|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
I wondered, was the season heading toward summer?
I waded through the dazzling green meadows—I didn’t know if it was a human, an animal, or a demon beast that made it, but what I traversed was a beaten dirt path—with my trusty magical staff in one hand, heading for the pioneer village at almost a jogging pace.
Maya, a huge black cat—a Caru that was Regina’s familiar—who was walking a little ahead, twisted her head a little to look at me, before she turned herself around to come back to where I was. Once she walked parallel to me, she tapped on my shoulder with one of her tentacles and then pointed to her own back.
Must have been a gesture to invite me to ride her.
Understanding what she meant, I stopped on my track and caught my breath. “Haa haa haa…Thank you, Maya. But, Mentor forbade me to ride on you… haa haa, having you carrying the groceries home, is enough.”
I had to decline her offer out of sheer determination to push through the whole trip and, most importantly, my fear of Regina’s anger in case she found out. When I did, Maya started circling around me, looking troubled. I’d guess that she was torn between following her master’s orders and helping me out.
The contrast between the kindness she showed me and the fearsome nickname her species had, which was ‘The Black Destroyer,’ invited a huge smile from me as I continued on my trip.
“Let’s hurry it up, Maya. At this pace, we should reach the village before noon!”
As I urged her onward, reluctantly, Maya went ahead of me to clear the grass ahead with her feet so that the path would be easier for me to run. What a truly meticulous and thoughtful familiar, so much different than her master.
Now that I had learned to control my magic and exercise it, my daily routine had changed considerably.
I still got up in the morning to fetch water and do my daily kata practice, although I was using the ribbon Regina gave me instead of my old handkerchief to tie my hair up so it didn’t get in the way. And then, after cleaning the dishes, now I had an additional task of checking the barriers around the hermitage. If they seemed weak, I would reinforce them by pouring mana into them.
And then, I equipped myself with a basket and a sickle and went to pick medicinal herbs in Tenebrae Nemus by myself—with Maya if and when she felt like it—but I never got too far from the hermitage (Regina had repeatedly cautioned me). However, the types of medicinal herbs, their efficacy, and the places where they grew might change depending on the season and the weather. In such cases, Regina would accompany me, though with a heavy heart, and provide me with a brief explanation on site.
However, she would only give me the explanation once, and if I asked her to explain for a second time, she’d tell me to look and learn by myself. In addition, sometimes she’d give me unreasonable orders such as looking for herbs I had only seen once a month or two before. If I made a mistake or forgot something, she would obviously berate me like wildfire, so I was always on edge.
In any case, in order to memorize every single herbs I had obtained, I painstakingly commit their characteristics into my memory, touched them up and down, smelled them, verified every their minute mana wavelengths, and wrote them down with charcoal on a board I made from a wood bark myself.
Regina had repeatedly told me that “medicinal herbs contain more mana than other weeds” and that “you should be able to tell them apart with mana detection.” However, when I actually probed with mana detection, while I indeed could see that the areas where medicinal herbs were growing reacted differently, the individual differences were very vague… To put it in another way, it was like being presented with an array of colors and told “pick the same shade of orange as this one,” so being put into practice in the field was simply confusing. Experience was key, and it wasn’t something I could acquire overnight.
Well, I had a general idea of how they looked, so I just needed to bring myself to where the herbs were… that was how I usually dealt with Regina’s requests. Even though we used the same mana detection, I kept drawing blanks whilst her accuracy was 100/100—that said, if I took extra time, she would treat me to a delightful scolding as well, so I had to keep running around the forest at full speed.
Even so, medicinal herbs that could be distinguished by the shape of their leaves or the color of their stems were still better. Mushrooms that couldn’t be easily distinguished by their appearance and smell, or magical herbs with underground stems, these two were a real handful. Mushrooms had lots and lots of different species that shared similar features, and as for magical herbs, they needed an extra effort and time to dig before I could even begin to learn their differences.
Case in point, a ‘mandrake’ was a famous medicinal herb famously catered for witches and magicians, but this forest was also a home to a wild plant called ‘mandread’ that was very similar to it (it had no medicinal properties whatsoever, but was edible). The only difference between them was that, when a mandrake was pulled, it would shriek “GYAAA—!” to your ear, while a mandread would scream “Eeek—!” pathetically. Which meant, you could only tell which one was which after you pulled it out.
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For that reason, I was working everyday to increase the range and accuracy of my mana sensing. By the way, the maximum radius of my detection was about 20 mertes, and that distance was quickly halved when I tried to process more detailed information. I heard that if people whose magic attribute had the ‘Wind’ affinity could detect as far as kilomertes in range, but, unfortunately, my attributes were ‘Fire,’ ‘Water,’ ‘Light,’ and ‘Sky,’ so I had to give up on hoping reaching that far as it depended on my innate qualities.
“Well, with those attributes, you could be a healing art practitioner.”
Spoke Regina after identifying my attributes, but unlike Fire and Water, preparing a test bed for the healing arts couldn’t be done so simply, so we shelved the subject for now and leaned more onto learning the basics of each attribute.
So, I spent my mornings in the forest foraging and doing independent training in magic arts and martial arts, and my afternoons were spent helping Regina silently roast medicinal herbs, crushing frogs and insects and such, and mixing them in beakers… Basically practicing the witch’s laboratory for all intents and purposes.
Near evening I would go to the bathroom and fill the plentiful tub with water by way of magic. Regina turned out to be quite the cleanliness freak and even had her own private bathroom and bathtub. However, preparing for a bath in a world with no gas or running water was a challenge, she had only bathed about once every few days up until a convenient natural water and heat source (aka an apprentice who could use both Water and Fire) swung into her hermitage.