Here’s a chapter out of nowhere.
Enjoy. (Or don’t. It’s your life.)
Ghost – 6th Grave: Watching others struggle is always fun
Let me begin with the conclusion.
It took two days of me being stuck in a bed to make Lis let me go.
She wasn’t happy about it though.
Truth is, nothing very interesting happened during those two days.
I took the opportunity to look through some of the beginner class magic books she had in her (despicable) bookshelf.
They were still gibberish to me though.
I did, however, get the general idea.
You gather your magic power, you shove it into things, and then make the things do stuff with the magic power…….kinda.
………yeah, maybe it’s too much to say that I got the general idea.
The books contained the words “feel your own magic” and “concentrate on the magic power that surrounds you” at the beginning of each spell description, so I am not entirely to blame.
Whoever wrote that book was stupid.
Yes, that’s the case.
It can’t be anything else.
I made a full recovery (I think) and figured I should get back to work already. I needed to gain some more levels if I wanted to venture beyond the forest that surrounds this village.
With these thoughts in mind, I stood in the doorway of Lis’ place.
[The truth is, I really want you to keep resting a bit longer.]
So she said, the morning of the third day.
[The truth is that you don’t want to let him out of your grasp now that you caught him.]
Is what Lynn said, immediately afterwards.
[That’s my girl!]
[It’s not like that at all! Please don’t believe her. You know it isn’t like that at all!]
Lis pleaded thusly while moving her arms wildly with a flushed face.
[Ms. Lynn, please save the sleep talk for when you are actually sleeping.]
I said so to Lynn, who then turned to face me with a small and enchanting smile and her eyes slightly closed.
This was her signal.
It implied that the predator was ready to make her move.
I immediately regretted my words as I prepared myself for what would surely be a troublesome conversation.
[Oh? I’m not sure what you mean, dear Arthur. Also, I thought I told you that you should just call me “Lynn”. Of course, if you find that my daughter is not to your liking, I wouldn’t mind if you called me “Honey”.]
Lynn moved her hands to her cheeks as her face slightly reddened.
Lis’ face showed an expression of complete shock.
[I didn’t know you had a taste for experienced women. I would be very happy to fulfill your wish though.]
This was, of course, all lies. Still, since there was a naïve and impressionable girl with us, going along with the joke as I usually do would be kinda…….
Actually, it’d be kinda fun.
I decided that I would play along with Lynn’s teasing.
[Oh really? And here I thought I wouldn’t ever get the chance to court such a beautiful lady.]
Lis had gone from “shock” to full blown “panic” mode in the blink of an eye. Her eyes were unfocused, her mouth was opening and closing repeatedly and she repeated a cycle that involved looking at me, then looking at Lynn, and then going back to looking at me.
That utterly speechless look she had was quite the spectacle.
I was satisfied with just this much, and was about to tell Lis that it was just a joke when-
[Oh my! You are such a sweet talker. But! I’ll have you known that I am a very demanding woman.]
Lynn said this, unwilling to let the charade stop.
This woman was more of a sadist than I was.
[Perhaps instead of calling me “Honey”, I should have you call me “Master”.]
Lis and I both said this in unison. It would appear that I had become a target for her teasing as well.
This was bad for me.
[W-Well, I should probably get going. The old man won’t let me hear the end of it if I don’t go out hunting with him today.]
I desperately tried to find a way to escape from the claws of the blue haire- I mean, white-haired sadist. Sadly, my excuses would not stand against the might of Lynn’s mischievousness.
[Sindri left already, you know? So you have nowhere left to run to, my little toy.]
My fate was sealed.
I could only pray for a miracle to get me out of here.
How about you just run for it?
Nay. That won’t work. I’m still sluggish and she looks like she’ll only make it worse if I try to run away like that.
I think it’s worth a shot.
I don’t, thank you very much.
[Uhm! Since you don’t have anything to do today, how about I show you around the village?]
Maybe because she felt bad for me, Lis threw me a lifeline.
Nice, I didn’t expect an assist.
Me neither. She’s reliable when it counts.
Tte, who am I even talking to?
Nevermind that, I need to grab that lifeline ASAP!
[Would you?! I’ve been dying to do something now that I can move normally again! Shall we be off immediately? Like, right now?]
[Yes! The sooner we start, the more we can see. Let’s go! Goodbye, mom. I’ll see you at dinner.]
Right after that, Lis grabbed my hand and we both bolted out of the doorway and onto the snow covered road that connected with the house’s walkway.
Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I saw a satisfied smile on Lynn’s face.
We only met for around 3 days, and she already had me figured out?
What a fearsome woman.
And so, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the road leading into town accompanied by Lis.
This is something I hadn’t noticed until now, but Lis’ house was actually kind of removed from the village.
This, however, made no sense, since her mother ran a bakery.
Also, how did they grow wheat in such a cold region?
I mean, I may know jack-squat about agriculture, but isn’t it strange to have wheat in a snowy region?
They even have pine trees around and stuff.
No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t figure it out.
Ergo, I figured I should ask.
The mood was perfect for chit chatting, so it was a good time.
[Say, this may be stupid of me to ask but….]
[No, my mom wasn’t really serious about you being her toy.]
[Well, that’s a relie- wait, that’s not it.]
“It appears that Lis can’t read minds”, I thought.
Well, I knew that already.
If she could, she wouldn’t call me by the fake name I gave her.
[What I wanted to ask was about the plants here.]
[You mean the trees?]
Lis tilted her head to the side when she asked that.
I stared at her, a little surprised by the fact that there actually was someone who would tilt their head when asking a question. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she was doing this on purpose.
[Agriculture. I meant agriculture.]
[Farming. I mean farming.]
[Oh! Why didn’t you say that in the first place?]
Okay, I admit it. The first one was kinda my fault.
Still! The second one is totally her fault!
What has this girl been learning with all those hours in the library?
Did she only read magic books all the time?
Or was this girl an idiot?
Well, was she?!
Nah, probably not.
[……..Anyways. It might be stupid of me to ask, but…..do you have wheat?]
Yes yes, I know. That isn’t what I was going to ask.
I’m building up the question, so be patient!
[Of course we do! How else would we make bread?]
Looking at me as if I were an idiot, Lis said this.
[Well then, how do you grow wheat here? I mean, isn’t it impossible to grow wheat in such a cold weather?]
I’ve heard of winter killing off crops before……I think.
Honestly, I’m not very confident in my knowledge of agriculture.
Maybe I should ask Cross, he knows everything.
Wait, I can’t do that anymore, can I?
Now that I think about it, I can’t google things anymore too…..
AGHHHH, DOES THIS MEAN I WILL FOREVER REMAIN AN IDIOT WHO DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT FARMING?!
Wait, why should I care so much about farming.
Not like I want to grow my own food or anything.
Even the plant I tried to grow in kindergarten died.
……..and I got waaaaay off topic there, didn’t I?
Seriously, what is wrong with you, brain?
After I asked my question, Lis gave me an answer I didn’t expect.
[How, you ask. We use magic, of course!]
Common sense be damned, we have magic!
I’m not asking anything anymore.
[Basically, we have a magic artifact that changes things like temperature and pressure around a certain area. Then, we use that area to plant our crops. Also, the artifacts have to be recharged once in awhile.]
So said Lis, expanding upon her previous explanation.
It still sounds like nonsense to an earthling.
Why do I keep hanging onto common sense?
It won’t help me here.
Bye bye, common sense.
I’ll bury you like I buried my feelings for my crush in high school.
Leaving that aside.
Lis’ explanation of what the artifact does sounded like she read it directly from a book.
My powers of deduction told me that she was probably the one in charge of recharging the magic artifact, so she had read its user manual……or whatever the equivalent of that is here in Paletia.
With that issue solved, I no longer had any topics to bring up.
An awkward silence filled the atmosphere as we walked the snowy road, lined by rocks and trees.
Man, this is awkward.
Welp. When all else fails, ask a question.
[So, what is this village we’re going to like?]
[Well, the old man told me he was the hunter for a medium-sized village, but he never said anything about it besides “I freaking hate the guy who runs the place”.]
[Eh?! He said that about the village chief?!]
[Is he the authority figure here? How much influence does he hold? As much as a mayor? Governor? Prime minister? Führer?]
Not that I really wanted to know.
My purpose was to confuse Lis.
Because I thought it’d be funny!
[What? Fury? Fur?]
[Nevermind him. Is there anything special or interesting in the village? Like a huge golem statue that hasn’t moved in centuries, or a bridge filled with padlocks inscribed with messages of love.]
[Golem? Padlocks? Uhm, I don’t know about those things. But, we do have something special.]
So there actually was something.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to hear an answer when I asked that question.
A village in the middle of nowhere actually has something interesting?
Then, where are the tourists?
[We have the biggest gravesite in all of Paletia.]
Ah, there they are.
Running as far away from this place as possible.
I’ll join them soon enough.
[So, what’s the story behind that?]
[One of the first kings of Biela decided that a grave should be made for all the future generations of the royal family, so he sent his subjects to White Dragon Peak to build a huge grave worthy of the royal family in the heart of the volcano.]
[Uhmm….you didn’t get that?]
Lis made a troubled face. Maybe she thought she was being as clear as she could.
[Well, what part didn’t you get?]
[To give you a short list: “Biela”, “royal family”, “White Dragon Peak” and “volcano”.]
[That much, huh?]
This girl thought I was an idiot.
No two ways about it.
It was okay though.
I also thought she was an idiot.
Hey, this situation reminds me of Kiriko.
No use thinking of cats who aren’t here.
Like the cheshire cat.
Or the cat in the hat.
Or that one cat in Haruhi Suzumiya.
Uhmmm……what was its name again?
Ah, it was Shamisen!
Glad I remembered.
[Hmmmm. Let’s analyze the info we got.]
[If we examine the context, we can infer that Biela is most likely the name of a country. That said, since she mentioned a royal family, it is or was most likely a monarchy of the typical blood succession type. Since they ordered their subjects to build them a huge gravesite even when their country was just a few generations old, they must have been quite full of themselves. Still, that’s beside the point. The White Dragon Peak she mentioned is either the name of a mountain or a volcano. No, she said volcano, so it is definitely the latter. The name White Dragon Peak must have come about because it is either a volcano covered in snow that somehow resembles the shape of a dragon or the lair of an actual white dragon. That said, it could also be an exaggeration. It could be the home of a lizard-type monster that got turned into a dragon at some point when people spoke about sightings of the monster. Still, I can’t fully deny the possibility of it being an actual dragon. Now that I think about it, if the royal family ordered a grave built at the home of an actual dragon, they were most certainly full of themselves.]
[Ah, sorry. You were taking your time answering, so I figured I should think this one through instead of waiting for a reply.]
[I was just looking for the best way to summarize it!]
[Well, sorry for being impatient.]
Lis audibly sighed.
[So, did I hit the nail on the head?]
[I don’t know about the royal family being full of themselves, but, other than that, you got everything right except for one thing.]
[Biela isn’t a country. It was a country.]
So they got done in.
Well, no wonder. Since they wasted resources to build a giant tomb in the middle of nowhere.
[That’s all well and good, but I don’t think we have time to discuss it in much detail.]
[You don’t want a history lesson? I’m a pretty good teacher you know?]
So said Lis, while looking smug.
[I bet you are, but that’s not it. We arrived already.]
We arrived at a clearing in the forest that was lined with log houses. If I was asked to describe it, I would say it looked exactly like what you would expect a small countryside village in the northern areas of the world to look.
There were some trees in between the cabins here and there, but it was mostly devoid of plant life otherwise. Lis mentioned crops (kinda) and I didn’t see those in the immediate vicinity, so what I was staring at probably wasn’t the whole village.
The log cabins were kind of scattered all over the place. It was like a bunch of people chose a random spot each, then all of them started building a house there with no regard to organization or structure.
There was a small fountain somewhere loosely in the middle of the cabins. Still, even that was disappointing, since it was half destroyed. From the path where I was standing, and all the way to the destroyed fountain, there were rocks protruding out of the snow.
I walked down this path with Lis in tow, hearing the snow crunch under my boots. As I walked into the quiet village, I looked around to inspect my surroundings.
Curiously, all the houses had a rather simplistic design.
All of them had a pointed ceiling, three windows and one door.
I tried looking into one of the windows, and discovered the house had a single large room.
The old man’s house was like this too.
Even Lis’ place had only three rooms total.
It was very minimalistic.
I guess this would be the inevitable outcome if you consider functionality, aesthetics and budget.
Wait, do these guys even pay for materials?
Do they just go out to the forest and cut down trees for wood?
If so, why not make their houses bigger?
Are they just lazy?
[Are the people of this village lazy or not?]
[How did you even get to that point, I wonder…]
[I guess it doesn’t matter.]
Still, this place was eerily quiet.
I could hear some rustling in the nearby bushes.
While it was probably just an animal, this surprised me.
After all, animals should be avoiding places with a lot of humans.
Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a single soul around.
There’s a lot of houses, but there’s no sound coming from any of them.
I don’t see any smoke coming out of the chimneys either.
Is this place perhaps abandoned?
The silence hanging in the atmosphere was so thick, I could probably cut it with a knife.
I’ve had my fair share of quiet mornings like this one, but this one trumps them all.
It was so quiet, you couldn’t help but notice it.
Something is wrong here.
……thing is….do I want to know what it is?
We arrived in front of the fountain and faced each other.
The morning sun shined on Lis’ face.
The cold air entered my lungs as I was mesmerized by the scene.
There was no wind, so I could see her beautiful face without her hair obstructing it.
Her white hair shined in the sunlight.
What a pointlessly pretty girl.
So I thought, as I tried to warm my body by turning to face the sunlight. I moved my hands in front of my mouth and attempted to warm them up with my breath.
I could clearly see as it flew up and disappeared.
I tried to remember why you could see your own breath when it’s cold enough, but failed miserably in doing so.
Man, I miss Google.
[Are you going to tell me why this place is deserted?]
[You noticed, huh? I guess you would.]
Lis’ voice went down a few decibels. She grabbed her left arm with her right hand and averted her eyes.
She was hiding something.
[Don’t want to talk about it?]
Lis didn’t say anything. Instead, she moved her head left and right slowly.
[Well, that’s fine. Let’s just get to where we need to go.]
When I said that, Lis, who looked like she was remembering something unpleasant, went back to her usual, smiling self.
[Rather, where are we going anyways?]
[Hmmmm. My plan was to just take you around the village for a bit, then go home.]
[Just that, huh?]
It appeared our outing would be hilariously short.
It would probably be over in the same amount of time it takes me to make instant noodles.
Rather, since this is something like my first date, please spare me the swift end!
[What? Did you want to go somewhere else?]
[Hmmm….maybe that grave you mentioned?]
When I said that, Lis made a difficult face.
[That’s not a very good idea.]
[Heh~. Why not?]
[Well, there are spirits on the deeper floors, so people generally avoid it.]
Hey, isn’t a cursed graveyard a bit much?
Rather, you’re talking to a ghost you know?
Of course she doesn’t know.
She thinks my name is Arthur.
Wait, that’s not the point.
[Well, if the grave is no good, how about the library?]
[You mentioned there was one in the village, right?]
All of the books inside Lis’ room were about magic, so I couldn’t really get much info about the world in general.
I could always ask Lis, but I had the feeling she was more ignorant to the ways of the world than I was.
And this wasn’t even my world.
Ludicrously cute girl, yes.
A prodigy in all things magical (or so everyone says, but I’m not buying it).
But utterly lacking in common sense.
And if that is coming from me of all people, you know you’re in trouble.
So, my best bet at getting knowledge was that library.
If I was lucky, I’d be able to get information about this world’s landscape, geopolitical situation, climate, history, traditions, level of technology and language.
If I was unlucky (and this would be the most likely case scenario), I’d get nothing useful.
[Well, we can visit the library if you want. However…..]
[You might get chased off at the front door.]
[……….and why, pray tell, is that the case?]
Lis made a troubled face and scratched her left cheek.
[Because you are an outsider that acts suspiciously…?]
[……quite blunt, aren’t we?]
Well, this isn’t the first time I was looked at with suspicion.
Still, that really hurts Lis.
I shall remember this and take an appropriate course of action in order to get even with thee.
But first, let’s focus on the task at hand.
[Well, we won’t know until we get there. Let’s just go with the goal of consulting the library in mind. There’s nothing that’s stopping us from making our trip there leisurely.]
[I don’t know if you’re a serious guy or a half-asser.]
[That’s the true beauty of my character.]
[Don’t forget the overwhelming humility.]
[Like you’re one to talk, miss magic genius.]
[Hey! I am a genius!]
[To be honest, I have my doubts about that.]
As we bickered like this, we made our way deeper into the village.