Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「That Which is Inherited」
As the day weaned and the sky turned a dark crimson, the mountaintop took on a calming stillness.
The breeze coming in from the collapsed roof gently brushed against my skin and caused the grass that grew from the cracks in the floor to sway.
I silently opened my eyes and looked down at the thick patch of grass in front of me before I crouched down and waved my hand in a slashing motion through a modified magic circle.
【Wind Blade】was a basic spell from the wind magic system, and an invisible blade cut down the patch of grass when I invoked it.
The grass blades scattered on the stone floor without a sound.
While it was a basic spell, it’s power had been greatly suppressed so I could limit its the range and strength.
Ponta, who’d been watching me till now, uttered a cry all of a sudden.
“Oh, you wanna try Ponta?”
When I said that, Ponta began wagging her fluffy tail and took a step forward.
With a spirited cry, Ponta took a fighting stance and started to focus on the sapling that was growing in front of her.
Ponta’s light green fur started to glow after a while as a whirlwind began to blow up the fallen leaves around her.
With a spirited shout, a gust of wind was fired from Ponta’s whirlwind. The sapling’s leaves scattered about as it was cut down at the base.
“Good job! How about some roasted beans as a reward?”
I was impressed with Ponta’s magic so I reached into the leather sack tied to my waist for her reward when Ariane spoke up from behind me.
“Wait a minute Arc, what dangerous things are you teaching Ponta?”
When I looked back I saw that she was staring at me with a raised eyebrow and her arms crossed.
“Since this is going to be my future home, I decided to do a bit of weeding. Ponta just started to replicate the magic I used to cut down weeds and trees. Don’t fluffy foxes normally use offensive measures against enemies?”
While I tried to defend myself, Ponta tilted her head and had a look in her eyes as if she were asking ‘what about the roasted beans?’.
Ariane looked conflicted for a second as she looked down at Ponta before answering me.
“There’s not much known about the habits of fluffy foxes…… but I’ve never heard of one using magic offensively.”
“I see. Perhaps they learn it when they grow up, but it wouldn’t hurt for Ponta learn how to defend herself.”
“I guess you have a point but…… Ah, Arc, your body is starting to turn back.”
Ariane still seemed a little doubtful about the matter, but she changed topics when she noticed me starting to change.
“Yeah, the duration of the spring’s effect changes depending on the amount of spring water I drink.”
This time I drank about a liter of water and the effects lasted for about three hours.
The brown skin of my upper body disappeared, leaving only the bones behind. I stroked my ribcage to confirm my current state.
When I told Ariane the effective time she simply sighed and shrugged.
“That’s a rather constricted limit.”
Ariane wasn’t wrong about the limited ability to maintain an actual body. Still, it was way better than the three minutes certain giant heroes from the M78 nebulae received.
Although I felt that the effective time slightly decreased whenever I exerted myself.
The power of the hot spring seemed to be consumed by my movements, though I couldn’t get a straight answer from Williasfrim when I asked him why.
While I was getting lost in thought about the hot spring, Ariane remembered the reason she had come here.
“Oh yeah, dinner is ready. Chiome-chan made it today.”
What a spirited cry, Ponta stopped looking up at me for roasted beans and left to seek out Chiome.
“Okay. Tomorrow I should be ready to go to Rhoden Kingdom’s capital. How about we prepare to set off for the hidden village from there?”
Ariane was still looking at Ponta’s back when I made my suggestion for tomorrow, and she answered me without turning away from Ponta.
“That’s fine. Chiome-chan did invite me and I would like to see one of her people’s villages as soon as possible. We should get going as well.”
Ariane urges us towards the kitchen area where Chiome was waiting.
When I entered the kitchen I saw that a fire had been lit in the hearth and was faintly illuminating the room. The sound of firewood crackling could be heard from the hearth while steam rose from a simmering pot.
As the pot cooked, Chiome’s triangular ears would twitch along with the crackling firewood. After checking the taste, Chiome used a large spoon to stir the pot while Ponta waited nearby for supper.
“Tonight’s dinner are wild vegetables and chicken soup, a dish made when someone is sick. It’s one of my villages staple dishes, given its nutritional value.”
Chiome picked out a piece of the wild chicken from the pot and gave the portion to Ponta while telling us the contents of tonight’s meal.
When the hot piece of chicken was placed in front of her, Ponta used her magic to cool it.
Apparently the first meal since I lost consciousness would be a Blade Heart Clan health dish.
……Even though I wasn’t exactly sick……
I guess I should be grateful that this skeletal body allowed me to survive without food and water. I doubted there were infusion pumps in this world and I would have passed away from dehydration otherwise.
“Thank you for the meal.”
I offered Chiome my thanks as she handed me my wooden bowl of soup.
The boiled chicken was rather bland and soft, thanks to the fat being dispersed throughout the pot of soup. The vegetables and medicinal herbs in the soup also had a slightly bitter taste to them.
It would be selfish of me to say the soup wasn’t to my liking, though.
The thought of having a soy base or turning it into a consommé to improve the taste crossed my mind as I sipped the soup.
“…… is the taste unsatisfactory, Arc-dono?”
Chiome appeared to be a little anxious as she watched me slowly sipping the soup.
“No, sorry. I was just thinking of something else. On top of being good for you, it’s also close to how I like my soup.”
As I chuckled after saying that, Ariane pointed at me with her spoon.
“Arc, your body is back.”
Just as she had said, my skeletal body had turned into that of a dark elf when I looked down at myself.
“Sorry, Arc-dono. This is because I used the hot spring water in the soup. Since certain seasonings aren’t as available here as they are in my village, I used the water as a substitute.”
When Chiome apologetically lowered her head to me, I quickly shook my hand and tried to change the topic.
“No, it’s alright. So…… your village has difficulties to obtain salt. How is the supply maintained? Can it be produced once the people are moved here?”
Salt was an indispensable commodity for people. While it was possible to purify it from the sea, this basin was surrounded by an extensive mountain range.
It would be good if there was a rocksalt bed, but it was unlikely that one of those could be found overnight.
When I pointed that out, Chiome turned to Ariane.
“There are a few places near the village where we mine salt, though it’ll be necessary to find a salt bed when the construction of the village is underway. Ariane-dono promised to arrange negotiations with Raratoia’s elder to have the elves accommodate us until then.”
Ariane nodded in acknowledgment after Chiome finished speaking.
They seem to have discussed quite a few things while I was out of commission.
“Looks like you two had a lot to talk about while I was indisposed. Have you already finished your business here then?”
Chiome gave me a small nod before replying.
“Yes. The two of us managed to find a 『Spirit Contract Crystal』 that lord Hanzo had left behind in this residence.”
“『Spirit Contract Crystal』?”
When she spoke of an unknown item, I remembered Williasfrim said something about her ‘receiving a spirit crystal’ when we first met.
In response to my question, Chiome set aside her bowl and pulled down the ninja garb around her chest.
When her white skin was laid bare in the firelit kitchen, a large, glittering, rhombic jewel was revealed to be set in the center of her chest.
The jewel almost seemed alive as it pulsated and repeatedly released faint bursts of light.
“I’ve already told Ariane-dono, but I’m able to use advanced-level ninjutsu because I’m fused with this spirit crystal. This is a magic tool that has been passed down since the generation of Lord Hanzo the First, one that allows its users to form contracts with compatible elemental spirits.”
Her cheeks became vermilion as she spoke and she frantically hid her chest when I leaned in to examine the jewel.
Judging by the strange pressure I felt directed at me, it’d be better if I pretended to not have seen anything. After faking a cough, I raised my bowl of soup to my lips and took a sip.
“There certainly are a variety of magical tools in this world.”
Chiome’s cat ears lowered a bit and she sighed when she heard my frank comment about the magic tools I’ve never seen before.
“So Arc-dono doesn’t know their origin either…… Since you came from the same country as Hanzo the First, I’d hoped that you would have known……”
At Chiome’s remark, Ariane’s pointed ears perked up a bit and she turned to me with a doubtful expression on her face.
“Huh? Arc, you’re from the same country as the founder of Chiome-chan’s village? If I remember correctly Hanzo was a human, wasn’t he?
Ariane’s question reminded me that I’ve told Chiome something about coming from the same country as her clan’s founder when I explained how I knew the word ‘ninja’.
At the time, I had believed myself to be human in this world, like the founder had been, having forgotten about the elf specifications I currently had.
“…… I thought of myself to have been human. There seem to be various inconsistencies in my memory.”
Since I couldn’t think of anything better I feigned ignorance.
Ariane groaned and raised an eyebrow at my ambiguous answer.
In order to avoid more scrutiny, I asked Chiome another question.
“I take it that there aren’t many of those crystals left, given that their origin is unknown?”
Chiome stroked the spirit crystal beneath her ninja grab before she answered my question.
“……Yes. According to legend, Hanzo the First entrusted ten 『Spirit Contract Crystals』 to the clan, and there haven’t been any rumors about similar magic tools anywhere else. The village has a hold of eight of them, and the one we found here makes nine. I’ve heard that the final one was lost a long time ago. The fighting potential of the village would certainly increase if there were more of them……”
Did the clan founder bring those magic tools into the world with him, or were they something he crafted after arriving here? At the very least, I’ve never heard of an item like that.
“Is it possible to remove the crystal after you’ve fused with it?”
“It can be removed upon my death. When the current user dies, the crystal is passed on to the most qualified candidate among the current generation’s six great shinobi.”
Her words and expression didn’t belong to a young girl, they carried the presence of a soldier willing to fight and die for their village and people.
There was nothing I could say in the presence of Chiome’s conviction, so I simply moved to our plans for tomorrow.
“We should be all set to head for the hidden village by tomorrow. I’ll be sure to treat you along the way, Chiome-dono.”
Chiome silently bowed her head in gratitude at my words.