The unlikely duo meandered their way through the forest in search of food. It was a plentiful forest untouched by humans or elementals. And with Akari’s guidance, Essairyn distinguished the edible from the inedible. Berries and other greens soon filled the cloth bag, enough for several servings.
“Hey,” piped Akari, “Do you know how to store items in the magic cache?” She pointed a paw at the bag Essairyn held.
“No, what’s that?” Essairyn replied curiously.
“Heh, of course not. Should’ve guessed when you made a box for that beast demon claw,” Akari lightly scoffed, making the girl roll her eyes in mild amusement.
“It’s how you can store items without having to physically carry them. It’s like an invisible inventory. Look,” Akari directed, pointing at the air in front of Essairyn, “Try imagining a wall of compartments and reach out.”
Though skeptical, Essairyn did as she was told, and to her amazement, wooden-like boxes with missing front sides appeared less than two feet away.
“Wha-” Essairyn uttered in surprise, “It’s really like a game inventory!”
The fox now rolled her eyes, remarking, “I’ve got a game fanatic on my paws.”
“How does it work?” Essairyn asked excitedly, “Do I just put whatever in there and make it close with my hand or something?”
The fox gave the girl an unamused, amused look.
“Yeah basically, I guess that’s the gist of it really.”
With eyes sparkling, Essairyn eagerly placed the bag into a square compartment. Then, she waved her hand in front of the compartment shelves, willing it to disappear. And sure enough, they did.
“Amazing!” Essairyn exclaimed. She had read about pocket spaces and virtual inventories in plenty of stories and games, but never did she ever imagine that one day she would experience it personally herself. She knew that this world was magical, but it didn’t lessen the surprise and thrill upon discovering these magical phenomenas.
“It’s just how adventurers get by. Do you think we’d hike around with luggage and expect to fight properly in a battle? Or have ourselves get robbed in our sleep?”
“Still, I’m glad. This is really useful!” the girl beamed. Akari had made a good point. Essairyn never thought about it from a logical standpoint in a magical world. The magic cache would definitely make her plan to travel the lands more convenient and enjoyable.
The fox chuckled, “You really are a traveler.” In her past lives, Akari hadn’t interacted with travelers all that much. In her first life, travelers hadn’t existed. By the time she reincarnated into her second, she got caught up in the demon’s inheritance conflict and never got to explore the new human part of Sol’h’meyr. Thus, it was rather droll meeting someone who was so unfamiliar with the world.
“That makes me wonder,” Essairyn thoughtfully began, “Does the magic cache also preserve food items?”
Akari nodded. “It does actually; it keeps food both cold and warm. Since humans usually don’t have strong magical abilities, very rarely are they able to generate and use magic caches.”
Essairyn’s mouth opened slightly. This magic cache system really made her too giddy. The limitations of decomposition really was missing from this world. “But then what about lifespans in this world? Does magic preserve life longer?” Living beings could still die in this world, but maybe it wasn’t from natural death.
The fox thought for a moment. “Elementals, spirits, and demons do live very long. Usually they only die to external reasons rather than of old age. But eventually, the magic which binds their soul and body together wear out. Or rather, it’s their soul which wears out by being constantly attached to a body which magic fluctuates through.” Akari paused for a moment. She wasn’t sure how to explain life and death in a way that would be understood by Essairyn. “Oh!” Her face brightened up as she thought of an analogy. “Imagine a stone surrounded by water in a river. The soul is the stone; magic is water, and the river is the world. Water constantly surrounds the stone, but the same water doesn’t stay around it. Bodies are made of water, of magic. They are constantly refreshed with new water. Magical fluctuations are currents which moves the body, the water, and thus it moves the stone, the soul. But over time, water wears down the stone. Eventually, before the stone disappears completely, it must be removed from the river, from the world. It dies because it’s no longer in the world.”
Essairyn was speechless. The analogy was a strange one, but somehow very fitting. So the stone, the soul dies because it’s not in the river? So out of the river, where does the stone go? Does the new space allow it live because nothing can buffet it like currents in a river? The girl felt this was all very philosophical. She wondered if Akari being a god made her knowledgeable about life and death. “So stronger, denser rocks live longer, and weaker ones which water flows through more easily ‘die’ quicker?”
“Exactly! Does that explain how magic works in this world better?”
The girl slowly inclined her head in a partial nod. Her eyebrows furrowed slightly, and a wry smile traced her lips. Yes, but it still feels mystifying. And it doesn’t exactly explain how rocks can kill each other. They smack into one another, so the weaker one shatters? Looks like humans will never truly grasp life, death, and the afterlife.
Her eyes flickered away from the fox and landed on a group of grazing animals several meters away. They had been foraging this whole time, but Essairyn knew that she’d have to kill to eat too. She wasn’t a vegetarian, and there wasn’t a supermarket nearby. She hated the thought of being so primitive as to hunt for survival, but she would have to accept and get used to it sooner or later. At least, until she found civilization. So she stood up and began forming a new weapon with magic.
“Hey Akari. What’s the best tasting animal out here?” She tipped her head in the direction of the grazing animals. They were stocky and round, very much like a pig in shape and size. However, they were furry with round, large ears, and stumpy tails like a hamster. They were cocoa powder brown with green dappled backs. Essairyn supposed the coloring was for camouflage.
Getting the hint, Akari replied, “Those are gapisvara, grass eaters. They’re not spirit animals or beast demons, so you can kill and eat them. I’ve never tried one for myself though.”
“Hm?” Essairyn raised her brows. “So you can’t eat spirits or demons?” That would explain why the demons all disappeared when I killed them.
“Yes. Only normal animals and humans leave behind a body. Elementals disappear too, but usually families encase them in magical glass to preserve the bodies for burial. Outside of the glass coffin, they’ll disintegrate too.”
“Oh…” Somehow the idea of humans leaving behind a body was uncomfortable for Essairyn. Although it was naturally engrained in her head due to the biology of Earth, that seems to automatically make humans prey for others in this world… However, she was comforted by the fact that disappearing completely could make death more grievous for elemental families. There was pros and cons to both circumstances.
Tilting her newly formed bow and arrow up, Essairyn narrowed her eyes and aimed for a medium sized gapisvara. Head? Neck? Stomach? She wasn’t sure what part of the body to hit in order to kill the animal the quickest. She had picked up shooting a bow and arrow since attending a Renaissance fair for the first time as a preteen. She found it to be quite enjoyable, but she had only ever hit inanimate targets. The closest thing to shooting an animal was in video games. Taking a deep breath to calm herself for killing an innocent, defenseless animal, she drilled in her mind that it was just for survival. It’s ok. She was doing nothing wrong.
The arrow burst forth and struck the gapisvara soundly in the neck. Essairyn and Akari raced over directly after the arrow hit. The other animals scattered upon hearing the strangled cry of their critically injured member. The struck gapisvara tried to follow its group, but it soon collapsed with harrowed, shallow breaths. The girl’s stomach convulsed nauseously at the sight of the gapisvara’s bloodied neck and bulging, white eyes. The creature quavered and frantically clawed the air, trying to get up. Quickly putting the animal out of its misery, Essairyn sliced its neck with an arc of magic. She could’ve tried hunting the animal by flinging arcs of magic, but she hadn’t thought of it earlier. It just came naturally in her head that she should use a bow and arrow to hunt. Controlling and aiming arcs of magic from a long distance to the neck seemed more difficult. But she was starting to entertain the idea of learning in order to make the animal’s death less painful.
Seeing the silent girl gingerly pick up the beheaded gapisvara, Akari blinked her eyes. Is she not used to killing? She didn’t seem this bothered when she killed the demons… The fox couldn’t help finding the girl’s behavior strange as Essairyn placed the gapisvara into her magic cache and began digging a hole to bury the head.
“Umm, if you’re not going to eat the head, how about leaving it for me? Or at least leave it for other animals to eat?” Akari flatly suggested.
The girl paused placing the head into the hole. She seemed deep in thought. A second later, she fervently shook her head. “No, I’d rather just bury this for now…” Eventually, she would get used to killing to eat. But Essairyn saw no need to force it. She would reach civilization soon, so if she could, she would resist getting used to killing. Burying the head didn’t absolve her act, but it made her feel better.