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After Kei ended his lesson on Esperanto with Anka, Aileen said she was hungry. He asked Cynthia to take care of her again before leaving the house. Bennett had yet to come back. He was most likely out playing with his granddaughter, Jessica, like he promised.
Kei corrected her prayers’ wording, and while he was at it, taught her some helpful verbs, commands, and what kinds of catalysts spirits preferred. She looked ghastly, but she wrote it all down on paper before going home while sobbing with gratitude.
As her teacher, he was glad that she was overjoyed, but honestly he felt conflicted. He had no idea how effective the ‘ritual magic’ would be without a contracted spirit, even if her Esperanto was perfect.
In ritual magic and other magic, the user conveys their desired goal to the Spirit through their language. Success depends on the magic power and the catalyst offered, that fact doesn’t change.
With regular magic, the user’s contracted spirit would answer their call; the difference with ritual magic was that the user wouldn’t know if there was a spirit around, but they would ask anyway.
Simply put, ritual magic was unreliable.
Spirits existed everywhere, yet they existed nowhere. For example, Kei’s contracted spirit, 『Maiden of the Wind』, could manifest anywhere the wind blew.
She was a single gust of wind, yet she was the whole atmosphere. The 『Maiden of the Wind』’s actual name, 『Siv』, was only known to those contracted with her. Originally, she would be aware of all of them as long as the wind could reach them, but to Kei, she seemed to only be aware of him.
There was no reason for her to pay heed to just one human’s request in such a vast expanse of awareness.
Furthermore, other than using ritual magic to attract a spirit, it was even more important to create a space that the spirit preferred. The problem was that Kei unfamiliar with the process behind this.
The NPCs only hinted at the preparation and wording in the game. The player was never actually able to set up an area. Therefore, Kei couldn’t even begin to guess how to do it.
That was why Kei taught Anka the catalysts that lower ranked and easier to manifest spirits preferred, which he learned from consulting an NPC.
…I suppose it’s better than nothing, he thought as he walked the village’s main path.
Anka thought that as long as she offered a catalyst and prayed properly in the Spirit language then a spirit might come.
Kei just wanted her to think of it as slightly increasing the odds, but after he saw how reliant she was, he started to feel a little guilty that it might not meet her expectations. As he thought of that he reached the center plaza in the village.
It was the only cobble-stoned place in Tahfu.
At the center of it was a well that served as a mainstay for their daily needs such as doing laundry and providing drinking water. But, now all the equipment taken from the bandits was laid out across the stone in an organized fashion.
Those that had nothing to do stood around and watched.
The boys’ and men’s eyes shone at the sight of all the rare weapons and armor. The faces of the women said, boys will be boys, as they looked at the men and carried baskets of laundry.
Cronen, Mandel, and the rest of the retrieval team still seemed unable to join in the excitement as they were still weighed down by the memories of the bodies.
“Oh, Kei-dono. Have you already finished your talk?” Danny stopped checking the equipment, giving an insincere smile.
“Yeah. How’s your side?”
“Fantastic. The Ignaz bandits’ equipment is as good as expected.” He rubbed his hands together, trying to get on Kei’s good side.
Kei nodded calmly and then glanced at the long swords lined up on the ground.
…They arranged them so the best ones wouldn’t get taken, huh.
He looked to make sure the sword he had his eye on earlier; the one with the highest quality, was still there. It was just a feeling, but there seemed to be too few swords on the ground. Most likely, while he was speaking with Aileen someone took them somewhere. Kei smiled bitterly as such thoughts ran through his head.
When he saw the leather armor next to the swords, his expression suddenly changed.
—Eight. Eight chest pieces.
“What is it, Kei-dono?”
“…Danny-dono. I want to ask one thing. Is this all the armor that was recovered?”
“Wha—Yes, this should be it. Precisely eight sets, the same as the number of bodies.”
—There’s not enough.
Kei realized, albeit late, but he definitely fought ten bandits yesterday.
—Did two of them escape? He thought as he fought to keep anything from showing on his face.
He considered taking Sasuke and riding back out to the plains to do one more check, but stopped when he saw Danny looking at him curiously.
This stubborn man would have never overlooked extra bodies, so he shouldn’t accuse him yet.
…At least give me something of the ones who got away. If I even had just one of their knives, I could 『Track』 them.
Kei stood in front of the orderly equipment, quietly contemplating. “Hmm…”
He only had one more emerald, which was a necessary catalyst for his magic. If he had their armor or weapons, then based on the 『scent』, he could find them with 『The Maiden of the Wind』 as long as they were in a location where the wind blew.
However, he didn’t know which items were theirs. He didn’t have enough mana or catalysts to just randomly try.
Kei rubbed his chin and thought it over, ignoring Danny’s questioning look. He suddenly broke the silence, “…Okay. Regarding the spoils…” He walked over to the longsword he was eyeing earlier and slowly picked it up.
Shiiing, he pulled it out of the scabbard. Its weight felt good in his hand. The blade was the right thickness, it was around eighty centimeters long, and it looked like it could cut rather well. He swung it around one-handed to try it out.
It made a swoosh sound as it cut through the air.
The noisy crowd fell silent as soon as he started.
…It’s fast, Cronen thought, wide-eyed after just one swing.
…It’s perfect. Mandel contemplated Kei’s limitless strength; the sword stopped perfectly with proper form.
“I’ll take this sword and the silvers we recovered,” with the sword still drawn, Kei stated in a tone that said he wasn’t going to wait for approval. “In exchange, I’ll give you everything else. You have all helped me quite a lot anyway. Sound good?”
“Wha-?!” Danny went wide-eyed with surprise, because such a proposal was unprecedented. The silver itself was a large sum, but if they sold off the armor, accessories, and everything else, then the income would be an even greater sum. Even the villagers around them stirred and let out surprised sounds.
“O-of course! Absolutely!!”
“Good… By the way, it might just be me, but it feels like there aren’t enough swords here. Is the blacksmith still working on their repairs? It doesn’t really matter, but I hope that you don’t miscount the coins, Danny-dono.”
With Kei’s devious smile, Danny smiled and his face paled slightly as his cheeks reddened.
Kei looked up at the sky, dyed by the sunset, and gave a small sigh. “…I’m still a bit tired today. Sorry, but can I leave the rest to you?”
“Thanks. I’ll be heading back to your place Danny-dono, excuse me.”
He turned around and began walking the path back, his sword clinking as he put it back in its scabbard.
…Not taking the other gear is a bit of a waste, but I don’t have the time to sell it all.
According to Danny and the others, in about a week, peddlers would be coming by.
It would be ideal if they could sell all the equipment and replace the money they took from the bandits. It could be bad if some of the bandits did get away.
The enemy was a bandit group whose name was known throughout the region. Based on their skills in the fight last night, Kei thought they mustn’t have been part of the main force. If that was the case—there was a strong chance they’d want revenge.
That equipment… the rings… they could be trouble.
He could take some easy-to-carry items, but the rings had a strange design to them which worried him.
If those rings are the group’s mark then I might end up being the one that’s 『Tracked』…
It wouldn’t be strange for a large group to have one or two magicians.
Even so, saying, ‘I’ll just take those strange looking rings,’ would be too suspicious. So, the only other choice was to give all the accessories to Danny and them.
…Oh well, the silver and the sword isn’t a bad profit. When Aileen is back to normal, we’ll leave the village.
In his right hand, Kei gripped the scabbard with force.
The bright forest was now dyed with thick darkness by the twilight.
Uneasy, Kei ran back to the house Aileen waited in without a word.
Chapter 13. Powerful (Afterword)
A full day has finally passed. I’m looking forward to everyone’s thoughts!