unique rhythm, I brought air into my dantian. I repeated the process, sensing the dregs building up in my dantian——until, somehow, I could feel a thin smoke-like residue.
(This must be the fuel. Then, if I spark it and spill it all out——)
Right in that instant, as Regina stood up with her eyes bloodshot, and Maya instantly plopped herself over my body, the watering hole in front of me was all vanished by a tremendous pillar of fire.
The grades of Demon Beasts:
S (calamity grade) > A (large-scale battlefield grade) > B (huge mobilized forces grade) > C (pretty strong grade) > D (a bit handful grade) > E (normal grade) > F (piece of cake grade)