One hundred and twenty-seven kobolds, plus one skeleton, are trekking across the highlands. We’re on a journey to a secluded place beyond the Reinsol Kingdom. It has already been two weeks since we left, and yet there is still a long way to go. It’s become painfully obvious just how slow travelling is without a motor engine, or when everyone else has something called “stamina.”
As we continue our migration, I admire the beautiful vista. I’ve only seen such scenery in documentaries, though I don’t remember the herd of porcupine-sheep in the distance. I look around and realise just how small I truly am. The clouds are so close, and yet my arms cannot reach them. I almost lose balance looking at this vast expanse of green hills.
“Enbos, are you feeling lightheaded? You almost fell over.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Hachirou. He doesn’t need to breathe so why would he have altitude sickness? As for you, stop sightseeing and making my brother worry.”
“Would it kill you to be a bit more considerate?”
“To you, maybe.”
“Please stop arguing. Look, it’s almost time to camp and father will need your help.”
“… Fine, I’ll be going ahead.”
“… Thank you, Hachirou. You’re the most sensible one here.”
“No, no, no! I’m sure you would have stopped of your own accord.”
As usual, I’m on bad terms with Chiyoko while Hachirou’s admiration has only grown. I have no idea what he sees in me, but I hope it doesn’t become idolisation. I sometimes feel lonely even when he’s around.
After a while, we reach a wide plateau and everybody starts pitching their tents. With Hachirou’s help, I manage to make my tent without issue. Several kobolds, including Chiyoko, leave to scavenge for more supplies.
“Sigh, will your sister ever stop loathing me?”
“I’m sure the scales will fall from her eyes… eventually. After all, you already have everyone else’s approval.”
Well, that’s true. Since joining the Nomura clan, I’ve inducted myself into their everyday lives, and in turn, they have grown accustomed to my being in their midst. The hunting party in particular have become quite friendly (with the exception of one), giving me occasional encouragement. Aside from them however, most of the kobolds do not associate with me due to a natural language barrier. Most of them.
“Oi, brats, I know you’re there! Don’t bother pushing me!”
As I turn around, four children (or are they pups?) flee in all directions. Since the tent incident, that mischievous bunch have been taking my spare clothes, ruining my beautiful home and playing “Who can touch Mr Skeleton without getting caught.”
Unfortunately, they’re hard to identify due to their constant running. However, there is no way in hell I wouldn’t recognise their ringleader: he is the only kobold with natural white fur in the entire clan.
“Please forgive them, Enbos. They’re only curious and I have already spoken with their parents.”
“Don’t worry, Hachirou. I know better. I’m an adult after all.”
“As expected, you’re truly merciful.”
But all bets are off if I manage to catch them.
As the skies turn dark, we light a fire and boil a kettle of water. Hachirou then brews a pot of tea- Wait, now is not the time to narrate!
“Have you succeeded yet?”
“I’m… still… trying…”
While Hachirou enjoys his cup of tea, I try to visualise his perspective and extend a line of mana.
No good, it’s another failure and I’m almost out of MP. If only I were at a life well, then I could just buy it with my skill points! For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to acquire <Perception Link>, but with little success. Once I master it however, I plan to raise a pet and embark on a gourmet journey…
Hrm? Hold on a second. If I use <Perception Link> on an animal, wouldn’t their sense of taste be different? In fact, my enjoyment of kobold cooking has entirely been Takashi’s enjoyment, not my own.
“I’m starting to think <Perception Link> is more pointless than I thought.”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind. Now that I’m out of mana, may you teach me more Japanese, Hachirou?”
“Of course! In fact, I already have something prepared.”
Aside from learning to speak, I also think it’s better for Hachirou’s wellbeing. Compared to his odd jobbing days, he now looks much happier, enthusiastic even. Hachirou had said he was fine with helping others, but was that really true?
After an hour of study, we decide to take a break. Well, to be precise, Hachirou is the one taking a breather.
“I’ve been thinking Hachirou…”
“Why don’t you teach the others Arenish?”
“It would be a great boon for the Nomura clan. I’m sure your father will…”
“I’m sorry Enbos, but I can’t. I… I’m no good.”
“That’s not true. You’re perfectly fluent.”
“That’s not what I meant. Teaching Arenish is one duty I mustn’t take.”
His only reply is silence. I let it go and we resume our lesson. I have a feeling this is something personal, but I’m not sure if I should stick in my nasal bone.
A moment later, a high pitch whistle interrupts our session.
“Enbos, it’s almost time for dinner. Let us continue afterwards.”
“About that Hachirou, there is something I have to take care. May I cancel tonight’s lesson?”
“Certainly, but whatever will you be doing?”
“Finish collecting sap?”
“Yes, Yuki… skeleton stuck… hours…”
“Funny… lose a leg.”
I can’t understand everything, but I’ve heard enough to make my temple crack. So the white haired runt is called Yuki. That’s right, keep smiling you four little miscreants. I’ve lured this unaware bunch a nice distance away from camp. It’s obvious they were planning something from the glint in their eyes. It’s not paranoia if I’m right!
“Yuki, why… call us here?”
“Eh? I thought… called us here?”
“Wah…!? I can’t… feet!”
“Over here,” I say in Yuki’s voice.
They turn their heads with synchronised horror as I reveal myself like a certain alien hunter. Mind you, I won’t take their skulls as trophies. Those language lessons sure bore fruit, though I doubt Hachirou intended for me to use them like this.
“What… you do?”
“I don’t think you will understand, but I learnt a little spell called <Shadow Stake>.”
I point at their shadows which have been pinned by black nails made of magic. Using the same mechanics as <Shadow Step>, the nail can instantly bind any object in contact with the target shadow. I recently acquired it to hunt large game and energetic brats.
What, you didn’t think I was the vindictive type? Keep telling yourself that.
I cast <Kinetic Barrier> to muffle their inevitable screams.
“Now then, let’s start with Yuki-cha~n,” I say as I approach his ever paler face.
<Innate Skill: Intimidate (Basic) obtained!>
<You have been bestowed the title of Fearsome One!>