The Results Of The Hunt
The mountain Loren-san and I headed to was a little north of where the fields of flowers were.
In the woods filled with vegetation, Loren-san, Kyle, and I were walking in a line in that order.
「There are edible fruits and nuts growing around this area, so the villagers often come to gather them here. That’s why this area here is relatively easy to walk in」
Kyle filled me in with his knowledge of the mountains.
He spoke in a monotone voice, but his explanation was fairly easy to understand because he got his points out well. Loren-san seemed to have taught him well.
「What are the fruits and nuts that we can take from here? 」
「Let’s see if you can name me no less than five」
When I wanted to ask Kyle about which fruits and nuts are edible around here, Loren-san had cut me off and asked him first.
It was a quiz for his disciple.
「Pico, erue, aria, merie, goji, and zuri」
Loren-san nodded his head as he listened to Kyle’s smooth words that were said with no hesitation.
「The things that he just listed can also be found near the village. Did you know that Aldo? 」
「No, other than the goji berries, I haven’t tried any of them」
「Well then, why don’t we gather some and have a try?」
Therefore, we went off the road and deeper into the woods. Soon, we found round red nuts that grew around the grass.
When Loren-san saw them, he picked up some and handed them to me.
「This is a pico. Its special characteristic is its redness and its round shape, with a taste that is similar to an apple. You can try eating it just like that」
I was inspired by Loren-san’s words so I tried it out.
When I chewed the grain-sized nut, my mouth was gradually filled by a sweet umami.
「You’re right, it certainly tastes like an apple」
It had a completely different taste from goji berries.
「Well, it’s a popular snack among children. Since it grows on the ground, it’s easy for children to pick them out themselves. Also, it’s safe because there are no poisonous fruits growing nearby. I used to eat this when I was a child, too」
Loren threw some pico nuts into his mouth as he laughed and let out a “gahahah” laugh.
Oh, when I was a child, I would eat whatever fruits and nuts that I could get my hands on, too. I challenged everything that I found and tried to eat them.
There wasn’t even once or twice where my stomach felt weird.
Now that I think back, I’m glad that I never ate anything poisonous.
I guess it was thanks to luck that I was able to live until now.
「And over here we have the fruit, erue」
While I was deeply impressed by the pico nut, Loren-san was beckoning me over from the top of a tree.
When I approached Loren-san, I saw several blue-colored fruits on the tree that Kyle had climbed up.
Unlike the pico, this fruit, erue, is the size of Kyle’s fist.
Loren-san stretched his hand out and reached for the fruit, then hopped back down onto the ground.
「So, this here is an erue. The outside is hard, but if you cut it open and eat the inside, it’s delicious. Just to warn you, it gets more bitter the closer you get to the skin」
I see. It’s the type of fruit where you just eat the middle with a spoon. Such fruits are easy to understand because they are common.
While I was looking at this fruit in admiration, Loren-san, who was next to me, laughed.
「Hahaha, Kyle, you’re still a child. The bitter taste near the skin is not really a problem」
「No, it’s weird that adults don’t mind that taste」
I couldn’t stand bitter-tasting food when I was a child either, but after I was a little over sixteen years old, I did not mind anymore. I think that like most people, their taste in food would change slightly when they become an adult.
As I tried out the fruits, we continued walking in the woods while they taught me the types of vegetables and herbs that could be taken from this forest.
「Footsteps of a deer. It just passed by here a little while ago」
Loren-san said as he squatted down on the soil where a deer’s footprints remained.
The footprints that were carved into the ground do look like they were brand new, so the deer should not have gotten far just like Loren-san said.
「Shall we try looking around here with the three of us? 」
「Yeah, we might get a great deal of meat for tonight’s dinner if this goes well」
Loren replied to Kyle with a smile showing his white teeth.
Imagining that I might be able to bring back lots of meat, a smile had also slipped out of me.
Perhaps I could meet Flora’s expectations and pay back Aisha very soon.
「I think you already know, but, beware of monsters. While they rarely come out, there are vicious monsters like Red bears and Gillfangos in the north. Keep your eyes wide so you don’t tunnel vision on the prey」
The Red bears and Gillfangos… they are both extremely violent monsters.
Red bears are bear type monsters that are cladded in tough, red fur. They attack anyone who steps into their territory.
Gillfangos have bodies that are much larger than wild boars. They are monsters with long fangs that seem like they could penetrate the sky.
They are not aggressive monsters, but you won’t get off scot-free if they charged at you when they can mow down trees.
There’s always a possibility of encountering such monsters, so we have to always be aware of danger. If we focused too hard on the prey that we are chasing, then even if we had infinite lives, it wouldn’t be enough when a monster pops up around the corner.
Even for me, someone who is a professional in slaying monsters, I still have a fragile human body.
I could still die in a hit if I took on a monster’s attack directly; that’s why I cannot afford to be careless at any time when I’m in the mountains and woods.
We followed the clues in the vicinity with serious-looking faces.
When I got rid of the unnecessary thoughts in my head and drove the sound of my heartbeats away from my consciousness, I felt a sudden cold chill as I sharpened my senses.
I walked while making as little sound as possible, as I relied on the things that I was seeing with my eyes and the sounds I was hearing with my ears. Loren-san was doing the same as he moved from behind.
When I took a quick glance at Loren-san, he was looking a little surprised.
I have no idea why he was surprised, but today I came so that he could teach me about the mountains here. Therefore, it’s important for him to be able to confirm what I’m capable of, as that information will be essential for him in order for him to come to a decision whether or not I can be of any use as a hunter.
Having understood that, I moved to the east while not minding Loren-san, who followed from behind.
I pushed out the long grass without making noises and slowly peeked out. There, I saw a deer just about fifty meters ahead.
We’ve found it.
「…What are you going to do now? Are you gonna go for it? 」
Loren-san whispered in a calm tone as he quietly came up from behind.
Kyle had also caught up with us a little later.
The joy you feel when you find your prey could turn into signs that could be easily detected by animals, so you must keep calm during a hunt.
「Yeah. I’m going for it」
I answered him briefly, then I pulled out an arrow from the remaining small amount of arrows that I carried by my waist.
I often hunted in my past journeys, but I haven’t done this lately.
It felt a bit uneasy since Loren-san is watching me, but at this distance, I would still be able to hit the target even if I’m rusty.
If it was Kiel, he could hit this level of shot while picking his nose.
I fit the arrow onto the bowstring and took aim at the deer as I drew the bow.
The prey was still not aware of the situation as it was just leisurely eating the grass on the ground.
I adjusted my aim a little and released the arrow.
*shoom*, the arrow ripped through the air as it flew toward the deer in a straight line.
The deer moved its head when it noticed the airy sound, but it was already too late. The arrow had gone into the side of its head.
It was suddenly killed from the fatal blow it received from the side.
Well, this much should be natural for shooting from this distance. However, I couldn’t point that out as I felt somewhat nervous because Loren-san was watching me.
I’m glad that I was able to kill with a single shot.
With this I can meet Flora’s expectations and thank Aisha.
「…You’re good… Much better than my disciple」
I felt relieved inside as Loren-san told me after tapping on my shoulder lightly.
「Noo, that’s not true」
Kiel will be angry if I was bragging from this level of archery. Rather, I was too slow from loading up to shooting. If it was a little back then, I would have been able to shoot in a shorter time without the deer even noticing.
I’ll need to practice when I get home.
「No,no,no… it’s weird to even compare me to that level. Before anything else, Aldo-san, your ability to find the prey was really something else. You tracked it all the way here as if you knew it was here. That was even better than my teacher」
Is that so? My judgement was rather slow compared to how fast it normally is since it was my first time at this mountain.
Since tracking is more about getting familiar with different environments from experiences, it takes some time.
「… I’m a little concerned to hear that from my stupid disciple. You want to get disowned?」
「I’ll be depending on you when that happens, Aldo-san. If anything, having someone like you as my teacher would make me happy」
「What’d you say?!?! How ungrateful!! 」
The two of them joked around since we have taken down the prey and confirmed that there was no danger around.
Loren-san caught Kyle and nudged his head with his fist.
They aren’t father and son but they have a good relationship. You couldn’t really have a conversation like that unless you were close enough with each other.
「At any rate, if we have Aldo-san’s skills, the villagers are going to be able to eat meat forever! Take good care of us from now on! 」
◆ ◆ ◆
As soon as we finished the processing work of the prey such as draining the blood out, we headed off the mountain.
Today, I was taught about the food ingredients that could be gathered from the mountain, and then we gathered a lot of nuts, fruits, and herbs.
It was because we had our hands all full from getting the deer down along with our baggage that we did not have much time to chat on our way down.
Loren-san and I carried the deer down by tying it to a long piece of wood with ropes.
「Oii, we brought back some game-」
Loren-san spoke to the villagers who were working on the fields.
「Ohh! It’s true! That’s huge! 」
「You guys did it. We might have meat for dinner tonight」
The villagers who saw the deer came to us with their faces shining bright.
「Are we going to have plenty of meat for today’s dinner? 」
「Yeah, for sure」
An innocent, small girl said in joy as her mother patted her head.
It makes me happy as well when I see them this happy.
I think this was a little helpful to the villagers.
「Did Loren-san take this down? 」
「No, Aldo here, who is new to this village, is the one who took it down. This guy is skilled, so from now on you will be able to eat a lot of meat 」
Loren-san replied to a woman as he pointed at me.
The eyes of the villagers gathered on me along with his words.
When I glanced at Loren-san, I saw his full smile showing his white teeth for the second time.
Apparently, he has made this an opportunity to introduce me to the villagers here. I’m thankful for that.
I sent words of gratitude to Loren-san with my eyes, and then I looked at the villagers.
「I’m new to this village as I just moved in, name’s Aldo. Nice to meet you all! 」
When I lightly lowered my head after I introduced myself, the gathered villagers applauded with smiles on their faces.
「Ohh! Nice to meet you, too! We welcome you here! 」
「If there’s anything you need help with come ask me any time」
I carved those welcoming words happily in my heart. I’m full of happiness ever since I’ve come to Nordende.
「Kyle, work hard and get us meat too! 」
「Yes, today I did my best and only gathered some nuts. Please forgive me」
Kyle gave a little girl the pico nut as he said so.
「Nn! The pico nut is also delicious so I forgive you! 」
Everyone laughed gently from the words of the little girl.
◆ ◆ ◆
When we returned to the village, we began to dismantle the deer immediately. We pulled out the internal organs, peeled off the skin, and cut it up into different parts.
There were almost no parts that we threw away; even the spine and hipbone of the deer were used as dog food.
I was surprised at the unique knowledge that the villagers had on how to utilize every part of the deer. When I think back, it was also thanks to not wasting anything that I’ve managed to live until today.
After we finished cutting up the meat, we took the portion that we needed ourselves and the rest was immediately distributed to the villagers. Of course, we as hunters were able to get larger shares, so we won’t have to worry about having meat for now.
As expected, one deer was not enough to be shared by all the villagers, but since we aren’t the only hunters in this village, there is no problem.
The village chief and the villagers decided the proportions and the order of distribution, so it was done smoothly. By the way, the hunters themselves are also given the freedom of distribution since they trade in the meat in exchange for other things. Therefore, I can choose to give a portion to whomever I want without worries. For trading the meat, we receive other types of food ingredients in exchange. It’s a two way relationship.
If distribution goes wrong and it loses the balance, the relationship collapses without saying.
I got a large amount of deer meat on my hands, and I decided to head to Ergys-san’s house quickly.
Ergys-san also got a portion of the meat, but it was not that much. If I bring him this share he will be able to eat lots.
I arrived at Ergys-san’s house and knocked on the door.
「… I have been waiting for you」
It was Flora who answered the door.
She welcomed me with a shy smile.
「I managed to meet your expectations, somehow. With this, there will be lots of meat on the dinner table tonight」
With that said, I passed Flora a piece of meat that was wrapped in a type of leaf that was said to be good to use for preservation.
「Ah, well then… I’ll be on my way」
「Please wait a second」
Flora stopped me as I was about to leave.
When I intentionally looked back at her, Flora’s feet were fidgeting as if she was embarrassed.
「…Um, please stay for dinner before you go」
「Um… Is that alright? 」
「Yeah, let’s eat together 」
I went into the house as Flora urged me to go inside with a bright smile on her face as she opened the door.