My Pet Is a Holy Maiden – 72
The Truth of the Trial
“I see…a spotted wildcat…”
Now that he had heard Tatsumi’s tale, Morganeich gave him another careful look.
“So you’ve come to the point of being able to challenge such beasts… You’ve improved quite a lot.”
“Uh, no, um… I still have a long ways to go compared to you…”
Indeed, in the past year, Tatsumi had trained long and hard. But even so, his current abilities were no match for the Free Knight in front of him. While Tatsumi had grown a lot in the past year, it was not as if Morganeich had been playing in the meantime.
“Speaking of which, did you also fight against the spotted wild cat?”
“Aye. I’ve fought that monster before.”
“And… Did you defeat that monster on your first attempt?”
“My first attempt was a failure much like yours… Actually, the same could be said for others as well. Many monster hunters have gone against that monster, and I believe most were defeated on their first battle.”
It was long ago when he was just starting to be accepted as a full-fledged hunter by those around him. Morganeich had accepted this task much like Tatsumi.
He had gone with Calcedonia, his partner at the time. High-spirited, they challenged the spotted wildcat, and just like Tatsumi, they were completely powerless against it.
And much like Tatsumi, both Morganeich and Calcedonia had been overwhelmed with disappointment by this.
“But, we challenged it again after that… And we won.”
Morganeich said quietly. But an unwavering confidence could be felt from the words.
“Ho- how… How did you achieve victory over the monster!?”
Tatsumi could not help but lean forward as he asked this. Morganeich just looked back at him, he was trying to hold back a burst of laughter.
Morganeich could well understand what Tatsumi was feeling right now. He too had searched for this answer and been troubled over it after the first defeat.
Surely the veterans around him at the time had looked at him with the same emotion as he looked at Tatsumi now.
And thinking of this had almost brought on a fit of laughter. Of course, it was not laughter aimed at Tatsumi, but at his past self.
“Don’t be rash, Tatsumi. The thing is, there is a tradition of sorts between us monster hunters.”
Morganeich then told him that this tradition meant that veteran monster hunters were to not voluntarily help or give advice to those that took on the task of the spotted wildcat.
It was not necessarily a set rule, but it had at some point become accepted among all monster hunters.
“The hunting of the spotted wildcat is to determine whether you can stand on your own two feet, after all. Don’t you think it would be odd if everyone around you was giving you advice?”
“That, that is true…”
Tatsumi agreed, but there was visible disappointment all over his face.
He had thought that he could reach some sort of breakthrough by hearing of the time Morganeich defeated the spotted wildcat.
The act of ‘searching for something’ in this world Tatsumi was currently in was not easy.
While things could be easily searched for with the use of the internet in modern Japan, there were much fewer options to ‘search’ for something in this world.
For instance, because all documents in this world were written by hand, they were expensive and valuable items that normal civilians would not have easy access to.
As far as places that stored such documents, there was only the royal palace and temples or the libraries of wealthy families.
To this point, Tatsumi himself was an acolyte, and so had access to the libraries of the Savaiv Temple, and there were abundant tomes being stored there.
However, drawing information that concerned the spotted wild cat from Savaiv Temple’s huge library was bound to be tiresome work.
On top of that, there was even the possibility that there was no such information on the spotted wild cat in Savaiv Temple’s library at all.
In terms of other options, aside from collecting information through documents; there was really only ‘to ask someone’.
In this case, there were people who had succeeded in the past in hunting the spotted wildcat, -such as Morganeich who was right in front of him- and if he could hear about the monster’s appearance and movements at the time, he might be able to use that information when he next went up against the spotted wildcat.
However, like Morganeich had said, veteran monster hunters were not to pass on any advice. So he ultimately had no choice but to dig out the information that may or may not exist, from the huge pile of documents stored within Savaiv Temple.
Tatsumi’s face drooped without him realizing it. Morganeich continued to stare at him with a mischievous grin.
At this point, Tatsumi suddenly realized that something was odd.
He could understand this tradition of ‘veterans not helping or giving unnecessary advice’ that Morganeich spoke of.
However, could the majority of monster hunters really achieve this task of the spotted wild cat while still honoring this tradition?
To be sure, there were absolute madmen who hunted the spotted wildcat on their first attempt. But according to what he had heard, the majority of monster hunters failed on their first attempt.
If that was so.
If that was so, perhaps this trial was more than simply hunting the spotted wildcat.
Tatsumi started to think that there was some kind of hidden purpose behind the trial.
He stared back at Morganeich, suspiciously. Morganeich stared back at him with the most entertained expression.
Tatsumi was convinced that his reasoning was right, Morganeich’s behavior indicated as much.
And at the same time, he remembered something. Something that Morganeich has said a moment ago.
“Morga, there’s something I want to confirm…”
“Ah. What is that?”
“You said it yourself a moment ago. That ‘concerning the spotted wild cat, other monster hunters were not to voluntarily cooperate or give advice.’ In other words, does that mean it is allowed if it’s not voluntarily…?”
So, one would say nothing if not asked, but they would answer if questioned. Was that not his meaning? That was the conclusion Tatsumi had landed on.
“Oh? Did I say such a thing?”
Morganeich played dumb through his words, but his eyes were smiling kindly.
Yes. That was the answer.
That was Morganeich’s silent answer to Tatsumi.
“Since it seems that you have realized it now, I will tell you. The trial of the spotted wildcat is not just about the hunting of the beast.”
Now that Tatsumi had realized it’s true nature, Morganeich began to explain about the trial anew.
“What is important about this trial, is whether you can properly gather all the information about the spotted wild cat in advance.”
Preparations for going against it the first time. The importance of gathering information in advance. And most of all, carelessness and self-conceit.
Morganeich told him that the true purpose of the trial was to experience and be punished by those most important elements again, when going up against the incredibly powerful enemy that was the monster.
“It’s the young, overconfident ones who have succeeded in too many hunts who most often fail this one. It’s a hidden purpose of this trial, to force some humility into such hunters who get carried away.”
Now that he thought of it, Tatsumi himself had grown negligent.
While they may have been against smaller foes, he had succeeded in hunts one after another, he could not say that he had not been a little conceited.
And he had been moved by the superficial words ‘I’ll accept you as a full-fledged hunter if you can do this’, and he had gone out without collecting any information on the beast in advance, and failed miserably.
You could say that it went exactly how the purpose of the trial indicated.
“And while we monster hunters have comfortable connections to each other, we are not exactly a gathering of best friends. If one person fails on a hunt, it will be beneficial for someone else.”
Monster hunters were able to feed themselves through hunting monsters.
If a person failed to hunt a monster, that chance would then go to a different hunter.
While monster hunters would never try to steal another’s game from the side, -though, perhaps never was too strong a word- they were allowed to challenge monsters once the previous hunter had failed.
Because of this, the other monster hunters were unlikely to pass on information unless you actively went out to ask for it yourself.
Of course, there were some bothersome monster hunters who would give unsolicited advice as well, and there were mean-spirited hunters who would not answer at all when questioned.
But even so, there was apparently an unspoken agreement among the hunters to share information when asked.
After hearing all of this from Morganeich, Tatsumi’s face had lit up with hope.
He felt as if a stream of light had shone down when he was in complete darkness.
But as Tatsumi was thinking such things, Morganeich reminded him of the harsh reality.
“It is indeed polite for information about monsters to be shared, but you should know that it is not necessarily given freely.”
“…I see. An information fee, I suppose.”
“That is it. And you want to ask me, don’t you? About the habits and abilities of this monster known as the spotted wildcat. Information needed to hunt it. In that case, I have a right to demand payment for disclosing such information.”
Morganeich grinned once again. Tatsumi sighed, and after a moment asked:
“I understand. So, how much do I need to pay as this information fee?”
“Let me think…”
Morganeich drained the wooden cup of ale he was holding and asked a passing waiter for another.
“How about, you can foot the bill for these drinks, as the information fee?”
“Huh? Are, are you sure about that?”
Tatsumi had been nervous about just how much he was expected to pay. Morganeich’s words had been so shocking that he looked completely dazed for a second.
Seeing him like that, Morganeich laughed like a child who succeeded in a prank.
“Ah, that is about what any information fee is. Pay for a drink or two, or a few meals and most monster hunters will be glad to tell you anything. But listen, there are some out there who will eat and drink unbelievable amounts once you agree to pay for it, got it?”
Tatsumi laughed at his joke. It was the first laugh in a long while that he could have without trepidation.
And the two of them raised the newly brought drinks and clinked them together.
“I will tell you all I know about the spotted wildcat. And you better win this next time. Win, so that Calce can rest at ease.”
There was no uncertainty or distress on Tatsumi’s face now.
Days later, Tatsumi, Jadokh, and Miloulle entered the forest once again.
Their target was, of course, the spotted wildcat. And just like before, the spotted wild cat was sleeping atop a rock, the same one in fact.
The spotted wild cat’s eyes looked at the intruders.
Previously, Tatsumi had stopped moving at this point. His body had gone ridged by the fear he felt from the monster.
But this time, it would be different. The way things played out, Tatsumi and the others would quickly surround the monster even faster, before it could fix them with its stare.
“Jadokh! Miloulle! Don’t look at the monster’s eyes!”
“I already know! Thanks to you, for finding out that there is magic in the monster’s stare!”
“I too, do not want to be defeated by the same attack twice!”
This information that Tatsumi had received from Morganeich. It was that the stare of the spotted wild cat had the power to draw out one’s worst fears. It was called the evil eye.
It was this evil eye that was the cause of the abnormal degree of fear that Tatsumi and his company felt the last time.
However, another way to look at it was that this was the only real threat that the spotted wild cat could pose against them. They did have to be cautious of its sharp fangs and claws, but that was not exclusive to the spotted wildcat. Because the majority of monsters were equipped with claws and fangs.
When the monster realized that its evil eye had no effect, it immediately attempted to flee. But Tatsumi, who held a shield in front of him, immediately teleported in its path, blocking its escape.
“I’m sorry, but I won’t let you get away!”
Miloulle, who brandished a spear, used the momentum of her dash to plunge the head into the side of the monster’s belly. She had been waiting for that moment when the beast would stop after Tatsumi had blocked its path.
The sharp spearhead plunged through the monsters fur and fat, inflicting damage towards the inner organs.
The spotted wild cat let out a howl of pain. Even so, the unyielding vitality of the monster would not burn low by this alone.
But that being said, it’s trick had been exposed, and it was not capable of fending off the vicious attacks of Tatsumi and his company.
Jadokh’s warclub targeted the monsters legs, killing its mobility. Miloulle’s quick stabs continued to weaken it.
Tatsumi watched its movements from several steps back, and the moment the monster showed signs of using the evil eye, he would immediately teleport and block the monster’s gaze with his shield.
With Tatsumi interrupting the attacks like this, Jadokh and Miloulle were able to coordinate even more than usual, without worrying about the evil eye, and they continued to bring the monster down.
It’s lifeforce and energy slowly drained, the monster eventually could no longer stand, and it tumbled to the ground.
And when the great ax of Jadokh swung from above and landed deep into its neck, the spotted wild cat’s flame of life was finally extinguished.
Celebratory voices echoed from the Elf’s Repose Inn.
Today a celebratory banquet was being held for Tatsumi, Jadokh, and Miloulle for their success in hunting the spotted wildcat and completing the trial.
Many congratulatory words were given to Jadokh and Miloulle by El, the other workers, and the monster hunter regulars.
As this was happening, a slightly intoxicated Miloulle realized that Tatsumi was nowhere to be found.
“Huh? Where did Tatsumi go?”
Miluolle’s eyes restlessly scanned the room. But she could not catch sight of him anywhere.
“Now, don’t be so silly, Miloulle. Don’t you know, there is only one place Tatsumi would go?”
Jadokh was drinking extravagantly as he closed just one of his four eyes.
“Ah, so he’s with Calce… I mean, I do understand how he must feel… But surely he could spare a moment to celebrate with his friends…”
Miloulle’s voice expressed both sadness and disappointment.
“It cannot be helped. For Tatsumi, Calce is always going to be his top priority.”
“Now, now. Don’t act so sullen, drink with me, okay? Everyone here came to celebrate with us.”
A wine glass was placed on the table in front of her. Miloulle picked it up and drained it in one gulp.
“Mistress! Keep bringing more!! We’ll be drinking a lot tonight! Afterall, everyone’s going to pay for me!!”
She exhaled loudly like an older gentleman and asked El for another glass.
As she said, tonight’s festivities would be paid for by the other monster hunters. Those that were victorious in the trial of the spotted wild cat were treated by the other monster hunters. This too was a sort of tradition.
“Hehehe. Well, I guess I won’t hold back then.”
Jadokh said giddily as he ordered more drinks.
The surrounding monster hunter’s facial expressions changed once they realized just how much the two were going to order.
Morganeich had warned Tatsumi about this, partially as a joke, and yet they would have no clue that it was actually happening here.
Inside of the house, Tatsumi and Calcedonia were locked in a tight embrace.
“…I’m sorry, Cheeko. I’ve caused you to worry so much.”
“No… I truly believed that you of all people would be able to pass this trial.”
Calcedonia whispered happily as she rubbed her cheek against Tatsumi’s chest.
“Huh? Who was it that was saying it would fine for me to give up?”
“Uh, um, well, I… Oww!! You are not kind!!”
Calcedonia hotly hit her fists into Tatsumi’s chest. Of course, she did not do it with much force and it did not hurt.
In reply, Tatsumi just patted her head, somewhat roughly -like he did long ago, in her past life.
Calcedonia was at his mercy, but her expression was full of happiness.
“…Somehow, I’ve made it to where I am… But someday, I will go to the same place that you are, I promise.”
“Yes. I know that you will accomplish it in no time.”
Their lips met without either having initiated first. And after a moment, their lips parted and a clear, sensual sigh escaped Calcedonia’s lips.
Her cheeks turned red and she looked up at Tatsumi.
Tatsumi understood what she desired, he put a hand on her shoulder and they began to walk away.
Tatsumi opened the door to the bedroom. And once the two had entered… He slowly closed the door.