The day in Forest’s Edge settlement begins early in the morning.
The people start work at dawn, beginning immediately after getting up from bed.
Their work varies, but if they didn’t have any pressing work at hand, they would start by tidying up last night’s dinner.
They would place the used pots, utensils and cloth stained with fats into an iron pot, and clean them to the water source to wash. As for why they didn’t clean it the night before? Although this was the territory cleared out by humans, they might still encounter dangerous wildlife when night falls.
The Kiba beasts were cautious and didn’t appear often. But if they were hungry, they would still invade the residence of the humans. They would pass through Forest’s Edge and head to Genos’ western territory where the farmland was.
Aside from the Kiba, there was also the Manto, also known as the 「rotting flesh scout」, which had the appearance of a giant rat. Furthermore, venomous snakes and scorpions were very dangerous too. There wasn’t any large predator that prey on humans, but a bite from these beasts would cause illness that would be hard to recover from.
And so, they would clean their kitchenwares in the morning, at the water source nearest to their respective homes. For Fa House, that would be one of the streams that branches out from Lanto river, about ten minutes walk away.
The stream passes through a stony riverbed. It might be a stream, but it was just like spring water that flowed through the mountains.
They would clean their pots and kitchenware there, using something like a brush, made by securing dried Kiba bristles. The pots and wares might be stained with oil, but they could be cleaned unexpectedly well after brushing it with the short bristles.
The stained clothes would be cleaned during this time too. As they had more time to spare, the denizens would use this time to do laundry too.
When their water flask run dry, they would refill it during this time too.
As the iron pots and water flasks were heavy, they would use something call a 「tow board」.
It was a large piece of wooden board used to carry cargo. The denizens would stick bristles on the reverse side, and coat it with solid fats.. They would then braid vines into ropes, securing them to the board and create handles from similar material. It could then be slung over their shoulders to tow the board.
As the board had been greased, the friction was reduced which ease about half the load. But if the water flasks were full, it would weigh about a hundred kilogram, and would be tough to pull.
The people from other families that I would run into at the water source were all women.
Most of them were middle aged housewives stronger than I was, but there were lots of old grandmothers and young girls too. Even they could pull the boards nonchalantly. I was sure that out of everyone there, I showed the most strained expression.
「What a weak man.」 And of course, that was the words of my dear mistress of the house.
By the way, early in the morning at the water source was the place where we could come into closest contact with other families. But as I expected, no one came near Ai Fa. Some women would greet her, but won’t communicate further than that. We didn’t hold much expectation either. The Tsun clan ruled Forest’s Edge after all, so doing that would probably incur their wrath.
On top of that, a weak man suddenly appeared by Ai Fa’s side, wearing a white chef uniform and T-shirt that was out of place with Forest’s Edge, so the other denizens looked at Ai Fa with even more suspicious eyes — I thought that would happen, but no one did that. Everyone only looked from afar at me who was staying by Ai Fa’s side, but no one met my eyes.
This might be a little off topic, but all these women were dressed in pretty clothes like the one Ai Fa wore. In order to not appear too prominent, most clothes had dull hues such as dark green or brown as its base color. However, they made use of these colors to add complicated spiral patterns on their clothes, giving them a traditional yet fashionable look.
The married women would wrap their body with a large piece of cloth, covering themselves from their chest to their knees.
Unmarried women would dress just like Ai Fa, covering their chest and waist with two separate pieces of cloth.
And of course, the other women didn’t wore capes or secure large blades to their waists. Except when entering the forest, Ai Fa would carry a knife when she leaves the house. A lot of young girls would carry knives too. Even if they didn’t hunt Kiba, these knives could be used to harvest herbs or cut vines, a very practical tool.
Everyone in the settlement had brown skin. They had varying hair and eye colour, but the most common was light brown hair and blue pupils. I had seen redheads and black hair too, there were many blondes like Ai Fa too. There should be women with black or brown pupils too, but they kept a distance from me, so I couldn’t confirm.
However, no one had yellow skin like me.
Anyway, after finishing the work at the water source, what’s next would be house chores.
We would maintain our blades every day.
We would check the condition of the blade and hilt. And if necessary, we would repair it. Grinding stone in this world looks like obsidian, a rough rock with a dark glister about it.
After that, we would check the ingredients in the food store.
Checking the aria and poitan was important too, but the main focus was still the Kiba meat.
As we checked the Kiba meat for damages, we would use the pico leaf to rub and knead them. If the pico leaves were just left there, it would absorb the moisture from the meat, so we needed to knead it once a day. This stops the meat from losing too much water to the pico leaves, which in turns depletes its preservation effectiveness.
Like the meat, the jerky was also buried in pico leaves. We would cut the needed amount of jerky at this time, and finally have breakfast. As we chew on the rubbery jerky, we would head into the forest.
Our goal was to collect herbs, firewood and to bathe.
The sun would have risen completely by this time.
Which means that Ai Fa did all these chores when I arrived at Ai Fa’s place. In order to head into the forest, she completed all these chores before waking me.
However, not only did I slept so deeply, I even did something mean to her, a terrible shame. When I apologized again after the fact, she kicked my leg thrice. Damn, that hurts.
After dealing with all that, we headed into the forest.
First, we headed downstream of Lante river to bathe.
The consecutive attack by the Madarama snake and the kiba the last time traumatized us. But my beloved mistress told me 「it is almost impossible for that to happen again」, and even looked at me coldly, as if contemplating how weak this man from another world was.
However, that Madarama snake was indeed the nemesis of the kiba. Because of its presence in the mountains, the kiba could only stay at the edge of the forest at the foot of the mountain. If the Madarama snake appears near the foot of the mountain, the kiba could only escape elsewhere, or their numbers would dwindle sharply.
Hence, it was rare to find Madarama snakes near the foot of the mountain. The one we saw probably lost its footing — or rather, its scalings and fell into the river. It was probably washed here by the current. What a troublesome snake.
After concluding that, I could finally enjoy my bath.
The average temperature here was about 30 degrees, and bathing in this climate was really comfortable.
I didn’t have the habit of showering in the morning, but after a short while, I find this bathing time to be really blissful.
Going off topic again, I want to emphasize that since that accident, I had not breached any other Forest’s Edge taboo. I swear on my very soul that I would not do that again.
After finishing our bath, we would forage for herbs.
The crucial pico leaves.
Pico leaves were our preservatives, and its effectiveness would deplete when it absorbed the moisture from the meat. Even if we stir it every day, it would last for just a month at most.
The meat storage was about 2m x 2m x 30cm. As we need to replenish such an amount of pico leaves monthly, we would collect a certain amount every day.
Without pico leaves, there would be no meat. This concerns our survival, so we needed to keep a careful count every day. If we didn’t meet the necessary amount, we would prioritize our time to forage for pico leaves.
After foraging pico leaves, we would collect krilee fruits and lilo leaves.
Krilee fruits were used as repellent for harmful insects.
Many poisonous insects and venomous snakes lurk in the forest. In order to protect themselves, the denizens of Forest’s Edge would weave wrist bands with these fruits. It gets in the way of my cooking, so I hung them around my neck. And by scattering them around the house, it would keep such insects and snakes from invading the house, so we needed to pick these plants periodically.
Lilo leaves were herbs needed to make jerky.
By the way, one of the fragrances from Ai Fa came from this herb. Its scent was calming and refreshing, and smelled elegant enough to be perfume. It also neutralized the stimulating smell of meat and fats, which was great.
However, I didn’t tell Ai Fa all this. She would kick me if I did.
After the foraging was done, the last part was to gather firewood.
If there were enough branches on the ground, we would tie them up with vines growing nearby and bring them home. If not, we would break off smaller branches from the trees and leave it to dry at home.
There would be sudden downpours several times a day.
This natural phenomenon was unpredictable, and would sometimes drench all the firewood we gathered. But we weren’t disheartened and would continue to gather more branches. Even if they got drenched by rain, we just needed to dry it. Such optimism were needed when living in Forest’s Edge. And my cooking method would use up more firewood, so gathering them was an important task.
Which meant — all the work we do were important.
Even though I emphasized the importance of the pico leaves, it was just a matter of priority. If we didn’t go about each tasks in order, we wouldn’t be able to survive here.
Be it washing dishes, drawing water, grinding blades, food stock management, foraging herbs, gathering firewood or hunting kiba beasts, all this was for the sake of survival.
If we skip even one of these steps, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
For the sake of survival, labor was mandatory. We can only survive after working the entire day.
Because the denizens of Forest’s Edge lived such a life, they never thought about 「raising the quality of their food」.
Be it meat, aria or poitan, all this could be eaten after cooking them in a stew. No other procedure was needed. Eating was just for survival. Just like the other jobs, this was just a 「means」 to live on. It didn’t hold any value as entertainment. The 「taste」 wasn’t important.
They will die if they don’t eat, so they eat. There’s no other reason.
For living beings, that was the correct attitude.
Be it the kiba pot prepared by Ai Fa or the kiba meat soup cooked by me, both had nutritional value. Hence in this world, opting for the convenient and faster way was the right choice.
But I’m from a different world. I came from a world that understands the joy of 「eating」.
Therefore, I will strive on in my own path.
My battle in this different world was just beginning.