Taking Wight along with me, I decided to conduct a thorough hunt through the forest. To start off, procuring a steady supply of food is our most pressing matter, followed by evolving Wight, further followed by leveling myself up… Once we have some wiggle room, the only thing left to do then would be to make proper contact with the Litōvear Tribe.
Sure’d be good to find somethin’ good to eat, though… There were some boars and rice among the tributes, so it stands to reason we’ll find those if we look for ‘em.
As far as Wight’s evolution is concerned, …For now, we’ll count it as them getting a flesh and blood body, more or less. It’s gonna work out, right? My pity ain’t gonna be classifiable if they stay as just bones up until the very end.
As for progress toward my evolution, it says…
Well, if my HP don’t got triples. I’ve got a good feelin’ somethin’ good’s gonna—… does this even matter?
I haven’t even reached the point where my level’s gettin’ a return on investment yet. Goin’ forward, it’s lookin’ like the amount of experience required is gonna quickly snowball, so evolution is lookin’ to be a ways away… though I wonder what’ll happen during my next evolution—to Partner? Partner, you’re not gonna… disappear, are ya?
Partner let out a whine that was bereft of any intelligence as she looked directly at me. …Your dumb ass doesn’t seem to think anything of evolution… or anything at all.
I suppose it’s not anythin’ I’ll have to worry about for quite a while… Still, it makes me uneasy, nonetheless. Even if I’m to assume I’d go from two to one, wouldn’t everything just go back into me? Like, it wouldn’t be like I handed out a death sentence, right? Or, maybe every evolution from here on out will have two heads or somethin’? No, wait, it’s not out of the question that it could even lead to three. I’m havin’ a hard enough time as it is straightenin’ out my goals and keepin’ myself in good spirits with an increase of just one, let alone havin’ three. The stress will flippin’ end me if I end up with a third!
I took a sudden pause to think. The settlement for the Litōvear Tribe should be around here somewhere. I wonder if they’d be scared stiff as they were before if I were to set out to them? Er, well, the Litōvear Tribe didn’t come to me today… So unless I concern myself with them, they’re gonna forget all about me, aren’t they? And, um, well, if I conduct myself poorly and they end up taking it as an act of aggression, then I’ll end up in a world of hurt.
And, er, um, well,
…As I was dissenting with myself, Partner was watching me—her eyes cold.
Partner shook her head as if she were saying “good grief” and faced forward before gesturing ahead a few times with her chin, urging me to pick up the pace.
I– I’ve got this feeling that I’ve lost something… very tremendous… What is with me? Was I coming off that absent-mindedly?
I mean, I have Wight with me today, so I guess it’d be a bit of a bad move to go over to the Litōvear Tribe’s place and make contact with them. Wight would also probably have a bit of a hard time meeting their friends with the way they look now. Guess we’ll just focus on hunting for today. Sounds like a plan. Yep.
Just as I had resumed walking, Partner once again had stretched out her neck—drool voraciously flying from her mouth. What is it now? Did you find something? You know you can just tell me by transmitting more thoughts my way. I wanna level the skill up.
⸨Looks yummy! Looks yummy!⸩
…When it comes to you, a thought or a cry doesn’t really make much of a difference, does it? Even Ball Rabbit chattered away with more substance than you.
Following Partner’s line of sight, I saw some things glowing faintly and indistinctly. The things had a humanoid shape, but were considerably smaller—the size of a small animal. Eschewing any sort of clothing, they were smooth—lacking features. The creatures looked like someone had taken some clay and used it to make something that had a human silhouette.
The small creatures appeared to be watching us by concealing themselves behind some tree roots.
Those… aren’t really gonna be edible, are they? Rather, I’d rather not eat ‘em. The heck are these monsters?
⦋⟨Laran⟩: E ranked monster⦌
⦋In large part due to their peculiar appearances, they are called forest guardians, forest gnomes, tree spirits, etc., and further, there are anecdotes that connect each of their various names to various regions.⦌
⦋They are gentle by nature and subsist on trees by absorbing their magic.⦌
⦋If angered, they will turn into something terrific and monstrous.⦌
The little guys’re totally on a do-not-disturb basis, ain’t they?
⸨Looks yummy! Looks yummy!⸩
Give it a rest. We ain’t eatin’ ‘em. Though… I do think that the rank difference is pretty alright regardless. I feel as if they’d be just right for levelin’ up Wight, but I kinda don’t wanna get us involved with these things. Sorry, but we’re gonna hunt for some other prey. Even if we ate those things, I doubt they’d even make for a fill.
I dragged a very rebellious Partner along with me as I proceeded back in the opposite direction.
Just how much do you wanna eat those things? I’m a little dumbfounded as to where all this foodlust is comin’ from.
I dunno if it’s the larans or what, but I do hope they’ll go somewhere else after seein’ Partner’s violent tendencies. As I glanced back over my shoulder, I saw that the number of larans had increased to three. The three faintly luminescing lightish-green humanoid figures were huddled up. Do they wanna get eaten?
As the larans’ eyes met with mine, the three creatures simultaneously made shrugging gestures before going up in wisps of light and vanishing.
It had Partner hanging her head down dejectedly. Did you really want to eat those things that badly? Look, sorry, but I don’t really wanna deal with those kinda eerie things. Go and do it by yourself—… no, with your own body. That way you won’t drag me into it.
As I was hunting to see if there were any kind of monsters around, I spotted an abyss in the distance—the sound of its running making a scuttling sound. …Man, I don’t have any desire to go outta my way to get anywhere near that thing. There’d be nothin’ to eat with its defeat. But, well, I suppose it’d still be better to go ahead and exterminate it. And since it’s C rank, even Wight should be able to gain experience points if they have a helping hand in it. Hmm… Still, I guess I’d say I’m still pretty reluctant to, …yeah…
As I was fretting, my ⟨Presence Sense⟩ picked up on something opposite to the scuttling abyss. This feels like… humans? I wonder if it’s the Litōvear Tribe…?
That… does make me a bit worried… and curious. I do wanna try and watch what’s gonna unfold, but… erm, guess I’ve already got the full picture. But, still… to avoid them despite gettin’ so close would be… yeah… Let’s go ahead and show ourselves for just a moment. A glimpse. Give ‘em just a glimpse. Also, I do wanna show them some gratitude for the tributes, yeah. It’d be unconscionable to duck outta here now, right?
…However, if I go through with that, then that raises an issue: Wight. We can’t afford to have the Litōvear Tribe come face-to-face with Wight.
When I glanced behind me, I saw Wight looking up at me with a lonesome look on their face.
Uh— Uhhh—… I… guess it would be okay to more or less watch the Litōvear Tribe from a distance. I’ll just… greet them… and then if they discover Wight by getting closer to us, we’ll quietly make our exit. I guess.