‘Hmmm… Why is the ground shaking?’ I frowned as the vibration awoke me from my sleep. Then, as I kept my eyes closed, I turned my body to the left, trying to sleep again.
‘Oh it stopped,’ I thought to myself as I felt the bed stopped shaking.
But after a while…
DUUKK GRUDUK DUKKK
The ground shook hard and woke me up completely.
‘Eh, what happened? Why is the tent shaking?’ I furrowed my brows as I saw the situation around me. The leather tent shook around uncontrollably, and my fur bed and blanket were also shaking up and down.
I felt a shock came from below me. ‘Eh?! What exactly is happening outside? Why is no one waking me up?’ I felt a bit scared to see outside the tent.
But then, I slowly put the blanket away. I moved my body to crawl to the tent’s entrance and then peeked outside. There, I saw a man’s back and his brown hair.
Suddenly, another shock came from below. As I couldn’t put my hand down in time, I lost my balance and my upper body got thrown out of the tent.
‘Owieee…. I fell on my nose…’
I glanced upwards and saw that Z was looking at my shameful appearance, falling face first onto the ground. I felt really embarassed.
But he didn’t laugh, he just gave his hand to help me and said, “Sakura. Sorry that you get waked up. The road is a bit rocky.”
I took his hand and looked around. Then I realized that I was not on the ground anymore. The tent, where I was sleeping in, was already above the carriage roof. And the carriage was currently running on the forest road just like yesterday. “Eh? Wh-What happened Z?” I asked him as we sat on the carriage roof.
“Nothing much. This morning, we were waiting for you while having breakfast, but you wouldn’t wake up. Then we tidied up the camp, but you still wouldn’t wake up. We were thinking if we should wake you up, but when I peeked inside the tent, you were still sleeping soundly. We waited for another hour, but you still wouldn’t wake up. So we just picked the tent up, put it above the carriage, and then resumed the journey,” he said to me with a smile.
“Why didn’t you just wake me up? And you even saw my sleeping face…” My cheeks were red as I gazed down in embarassment. I stared up to him while my face was planted downwards. And there, I caught him staring at me as well. Our eyes met for a while, but I was startled and then averted my face again to the left. We fell silent, but when I took a peek at him again, he already turned away his body.
“I saw just a little. Sorry Sakura…,” he said to me.
I didn’t know why, but I just couldn’t get angry at him, like I was yesterday.
“N-No, I should be the one who is sorry. I was heavy, wasn’t I?” I said to him nervously.
He tilted his head and said, “No… I can even lift you with one hand, you know.”
“With a hand that thin?” I mocked him.
Then he laughed, “Ahahaha…so you don’t believe me? Should I pick you up right now?”
I was surprised. Then I said to him with a really startled tone, “E-Eh…N-No, don’t! I was just kidding!” My face got red once again, luckily, he was still sitting with his back against me and couldn’t see my face.
‘Uuuuh…why am I getting so easily flustered…,’ I panicked inside my head.
Then he suddenly turned his head to me and said, “Ah! it’s almost noon. Are you hungry?”
I put my hand over my stomach and thought, ‘I am lucky that it didn’t make a sound like yesterday…’
“Just a little bit…,” I said to him.
“Oh good! What do you want then? Breakfast menu or Lunch menu?”
“What’s the breakfast menu?” I tilted my head to the left.
“Bread, cheese and dried meat!” he said as he smiled at me.
Then I tilted my head to the right and asked again, “Then what’s the Lunch menu?”
“Bread, dried meat, and… cheese!”
“That’s nothing different!” I said to him while smacking his forehead jokingly.
“Ahahaha…” he laughed as he took out a bundle made of leaf out of his Storage Ring. “Eat it… just tell me if you want more…”
I took the bread from him and ate it. But, even though I ate it slowly, I still felt hungry. I actually wanted to ask for one more, but I was really embarassed. ‘But he said that I could ask for more…’
So, while playing with my hair, I tried to ask, “Ah..em…Z…, I…” But I just couldn’t say it. ‘What if he thinks that I am a glutton?’ I thought while staring down upon the carriage roof.
But then, as I was staring down, I saw a hand holding a bread in front of my eyes. I looked up and saw that Z was holding the bread on his hand.
Then he said to me, “I was going to eat it, but then I feel a bit stuffed. It’s already opened, so it will be a shame to put it back inside. Do you want it?”
My cheeks went red again. Then, as I stared at him, I nodded my head and took the bread.
“Thank you…,” I said to him.
After a while, I finished eating the second bread. Then he gave me a leather bottle filled with water. I actually wanted more, but two should be enough for now.
“Was it tasty?” he asked me.
“Yeah it was tasty…” I smiled at him cheerfully.
He smiled back at me. But then, his face suddenly changed, I saw him frowning as he looked at the forest on the right side of the carriage. But it was just for an instant, after I blinked, his face was already changed back into a smile.
Then he came closer to me in an instant. And before I could back away, he already whispered at me, “Wait here, and don’t say anything to them. I will be back in a bit.”
Then I saw him soundlessly jumped down from the right side of the carriage and went straight into the forest.
I waited for thirty minutes, but he didn’t come back. Then an hour passed, but he still wasn’t there. And after two hours, I started to feel worried.
But then, just as I was looking at the back of the carriage, hoping to see him come back, a poke was felt on my shoulder. And from behind me, I could hear his voice, “Why are you looking at the back? I told you that it was dangerous if you don’t look to the front, right?”
He was already there behind me. And just when I wanted to say something to him, he put his index finger on my lips, and whispered to me again, “I will tell you when the time is right. Not now.”
I looked down sadly. ‘Why won’t he tell me anything? When is the right time? I-I really know nothing about him, do I?’ Then a bit of tears fell down from my eyes.
He was startled. “E-eh!! I am sorry!! Did I hurt you?? Why are you crying??? Are you okay?”
I shook my head and fell silent. His worried face stared at me for a long time. “S-stop looking at me!!” I threw my teary face away from him, I was a bit embarassed to be seen crying by him.
He fell silent, so I took a peek at him. His face looked like a parent that doesn’t know what to give to his sulky daughter. ‘His reaction sure is funny…’
Then I turned my whole body against him, so he could only see my back, and murmured, “Hmphhh…!”
“Awawawawawa…,” he was panicking behind me.
After a while, I turned again, stared right at him, and then said, “You really won’t tell me?”
He furrowed his brows and stroked his chin as if he was thinking about something. But then, he shook his head and said, “I can’t, now it’s not the time. I’m sorry…”
I looked down again. ‘He really won’t tell me anything…even though I was so worried’
Then I heard a sound of water being poured down to the ground. I looked up, there, I saw that Z was washing something in his hand. I couldn’t see it clearly, but after a while, he dried it up with his shirt. He then slowly took my hand with his free hand and put a round object onto it. “Here, for you… Don’t be sad anymore, okay…?” I moved it nearer to my eyes and looked at it carefully.
It was a really beautiful marble that was as big as a golf ball. Inside the marble, was a stream of red and green lights intertwined together, moving and rubbing against each other as if they were dancing.
“It’s really beautiful. What is this?” I asked him.
“It’s a Magical Core,” he said to me while smiling.
Then he got near my ear again and whispered slowly, “Don’t show it to anyone, okay…”
“Why?” I asked him.
“I told you, not now,” he said to me as he put his index finger in front of his lips.
I just nodded and started to stare at the marble again. I felt happy because he gave me something that was really beautiful.
“Don’t stare at it too much, we still have things to learn you know…” Then he suddenly pinched my nose.
I was surprised to suddenly saw him doing that to me. ‘Muuu!!! He looked at my sleeping face! He whispered on my ears! And now he touched me so casually!!! But, I just can’t get mad at him!! I even feel slightly happy…. What’s wrong with me?! Wuuuuuuu’ I just gazed down and started to cry in front of him.
“Awawawawa…,” I panicked again as I saw her crying.
‘Harvey-san was right… Girls in puberty is so scary…,’ I frowned while not knowing what to do to her.
‘I went to kill the Fire Wind Cat Beast because it was going to disturb us on the way later. But when I finally got back, she sulked. Then, when I gave her the Cat Beast’s Magical Core, she was happy. And now, when I told her that we are going to learn, she cried…’ I furrowed my brows in confusion.
‘Ah I know! She did the same thing when she wanted another bread! So, maybe she wanted another Magical Core! Ahahaha! Iam so smart! Now, do I have any in the ring? Let’s check…’
“[Storage]!” I opened my Storage Ring and rummaged inside.
‘Hmmm…it should be around here…, or is it over there…? Ah! There it is!’ I took a magical core out, cleaned the blood remains with some water, dried it up with my shirt again, and then showed it to her.
“Look! I have another magical core here! So don’t cry, ok?!” I said to her.
Then she stopped crying. ‘Ah! So I was right!’ I thought to myself.
But she didn’t take the magical core, she just put her face a little bit higher and stared at me with an upward glance.
‘Uaaaah…what’s wrong with me…? Her teary face…looks so cute that I even want to bully her right now…’
She kept staring at me for a while, but then, she shook her head slowly and crawled back into her tent.
‘I…I can’t understand a girl’s fellings… Even though I am not dense like Tooru, why do I feel so jealous of his density right now…? I will be crazy if I keep seeing her beautiful smile and her cute teary face…’ I rolled right and left over the carriage roof.
We three kept holding our laughter. Then I whispered to both of them, “What did I told you? They clearly like each other, but just can’t be honest with their feelings.”
“Pfft…it has been long since I saw something like this… You found some nice thing Harv!” whispered Alex to Harvey while holding his thumbs up.
“Hahaha, their conversation last night made me remember the time when I met my wife. We also met accidentaly when adventuring together. And then, a year later my daughter was born…,” I said to them in a really low voice.
“SShhhtt…I don’t want to skip anyhing…this is really funny…if only I can always witness something like this in my travels,” said Bernardt.
“Pfft… Don’t worry! We could still see this comedy for around six more days…,” whispered Alex to Bernardt and me.
“Make it five… I still have something to sell you know… Time is money,” frowned Bernardt.
“Ahahahahaha…!” Alex and me laughed together.
The sun was almost going to set on the western sky. In about two hour, the sky would begin to get dark. So, we four concurred that we had to find somewhere to camp as soon as possible because we still had to set up the tent and hunt for dinner.
Then, after around 15 minutes, Alex found an open space beside the forest road and stopped there.
As I felt that the carriage stopped, I spoke from outside the tent, “Sakura, we are going to rest here. Let’s go down, I will take your tent down too.”
I jumped down from the carriage and waited for Sakura to come out. But then, my [Mana Web] suddenly found a huge Magical Beast right at the edge of my sensoring range.
I frowned, ‘Ugh, a high grade Magical Beast, 10 km east from here. He surely sensed my [Mana Web] as well, as he starts to run over here. He is pretty fast. At this rate, he will be here in around 10 minutes or so. Better take care of it right now than when it come later at night. I can’t risk her life in danger.’
I turned off my [Mana Web], jumped back onto the carriage roof, lifted the tent together with her inside, jumped down again, and put her somewhere with squishy grass under it.
Then I said to her from outside, “I will be going to hunt for dinner, ask Alex-san if you want to help with anything, okay?” I left her tent without waiting for her reply.
I went to Alex and Harvey, and said to them, “I will be going to hunt for today, okay? It has been a while, maybe I could get a boar or something.”
“A boar will be good, we can roast them over the campfire!” said Harvey.
“You sure you can do it alone?” asked Alex.
“Don’t worry!” I grinned at them.
“Well, if you say so. But seriously, bring back a big boar okay, I haven’t eaten them for a while,” said Alex to me.
“Got it! Take care of Sakura while I was away, okay?” I said to them as I ran into the forest.
‘First, let’s go to the northwest to bait him.’
I pumped mana into my feet to use [Sky Feet]. Then I leaped from the ground and started hopping from tree to tree. My figure blurred as I moved faster and faster. The tree trunks, that I used as stepping place, started to break apart one by one. The smaller tree trunks broke apart completely and the bigger trunks had deep foot marks on them.
After going for around 5 km in 3 minutes, I found an open space with no trees around it. ‘Here should be good.’
Then I turned on [Mana Web] again and found that the Magical beast was around 3 km in the southeast from me. ‘Now, he changed his direction to me. Let’s wait for him here.’
After another 3 minutes, I saw a huge Tiger Beast running in my direction. He stopped 10 meters away in front of me. Now, we were staring at each other, face to face. The Tiger Beast was 6 meter long and 3 meter tall. His fur was orange with blood red strips above them. Its face was full of fury, and its red eyes were savage. His tail was as thick as an adult’s thigh, and the later half of it was covered in bright orange flame.
‘Oh…pure fire type magical beast…it’s rare to see one…’
I took out my sword from the storage. It was a double-edged, mithril short sword with length about 50 cm. It was just a normal short sword with a sharp edge and hard material. The only special thing about it, was its weight. It was only 400 gram, way lighter than any other sword.
I stood there motionlessly, with my sword in my right hand, when the Tiger started to circle around me. It went round and round for a minute and still couldn’t find any opening from me. I kept staring at his ruby colored eyes and won’t let him get away from my sight. The tiger finally got impatient. It then roared and started to pounce at me.
But he wasn’t fast enough. Just when he was still floating above the ground, the ground under my feet broke down with a 10 cm deep foot print and a 3 meter crater around it. It was the effect of my skill [Sky Feet]. I used it to dove myself under the tiger. There, I used the skill [Iron Hand] to strengthen my slashing power. In the blink of an eye, I already slashed him down from his throat into his stomach. And we didn’t stop there, I still went below the Tiger, and the the Tiger still moved over my head. But he couldn’t move anymore, he just fell down, with his gut and bloods flowing out from his stomach. He was dying already.
I then walked slowly to the dying tiger and stabbed its heart to ease down its suffering. After that, I started to dismantle the tiger. ‘Yes! I got another magical core for her… And a new bed too, this Fire Tiger Beast’s fur should be warm enough for her. Unfortunately, I can’t bring back the meat with me, because it will be a pain to explain it to them…’
Because I was under the tiger when I slashed it, lots of blood poured down onto me. I looked at my body and frowned, ‘I need to take a bath before going back…and this fur need to be washed too’
I put the magical core in my Storage ring and lifted the fur on my back. Then I started going back to the camp’s direction while searching for a river from the top of the trees.
‘Ah, there is one over there…, it’s pretty near to the camp, but no one should be there right now. Harvey-san and Alex-san are making the tent, and Bernardt-san should already finished collecting the branches….’
I jumped down to the riverside and find some nearby trees. I tied a rope between them to dry my clothes and fur later. Then I put off my shirt and trouser, and started to wash them with water from the river.
‘I should have fought naked… I usually fight with my robe so I only need to wash that when it got dirty, but I forgot that she borrowed it from me. I still have another shirt, but this is my last trouser. Thank God, it only got a little blood on it.’ Then I hung the trouser and the shirt on the rope.
After that, I washed the huge tiger fur to remove the dirts from it. ‘Hmm, this fur is really clean, the fire element had burnt everything harmful and dirty above it. How convenient…. And it should dry faster too. But it’s still too big, it will fill too much space in my Storage ring, so let’s cut it into smaller piece. Let’s make a pair of leather bed and blanket, around 2×1 meter each.’
I took out my shortsword and began to cut it from the furriest place for the bed and the softest place for the blanket. ‘These are a nice pair of sleeping set for her, let’s hung and dry it.’
I hung the tiger’s leathers that I cut on the rope and threw the rest away. ‘Now, it’s time for me to take a bath’
Then I put my underpants down.
“KYAAAAAAA!” ZRUSAAK ZRUSAAK
A sound of someone screaming and running away was heard.
“Who’s there?!” I shouted while activating my [Mana Web].
‘Eh? I know this mana… Oh no…!’