Chapter 32: Life in the Village (2)
「Dora, Rio will start living in our village from today onwards, though you’ve probably already heard about it from your daughter. He’s a lot stronger than he looks so use him as you see fit.」
After breakfast, Yuba led Rio to the village hunter.
「It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am called Rio. I may be inexperienced but I look forward to working with you.」
Following Yuba’s introduction, Rio briefly introduced himself.
「Ou! Nice to meet you too!」
The man called Dora answered with a wide smile.
His build was as large as a bear and he had a lively attitude to match.
「But, why me? Could it be…」
Having seemed to realise something, Dora sent Yuba a glance.
「Ahh, you, didn’t you want someone to succeed you in hunting? I thought this child would be a good fit since he claims to have some experience. Though, may I dare say he’s quite skilled?」
Yuba praised Rio’s skills without a shred of doubt.
Perhaps his cooking earlier served as a testament to his skill.
Trusting Yuba’s words as the village elder, Dora openly welcomed Rio.
「An experienced hunter huh? That can’t be helped. But from what I’ve heard, Rio won’t be living here permanently right?」
Dora said such a thing when he remembered Yuba’s earlier words.
「That is so. That’s why, while you’re evaluating this child’s hunting skills, you can think about when and who you want to train as your successor.」
「Really? That helps a lot.」
”What a great idea!” was what Dora’s expression conveyed as he spoke in a delighted voice.
「Well then, let’s hunt together today. I want to see how much you can do.」
In the Seirei no Tami village, cattle, pigs, and chicken were already successfully domesticated using Mendel’s Law1 as a basis. Although domestication was difficult due to the animals’ different dispositions and living environments, it resulted in much better tasting meat.
These creatures were the main targets for hunting and Rio had managed to learn hunting techniques when he tagged along hunting trips during his time with the Seirei no Tami.
On the other hand, domestication was already common among the human race.
However, besides the ones being raised in cities, livestock was kept for their use as farm labour, eggs, milk, and as assets for trading.
Therefore, aside from rare occasions such as festivals, food shortages during winter, or when an animal is injured or outlived its usefulness, livestock raised in the village were rarely put down for their meat.
As such, hunters filled the crucial role of providing the village with meat and it was a grave concern that a successor had not been selected yet.
「Looks like I can leave it to the two of you now, right? Now that there’s two of you, you can focus on finding a successor. If you spot somebody promising, take them under your wing before it’s too late.」
Yuba parted with those words after seeing Rio and Dora hitting it off well together on their first meeting.
「Got it. I was thinking about entrusting this position to my daughter’s fiance but, I wonder how long it’ll take until she gets married. Oh well, I’ll go see the elder about it when it’s decided.」
While nodding at his own words, Yuba was already quite some distance away heading home.
「Yosh, best regards from today onwards, Rio.」
Seeing that Yuba had left, Dora spoke with a refreshing smile.
「Certainly. Likewise, please treat me well, Dora-san.」
Rio returned the greeting while having a positive impression from Dora.
「Haha, I feel kinda awkward hearing you speak so formally. It’ll be hard for me to grasp your words if we’re caught in a pinch.」
Dora’s words were tinged with embarrassment.
「Ah, that is so. Then, best regards, Dora. I’ll try to speak more plainly during emergencies but please bear with me for now since it has already become something of a habit.」
Rio floated a wry smile while feeling a little abashed.
「Hou~ you’re quite a strange guy, you know? But, I don’t hate people like that.」
Dora laughed again while saying so.
Watching his response, Rio had a feeling that the two of them would get along well together.
Maybe his character had something to do with Yuba assigning Rio to help out with hunting.
「Then, shall we decide upon a few simple hand signals first?」
As they began to set out to hunt, Rio proposed such a thing.
「Hand signals? What the heck is that?」
Dora responded with a blank face.
「So as to not make noise, we decide on a set of hand signals beforehand for use as communication.」
Rio explained the reasoning behind hand signals to Dora.
「Hou. That seems pretty convenient. I see, let’s try that. Do you have anything in mind?」
Rio taught the intrigued Dora a handful of simple hand signals he used during his time at the Seirei no Tami village.
Expressing great interest in the hand signals, Dora quickly understood their importance.
「Yosh. Then let’s go at once!」
After learning about the species of animals inhabiting the area and the rules for hunting in the area, the two began heading into the nearby forest.
Their conversations gradually decreased as they headed deeper into the forest. Before long, there was barely any talking and communication was done using hand signals.
Looking at the arrow shot by Rio lodged in the Reno bird’s body, Dora muttered in amazement.
He erased his presence and blended in naturally with his surroundings. He was highly observant and could quickly discover traces of game. He understood his target’s characteristics and could predict the direction in which they would flee. When he spotted his target, it was guaranteed to be taken down by a single arrow.
Ten out of ten people who saw him would say that he was the ideal hunter.
Rio drained the blood of all the game he caught to remove the smell from the meat.
He offered thanks to all the game he killed which reflected well with Dora.
Afterwards, so as to not disturb the ecosystem of the woods, they hunted in moderation in various areas.
The subsequent catch was a wild hare.
Discovering faint tracks indicating that a hare had passed, the two began to track it.
However, the tracks suddenly vanished.
The hare probably tried to conceal its tracks by unleashing a powerful jump to evade its pursuers.
Many animals performed such a maneuver to make their predator backtrack, but Rio had learned from experience that his prey was still in the vicinity.
Erasing his presence, he carefully searching his surroundings and discovered a single hare lying in wait.
Fortunately, it did not seem like the hare had noticed its pursuers yet.
Rio signalled Dora with his hand and circled around to the hare’s side.
He calmly readied his bow and aimed at its head.
If the arrow were to pierce the body, the meat would become spoiled from the bleeding.
As soon as Rio calmed his nerves and got his breathing in order, he released the arrow.
With a *Swish*, the arrow stealthily found its mark and struck the hare’s head.
「Well done. Very impressive.」
After confirming that his arrow found its mark, Rio made his way towards the hare’s body with Dora.
It still seemed to be alive and was weakly struggling to escape.
It could barely move before Rio swiftly ended its life.
After closing his eyes and offering a silent prayer, Rio began to drain the hare’s blood.
A few minutes later, the hare was fully drained and washed.
「Good work. Then, onto our next game.」
Silently watching Rio process the hare, Dora gave a few words of praise after he finished.
Rio gave a small nod and placed the hare into the hunting bag on his waist.
After hunting a few more prey, the two decided to return to the village as it had already turned noon.
「Oh my, that was incredible. You’re much better than me at this. I haven’t gotten such a large catch in a long time.」
Nearing the village, Dora praised Rio with a hearty laugh.
It was as if all the tension felt up until then had been a lie.
「Dora-san was also a great help in cornering them.」
Dora had also played a large part in their hunt by attracting their prey’s attention and eventually cornering them.
Although the use of hand signals probably helped, the two made quite a good impromptu team.
「Hahaha, don’t be so modest. You’d be a first rate hunter anywhere you go. I never even once, saw any signs of impatience from you. I was going to guide you to another hunting ground in the afternoon but that no longer seems necessary today.」
Dora suggested such a thing with a cheerful smile.
「Is that so? Then please use the time to find a successor, Dora-san.」
「Aah, thanks for that.」
Returning to the village, they hung their catch upside down and dismantled them.
When Rio first learned to hunt in the Seirei no Tami village, he remembered feeling resistant to the idea, but soon accepted it as a cruel necessity for survival.
Humans were a weak race that could not survive without sacrificing the lives of other species so somebody had to carry out these deeds for the good of many.
Because that was what it meant to survive.
However, every time he drained a catch’s blood, no matter how many times he did it, he could never shake off the discomfort of knowing that he was dismantling a creature that had passed away just mere moments ago.
Exactly what did humans need to survive? Were they gathering more than they needed? Did their hunger know no bounds? Perhaps it was when they witnessed their deeds and felt neither remorse nor guilt that they had overstepped their boundaries.
Therefore, Rio gave thanks to all the animals he hunted.
Thank you for becoming my food.
After he finished dismantling the game, Rio returned home with a handful of meat as a gift.
He washed himself with soap to remove the smell of blood clinging to his body.
「Uwaa, Rio smells really nice!」
When he arrived in the living room, Ruri quickly reacted to the soap’s fragrance from Rio’s body.
「I used soap.」
When he said that, Rio showed Ruri a vial with viscous liquid inside.
「So— Soap!? This?」
Soap was considered a luxury among commoners and was rarely ever seen in a village such as this one.
As it stood, the human race of the time only knew how to create solid soap and commoners often used vinegar in place of soap.
Ruri expressed astonishment that such a high-class item was presented before her.
「Indeed. I did say that I could make medicine, so I can make soap too.」
Rio always carried around liquid soap to wash his hair and hands with.
Although he had to be careful about when to use the soap since an odour would persist afterwards, Rio could not bear to disregard his personal hygiene.
「Fuee~ I don’t think even Obaa-chan knows how to make soap, even though she’s a doctor. Rio, you’re amazing, aren’t you?」
Respect reflected from Ruri’s eyes as she looked at him.
「It’s quite easy to make once you have the ingredients. Since I’ve been graciously allowed to stay here, Ruri-san can use as much as you like.」
「Eh!? M— Me? It’s something reserved for nobles, is it really okay?」
Ruri spoke while slightly abashed because her hands were rough and splintered from the daily field work.
「No need to hold back. Sooner or later I’ll introduce soap for the rest of the village as well.」
Rio had also intended on improving the village’s overall hygiene.
Every year, a large number of villagers got sick and at worst, a number of them passed away.
Rio judged the cause of this to be due to the lack adequate hygiene.
The lack of adequate sanitation was the root cause of all sorts of diseases.
A whole village could be wiped out if unlucky.
The spread of disease could be greatly reduced by having everybody practice habitual hand washing with soap and water.
「Eeh? Are you fine with giving out such a luxurious item to the villagers?」
「Well, it won’t be a problem for just a village on this level.」
Although it would be troublesome to make soap for that many people, making enough for the village’s population was manageable.
It would be futile to only keep the village chief’s house sanitary since bacteria could be still be spread by the other villagers.
Still, if it was a city or town rather than a village, it would be impossible for him to distribute soap for free. On the other hand, it would be problematic if Yuba or Ruri became sick as a result of him being stingy.
「I— I see. Then, thanks…」
Ruri accepted the bottle from Rio and gingerly held it in her hands.
「It has a nice smell. It smells like fragrant olives2 right?」
Ruri speculated about the smell’s origin as she rubbed her hands as instructed creating bubbles.
「Yeah, that’s right.」
Rio answered with a smile at Ruri who was rubbing and sniffing her hands.
「It smells really nice~」
Ruri washed her hands whilst humming happily.
A thought crossed Rio’s mind about quickly identifying the herbs around the village so he could develop new soap for her.