Chapter 25 – Trial run

The next day, I see the orc hunting group leave, and walk in the opposite direction.

I can find magic energy herbs where medicinal herbs grow, but this time I’m going to a place near a village (although it will still take me half a day to get there) that’s famous for having a lot of magic energy herbs.

Generally speaking, if people go to a regular place to pick herbs, they’re lucky if they find one magic energy herb per ten medicinal herbs.

That’s not true for me, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I can use Appraisal.
I’m not looking for them normally.

I walk to the village without rushing, and it takes me about half a day, just as I expected.
Usually that would leave someone pretty tired.
I had Presence Detection active as I walked, and sensed about five wolves in the forest.

“What is your business here?”

“I’m here to pick medicinal herbs.
If there is an inn, I’d like to stay there.”

“All right.
But don’t loiter around the village.
If you bother the villagers I’ll kick you out.”

I don’t think I’m very welcome here.

The inn charges me one copper coin per night, and my room has a bed and a shelf to put my things.
The food is pretty plain, just barely above preserved food.
People don’t talk more than necessary, and I don’t exactly feel comfortable here.

There’s nothing here in the way of entertainment.
It just feels like people are trying to live day to day.

“Are you going to pick medicinal herbs? Don’t go around hunting beasts if you find them, because you’re screwed if you get attacked.”

Someone warns me.
People do hunt monsters, but it’s only when it’s decided they are a threat to the village, and the whole village goes out to hunt them.

I enter the forest, and the first thing I’m going to do is pick magic energy herbs.
I heard all the mana potions were bought for the orc hunt, and that pretty much emptied their stocks.
Apparently there are also parties going out to pick magic energy herbs in other places.

I finally reach the herbs two hours after entering the forest.
It’s hard to walk with all the roots in the way.
It feels like just walking here and avoiding them would cost people a lot of stamina.

The area where medicinal herbs are growing seems pretty narrow, but after checking with Appraisal, I see more than half are magic energy herbs.

I collect quite a bit, while avoiding the ones that are sprouting, and being careful not to pick too much.
Then I take a break, and activate magic.

“Display Map.”

This is a spell I learned when my Spatial Magic reached level six.
It displays a map centered around where I am.
Its range is small at first, but I can pump magic energy into it to make the map bigger.

This also has an automatic mapping feature, so it records where I’ve been.

By itself it’s not that different from a map in the guild, so I figured this wasn’t all that useful, but it really shines if I combine it with other skills.

The skill it seems it was pretty much made to be used with is Presence Detection.
By using them together, I can see reactions on the map.
If the reaction is in a place not yet recorded by Map, it records it, so it’s pretty useful.
But if there’s no response, nothing is registered.

Still, Presence Detection has an effective range too, so the best way to make sure is just to walk.

“Five wolves… And is there a beast over there? The reaction is too small to be a monster.
I think the wolves are too deep in the forest to harm the village, but…”

Should I hunt them? There’s no one around, so it might be a good opportunity to test my gun.
It’s too loud though, so I still need to improve it.

I approach my target with Presence Concealment active.
I’m walking while looking at the map, so I have to be careful not to trip on roots.
This gives me trouble at first, but Parallel Thinking conquers it.
Skills are so useful, depending on how you use them.

I’m getting close to the wolves, but they haven’t noticed me yet.

I ready my gun while I hold my breath.
I feel recoil when I pull the trigger, but thanks to my physical strength stats, the gun barrel doesn’t move.
But the noise… It sure is loud.
I’ll have to check how loudly it echoed when I get back to the village, and have a cover story ready if people are talking about it.

The bullet I fired hits a wolf in the neck like it was drawn to it.
It falls without even having time to shriek.

The other wolves are now alerted, and raise their heads to look around.

One of them meets my gaze, and that’s when I pull the trigger.

The bullet reaches the wolf faster than it can move, and opens a hole in its brow.

By the time I move the muzzle to my next target, the remaining wolves are already on the move, hiding behind trees while running over here.

When I point the gun, they move to the sides, as though they’re avoiding my aim.
Do they sense danger on an instinctual level?

I can’t attack with the gun when they move so fast.
Even if I pull the trigger, I can’t hit them because they dodge too well.

I hide too, and retreat.
I need to switch from my gun to my sword.
Then I undo Presence Concealment for a second, and reactivate it.

And just as a wolf jumps out from behind a tree, I get close and swing my sword.

The wolf looks surprised to see me there, and is taken out in one hit.

But because of this, another wolf jumps at me.

I can’t swing my sword, so I use it as a shield to block the wolf’s attack.

The wolf rebounds and lands on its feet, and comes at me again right away.

Is it scared of my gun? It keeps doing small steps side to side as it approaches me.

I point my sword forward, and don’t let its movements fool me.
Rurika taught me this, or rather, carved it into me.

I kill the wolf’s feint while moving as little as possible, and instead entice it to attack with a feint of my own.

The wolf takes the bait, and I easily dispatch it.

There’s one wolf left, and I can feel it getting away from here really fast.
I’m guessing it sensed the odds were turning increasingly against it.
I use Map to check it, and eventually the blinking dot that represents the wolf disappears.

I take apart the two wolves I shot, although I still can’t do it very well.

I’m hiding the fact that I have Storage Magic, so should I buy a magic bag? They’re very expensive.
Can I make a small one with Alchemy?

I go back to the medicinal herbs, and decide to camp here today.


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