Little Red Riding Hood, Valarie , Grilled Fish
Are there even humans living in the Demon World? I walked towards the shadow… when I got closer, based on the profile that I could see from the back, I figured that the other party should be a girl… with an outfit that was red from top to bottom. She carried a basket in her hand, giving me the impression of Little Red Riding Hood…
“Yo… Little girl, are you gathering mushrooms?” As I walked toward her, I asked, trying to keep as friendly a tone as possible.
The little girl turned around, took a look at me, then in the calmest voice, replied, “Yes, gathering mushrooms.”
The little girl in front of me had shoulder length red hair, a small, narrow face, and eyes as red as her hair. There was a vacant gaze in her eyes that gave off a feeling of aloofness to those around. In juxtaposition to the enormous volcano, her body looked incredibly petite.
“Where’s your family?” I was surprised that a little girl about the age of twelve or thirteen years old would be all by herself in the Demon World. She didn’t give me the feeling that she was a spirit…
The little girl turned back around and continued to gather mushrooms, then she replied, slowly, “Family, no have.”
“Is that right… How old are you?” The little girl in front of me gave me a familiar feel… Looking at her lonely profile, it made me feel uncomfortable.
Under the tree, there were some gray mushrooms. I squatted down and picked one up, then put it into her basket.
The girl took a look at me, then continued gathering mushrooms…
“You came here, what for.” Not sure how long had passed, the girl started talking and asked me. Her voice was very calm, one could even say a bit depressed.
“I don’t know… I just happened to end up here…”
“You came, take, red dragon’s, blood.” The girl’s voice became stern.
“Red dragon? I don’t know anything about that. That kind of thing isn’t really my cup of tea. Wait, what did you just say? Red dragon?”
“Yes, red dragon, Venus.”
‘Say hi to Venus for me.’ This reminded me of what Freed had said.
“Is that so? Red dragon Venus? It is a fire dragon, right? I don’t understand, why would anyone want to take its blood?”
“Legend, bathe, red dragon Venus’, blood, can get, immortality.”
“Woah, immortality, that really is something.” If one becomes immortal, wouldn’t they be unstoppable?
“Humph… As expected, indeed, you came here, for it.”
Even though the girl’s face showed no expression, for some unknown reason, when she said this, I could feel a chill down my spine. I hurried and clarified what I said, “No, no – I was just saying that if one goes according to the legend, it does sound incredible. But in reality, that legend isn’t true, is it?”
“Why, you say, this.” The girl stopped what she was doing, put down her basket of mushrooms and her vacant stare began to look a bit weird. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it… I guess it was something akin to showing an interest?
“Um, ah… you see, if bathing in the blood of that Venus could make one becomes immortal, then wouldn’t that make the owner of that blood an immortal to begin with? If that’s the case, then the legend has to be made up. If you consider it, it’s not like anyone could have ever tried it, so how could anyone know that the blood of Venus the fire dragon would have such an effect?”
“Hmm, makes sense, you, one, strange, person.”
“Strange, eh? Haha, it maybe a bit strange. Though honestly, I do want to meet this fire dragon, Venus.”
“Since, you no, want its, blood, then, why, you, want, see it.”
“Me? I want to learn Dragon Roar from it… Oh, I am sorry, I said something you don’t understand, didn’t I? The so-called Dragon Roar is actually a cry from the dragon that has destructive power.”
“Why, want learn, Dragon Roar.”
“Sigh… It’s a long story… I am a useless piece of trash that can’t do any magic… So, I want to learn Dragon Roar to compensate for my magical weakness…”
“Yeah. But if I were to see it, it could very well be before I could say anything, I would already be incinerated by its raging fire. If that is going to be the case, wouldn’t it be really bad? My power is really weak. I was just being chased by four superior class demons… Speaking of, they should be following right behind me, right? How come I still haven’t seen them?”
“This, is, Valley of Fire, demons, normally, no dare, get close.”
“Oh, right, Venus, the fire dragon, lives here, so demons don’t dare to come.” Now I remember, that demons usually avoid dragons’ lair. Wait a second, since I am now in its lair, it wouldn’t have noticed me already, would it? On the other hand, since there is such a little girl here, then, Venus shouldn’t be that bad, right?
“Me? My name is Lin Xiang, what about you?”
“Valarie? That’s a pretty name. You’re here all by yourself?”
“Yes, by myself.”
“For how long?” Is this for real? Can a little girl even live here all by herself? Even though there aren’t any demons, shouldn’t she worry about bumping into Venus, the fire dragon?
“Forgot. Probably, since birth, already, here.”
“Is that so…” I sighed to myself quietly. If this is indeed the case, then it would probably be the fire dragon, Venus, that brought her up, right? No wonder she would know about that legend… It isn’t easy being Venus…
At this moment, I suddenly recalled that in the Human World, there were some spiritual users who had organized themselves into squadrons to eliminate evil dragons. But, with my current knowledge of Dragon Roar, I feel that there is simply no way that humans could defeat dragons, unless it were those dragon slayers who possess the power of dragons.
“Groan…” Without any warning, my stomach started growling. Speaking of, I actually haven’t eaten anything…
“Just now that, is that, sounds from belly.” The girl stared at my stomach, looking curious.
“Yes… that’s the sound of my stomach growling.”
“Then, does that mean, you hungry.”
“Yes… I am hungry.”
“Ugh…” I looked at the gray mushrooms, and I looked at the girl standing in front of me.
They shouldn’t be poisonous, right? So, I gave my answer.
“Yeah, eat, mushroom.”
“Um… It is just that, would it not be enough with just mushrooms?” At this time, the image of that crisp, clear stream that I passed by earlier flashed across my mind, not to mention those little fishes swimming in the stream.
“Then, you want, eat, what.”
“You wait here for a bit for me. Right, if it is possible, could I trouble you to start a fire?” I asked, as I stood up and got ready to go back to that stream to catch some fish.
The girl picked up her basket, nodded… When I saw her nod her head, I turned around and ran towards the stream…
———————— At the Small Stream
The water in the clear stream was flowing gently towards some unknown parts. Fishes that were the size of my hand were swimming carefreely in the water.
I put my hands on my hips, stood by the side of the stream, and stared at the fish in the water. I am fresh out of ideas… Just how… should I… catch them?
Right, I could use a rod to catch them! Fishing rod… I took a look at the tall trees surrounding me… there wouldn’t be any fishing rods around here, would there…
I can catch them with my bare hands! I took off my shoes and jumped into the stream with a “splash”. When the splashes and waves finally calmed down, I noticed… all the fish had swum away…
… Ten minutes later…
“Hufff… haah!!!” I did a Dragon Roar against the fish in the stream… It made a big splash… then all the fish floated to the surface…
Looking at the six relatively large fish I have in my arms… I feel a bit hapless…
I would never have thought that… Dragon Roar has such a use…
———————— Foot of the Volcano
When I returned, I saw several trees had fallen onto the ground and the tree themselves were burning…
Valarie… could it be that she was attacked?
When I thought of that, I ran over there as quickly as I could…
“So slow.” When I ran back to where I left Valarie, she was sitting on a tree stump, and she made a complaint when she saw that I had finally returned.
When I saw that Valerie was safe, I was relieved… I might have been worrying too much.
“I am sorry. Because I was fishing, I wasted quite a bit of time.” I lifted up the fish in my hands as I said this.
“Fish.” Valarie jumped down from the tree stump, walked towards me and stared at the fish in my hands.
Right at this moment, the tail of a fish flapped, and as though that had caught her off guard, Valarie took a step back, tripped and sat on the ground…
Why would I say “as though” she was caught off guard, I am not too sure either, because… even though Valarie acted like she was surprised by the fish, her face didn’t show any expression…
“Really a, strange, organism.” Valarie stood up and dusted off any dirt on her clothes.
“Huh? You have never seen one before?” Could it be that Valarie has never seen a fish before? Even though the stream is quite a way away, it is still within the Valley of Fire, right?
“No. This, is, my first time, seen one.”
“Is that so?”
“So, this, strange, organism, that, is called, fish, can be used, for, eating?” Somehow, Valarie’s speech felt a bit strange – she kept pausing in the middle of her sentences… as though she wasn’t used to speaking…
“Yes – fish is delicious. Speaking of, the fire that I asked you to start earlier, it wouldn’t be…” I took a look at a big, fallen tree that was burning on the ground next to us…
“Yes. Start fire, isn’t, it, like this?”
“Well, you can say this is starting a fire… But… how did you manage to do it?” This big tree, no matter how you looked at it, it had to be over a hundred years old, right? The petite little girl standing in front of me… was about one hundred forty-three centimeters tall? What did she do to knock down a tree that was three times her size… and four of them no less…
“How, did I manage, it. I guess, like this.” Valarie walked next to a big tree, lifted up her tiny little fist, and punched the tree trunk… “Boom! Ka… kokoko, thump!” The big tree fell onto the ground…
Oy, oy, are all kids this powerful these days? With just one punch and she managed to knock down a big tree? Then, for someone like me who had to rely on Dragon Roar to catch fish, just what purpose do I have for being alive in this world?
“So… so powerful…” I clapped my hands and laughed awkwardly.
“This, isn’t, anything, powerful.” Hmm? It looks as though she blushed a little? Is she embarrassed? Really, little kids do get excited when being praised by grown-ups…
“That was really powerful. Come, let’s grill some fish.”
As I said this, I broke off a couple branches from the trunk, sharpened one of their ends, then pierced the sticks through the mouths of the fish, and placed the skewers next to the fire and grilled them.
“Yes. Once the fish is cooked, we can eat them.”
“What about, mushroom.” Valarie picked up the basket that was on the ground and walked to me.
“You want to grill mushrooms too?”
“You like mushrooms?”
“I don’t like them, but I don’t dislike them.”
“Is that so?” The way she answered… it was kind of strange…
I broke a few more branches off to skewer the mushrooms and placed them next to the fire.
Sitting on the tree stump, Valarie looked at the mushrooms that had shrunk down in size because they were getting grilled, and asked, “Would this, be delicious.”
“It will… probably.” Without any spices, I don’t know for sure. After all, this is my first time doing this…
“Is that right.” Valeria returned to watching the fire.
“Um, Valarie, do you know Venus?”
“Don’t know. Why, this question.”
“Because, you have been living by yourself for this long, and it has been since you were little, then, there must have been someone looking after you, right?”
“No, I have always been, by, myself.”
“Really…” Even though Valarie’s face was expressionless, and her voice didn’t show any emotion, I could still feel a hint of loneliness behind that calm and composed voice.
For a moment there, I lost my topic, and as a result, the atmosphere turned quiet.
“Ok, the mushroom is ready. We have to wait on the fish.” It had been about five minutes before I took down Valarie’s mushrooms…
Looking at the piping hot mushroom, Valarie sniffed at it using her tiny little nose, then she took a look at me, opened her little mouth; and bit into the mushroom that was at the top of the skewer and pulled it away gently, and started carefully chewing on the grilled mushroom.
“Hm… taste… not bad. Better, than usual.”
“Ugh… are you trying to tell me… that you normally eat these mushrooms raw?” I took a look at the grilled mushrooms in my hand and I couldn’t quite imagine how they might taste like raw.
“Yes. Any, problems.”
“No…” Actually, eating mushroom raw should be alright, right?
I took a bite of the mushroom in my hand, “Yeoch!!! Hot! Very hot!”
I immediately let go of the mushroom… and couldn’t stop breathing through my mouth to soothe it…
“How did tou manage to tat such a scating tot mushtoom…” Ouch, my tongue is swollen… Looks like it was quite badly burnt… and there isn’t any cold water nearby…
“Scating, what is, scating.”
“That, scalding, what is.”
“Scating (scalding) means very hot.”
“Hot. What is hot?”
“Err… you live right near a volcano, right? Don’t you feel hot?” Phew… luckily, I have dragon energy in my body, and that searing feeling dies down quickly…
“That’s why, I ask you, hot, what is it.”
“…” So is that the reason why? Because she has lived near a volcano all her life, as a result, her sensory perception has adapted and can no longer feel heat…
“Why, you stop talking. Ah-hmm.” Valarie bit into another piping hot mushroom.
“No… It’s just that… I don’t know how to explain it.”
“Is that so. Then, forget about it. Ah-hmm.”
Watching Valarie eating her mushroom bite after bite made me feel really famished… Damn senses… damn temperature… If only I could be more like Valarie, then would anyone be my match when it comes to eating hot pot? Why would I think of hot pot all of a sudden? This is really strange.
“Huff… huff… huff…” I blew hard on the mushroom that I have in my hand, so that it can cool down faster…
“Ah…um. Oh. This, organism, called fish, tastes, better than, mushrooms.” Once the fish was done grilling, the heat-resistant Valarie immediately took a bite out of it. Watching her enjoying herself with the fish, I felt like the mushroom that I just ate was already completely digested…
“Of course. But since I don’t have any spices, the taste may be a bit bland. Huff… huff… huff…” I blew hard on the fish in my hand.
I am now more or less used to her way of speaking, with all her unnatural pauses and her lack of intonation.
“Yeah. The so-called spices are things that can make food more delicious.”
“Delicious. It can be, better than, now. This is, what, you mean.”
“Um, that’s right, that was what I meant.” Sigh… I feel sorry for Valarie, being abandoned by her parents, growing up in this Valley of Fire, eating nothing but raw mushrooms, never even had any cooked food, or any food cooked with spices.
“Is that right. Ah-um.” Valarie took another bite of the fish and looked like she was pondering about something. She was probably thinking what food might taste like if there were spices on them.
What if… I bring her back to the Human World – I wonder what would happen…
“Em… Valarie, do you want to go to the Human World with me?”