Music is deeply rooted in this Lowa village.
It is said that those who sing or play music that touches the heart are respected.
First is music, second is hunting, third is strength and fourth is wisdom.
This seems to be the order of respected skills in the village.
Those who have better musical skills come to be appreciated by the White Wolves.
In other words, only those who can play good music are qualified to meet the White Wolves.
"I know how to play the flute and the koto, but I have never played these stringed instruments."
(Nt: The Koto is a chordophone instrument made of wood with 13 strings of different sizes, belongs to the zither family and is a descendant of the Chinese Guzheng zither. It is a Japanese instrument, made from the wood of the imperial Paulonia. It is the national instrument of Japan. )
Kaede played a musical instrument called a güler, but it's tone wasn't very flattering.
"Lend me that."
"Do you know how to play, Frau-San?"
"I used to play a similar instrument in my village."
Strumming the strings with her finger, Frau begins to play and sing along with the tune.
"I'm not a cutting board ~, I've got a little bundle full of love ~ ♪ Play with it ~, and you'll feel a little thrill~ ♪"
Such a lovely voice, although the lyrics are a bit creepy.
Itsuki also shook his body from side to side with a relaxed rhythm.
Frau stopped playing. We stood up from our seats and clapped our hands.
"That's amazing, Frau is so talented!"
"That was wonderful, Frau-San. I'm amazed."
"Oh, really? Hehe."
Panda started flying around Frau as if he was praising her.
"That was impressive, but it wasn't enough to satisfy the messenger. There are many untalented folks in town who have that level of skill."
Itsuki also applauded, but his words were harsh.
Frau grew dissatisfied and puffed out her cheeks.
I thought Frau had done very well, but it seems that meeting the requirements won't be so easy.
"The presentation will be in two nights. If you think it's impossible, you can back out now."
"I won't back out after I've come this far. I will."
"I hope that confidence doesn't turn out to be baseless, because we'd hate it if the white fox, Kaede, were to leave here without a good memory."
Itsuki opened the door.
"If you want guidance, let me know and I'll send you to an expert and get you the instruments you want. I have work to do."
After saying those words, he left the house.
The instruments we want?
I took the instrument from Frau and lightly plucked the strings while thinking about what I was supposed to do.
"Aaah! That sound!"
Eh? Why are they surprised?
...Did I do something wrong?
The next day, I went out to the town square and found a group of children gathered there.
They were making a lot of noise around an extended piece of paper.
Kaede and I peered out silently.
An intricate magic circle was drawn on a square piece of paper, and on it were two small, human-looking figures.
They hit each other, and soon after, one of them turned into sparks of light and disappeared.
"Aaah! I lost again!"
"Ten wins in a row!"
Is this some kind of local game?
It's a very elaborate game, though. I can't help but find it interesting.
"It's a phantom battle formation."
"You know it?"
"Yes. It's a magic circle that's normally used for combat training, but here it seems to have been reduced to a toy. It's also quite amusing."
"Heh, as expected from a town with celestial beasts."
The boys noticed my presence and gave me a sharp look.
"What are you looking at, old human man?
"Who else is there?"
I'm only twenty-five years old, but maybe for a kid that's a pretty high number.
A boy who seems to be the leader of the group smiled while thinking about something.
He tells the other kids about it and they all laugh.
"You're probably curious, old man. If you want, you can join us."
"But, I don't know the rules."
"It's easy. You just have to defeat your opponent with the illusion you have created. Just be warned that this is a game where your strength comes out. A weak player can only create a weak illusion."
Hm, it's a game, but it also serves to measure your strength. It's very interesting, I'll definitely try it.
The boy and I set up the phantom fighting team and sat on the floor.
We both touched the magic circle and poured magic power into it.
"My illusion is the strongest of everyone here."
Light particles gather and a white figure with a sword appears.
"How do you know if you are good enough?"
"It depends on several factors: The size of the soldier, the weapons he carries, his appearance and the skills he uses."
"The soldier of a wolf tribe has fangs and claws?"
"Yes. What a surprise, old man, even though you're a human, you're smart."
This kid is really underestimating me.
The boy's soldier had wolf ears and a tail.
"Surely your magic power is too weak for the magic circle to even manage to make one for you, old man."
The children began to laugh.
Kaede became very angry.
Beastkin have high physical abilities from an early age.
They have absolute confidence that they will never be defeated by a human.
In fact, even on the island where humans rule, I have seen many beastkin with high confidence in their skills quite often.
No wonder that belief is reinforced here, where only the wolf tribe lives.
The phantom battle circle trembles minutely, and particles of light begin to gather.
The boy's phantom form shrinks and shrinks until it is too small to be seen as my phantom enters the field.
"It looks like it took a while because it was so big."
My ghost grabs his greatsword and swings it forward in preparation for battle.
He then checks his surroundings, looking for enemies.
The phantom lifts his foot, and stomps on the boy's phantom.
The battle was over.
The boy stood and clenched his eyes so tightly it looked like he would burst into tears at any moment.
"Wuaaaaaaaaah!!! I'm going to remember this!"
The boy ran away crying.
Huh, I can't believe I took a game with a kid seriously.
I guess I'm just not ready yet.
After a brief pause, the children shouted for joy.
"Old man, you're amazing, even Itsuki-sama can't make something that big!”
"It's huge, how big is this thing?"
"Wow, wow, wow, I've never seen anything like this!"
Even though it's an obvious result, I'm still embarrassed by the praise.
Well, I didn't expect there to be such a difference in size either.
It's like a battle between a man and a mountain."
"There you are."
"You're Obi, right?"
A masked man arrives in the square.
He really is stealthy. Even I can't detect him.
He must have a job as a thief or an assassin at a high level.
And he is quite strong. His body language is somewhat intimidating.
I stood up.
"I have a message from Itsuki-Sama. He wants you to do something for him."
Obi speaks to Kaede.
"We need Kaede-Sama's power, so I'd like you to listen to what we have to say."
"If that's the case... Can my master be present as well?"
"Sure. Please follow me."
We followed Obi to Itsuki's house.
Kaede and I took seats next to each other.
And in front of us were Obi and Itsuki.
"We want you to slay a basilisk."
"Yes, it has been living in the fenced off ruins of our village for a few months, and it has killed many of our people, and even when though we tried to get rid of it, the results have been nil."
"What is a basilisk?"
"It's a monster that petrifies everything it sees. It's a very nasty creature that has a wide range of petrification, it moves quickly and the scales that cover its body are quite tough."
I wonder if it's a monster that only exists here.
I've never heard of it before.
A monster that can petrify you with a single gaze. It certainly is very dangerous.
"We of the wolf tribe are not good at magic, but hand-to-hand combat is also tough against such an opponent. We will pay you handsomely for your help."
"What do you think, Master?"
"We will. The people of this village are in trouble, I don't think it's the best thing to stand idly by. Besides, if we kill it, chief Itsuki might give us a delicious meal."
"Of course, we'll prepare a huge feast."
Perfect. Even if that monster has the ability to petrify, Kaede's magic would probably kill it instantly.
Besides, if we kill the basilisk, we'll be able to visit the ruins.
"By the way, Kaede-Sama, are you sure you want him to accompany you?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's not that I doubt his abilities as your Master... But, I'm afraid it will be somewhat difficult for a human."
"Don't worry about that. The Master is the Master."
Uh, Kaede, that's not really an explanation.
I'm sure you were trying to be considerate, but Itsuki is confused.
Obi whispered in Itsuki's ear.
"Hmm, this is no ordinary human. I've been observing him with the evaluation goggles, and his race doesn't seem to match his appearance."
"Also, he occasionally emits a tremendous concentration of magical power. He looks like a swordsman, but he might also be a skilled magic user."
"Since Kaede-Sama recognizes him as her master, it is impossible for him to be an ordinary human. I beg your pardon, Toru-Dono. It would be an honor to have you accompany us."
Itsuki had a big smile on his face.
Am I giving off magic power?
I have to be more careful with that.