The first time was that day.
The second was three years later.
Tossing the hide and knife away, I let myself fall back onto my straw bed.
“Why are this world’s animals all so colorful…!?”
Red, blue, yellow… each and every one of the hides of the animals we hunted were incredibly colorful and very unlikely to work for paper. I thought there’d at least be some body parts’ skin that would be usable, but it all turned out to be fruitless.
I would’ve been fine with hide that had a slight tinge of color to it, but it was all deep colors that would have been hard to see on. Maybe it would have been faster if I just tried to make white ink?
Human skin here wasn’t any different than from what I knew of, but the more I thought about it, Rin’s blue hair was something I’d never have seen naturally back on Earth and there were several villagers with unusual hair colors.
Even Yuuki’s red hair was a fiery red, unlike an Earthling’s red hair. Maybe that had some sort of relationship to the animals’ hides?
“Hey, take a look at this!”
Starkly contrasting me as I held my head in my hands, Nina and Rin came in with lively voices.
“What do you think? We had so many things made.”
I’d given half of the skins I hunted to Nina. After obtaining so many rare skins of beasts we ordinarily didn’t hunt, she was in a really good mood.
She was twirling around, showing off her colorful outfit to me.
“Heeh, how cute. They suit both of you.”
To be frank, I had zero sense when it came to clothing. I couldn’t tell whether it was good or what was best about it, so I went with the safe approach of simply complementing it.
“Of course it does.”
Whether it was due to her being in a great mood or because the human who made them was skilled, Nina threw her chest out in pride and her usual lack of expression loosened as she spoke.
Meanwhile, Rin innocently threw her hands into the air and rejoiced.
“These should even be good in water too!”
“Oh, so that’s shark skin?”
The clothes Rin was wearing were smooth and could repel water. It was the skin of the twin-mouthed shark Rin herself hunted.
Its coloring was comparatively shallow and was pretty durable and light, but since it repelled water, let alone ink, it couldn’t be used for paper at all.
That said, it did turn out to be a pretty suitable material for her clothing.
When it came to merfolk, they basically didn’t wear clothing at all. They did still hide their breasts with shells, but not really anything else.
Rin was growing up well too, so I’m honestly thankful for the discovery else I’d have trouble with where to look.
“So, you’re still stumped?”
“I’ve found some good things for clothes at least.”
Recently, clothing made from goat hair and cotton has started growing more common in Scarlet. Although most were still wearing fur clothing since we still hadn’t made enough for everyone, thin clothing that was both soft and pliable would definitely become the standard from here on.
That said, our dying technology was still increadibly underdeveloped, so we could only use the cloth’s original color in the clothing. Nina was looking forward to using various colors, too.
“If you want white so much, why not go with cloth?”
“It would end up bleeding ink.”
Additionally, cloth was just too thick. Making it any thinner would risk its durability.
“But if we managed to hunt this many and still end up with nothing, maybe we should just give up on hide…”
If it went to that, maybe we should try and push forward with plant-based paper, even if it’s inferior in durability? From what I recall, traditional, high quality paper would have been able to last centuries. Too bad I don’t know how it was made at all…
“Hmm… I keep feeling like I’ve seen white hide before, but where?”
Nina knit her brows. If she saw it, I should have as well though.
“Oh, I remember. Them.”
Just as I started digging through my memory, Nina lightly dropped her fist onto her hand.
“No, I mean, they were white-ish, but still!”
Be it off white or gray, it was still close enough of a color to work for paper. They had a bit of hair, but it was sparse and basically the same color as their skin.
But their skin was harder than stone!
It was to the point that it was hard for even my fangs to pierce. We couldn’t even use it for clothing. If pushed, I’d say we might be able to somehow use it for construction materials. Using it for paper would absolutely, definitely not—
“If it’s just about being too hard, why not just soften it?”
Rin spoke, taking water out from her waterskin and making it swirl midair.
I suddenly recalled the sight of her using water—a substance that normally had no fixed shape, let alone being hard—to capture a giant bull. Right. If we could use magic to make something soft into something hard, we should be able to do the opposite.
“Alright. Let’s give it a try.”
＊ ＊ ＊
In conclusion, Rin’s proposal turned out to be a huge success.
We regularly used magic to harden or sharpen objects and, conversely, the Swordsaints all used magic to make things brittle and weak.
The problem was that such effects wouldn’t last for long. Magical effects were generally things that quickly disappeared. Flames whipped up through magic would disappear soon after their supply was cut off, stone arrows sharpened through magic would soon return to their normal state, etcetera.
Even my scales I’d use to communicate would return to their normal state if enough time passed.
However, this was not the case for things caused indirectly through magic.
For example, if you used flames to set wood alight, the wood would continue burning even after the magical flames dispersed. The icehouse would be another great example. Although the ice magic’s effect would quckly disappear, the diminished temperature would not rise back up all at once.
It was possibile for us to make use of that with behemoth skin, too.
We would stretch it thin while it’s softened through magic, shave its hair and excess fat off, then stretch it out further through magic once again… and repeat the process.
After stretching out the massive behemoth’s hide more and more through each step of the process, we finally arrived at an unthinkably massive volume of usable paper. As for its color, well, its gray coloring lessened the more we stretched it out, eventually settling into a beautiful shade of ivory.
For one of the rugged, scraggly behemoth’s skins to turn into such beautiful paper… it was a marvel. Now, should we call it parchment… or behement…?
“You know… maybe we should seriously think about raising behemoths.”
“How much paper are you planning on making???”
Nina spoke in amazement at my half-serious tone.
Well, behemoths were simply huge. Excluding the areas around their face and toes since it was difficult to make use of, we’d still ended up with practically enough skin to make a house.
And then we’d stretched that massive amount of skin out thin, giving us over ten times that in area.
No matter how much I needed, there’s no way I’d need that much. There simply wasn’t enough merit in breeding them. That said, I just didn’t want to give up on the idea.
“Well, we did it.”
I was flipping through the beautifully finished book as we talked idly. It was a book with a red cover made from orthros hide. The world’s first bound book. I think it turned out great if I don’t say so myself.
I put it in a water resistant case made from shark skin and gave it to Rin along with a fountain pen fashioned out of a tri-horned cow’s horn. Judging by her wide, blinking eyes, it seemed to take her by surprise.
“It was so hard to make, are you sure I can have it?”
In all honesty, neither Nina nor I needed it.
Be it dragons or elves, we both had incredible memories.
It was natural that we’d collaborated to make the first book for Rin.
“You forget things easily, so I figured you could just write them down in a diary.”
“What’s a diary?”
“A diary is something you write in with what happened and what you thought that day.”
When I said that, Rin’s face froze despite the smile on it.
“You just thought it sounds bothersome, didn’t you?”
“Eh? N-No waaay, nope, not me!”
Seeing as how Rin was definitely flustered, Nina had hit the bullseye.
In this world… actually, maybe that’s too much of an overstatement?
At the very least, in Scarlet, there still was no religion. As a result of that, we had neither monks nor priests.
But we definitely did have sermons.