4 – Name
And so the days passed.
I announced my return while pushing away the cloth, as we had no door, that hung over the entrance.
‘Wouu…’ I heard the whimper and turned to see the black dog… No, it was a wolf, wagging his tail.
“Oh, Kuro. I’m back. Thanks for holding the fort.”
I scratched and petted him, enjoying the soft texture of the coat. And then I unstrapped the sword on my belt and put it away.
Then I scanned the house.
…Obviously, there was no one else there.
I let out a sigh, filled a cup with water from the bucket, and drank thirstily.
“So the old man hasn’t returned yet…
…Yes. It was just me and one wolf living here now.
The old man had disappeared, exactly one year ago.
He had left a single letter and then vanished to some place. And never returned.
As for me, I had grown a lot. I was quite sure that I had not turned twenty yet. But there was no way to know my exact age.
Regardless, it meant I could survive on my own without much trouble.
“Well, he’s a tough old man. I’m sure he’s living his life somewhere.”
Kuro agreed quietly. Or was he disagreeing…? In any case, I petted Kuro.
“How about some dinner then?”
Kuro wagged his tail happily, and I chuckled.
I have decided to go on a journey.
There is nothing left for me to teach you.
Do what you want, is what I wished to say, but while writing this, I remembered that I had not given you a name.
Well, I will give you a name then. Yukito. Take it or don’t. That is your decision.
If you, however, feel that you are still not ready, then seek me out. I shall look forward to seeing your growth, when the time comes.
The blade and gold left in the house are my parting gifts. Use them.
Do not forget your training. Remember, the way of the warrior is not something reached in a day. Some never reach it after dedicating their entire lives.
Reading the letter, it wasn’t exasperation over his belated naming of me that I felt, but rather the shocking realization that I did not know the old man’s name either.
After all, it was just us two in this mountain cabin.
We had no trouble communicating without names.
And then there was the money. Seeing it reminded me that there were other towns and places that I had never been to in this world.
If there was money, then, of course, there were towns and cities. What were they like in this world? I was very interested.
Were there Adventurers, kings, and princesses?
A princess knight. Now that was something I wished to see.
But then again, the old man had seemed quite Japanese. Perhaps the town would be like that as well.
…And yet, even though a full year had passed since his disappearance, I had not gone down the mountain even once.
After all, I had a certain goal.
The first, was to ‘conquer’ this mountain.
With this mountain that was my home, the higher you climbed, the more vicious the monsters became.
And even without the old man’s advice, I had no intention of slacking off with my training. I was determined to conquer and get to the top.
If I did not finish this, then going down the mountain would feel like an ‘escape.’
And then there was one other thing… Well, I would leave that for now.
“Still, I feel like I’m ready to go.”
I laughed as Kuro tilted his head in puzzlement.
Damn it. I was starting to talk to myself more. That was something I had to fix before I descended the mountain. Yes.
…As for this Kuro, he was a wolf cub I found in the forest.
Probably, a monster. In fact, the same kind of wolf that had been my first kill.
The only difference was the color, which was black. This seemed to have isolated him from the others, and he had been badly wounded.
I suppose because I took him with me and treated him, he took a liking to me, and we lived together.
I did have my doubts at first, in terms of it being safe. But Kuro was now my greatest source of comfort.
Being alone has a way of eating at your heart.
Without Kuro, I probably would not have lasted a year on this mountain. I would have surely left.
“There. It’s ready, Kuro!”
The Kuro steak…made of monster beef. For some reason, he liked his meat cooked instead of raw. I put it on a plate and placed it on the floor.
Kuro wagged his tail and dove into the plate. I laughed and tossed my own steak into the sizzling frying pan.