Chapter 1: Eil of Albat
My earliest memory is from when I was 4.
I was on a stroll inside a forest with adults, then I was left all alone.
That moment, I definitely thought it.
I thought that I was going to die.
That is the oldest memory that I can recall.
It was nighttime, and there were wolves howling in the distance.
The eeriness of the forest with its rustling leaves had me shivering in fear.
And thinking about how I was deep within that target of fear, I had resolved myself for death.
The only thing that my little child mind could think of was to get home by myself.
Adults and the older children that I could rely on were all gone.
There was only me.
Thus, I had to do something about it myself.
That, I fully understood.
What I learned at that time was ‘hide your breathing, move without getting discovered by beasts, search for clues.’
I really, really wanted to cry, but held it in.
Well, the truth of it was that I cried a little bit in muffled sobs.
Just a tiny bit.
With a slight trail of sweat flowing from my eyes, I calmly, very calmly, went back the way I thought I’d come from.
I was actually not that far away from the village.
After all, I had gotten there by my own two feet in the first place.
There were no footprints on the ground.
However, there were areas where the grass was slightly flattened.
That was likely the traces of my having passed there.
Having been convinced so, I followed that, and was able to safely return home.
Thinking about it now, I was only in a grove quite close to the village.
It wasn’t even a forest.
No man-eating beasts lived there.
It only seemed so frightening through the eyes of a four year old.
——Furthermore, of the leading adults and other kids who had been coming along, not a single one had even realized that I had been left behind.
I was not a conspicuous child in the first place.
More like, I was quite the quiet child.
I grew up frequently being told ‘I didn’t even know you were here,’ or ‘you have no presence, ‘ or ‘speak up if you’re there,’ and other such.
As a result of that experience in the forest, perhaps in readiness for if I find myself in a similar situation again, the consciousness of ‘don’t let yourself get found by the enemy’ strangely stuck to me.
The ‘enemy’ was the adults after I took part in a prank with friends, the boss of the kids that was my elder sister, and my mother when she was coming after me with the vegetables that I hated in hand.
It was not that I had no presence, but that I purposely erased my presence.
In this way, I became ‘the child with a weak presence.’
After that, time passed uneventfully, until that incident that happened when I was 10.
In the village where I was born in, population is low and everyone is poor.
Therefore, even kids are considered a source of labor, to some degree.
When I became 9, ‘it’s about time’ began being brought up every once in a while.
By that time, Sis was already tilling fields at full strength, then in her free time playing around with, again, full strength.
She was the complete opposite of me, always conspicuous and active and energetic.
But it was then that intervention came in from an unexpected source.
It was from the hunter ossan who lived in the same village, Bekt.
It seemed like my parents wanted me to help out at our family’s farm, but I ended up working under the hunter living in the village.
It was all because of the weakness of my presence…… no, it was because of my habit of purposely hiding from various things.
Bekt noticed that, and saw the potential in it.
The ability to sneak up to prey.
The ability to not be sensed by prey.
Apparently that was very suitable for becoming a hunter, so he went to convince my parents to let me become his apprentice.
It seemed that I would get to eat the meat that I love much more frequently if I agreed, so I said yes on the spot.
My motive was the meat.
Just as Bekt had predicted, I very quickly awakened my talent as a hunter.
Only three days after starting my apprenticeship, I was already able to bring down rabbits and birds with my child-sized bow.
It was the beginning of a mind-whirling meat festival.
My parents, and also my unnaturally active sister, were all delighted at the meat that began to grace our dinner table every once in a while.
Naturally, I was delighted too.
“Ya~HOOOOO————!! It’s meat, IT’S MEAT————!!”
Everyone might have been creeped out by how ecstatic Sis was, but I was the most ecstatic.
I was more ecstatic than everyone else.
I just didn’t show it on the outside, but I was very ecstatic indeed.
Then that incident occurred about a year into my apprenticeship.
When we were in the middle of searching for prey in the forest, Bekt the hunter farted.
Oh, that was some fart indeed.
The sound was so explosive that it actually sent all the neary birds flying off in startlement.
Well, it’s human physiology.
It can’t be helped.
Even kids understand that what needs to come out will come out.
But I really wish he had given it more thought.
As an adult.
About the height of a child.
It was a direct hit.
The face of the apprentice who was closely following behind his mentor received a direct hit of lethal gas.
“Ugh, so smel——ah……UWAAAHHH!!”
I attempted to back up in evasion, but then realized that there was nothing underneath my feet.
The direction that I was trying to escape towards had no ground.
Cus the only thing there was a steep slope.
So I slipped on dead leaves, crashed into trees, and basically just fell.
I fell very hard.
——And that is where my memory blacks out.
According to what I was told later, apparently I had hit my head.
My consciousness did not return even after a full day, and I had been toeing the very fine line between life and death.
“I’m very sorry! I’m really sorry that my fart almost killed you!”
Bekt, the hunter, my mentor, cried while apologizing to me.
I answered with “That was my mistake.”
I knew that it was a steep slope next to me.
That was the terrain that I was traversing, following Shishou and killing the sound of my footsteps.
Upon suddenly being assaulted by a world-ending roar and poison gas, it was me who dodged towards that side without thinking.
It was my mistake.
If I am to really speak my mind, what I wanted was not an apology for farting, but an apology for the fart directly hitting me and its smelliness.
Well, perhaps the smelliness was not something that he could have done anything about.
But at the very least, the accuracy of the hit was definitely on purpose.
That’s the kind of ossan that Bekt is.
The kind of ossan that likes to tease and prank kids.
That’s why I am 100% sure that he was targeting my face when releasing that attack.
But before the sight of a grown man bawling while apologizing, I could not bring myself to say that out loud.
And that is how that incident drew to a close.
——Leaving behind just one problem.
Was it because I hit my head?
Or was it because I had injured my eyes during that fall?
After that incident, my eyes became just a little bit worse.
I can still see close things clearly, but faraway things I can no longer see as clearly as before.
What I could see normally before, I now can only see vaguely.
Well, it’s not that serious a problem, so it’s fine, I suppose.
I, Eil, apprentice hunter of the village of Albat, became 15, and came to greet my Day of Determination.
And I gained a Talent that I don’t know how to make heads or tails of, ‘Megane.’
I can’t make heads or tails of it, but I can just think about it simply.
For me, whose eyes had gotten worse after the farting incident, this was perhaps, above anything else, the power that I would be most grateful for.
In the city, there is indeed a sight corrective item called ‘megane.’ But for a poor child of a poor family living in a poor village, it is as far away as the physical distance to said city.
Could this be, exactly as it reads, that ‘megane’?
I remove my hand from the Stone of Determination, look at that hand, then murmur softly.
A whole bunch of strength abruptly drains out of me, while at the same time a mysterious item appears on my hand.
——I can tell instinctively.
——The strength that was drained from me just now is contained within this item.
I suddenly remember seeing a traveling merchant from the outside wearing something that looked exactly like this on his face.
It was troublesome so I didn’t ask him what it was, though.
But for sure, that was ‘megane.’
If that’s the case, then the way to use this item in my hand is——
The two stems are supposed to rest on my ears.
The clear lens settle right in front of my eyes.
Then what I see through the lens, is a brilliant world.
The cloudy sights, the world, that I had been seeing vaguely up to now, suddenly appears so very vivid and clear through the glass.
“Eh?! That was Materialization?! But it’s megane!!”
The soldiers are bewildered, and that spreads to the villagers.
Everyone is repeatedly murmuring ‘megane’ with question marks almost visible above their heads.
While clearly and vividly and distinctively looking around my surroundings, I come to terms with it.
So what I had is ‘the Talent to create glasses.’
What is with that.
What is the point of that.
I mean, I needed glasses, so I welcome it though.
With ‘a magical Talent’ as the base requirement, it is a form of magic.
Just as the word says, it is the power to create something material.
In terms of the Ceremony of Determination, it’s jackpot.
Materialization is ‘a magical Talent,’ after all.
The issue, however, is that the item being materialized is glasses, an item that has very narrow application.
The soldiers, Village Chief, and all the villagers too.
Even if it was just ‘a small knife,’ or simply ‘can produce fire,’ then everyone would surely have leaped with excitement.
The fact that a magician has been born in this entirely unremarkable village would have been honestly received with joy.
Just as it did for my sister, Horun.
But, it’s glasses.
My Talent is glasses.
To be even more specific, it is the birth of a magician who can create glasses.
Even I can’t bring myself to blame them for their bewilderment.
Probably the only person who is honestly happy about this is me.
Because I needed glasses.
A so-so ability?
Perish the thought.
It is what I wanted beyond anything else.
At first glance, I might appear to be calm, but I am very happy right now.
The happiest I’ve been in years.
As happy as I was when I hunted my first rabbit.
As moved as the moment I ate the first rabbit that I brought down by myself and thought it delicious.
With this, I can now aim for prey at mid-range and even long distance.
I no longer have to get close enough to prey to see clearly.
My hunting is going to be way more effective than it ever has been.
——It seems that an air of bafflement has been cast over the village.
Nobody seems to know whether to be glad about the birth of this shabby magician or to just make a joke out of me.
But I am happy.
Even if I may not look like it on the outside.
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