Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
I was standing in front of the hot spring responsible for my seven-day coma.
The huge open-air bath spread out behind the decaying residence, so Hanzo, the previous resident, must’ve built and maintained this place.
A stream of hot water was endlessly flowing into the area from a slightly elevated rock formation. The water was flowing into a hollowed out groove and to prevent the water from overflowing, there was a cliff at the groove that allowed excess water to be drained off.
In this huge open-air bath, a four-meter-tall blue-scaled giant was relaxing in the water with his back against a nearby rock.
Apparently, ever since Hanzo’s time, Dragon King Williahsfim has regularly donned his humanoid form to visit the spring.
Honestly, as he sank deeper into the water and sighed, he reminded me of the Japanese macaques at the jigokudani hot springs.
Williahsfim turned his head in my direction and called out to me.
“Boy, how long are you going to sit there?”
I had been sitting at the edge of the hot spring repeatedly dipping my toes into the water and taking them out once they regained their flesh when he had called out to me.
The shock I experienced before made me hesitant about entering the spring.
While I couldn’t feel strong emotions as a skeleton, decision making was another matter.
I knew that I couldn’t sit here forever, looking at the water, and resolved myself to getting in.
However, the emotional backlash I felt the first time…… was something I didn’t want to experience again……
With a final mantra to raise my spirits, I soaked my entire skeletal body into the water.
I closed my eyes and braced myself for the backlash when I resurfaced. However, I felt nothing like it rising up, so opened my eyes and took a look around.
Apart from a slight skin-crawling sensation, there was no sign of the overwhelming torrent swelling up.
Since my last trip into the hot spring took me out of commission for several days, I didn’t seem to have accumulated much emotional distress.
Meaning that the backlash from the entering the spring again was minuscule.
I breathed a relieved sigh and let the hot water embrace my body.
From now on I was going to have to soak in this spring on a regular basis.
It was a mandatory precaution if I wanted to keep my emotional distress to a minimum.
Just like I bathed every day in my former life, I just had to come here every day. Maybe once in the morning and once at night.
I’d like to avoid being consumed by that torrent after all.
I splashed my face and sighed as I reflected on my life in this world.
As my body reverted back to flesh and blood, I recalled my past actions. While I certainly felt bad about all the people I killed, the hot spring’s warmth seeping into my core allowed me to cope somehow.
While I let the water drain away my regrets and worries, I began to look towards my future.
Though it was not the body I sought, I have achieved my main goal of restoring it.
I watched as the dark elf’s face reflected in the water changed expressions when I tugged at one of my long ears.
How about we start with measuring the duration of this hot spring’s effect.
I moved to the edge of the spring and left only my feet submerged.
This dark elf body was my previous avatar before I bought the skeletal skin, and its dark skinned muscles were splendidly toned.
I had a weird desire to flex my abs just for the heck of it.
However, there’d be no point in flaunting my muscles now.
Right now I need to observe the effect the spring had on my body.
After a few minutes of being out of the water, my upper body became slightly transparent before reverting back to bones.
Only my feet maintained their form. A skeleton looking like it was wearing flesh socks was a rather strange and unsettling sight to behold.
I raised one of my feet from the water and stared at the boundary between flesh and bone.
Apparently, I revert back to my skeletal form after ten minutes.
After a quick dunk back into the water, I made my way over to where the hot spring began, scooped some water in my hands and drank it.
While it didn’t have any particular taste, the water slid down my throat and warmed up my stomach.
Just like before, I made my way to the edge of the spring and stared down at my body.
The flesh remained even after the ten-minute mark passed, with no sign of disappearing.
“Williahsfim-dono, would you happen to know of a way to cure me completely?”
When I turned back to the Dragon King and asked him a question, I saw that his tail was floating on the water’s surface before he looked at me and answered,
“Boy, I don’t know the details of your particular curse and from what I’ve seen, it is dependent on your very being. How was that curse placed on you in the first place?”
Williahsfim snorted at me after he answered me and I gave up asking questions about it.
I received this skeletal body when I came to this world, therefore this curse was something beyond this reality.
The reason behind this was something only the gods knew.
It was my philosophy not to worry about such things.
Shaking my head, I asked Williahsfim about another important matter.
“Williahsfim-dono, would you mind if I set up a home in this area?”
“…… Do as you like. Originally, this place belonged to the first leader of that cat’s clan, as long as you don’t bother my tree, I don’t mind you staying here.”
Williahsfim sunk his mouth under the water and began blowing bubbles with his eyes closed when he was done talking.
I left the hot spring after I bowed my head in gratitude.
There was a dressing room in the back of the residence that I was using to put my armor back on when I realized something.
“Hmm, there’s no need to wear the entire set in this place……”
After thinking aloud, I only put on the lower body section of my armor.
Besides, if I wore the whole suit of armor I wouldn’t be able to tell when the effect wore off.
With my upper body still exposed, I performed a side chest pose. The veins in my arms stood out as I fixed my muscles.
“I wish I had a full-body mirror here.”
Adding a body-length mirror to the list of things I needed to buy for my new home, I headed towards the room Ariane was in.
The dressing room I left was connected to a large hall that looked like a small meadow, thanks to the grass that had been growing between the cracks in the floor.
When I found Ariane and Chiome, the two of them seemed to be in the middle of a long discussion.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Ariane-dono.”
When I called out to her, Ariane looked up at me with a shocked expression on her face.
“Arc, that appearance…… has the curse been broken? Is your body alright?”
“Again, I’m sorry for worrying the both of you, there’s nothing wrong with my body. According to Williahsfim-dono, the only way for me to maintain this form is to constantly drink the hot spring’s water, so now I’m testing the duration of its effects.”
When I answered her question I tried to emphasize my trapezius muscles.
Ariane made a strange face as she looked at me.
“I understand, but why are you walking around like that?”
“Ho, I just wanted to enjoy having a body again, is that weird?”
I flexed my abs as I answered her question.
“No, it’s just that you look like my grandfather. I thought you were doing that because it’s stuffy in here.”
My shoulders drooped at Ariane’s biting words just as Ponta ran into the room and used wind magic to fly at me.
Lifted by a sudden breeze, Ponta landed on my head and began wagging her fluffy tail over my face.
Ariane fell silent when she saw that before she had a revelation.
“It makes sense for a spirit beast to bond with Arc, since he’s an elf…… Say Arc, can you see these?”
She blew her breath into her hand and showed it to me.
In her hand were the strange lights that I had seen her use during the escapade in Lanbaltic.
“…? I can’t see them all that well, but I do see some lights there……”
When I answer Ariane’s question she nodded and closed her hand with the lights in it.
“I thought so. Arc, you’re capable of seeing spirits.”
“But Ariane-dono, why couldn’t I detect the taint of the undead or see any spirits in Great Canada Forest?”
Ariane had an answer for my question, though.
“Though it’s an elven trait, there are differences between individuals. Judging from your build, I would assume you’re closely related to dark elves, Arc.”
I was reminded of the characteristic of the elves in this world as she said that.
While all elves had a high aptitude for magic, dark elves had the additional advantage of higher physical strength.
My body did closely resemble dark elves. However I only made my avatar look like a dark elf, so it was still up in the air if I was a true elf or not.
Well, I suppose demonstrating the racial ability to see the spirits could be taken as proof of that.
From what I’ve heard, the first leader of Great Canada Forest, someone who had probably been in the same position as me, also had the ability to see spirits. However, based on what Ariane said about them, their ability with this skill was stronger than mine.
“It’d be for the best to inform the elders about Arc once we return to the village……”
When Ariane began making plans for the future, she suddenly stopped and turned to Chiome as if remembering something important
“Chiome-chan wasn’t there something you wanted to discuss with Arc?”
When she said that, Chiome, who had remained silent till now, lowered her head to me as her cat ears lightly twitched.
“Arc-dono, do you remember the rescue mission you and Ariane-dono took part in during our time in the capital? Well, we wound up saving more people than that the village was capable of supporting. Because an abundant amount of monsters live in the mountains, there is little room for crop cultivation and the village had already been reaching the limits of its sustainability before that……”
As she spoke about her village’s current situation, Chiome’s tail hung low and her shoulders drooped.
I nodded at her explanation and urged her to continue.
“That is why I was ordered by the twenty-second generation clan head to find lord Hanzo’s former residence as a possible site for a new village.”
So her clan wasn’t simply looking for the previous residence of their founder, they were trying to find a new home for their brethren.
While showing understanding of her circumstances, I brought up some of the concerns I had.
“I require the spring in order to maintain my body and I received permission from Williahsfim-dono to set up a new home here…… That won’t be a problem, will it?”
Ariane and Chiome shared a surprised looked when they heard this, before Chiome’s clear blue eyes looked back at me and responded.
“That’s fine. Williahsfim-dono gave me permission as well…… but we’re not planning to set up the village close the Dragon King’s home. There is a plain adjacent to a large lake just east of here that the Dragon King showed us.”
The area must have been an easier place for people to live.
The hot spring was located at the top of a mountain and the only building was this rundown house. While it was fine for a small group of people, it would be problematic for a larger group to live here.
When I looked over these lands after exiting the cavern, I saw that it was a basin completely surrounded by mountains, making it an easily defendable home.
There was also plenty of room for the People of the Mountain and Plains to live.
However, if the land was available, why didn’t the first head move his people here?
When I asked Chiome about it, she shook her head and answered.
“I don’t know myself. The reason was from many generations ago, so the twenty-second head might be aware of the details.”
I could think of a few reasons for that.
While the land would be difficult for humans to invade, it also made it difficult for allies to visit as well.
The journey to this place required one to traverse a monster-filled forest and finding their way through a dank, dark cavern since the mountains were inhabited by furious dragons.
Even if the People of the Mountains and Plains had superior physical prowess, the danger involved moving a large number of people is clearly apparent.
In other words……
“The current conditions in Chiome-dono’s village have reached the point where your leader wants to negotiate the use of my transfer magic in the upcoming migration?”
When I made my guess, Chiome’s ears went stiff as her eye looked at me in anticipation.
“……Yes! Once again, please offer us your assistance Arc-dono.”
My answer was already decided.
” I plan to make this place my home, so I might as well meet with the descendants of this place’s former owner. I’m not that good at talking, but there’s no need for any more negotiations as long as I receive this place as a reward. Because of my curse, I can’t afford to give it up.”
Chiome smiled when I said that and her cheeks became flushed as her tail wagged despite her attempts to maintain her composure.
“Thank you very much, Arc-dono.”
“By the way, what do you want to do, Ariane-dono? Do you want to return to Raratoia first? I’ve already made you watch over me for seven days.”
When I asked Ariane, who had quietly listened to the story up till now, she stroked her chin and held her other arm against her voluptuous chest as she thought it over.
“Since the trip here and back to the village would normally take more than seven days there’s no need to worry about it. While you slept, I promised Chiome-chan that I’d also visit her village.”
The two of them shared as smile when she said that.
I could only awkwardly scratch my head at the feeling of comradely that the two of them seemed to have forged while I had been asleep.
Ponta patted my head with her tail as a means to confront me.
“Ponta, I’ll give you a delicious treat later.”
Hearing Ponta’s cheer and patting her head helped relieve some of my anxiety, but the arm I was petting her with suddenly became transparent and skeletal again.
I had neglected to keep track of the time, so it was rather unexpected when my body disappeared as if it had been an illusion.
It had probably been close to an hour since I drank the hot spring’s water.
“You turned back…… the effect time seems rather short.”
While Ariane was shocked at the sudden change, she still managed a biting comment about the hot spring.
While the effect was short, it was still better than when I had simply soaked in the hot spring.
Now I should increase the quantity of water to verify an exact time limit.
I’ll have to change my plans to account for this in the future.