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"In the first place, do you know what kind of an existence a 'monster' is, Alessa?"
"Yes, a monster… is it difficult to put into words?"
"Umm, let's see… a monster… monsters… The word 'monster' does not denote any particular species or physical traits, but is a general term for organisms that live using 'Mana' which is known as the fifth element—" After clapping her hands together, Alessa began to explain fluently. "—which is a contradictory element that mages require to use magic. Monsters are lifeforms that use mana as sustenance and are decidedly different from normal flora and fauna. Their origin is a mystery, there are even theories that they came from other worlds. Currently, there are a great variety of monsters inhabiting this world, living together with humans, plants, and animals and forming a large ecosystem… Ah, uh, a vast ecosystem I mean… is that alright?"
"Um, did I, make a mistake by any chance?"
"Nope, that was fine, no mistakes at all. In fact… that was great."
To be honest, she gave more information than he was expecting, and also more accurately. Shinra was frankly in wonder and let his impression that she was 'almost like an encyclopaedia' slip. And she didn't shy away at that, but gave a strained, relieved smile.
"Well, essentially, monsters are creatures that eat mana and are sort of strange. Then, the next question: what kind of a vocation is 'monster tamer', do you think?"
"Umm… a monster tamer," clapping once more, Alessa began to talk, "a monster tamer is exactly as the name would imply, someone who uses monsters, and the job itself. They tame monsters, have them fight and work and are somewhat similar to wild animal tamers for acrobatic show… Something along those lines?"
At this point, Alessa awaited his reaction.
"I guess that's about right. In general meaning and image."
"Yeah. Doesn't that wild animal tamer feel and the training and discipline seem sort of excessive?"
As far as information went, Alessa's words were correct, and, it was true that there were those that called themselves monster tamers that trained and disciplined monsters, and even went as far as to force obedience through magic.
"It does. But… it might be presumptuous, but I don't get that kind of image from you at all."
"I guess I'm glad for that. It's because real — the 'monster tamers' that I talk about are different."
Alessa tilted her head to the side.
"I say that, but it's nothing grand. I like monsters, so I want to get along with them."
"Get along with them…?"
It seemed that Alessa was interested in his words as she asked with her head tilted in puzzlement.
"Yeah, get along. I want people and monsters to get along, to protect monsters, because—"
"—Monsters are hated." A young voice cut into Shinra's speech. "Monsters are hated, monster tamers that get along with monsters are hated. Monster tamers like Shinra who get along with monsters are hated even by the hated, and treated as deviants."
"It's overstating it a bit, but it's not wrong."
"I see, it is… umm, by the way…"
Even as she was nodding at this, her eyes were flitting and pointing out a direction. In that direction, was a young girl.
"Morning, Ruri. I thought you weren't here, did you go out?"
"Mm. Morning, Shinra."
"Shinra, who is…?"
At her questioning, Shinra introduced the newly appeared girl.
"Sorry, this is Ruri, she's another lodger here."
"Ruri…" The girl had almond eyes, and was altogether younger than Alessa. The adorable girl had a large, attention-grabbing hat that seemed to have fox ears springing from it, and her skirt seemed to have an ornamental tail that matched them. "So cute… Ah… I-it's nice to meet you, I'm Alessa!"
Alessa was preoccupied by the ears and tail for a moment, but soon greeted her politely.
However, Ruri just slightly inclined her head. Alessa looked at Shinra with slightly teary eyes, as if that indifferent reaction had broken her heart.
"It's okay, Ruri's just got no manners."
"It's fine, it's fine, her manners and attitude are awful, but she's a good girl, come on, Ruri, are you shy — guh!"
As Shinra went to stroke her head, she hit him in the stomach instead.
"I-I'm okay, I'm okay. This is part of communication too… ugh."
"Are you… really okay?"
"Hey, Shinra, come."
"Geh, guh… hmm? Ruri, what, wh— woah."
Uncaring of him holding his stomach, Ruri grabbed hold of Shinra's arm and then started walking forcefully.
"W-wait a minute. What's up?"
"I have something I want you to see, so come."
"I don't get what you're talking about…"
"You'll get it when you see."
Her forceful speech, or maybe the fact she wouldn't listen to objections, saw Shinra letting himself be dragged along. Without a chance to resist, he was brought outside in a mere moment.
"U-umm… Please wait!"
There, Alessa's voice rang out.
Ruri turned back and looked at Alessa.
"C-can I come too!?"
"…I only called Shinra."
Alessa was overwhelmed by Ruri's bluntness for a moment. However, not yielding to it, she replied.
"But… am I not allowed to come?"
After a short silence, Ruri's gaze dropped.
"…Well, that's up to you."
She mumbled quietly.
The dragon trilled in happiness at Alessa's smile.
"Ruri, these are—"
"I'm sure you're going to look after them because you're so soft-hearted, right? Am I wrong?"
"No… you're not wrong."
"That's right! I hope we get along!"
Ruri returned a nod to Alessa's bright smile.
"Anyway, we're in a hurry. You watch them, Shinra."
With the young Ruri leading them, they headed off into the forest.
After several minutes walk on the trackless path, Ruri lead them to a clearing in the depths of the forest with a vast lake within it.
"Amazing… it's a wonderful place."
It was beautiful, a clear lake encircled by green. Alessa was perhaps overpowered by the natural beauty and her emotions laid bare.
"You can't see things like this near civilisation, can you? It's quite the sight, right?"
"It is…! There's definitely nothing like this! That especially, that! What is it!?"
Overcome with excitement, her finger pointed into the centre of the lake. Rising above the surface there was a transparent, crystalline form. It pierced the lake's surface, branching as it reached higher so it looked like a glass tree. Because of its bizarre beauty, the crystallised object filled the entire area with an ethereal presence.
Explained Ruri indifferently. Shinra though 'she won't get it from that', but.
It seemed that it was an unnecessary concern for Alessa.
"You know about magicite, Alessa?"
"Y-yes! It's the crystallised form of mana, right?"
"Exactly. But you know, I'm really impressed you know about magicite."
'Magicite' — the general term for high purity, high density mana that crystallised. It was exceedingly rare, and not something that could be termed general knowledge. Shinra really hadn't thought Alessa would know about it.
"You really are a walking dictionary, you just don't know that the knowledge is on that level."
"T-thank you, but it's just a coincidence. It happened to be written in some books I read."
Alessa denied modestly.
"And I didn't know that magicite could grow this large. The book said that 'the growth of large magicite crystals is difficult'."
"That's probably describing artificial crystals. Magicite creation requires huge amounts of mana, so making it artificially is hard."
"Then they can get this big in nature."
"Yeah, depending on the circumstance, they can end up like this."
Alessa's voice was filled with an honest wonder and understanding. She was erudite, but didn't boast of it.
"Having that much knowledge, you'd normally show it off and be stuck with your assumptions… but she's not at all."
As Shinra's thoughts went around to considering her an extremely strange girl, Ruri suddenly yanked harshly on his arm. It was easy to see from her expression that she was displeased.
"What's up Ruri? Feeling left out because I'm just paying attention to Alessa — guh!"
Ignoring that she'd hit him, Ruri gestured at the lake with her chin.
"Geh, geh… mm? Ah, sorry, that's right."
He remembered that he'd been brought here for a reason. At her urging, Shinra slowly examined the entire lake.
"Shinra, get it?"
"…I see. I've got it, the change you called me here for."
"U-umm, what are you talking about?"
Alessa restlessly gazed at their faces.
"Hey, Alessa, does anything feel out of place?"
"Out of place?"
"Right. Something that seems strange when you look at it, or that feels odd?"
"Something…? There… is. If I had to say, it's too quiet."
When he heard her answer, Shinra unintentionally broke into a smile.
"It's not just knowledge, you've got good instincts too."
"Was I right?"
Alessa swallowed her cry of delight. Just as she had said, the entire area was silent. It was a place overflowing with abundant nature and enough mana to create magicite. Yet despite being such a blessed place, there was not a single sign of life. There was not a single animal or monster and the entire area was far too quiet.
"So that means, that this silence is unnatural?"
"I see. But what does that mean… why?"
"Animals and monsters don't want to come here. See, isn't he frightened too?"
As she nabbed across Shinra's explanation and spoke, Ruri pointed at Drakey, who was in Alessa's arms. Looking more closely at him, he had his head buried in Alessa's chest and was oddly still, almost as if he were afraid.
"Ah… that's true, he's so quiet, even though he was so energetic until we got here…"
"Right. And, look, over there."
Alessa followed Ruri's pointing finger and then screamed in surprise.
"S-S-S-S-Shinra! What… what!"
"Alessa, you don't need to be scared."
"R-right! B-but even if you tell me that, what are they?" Ruri was pointing to the sky, the sky above the lake. Floating there were white things that seemed like mist. They weren't bits of mist or smoke, and were large, writhing strangely through the air. Alessa couldn't even guess what they were, and stared at them in confusion. "A-are they… umm, living?"
"…Keseran? That's a monster's name! So they're monsters?"
"Yeah, they're monsters."
Not many people would know the precise name of a monster, but of course, Alessa knew it like it was only natural.
"In the literature I've read… I thought they were sort of — monsters that would fit in your hand, but…"
"They are, they are. Each one is about that size, that's a 'flock' of Keseran."
"A flock? … Then that's several joined together?"
"When they migrate, they gather together like this."
"They do? Than what are they doing now? They don't look like they're moving…"
"They're not doing anything."
Alessa's question was answered swiftly by Ruri.
As Ruri had said, the Keseran were just floating in the sky, they weren't drifting with the wind, they were just staying above the lake.
"It seems like they don't want to leave, so they're here for a reason?"
"That's right. They've gathered into a flock, so they should be in the middle of migrating. In which case, they're probably here to resupply."
Just as animals could not live without consuming nutrients, monsters could not live without consuming mana. This lake, plentiful in mana as it was, would be ideal for them.
"Then, shouldn't they come down?"
"I… don't know."
Ruri murmured vexedly at Alessa's natural question.
"Then that's why you called me here, Ruri?"
According to her, they had been there since she found them that morning, floating in the sky.
"Are they still full or something? And just waiting until they're hungry…?"
"I see. It might look like that."
"But that doesn't explain why the other monsters and animals aren't here."
"Do you already know? Why the Keseran and the others won't come close?"
"Yeah, the gist of it at least. All that's left… is to check for myself."
Shinra spoke, and then approached the shore of the lake. As he stood there, he flourished his right arm, drawing out a silver chain from within his clothes, and then threw the end into the lake. Watching from the side, it seemed to be a strange type of fishing. Still in that position, he murmured to himself.
"I was right."
"Did you find something out from that, Shinra?"
"Really!? You did?"
"The reason is something in this lake… no, something that lives here."
"Don't rush, Ruri, I'll show you."
Holding up his left hand he stopped Ruri. And then, he gripped tightly with his right hand and put his strength into the chain. In the next instant, the chain shone.
As it did, ripples spread from where it hit the water — and a huge pillar of water rose up in front of him.
With a deafening crash of sound, water sprayed everywhere.
"Yeah — that should do it."
"W-what do you mean 'yeah'!?"
"S-S-S-Shinra, what on Earth did you do!?"
"I used the silver chain as an intermediary and poured my mana into the lake, and then used that to oscillate the water and—"
"I-I don't mean the theory! Why did you…!?"
"If I didn't go so far, I didn't think it'd reach — the bottom of the lake I mean."
"The… bottom of the lake?"
"Is there something there?"
"…It lives there."
Pushing his sodden hair out of his eyes, Shinra looked toward the lake. The lake he had made waves in. At some point, another wave had been created. It just started as a small trembling, but soon grew to a tremor that shook the earth beneath their feet. The water and ground both warped with the sound, there was no comparison to the waves that Shinra had made.
"Whoops, you okay?"
"T-thank you, Shinra."
Shinra supported Alessa as she fell. Incidentally, Ruri was standing next to her, completely at ease despite the tremors.
"But what made that… Eh… Ehhhhhhh!?"
"That's right, Alessa, Ruri, this is the reason."
Causing the crashing of sound and waves alike, the 'epicentre' rose from the lake. It was huge, far too big, too big to think it was a creature at a glance. However, it was clearly a living thing.
The creature that surfaced had four limbs, and a rock like shell on its back, its neck stretched out like a tree as it slowly walked. Gazing at it, Alessa's word made her impression clear.
"It's definitely the right shape." As she had said, it was a gargantuan turtle. But the scale of it was on another level. Its height easily cleared dozens of metres, and if you saw it from afar, you could call it a small island with no objections. "Do you know what it is?"
"Is it… From its shape, and its size, isn't that an Adaman Land?"
"That's our erudite girl, correct."
"I just happen to know it! Really."
Adaman Land, as Alessa had inferred, was the name of this monster that had four limbs and an ultra-hard carapace. As they watched it, is slowly swam. Its movements caused waves, and shook the ground they stood on.
"Was it… always at the bottom of the lake?"
"But, why was it…"
"I'm sure it fell asleep while taking in mana."
"Could it be why everyone won't come near it?"
Shinra nodded with a word of agreement to Ruri.
"Monsters and animals are sensitive. Even if they can't see it, they notice the Adaman Land is here and are afraid to approach."
"Ah! Then you were waking it up earlier?"
"…So that's what it was. But, Shinra, it's kinda…"
"Gone back to sleep."
Turning his eyes to it, he saw that the Adaman Land had at some point sat down on the shore, yawned widely, and closed its eyes. Then stayed there, with nary a stir.
"Umm, Shinra? Is it asleep?"
"Hmm… it's completely gone back to sleep."
"Then… The others won't come here."
It's overwhelming mass, and the mana required to sustain it meant that its mere presence here caused a dreadful pressure on the surroundings. They now knew the reason that the Keseran, and other monsters and animals were avoiding the lake, but leaving it be meant that the problem wouldn't be solved.
"I guess it wouldn't be finished so easily."
At the edges of Shinra's gaze as he began to consider what to do, Ruri moved.
She dropped the rucksack on her back, and undoing the clasp, she gripped a handle like pole that was sticking from the stop.
The thing she suddenly pulled out, was a gigantic hammer.
"R-Ruri, what is that?"
"A weapon, mine."
"Umm, I mostly got that! What are you going to do with — actually, what are you doing!?"
Ruri was giving a few test swings with the hammer that was akin to a lump of iron.
"Moving it with this."
Alessa's shock was obvious, a human moving an Adaman Land was mad. However, now full of energy, Ruri slung the hammer over her shoulder.
"It's okay, I'll just poke it a little and move it."
"T-that's not 'a little' at all!"
"Mm. Alessa, Shinra, step back."
"Shinra, Ruri isn't listening at all!"
Alessa's attempt to stop her was in vain, Ruri jumped at the Adaman Land.
And fell flat on her face.
"Owowow… Shinra, what are you doing!?"
Ruri hadn't misstepped, Shinra's silver chain had wrapped around her small leg without her notice.
"What do you mean 'what'? You were about to hit it out of nowhere, right?"
"And what of it!? No one will come to this lake with it here!"
"So you'll remove it by force?"
"But it's just sleeping, it didn't do anything wrong, did it?"
"…Maybe not, but there's no choice…!"
"There's no choice?"
"And when it comes again, you'll do the same thing?"
Ruri was silent under Shinra's serious gaze.
"You'll drive it away each time it comes here? Then… where will it rest?"
"Shinra… U-um, Ruri is…"
Shinra shook his head wordlessly at an uneasy Alessa, showing he wanted her to be quiet for a while. After a small silence, Ruri suddenly cried.
"But… There's nothing else I can do! There's no choice! The Keseran are being affected too, right? Can you do anything other than solve it with brute force!?"
Alessa panicked seeing Ruri shout and cry.
"Do anything… huh?"
Shinra patted Ruri's head as she glared at him while crying.
"Leave it to me then."
As he spoke, he released the chain and let it drop to the floor.
And then, he approached the Adaman Land, empty handed.
"But man, it's sure sound asleep."
Shinra looked up at the gargantuan turtle from its base, and slapped its body several times, but it didn't react. He turned back to them, and Ruri and Alessa were staring at him in question. Smiling back at them, he replied with a single phrase.
"Right — let's have a nap."
They faced him with clearly befuddled expressions, but Shinra paid it no mind, simply turning around, placing a hand on the Adaman Land's body and starting to climb.
"S-Shinra, what are you doing!?"
Watching him, they fell even deeper into confusion, but he didn't answer and continued swinging himself up its body, quickly reaching its peak.
"Right!" Shinra stood atop its shell and looked down at them, still looking at him in mute puzzlement. "Heey, you two come up here too."
"Ruri, he's calling us, but how do — kyaa!"
Ruri silently picked up Alessa who was lost in confusion.
"Eh? Ruri? Aren't I heavy? I mean, what are you—"
"Alessa, close your mouth, we're jumping."
Ignoring a panicked Alessa, Ruri jumped exactly as she'd said. It was a huge leap.
Using footholds on the shell, Ruri got to the top of the Adaman Land before putting Alessa down as if nothing had happened.
"Mm. We're here, Alessa."
"Welcome up here, you two."
"Hah hah… hah… Ah, Shinra, this is on top of the Adaman Land? R-Ruri, what did you…?"
"Nothing much, I just jumped a little."
Ruri answered Alessa nonchalantly, who had her eyes wide in shock.
"More importantly, Shinra, what are we going to do?"
"Hm, I said, didn't I? We're going to have a nap."
"…That was serious?"
Shinra answered Ruri's suspicious question with a gin. And putting word to action, he lay down on his back.
"…What is the point?"
"You'll get it if you sleep. It's a bit early to sleep, but well, no helping it."
"U-umm, are you really sleeping, Shinra?"
Even under their cold and puzzled gazes, Shinra had really begun to sleep.
"Ngh… ngh… I'm…"
"Ngh, good morning… Huh? I really fell asleep!? I-I'm sorry!"
At his greeting, Alessa shot up awake. A few hours had passed since he'd said to sleep.
"I said we'd have a nap, why are you apologising?"
"Eh? Ah, Y-you see. Falling asleep at a gentleman's side that you just met is…"
As she spoke, Alessa looked away in shame.
"Ha ha, I see. But thanks to you sleeping, look."
"I only slept, it's not thanks to me or anyt… Eh?" Raising her face, Alessa finally noticed the change in scenery. "Are these the Keseran?"
"Yeah, they are."
Drifting before their eyes were the Keseran. They had stayed in the sky until then, but were now right in front of them. She nudged the fluffy Keseran and it fluttered away, soon bumping into another.
"There are so many…"
They weren't just in front of her, they were floating all over the clearing.
"Drakey, are you playing with the Keseran?"
Drakey had woken before her and was frolicking with them. They were chasing each other, racing around on the shell.
"The Keseran and Drakey were so scared before, but…"
"It's not just them, look."
"This is what the lake was like before."
The whole area was overflowing with creatures, animals and monsters that weren't there before. Countless birds had alighted on the surface, and unicorns were bathing in the shallows. Otherwise, there were many other animals and monsters calmly spending their time.
"A-amazing… the monsters and animals aren't fighting."
"Yeah. Monsters live off mana, so they don't pointlessly attack humans and animals. And monsters are a sort of cushioning, they become a deterrent that causes animals to refrain from fighting."
"So everyone's so peaceful…"
Alessa let out a breath of wonder as she gazed at the scene.
"But, Shinra, did you do anything while we slept?"
"Nope, I didn't do a thing."
Alessa glared at him with a reproachful look.
"You can't expect me to believe you didn't do anything and such a big change happened!"
"No, I really-"
"Really did what?"
"I really didn't do anything… I can't really explain it."
As she attempted to question what he did, Ruri cut into their conversation in his support.
"Shinra really didn't do anything, Alessa."
Ruri nodded firmly.
"Mgh, mgh mgh mgh. If Ruri is saying so, then I'll believe it, but—"
"Why wouldn't you believe me…?"
"I-it's just… you know! It's more persuasive when someone else… But normally, you wouldn't believe it, right? That you didn't do anything, whether you did or not."
"But it's true. A while after we lay down, a Keseran came down." Ruri spoke to Alessa, who still didn't seem to really believe it. "And after a while, another one came down. Then after another while, another two came down, then four… they kept coming like that, and then the lake was full."
"Didn't you sleep?"
"I didn't, I just stared at the sky, so it's the truth."
When she looked at him, Shinra gave her a smile that said 'right?'
"…I get what happened. But why are they like this if you didn't do anything?"
"Why do you think?"
Shinra returned the question to Alessa, who still wasn't convinced.
"I… don't you get why?"
"In the first place, do you think there was any need for them to be scared?"
"That… the Adaman Land was here, so of course…"
"It's like I said earlier, monsters don't needlessly attack other animals and monsters, so…?"
Alessa noticed then.
"…There really wasn't a need to be scared."
The Adaman Land wasn't stopping the others from approaching, they were just scared of it, and didn't approach. The situation hadn't changed from when it was in the lake, however, the Keseran's needless wariness had been broken.
"They aren't scared any more because we were sleeping on it?"
Shinra nodded at the conclusion that Alessa came to. Seeing that it had let them sleep and relax, the others had realised it wasn't dangerous.
"You really… didn't do anything."
"I said that from the start, didn't I?"
"Yes… but, it's amazing."
While they spoke, a Keseran landed on Shinra's shoulder. Full of mana, they glowed slightly, as even more gathered, illuminating Shinra.
"The Keseran are thanking you!"
"They definitely are!"
"I'm happy if they are — huh?"
The body that they were standing upon shook, and the Adaman Land let out a roar, the huge roar shook the trees.
"Maybe… it is too?"
"…It it, it is! It's happy it's not feared! Everyone thinks it's thanks to you!"
Alessa proclaimed with a smile at his mumble.
Shinra didn't think his actions deserved such praise, so just gave a small and bashful 'thanks' to Alessa.
"But to think Shinra could solve it just by taking a nap."
"It's because it's Shinra… that he could."
Ruri answered Alessa's musings somewhat regretfully.
"Because Shinra slept… the animals and monsters that trust Shinra in the forest appeared, and they saw it and relaxed."
"That trust Shinra…"
"And, he trusts them, all of them."
"All of them?"
"That the animals and monsters would come, that the Keseran would come down, that the Adaman Land would quietly accept it, all of it."
Shinra trusted all of them, and everyone had met that trust, leading to a complete about-face.
"…Amazing." Watching everyone get along so peacefully, Alessa naturally spoke her admiration. "This… is a monster tamer."
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