“Say! Didn’t Knurl hold onto it?”
Kisa, who rushed back to the rock that served as campsite, caught the girls that had waited there and asked them that. Because Kisa drew near to them with such an excited demeanor, the girls backed off with a slight shriek and put themselves on guard to protect each other.
However, without even realizing that the girls are frightened, Kisa describes the shape and size of the thing he’s looking for while gesticulating.
“Knurl, that’s the dwarf that passed away. There was this jar about this small at his waist! Since he made sure to absolutely never lose it and made it very, very sturdy, it should have definitely been there!”
One of the girls, Nina, had an idea of what he was talking about and pointed next to the fire with a trembling finger. Looking over there, Kisa immediately found what he was searching and raised his voice in delight.
“There it is!”
It was a small porcelain bottle that would fit in one’s hand.
Kisa picks it up, removes the string that tightly bound the lid of the small bottle and pulls out the wooden cork that became visible below the string. Once the wooden cork comes out with a nice popping sound, a peculiar and bad smell escapes into the air from within the bottle.
“Good! Good! What’s now necessary is, umm…ah, yeah, the box!!”
Discovering Knurl’s knapsack after swiftly scanning the vicinity, Kisa jumped at it like a starved tiger that had meat placed in front of its eyes, thrust a hand inside the knapsack and rummaged through it. However, unable to find what he’s looking for, he turns the knapsack over and throws all of its contents on the ground.
“Yay, found it!!”
Kisa snatched a small box made out of tanned leather, which has a size allowing one to carry it under one’s arm, from within the various utensils scattered on the ground. He opened the box and emptied everything within it onto the ground just as he did with the knapsack. And then, while taking a good look at the empty box, he mutters in a monologue,
“The size is fine. I guess the make is cheap since it’s not that thick either?”
Due to his state, the little girls become even more frightened, as if they were being confronted with an eerie monster.
At that point Erika belatedly returned to their camp.
“Hey, Kisa! What did you do to everyone?!”
Seeing the girls scared by Kisa, Erika flares up at him with the corners of her eyes lifted. However, while continuing to look down at the box in his hand, Kisa curtly brushed Erika’s provocative words aside,
“I don’t have enough spare time to do anything to them.”
Because she thought that the timid-looking Kisa would certainly justify himself with a nervous response, Erika ended up becoming speechless due to her overwhelming shock.
“Rather than that, I’d like all of you to help me.”
With Kisa saying that, not only was Erika frozen, but the other frightened girls were also unable to even open their mouths. Because of that, Kisa stops inspecting the box, lifts his head and turns around to them. Due to the girls trembling with a start just because of that, Kisa appealed with a neutral, calm voice,
“You can be afraid of me, but please listen to my words at least.”
The girls don’t reply, but it appeared as if they would listen to him without trying to run away. Confirming that, Kisa clearly announces,
“Erika plans to go by herself to the bandits while entrusting you guys to me.”
A fierce commotion breaks out among the little girls upon those words and all of them look at Erika in order to make sure of the truth.
If they had already been informed about Erika’s decision, the girls should either grieve or oppose Erika. Without that happening, Erika very likely hasn’t told the girls anything, Kisa’s prediction proved to be right on the mark.
Erika, who had her secret decision exposed, angrily shouts at Kisa due to her agitation,
“Kisa! Don’t blather out anything unnecessary!”
“No, I dislike hiding such things.”
Kisa ignores Erika’s angry yells and addresses the girls.
“If I go to the city, I will take everyone along! Not just you girls. But also Erika and the people who are currently captured.”
The fear fades from the girls’ faces due to those words and is replaced by hope and bewilderment.
“But, for that I need your cooperation! That’s why I want you to help me!”
Erika snapped due to that.
What Kisa says is simply an unreachable pipe dream. Even Erika didn’t give up from the start. No matter how much I pondered and pondered, I didn’t find a method to rescue my elder sisters from those bandits and thus made my decision based on that.
And yet, Kisa simply suggested to rescue everyone. That made Erika mad.
“Shut up! You will take these children to the city! That’s all you have to do!”
Towards Erika laying bare her anger, Kisa downright declared,
“Then give me three days! The time given to you by the bandits is three days anyway, right!? Then ascertain whether I can really drive away the bandits within three days!”
However, Erika only laughed scornfully at that.
“Hah! Just what can you accomplish in merely three days!?”
“I won’t know unless I take a chance at it, will I?”
“Bah, just do whatever you want! But we won’t cooperate with you, got it!?”
Both of them glare at each other with their nose tips almost touching while not yielding a single step.
The one who called out next to these two was a single little girl that had silently listened so far to the quarrel.
“What should I do…?”
A joyful gleam spreads on Kisa’s face due to her words. In contrast to that, surprise showed on Erika’s face and she rebuked the girl.
“Nina! Don’t say something so stupid!”
The girl called Nina curls her body up due to Erika’s reprimand, but the girl next to her raises her voice in turn,
“But, Erika, I want to save everyone too.”
“You too, Paula!?”
Erika receives a shock due to not only Nina but also Paula standing on Kisa’s side.
However, when the third girl, Ilsa, pushes the other two aside and steps in front, a bright expression suddenly blooms on Erika’s face. It’s because she expected Ilsa, being the person who suggested killing Kisa immediately after he had woken up, to remonstrate the other too.
“Hurry up and tell us. What should we do?”
But, what came out of Ilsa’s mouth was something Erika had never expected.
“Even you, Ilsa!!”
Erika looks like she’s about to tear up due to the girls’ unexpected betrayal.
With a sidewards glance towards Erika, Kisa starts to give one instruction after the other to the girls.
“Then I’d like you to go gather branches with the leaves still on them.”
Nina, who was anxiously expecting just what difficult task would be thrust at her, looks blankly at him due to that anticlimactic request.
Asking that while tilting her head to the side in confusion, Nina looks childish, befitting her outward appearance. Kisa replied while unintentionally revealing a smile in response to that,
“Yes. Thin branches with as many leaves as possible will be great.”
“Oki, I got it!”
Once Kisa sees Nina off, Paula stared at him with her eyes sparkling, looking forward to what she’ll be asked to do.
“You go and gather ivy. Once you have done so, I want you to hit the ivy with a stone so that they become soft.”
“Ivy, right? I will go collect plenty!”
Paula also runs away with a pitter-patter to gather ivy.
Ilsa, who was the last one remaining, glared at Kisa with upturned eyes as if challenging him. It seems as if she’s angry, but since she previously said that she’s going to cooperate, Kisa timidly says while peeking at her expression,
“You go and wash the pelts in the river…can I have you do that for me please?”
As Ilsa’s eyes are getting more stern with each word, Kisa’s voice becomes weaker starting in the middle of his sentence and becomes honorific language at the end. Kisa was uneasy as he didn’t understand what he has done to offend her, but Ilsa nodded distinctively after listening until the end.
“Got it! So I just have to wash the pelts.”
It appears that she wasn’t angry but simply listening carefully and seriously in her own way.
Feeling relieved, Kisa hurriedly detains Ilsa, who was about to run off after grabbing the pelts.
“While you’re at it, I’d like you to draw a mark like this at the river bank where you picked me up.”
While staring at the strange mark Kisa had drawn on the ground, Ilsa says,
“What’s this? A flower? Or four leaves?”
“If someone, who knows what it is sees it, I think they’ll know that it’s from me.”
After Ilsa practiced drawing the mark several times on her own palm, she picks up the pelts and runs towards the river this time.
Confirming that Ilsa’s leaving figure disappeared on the other side of the thicket, Kisa asks Erika with his eyes “What are you going to do?”
“Geez, I just have to help you, right?”
As she says this, Erika stomps several times on the ground in frustration.
“But, it’s three days! Show us what you are going to try to do in the remaining three days! If I’m not satisfied with the result, I will have you do what I tell you, okay!?”
“Yeah, I understand.”
Contrary to Erika who has lost her temper, Kisa responds while smiling.
“Well then, I’m sorry for being so sudden, but can I have you puncture this box with holes?”
Once Ilsa, who had gone to wash the pelts at the river, came back, Nina and Paula, who had already returned before her, were making ropes together with Erika.
First, Paula softens the ivy she brought back by hitting it with a stone. Next, Nina thinly and vertically tears the ivy that had its smashed fibers come apart. Lastly Erika picks up several of the torn ivy fibers into one hand, bundles them together and twines them into a rope by rubbing them between her hands while holding one side’s end down with her feet
“What are you going to do with something like a rope?”
Once Ilsa asked that, Erika bluntly frowned while inserting the leafy branches, which had been gathered by Nina, into the growing rope.
“I have no clue. What will something like this be used for…”
Even so, Erika, who has a diligent nature, continues to move her hands without rest.
Ilsa looked around the vicinity, but she can’t see Kisa, who’s the one who orchestrated all this.
“So, where’s that guy?”
“He’s tampering with the box on the other side.”
The place to where Erika pointed with a jerk of her chin was right in the darkness of the rock’s shade.
Ilsa looks slightly doubtful, parroting what Erika just said.”Box?”
“Indeed. All of a sudden he told me to make round holes on one side of a box, and then he ordered me to cut off the inner parts stuffed within the cylindrical leather box since they are a hindrance or something like that. Good grief. I told him to do it himself.”
Apparently quite upset of the happenings back then, Erika’s tone is biting.
“And what do you think that guy said when I said that? 『I’m clumsy』 was his answer.”
Certainly, even in Ilsa’s eyes that human called Kisa is slow and didn’t look very skilled. ‘However, according to what Erika said, that doesn’t seem to be all there is to it.
“Can you believe it? He can’t cut a single string with a knife and he couldn’t put a single scratch on the box either. That’s not a problem at the level of clumsiness!”
“No way,” Ilsa laughed, but Erika’s expression was very serious.
Right at that moment Kisa comes out from within the rock’s shade with a glum expression. As Erika said, he held the leather box in his hand.
“Kisa, I washed them!”
Once Ilsa presents the pelts that are still dripping with water, Kisa’s face brightens up all of a sudden. He takes the pelts after temporarily placing the box on the ground.
“Thank you. That’s a big help.”
Kisa spread the pelts on the ground and began to rub mud, which he scraped up with his hands, on them. Having the pelts, which she had washed at great pains, dirtied with soil, Ilsa hits the back of Kisa’s head with her small fist.
“What are you doing!”
In a panic Kisa explains the situation to Ilsa, who shows her anger by puffing her cheeks to the limit,
“I intended to do this from the very start. Since mud will be repelled by the pelts’ oil you have to wash it once…”
“Then say that first!”
Due to Ilsa sulking as she was embarrassed for having jumped to a hasty conclusion, Kisa repeatedly bows his head in earnest trying to put her in a good mood.
Watching his behavior, Erika muttered,
“Is it really a good idea for us to rely on that guy…?”
Hearing that, even Nina and Paula couldn’t do anything but answer with bitter smiles.
Early afternoon of the next day.
The head of Kisa, who had nodded off with the mud-stained pelts still on his knees, suddenly dropped with a jerk. Bolting upright due to the shock, Kisa fervently blinks and hastens his handiwork of putting a string that had been created out of the ivy through several opened holes in a pelt with an awl (an ice pick-like tool) as if appealing to his surroundings that he hadn’t dozed off.
“You seem to be quite sleepy, don’t you?”
However, having that cynically pointed out by Erika who had seen everything from the beginning to the end, Kisa’s cheeks turn red in shame.
“It looks like I’m lacking a bit of sleep.”
Kisa excused himself, but Erika noticed that it’s far from a bit.
Yesterday Erika and the other girls stopped their work when the sun set, but saying that he still has things to do, Kisa continued the work by himself at a separate place. Moreover, even when Erika woke up early in the morning before the sun had risen, she heard faint sounds and concluded that Kisa had very likely continued working without getting even a wink of sleep.
“It’s not coming along as well as I expected…”
Kisa grumbled with a yawn mixed in, but he immediately notices his verbal slip and justifies,
“But, there’s only a little left, so it will be alright!”
Erika rested her hands, which were painting shortly trimmed crossbow arrows black with charcoal that had survived the bonfire. She faced Kisa with a provocative smile and said,
“I’m not expecting anything.”
Erika’s scheme to make him give up by deliberately offending him was apparent, but even so Kisa became sullen, originating from his lack of sleep, and huffily replied,
“It will be fine! I will properly finish it this evening!”
However, although he said so, even after Erika and the girls had gone to sleep when it became night, Kisa tampered with the box by himself, but in the end it didn’t go well.
“Shit! It’s hopeless! Am I still lacking something…?”
The sun has already been down for quite a while. In a few more hours, it will begin to rise in the eastern sky.
And yet it doesn’t work out no matter what.
The thought of him wondering whether it was impossible after all is gradually growing in strength.
“No, no, no good! I must not become faint hearted here!”
Kisa violently shook his head in order to brush away his weakness, but having shaken his head with too much strength against his better judgment, he ends up becoming dizzy.
“Let’s calm down a bit…”
Thinking that he has to cool down his head by making a short break, Kisa left the rock’s shade and walked over to the bonfire where Erika and the others are sleeping.
It’s at that moment.
Something flashed momentarily after it was hit by the illumination of the bonfire, and was reflected in a corner of Kisa’s vision.
Once Kisa rushed over in a hurry, it was the big helmet placed on top of Knurl’s gravesite.
Kisa picked up the big helmet and peeked inside after turning it over. The interior was stuffed with a cloth as a substitute cushioning, but once he removed that, a metallic plate appeared. After polishing that with his sleeve that reached up to his wrist, it had so much of a luster that it reflected his face, despite the metallic plate being slightly warped.
“Can’t I use this?”
Kisa thrust the leather box into the helmet. Doing so, he discovered that the helmet was large enough to allow the box to fully enter it.
“It seems to be a bit too big, but if I cram cloth into it, it will fit properly.”
Kisa carried each, the helmet and the box, under one of his arms and dashed to the base of the rock where Erika and the others were sleeping.
“Wake up, Erika! I have a request!”
Kisa calls out to her while strongly shaking Erika’s shoulder, who was sleeping next to the fire covered by a pelt.
“What the heck is it? Even though the sun hasn’t risen yet…”
Having been woken up by Kisa, Erika asks him in a displeased manner while rubbing her eyes with the back of her hands. Even the girls, who slept nearby, get up wondering what’s going on.
“I’d like you to cut off the side of the box.”
Kisa showed Erika’s half-asleep eyes the opposite side of the location with the holes.
“Do you plan to break the box now?”
Due to Erika’s astonished words, Kisa hesitated. Once it’s cut off, it won’t be possible to return it to its original state even if it ends up a failure. Just as Erika says, it’s likely that it will also break as a result.
However, Kisa bet on his own plan.
“Yeah, please do it.”
Once Erika tears off the side of the box with a knife while stifling a yawn, Kisa leaves with a “Thank you!”, returning to his workplace with the box under his arm.
“Please. That has to do the trick.”
He pushes the box inside the helmet and affixes it so that it won’t be able to move by stuffing the gaps with cloth. The helmet’s visor was movable, but it serving as a cover was an unexpected blessing.
After finishing everything, Kisa closed the visor with a prayer.
Seeing the outcome, Kisa spontaneously falls on his knees on the spot and offers words of gratitude to the dead dwarf who owned all of these tools.
“Many thanks, Knurl!”
“Everyone, come here for a moment!”
Right when Erika and the girls were about to doze back off, Kisa’s loud voice resounded once more.
“Just what is it this time!?”
Being disturbed a second time in her precious sleeping time, Erika questions Kisa with a threatening tone. However, Kisa suddenly started to rattle on full of excitement without any of his usual meekness.
“I finished it! I finally finished it! Have a look at right away!”
“…What did you finish?”
“The secret weapon! The secret weapon to drive away the bandits! If we use this, we will be able to frighten the bandits!”
Due to Kisa’s eyes gleaming with joy just like those of a child, Erika, who believed it to be pointless to ask him what he’s talking about, releases a single, deep sigh.
Let alone the morning sun rising, not even a hint of dawn was visible at the eastern horizon. She wanted to shout at him for his lack of common sense as probably even the first crowing cock is still sleeping, but because she knows that Kisa was doing his best for them, Erika compromises by not doing so.
“Can’t it wait until morning?”
“It has to be now!”
Kisa declared at once.
Although they had associated with each other for merely a few days, Erika had learned that it is useless no matter what she says once Kisa has become like this and therefore got up reluctantly. Taking the still half-asleep girls along, she follows Kisa.
Once they reached a spot where the rock rises steeply like a wall, Kisa placed the helmet under his arm at his feet and started to prepare something.
“So, that secret weapon of yours, where is it?”
All that’s present there is helmet that had the box crammed into it with no weapon-like item in sight.
“Look forward to seeing it, okay?”
At that point Kisa revealed the expression of a brat who came up with an outrageous mischief.
“Right! I guess I will add a bit more ingenuity to it. —Hey, do you have a knife?”
“Yeah. I carry it on me in case of being attacked by you.”
Erika says provocatively, but Kisa answers quite indifferently “There’s no way I’m going to do that.”
“Putting that aside, can I have you cut my fingertip a little bit with the knife?”
“Let alone your fingertip, should I also cut your neck?”
Erika, who was for some reason irritated after being firmly told that he wouldn’t lay his hands on her, says something dangerous, causing Kisa to perspire cold sweat as he says, “A fingertip is plenty!”
Making droplets of blood oozing out by squeezing the fingertip that had been lightly cut by Erika’s knife, Kisa takes out something from within the helmet and begins to work with a rustling. After a short time he put the item he took out back into the helmet once more and nodded several times as if agreeing with himself.
Erika calls Kisa to attention.
“Hey! Don’t forget our promise, Kisa. I don’t know what you are trying to do here, but if you aren’t capable of startling us, we will go with my plan.”
Moreover, she also adds to the little girls in advance,
“You girls, don’t act surprised on purpose.”
She warns them to not try cooperating with Kisa by faking their astonishment due to their wish to rescue their elder sisters.
And Erika motivated herself wondering whether it will be something that will definitely surprise her.
“Now then, I will put out the fire for a bit.”
Kisa strongly swung the burning wooden stick, which they had brought along as substitute for a torch, extinguishing the fire. Thereupon only the faint moonlight illuminates the vicinity.
“Hey Kisa, I don’t know what you want to show us, but with it being this dark, we won’t be able to see well…”
Erika’s complaints towards Kisa suddenly stop in the middle of the sentence.
And then, in the next moment, screams so loud that they would tear silk reverberated from the girls.
“Esteemed Wind God! Esteemed Wind God! Please save us! Please save us!”
Erika and the others, who all had pale faces, jumped out off the rock’s shade so quickly that they were tumbling all over while severally offering prayers and apologies to the Wind God.
Because they were too panicked, one of them stumbles, causing all four to end up falling down after getting dragged into it. The four banged their bodies against each other and groaned in pain for a while, but they jumped to their feet once someone chasing them arrived. And they huddled together while beginning to tremble.
“So? Were you startled?”
It was Kisa who chased after Erika and the girls.
However, even though they comprehended that it was Kisa, they couldn’t calm their fear and confusion.
“Y-Y-Y-You are a divine messenger? Or a magician!?”
Kisa shook his head with a wry smile saying, “Not at all!” upon Erika’s words.
“I’m just a weak human who only knows a few odd things.”