Although getting a foothold on top of the snow was exceedingly difficult, its nimble body was not restricted by it.
As if it was running on an open plain without snow, it used its legs to kick away at the snow as it chased after its prey.
The Snow Lizard – a 1.3 meter tall monster that could stand up on its two hind legs. If you measured from the tip of its tail to the head it was a 2 meter long being.
With its evolved hind legs, it had great jumping power. It was a comparatively small, but carnivorous, monster which lived in small packs.
Originally, lizard type monsters were poikilotherms (ED: In layman’s terms, a cold blooded animal). If the temperature went down, they would go into hibernation, ceasing all movements. But, maybe common sense like that did not apply to the creatures of this world, or maybe there was some other reason.
With its whole body covered in white scales, this lizard could adapt perfectly in this cold environment.
Even now, one of the snow lizards jumped up into the air, and used its sharp claws on the legs to tear apart its prey. This attack coupled with the falling velocity of the jump could even bring down a tree with a single kick.
“Humph, too slow~”
It was the creature judged as a prey by the snow lizards. It let out a fearless grin. It raised two of its four arms that each held a battle staff above its head, and easily blocked the attack of the snow lizard.
And then, it released the power in its body at once. The snow lizard once again jumped above its head. No! It was thrown above head with great strength, as the prey used its remaining two hands, which held a giant war-ax, to violently mow down the snow lizard.
A low sound rang out across the snow covered grove. And then, the white snow above the ground was covered in darkish, red coloured blood.
The snow lizard’s body was severed in two as it fell to the snowy ground, spilling blood, flesh and entrails on it.
The supposed ‘prey’ of the snow lizard — Jadokh the Shade, moved back a little in order to avoid the blood and entrails that was falling from the sky.
“My, I’m completely dirty.”
Though he was speaking lightly, his eyes were already filled with a sharp glint, searching for the next ‘prey’.
Deciding the nearest snow lizard to be the next target, he moved unimaginably nimbly on top of the snow towards the poor ‘prey’.
The snow lizards, which have adapted themselves in a snow covered environment, could obviously move fast in it.
Repeating their small mincing jumps again and again, they drive their prey, which can’t move in the snow as it pleases, into a dead end, and then go for the kill. This was their hunting method.
But the prey this time could move on top of the snow at an equal speed to, or maybe even faster than, the snow lizards in this environment.
One of the snow lizards chased after the prey while baring its white fangs.
But the prey— Tatsumi, warded off the fang with his buckler and in the next moment he vanished.
In a blink of an eye he appeared in the snow lizards’ blind spot, and attacked its scale-covered hide with his sword.
Blood gushed out from the newly opened wound.
But the blood did not touch Tatsumi, as the next moment he once again vanished.
After that, he appeared and disappeared time and time again, draining away the snow lizards’ stamina.
Before long, the snow lizards movement became visibly sluggish, as Tatsumi delivered the final blow.
Tatsumi and Jadokh. The hunt of these two novice monster hunters was being watched quietly by Calcedonia from a distance.
There was no worry in her ruby red eyes. If it’s Tatsumi and Jadokh, they shouldn’t lose to the likes of snow lizards.
Even if they got wounded, as long as it wasn’t a large or fatal injury, she could use her healing magic. The two, having that in their mind, could hunt with relief.
Before long, the last snow lizard of the group was defeated.
The noisy sounds all stopped, as the surrounding fell into silence.
The only sounds left were the gentle swaying of the leaves in the breeze and the loud breaths of Tatsumi and Jadokh who were exhausted from the long battle.
Confirming that there were no more monsters left in the surrounding, they sheathed their weapons and headed towards Calcedonia.
“Good work, you two. It was a really good battle.”
“Humph, thank you Calsey, dear.”
“How about you Calsey?”
“I’m fine, dear. No snow lizards came this way.”
“Leave it to us. It’s the job of a monster hunter to protect his employee too.”
The employee that Jadokh mentioned were labourers, who would carry the spoils of battle, and do other odd jobs for the monster hunter.
An employee doesn’t have any rights over the spoils as he didn’t directly participate in the battle. So other than the money paid by a monster hunter as remuneration, the spoils won’t go to him.
In most cases, people with similar battle strength form hunting teams. That’s why, novice monster hunters often join an advance monster hunter team as an employee to gain experience and learn how to fight better.
Compared to Tatsumi and Jadokh who were novices, Calcedonia was much more experienced as a Monster hunter.
Normally, Tatsumi and Jadokh were ‘below her status’. So there was no reason for her to become their employee. But for some reason she became the employee of the team and accompanied then in the hunt. As for what the reason was, is there really a need to explain it?
And Calcedonia, who was a veteran Monster hunter, was currently reviewing their battle.
“Certainly, as a [Fighters] you two fight wonderfully. But as a [Monster Hunter], it was most certainly a failure.
At the harsh criticism, Tatsumi and Jadokh stiffened. But neither of them voiced out in rejection and continued to listen to what she had to say.
“Monster hunters bring back the hide, fur, fangs, claws, bones and sometimes even the internal organs of their prey as materials. They then sell them to earn a living. That’s why, they try their hardest to not damage any parts of the monster that might become sellable. Certainly, if it was a large sized monster, then it would be okay to attack over and over again to shave away at its life. But for small monsters such as snow lizards, the preferred way is to hit their vital point and end the battle in an instant.”
Calcedonia’s gaze then moved behind them, where the corpses of the monsters Jadokh and Tatsumi killed laid.
Some of them had been cleaved in two by Jadokh’s superhuman power, and some of them had innumerable small cuts all over their body. At a single glance you could see that the [Commodity Value] they had was close to zero.
“If this was a subjugation mission to get rid of a beast that had been laying waste to fields then it would have been fine. But dear, your mission this time was to [Hunt]. And not to [Hunt] for food but [Hunt] for materials. If you see it from that viewpoint, then the [Hunt] this time is obviously a failure.”
Being so severely judged by Calcedonia, Tatsumi powerlessly dropped his shoulders. And Jadokh, he too loosely hung his for arms down, as he gazed at the sky.
The reason why Tatsumi and Jadokh went out to hunt snow lizards this time was because they were a newly formed team; they wanted to confirm each other’s strengths.
Of course, selling the monster spoils they got from the hunt was also an objective.
The hide of the snow lizards are good for cold protection, and they are visually beautiful too. So in the winter they can be sold for making overcoats, and even defensive gear.
Also, its meat was filled with nutrients. In this winter where small animals were scarce, they were a good source of food.
But as Calcedonia said right then, the hide of the snow lizards they hunted before were filled with cuts. That would definitely strike hard against the price so they had to be prepared mentally. Fortunately the meat was still good so it should sell for a good price.
After taking in the last bit of criticism Calcedonia had to offer, they quickly went on the dismantle the corpses with her help.
“……. Both of you look really used to this….”
Seeing the two dismantling with such efficiency made Tatsumi mutter that in surprise.
Certainly Tatsumi had trained his body after coming to this world. But simply being strong and being able to live in the wild were two different things.
No matter how strong one was, or how strong the monster he could defeat was, that alone could not guarantee that a person can live out in the wild.
Because battle techniques, and techniques to securely obtain food from the nature, were two different techniques.
Tatsumi had yet to study techniques such as efficiently dismantling prey, or obtaining food and materials without harming their value.
“It’s alright. If it’s you, then I am sure you can learn them in no time.”
“Yes, I’ll properly remember how Calsey does it.”
“Okay. Then, first about how to skin this part. You have to keep this area in check while————”
For Tatsumi who grew up in modern day Japan, the scenery of a beast being taken apart really wasn’t one he was eager to see. But for him who decided to live in this world, who is aiming to become an exorcist after becoming a brilliant monster hunter, this was a path he could not avoid.
While forcibly pushing the bad feeling down his throat, he kept looking at Calcedonia’s hands as she explained the ins and outs of the job.
Tatsumi and Calcedonia were getting along perfectly while dismantling the monsters.
Jadokh, who was watching them from a bit further away, had a pleasant smile on his face.
“……Really, Tatsumi boy is full of surprises.”
Jadokh muttered quietly, as to not let them hear him.
When Tatsumi and Jadokh wanted to find a suitable target to test each other’s skills, news of a group of small snow lizards appearing in the suburbs of the capital reached Jadokh’s ears.
No matter how much the snow lizards adapted in the cold, the amount of animals that can be their food in this season decreases harshly.
That’s why they appear near human habitats like this from time to time.
Snow lizards didn’t pose much of a threat. As long as it wasn’t too huge of a group, then he and Tatsumi should be able to deal with them.
So after consulting the two of them, they decided to hunt the snow lizards.
For other novices like them, snow lizards were moderately hard preys. And besides, they weren’t the only ones who were going after the group of monsters.
So before the others get to them first, they decided to finish the hunt. The next day, they decided to start preparing for the hunt.
On the appointed day of their departure, Tatsumi brought along Calcedonia to meet up with Jadokh, who was waiting in front of the [Elven Resthouse].
Seeing Tatsumi bring along a lady, Jadokh’s eyes opened wide in shock. And after learning that the lady was the fabled <<Holy Maiden>> of the Temple of Savaiv, his eyes opened even wider.
Moreover, he then learnt that the <<Holy Maiden>> was his fiancée. She was going to accompany them as an employee.
At this point, Jadokh’s mouth was gaping wide open, and his mental state was in a mess.
But Jadokh’s time to be shocked didn’t just end there.
He soon realized an even more shocking fact.
After searching for the rumoured group of snow lizards in the said forest, they fortunately bumped into the group quickly.
Tatsumi and Jadokh took position for battle quickly, and Calcedonia who was the employee took shelter in a safe zone.
That’s how the start of the battle played out. But, as soon as it did, Jadokh was hit with the greatest impact he felt all day.
Tatsumi, who was right beside him, suddenly disappeared, and in the next moment, he appeared behind the snow lizard group.
Even though it was in the middle of a battle, Jadokh just stood there staring at Tatsumi.
Calcedonia’s sharp voice woke him up from his trance, and he noticed one of the snow lizards was coming straight at him with its fangs brandished.
He immediately thrust the war-axe into the snow lizards open mouth. The pitiful snow lizard was blasted away with a mouth full of smashed fangs.
“My, how careless of me… But… still….”
Though he was still conscious of the battlefield, he kept looking at Tatsumi’s figure with his eyes.
Tatsumi repeatedly appeared and disappeared. He always positioned himself in the snow lizard’s blind spot.
“That… is that maybe… the <<Instant Transition>> magic, of the legendary <Sky> magic system?”
In the past there was only a single person who managed to use <Sky> magic, and <<Instant Transition>> was something almost synonymous with <Sky> magic. So of course, Jadokh had heard of it.
Certainly Tatsumi mentioned that he was a mage. But for him to be a legendary <Sky> system mage,
“…..Really, just who is he… that boy..”
He swung his weapon, and killed the snow lizards in the surrounding. But his eyes still chased after Tatsumi’s back.
Engaged to the <<Holy Maiden>> of the Temple of Savaiv, and a user of the legendary <Sky> system.
From what he could see, Tatsumi and the <<Holy Maiden>> weren’t in a predetermined engagement by their parents, but they were actually truly in love with each other. No, rather, the <<Holy Maiden>> was the one who was completely head over heels for Tatsumi.
Maybe, did I just form a team with someone who might become a big-shot in the future?
That thought flashed through his mind, as he grinned.
His curiosity towards Tatsumi grew even larger, as in his mind he decided to work together with Tatsumi from now on, no matter what happens. He then turned his attention towards the snow lizard in front of him.
Tatsumi, who was covered in fat and blood, somehow managed to finish the dismantling work.
After equally distributing the gathered meat, hide, fangs, claws and bones, they decided to return back to the capital for now.
It was then.
Jadokh’s ears which boasted high sensitivity picked up a faint sound.
“Be careful, you two. There is something nearby.”
Warning Tatsumi and Calcedonia in a low voice, he carefully scanned the surroundings.
As the three held their breaths like that, finally, something white came out from a nearby thicket with a rustling sound.
They all opened their eyes wide in disbelief at what appeared.
what staggered out of the thicket and appeared before the three was a completely naked human lady.