As I stared into the water from the riverside. It’s clear and beautiful. I can even make out the figures of the fishes swimming. Some sizable fish are also swimming in it. It seems that it wouldn’t be a trouble finding food.
I moved downstream and washed my dirty hands there. As I scooped a handful of water and drank it…….
(Umu-, there’s no problem)
It was very cooling, and delicious.
「You should drink some too. It’s important to rehydrate after walking so long after all. 」
Ravi did what I did beside me, washing her hands and scooping a handful of water. While I watched her figure, my heart felt ticklish because it looked like she was learning from my example.
(I wonder if it’s the same if I had my own child.)
Ravi wiped her mouth using her hands after drinking enough. We’ve made it here by sharing the water in the bottle I brought so far, but it wasn’t nearly enough for two people. I will remember to get a bottle for Ravi when we make it to the town.
「Ravi, how about some fish?」
「Fish, I like them……」
「I see, you like fish huh. Shall we catch some for lunch immediately. 」
「It’s fine if we make a fishing rod, but here……. 」
Since it’s a small river, it might be better to use a landing net huh.
「Wait here for a while. I will go fetch some branches. 」
「What is it? 」
「Uun……. It’s nothing……」
「Is it? I will leave our stuff here, so please help me look after it. 」
At the forest entrance opposite of the highway, I collected some usable dry branches. It’s good that the trees nearby have Akebia 1 vines on it, I cut off some with my knife.
(Good, this will do.)
I returned to the river with the materials in hand. I thought she would’ve been playing in the water, but she stayed on the spot while looking very anxious.
(I left her there for her to play in the water because I thought I would finish quick)
It seems like it had a reverse effect. I only realized it now, the reason that she called me just now was because she wanted to come with me together. It won’t be good if I don’t pay more attention to her. As I reflected on it, I tried to call out to Ravi with a bright voice.
「We will make the net now to catch some fish. Ravi, can you help? 」
「……! Unn. I’ll help……」
She seemed happy as she ran to my side.
Instead of doing it all by myself, she would be happier if we worked together. I will keep that in mind.
「Well then, let’s start making it immediately. The ingredients are branches, Akebia’s vine, and this……」
I searched around in my rucksack and took out a Zuta bag, but it’s much larger in size than the ones used for Ravi’s shoes. I used this bag for putting in the items I collected for the requests I got from the villages. I unfolded and lay it on the ground. Zuta bag is needed for the final step. First, are these dried branches on my hand.
I examined every one of the branches I picked up. This is going to be the shaft, so I must choose carefully for one that’s sturdy. Some were flexible, and others were thick.
This will do.
Next, I take two branches that has a similar thickness. I put the two branches on the first branch and align it to open like a ‘Y’.
「Ravi, can you help me hold them together? 」
Ravi tried her best to support the branches with her small hands. In the meantime, I used the Akebia vines to tie and fix them together.
「Thanks, it’s alright now. Next, the Zuta bag. 」
I poked two small holes with my knife on the bag and put the two forking branches into both holes. Then, I tied them together. With this, a landing net made from Zuta Bag is completed.
Ravi seemed to not know how to use it and tilted her head as if it’s something strange.
「I will ready the landing net at downstream, Ravi will be at upstream and try to chase the fishes down. 」
「I will try……」
She looked a little anxious, but it should work out somehow. We took off our shoes and stepped into the river. The comfortable feeling of the cool water runs through our feet.
As I ready the landing net in the middle of the river, it’s quite big compared to the width of the river. Good, the fish can’t escape easily with this.
「Ravi, you can start now. Try to kick around in the water, and slowly move towards me. 」
Ravi who was a distance away nodded. She started moving her feet, but it seemed weak to me.
「It’s okay even if you kick harder! 」
「G-got it……. I will try……」
She’s struggling as she tried to move her thin feet. I laughed a little as she looked cute while trying her best to rampage around in the water.
「Good, keep it up! 」
「U, unn……! 」
(……Ah! The water totally splashed on her.)
Even so, Ravi looked quite happy. It was the first time she let out such a laughter, so I left her as is. I will just have to dry her drenched clothes and her hair with wind magic later.
At first the fishes swam about wildly, so it wasn’t easy to catch them. But after a few tries, Ravi seemed to get the hang of it.
(Nice, the fish is starting to gather)
I tried to be silent so that it wouldn’t startle the fishes……
The fishes chased away by Ravi swam into the net. I put strength into my arm and lifted the net immediately. The splashing water was heard, and the weight of the haul can be felt on my arms.
「Ravi, you did a very good job.」
「I helped properly……?」
「Ahh, of course.」
The two of us got up to land and checked our haul immediately. We arranged some rocks to surround it and poured out the insides. Two big fish came out. They were silvery Masu salmon 2 .
「Waa……! Such a big fish……! 」
「They’re delicious you know. They’re seasonal fishes of spring after all. 」
I guess the size is about 20 centimeters. It seems that it will give quite a taste. As I thought about that, my stomach sounded out excitedly. I immediately started a fire in a dry place and proceeded with the preparation.
First is dealing with the organs. If you leave them in there, it will cause bad smell and the taste of freshness will be gone. I used a flat and wide rock as a substitute for a working surface and used the knife to cut into the abdomen of the fish to remove the organs. Of course, I didn’t forget to wash the insides with clean water. To make it more delicious, I also used wind magic to lightly dry it. Then, I used a branch to pierce it and make a skewer.
Well, seasoning is next. I’ll settle with something simple. I took out the salt from the baggage and spread it on the surface of the fish. The layer of salt can prevent the fish from getting burnt when grilling.
I checked the fire now. The fire seemed hot enough. I directed the fire onto the skin portion first, then used some rocks to hold the skewers in place.
We waited patiently while listening to the crackling sound of the fire. Once the skin is thoroughly grilled, I turned them around. The white smoke rises in clouds and taken by the winds as they float to the sky.
After turning the skewer around for a few times, it’s done after water had stopped dripping from it. It looked really delicious as the both sides are grilled thoroughly.
「Well, Ravi. Let’s eat. 」
「You eat it like this.」
After giving the fish to Ravi, I showed an example by taking a bite at the back of the grilled fish. I ate exaggeratedly while holding the skewer’s ends with both hands.
A clear and mellow taste spreads out inside my mouth. The skin is crispy, and the insides is soft and fluffy. Umu-, delicious.
Ravi learnt from me and took a bite at the fish.
As she exhaled out, her cheeks became round. Really, she makes it look very delicious.
As I was finishing up my meal while watching her――
Suddenly, I heard hoofs hitting the ground from the highway. A man that seemed troubling to handle came towards here on a horse. He was accompanied by two hounds on his side. He got off on the horse in front of the river and came near us while staring at us. What an attitude.
「Hey, are you having lunch? 」
Even though he asked with such tone, his eyes still looked ill-mannered. I stood up while keeping my guard up and walked out casually in front of Ravi.
He has a bow on his back. The man was wearing boots suitable for use in forest.
(This guy……hunter huh)
「I have a little thing to ask you. When I entered the forest just now, I didn’t find the prey I was aiming for. I shot my arrow at it yesterday evening, so it shouldn’t have escaped far. But the hounds kept barking so noisily. 」
The man standing in front of me gave out hostility as he glared at me.
「I thought it was strange, where the blood of the beasts remained was the footprints of an adult male. It was obvious since it was in the damp forest. Thanks to that, I realized someone had stolen away my prey. 」
(This guy was the hunter that hurt Ravi―!)
The moment I understood that, my anger rose as if my blood was boiling. But I still have Ravi with me now. I can’t show a child that I resorted to violence after losing control of myself in anger. I endured desperately while clenching my fists.
「Oi, dogs. Go sniff them out. 」
He ordered the hounds, then the hounds begun to sniff around the boots that I took off. They started barking after a while as if telling their master, ‘it’s this!’.
「As I thought, it’s you. There’s no one else that came out this far out from the town after all. I will have my prey back! 」
「I have absolutely no idea what are you talking about. 」
「Bastard, pretending like you don’t know huh!」
The man hit my shoulders with a loud crash. It is not very effective. As he knew that himself, he clicked his tongue annoyingly, and started looking through our baggage on his own.
「I bet you only took the parts that has value. Ornaments made from the fangs and the nails fetch a high price after all. Where are they, where did you hide them! 」
He yelled out loudly while throwing my rucksack upside down. But what came out was only the pot and miscellaneous stuff such as emergency food.
「I have nothing you’re looking for. Can you leave now? 」
「Shut up! 」
As he returned with a shout, his eyes opened wide. His thick lips became a grin.
「Isn’t there still a bag I haven’t looked. 」
What he picked up after saying that, was the temporary shoes I made for Ravi.
「Ah……. N, no……」
A trembling voice came from Ravi who was hiding behind me.
「Oi, stop it! It is empty inside! 」
As I shouted unconsciously, the grin on the man’s face became deeper.
Immediately after that.
A cruel sound was heard as he cut opened Ravi’s shoes.
A sound like that came from Ravi’s lips.
I struck the man’s face with my full strength. I don’t need any magic skills. Someone like this, my fist alone is enough.
A dull thud is heard accompanied by the feedback from punching him. The man flew into the river after eating my one punch.
The water splashed around violently. As I looked down from the riverside, he had passed out while floating on the water. He will drown if I left him as is.
I pulled his body up to the riverside and took back the Zuta bag from his hands.
「……It was her shoes……」
I told the unconscious man with a low voice.