Kyou-san wakes up beside me, so I decided to do the same. I awake from my [Dormurnal]-state and everything I perceive during that time hammers on me, and I got the chance to rationally think about a scene which occurred then: For some reason, Rine decided to walk up to us and after about ten minutes, she went back to sleep.
“You’re awake?” Kyou-san asks me while yawning.
Currently, we’re in a guest room, which was used as a storage room. A lot of useless stuff is here, mostly papers, which are made of fallen leaves. Alfar and trees have a strange relationship to each other. At least that’s what I believe.
This whole building was made for Ara’ainn-san and her research, she lives and sleeps here as well, just two rooms apart. There is a big hall for experiments, three studies, a kitchen, a living room, a bath, a toilet (which means you shit into a hole on a seat and everything falls down to the roots of the tree) and several storerooms.
And since Ara’ainn-san just keeps on piling, almost all space was used. Or rather misused.
Our room has three beds, made out of leaves and branches, like almost everything here. And it’s all alive and can move if Ara’ainn-san asks it to do so. So if she wants us dead, she can just ask our beds to crush us, while we sleep.
That’s why I used [Dormurnal] for this very first night. Well, there is little reason to not use it, it just has the demerit of not feeling well during sleep and especially when you leave that dream-like state. But as long as it keeps me alive, I’m OK with it.
Kyou-san does her morning routine, washing her face, checking her clothes, and she throws me out of the room to change. It’s like this every day.
And I’m sure that when she calls me back in, she’ll be back to her usual beautiful self. But for now I just stand in front of the ‘door’.
My head is quickly turning to the direction of the voice. It’s Ara’ainn-san. Why didn’t I hear her? “Do you have the [Stealth]-ability?”
“No.” She smiles slightly, but her smile is different from Rine’s or Kyou-san’s. It’s a smile of knowing about things you don’t. A bit arrogant. And it doesn’t even reach her cheeks, her eyebrows are also not moving at all. “So you have [Perception], otherwise it wouldn’t irritate you so much.”
“Phew. At least you act the hero-sage part.”
“I did it most of my life. Why are you waiting outside the room?”
“So the girls may change.”
“And I thought you were engaged in a beddable relationship.”
I hit my forehead with both of my palms, feeling a mix of embarrassment and frustration: “Why are you el- alfar like that!?”
“I don’t know about the others, but for me, humans are a species who always think about sexual intercourse.”
“How do you come to that conclusion!?”
“They’re in heat all year long, can be impregnated at an age of only 13 years, have strange interests like sex with animals, toys, and other things, I can’t even talk about without blushing, and if they can’t find someone to mate, they do it by themselves. That’s strange.”
I better not ask how alfar’s sexual biology works. “The way you’re talking about it, really makes me doubt that there is anything that can make you blush.”
“Oh, there are quite some things. But because of these facts, it’s commonly a prejudice against humans, that they’re only thinking about sex.”
“So your pals only wanted to make fun of us, huh?”
“Most likely.” A small smile which annoys me.
“So let me make it clear: There is no such relationship between us.”
“So you’re into animals?”
“#?+!” Making a sound, which couldn’t be expressed in letters, I grab her shoulders.
Ara’ainn-san calmly looks at my hands and my face. Then she inhales deeply to do this: “HELP, HE’S GOING TO RAPE ME!”
The leaves, which acts like a door, are pushed aside and suddenly, fingers are grabbing my eye sockets from behind. With a violent jolt, my head is pulled back and I look at the angry face of Kyou-san, the still drowsy Rine just behind her.
Kyou-san is turning her head back to the blonde girl. “Rine-chan?”
“*yawn* OK.” Rine is even easier to manipulate when she’s still sleepy.
A hard punch and some explanations later, this misunderstanding could be get rid of.
I somehow get the idea, why alfar are called the ‘young folk’. They’re forever stuck in puberty! I mean, Ara’ainn-san is supposed to be 144 years old and still finds amusement in acting like this! Same for Oro’hekk.
By the way, Kyou-san didn’t apologize for jumping to conclusions. How harsh can you be, girl!?
After this, in a negative way, exciting morning, we wanted to eat breakfast. But we couldn’t. Rine and I are speechless at the sight we saw after we entered the kitchen.
“Ara’ainn-san?” Kyou-san’s face is distorted in a mix between a friendly smile and a furious grimace. “Why are these squirrels living in your kitchen?” Yes, there are animals here, which resembles squirrels. They’re spotted like pandas, otherwise almost perfect squirrels.
“Call me ‘Ara’.”
“Ara-san? Why are there squirrels living in your kitchen?” Without even hesitation, Kyou-san adapted her question.
Ara’ainn-san fold her arms and closes her eyes. “Because I chased the crows away.”
“And what was before that? Rats?”
“Kyou-san, do you have the [Divination]-ability?”
“Ara-san, when was the last time, you cleaned your kitchen?”
“Personally? I never have.”
“How many years have you lived here?”
“I moved in about a hundred years ago. Sometimes I travel around for new information, so the actual number of years I’ve lived here is less.”
“Did someone else clean that place for you?”
“Yes, sometimes a helpful soul cleans here.”
“You’re the worst.”
I must agree. After seeing a sight like this, I can only feel sympathy for anyone, whoever cleaned that place up.
Calling it dirty is too much of a compliment. Somehow it gives the impression, that it was never clean to begin with, so there is no exact step to dirty.
The wooden walls, made from the trees, are coated with a thick layer of dirt, grease, and things, I can only recognize as leftovers. There are even some spider, insect and lizard corpses, who couldn’t escape the sticky surface and died a horrible dead of starvation.
If there was ever a floor, I can’t see any signs of it. It died, crushed by leaps of things, I can’t even describe. Part of it seems to be leftovers and dishes, but the dishes, made of wood, started to sprout, growing branches and leaves. Shouldn’t the wood of a dish be dead!? I hope it’s an alfar-thing, since seeing something like this as a result of not tidying up is quite disturbing.
In these heaps live about ten families of panda-squirrels, which looks at us as if we threatened their territory. And they’re quite intimidating.
“Be careful everyone,” Ara’ainn-san warns us. “I was not able to reconquer the kitchen, so if we want to do something here, we have to negotiate with the squirrels.”
I can’t hold back: “Ara’ainn-san, what level do you have?”
“I’m mostly about studies, so my level doesn’t represent my experience. I’m level 50.”
Only a bit above mine. “So you, as a level 50 hero, are unable to get your kitchen back? What are these? Weresquirrels?”
“Squirrels with an unusual pattern and some history. They’re also the epitome of evil.”
“…What did they do?”
“After I chased them out the first time, they attacked me in my sleep and…” Ara’ainn-san shivers. “…no single alfr could be a match for them.”
I want to know but don’t.
“Phew…” So we have to negotiate with squirrels!? “Rine?”
“Please talk to them.” Rine has the [Animal Ken]-ability and its [Whisperer]-skill. With this, she’s able to converse with normal animals with words and gesture and understands answers. It’s not really talking, but similar.
“And what should I say?”
“That they either give us the kitchen back or we will force them to.” I will never surrender to squirrels! My pride may be crushed on a regular basis, but I won’t back down here!
“I would feel bad if we need to kill them. They’re cute.”
“Rine, cuteness is a survival strategy of certain animals. So don’t be tricked by them! Every animal that’s cute, use its cuteness to survive, not to please you. It’s a coward’s tactic!” I would also use it if I was cute.
But I’m not.
Rine clenches her fist. “I see. I’ll do my best!”
Ara’ainn-san’s ears straighten, Kyou-san rolls her eyes. How foolish, if you want to take something, be prepared to use force for it! And there are only few greater forces than Rine!
She enters the room and engages the squirrels in conversation: “Erm, hello squirrels. This is the kitchen of Ara’ainn, so would you be so kind and leave?” She smiles and smiling to squirrels, makes that girl really look the fantasy princess part. I think, I saw some anime once, where princesses were able to talk to forest critters. “If you don’t, this may become ugly. Please?” Rine cocks her head and I can feel a wave of persuasiveness coming from her.
The squirrels look at her, eyes wide open. And without a warning, they attacked, jumping towards Rine in packs. Or at least some of them.
Because Rine drew her blade faster than thought and killed three squirrels in a single strike, before they could even jump. Then she evades the first pouncing pack with a quick turn, elbows the fore-jumper of the second pack, right into the rest, causing them to scatter like bowling pins, while her sword thrusts at a third pack, which is now transformed into mince meat. While doing so, she steps back and crushes the pack she evaded before with her feet.
The squirrels who were about to attack as a second wave, go googly-eyed, not being able to comprehend how so many of them were murdered in less than a moment.
Even Ara’ainn is obviously impressed and confused, her ears are twitching and her eyes are wide open. Kyou-san is looking at the spectacle as if she’s watching TV. Well, I’m amazed by it as well.
After that moment of shock, the remaining squirrels flee in a mad rush. Yes, that’s the appropriated reaction, you damn squirrels!
For some reason, Rine is taking something like a fork from one of the heaps, binds a handkerchief around its handle and stick it right back: “This kitchen is claimed in the name of Kenta.”
|You gain 1 WP.|
|Isn’t she just adorable?|
WP-system, let me ask you a question: Do you have seen the display right before that gesture? It’s hard to call anything adorable in this context!
Ara’ainn-san is shaking her head as if she’s unsure what to make out of it.
Kyou-san, on the other hand, giggles slightly. So she’s really amused by this? Or is she snickering about how dorky Rine looks? “Rine-chan, before we can claim that kitchen, we need to tidy up. Ara-san, you too. And Ken, just hold a bag.”
So the rest of the morning is spent by making the kitchen usable.
Afternoon. After a late breakfast, Ara’ainn-san has arranged, that the scripts regarding curses are brought to her house so that Kyou-san and Rine can read through them. There is no curse-specialist in Aroa’henn, but it’s a place where the knowledge of the alfar gathered, so there may be some hints.
The reasons I won’t be helping them are two. First, I still can’t read the alphabet of this world. Someone has to teach me. Second, Ara’ainn-san declared that one of us will be interviewed each afternoon from today onward, and since we couldn’t send Rine in for safety reasons, it was either me or Kyou-san. And that gal promptly proposed me.
So now Ara’ainn-san and I are sitting in one of her studies and after we freed a chair from a uncountable amount of books, we’re about to start.
“So, Kenta-kun, are there any questions before we start?”
“Why are you ‘-kun’ing me?”
“Last time I asked, you fell asleep.”
“I see. So any other questions?”
“Answer the first one, dammit!”
“Kenta-kun, the moment I answer that question, I’ll have to explain two hours of Alfr Speech, so I don’t want to waste much time. Let’s say it’s the result of the fact, that both of us actually used to speak different languages and now you understand the most appropriate term, even though it’s not a literal translation.”
“Has your world different languages?”
“Then try to translate a sentence in a foreign language and then translate it back into your mother tongue and you might get an idea.”
“Ah.” This is comprehensible. “Can’t you call me something else?”
“Of course, Kenta-tan.”
“Well, you’re younger, so I have to use either the term of someone younger, but adult, or a child still growing up.”
Is the difference in Alfr Speech so great, that it transcribe into such extremes!?
“Is there a way to not use a -suffix?”
Ara’ainn-san frowns as if she’s not hearing right. “…seriously, those strange sentences can only happen, when talking about languages. I keep it simple: Stop asking or I’ll choose an embarrassing nickname for you!”
“By the way, you may call me Ara. No need for honorific, both of us are heroes.”
“How does calling you by your name is an honorific?” I mean, she’s called ‘Ara’ainn’, that’s her name.
“Stop asking these questions, it gives me headaches. Just do it or I’ll call you Kennickle!”
…How!? How could you get to a strange nickname like that!? “Ara-san!” Just keep it at a basic level and don’t think about it.
“What a pity, I liked Kennickle. But let’s keep civil about it. Kenta-kun, if you ever ask anything regarding languages without me initiating that conversation, I’ll call you Kennickle-tan!”
“…I somehow get the feeling, you’ll really do. Phew, alright, alright.”
“Phew? What’s that?”
“Don’t point that out!”
Ara’ainn- … Ara-san rubs her ear and speaks with a calm voice. “Alright. We’ll start.” She takes a quill pen and a paper from the desk and is about to write. “Name, species, age, and classes in order, please.”
“Katsuragi Kenta, human, 16 years old, [Student], [Scout] and [Pikeman].”
“Next, homeland, mother tongue, date of transfer to this world, the place you were transferred to and who were the ones, that summoned you?” …is she already finished writing? She didn’t even need a bit of a pause, before asking me her next questions! Her quill is moving at an amazing speed.
“Japan, Japanese, date of transfer… don’t know anymore, about three months ago. Then?”
Ara-san’s ears are waving in impatience. “Place you were transferred to and who summoned you.”
“Esse in Feuerberg and do you mean the clergy or which god?”
“Clergy… I see. Reason?”
“To defeat the devil king.”
“Is it congruent to the reason, the god asked you to come?”
“And the reward is a single perfect wish?”
“I see, I see.” Ara-san is nodding to herself.
“What about you?”
“Isn’t it a bit one-sided to only ask me?”
“Why would you want to know about me?”
“Because I don’t like the fact, that you learn that much about me while I don’t know anything about you.”
“Ah, I see. Well, Ara’ainn, Ljos alfr, 144 years old, [Accountant], [Druid], [Bookie], and [Acrobat]. I lived in Ivaslarihenn, Alfar Speech is my mother tongue and I was summoned on the 4th Firemount in 1681, Alfarmeet, in Aroahenn. I was summoned by the passed Elder Ohul’asar for stealing the knowledge of the God Datien. If I do that, I may be granted a single, perfect wish.”
“So heroes may have different quests?”
“Yes. But before we go into details, I like to get an overview about you, so I may skim it and remember everything when rereading it at a later point, without going through the whole text. So let’s stick with fast questions for now.”
“…OK.” Well, she’s efficient. Actually, I like it.
“Next question, do you know the identity of the god, which brought you into this world?”
“No. And you?”
“For me, it’s Elmli, goddess of knowledge of education. Never heard of her before being transferred, but she was already established in Aroahenn. Next: Did you ever met any other gods?”
With a sudden movement, Ara-san is leaning forward me. If she had breasts, they would surely jiggle by that abrupt movement. But she doesn’t and her appearance isn’t appealing at all, so this pose won’t work. “What’s its name? Appearance? Tell me everything!”
I guess, she never found a hero, who had an encounter with a god. “Muaotef, with a bunch of titles.”
“Muaotef? From the northern islands? Bringer of Decay, Flame of the Earth, sometimes called the Great One?”
“Didn’t know about the islands, but these titles sound familiar.”
“How did he look?”
I try to picture Muaotef in my mind, his great body, the red and gold scales the… my body is trembling. Stay still!
“Oh… OHH!!!” Ara-san’s eyes are hungry again. “So meeting a god in person can have such effects.” She seems to regret what she’s about to say: “We’ll change the topic for now. Let me hear your story, from the beginning.” Yes, she is efficient.
“What about yours?”
“We’ll trade. For every moment of you, I’ll tell you an interesting moment of me.”
This seems to become a long session.
Nighttime. I left out important details, but now Ara-san has a rough idea, what I’ve been through. I left out important details, like the nuptial details of the curse, and I lied about Rine’s origin, but the more I told Ara-san, the more she told me about herself.
She was an accountant back in her world and was one of a hundred randomly selected Ljos-alfar from the whole planet, so much unlike my and Kyou-san’s case. These summoned heroes had different ages, different occupations, different continents, there was no common trait despite them being Ljos-alfar from Alfarheim.
Like our teachers and some of the students, she decided to make herself useful instead of fighting. And her way of being useful was to analyze the hero-system. For now, it’s still mainly in the information-gathering phase, she has the stats of all alfr-heroes who were at Aroa’henn at several points in time, their skills and about everything they could provide her. Her data concerning non-alfr heroes are sparse, but she did her best to cover it up as good as possible.
She also gathers and evaluate myths from this world concerning heroes and asked everyone to help her in this undertaking. And it seems, there is a lot of it. Comparing myths with each other, with actual data, she did all of that and more.
She’s just like me when I research character builds in the internet, using several wiki-pages and my own brain to make the most fun character.
“Ken, why are you smirking?” Kyou-san is in her pajamas and brushing her hair.
“Am I?” In fact, I am.
“Stop it, it creeps me out and I want to sleep.” Kyou-san is in a bad mood since she couldn’t find anything useful in the collections of writings the alfar brought here so far. But it’s only the first day of research.
Rine, who helped her, is still in a good mood. Since both of them are using [Divine Magic], they’re the ones who most likely can figure out how to break the curse. Seems to be priest-business.
“Kenta, I like your smile. It may look a bit devious, sinister and untrustworthy, but I can still feel the joy you’re feeling.” If it wasn’t for her pure smile while saying it, I would be sure that she’s trying to insult me. “May I sleep next to you today?”
Maybe she’s more scheming than I thought. Trying to put me in a good mood to get her way. But seriously, it’s pre-school level.
So all of us went to sleep. Just to be sure, I still use [Dormurnal].
… … …
Waddling. Several. Strange.
I decided to wake up and only slightly open my eyes, relying on my [Darksight].
Panda-squirrels! They’re entering the room through the branches and leaves, that should act as doors and windows, like they own this place.
The air is filled with bloodthirst. There are about fifty of them. And all of them surround Rine’s bed. One of them is giving the call to attack…
I turn around to Kyou-san’s side and close my eyes. I try to blend out the sounds of the massacre, which is currently occurring.
You don’t attack Rine while she’s sleeping.
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