Black Cat Chapter 20: A Snow Day

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 Less than two weeks before the New Year, it snowed.


 Apparently, this year seems to be a year of heavy snowfall, and before the first snowfall disappeared, the next snow fell and the village of Atsuka turned all white.



 Cats curl up under a kotatsu [T/N: Heated Japanese table.]… but my family, who are catkins, can’t work in the fields, so they curl up inside the house.


 When this happens, even though I’m wearing clothes, I’m still just a big cat, so the desire to be a ball of fluff just stalks my thoughts, but I’m thinking again that I’m still a ball of fluff in the first place.



 With my family curled up and snuggled up together, I left the house with the iron staff given to me by Mr. Zeol.


 It was naturally freezing outdoors in the snowy landscape, but I had my flexible layer of solidified air around my body and my own fur, so it was not as cold as I thought it could be.



 Going out to the mountains is a hassle, so I start swinging in a neighbor’s field, which is covered with snow.


 I use [Step] for my feet, so I don’t have to worry about getting buried in the snow.



 I began to move my body to loosen up little by little, and when it warmed up, I erased the layer of air that had cloaked me and immersed myself in a full-on swinging.


 At first, I felt like I was being swung around by the weight of the staff, but now I had a stronger sense that I was in control of my swings.



 Swinging, thrusting, sweeping, parrying… soon the staff feels like it is part of my body. I keep swinging it in my target trajectory and with the desired force.


 The sound of the staff cutting the cold wind makes my heart beat faster.



 Since I beat them directly, Miguel and the others no longer get involved.


 The six of them, even though they grabbed sticks and hit me, did not leave any injury, and seeing Miguel, the leader of the group, defeated so easily, it seems that his lackeys have been put off.



 Since then, I haven’t seen them playing on the riverbank.


 Well, Miguel was not likely to give up, so he might try something again, but I would just have to take him down again.



 When I had finished my basic swinging and had also finished swinging in anticipation of a mock battle with Mr. Zeol, the sky darkened, and snow began to fall.


 It would be possible to continue by using void magic to create a roof, but that’s enough for today.



 I grabbed the iron staff and ran back to the house and took a dip in the well in the back.


 Unlike cats, catkins sweat, and if left untreated, the sweat will leave me smelling bad.



 Because it is well water, it is not freezing cold, but it is cold, nonetheless.


 After bathing in water and sweating with enthusiasm, I shook my body to blow off the moisture, enter the house, and land in the fireplace.



 I don’t think I smell bad, but the folks at home smell like cats.


 When I am working on the farm, I heat a bath every day, but during the off-season, I heat a bath once every two days, and when it’s snowing, once every three days.


 I think that the degree of smell around here is one of the reasons why catkins are despised, but well, I guess it can’t be fixed.



 After lunch, I was going to practice magic outside again, but the snow was coming down harder, so I decided to do it inside the house.


 Our house is small because we are poor, and we have practically two rooms.



 A catkin’s house looks like a combination of an old Japanese house and a Western building, divided by two.


 One room has a fireplace instead of a Japanese sunken hearth with a raised floor connected to the dirt floor of the kitchen.



 The floor space is about six tatami mats [T/N: 1 tatami is 74.8in/190cm x 37.4in/95cm.], but the carpet is only about the size of four tatami mats.


 After the meal, my mother and sister started to do some weaving inside, while my father and two brothers were lounging on the carpet.



 There is another room next door, about six tatami mats in size, but more than half of it is occupied by tools used for weaving.


 Threads are stretched to cover almost the entire wall, and patterns are drawn on them by weaving wool yarns of different colors together.



 Every night I sleep in a hammock hanging in the corner of this room.


 In my previous life in Japan, I had my own room, albeit a four-and-a-half-tatami mat room, but here I have no privacy at all.


 Well, I am not old enough to feel the need for privacy, and since my mother and sister both look like cats, I don’t feel anything.



 I began practicing detection magic while curled up in the hammock while my mother and sister did their winter work.


 I have a sensory connection to the solidified air I make with void magic, and I thought of using it for detection.



 The way to do this was to solidify the air particles and spread them out radially with me at the center.


 The particles are weak enough to break when touched, and the distance and shape can be sensed based on the position of the broken particles when something collides.


 The solidified air particles would replace the role of a sound wave in sonars.



 At first, I could not even spread the particles out, but now I can roughly sense the shape of objects, but the speed at which I move them is still slow.


 If I can deploy them more quickly, with greater sensitivity, and at all times, I may be able to compensate for the vision in my left eye that I have lost.



 After two hours of training, I lost my concentration.


 In Japan, I would have had a cup of coffee… but we don’t even have tea at home.



 I can’t get canned coffee from a convenience store or vending machine, so one of these days I’ll ask Grandma Carissa to blend some tea leaves for me.


 I was too lazy to go out today, so I stretched, turned over, and started practicing another magic.



 This one is also a detection magic, to listen to sounds from a distance.


 In other words, the plan is to use a magic microphone to pick up sounds at a distance.



 At first, I tried to make an audio microphone with magic, but that didn’t work.


 I imagined a microphone that I had used in karaoke, but although I could create the shape, it did not have the function of one.



 To begin with, I had no knowledge of what kind of components a microphone consists of and what kind of principle converts sound into an electrical signal.


 Therefore, I tried to imagine the human ear.



 The ear recognizes sound by amplifying the vibrations of the eardrum and stimulating the nerves, so I made a membrane that vibrates and a part that senses the vibrations, but this did not work either.


 First of all, I was able to capture sound with the membrane and feel it as vibration, but I could not convert the vibration I felt into sound.



 Ever since I lost sight in my left eye, I’ve continued trial and error, but recently I’ve finally arrived at the cause.


 One of the reasons for my inability to convert vibration to sound is the membrane captures vibration, which itself is also a sensation.



 By creating an organ that senses vibrations in addition to the vibrating membrane, the input was duplicated and interfered with each other, confusing the senses.


 When the vibration-sensing organ was eliminated and only the input from the membrane was used, the interference was eliminated, the sensory confusion was resolved, and the vibrations are finally being perceived as a sound.



 The size of the vibrating membrane is now about 30 cm in diameter, and the sound quality is at the level of an out-of-tune radio.


 I intend to continue training to further reduce the size and improve the sound quality to a clearer level.



 I am also trying to capture images using void magic, but I have no idea how to go about this.


 Particles and vibrating membranes created by void magic are tactile organs, so to speak.



 They can sense touch and vibration, but it is difficult to capture light, which is the basis of images.


 As an analogy, it is like I am trying to see an object by holding the palm of my hand over it.



 I am trying to find a breakthrough, but the air solidified by the void attribute is transparent and allows light to pass through.


 I feel that this proves that it is impossible for that to capture light.



 For now, I should raise the proficiency level of my sonar-type detection magic and sound-hearing magic.


 If the level of the two magic increases, they will play a role in covering my blind spots.



 As I was immersed in practicing magic, the evening quickly came.


 The room is darker than usual because of the continuous snowfall.



 At dusk, it would be time for dinner, and when we finished eating, my family would lie on the floor.


 The oil for the lamps and the magic stones for the light fixtures are expensive items for our poor family, so at night, we go to sleep quickly to save money.



 But still, is my second brother going to be all right?


 He will be fifteen years old at the end of the year, and if he can’t find work in the village, he will have to go to the city to look for a job.



 He seems to have attended school diligently, and I am sure his academic ability is not a problem, but the public’s attitude toward catkins is cold.


 Since he is small and not suited for hard work, he has to appeal to the public with his intellect.



 In my previous life, I lost my life when I was in high school, so although I took the high school entrance exam, I have no experience in job hunting.


 It has been ten years since I was reborn in this world, but I have no advice to offer because I only have knowledge as a child of the village.



 Well, I guess I have at least some success since I spend from morning till night in a room with a fireplace.




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