CHAPTER 5 – Oh god, is that a snake?
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Clailip stared down the bull and planted his feet firmly onto the ground. He couldn't afford to mess this up, one serious hit and he was dead. He kept this thought in the back of his head as he focused on the bull.

He gazed at where the bull's eyes were supposed to be. He couldn't see them at this distance, but he did know where it was, thank god for past life knowledge on animals. Though he knew that he shouldn't apply his anatomical knowledge of animals in his previous life here, he saw where the bull's eyes were earlier so he knew that his past life's knowledge could still be relied on here and there.

The snake on his head was hissing violently, it then suddenly went silent and let itself drop down to the ground. Much to Clailip's dismay.

'Traitor! Snake!' He thought.

Clailip couldn't stop and giggle at the small pun he made because the next thing he knew was that the bull started charging. He quickly got into the ideal tumbling position to best avoid the raging bull creature.

He waited until it gathered enough momentum to not immediately change directions. All while staring into where its eyes are supposed to be.

'This is way too mentally taxing, my five year old brain can't handle this for long.' He thought as he watched the bull get closer by the millisecond.

...

"... Huh?" He was about to tumble to the right when he let out a sound of confusion, a plopping sound resounded throughout the grassy clearing he was currently in, it seems that the bull staggered, interrupting its charging.

'Did it trip on something?' Clailip tried squinting his eyes and tried to see what exactly the bull had tripped on. The clearing was a flat area with little to no rocks, the rocks that WERE around wouldn't be a hindrance to the bull's charging.

"What is that…?" He asked himself as he watched the bull pull its leg out of a small hole filled with water. 'Was that there before?' He wondered before getting back into position.

He once again waited for the right moment to tumble. He shifted his focus fully onto the bull and quietened his inner voices and thoughts, with all of his brain power currently working on observing the bull's movements, he wouldn't notice a particular serpent snaking its way in between the bull and him, forming a small hole of water.

'Huh, now that I think about it… bulls are grassland animals… why is there one in the f- oop!' He internally cursed at himself as he was almost hit by the bull, thankfully he snapped out of his thoughts at just barely the right time.

He was able to barely dodge the bull, it grazed his left leg, altering his landing position and making him land on his back, knocking the wind out of him. This was particularly bad, he thought, as his plan involved landing on his front instead so that he would be able to get into position quickly and dodge the bull's next charge more efficiently. He didn't realize that this was a blessing in disguise, as he was able to make direct eye contact with the bull for a second or two before he landed and my eyes reflexively closed.

He quickly got up and, to his surprise, found that the bull was stuck in another one of those small holes full of water. He was surprised but quickly took this chance to look deep into the bull's eyes. He didn't blink as he creepily stared at the bull's dark eyes.

"I'M INNOCENT YOU HEAR? ABSOLUTELY VERY WEAK! DO NOT TRY AND HUNT ME ANYMORE. TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO LEAVE ME ALONE TOO!" He childishly screamed at the bull without making any eye contact. He didn't know if this would have any particular effects on how his skill would work, but he did so anyway in the hopes of this particular bull being very gossipy and talking to their bull-like friends about a harmless sweetie that must not ever be harmed by them again. This was a childish thought, but he was technically a child now.

As soon as he saw that there was no aggression left in the bull's eyes, he broke eye contact. "Gotcha, you think you can get away with beating me up? Well you're absolutely correct. After you're not stuck in that hole anymore, do what bull-things do and I'll be on my way." He petted the black bull creature and smiled up at it, it was way bigger than him so he just rubbed along its limbs.

The bull then started to pull its leg out of the hole full of water. It staggered as it did so, almost losing its balance, but the bull ultimately succeeded and freed itself. It let out a self-satisfied huff as it marched around the grassy clearing painted almost orange by the near setting sun. It was a beautiful sight, the first few fireflies of the night made its way around the clearing and danced in the glow of the evening sun. 'Huh, those edges strangely look like a snake-' The small boy thought as he inspected the water hole.

Clailip yelped as he felt a slimy and wet appendage slip around his back. He quickly turned around and saw that the bull was licking him, kind of like how an animal would approach an especially shy bunny.

He then shivered in place as he felt something particularly long slither up his tiny body and rest itself on top of his head. The snake was back and it hissed in happiness as it nested itself back on the brown-haired boy's head. It hissed at the bull, as if trying to communicate with it. The bull, in turn, huffed in an apologetic way.

'How dare you crawl back now that I'm not in danger anymore.' Clailip thought as the two animals communicated with huffs and hisses. He found them adorable. He didn't mind that he was very closely almost turned into some sort of statistic by the magic bull-thing, he still had the childish urge to ride it, pet it, name it, and dress it up in dresses.

He looked up at the bull, while the bull looked down on the boy. It was almost half a meter tall, and Clailip was barely a full meter. The boy fidgeted in place, nervous, he didn't feel comfy with the way the bull was looking at him.

'I never thought that I'd be saying this in my whole two lives but I think that bull is looking at me with doting eyes.' He was about to say all of this out loud, but, he still didn't really know if the bull-thing could understand him, of course he wouldn't want to insult it and restart the whole fight again. He almost died the first time and he was super tired right now. It would be too one sided.

'I somehow also feel like it wouldn't be right to say that out loud.'

"Now that I'm finally safe. I can finally think for a bit… What's a bull- wait no, you kind of resemble a carabao don't you? What are you doing in this forest? Rather than grasslands like I originally thought… you live in swamps right?" He asked the bull-like monster… animal? He wasn't so sure.

"Yes, I do." He heard the carabao speak. He giddily jumped in place as he held the carabao's head, excited that he found a talking animal. 'This world is insanely magical, even animal-monster things have the capacity to communicate. Though I feel an indescribable danger looming over me, I’m not that sure why.' He thought.

'The carabao's voice is strangely telepathic.' Before he was able to realize what was actually happening, the wind picked him up by the armpits.

"Oh." He shrunk in the wind's cool grasp.

"...Hi." he said in a small, nervous voice. He would have used his skill if he could, but, I don't think it works on anything but aggression.

"Hi." Simoy was definitely very angry, the boy could tell because both his face and voice was eerily calm. It was the tranquil type of anger, the most terrifying kind.

"Am I in trouble?" I squeaked out.

"Yes."

"Is it gonna be a harsh punishment?"

"Yes."

"...Can we negotiate on the terms?"

"No."

"Can I at least have one day of freedom before you and Lawod do your thing?"

"Absolutely not."

'And just like that, my days living as a free man- or, well- boy, came to an end. If there was an endpoint, it would be here.

But I will make my grand escape, with the proper planning and materials, I’ll be able to slip past the two spirits.' He internally monologued.

"You won't be doing any escaping."

"How did you know what I was planning!? You said that you couldn't read minds!" He was very shocked, he felt betrayed, he felt like they lied to him and that his world was slowly ripping at the seams. His heart ached with melancholy, he felt his aching heart cry out in pain it was ripped into pieces by the murderous claws of betrayal. He won't ever trust anyone ever again.

"No, we can't read your mind. But your face is pretty much an open book, you're too easy to read." Simoy clarified.

"Oh… Hey! Am I really that easy to read?" Clailip whined as Simoy just scoffed at him and ignored the obvious question.

"Let's go. The newborns have become stronger, and so have we. Somehow by guiding them through the fight with the doom rats we were able to break our developmental wall.”

"Wasn’t that way too easy? Developmental walls aren't something you take time to break through, and you managed to do that in just a day.”

“Yes, but we suspect that it’s your skill at work. It’s a spirit’s best friend. It reminds me of your grandmother, Lucia, she has a similar skill. Boosting the power of contracted spirits and allowing them to ignore developmental walls.”

“Hey, isn't that stupidly powerful? I didn’t know Gramma Lucia could do something like that.”

“It’s a power she doesn’t use often, as it is not everyday she meets a spirit that she likes and contracts.”

“Oh yeah, you said that you broke through your developmental wall?”

“Yes.”

“Does that mean you aren’t weak anymore?”

"Silence is a right and you have the power to exercise it. Please do."

 

"For your punishment you will have to stick close to us at all times. No matter what, even if it's to take a bath or go to the bathroom. If we can't trust you to stay put in the village, we can't trust that you won't try to do stupid things again. This will be in effect for a week." Lawod declared.

"Okay, I understand." The sullen boy muttered, he was sat on a particularly smooth rock. He kicked his legs around as he listened to the lectures and sermons the water spirit would give him.

"Good."

"But consider-"

"No."

"Lawod!" He whined, he really didn't want to be babied like this, it was absolutely embarrassing. He would describe the embarrassment as the type one would feel when you let your friends treat you like their child and not as their peer.

Being babied by his parents is one thing, being infantilised by these spirits is a whole other story he didn't want to dig deep in.

"No. You fought an earthen carabao with no experience with hunting and no magic to use, you could have easily died with one hit. We don't even know how you managed to tame it along with that snake, we just know that we have to reprimand you for your actions." Lawod scolded the boy who shrank in his seat with every single word,, his tone was firm and harsh, but it was clear that there wasn't any anger behind them, just pure concern for the wellbeing of the fidgeting boy.

Clailip just nodded, he knew full well that he was at fault.

'Ah, he's right… Dammit, why am I tearing up!' Clailip thought as he tried his best to suck in the tears streaming down his face. His emotional maturity was reset too, so even if he tried his best to stop crying, he would only end up crying more. Knowing this he just tried his best to suck it in without crying like an absolute baby.

‘Having the emotional maturity of a child sucks. I’m gonna be a child for a few more years so I should probably get used to this kind of thing happening.’ He didn't like how the only rational and mature part of his whole being was his thoughts, and sometimes he suspects that even they have become childish.

Lawod saw the tears and sighed heavily, the spirit didn't know how to deal with children. So he always opted to do what he had observed the boy's parents would do. Unfortunately he thinks that he has overdone it, the boy rarely cried when being given lectures by his parents. And yet somehow he managed to make Clailip sniffle quietly the first time he tried to lecture him. He patted Clailip on the head to get the sniveling boy's attention, when the boy looked up, he hugged the boy tenderly and apologized.

"I’m sorry for being harsh on you, Clay. But we can't let you get hurt, understand? And you still have to save your parents, you want to do that, right? Well you won't be able to if you die now. Do you understand?" Lawod gently asked, it was reminiscent of a gentle father disciplining his child with words and not rods.

He nodded at the spirit with tear-stained cheeks, eyes still glistening with tears, "I just wanted to go hunting to hopefully improve my magic… I can't help my grandparents save everyone if I can't even cast a spell." The boy explained, he wasn't hiccing nor sobbing, but he was obviously fighting back tears. Of course, the only reason why hics and sobs weren't audible was because Clailip communicated to them through telepathy, if this wasn't the case, he'd be stuttering and stumbling over his words as more tears fell from his eyes.

"Yes, but you must realize that, that is one stupid idea. How can you practice your battle skills if you don't have any. Good grief, if I had a physical body I would most likely have one of those headaches." Lawod said, particularly emphasizing the stupidity of Clailip's plan.

Clailip giggled sheepishly as he realized how dumb his plan really was. He wiped away his tears as he laughed, calming down after a few moments.

"Are you feeling better now?" Lawod asked the boy. Who just got done laughing. Clailip answered with a smile and nod.

"Yeah, I guess." He replied.

"Well then, tomorrow we will be watching the newborns fight some monsters. Do you want to come and watch?" Simoy smiled at Clailip, or well, attempted to. His mouth was really only a hole with no teeth, so when he did smile it just looked like he was opening up some kind of hole to the abyss.

"I g-guess." Clailip couldn't help but stutter, the primal fear that he felt when he gazed into his mouth gave him goosebumps and most likely will give him nightmares for a whole while.

 

"Why do they look like that exactly? Where did they get those clothes? Did you ransack some sort of town or village?" Clailip was absolutely dumbfounded. He looked at the three newborn spirits with confusion.

The three newborn spirits have now apparently grown to match a low-rank adventurer's strength. That wasn't a very strange thing on its own, but their clothing was another issue.

The wind spirit was wearing some sort of apprentice priest's clothes. They looked ridiculous with how they looked more like a cosplayer than an actual priest. Clailip barely resisted the urge to laugh.

The water spirit was wearing what looked like vintage helper clothes. The kind that low-class maids and butlers would wear.

The ice spirit was the most peculiar one of them all, they shrunk a whole lot. They were still not as small as me, however, as they'd likely be around the size of a ten year old. They were wearing what looked like a squire’s clothing.

'First of all it's way too hot in the forest to be wearing those things. Second of all, did they raid one of the burnt villages in the forest just for some fashion supplies? How absolutely unacceptable, Lady Diana would never approve of this.' Clailip let his thoughts wander while he waited for a proper explanation.

"This is their preferred forms." Lawod deadpanned.

"Huh?"

"This is what they want to look like." Lawod reiterated.

"...What?"

"I don't think I can be any clearer, Clailip."

"......."

The boy looked at the newborns with a mixture of confusion and judgment, while he gave the two senior spirits with an exasperated, questioning gaze

"I understand… I think." He said. Despite waking up barely an hour ago, he already sounded exhausted. Clailip quietly groaned as he imagined a headache attacking him right now, he wondered when the splitting pain of a headache would come as he tiredly stared at the elementals.

"They probably see you as their master and each took the forms they think they'd be able to serve you in best..." Simoy explained, he seemed just as surprised as Clailip was. He gave Lawod a look that could be translated as 'Why exactly are you not surprised!?'

'Seriously, how can Lawod be so calm, collected, and emotionless at times like these.' Clailip thought as he gave Lawod the same look that Simoy was giving him.

"Ah, you guys can just wear more… normal… outfits. You don't have to serve me, I gave you mana for an experiment, so I don't think I am allowed to have the honor of being your master." He politely said.

'I have to nip this at the bud or I feel like this will become a massive headache for me in the future.' He was having a bad feeling about this whole 'serving' thing. He felt as if these three would get increasingly radical and more unhinged the longer he let it fester.

"You made them cry, Clailip. Look, their mana flow is so disorderly and chaotic now. " Lawod pointed out.

"What!? And I can't see mana flow Lawod, I feel like at this point you're just flexing your mana flow ability thing!" He whined.

"Well, they see you as their master and you just told them the master-servant equivalent of a parent telling their child that they were a mistake and that they never wanted them born." Lawod explained.

"I'm not their parent though… And I didn't even mean it in that way! Lawod, help me fix this. I feel so bad now!" Clailip cried out, pestering Lawod. He didn't like the awful feeling of impending doom that they were giving him, but he also didn't like how he made them cry. Clailip racked his head for a solution and found none.

"Just let them do as they please and they should stop." Lawod advised this course of action, Clailip looked at him with disdain, and contemplated just letting the spirits cry 'til their tears turned to blood. He quickly found this thought to be way too cruel and abandoned the plan.

"But… Urgh, fine! Do whatever you want! Stop crying please!" He yelled at the spirits.

"Ah, they started crying more."

"Is it because I yelled at them?"

"No, it's out of happiness. They're absolutely happy that you'll accept them, even if they're 'mistakes that can't be fixed’. They look up to you even more now."

Clailip looked absolutely haggard, and for a split second, one could see Lawod's lips—or at least lip-like parts—curl up into a smirk of amusement.

'Lawod you better not be enjoying this.' He thought. He was absolutely stuck on what to do, he really had a bad feeling about this.

In the end, he just decided to give up, he let out an exhausted sigh. The last time he felt this tired was when he stayed up for two nights straight finishing up a school project.

'I was so ready to beat the absolute heck out of the teacher when she gave me a 99/100 because "Perfection doesn't exist. Everything is Imperfect in its own way." She couldn't even point out anything wrong with my project, she just refused to give me that 100.

That reminds me, that day was also the night I died I'm pretty sure. Eh, well, sucks to be her I guess. I hope she's lying awake in bed regretting that she didn't give someone who would die just hours later a 100.' If anyone could hear his thoughts right now, they would find that he had nothing but hate and resentment for the teacher. 'She was absolutely amazing at teaching but her personality is a massive problem.' He did admit that the teacher was absolutely amazing and was a role model, but her personality was a massive hurdle to being a perfect teacher.

"So," he broke the silence, or well, it was only really silent because everyone else was speaking telepathically. Clailip didn't want to know what they've been talking about, especially that ice spirit, they made Clailip feel a different kind of danger. Just their presence alone rings alarm bells in his head he has long forgotten he had.

“I'm supposed to be watching a fight right? What’re you guys fighting?"

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