I continued to feebly walk inside the Forest of Glamour using my huge spider legs – what I called my Arachne form, so to speak.
The last time I had something in my stomach was 2 days ago.
I can make water with magic by condensing the moisture in the air, so water isn’t a problem, but I was absolutely lacking the calories needed to maintain this magical beast body.
Aaaaahhh… That’s right, might as well do my usual self-introduction here.
Well, to put it simply, I, Arakura Shiori (24), was working at a flower shop in a city, when a runaway truck slammed into the store and killed me. After that, I happily reincarnated in Falyias, a fantasy world of swords and sorcery.
As a half-human half-spider monster called an Arachne.
…Well, I ran into a lot of trouble with that as one of the reasons, but now I’m making my living by running a tailor shop in the nearby town of Rihak.
Luckily, manipulating threads – the special skill of my race – is my forte, and turning into a human is also quite simple, so I haven’t had any problem living here.
The shop is doing well too.
And so, the reason why I’m here is because 5 days ago, some bigshot noble came to my shop and ordered some sentient magical clothing.
Apparently, his son said “I’m going to be an adventurer!” and simply wouldn’t budge from his decision.
And then, when the noble tried to convince him to bring along some escorts, he replied “No adventurer would do something so shameful!” and rejected that idea… Finally, after a long discussion, his son reluctantly agreed to a compromise, which was to wear some sentient magical clothing with the memories of a veteran adventurer copied inside it.
And so, they’ve decided that since they’re going to go through the trouble anyway, they might as well go to the Arachne Tailor that’s been making waves lately. In other words, my shop.
And that’s how I received another order. Thank you for your patronage.
Well, my shop wouldn’t have any problems making a robe that would satisfy the noble’s defensive need, but the issue is making it a ‘sentient magical item’.
Actually, the process of putting an artificial intelligence into weapons and armor requires a critical material, which is a ‘Spirit Stone’… According to the adventurer guild’s information dealer, “There has been reported cases of finding crystallized Spirit Stones inside the bodies of magical beasts living in the Forest of Glamour, a place bountiful with the spirits’ blessings”, which is why I’d been venturing inside the forest since 3 days ago.
However, one problem I didn’t expect was that… the magical beasts here are too low-level.
Since only magical beasts at a certain level of strength create Spirit Stones inside their bodies, I had been running around the whole forest hunting every single boss-class beast I came upon, and managed to acquire 1 large stone and 3 smaller stones after all that.
The large stone is especially valuable. I only got it by venturing deep inside the forest and defeating the Marionette Devil, the lord of this area.
The Marionette Devil is a high-rank monster. As you can guess from the name, this devil can create and control different kinds of dolls, using them to fight in its stead.
The devil itself wasn’t that powerful, but the nigh-endless Jack Dolls it summoned were incredibly troublesome.
Well, even though the dolls weren’t edible – no surprises there – their boss was quite tasty. I even got a new skill, so all in all, this was a good hunt. (Just like a lot of those monstrously powerful reincarnators, I can also acquire a part of my prey’s powers by eating them.)
But then, I realized a problem.
“…How do I go home?”
This forest is so large and complex that it gained the name ‘Forest of Glamour’.
Furthermore, the space inside of it is subtly distorted, so you can’t use teleportation items or magic.
And since I just randomly plunged inside the forest without sparing a single thought for anything else aside from hunting monsters… Well, not getting lost would be stranger.
Since I could only find weaklings in the outer forest area, I just kept on going deeper and deeper, which only helped create my current situation.
If this was a forest where I can find decently strong magical beasts wandering around (which it isn’t, unfortunately), then I can just hunt and eat them while finding my way out.
There’s a reason for my confidence. I can say for sure that my current stats already surpasses the demon king’s.
Perhaps I’m even as powerful as the Great Demon Lord.
Mob-monster-level magical beasts – and normal animals too, of course – don’t even dare to get close when they sense my presence.
There’s no longer a single living soul in a radius of a few hundred meters around me.
The last thing I ate was the aforementioned Marionette Devil.
If I had known that this would’ve happened, I would have wrapped it up in my threads and brought it with me instead of leaving the devil half-eaten.
That monster was quite big, so I could have lasted for a whole week if I had brought it along…
“Ah, no more… I can’t move…?”
Just when I finally couldn’t take it anymore and slumped onto the ground from my empty stomach, the [Detect Presence] skill discovered something alive.
There’s almost no magic in them, but they’re quite large, as large as a medium-sized or a big-sized dog.
And not only that, there’s 5 of them.
Just when I thought I could no longer move a muscle, my limbs were instantly reinvigorated. Seems like I’m quite easily moved by desires.
*Crack* *KRRRRRRAKKRAKRAK!* *BOOOM!* *BLAM!*
I rushed straight towards that ‘presence of life’, while pulverizing all the trees and boulders barring my way…
After following that ‘presence of life’ for a while, the trees began to get noticeably sparser.
The thick forest started to give way to open lands, and I could finally see the bright, shining sun again.
And most importantly, those presences of life were just a few steps away.
I gathered up strength in my eight legs and leaped forward with the intent to strike at those presences.
At that moment, I noticed that my prey has looked up at me, seemingly surprised.
They wore leather armor, with short swords in their hands. Men.
Oh no, this is bad, brake, braaaaaaaaake!!
Even when I jammed the claws on my legs into a nearby tree trunk in an attempt to slow down, *BAM!* *Krrrkkrrkkkrrrsshhhh…* that strange sound came from the aforementioned tree being torn apart like a piece of paper.
Of course, that wasn’t enough to completely kill my momentum, and I slammed right into the men, who were standing there in a line.
With expressions of shock on their faces, they scattered like bowling pins.
“Ouch-chie ouch… S-Sorry! Are you okay?!”
I immediately activated the skill [Human Transformation], turned into my human form, and tried to shake the men’s bodies one by one.
…Aaaaahhh… Damn. They’re completely unconscious.
In fact, most of them already had their arms and legs twisted into some impossible directions. I don’t know if they can move at all, even if they woke up.
For the time being, I picked a flat spot of grassland, dragged the men there, and lined them up next to each other.
One, two, three, four… Four of them in total.
But still, how curious.
It’s not my place to say this, considering how I was the culprit for their current state, but both their clothing and faces just made them look like a gang of bandits.
“Ah, excuse me… Thank you very much! These bandits were just about to kidnap me…”
When I turned toward that childish voice, I found a boy with blonde hair, around 10 years old, staring at me with shining eyes.
“Eh, bandits? Huh?”
“Y-Yes, recently, some bandits settled down near the village… They occasionally came to our village to steal or kidnap children… I nearly became another victim when they found me while I was going herb gathering…”
So it turned out that they don’t just look like bandits, they ARE bandits!
“If you hadn’t come at that time, I would have… *hic*…”
*sobs* *sobs*. The little boy tried his best to unsuccessfully contain his tears.
My god, what is this cute creature?
They’re seriously honest-to-goodness angels, these Western-looking kids (this isn’t Earth, though…)
Wait, I’m not here to look at cute kids, am I?
Seemed like I crashed the party right when these 4 bandits were attempting to kidnap a child.
…Oh yeah, I DID detect 5 presences before, didn’t I?
Dear me, and here I was, panicking a little bit since I thought I accidentally injured some innocent villagers. If they’re bandits, though, it probably won’t be a problem.
And it also looked like he didn’t realize that I was in my Arachne form when I bursted in, since everything happened so suddenly.
Right when I relaxed, my stomach reminded me of its current emptiness with a magnificent growl.
I unconsciously held my belly and dropped down on the ground.
Yeaaahhh, now that I think about it, the situation still hasn’t gotten any better at all.
No matter how evil those bandits were, eating humans is simply out of the question.
“E-Excuse me… Sis, are you hungry?”
“Y-Yeah… Actually, I’ve already been lost for 2 days now… and haven’t gotten anything to eat at all… Ahahah… haha…”
“T-Then… Please eat this, if you’re fine with this sort of food.”
The boy rummaged inside the sack that he had with him, and finally took out something wrapped in cloth and gave it to me.
What is this…? This is… the smell of food!!
Without thinking, my hands instantly moved to snatch that package. I didn’t even have the patience to open up the knot, so I used my nails to tear it apart and take out the food wrapped inside.
Inside were some rye bread and jerky.
There’s also some kind of fruit similar to an apple and a flask of water.
I took them in both of my hands and took a big bite.
*chomp* *chomp* *munch* *nom* *nom *nom*
Normally, you would soak the hard rye bread in water and chew it off a bit at a time, but don’t underestimate my jaw strength.
I may look like a dainty little girl, but my true strength is that of the high-rank magical beast called Arachne.
The hard bread simply got torn apart like a marshmallow and disappeared in my mouth.
That apple-ish fruit was also gone with just two bites, and I practically drank the jerky.
Even though that wasn’t exactly a small amount of food, it didn’t even take 1 minute for them to all go to my stomach.
“Haaaaa… I’m aliveeeee… Thank you for the food!”
I slapped my hands together in a bow and gazed upon the shreds of cloth that used to be the wrapping.
And I realized something.
Umm, might it be, perhaps, this was the boy’s meal?
“Uhhh… Sorry… I was too hungry… This was your meal, right? Sorry, I ate all of it…”
“Please don’t worry. You saved my life, after all… And this much wouldn’t be enough to repay my debt at all! I may not have much to give you, but please come and visit my house!”
“E-Eh? Can I?”
“Yes, if you’re fine with rye bread, I still have a lot left! Please come and have a rest!”
And so it came to be that the boy named Zell dragged me to a small, nameless village that lies inside the forest’s outer area.
The village truly is a small one. Its population doesn’t even reach a hundred…
Their livelihoods are mainly gathering in the forest and planting wheat. Because they live near the abundant Forest of Glamour blessed by the spirits, their harvests are always bountiful, and nobody ever needs to worry about their meal for the next day. Considering the region, such a village is quite uncommon.
However, at the same time, I heard that the damage they receive from magical beasts’ attacks are worse than the other villages’ due to their proximity to the forest.
And not only that, the village was targeted by that gang of bandits.
These last few years, they had been making sporadic attacks towards the village, leeching from the people while making sure to never go overboard.
“…Well, there’s that, too… We tried to stop Zell, but he didn’t listen and rushed off to pick the expensive herbs that grow deep inside the forest.”
Zerron, the village chief and also Zell’s father, summarized and explained the situation for me.
He’s a good looking middle-aged man with deep blond hair.
“But dad… We can get quite a bit selling the herbs at the town… and if the bandits come, there’ll be injured people…”
“But if you died because of that, there’s no meaning, is there? Just how sad would your mother in heaven be?”
“Y-Yes… I’m sorry…”
Zell gloomily hanged his head.
“Sorry, we shouldn’t be talking about this in front of our benefactor. Please, feel free to eat as much as you want.”
“T-Thank you very much…”
Seemed like Zell told Zerron that I was quite starved.
The amount of food currently served in front of me is obviously not what a young girl can eat in one sitting.
Of course, this family seemed to lack a woman’s touch, so more than half of these dishes were what you would call ‘a guy’s cooking’… In order to prepare this feast, they probably had to use up a lot of their reserves. Considering how frequently bandits show up these days, it’s not an amount they can afford to waste.
… Really, just what did Zell say about me?
“Still, a magician at such a young age. Your training must have been quite severe.”
Zerron’s eyes shined with respect.
I brought the bandits, tied up in a long chain using my threads, with me when I visited his house. Since it seemed like his jaw was about to vacate his face when he saw them, I made up a barely-believable excuse: “I had been training to become a magician ever since I was young, so…”
“And then, and then, listen, dad, it’s amazing! After that, Miss Shiori here went *BOOM* and flew out! And when the dust settled, all of the bandits were already defeated!”
“Hohohh, that is amazing… If someone like Miss Shiori can come and live at our village, no bandits would dare to meddle with us again.”
“Let’s do that! Miss Shiori, I’m going to do my best and work to get a lot of money… And when I’m rich, I’ll support you, so please marry me!”
“Hahah, Zell, you like Shiori?”
“Yes, I love her! ♪”
“Hahah, then you’ll need to quickly grow up and become a respectable adult first!”
Wahahahah, including my last life, this was the first time I’ve ever been proposed to.
But even if I marry Zell in the future and have children with him… the kids will probably be Arachne monsters.
Once that happens, there’s absolutely no way I can continue to live in a human village.
“Sorry, Zell, I’m running a tailor in the town of Rihak. I can’t come here and be your wife, alright?”
And that’s the only answer I can give. Yeah, no other choice.
“Hahah, don’t be unreasonable, Zell. But if you absolutely cannot give up on Miss Shiori, then you should strive to become someone who can get her to fall for you first, and then propose again!”
“…Y-Yes, I’ll do my best! In helping with the farmwork and in studying, too!”
“That’s right, that’s the spirit!”
My, how positive.
Anyway, we finished up our peaceful dinner while making such idle talk. Zerron lent me the bed that his wife once used when she was alive, and I retired for the night.
“Hmm, so the main problem is that nobody knows where the bandits are coming from…”
I flopped down on the straw mat bed while thinking about the bandits.
As long as I know where their base is, exterminating the bandits won’t be a problem… However, I don’t.
And at the same time, I can’t afford to leave the shop alone and stay at this village forever.
“So the village pretty much just needs some bodyguards… They don’t need to be as strong as I am, but enough to drive away any bandits… Hmmm.”
If so, then I can probably do something about it.
I jumped off the bed, took off the pajamas borrowed from Zerron, and got naked.
And then, I deactivated the [Human Transformation] skill.
My lower half quickly enlarged, grew new legs, and turned into the body of a snow-white spider.
Next, 6 eyes, bright red like rubies, popped up on my forehead
I can still use my mouth or my fingertips to create the kind of thread that I normally use in combat, but this type of thread degrades faster and isn’t suitable for making durable, long-lasting fabric.
As I thought, the thread that comes from my butt is still the best material to use when making cloth products.
“So first off is…”
I took out the 3 small Spirit Stones that I got from the forest this time. They won’t be necessary in making the commissioned robe.
And then, I pointed my butt towards the stones and wrapped them in threads.
Once the wrapping is thick enough – around the size of a watermelon for each stone – I stopped creating threads…
“And now, the most important thing in today’s project… [Doll Creation].”
This is the new skill that I gained from eating the Marionette Devil.
The skill can ‘create dolls capable of fighting’ under the user’s control.
After I activated the skill, the three watermelon-sized balls of thread began to morph… until finally, they became three knitted dolls, their shapes stabilizing into something that look like super-deformed girls.
“And finally, copying a part of my consciousness into the Spirit Stones to turn them into sentient magical tools…”
And that marked the completion of the village’s guardians, the three knitted Arachne sisters!
Hey, come out, whoever that just said “Isn’t that Stone ●●ee?”. I need to talk to you.
They are knitted dolls.
I may have gotten a bit overexcited… and granted them resistance to slashing damage and resistance to all elements and bonuses to attack damage and abilities to create magical shields and stealth abilities and backstab skills and Paralyze Breath and that sort of stuff!
BUT. THEY. ARE. JUST. KNITTED. DOLLS.
They’re knitted dolls, so there’s no problem with giving them to the village to show my thanks for the feast, right?
The next day.
Zerron and Zell was sending me off at the village entrance.
I asked them the way home, so really, there’s nothing else keeping me here.
However, finding a way to say goodbye to the boy Zell, who was grabbing onto my skirt with tears in his eyes, was probably my biggest challenge of the day.
“Big sis… Do you really have to go…?”
“Yes, sorry… I have a job at the town… But I’ll give you these instead. Treasure them, okay?”
“Yes! I’ll think of them as you and treasure these dolls! I already thought about their names, too!”
“Oh? What names are you giving them?”
“The red one is Flare, the blue one is Frozen, the yellow one is Gaia!”
My, my, not bad. The names even fit their different elemental attacks.
To be precise, the attack skills that I granted them were shooting a beam of fire, breathing ice, and dropping boulders, respectively.
“Yeah, those are good names! Well then, Flare, Frozen, Gaia. Protect this kid and this village, alright?”
“Yes, Master Shiori. We will protect Master Zell and this village.”
I’m the only one who could hear their replies, but I designated Zell as their secondary master, so they should listen to his orders.
Even in the rare case that the bandits show up again, the village should be fine.
And then, I left the village behind me, even as I look back to see the two of them still hesitating to let me go.
Several years later.
That village became famous as the village guarded by ‘the miraculous invincible dolls’. In the end, many golem masters and doll makers gathered there, helping it grow into a village of doll makers… but that is a story for another time.