Survive in the parallel world, please! -
Chapter 12: Don’t pet stray cats, please! part
“Oh! This could work! I’ll go to the lake since Anne is there, I’ll ask her to help me” Ayumi exclaims with a smile as she runs towards the lake.
There are no food reserves, berry bushes haven’t ripened yet, so the only thing left to do is to see if there are mushrooms on the ground or maybe go fishing.
Although mushrooms are tasty, there’s no way to get enough for everyone in the group and I can’t go fishing since Anne is sure to be in the lake washing herself.
Going out to look for branches is also not a bad idea, I could even try to fell a tree little by little using sticks and stones like I used to when I was alone. Although I rule out the latter because of the amount of effort required, it’d be better to get some appropriate tools before.
While I was getting some branches, the rest wake up and start doing their thing. Helena is the last to get up, with the cat still inhabiting her generous cleavage.
“I can’t take it out, it must be cold and it’s so cute!” Helena says smiling.
Finally, I’m left alone at the settlement, which gives me some time to think about the problems that we are facing and possible solutions.
We have a shortage of food, although we may get enough and even some excess, if we do not have the means to preserve it, we will be lost before winter. Until now, the only way I had to preserve the fish is to air dry it, hanging it on a branch. Problem with this is that both wind and temperature were not constant, causing about half to be ruined.
There are alternatives, of course, like salt, smoke or freeze the fish. Sadly, I have no salt or means to freeze fish. Maybe Ayumi can do it with magic, but what would be the point if she ends up spending more energy than she will recover consuming that same amount of food?
The first thing will be to make some charcoal, since the smoking process requires control of temperature and airflow, I can practice making some charcoal which is much easier to get, even if I fail you won’t be losing much.
Hiraku sets off to the lake with a harpoon, he will surely get enough food for today, this leaves me some spare time to try new things.
I look for branches of all sizes and begin to build the pyre. I start with the thickest branches that I have and I surround them with thinner and thinner branches until finally I cover everything with dry leaves. Then I kneaded some mud with the water I brought from the lake, it’s not enough so I have to make three or four trips to fetch water.
On the way I meet a crushed Bob.
“Hey Ryu, I couldn’t find any food, is that why you were looking for some place else in the first place?”
“Something like that, it’s not just for that, I decided to go out and explore further in order to find civilization. You already know how I ended being attacked by the jackal so my trip was short lived”
“Hahaha, I see”
“You shouldn’t worry anyway, I’m sure Hiraku brings enough and I doubt he’ll have a problem sharing with us. If you want, you could knock down some trees, you know, hitting them with rocks and sticks, NOT punching, seriously. Obviously you won’t be able to fell the biggest ones, but young trees are good enough for now”
“Yes! That’d be nice, I realized that you made the cabin with your own hands. the logs you used are thin but somehow you managed to fit them on top of each other. There is practically no air coming in from outside.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to build another cabin right away. After all, they still haven’t decided if they will stay or not”
“Ah, that’s true! Although I already decided that I want to stay, hahaha! I’m truly happy we got to meet you Ryu! you’ve shown us a lot of good things and I’m sure our future together will be even better”
“Well, we need a lot of firewood anyway, if you could chop down a tree or two it would be perfect, there are not many dry branches left in the surroundings”
I continue to knead the mud and then cover the pyre almost completely with mud. Just leaving a small air inlet up and some down.
I light a stick and walk over to my experiment, I place the stick in the air inlet at the top and begin to feed the fire.
It’s a tedious and exhausting task, and I’m all dirty because of the mud, but this can be quite beneficial. When I see that the fire has reached the base I begin to close the ventilation until it’s completely covered. It looks like a small mound of mud.
Helena sat next to me on the rustic chair. I say rustic because it could hardly be called a chair, it is just some sticks tied with vegetable fiber and it is not very comfortable, the backrest it has is just for decoration since if someone leaned on it it would break right away. I made several attempts to craft some furniture, but I’m not good at it. She has been carefully watching everything I’ve done while cutting long leaves as in large strips that she then separates and hangs on a branch.
“What is that for?” she asks while nimbly continuing her task.
“I’m trying to make charcoal, it’s not really a top priority, but later on it could allow us to preserve some fish. Please don’t laugh at me if I fail, it’s just an experiment”
“I would never! you’ve made so many cool things!”
It’s almost noon and all the inhabitants of this lively group begin to arrive one by one. Anne brings a bunch of long leaves for Helena to make more fiber. Hiraku returns with his basket full of fish, Bob drags two huge logs behind him. These guys may be bad at fighting, but they are really handy when it comes to doing chores.
Just when I was about to ask about Ayumi, she appears completely covered in mud. Even her face is splattered, her hair is an absolute mess. Still, she’s graced by the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.
“Looks like you did well!”
“That was awesome! You had the best idea! How’s the other stuff going?”
“I’m done, now we just have to wait to see if it works or not”
The others look at us with curiosity. The only one keeping busy is Hiraku, after borrowing my obsidian knife, he proceeds to prepare the food, I’m not entirely sure it can be called cooking since he’s only cutting the fish and then skewering it.
“I’d like to stay. I know that it’s not yet the time to make a decision, but I want you to know in advance. From today on, things can improve a lot for us if we stay”
Bob smiles at Ayumi while giving her a nod of approval. This time Anne doesn’t seem upset, it’s rare to see her in a good mood. Even Luke has avoided making his bitter comments.
The smell of grilled fish begins to fade, suddenly small moans begin to be heard and Helena moves uncomfortably.
“Stay still, it’s not time to eat yet”
The cat’s little head emerges from Helena’s cleavage, looks like it’s recovering fine.
“No wait, maybe it is time to eat, after all it’s an animal and It should be able to eat raw fish. Hiraku, could you give me the parts you were about to throw out please? Maybe our new member will like them”
“Sure, take what you want, it will be easier to get rid of the waste that way”
Helena takes the feline out of its shelter and a loud meow is heard. I think he’s getting attached to Helena, although I’m supposed to be the one taming it.
I quickly grab some fish scraps and the little creature stumbles towards me. I offer the remains, but they are too big and it still has difficulty eating, although desperate, the only thing it manages to do is bury its head between guts and fish heads.
This is not a cute image, at all, what’s more, I would say this should be censored. Still i cant hold a giggle coming out of my mouth. I break smaller pieces and feed the wounded feline, I want to take the opportunity to remove the bandage, but as soon as I try, it bristles in a ball of fur and goes back to hide behind a tree with a loud hiss.
I decide to leave the bandage alone and offer some food again.
“By the way, Bob, good job getting those logs... but I don’t think we have a way to use them. I don’t have tools to process them, they should be thinner and hopefully all the same thickness”
“I understand Ryu, it’s just that i thought that if I cut a couple of big logs they would serve us to sit near the fire, while at the same time that they dry a little to use them as firewood during the winter”
“That’s good thinking! I didn’t think about it, and the sooner the better. This is great Bob!”
Bob puffs out his chest with pride as he reaches out to pull a piece of fish from the primitive kitchen. Soon everyone is starting to get their share, everyone except Anne.
“What’s wrong Anne? you look pale” Helena asks concerned
“It’s not...” but before she finishes her sentence a loud growl can be heard coming out of her stomach.
Is it possible that she drank water directly from the lake? I don’t think so, she wouldn’t be so careless, would she?
“Anne, by any chance did you drink water from the lake?”
“Could be, maybe a little...”
“This is bad, you need to boil the water first. Didn’t you guys boil water before drinking it at your camp?”
“Well, not always, most of the time we drank directly from the river. It was difficult to get enough boiled water for everyone and the river water was clean” replies Ayumi somewhat troubled.
“It’s best to avoid drinking unboiled water, even if it seems clean. There’s always the possibility of getting poisoned or sick. Luckily, red berries can detox you, though you’ll have to get quite a few depending on the severity of your illness. We could go find some if you want, Anne”
“I can go alone later, this is nothing”
“I dont think that’s a good idea, there are only a couple hours of daylight left, besides going alone is dangerous. It should be a group of at least three people carrying baskets, so we can make the most of the trip”
“Stop acting like a leader!” Luke exclaims impatiently “we haven’t decided to stay yet, have you forgotten the agreement?”
“You’re right, I apologize, it was just a suggestion though”
Everyone is busy going to and from the settlement during the evening hours, except Anne who is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile Helena managed to make a large number of strips of leaves.
“We will have a ton of fiber once it dries! I’ll need some help to weave it... but im looking forward to making some new clothes!”
“I would help, but I’m not that good at it, i could make some cordage...”
“yeah, I noticed your fiber clothes are not good at all, Anne even thought you were a savage, hehe, well.. I’ll make you something nice for you to wear!”
“thank you! Helena!”
I can’t help but smile every time I’m with her, she’s so caring and tender.
Luke has been practicing some sort of swordsmanship against a huge tree nearby. From what I could see, he has practically not done any damage, but as long as he improves his abilities, it’s not wasted time.
Hiraku and Ayumi are making clay at the lake, then they transport it to the settlement, where I shape it as best I can.If only we had an oven to cook the pots evenly for an appropriate time, but since the kitchen is small and to be honest, it’s not well built, it barely fits a few cups.
I made a big pot with two handles, although it’s not perfect if I can cook it without breaking it will be very useful, specially to boil water for everyone.
I make a small fire in one corner of the clearing, place the pot there, and put a bunch of small sticks into the pot, which I also light, this way it will cook from everywhere at the same time.
By late afternoon the result was as follows:
Three cups were broken, and the two dishes I made were broken.
The pot and four cups were a success. With this we can boil water properly.
When sunlight started to dim we gathered in front of the kitchen. Today’s dinner will also be fish. Taste is not bad, but it gets boring quickly.
“How are you feeling Anne?” Ayumi asks.
“I’m not bad, really, I just get rumbling from time to time”
Yes, you can say that, but I know what’s coming and it’s not nice. Should I help her? but she’s been so mean to me this whole time, I don’t know what to do. Anyway, everyone put good effort today and we achieved a lot of things on our very first day in here, also Ayumi changed her attitude towards me almost instantly after telling her my plan.
“Ayumi, thank you for helping me today. Thanks to you we now have a way to boil water, although it may be a bit late for Anne”
“Yes, should I start with the report, Leader Ryu?” Ayumi says with a smile on her face
“That!!! he’s not the leader!” Luke says under his breath
“What’s this about the report?”
“Well, as you know so far the only thing I did the whole day was light the fire. Then I rested until night to recover as much mana as possible. Although you tell me that it’s a useful task that only I could do, I felt useless most of the time anyway”
“That can’t be helped dear, after all we didn’t have enough food to keep your mana pool to the max either” Hiraku says to Ayumi while rubbing her back tenderly .
“I know, but still, it was hard for me not being able to help. I’m not very good at doing things with my hands and I freeze when I’m scared. But leader Ryu had an amazing idea! Tell them!”
“Well, you know that we need a lot of things to get through the winter. Even if you wanted to travel before the situation becomes difficult, making preparations for a long trip takes time.
I was talking to Ayumi and then it hit me! that she could do some research. This would allow her to stay in the settlement and rest, while also doing something useful that’s not risky.
My plan is for her to develop new materials, ingredients and resources, for us to make use of. Upon success, she will give us a report at this time since we are always together in front of the fire when it gets dark”
“Well, my report for today: we decided to start researching clay, since it’s not only used to make utensils, it can also be useful as building material. After several experiments, I found a mixture that allowed the clay to be shaped and fired successfully. I assume that the failures we had are mainly due to the lack of a better oven. On the other hand Ryu made charcoal, but we won’t know the result until it cools down”
“Good job Ayumi!” Helena says “what are you going to investigate tomorrow?”
“Hey! I’m not a library, I’ll take my time to figure out what’s next. Ryu asked me to find a way to preserve the food, so that will be my priority for now. We just started with clay because it’s easy to get and very useful. In case you don’t know it’s not just making mud and playing with it! it was very difficult to find a mix that works, I even tried using ashes!”
“I see, It makes sense to find a way to preserve food, if we get additional food we won’t have any hardships during winter”
Then Anne abruptly changes the subject.
“Tomorrow we’ll wash our clothes, Ayumi made a mess from playing with mud all day. Men should get up earlier, we’ll light a fire and then go to the lake. If you happen to spy on us...” she looks me straight in the eyes “I’ll make sure to take away everything that makes you call yourself men, am I clear?”
“Calm down Anne, you don’t have to go that far! I don’t think they have that kind of bad intentions” Helena says with her usual conciliatory tone. But Luke looks embarrassed at the ground. Still, why does Anne keep looking at me with those eyes?
Just as it was getting uncomfortable, a loud growl is heard from her stomach. Although no one had the courage to laugh, at least her expression changed.
“We should also go get some medicine to treat your illness, Anne,”
says Helena, forcing a smile.
“That won’t be necessary, I already said I can go alone”
“But it’s dangerous! We don’t know what might be nearby”
As conversation continues, my mind drifts away distracted by my own thoughts until bedtime. This time we decided to give the bed to Bob, because of his size he is the most difficult to accommodate. This allowed us to get more room in the floor, since we traded a huge Bob for a tiny Ayumi. Hopefuly I won’t have to sleep next to Hiraku.
“I dont want to sleep next to the savage, what if he’s dangerous?” Luke says arrogantly
“Too bad this isn’t your house Luke, now shut up and get to sleep” Ayumi can be scary sometimes.
Next morning a curious message received me as soon as I opened my eyes:
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