“Okay, Kiyomi, now these?”
Hatsumi asked, motioning to several plants laid out on the mat in front of me.
We were performing a test. I had to pick out the one with healing properties; the difficulty was I’ve never seen any of them here. We were currently training on procuring means of healing or medication if a healer was not present. It's been a couple of months since Callum’s training started focusing away from just trying to hit him with full force, and it was thankfully putting me at ease at least a bit. He was just making me exercise and follow his technique for the time being. In the meantime, Mother’s training ramped up in pace. Whilst it was much of the same content, it was more testing and on-the-spot questions. ‘Check these tracks, listen for this sound, make sure this plant isn’t the wrong one, so you don’t accidentally paralyze yourself.’ It was much more a mental exercise than any of the other things I’ve had to do here, with the exception of learning about Va-ren.
“Hmmm, this one?”
I pointed to a plant that was similar to Aloe vera; it was the only one of the few that wasn’t a flower. That and it was easier to recall since it was similar to earths, the primary difference being it was red. But then again, it was red on earth after the war, so it may as well be a one-to-one.
“Kiyomi, you know why we’re testing on these, right?”
Mother said, her tail drooping as she began to pout.
*Sigh*" Kiyomi, it was a trick question. I had hoped you’d catch it, but you didn’t.”
Mother then began sorting them into a few groups.
“All of them have some form of medicinal property, Kiyomi. The key is, recognizing which ones will fit the purpose.”
She picked up the Aloe vera.
“This one can be used for sunburns, low-level acid burns, and a handful of diseases.”
Then she picked up a strange leaf.
“These can be used for sanitizing a wound from a monster's bite or scratch.”
Producing a small parcel, she opened it to reveal more before placing the current leaf in with them.
“That is one you’ll want to learn to search for more than most, and you’ll find yourself using them often. Even WITH a healer present.”
This is beginning to feel like scolding rather than a lesson.
I didn’t catch myself in time, unfortunately, as I rolled my eyes halfway through my thoughts. Resulting In a swift flick to one of my horns.
“Don’t ‘mom’ me! Kiyomi, this one is important. I was about to get to the one you’ll need to harvest regardless.”
“Sorry...which is it?”
I replied, rubbing my horn to assuage the ache.
“Yarrow, it helps with menstruation.”
“Is that some kind of joke?!”
Come on. I’d rather not think about that one! My pride is still fragile in that respect.
Mother snickered to herself for a short time before regaining her composure.
“Ahem, yes. Now, where were we? Kiyomi, everything I teach you has a reason behind it. Even the thing about Yarrow. Life isn’t easy as an adventurer; it’s actually, in some cases, worse than being a soldier for some country or a mercenary. You aren’t guaranteed work unless you’re a ‘stay-in’ and many times you can end up without supplies or support, so I’m trying to make it where you have the easiest time you can get.”
She said, now consolidating all of the plants.
She had to learn it all herself; I can’t imagine she’s had an easy time learning all this by herself.
“What really is left of the basics that you haven’t already shown me, though?”
Having already spent eight months of training, I was curious what was left before I started taking on small quests. Like gathering, fishing, hunting, or any other number of small-time work I could get from the guild. With my age, probably nothing at all. But within a few years, probably. Mother said before that most adventuring teams start-up in their teens after their first hunts have all been completed.
“Honestly, Kiyomi, not much else. Most children don’t get this far this early. That’s why we’ve been repeating the same thing over and over again. For now, we can only really make you memorize things. We’re limited in how far we can take it. As you get older, we could teach you more.”
“What about a skill? Or some magic?”
I started listing off ideas for subjects. I thought it would be hard to press skills; however, magic might’ve been easier. After some time of deliberation, Mother responded. She was careful in her answer, like she wanted to say ‘no’ flat out but thought against it.
“We will teach you the basics, no spells. Just mana manipulation, understand?”
“As for skills…when you turn twelve, okay? If you were a normal child, I would, but as it stands, you’re too strong for your age to be responsible with them.”
Fuck, double bummer. Are you kidding me? Cool it, cool it. Mom’s right. She’s speaking from a sense of responsibility. We’ll get there when we get there.
My empathizing didn’t show, though, and I was still clearly pouting.
“Fu, I could be at least a bit responsible with a skill. Aren’t there any that aren’t dangerous?”
I found myself arguing with her before long.
“Kiyomi, no. No, there aren’t. And any that seem like they are not, have way too many ways to be abused, and that’s final.”
Suddenly Mother was quite stern in her response; it was something I’d never really had happen, so I just sat there in response. Looking at her, Mother’s ears’ were at attention, and her tail was swaying. I had surprisingly irritated her.
I ended up slouching some, trying to show I’d given up on it somehow.
“Kiyomi, knowing that you’ve not had much else to do…I can’t blame you for curiosity; in time I will teach you. But for now, you’ll have to put up with just basic mana manipulation. Okay?”
“I’ll try and have some material ready by next week for it. We can continue on this for now.”
Wait, next week? That soon?
“That soon, mama?”
“Yes, Kiyomi, that soon-H-hey, settle down! Ow, hey, watch the horns! We still have a days’ worth of study! You’re going to tire yourself out!”
I have to try and get a hold of my outbursts.
I was still struggling with controlling myself in plenty of instances, but in moments like this where I was thankful to Hatsumi specifically, not just her as my Mother, I would let it go. I didn’t feel I could show appreciation any other way. I was hugging onto her, and she was trying to pry me off.
“Thank you, Mama! Thank you, thank you!”
Ah, the little moments~.
After a few hours, Mother and I decided to start packing up. I was suddenly overcome with the need to relieve myself, so we opted to have a quick bathroom break before making our way home. Hatsumi took point and checked the spot we had chosen for our makeshift bathroom for monsters. She was wary about letting me out of sight after the Spider-tortoise incident.
“Kiyomi, it's clear. Let me know if you need anything.”
We had settled on a small dirt clearing that was just a few square feet and up against a short cliff, flanked by boulders. Giving us a rather concealed and secure spot.
Thanking Mother, I gathered what I would need to relieve myself and traded places with her. I’d grown rather confident at handling my own body by now. The awkwardness managed to die down, so looking at myself didn’t give me any emotional spikes. I could actually relax when relieving myself.
“Hmmmm, this spot?”
There was a relatively clean rock that I could awkwardly purchase a seat on, meaning I wouldn’t have to squat, and I wouldn’t accidentally get anything on my tail. Sitting on the rock after having made preparations, I started thinking to pass the time.
A little over a year in this world's time. I’ve been doing the best I could; it's nice…Hatsumi…Mama…
Mama tries her best, Callum’s okay, Avery still spoils me, Lorn put’s up with me from time to time, And I managed to start getting closer with Chessa, heading out with her to buy materials for arrow making. I recently started spending time with Stanis by getting him to play catch with a ball I made from wood. IT would be nice to have some friends…but I guess… I can wait till I get to start looking at the quest board. Mama says boys do tend to ask girls to party up quite frequently…that would figure, though…ugh.
With my thoughts trailing off, I brought myself back to reality for a moment. I could feel the stream I'd been letting out slow and fall off in pressure. Moving to clean myself like usual, I noticed something off.
“Wait, what the hell?”
The cloth I used was now partially red; whatever it was, bled through as well, so my hand had some on it now. Looking down, there was a small streak of it on the rock near its base and on the dirt.
“Where the fuck did that-?”
Following the trail back up to myself, I lifted my butt to check the rock for anything at its top.
“There’s nothing there, then where?”
The rock was clean, with the exception of the streak near its base. Looking back to the cloth, I realized that it was obviously not from the rock. I then looked back to my crotch, leaning forward for a better look. I could see a droplet of what looked like blood.
What the fuck?!
Panic mode! Panic mode activated!
“Mama! Mama help!”
Hatsumi came through the brush within a moment's notice, her elemental bow drawn, crackling with mana as she allowed it to flow. There shouldn’t have been anything nearby, but she was ready for whatever may have thrown her daughter into a panic. Heading through the brush, she scanned the clearing. Nothing seemed out of place, she saw no monster, and she could smell no monster nor plant that could have scared Kiyomi. Seeing that there was no immediate threat, Hatsumi scanned the clearing once more before dissipating her bow and looking back to her daughter.
“Kiyomi, what is it?”
Approaching Kiyomi, she was partially hidden behind a large rock, stammering about something. As Hatsumi came around the rock, she was able to see Kiyomi was sitting on another rock. She was currently holding her tunic around her thighs, and her leggings were around her ankles. Walking up, Hatsumi didn’t notice anything out of place. Kiyomi seemed fine, and as they were partied, Hatsumi could see her HP, which was unmoved. She was completely fine.
“Kiyomi? What happened? You look fine.”
Hatsumi asked, now calm with the fact that there wasn’t anything actually dangerous nearby.
Kiyomi was probably just spooked, but she is struggling to talk quite a bit suddenly.
Hatsumi placed a hand on the demon’s shoulder, nudging her slightly.
“A-ah-uh-I-I-I’m hurt, n-need a h-heal-healer.”
Kiyomi was still stammering, staring at the ground between her feet.
“Kiyomi, you’re fine. Your HP isn’t moving….”
Hatsumi sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, only just realizing as she saw the ground beneath Kiyomi as she brought her hand away from her face. There was a bloody piece of cloth on the ground and a streak of red on the rock itself.
“Wait…Kiyomi…lift your tunic.”
Kiyomi hesitantly lifted her tunic, ceasing her stammering as she awaited Hatsumi to look her over.
Wait, this girl. This…
Hatsumi did her best to stifle a laugh.
“Kiyomi, you’re fine.”
Hatsumi looked to the girl with a smile, trying to reassure her.
“B-but, I’m bleeding. I shouldn’t be bleeding, right?”
Kiyomi asked, genuine concern written across her face.
“Kiyomi hahaha, no, no. How do I put it…ah.”
Hatsumi kneeled in front of Kiyomi, searching through her satchel for something before pulling it out and holding it between them.
“Yarrow…why did you pull out the Yarrow?”
Kiyomi’s initially worried face was now replaced with one of confusion.
“Well, Kiyomi…Uhm…welcome to being a big girl.”
Kiyomi proceeded to take the Yarrow that Hatsumi was holding up to her, taking a moment to process what Hatsumi meant before the blood drained from her face.
The child took a moment, laughing for a moment before tears flowed forth as she stared at the flower she held in her hand.
“Here, sweetie, let’s get you cleaned up. I’ll prepare some of this for both of us when we get home.”
Hatsumi chimed, taking the Yarrow from Kiyomi and placing it away.
“We’ll both be needing it from now on, so I guess the next lesson will be on this.”
With that, they began cleaning up and made way for the city.
We were walking home, roughly half an hour into the trip, with an hour of walking to go. I felt and probably looked like death.
Goodbye, manhood…you’ve been gone for over a year now….but you weren’t overwritten…now? I’m a woman now…ugh, I just wanna hide away from the world, this reality is cruel.
Aside from the internal embarrassment that came with not realizing I’d just started my first period, I was trying to parse the fact I was no longer male together once again. It was easy to ignore before. I could just go on existing with not a thought in the world; it’s not like I was the age for it to matter. But it was something I couldn’t avoid now, and it was an intrinsic factor of my body. I was a girl, and I would eventually be a woman. I was doomed to play the role of the opposite sex the minute I woke up in the clearing; I just never had to accept it until now. So here I was, feeling dead inside as Mother and I walked home, tails wrapped together as we walked.
This is great….ugh, shit, I’m not looking forward to the cramps… I'll get those, right? Ugh, Callum, I’m sorry for my mood swings ahead of time.
I was stopped in my tracks by a sudden dinging noise in my ear, followed by my status screen being brought to the forefront of my vision.
I found myself asking no one in particular.
“Kiyomi? What is it now? Feeling okay?”
Hatsumi asked, stopping with me.
What the fuck!?
Name: Kiyomi Jormanr
Age: ^ 10*
Race: Lower Demon (High Demon, unattributed, selection preview enabled*)
Class: Adventurer (– Unattributed, selection preview enabled*)
Level: ^ 10* (17*)
Constitution: ^ 5* (10*)
Strength: ^ 9* (18*)
Dexterity: 8 (16)
Intelligence: 7 (15)
Wisdom: ^ 7* (14*)
Charisma: 8 (17)
Titles: (Hidden), (Hidden), (Hidden)
Status: (Passive skill, Disguise(dispel ability, granted), in effect.
Alert: 3 skill points, unallocated, view skill tree to allocate.
I was suddenly given a flood of alerts once the screen had opened.
“Well, ah…I’m…a sun older mama. This many..”
I proceeded to hold up both hands, showing my age. Not that it was necessary.
“Oh, that’s right, it's about the same time as last year, isn’t it?”
Hatsumi asked, looking to the sky.
“Y’know what? Maybe it IS time I started teaching you how to hunt. We’ll save that for the end of next week. Sound good?”
Hatsumi asked, smiling back at me.
Anything to distract me! I’ll take it! Thanks.
I’ll go through all of this extra stuff later….definitely…I think I'll start with the skill tree. Hatsumi didn’t want me learning anything too early…but what Hatsumi doesn’t know won’t hurt her…or me when I select a skill without asking her first. Okay…
Open skill tree.
And so as we walked, I opened pandora’s box.