I’ll tell you something good.
This strategy of yours and donuts have something in common.
—The Verdant Magus, Nina
“Oh, right. The first time I’d met Darg was when I was out looking for a behemoth, too.”
Walking down a path in the grassland, I nodded to Yuuki, who was walking alongside me. This was the way we’d looked for behemoths long ago. Following their tracks was the best way. Looking all around the grasslands was hard even if I took to the sky, not even a dragon’s keen eyesight could make out their tracks from high in the sky.
So we were walking side by side, following its old tracks on the ground.
“It turned into a spout over our prey. There was a bit of trouble after that, but we ended up becoming friends as a result.”
He always called me his brother in respect, but there wasn’t a hierarchical relationship between us.
Best friend. If he’d called me that, I would have agreed. Nina’s obviously a second-to-none friend to me as well, but it feels like she’s a different kind of friend to me than he was.
“What kind of person was our ancestor?”
I thought for a moment before speaking.
“He looked exactly like Amata does now.”
Amata looked exactly like a young girl back when he was small, but he grew up rapidly and became a masculine young man… then he took it another level beyond that and grew into a giant. The fact that he’s still as polite and gentle as ever is a bit amusing though.
“There are times that I think that that child is atavistically growing into Darg.”
I looked at Yuuki and was happy that she didn’t look the same. Polar opposite to Amata, Yuuki’s height practically hadn’t changed at all. If I recall, she was just a hundred and forty five centimeters last time we measured heights. Rather short for a twenty year old woman, even for this world.
She still had most of her innocent, cheerful personality, but she used to come off as a boy when she was a child. It might be because of her waist-length sidetails that make the difference…
It’s probably also because of her grandly self-proclaiming breasts.
Noticing my gaze, Yuuki turned toward me and smiled.
Her smile there felt shockingly mature, causing me to look away.
“Ah—big brother, there it is!”
Yet just as I thought that, the way she tugged on my clothes after spotting a behemoth was just like how a child would. Iterating between a child and an adult like a pendulum, people would steadily grow into adults. Then, everyone—everyone would leave me behind.
She looked at my face in curiosity.
“Oh, yeah, let’s go.”
I nodded, flustered.
I already knew that that would happen, I’ve known it for a long time.
Yuuki nodded and hopped up onto my back. Feeling her hold onto me with her body was very embarrassing, so I hurriedly moved into my dragon form.
As Rin said, behemoths were creatures that just didn’t run away. Sure, they’d attempt escaping if they were wounded, but they wouldn’t run away from something approaching them. They usually had nothing to be afraid of from other animals with their huge body and hard skin, after all.
Behemoths wouldn’t even try running away if a red dragon like me appeared in front of it. I’m not sure if I should call them brave or nonchalant, but that made them so easy to hunt. Perhaps calling them dunces would work?
“Alright Yuuki, if you would.”
Nodding, Yuuki stood on my head and readied her spear.
“Thou who is long, sharp, and may pierce anything! Become a spear without equal, thine aim unerring, thy strikes unblockable. Act as a shooting star!”
Throwing the spear at the behemoth’s rear end as she finished the incantation, the spear left a trail of light in its wake. Just afterwards, the behemoth let out a low-pitched sound and started to move sluggishly. We’d intended for it to run away… but it’s so slow. Of course it’s because their bodies are so large that their speed is, accordingly, slow, but it doesn’t even look like it’s in a hurry at all.
“Nina, can you hear me? We found a behemoth. We’ll be pursuing it from here on.”
Following the behemoth that was running ever so slowly…. rather, following the behemoth that was walking, I contacted her with magic.
“Got it. But it’s going the wrong direction. It needs to be a bit more to the left.”
Eh, how did she detect where we were? Well, it is Nina, I guess…
Following our brand new Nina Nav, Yuuki threw a few more spears at the behemoth to correct its course. A while later, I saw a huge wall rise up on the horizon. It was something Nina produce, a tree cage.
It would have obviously ended up destroying any old normal cage, so we had to come up with a few solutions to prevent it from escaping. One was having long spear-like logs growing toward the inside the cage.
If it tried run through it, it would see them and stop. Though honestly it’s doubtful whether or not they’ll actually be able to pierce the behemoth’s iron-like hide, Yuuki throwing spears at it is teaching it that sharp objects give it pain. We’re hoping that it will be alarmed by the spears and stop in its tracks.
Adjusting the behemoth’s course, we herded it into the cage. I was worried that the cage would be a bit narrow for its body, but the behemoth was able to get into it. Then, cautious of the spears we’d pointed inward at it, it stopped itself from continuing to move.
Did we do it…?
The moment after I thought that, the behemoth opened its mouth wide and sunk its teeth into the tree logs sticking out at it, chewing them.
It just continued on eating the cage itself. Once it was happy and done with its meal, it just walked off. There’s nothing we could do but sit and stare.
“… Behemoths… eat trees, I guess…?”
Yuuki muttered from on my back.
“Come to think of it…”
I’d just realized that I hadn’t even known what behemoths ate until then.
We wouldn’t have been able to care for it even if we’d managed to capture it, huh?
“… Well, at least we know what to bait it with now?”
“I take it you haven’t given up on it yet then?”
Hearing me mutter, Nina replied half in amazement.
“I get the feeling that we’re on to something here.”
All of the animals we’d tried so far escaped with all their might. The behemoth at least stopped moving. I think they’d be much easier to handle than the deers or goats.
“Maybe we could use trees that are too hard for a behemoth to eat…?”
“Professor Nina, can you produce trees that are harder than those were?”
Hearing my idea, Shig tried asking Nina but was immediately shot down.
We hadn’t made the wooden cage from trees we got from the forest, but from what Nina produced herself. Making a large enough cage to surround a behemoth out of trees we felled ourselves would be impossible with a day’s work. But using Dropout Nina’s capabilities, it wasn’t hard at all.
If she says it’s impossible, it’s impossible.
“Maybe we could use wood it doesn’t like to eat…?”
“Wouldn’t it just bite it and spit it back out then?”
“How about if I added a large number of my thorns to it?”
“They’d be too small to hurt it. Behemoths are pretty tough.”
“What if someone stood by the cage and stabbed it with a spear if it got too close?”
“Who’d want to do that…?”
Luka, Violet, and Yuuki each came up with ideas, but Shig shot all of them down. Not that it was his fault, though.
“Then what if we used rocks instead of wood?”
“Where would we get that many stones… wait, no, maybe we can use stones just for the spears’ tips? They’d be like proper spears then.”
Shig got an idea from Rin’s proposal and asked me about it.
I’d come to know about it recently, but he was good at identifying any pitfalls in a plan, filling them in, and constructing plans for practical measures. Rin used her flexible mentality to come up with ideas and Shig followed by shaping them into workable things. We’d come to see similar conversations play out often recently.
“Stones might not be durable enough…”
“So it’s a no go? I thought it might work, too…”
Shig’s shoulders slumped forward.
But I was meaning it the exact opposite way.
“Putting it another way, so long as we can do something about their durability, it’d work. We just need something harder, more durable, and sharper than stone.”
“Does something like that exist?”
“The problem is… I don’t know how we should go about getting it.”
I’d thought about how we could use metal several times before. After using stone tools comes the shift to the bronze age. Well, I’m not certain if this world even has copper or tin in it.
I have no inkling of how to go about excavating a mine. I’m pretty sure you can’t even mine rocks with wooden pickaxes, it’s difficult enough even using stone ones.
I’d thought that you needed metal to excavate a mine, but that puts me in a catch twenty-two. Did the chicken come before the egg, or the egg before the chicken?
How in the world was it done back on Earth?
“You know where it is then?”
“Yeah. Inside mountains… Really, inside them. You’ll get it from digging into a mountain… probably.”
It wasn’t something I was entirely certain of either. What sort of mountains did iron or copper come from? What sort of mountains held no metal at all? It was a topic I knew effectively nothing about.
“Hmm. If you just have to open a hole in a mountain, don’t we just need to go over there and take some?”
Nina just pointed behind me in response.
She’d pointed to a huge, magnificent mountain. Mount Hole, as we’d come to call the mountain.
The story of how it got its name is a simple one—it’s because of the giant tunnel-like hole that goes through it halfway up.
And the thing that caused the hole was, well, me. Around five hundred years ago. Five hundred and eight, to be exact.
I’d grown angry in a fight against Darg and opened the hole with my breath.