This chapter is the edited version of another translation. You can find the original chapter post here.
Please notice that this chapter has NOT been re-translated but only edited in order to improve the readability.
Please be sure to thank the translator in the link provided above, if you wish to express your gratitude.
This chapter was merely moved to this blog as the original blog has been inactive for quite a while.
By no rights Infinite Novel Translations claims ownership of the translation.
Editor: Garit, Loxy, Shasu
“I’m going to the forest.” (Wendelin)
“Watch out for bears and wolves.” (Arthur)
It’s been a week since I first brought home those guinea fowl, and lately my father has been in high spirits. I think it’s fair if I take a lot of the credit for that.
Even though I am still a six year old child, and am generally considered to be immature, I was contributing more than my fair share to the family.
Everyone originally thought that it was impossible for me to be helpful, but now I go out hunting every day for guinea fowls, which are known to be difficult to hunt (even for professional hunters). I also forage, often finding wild strawberries, yams, wild edible plants, and a few other interesting ingredients.
Ever since I started coming home with a bounty every day my reputation with my family has dramatically improved. It seems that I wasn’t the only one dissatisfied with eating brown bread and salted vegetable soup for every meal.
However, even with my newfound popularity I can’t rely on living in this village indefinitely.
Ever since we expanded the farmland, most of the villagers have been assigned farm work. As a result, fewer people have the requisite free time to be able to hunt and gather in the forest.
The fact is that bread is the staple food of our people, so we need to ensure that we have a good wheat harvest each year. When Father considered that in conjunction with the growing population, he felt it necessary to reallocate workers from hunting and foraging to farming. The territory can’t afford to have its precious labor force dying in the forest, after all. As such, I am pretty much the only one that is allowed to enter the forest.
All of the other children are busy helping out in the fields, or are otherwise occupied by family business. Sending a kid out might be dangerous, but since I am the eighth son, there is no real loss even if I die.
I don’t know what to think of nobles that have to rely on the earning power of a six year old, but I would wager that this is a daily reality for lots of families in this world, not just in the poor, low-ranking noble households like my own.
I plan to go to the city when I grow up. I can only hope that life will be easier there.
Nonetheless, I will continue to hunt and gather, if for no other reason than to add some variety to my own diet.
If I persist, I can guarantee that I will always have a guinea fowl for dinner with a side of wild veggies. I can also use the wild strawberries to make jam for that dull and tasteless brown bread.
Besides all the food that I can gather, I am free to practice magic as I please in the forest.
I can’t really practice flashy combat magic so I mainly stick to support magic that reinforces and strengthens my body, and recovery and healing magic to replenish my energy when I am exhausted.
With my detection magic actively looking for threatening wild animals, I advance into the depths of the forest.
Today, I decided to try a new spell out of one of the books of magic from the study.
This new spell, “Report”, is supposed to inform the user if something of value enters its range.
After activating the spell I noticed that a dim, thin light sprang into being in several places. Upon closer inspection, the light shone from the vines of wild yams that stretched from the ground around the base of a tree up into its branches. Some aconite grew naturally around the area as well.
It seems that the spell highlights the location of certain valuable items by dimly illuminating the physical body of any items in the user’s field of vision.
Although wild yam is a valid food source, aconite isn’t particularly useful. It’s a poisonous plant that would often be used as an ingredient in poisons that were popular among assassins.
In my previous world I had heard that certain poisons had medicinal uses if prepared correctly, or if the proper dose was administered, but I decided to leave it for the time being given that I can’t find a useful purpose for it at this time.
Instead, I dig up the wild yams using Dig, a spell that I found in my intermediate spellbook. Dig is a form of earth magic, but I have improved on it by adding some custom flourishes of my own design.
In my previous world, if a six years old kid started digging up a wild yam in the morning, in the absence of tools or other help it would be dark by the time he finished.
Once I finally managed to get it out of the ground, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the yam was quite large, with a length of about two meters. This really reinforces the fact that not that many people come into the forest. Even though it’s a stunning wild yam, it’s so large that it is cumbersome, and it would be inconvenient to try to carry it as is.
There is no point in selling it either, so I break it into halves and put the pieces into my backpack.
Next I come across two guinea fowls, which I skillfully take down and collect. My only other task is to fill my backpack with edible wild plants and akebia (TL: a flowering plant native to Japan that produces something similar to tapioca).
“But I can’t understand the ecosystem in this forest…” (Wendelin)
I can’t say it’s shocking that this forest feels alien to me. It’s not like I expected to find a proper Japanese forest in a different world. But this place has some bizzare flora or fauna that I doubt ever existed in my previous world. Those anomalies aside, the pine, cedar, and broadleaf trees; the rabbits, wild boars, bears, and wolves; the wild yams, edible wild plants, and akebia—these were immediately recognizable.
Yet even these sights that should be so familiar to me are presented against a backdrop rife with subtle idiosyncrasies that make the whole scene feel like chaos. Still, the forest is lush and bountiful. Some might call it the blessing of being in nature.
With nearly every villager busy farming, the only people that frequently hunt and gather (besides me) are the professional hunters.
Because the more aggressive local fauna pose such a threat, many would argue that it is impossible for just one man to safely gather anything in the forest alone. As such, the professionals only enter the forest in groups of two or more.
“Even the professional hunters seem to hunt in a different forest near their home.” (Wendelin)
So yeah, other than the few times each year that the villagers gather together into groups and go foraging en masse, people seem to rarely enter this forest.
It’s a waste, but because it’s possible to predict the yields from farms with relative accuracy, and because those yields turn into valuable tax revenue, it makes sense to prioritize farmwork. The bounty of the forest, on the other hand, is considered to be the blessings of nature. For that reason it’s difficult to tax, so I don’t blame the nobles for not giving it priority. I guess it’s a pretty rational move for a noble.
Because our territory is isolated on the frontier, and trade with other territories is rare, we can’t afford to be anything less than self-sufficient without raising the realistic possibility of starvation.
“Next is…” (Wendelin)
I continue to scan for items highlighted by Report, and eventually happen across a tree that contains some sort of fresh fruit that looks a lot like loquat.
It certainly looks like it came from the loquat family. I bet they call it loquat in this world as well.
I scan the fruit for poison using a spell that I had learned and, detecting none, I peel the skin and try a bite.
The sweet taste of fruit juice gradually spreads across my palate.
Moving on, I gather a number of fruits that resemble akebi and persimmon. Given that the fruit is ripe on the trees, I would expect it to be autumn, but it doesn’t seem to be. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s late spring or early summer.
When I check in my reference book to see which trees should be bearing fruit, all that I find is a short sentence: “The seasons in which each tree bears fruit vary depending upon the tree’s species.”
In other words, trees bear fruit in the spring as well as in the summer. Moreover, in this world, some trees wither up in the winter (even without snowfall), while others only bear fruit in winter.
This is not totally unexpected given the climate in the southern part of the continent. However, I do feel that the diet is unusually monotonous given the abundance of ingredients available in the forest.
But I can’t do anything about it as a kid, so I cast a number of spells and rush home in time for my harvest to be used for tonight’s dinner.
“Good work.” (Johanna)
I hand over the harvest to my mother. As I enjoy dinner with two additional side dishes, my father abruptly begins to speak to me.
“Hunter Efens claims to have seen a talking corpse.” (Arthur)
“Is that really true, Father?!” (Kurt)
My eldest brother, Kurt, couldn’t contain the surprise in his voice.
“Yeah, it was a victim from five years ago.” (Arthur)
Five years ago, in an attempt to open up the Demon Forest for development, Margrave Breithilde raised an army and entered the Demon Forest. In the end the army was routed, enduring heavy casualties in the process.
It was fortunate that my father wasn’t present himself, but he had to remain at home in the territory to maintain public order. This was only allowed because nearly 2,000 soldiers from the Margraviate had joined the army, so his personal attendance was not required.
But Father could not ignore his lord’s call to arms, so he ordered my grand uncle to lead a force of 100 soldiers from the territory to reinforce the expeditionary force. Only 23 returned. My grand uncle was not among them.
The Baumeister Knight Territory’s population increases quite gradually year over year, so the gravity of losing 77 men in the prime of life cannot be understated.
It is the loss of these men that has led the territory into its current state, where nearly all of the villagers are forced to devote their time to farming. And, because I venture out on my own to go hunting and gathering, the appearance of this talking corpse carried major implications for my day to day life.
The previous Margrave Breithilde and about 1,925 soldiers never returned from the expedition.
The prevailing theory among the people is that nearly the entire force had been annihilated.
“Will undead monsters wreak havoc in our territory after all that’s happened…?” (Wendelin)
“Talking corpses are preferable to other undead monsters. Zombie’s are much more difficult to subdue.” (Arthur)
It’s common knowledge that monsters don’t leave their domain, but undead monsters are an exception.
That is because they were originally human, so some individuals instinctively try to return to their home even after becoming monsters.
According to the picture book that I found in the study, zombies and other such monsters are driven only by instinct. They are a troublesome existence that pose a serious threat to humans when they appear.
As such, they must be subdued immediately.
They move slowly and are extremely susceptible to fire, so you can just soak them in oil and apply flame and they’ll be done for.
However a talking corpse must be dealt with on a case by case basis.
There are some cases where the monster becomes fiercer in the face of (a more permanent) death. If that happens then your only recourse is to burn it just like you would a zombie. In other cases, talking dead may speak to others like a normal human being (thus the name) and will die peacefully if their requests are fulfilled.
Priests and certain clerics are able to communicate with them on some basic level, but even a common person can help them find peace if the monster and the person are on the same wavelength.
“Should we call the priest?” (Kurt)
“Priest Meister has bad hips from old age. It’s impossible to initiate a meaningful search for the talking corpse if we don’t even know of its general whereabouts.” (Arthur)
Because this land is so remote, the priest that serves here was dispatched from church headquarters in the royal capital.
But he is an old man, beyond 80 years of age, and he came alone.
There were no sisters that followed either, so a few old ladies in the territory have been helping the priest carry out the church’s various duties.
Moreover, there are very few religious people in the Baumeister Knight Territory. I only participated in church assemblies a few times (and against my will).
However, it seems that until our old priest has been called to heaven, a new priest will not be dispatched.
“Wend, that’s why you need to be careful when you enter the forest. In the end, there is a possibility that the monsters may wander out of their territory.” (Arthur)
While listening to my (surprisingly irresponsible) father’s explanation, I felt the spark of fascination about this talking corpse within me.