“Here, your cold medicine. You really should have just waited at Roleze village.”
I accepted the medicine from Mezerir. Roleze was the village between Suelbur and Nanaze.
“The sky was still blue when I passed through.”
“Now that you mention it, the rain was quite sudden. Here you go.”
She said as she put down a cup of hot tea. As I didn’t feel a chill, I likely didn’t catch a fever. But there were no thermometers here, so you couldn’t be so sure.
“Ah, thank you. I wouldn’t have gotten so wet if those giant toads didn’t show up.”
“Oh? Is that so? I hope you took their meat.”
“I was soaking wet. Give me a break.”
“You should have brought it back even if it meant catching a dreadful cold. They are so delicious.”
Mezerir and I had become a lot closer…I think. The fact that she treated me with less politeness was proof of it. Surely…
“Can’t say I agree with you. But more importantly, the usual, if you please.”
“You sure are stubborn. Oh, well. It’s not like I’m losing anything.”
I would constantly visit Mezerir’s shop in order to listen to her speak in Amerata. While I was getting better at listening, I still understood very little. It was important to keep trying.
“Very well then… &$&’#lymsusu &%%$ Nitoya mimuntomaya…&%$&# seteeko konam…”
She was telling me the reason that the elves closed off their country. As I had heard this many times before, it was easier to catch.
“…So, that is how it is. Well? Did you catch all of it this time?”
“Uh…few children…live with humans, numbers down. Elves down. Close country…something like that.”
“You aren’t completely wrong, but you missed the most important parts. I guess you have about half of it.”
“Just half… I still have a long way to go…”
“Not really. You are not a child. So even knowing just seventy to eighty percent is enough to understand in most cases. You are almost there, I think.”
“I’ll trust your judgment on that.”
It was difficult to learn words when you didn’t use them during everyday life. You could just listen to the whole thing and it would be solved, but that wouldn’t work as skill training. As Mezerir said, you had to look at the context from beginning to end and make guesses while increasing your vocabulary. It was like a puzzle.
In any case, Mezerir seemed much amused and was willing to humor me and my broken Amerata.
I was also learning at the Chief’s house, but recently, Mezerir was my main tutor. If I was being honest, learning from a woman was more fun compared to an old man. I spent quite some time at her shop before returning to my cabin.
I could not stay here forever, and so I was in the middle of constructing a new cabin to live in. Though, I had only just raised the pillars on top of the stone foundation. And since I was not feeling too well, I would stay in my room quietly today.
The next morning, I felt much better, and so I went about working in the field that I had borrowed.
“Good morning, Mr. Ajifu. The nons should be ripe right about now.”
“Good morning, Mr. Kemuit. Thank you for looking after my field.”
“Ah, you would do the same for me. I hope everything went well with the Killer Ants?”
“Yes, very well.”
Mr. Kemuit was a village farmer and allowed me to use some of his land. Since I was going to be away for a few days, he even took care of my field for me.
In just one week, the crops had become quite ripe. I would have to harvest them immediately.
The red ‘nons’ were similar to eggplants back on earth in appearance. But they tasted like sweet cucumbers.
As I gathered the ripe ones, I realized that there was more than I could eat alone. For a while, I would have to eat the same thing everyday.
I could share the extra stuff with the village. I had to make my report about the Killer Ant hunt in the afternoon anyway.
“Ah, Ajifu. You’re back.”
“Aye. I brought a gift for you. Please take it.”
“Oh, thank you. Wait, you just took this from the field.”
“Yes, it’s a gift from my field. So, how are things in the forest recently?”
I handed some nons to the village hunter, Ozoro. He took one out of the basket, rubbed the peel, and then took a bite.
“Mmm… Recently, I’ve been seeing some cut up goblin corpses. This is good. …While I haven’t confirmed it yet, there may be some Killer Mantises coming from the north.”
“That would be troublesome. I suppose I should take a look tomorrow.”
“Aye, that would help.”
From the elf forest to the north, strong monsters would sometimes appear. And since they did not want to anger the elves, they could not cut down any of the trees. All they could do was protect the village at the edge. However, hunters and gatherers had to actually go in.
The following day, I started my patrol of the forest. The forest was quieter than usual. Perhaps it was just me, but it was like there was tension in the air.
In such times, your bad feeling turns out to be correct. And so I kept my sword unsheathed as I walked through the trees.
On a zigzag route, I went deeper and deeper into the forest. In the direction that goblins often appeared in. And even though I reached the point where I would usually encounter them, the forest remained silent.
Sometimes I would stop and inspect my surroundings…listening. After repeating this several times, I started to hear a sound coming from far away.
While keeping track of the wind’s direction and my footsteps, I moved towards the sound. I walked so that I was always concealed. And eventually, I saw a green figure up ahead. I could tell even from behind. The silhouette of a giant praying mantis, like I had seen in the Pamar Mountain Pass.
There was no doubt about it. This was a Killer Mantis. But there was only one.
From a distance, it looked like it was in the middle of eating something. As I slowly approached, I saw that there were four shredded up goblins at its feet. If it was eating, then I may be able to surprise it. And so I made my way to it as quietly as possible.
As expected, it was too concentrated on eating, and took no notice of me as I neared its back.
At the vital part, where I was just one step away from being in striking distance, the sound echoed from under my foot.
I had stepped on a branch covered by leaves. Reacting to the sound, the Killer Mantis turned its head. As it was still not within reach of my sword, I could not ambush it. Still, I rushed forward.
To keep it on the defensive, I swung down heavily with my sword. The Killer Mantis moved back, and out of range.
It then raised its arms at me threateningly. Not only were their attacks from above powerful, but they boasted an incredible speed as well.
Human sword arts were similar, in that attacks mainly came from above. The fact that it left its body open showed its will to shred me up if I got within range.
Its mandibles grinded loudly. It had no intention of letting me escape.
On the other hand, I held my sword low and took just half a step forward. The Killer Mantis’s arms twitched. While reflexively moving back, I swung up with my sword.
Blade and pincer clashed with a high-pitched ring. It was fast! Not only that, but the arms had two joints and extended farther than I anticipated. My sword was even less likely to reach it now.
However, I still stepped forward. But this time, I held my sword at the mid level.
Of course, it then came with a slash attack, but I changed the angle of my sword and blocked with as little movement as possible. I had learned something after the first one. While their attacks were fast, they were not very heavy. As long as they didn’t gain too much momentum, I could block them.
That being said, even if I could block it, I couldn’t counter. And so I just kept blocking while closing the gap between us.
Perhaps it could not stand the pressure, the Killer Mantis then arched its back and pulled its arms towards its face. It was like tightening a spring.
Clearly, this would result in an attack that was faster and heavier than previous ones.
However, it gave me time as well. Just as the attacks stopped, I jumped the side of the Killer Mantis.
Monsters with hard shells were limited when it came to how their joints moved. At the very least, in terms of construction, it should not be able to swing its arms outward from the inside.
So if its arms were folded in this state, it would only be able to attack things from the front. No matter how powerful it was, I could dodge attacks that only came from one direction.
As expected, with its arms folded, the Killer Mantis rotated its whole body so that I would be within range of its attacks.
Of course, I would not allow it.
As it rotated, I slashed out towards its thin legs.
There was a light clang, and the blade bounced off. While I could not cut through it, it was enough to make the creature lose its balance.
And just as it started to get up again, I raised my sword. While we were both within reach, the Killer Mantis had been slower to recover.
I kicked off the ground as hard as the prosthetic leg would allow me.
In an instant, the repulsive force pushed me forward, and with that momentum, I charged Mine Breaker and swung down.
I was targeting the gap between the two folded arms. Just like the attack on the Ant Queen…
But if I missed this attack, the Killer Mantis would counter. And yet, as if ignoring that, the blade drew an arc through the air and slammed into the Killer Mantis’s face.
I felt the weight of the attack and was sure that it was finished. However, just then, I saw the arms twitch. I instantly dropped to the ground, and then the arm shot out as if bouncing, and scratched my armor.
I rolled on the ground and gained some distance. Then I rose to my feet and looked at the Killer Mantis. Its arms were extended, and its whole body was convulsing.
I had not expected it to counter with half of its head cut open. However, it seemed to have stopped now. Really, whether it was the Giant Centipedes or these, you really could not let your guard down.
And so I approached it cautiously from behind and cut its head off.
Even a Killer Mantis would not survive that. And so I sighed and sheathed my sword.
It was about two meters in length. Even if I cut it up, I would not be able to carry it back to the village by myself. And so I just took the arms as proof and returned to the village.
“You got it already? Impressive.”
Ozoro was quite happy when I made my report and showed him the forearms. I understood how he felt, since having something like that wandering in the forest would affect his job as a hunter.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself. There may be more of them.”
“Well, you’re probably right. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ll tell the chief that we must be careful until we know for sure.”
“That would be for the best.”
However, while I patrolled the area for a week after that, no other Killer Mantises appeared.
While life in the frontier village was not always easy or safe, everyone was tough. In spite of hardships, the villagers never forgot to smile.
And while living amongst them, I did what I could. And the days passed by.
Bonus chapter courtesy of Photo. Thank you so much!!