Given the era of the ancient ruins it was recovered from,
this apparatus was no simple item of daily use
so much as it was a symbol of faith.
“You’ve had to go hunting that far away?”
With us surrounding a crackling open-air fire, Luka’s father—Tauro shook his tail feebly. He’s told me that they’ve had to go to a spot that’s a three day’s journey away.
Six days travelling, one day of hunting. The children happily dug into the spoils that took seven days to get. Seeing them eat so enthusiastically is pleasant to see, but the meat that Tauro and his wife got for them was quickly being used up. At this rate… wouldn’t it barely even last the day?
I understand that the lykos are like most carnivores in that they can go through several days of fasting, but even so, this is a bit much.
“Why that far?”
Lykoscentaur all move locations depending on the season. Their simple tents don’t tie them down to one location as they are constructed with portability in mind. Unlike humans, they only eat meat, making them unable to fill their stomachs with fruits and vegetables and instead have to rely entirely on what meat they can gather through hunting. Therefore, they move to whatever place has enough prey during that particular season. If there isn’t enough prey around where they live, they simply have to pick up and move locations.
That was my simplistic view on it, at least.
“Each of us has a territory, we are not permitted to hunt in another group’s territory. Territories are decided on by fights between the leaders of their respective packs. However…”
Tauro’s ears lowered on his head as he responded, mumbling dispiritedly.
“Guess you lost.”
Yuuki didn’t say it out of ill-will, but it still managed to cause Tauro’s tail to hang even more limply.
“That’s why father has gone into the forest, outside of any territories.”
Wiping her little sister’s mouth, Luka explained on Tauro’s behalf. Lykos territories are pretty much only ever in grasslands. They hunt by trailing their prey and striking once it grows tired. It was a hunting style not suitable for hunting in the forest.
“It’s because I have what Mentor made for me.”
With that, Tauro took out a spear that had a stone tip.
“How nostalgic. So you’re still using that?”
It’s been a few decades since I gave that to him. It’s something I made for Tauro since he wasn’t able to hunt that well. Although people from Scarlet would use magic to throw it, Tauro didn’t need to. Being able to run like the wind with his lupine lower half allows him to even hunt and catch quick rabbits by piercing them. For him, it might even be easier for him to hunt in the forest than the grasslands.
“Let’s help them, big brother!”
“Hmm. I was planning on that.”
“It’ll work out if they win right? I’ll teach them how to fight!”
Most lykos were unable to use typical magic. Although it would definitely be an easy win if they could incorporate Yuuki’s inter-personal specialized magic…
“No, I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
Magic that strengthens one’s body is unexpectedly rather difficult. The enhancement part of the magic is easy, it’s moving your body around afterwards that’s the hard part. It’s hard to control that amount of strength, so even if you intended to use a small amount of strength to do something like walking or running, most people would just fall over. In fact, fighting with strengthening magic requires a lot of practice and good senses. Not even I can use it at a practical level.
The Swordsaint clan has specialized in that kind of magic for generations. Yuuki is able to easily strengthen herself three-fold alongside weakening her opponent, but she’s practically in the realm of acrobatics. Let alone me, not even Nina can mimic what she does.
“I don’t think it’s quite suitable for Tauro’s personality, either.”
I’ve known him since the time he was an even younger pup than Luka is now. He’s always been too kindhearted to be suited to the territorial disputes. It’s the same for me.
Although it’s true that they are our closest friends among all lykos, it isn’t a relationship the other packs don’t know about. If Tauro’s pack expanded their territory, that just means they’d be taking food from the other packs. It was a sad story all around.
“Then… then, can we do anything?”
Seeing Yuuki visibly sadden, I shook my head slowly and answered.
“You don’t scramble about in times like this. That just ruins the pie.”
＊ ＊ ＊
Several days later.
“Alright, it’s done!”
Wiping off the perspiration that had been accumulating on my forehead, I looked at my completed work. Considering an amateur like me made it, I think it came out pretty good. Might just be me, though.
“What is it?”
Yuuki inclined her head and both Tauro and Luka looked at it in just as much bewilderment. I made it from a tree I cut down and shaped into a big box. The curious-looking components I added to the sides probably only look like strange ornaments to them.
“This is a cart.”
I clapped my hand down on to it and spoke. Of all great inventions, there are two kinds.
The first kind are things reached through the development of technology and civilization. The other kind were much more rare, ones created by geniuses—innovative concepts that reshaped the world itself.
The wheel would be the leading one even among those. It’s not like I’m one of those geniuses of course, it’s just that I know that the one who figured it out was one. So long as you know how to do it, making a wheel isn’t exactly hard.
“If you put your prey into this when you catch it, you should be able to transport a lot at once.”
I pulled the rope attached to the cart and showed them how it moved. The cart itself was considerably large and heavy, but it was easy to move even in my human form.
“You won’t have to leave to hunt as often if you can bring more back right?”
“But… just this won’t help much that much…?”
Looking at the cart, Luka knit her brows, troubled. Tauro’s back was wide. He’d be able to fit two or three deer on it. The amount they could bring home would be almost twice that amount due to him going with his wife. Compared to them, the cart could carry maybe four at the most.
Tauro wouldn’t be able to both pull the cart and carry anything at the same time, so it would increase the total amount by one at the most. It was within their margin of error. What Luka pointed out was justified.
“—That’s if the one pulling the cart is Tauro.”
Luka perked up at that and saw me smiling.
“Yuuki, how is it?”
When I glanced over to Yuuki, the red-haired girl struck her chest and turned to Luka’s siblings.
“Kay everyone, do it!”
“We, are strong!”
The young lykos spoke the incantation at the same time, two of them pulling the cart’s rope. Then, when they pulled on it with a jerk, the cart that dwarfed them began to move.
Using strengthening magic was practically a dirty trick when used like this.
What made using that kind of magic so hard was that it would cause your strength to rocket so rapidly. To put it another way, it was like replacing a four cylinder engine with a hemi, all the while keeping the car’s weight the same. In that case, you can just pull more things by increasing your horsepower. Looking at it from another angle, you can keep from feeling too light by adding more weight to the cart.
“Even the small children will be able to transport what you catch like this. Now you’ll be able to hunt together.”
Their current situation used to come with another problem. Lykos children learn how to hunt by following their parents’ example. However, Tauro didn’t have the spare time to allow for that. Being held back by children during a harsh hunting trip would have kept them from being able to get enough food to eat.
Which is why they left Luka to teach her younger siblings how to hunt.
“Then Mentor, that means—!”
“We’ll have to test it a few times to see whether it’ll work or not, of course. But…”
Looking into the young girl’s face, I once again asked her.
“Will you come to our school?”
Luka nodded with a beaming smile, her tail flapping back and forth in delight.