22. Pioneer Elf

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“So you saw it.”

Melby said with a forlorn look.

“……Was that bad?”

“No. I did say to look as much as you like.”

Melby flutters over to the crystal.

“This is a story from over a millennium ago. An evil warlock attacked this hamlet.”

“An evil warlock?”

“Yes. I had only just been born at the time so I don’t know the details. However, Master freed us and fought the evil warlock.”

But, Melby continues,

“……Having taken refuge, we waited for a message saying everything was alright but contact from Master never came no matter how long we waited. We timidly returned to the hamlet, and then――”

At that point, their “Master” was already in the state she is now.

“If you saw her status, then you should understand. Time has stopped for Master inside the crystal. No, this is just a guess, but I think that Master used [Space-Time Magic] to stop her own time the moment she was imprisoned inside the crystal.

Indeed, it doesn’t appear likely for the being who imprisoned their “Master” to purposely stop time for her.
Their “Master” probably had time stop as a last resort to protect herself.

“So, this crystal can’t be undone?”

“……I can’t. At least, I can’t do it with my power. I don’t know what magic was used to make this crystal―― this separation barrier.”

Melby looks down with a gloomy face.

“The crystal itself isn’t that solid. On the contrary, it’s rather brittle.”

Handing me a chisel-like object, Melby tells me to try using it to whittle at the crystal.
Or rather, just where did she produce that from just now?

“That is a dimension chisel. It’s a magic tool that was made to shave down the separation barrier. ――Now then.”

Just like Melby told me, I try poking at the crystal with the chisel.
Simply poking at it didn’t leave a single scratch.
This time, I swing the chisel’s blade downward with force.
There was a faint *snap* and a thin flake separated from the crystal and fell down.

I picked up the shaving.
It was as large as a smartphone, but it was only around 1 millimetre thick.
The edge looked sharp enough to cut my finger.

“This is……?”

“Paring it once produces a flake like that. No matter how much magic or force you put in,  that flake will be all that separates from the crystal each time. Hence, it’s called the separating barrier.”

I felt as though my mana had barely been absorbed.
When I check with [Appraisal], I saw that my MP had decreased by 1.
So it only consumes 1 MP and produces something 1 millimetre thick.

“Even in the past, there have been humans who have come all the way here. There were even people who have tried to release the seal. But――”

Even those people who had been patiently shaving away at the surface of the crystal in the beginning became unable to bear it after continuing for several months.

“Nevertheless, the crystal’s thickness is about 1 metre ― slightly wider than my shoulder width. Even though the shaved pieces may be thin, you should reach the centre after a thousand times or so. I feel like it could be managed one way or another.”

“――It regenerates.”

“Eh?”

“The crystal regenerates. ――Look.”

The chipped part glows dimly.

After the light disappeared――as expected, the crystal returned to its original state.

You can’t tell if you don’t look closely, but the part that was chipped off seems to have returned to its former thickness.

“……I see, it’s impossible with this.”

No matter how one attacks it, all that separates in one go is a thin shaving.
And that shaving is replenished from the vicinity of the chipped section.

If it was a simple hard barrier then I could just break it with further strength.
I could hope for such.

However, whilst this can be whittled down, I definitely can’t whittle through it.
This would be quite hard on the mentality of anyone who tried to dispel the barrier.

I can see the terrible personality of the guy who created this barrier, it’s an extremely tricky barrier.

“There have also been several magicians who gathered together and threw magic at it consecutively, but it seems that when the timings of the attacks are too close together, they are regarded as a single attack altogether――even when all the members use all their MP in a concentrated attack, only a single sliver separates from the crystal.”

In other words, it can only be steadily shaved down.

“Even so, we know that the regeneration of the shaved part isn’t quite perfect. When we dig through approximately half my height’s worth ―  the amount amassed in one day, the regeneration diminishes slightly after that.”

Approximately half of Melby’s height = roughly 10 centimeters.
If all the shavings are of constant thickness, that’s 100 pieces.
However, if one wants to ensure that the width is enough for the pioneer elf female inside to be able to pass through, they would desire a surface area of about 10 smartphones lined up both vertically and horizontally, and would require the work of digging 100 times for each 1 millimetre.
For each millimetre, 100 sections need to be shaved 100 times, which makes it 10, 000 times in total.

…….Wait?

“Wouldn’t it be a little easier if you dug a tunnel with which the person inside could pass through by crouching, and only shave as wide as the girth of the person inside?”

“That is no good.
It seems that the mechanics of this separation barrier are such that it supplements for any reciprocal action, and even if you dig a long tunnel to the inside, it closes it off immediately.
The slight delaying of the regeneration is when the barrier is uniformly shaved down on this side.”

“How much is a slight bit?”

“……About as much as a single shaving.”

“So at that pace, you would only be able to progress 1 millimetre per day no matter how much you dig.”

With that pace, they would need a thousand days to dispel the seal.
To continue working when you only progress 1 millimetre per day――it’s work where you would be unable to bear it before reaching the end, even if you brought along an ascetic monk from India or thereabouts.

“If you raised your daily pace……”

“We needed to shave it down ten thousand times to excavate half my height’s worth though?
Faeries are able to absorb mana from our surroundings so we could somehow manage that much, but normally one’s mana would run out before then.”

If 3 seconds are needed every time, that would be 30, 000 seconds = 500 minutes = 8.3 hours.

Indeed, it’s close to the limit of what one can do in a day.
No, it has completely surpassed the limit.
A sane human wouldn’t be able to devote themselves to chipping off crystal shavings nonstop for 8 hours a day.

Moreover, the crystal returns to 99% of how it was before, the very next day.

That would drive anyone crazy.

Furthermore, the worker would need to have over 10, 000 MP, or have high mana recovery like the faeries.
Such people would be on the same level as the handful of great warlocks, but there’s no way that such great warlocks would waste a colossal amount of their time on this insane work.

“If you worked in shifts……”

“I don’t know how it works, but the regeneration speeds up when several people’s mana is mixed together.”

So in regards to the crystal being shaved down, only one person can do it at a time.

“By the way, what’s the longest record so far?”

“……7 months.
It was an ascetic elf monk who possessed a vast mana pool because they carried the divine protection of the god of magic, Attiera.
I think it was because they were continuously doing simple work, but one day they injured their finger with one of the shavings.
The injury itself was just a common cut, but I suppose everything just piled up.
Spurred on by that, they started rampaging with a strange cry.
The hamlet was full of faeries back then so we were able to cure their frenzied state, but when they recovered their sanity, that ascetic monk left on a journey, saying they were going to start from scratch……”

That was a pity.

“That’s why, by no means should you try to dispel Master’s seal either. To have someone be driven insane for her own sake, Master wouldn’t be pleased. Even though I very much wish to see Master, ――”

 

“――Well, just let me give it a try for now.”

 

“I can’t ask a stranger to do such a thing……or rather, you’re actually doing it!? Y-you, haven’t you been listening to what I’ve been saying?”

I promptly began work.
I hit and chip away at the crystal using the chisel Melby gave me.
The crystal is whittled away along with the snapping sound of splitting ice.
The thickness was the same as before.

To optimize the work, I search for the minimum degree of strength.
I poke it lightly. This is no good.
I strike at it with the force from my elbow to the tip. This was a success.
Reducing the force slightly, I hit it like a hammer. Yup, success.
Further reducing my strength, I hit it as though I was knocking on a door. Failure.
I strengthen the knock. Success.
Well then, let’s work with this degree of power.

Next, I investigate the interval between hits.
Hit, separate, immediately hit again. Failure.
Hit, separate, hit after 5 seconds. Success.
Hit, separate, hit after 3 seconds. Success.
Hit, separate, hit after 1 seconds. Failure.
Hit, separate, hit after 2 seconds. Success.
Hit, separate, hit after 1.5 seconds. Success.
Hit, separate, hit after 1.2 seconds. Failure.
Hit, separate, hit after 1.4 seconds. Success.
Hit, separate, hit after 1.3 seconds. Failure.
In conclusion, I should hit it with a 1.4 second (estimated) interval as a rule.

Now that I know that, the task is simple.

Using the chisel, I strike the crystal with a 1.4 second interval and the force of a strong knock.
Snap, snap, snap……I chip away at the crystal with a set rhythm.

“Y-you……?”

Melby watches me work in astonishment.

Even after that, I swing the chisel countless times.

Before I knew it, the shaved fragments had piled up into a mound on the floor of the cavern.

Hm? Melby is gone.

Or so I thought, but Melby comes tottering back from the entrance with a heavy-looking tea set in her hands.

“Don’t strain yourself too much, okay? It’s already been 3 hours!”

Speaking of which, the hand holding the chisel is a little bit sore.

There’s no fatigue, but though it may be small, there is still the burden of the recoil from when I’m striking the crystal.

“Let me have a look. ――Oh spirit of life who dwells in children, wield your power and invigorate this child’s body.”

Following Melby’s words, my arm is shrouded in a pale radiance and the pain in my arm vanishes.

“Ohh!”

“This is [Spirit Magic]. Just then, I called upon the spirit of life that was dwelling inside your body to aid your recovery.”

“Can I learn it too?”

“It’s a little difficult for humans, but it’s not impossible. You have to listen carefully to the voices of the spirits that lurk among everything in nature. Once you can hear their voices, you’ll naturally grasp how to make requests.”

“Listen…… to the voices of the spirits?”

“There’s no other way to explain this. Believe in the existence of spirits, hone your soul and just try listening to their voices earnestly. Faeries are able to do it naturally from the moment they are born, but I suppose humans need to train for several hours a day, and finally get it after a few years have passed.”

Oh. It seems quite useful, I’ll try it next time.
As expected, one might give up if they need to spend years on it, but with my powers of concentration, I could continue to try to listen to the spirits’ voices at night, when my concentration is at its highest.

After drinking the tea that Melby brewed for me, I pick up the chisel once again.

“A-are you alright……?”

Melby asks, seemingly worried.

“Yeah. I’m going to try for a little bit longer. You said the regeneration would slow down once it reaches half your height’s worth, and I want to see.”

Snap, snap, snap……
I return to the never-ending work of chipping away at the barrier once more.
I have accustomed myself with this simple work, and I swing the chisel with the perfect timing and an exquisite moderation of power.
It would be troublesome if my arm gets sore, so I move the shavings aside when they pile up at my feet as a form of rest, and then continue to swing the chisel endlessly.

I wonder how much time has passed since then.

“……ent, I said wait a moment!”

Melby says, cutting in front of me.

“Woah! Don’t startle me.”

“You shouldn’t be saying ‘don’t startle me’! Just how long do you intend to do this for!”

“……Indeed, I’ve almost excavated half of Melby’s height.”

By the time I realised, I have shaved down roughly 10 centimetres since I started.

After looking on for a moment, the crystal glows dimly and the shaved section recovers.

…..It appears to be almost a complete recovery, but……

“We’ve properly measured with a ruler before so it’s alright. With this, it has decreased in thickness by one sliver.”

“I see… So now it has finally been 1 set.”

If the thickness of the crystal is 1 metre, I have finally made 1 millimetre of progress.
If I repeat this work for a thousand times, this crystal will have been exhausted.

Come to think of it, how much time has passed?

“……Are you really saying that? You’ve been doing this for half a day already!”

“Eh, seriously?”

The knocking, snapping rhythm had been so pleasant that I completely forgot the time.

The knock-and-snap took 1.5 seconds and the standby time was 1.4 seconds, so one swing of the chisel took roughly 3 seconds.
According to my previous calculation, it would take 8.3 hours to strike the crystal ten thousand times.

If I were to do this for 24 hours, I would be swing the chisel 28, 800 times.
Nevertheless, this was just a theoretical value at best.
Even for me, taking time to eat and rest my hand is necessary, so swinging it 25 thousand times in a day was probably the limit.

Time runs 10 times faster inside the faery hamlet, so if I spend a whole outside day on this work, I reckon I could shave the crystal 250 thousand times ― 25 millimetres = 2.5 centimetres.
I would have to do this until I reached 1 metre, so if I maintained this for 40 outside days, I would be able to whittle down the crystal.

This is quite the story of patience, but it doesn’t seem impossible to do it.
For example, if I come to the faery hamlet once a month, it would take an estimated 40 months――3 years and 4 months to release the seal.

“However, that’s the most troubling part.”

It’s hard to slip out of the house for a full day in the body of an infant.
In addition, I wouldn’t be able to go very far away from the entrance of the faery hamlet in those 40 months.

And yet I’ll be heading to the royal capital with my parents after this, so it would be too excessive to do then.
It’ll still be difficult after we finish our business at the royal capital and return to our residence.
It takes half a day to reach the village nearest to the faery hamlet, Riverette village, from Corbette village, where the estate is, so I can’t slip out at midnight and come here.

Of course, there is also the option of explaining the situation to my parents and obtaining permission from them, but then I would have to mention my reincarnation.

“……You’ll help……?”

Melby says anxiously.

“Eh? Of course I intend to do so.”

I felt like asking what she was going on about now, after such a long time, but she did say that the previous helpers had been driven mad, so Melby is sure to be uneasy.

I smiled as tenderly as possible and said,

“――You wished for someone to help, didn’t you?”

“――!”

Melby remarked that it was fine not to help.

However, Melby’s actions had betrayed her.

If she didn’t want help, why would she leave a secret message in a conspicuous place near the village?
Why did she encourage me, who came to visit the village, to stay overnight?
Why did she say to take a good look around the hamlet?
And―― why did she leave open the entrance of the stairs leading to this cavern?

I think Melby held some aspiration deep in her heart.
That I would discover this place and say that I would save their “Master”.

There was a sob.
I tried to not look that way as much as possible.

“……But I have some difficulties. As you can see, I am just a child so I can’t leave my parents’ side for long. I also have other things to do and can’t spend all my time and energy on this separation barrier.”

If I could rescue this “Master” ― Alfecia, according to [Appraisal] ― there probably wouldn’t be anyone as reliable in the fight against the evil god.
Or rather, she’s at the level where I could just leave the later matters entirely to her.

But there’s the “Evil Warlock” who imprisoned this person inside the separation barrier, huh.
If I ever meet him, I will have no choice but to flee with all my power.
He’s a figure from a thousand years ago so I suppose he had already died long ago, but……

“――In that case, I’ll just follow you.”

“Eh, Melby will?”

“I can also use [Dimension Magic], although it’s not at the same level as Master’s. But then, I could make a gate to this hamlet no matter where you are.”

I see. In that case, I could use my free time to come here.

“D-don’t be mistaken! The reason I’m following you is all for Master’s sake, okay!”

“Yes, yes.”

Making a wry smile at her attempt to hide her embarrassment, I pick up the crystal shavings that had piled into a heap on the ground.
Each one was the size of a smartphone, had a thickness of 1 millimetre, and had an outrageously sharp edge; if one wasn’t careful, they could cut their finger.

“I can use this.”

I pinched it between my index and middle finger and threw it at the wall.
The shaving easily pierced the wall.
I think that [Shuriken Techniques] is probably showing effect, but I suppose this is considered part of the shuriken category.

“Ah, so you can use that. In that case, just take them with you because they’re also a trouble to throw away.”

As Melby was saying that carelessly, she stored the pile of shavings somewhere.

“Just then, what did you do?”

“This? It’s a form of [Dimension Magic], magic known as dimension storage.”

Inventory (Infinite Storage) has arrived!

“That, can I use it too?”

“I wonder… [Dimension Magic] itself is a very high-level skill, so it might be possible if you practiced for tens of years perhaps.”

Tens of years, huh.
I believe I could condense that if I use [No Fatigue] well, but to learn it instantly may be unreasonable.

“Now that that’s decided, let’s go.”

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆

――Like this, Melby ended up accompanying me.

I didn’t think that Melby would show her figure outside, but it seems faeries can’t be seen by humans on the whole.

Because we will be travelling together, I asked Melby to let me see her status in advance.
Ta-da.

《Melby (Born in Tetelutia Faery Hamlet | Leader of Faeries | 《Sage》 | 《Miss Perseverance》 | 《Everybody’s Big Sister》)
?? (1119 years have passed since birth)
Faery

Level 44
HP 34/34
MP 997/997

Status: Faeries’ Oath (Cannot tell a lie intentionally. Excluding desperate situations of self-defence, cannot cause harm to others. However, those under the influence of the evil god are an exception.)

Skills
• Legendary Class
[Telepathic Communication] 5
[Spirit Magic] 4
[Dimension Magic] 2
[Appraisal] 4
[Faery’s Eye] 4
[Dimensional Magical Tool Creation] 2

• Master class
[Leadership] 3
[Magical Tool Creation] 9 (MAX)
[Space Magic] 9 (MAX)
[Faery’s Song] 4
[Mana Control] 9 (MAX)

• General
[Command] 9 (MAX)
[Tool Creation] 9 (MAX)
[Mana Manipulation] 9 (MAX)
[Mana Perception] 6

《Pioneer Elf’s Blessing》(Able to borrow a portion of the Pioneer Elf’s knowledge. Small compensation to mana increase when levelling up, small compensation for magic skills’ learning | growth.)》

Yeah. Melby really is someone who perseveres.
She handed it to me nonchalantly, but I can tell from her status that she probably went through considerable hardship to make that dimension chisel.

Since it’s there, let’s use [Appraisal] on the dimension chisel too.

《Dimension Chisel: A legendary-class magic tool. An anti-separation barrier chisel produced by the faery Melby of Tetelutia after diligently studying for hundreds of years. Increases the shaved depth of the separation barrier from 1 micrometre thickness to 1 millimetre thickness.》

It wasn’t at the level of hardship!
It’s the fruits of her blood, sweat, and tears!
I’m sorry for thinking “so it only shaves 1 millimetre…” in my heart!


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31 thoughts on “22. Pioneer Elf

  1. Thanks for the new chapter! Does he have to time to spend days working on chipping the crystal? The missing boy and meeting up with his father are still things on his agenda. He’ll have to find a way to speed it up.

    Like

      1. Err.. wait.. i thought that chisel and hammer was a set.. why didn’t the story said anything about hammer? Can chisel be used in a swinging motion? Meatbun can imagine if it’s a pick axe though..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I would say… That is the ultimate defence against the dreaded “Sad Panda” , after all, she is an elf…
    Also thanks for the chapter!

    Like

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