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We’ve been walking for a while, and it would have been boring without Mia and Felix. Their antics have brought a bit of reprieve from the awkward silences when Felix and I don’t talk. Though I thought those were companionable silence Mia thought otherwise.
She happily talked about life in Dao Village.
The small narrow river passes through the village where they fish and bathe. Most of their village’s customs surround the Dao Forest and the river. Ceremonies around birth, weddings, and sending of the dead involve both the forest and river.
When a child is born they are bathed in the river, hoping the perpetually calm and peaceful waters will bless the child with a peaceful and happy life.
Couples getting married rode on top of small Dao rafts. Then they are showered with flowers and water wishing them a blessed union that lasts forever.
Every time a villager dies they are sent atop a raft covered in decorated branches and flowers. Then the raft is set on fire, and the body burns and crosses the river. The villagers pray that the ever-flowing river sends the soul of the deceased to heaven.
The sentiments behind the customs were beautiful. Their faith is centered around the goddess Gaia whom this planet was named after. Dao Village follows the Goddess Gaia, she’s the “Mother of all Gods” that maintains this world.
She’s known to be the kind mother, the Goddess of Life, who blesses each and every life born on this planet. Her kind heart turns to the poor and needy. That is why children are blessed through a village’s natural bounty.
Villages in the forest bless their children with fruits and flowers or polished bones and horns from animals, near waters they bathe children and decorate them with beautiful shells and corals. Whatever natural gift a village has is used to bless the life of its inhabitants.
She is known as the kind and loving goddess that sends her children, the minor gods, to help maintain Gaia. Among the minor gods, there are four that are well known and widely worshipped: the God of Fire and Crafting Alab, Goddess of Water and Knowledge Daloy, Goddess of Air and Creativity Sibol, and God of Earth and Faith Tibay.
Then beyond those four gods, there are other gods but they are not as widely known and worshiped as the four.
So far there’s no god named Fluffy. Maybe I should build a shine for him. He could be the God of Fluff and Toe Beans.
While Mia pretty much informs me a lot of the things I want to know. Felix’s knowledge of adventuring and forest survival is pretty useful. Especially when I can’t use [Appraisal] in front of other people.
I learned a lot about the social structure, economy, and topics related to the culture of the people living in the continent of Amihan, at least the people from small villages. This would be my starting point, the first grains of information I have on Gaia, freely given by Mia.
The knowledge I got from Felix is necessary for me to live even on my own. Some rules of thumb when acting as an adventurer. He also teaches me information and techniques on being a survivalist. I also learn about the flora and fauna of the areas surrounding Dao Village.
Both beastkin siblings are not only cute and fluffy but helpful and knowledgeable too.
However, the conversation suddenly paused whenever I sensed an enemy. I could have advised them to trod another path but they both enjoy fighting, so did I.
We fought mostly goblins, sometimes alone, sometimes in parties of three to six.
They were easy pickings since they are short and a little dumb. And while I was thinking,
“There’s an enemy ahead meow.”
“What is it?” (Mia)
“Is it another group of goblins?” (Felix)
“Yes but this one is a much larger group. There may be twenty or meow.”
“It’s not that many.” (Mia)
“Don’t be too eager, there might be really strong enemies there.” (Felix)
“Don’t say that! It might come true.” (Mia)
“Hahaha~ You really get along, meow. But we should be quiet or we’ll be detected meow.”
I told the siblings to pipe down or we’ll ruin our advantage of ambushing them. I told them to come near me while I recite a Prayer.
Once our weapons released a pale glow we stealthily went near the group of goblins.
There were more than twenty goblins, all armed with swords, clubs, and daggers. Some even have wooden bucklers. The only good news is that there are no archers.
We will be attacking from three directions to maximize the ambush and stir confusion among the goblins. Goblins may be dumb, but they still know how to cooperate.
Once we were a leap or two away from the goblins, I noticed Mia’s ears and tail kept twitching. Looks like she’s ready to pounce on the goblins. I have to give the signal.
“Take this! [Lightning Fist]” (Mia)
Mia leaped from where she lay waiting. Leaping like a cat, she attacks a goblin. The memory of her fist was probably the final image the goblin had before its skull was crushed by her gauntlet-covered fists.
“Watch where you’re going!” (Felix)
“Dumb brother! Just go someplace else—[Lightning Fist]!”(Mia)
Mia fought the way she lived. Honest, energetic, and spontaneous, were the perfect words to describe her fighting style. The enemy might see her fist coming but the speed at which she threw each punch was hard to dodge. Contrary to her small frame, each punch she lands is very heavy.
The sound of meat being hit and the crack and squish of bone as it breaks and pierces flesh echoes whenever she lands a hit. Every hit is filled with boundless energy.
“[Wide Slash]!” (Felix)
At first, I was surprised by the way Felix fought. I never thought he would fight just as loud and wild as Mia. His sword slashes were direct and quick. Each swing of his sword was quite flashy.
He charges at the nearest enemy, using his mana enhanced sword, he bisects two goblins at once. Blood and viscera splatter everywhere. The controlled and patient Felix, running around the battlefield chopping up the goblins in a macabre sword dance.
Both brother and sister leave quite the messy battlefield. The good thing is they are skilled enough to not shower themselves with blood and chunks of goblin corpses. Well, Mia’s gauntlets are quite bloody and are caked with blood and meat though.
I’ve finished killing the final goblin. Just quickly drawing my daggers across the goblin’s neck is enough to lop off their head. The prayer really makes a lot of difference. The weapons are deadlier and our movements are smoother. Fear and hesitation are muted and our minds are focused on our fights.
All the prayers have a moderate duration of effect. I am also able to adjust the range, strength, and duration of the effect depending on the amount of mana I pour into it. If I use almost all of my mana to use the enhancing prayer on myself the effects could last to a little more than half a day. Though I haven’t tried it on my other prayers yet.
While I was ruminating, the siblings are now starting to take out the monster cores. Goblins are useless monsters. The only use their bodies have is for feeding carnivorous tamed monsters. Otherwise, goblin corpses are left alone once their monster cores are removed. Even their monster cores are almost useless. A common goblin core costs 5 Sols, just enough to buy a loaf of bread or a meager meal but not enough to live off.
We kept at it for a while until we collected 36 cores, about 180 Sols or 3 nights in a cheap inn, and 6 loaves of bread. Not bad I guess, if you live alone. There are some pieces of equipment that aren’t included so we might have a lot if we sold those too. So I chuck all the equipment inside the Magic Bag and pile the corpses and we’ll let the animals and other monsters feast on the corpses.
Birds, wolves, and slimes usually feast on these corpses. Slimes are one of the monsters that when I heard from Felix, piqued my interest. It is common sense that there are no subjugation requests for slimes unlike in games or fantasy novels. Slimes in Gaia are scavengers and not hunters. Some have magical abilities or special skills depending on the monsters they often eat, but surprisingly none of them have been reported to attack any creature. They will still defend themselves but if you leave them alone, they will too.
The subjugation of slimes however does happen every so often. There are rare times when their populations increase so much that they become a pest especially when strong slimes defend themselves from curious children or territorial livestock animals.
Another reason for not subjugating slimes is that they have no usable material left behind. So it’s extremely tedious to hunt slimes since they are often beneficial and have no usable parts, also some rare slimes have strong skills that are not worth the effort.
The only ones that send subjugation requests on slimes are nobles claiming or expanding their territory or merchants whose lands are infested by slimes that fight back when attacked by a territorial bull or ram.
Dao Village has never had any slime problem, especially since they are just a small village. Small villages like Dao Villages are not under any protection. So unless they swear fealty to the nearest noble they would be left on their own. The most obvious advantage of such a situation is that independent villages don’t pay taxes to anyone. Merchants and peddlers also sell items to them at a discounted price since there is no tax imposed on them. It’s a win-win scenario for both merchants and villagers. The biggest downside is they can only count on themselves when disaster strikes their village.
Dao Village has experienced multiple disasters generation after generation. Every villager has a strong sense of independence and self-sufficiency after overcoming earthquakes, famine, storms, bandit raids, and even stampedes. Throughout the long history of Dao Village, not a single disaster was enough to break the villagers.
Listening to Mia’s stories and Felix’s quips once in a while is quite interesting. I have built quite the knowledge base, enough to fabricate myself a past or tell them about my past without revealing myself as a reincarnated individual from another world.
Suddenly Mia called my attention.
“Sir Victor look! Dao Village.” (Mia)
“We’re back home.” (Felix)
Past the trees, I saw a tall palisade made of thick Dao trees. The palisade looked expansive. I don’t know if the village has a curved wall like a circle or if the village was so big I can’t see the corners.
The palisade has small windows where a spearman could attack from within. There might even be scaffolding behind the palisade. I see a lot of people walking on top of the palisade. There are other beastkins and not just cat-beastkins. I can see elves and some humans too. The people on top of the palisade were also looking back at us.
Once we got nearer, the people who were expressionlessly looking at us suddenly broke into a smile. And they shouted,
“Oy! Open the gate. Mia and Felix are back!” (Watcher)
“Look, they’re back!” (Watcher)
The watchers are shouting at the people below. Telling them to open the gate and let us inside. It was quite refreshing to see people getting excited after seeing them come back.
Mia being herself, smiled back and shouted her greeting. Felix’s stoic or modest smile was replaced by a wide grin. Both their tails waving, greeting their fellow villagers.
“Welcome back!” (Gatekeeper)
“We’re back everyone!” (Mia)