TNG Vol. 15 Side Story

This is a tale from the time when the girl did not yet know about the absurdities of our world and lived every day in happiness and bliss.

The tale of how she met the partner she would meet again years later.

𑁋

“Who is this?”

Someone was calling me.

Some people would not react, but the young child did. Her golden eyes glanced about, her silver pigtails fluttering about.

The little girl was in the woods when it happened. Normally, it wasn’t proper for a small child to play in such a place, but for the young elf, it was like home. It was an environment where normal people could easily get lost, but she was very familiar with it.

“Hm? Hmmm??”

The little girl put her hands on her long ears and closed her eyes. She could hear the rustling of the trees and her fairy friends whisper and murmur. Among such noise, she also heard a faint whimper which made her worry. Eventually, the little girl’s ears shook.

“Over there!”

She ran off, confident. The tall grass made it hard to see, but she hopped lightly over it, her pace even gaining speed. What she eagerly reached was what the adults called a “barrier”. If she but stepped over it, armed adults would come running with scary looks on their faces.

It wasn’t actually easy to cross the barrier, but the little girl’s priestess abilities allowed her to pass it easily. She had sneaked out once and was scolded very harshly. Remembering this, her pace slowed down a little.

The little girl advanced, careful not to step over the barrier’s bounds. Soon enough, she spotted a ball of fur near a tree.

“….?”

The little girl tilted her head, curious about the shuddering little thing. It didn’t look alive and smelled funny too. Gotta get closer to check. The little girl’s childish innocence made her waddle forward.

“It’s a doggie!!”

There she found a puppy-like animal. It was small enough for her to be able to carry it, about the size of a newborn puppy. If you were bad, you couldn’t enter the barrier: the little girl thus decided that there was no danger.

“Oh no! You’re hurt!”

The funny smell was a mix of blood and feral odors. The little tomboy often got hurt during her romps, much to the adults’ worry. Because of this, she knew that the red thing was not good. Without a concern for her clothes getting dirty, the little girl picked up the small animal.

A wild beast would surely resist if a stranger did such a thing out of the blue: the puppy, however, did not. The little girl did not know that she could expect such a reaction. In the end, she ran back with the puppy in her arms, as fast as she could.

𑁋

When she arrived at home, a big commotion started. First of all, the gate guards screamed when they saw the little girl dirty with the puppy’s blood. They promptly informed her parents, who yelled too. 

She had run back quickly, so the puppy’s blood was smeared on her clothes, leading them to believe that she was hurt too. The adults then noticed that she was carrying an unknown monster, leading to more yelling and confusion among the guards.

Indeed, what the little girl had found was not a puppy, but a monster. Small, but an unknown monster nonetheless. No matter how much the little girl plead, the guards could not let a monster inside the residence.

They could not resist for long the little girl’s tearful prayers of letting the creature in, so  they were truly at a loss about what to do.

While they were not connected by blood, the little girl was like a daughter for them. They wanted her to grow up healthy and often felt saved by her innocent smiles. If she started hating them, looking the other way every time they met, they would definitely suffer heavy emotional damage.

“Don’t be difficult now. Can’t be helped, I’ll take a look at it, so go change.”

The mother’s words offered salvation to the guards. Looking at the mother consoling her child, they looked more like sisters with some age difference than mother and child.

“Lady Irene said that, but…will you really cure it?”

So asked one of the guards. Irene was the name of the little girl’s mother.

The question was asked to the little girl’s father, the Lucent clan’s head, Crissot. The little girl was the only daughter of the Lucent clan, Tiera.

“If it crossed the barrier, it means that it bears no hostile will. It is also true that we do not know its true identity. I am sorry for Tiera, but if we find out it is dangerous, we will have to get rid of it.”

Crissot’s expression was grave. The kindness to heal those in need the little girl showed should be respected. Both the father and the guards knew about Tiera’s kind feelings. Even if it was weak, however, a monster was still a monster. Its sharp fangs could easily tear a child’s throat.

Crissot ordered one of the guards to stay at Tiera’s side, with the pretext of observing how the recovery proceeded.

“You’re all better now!”

What were the adults worried about? Next to the monster, which barely managed to recover from a very bad condition, Tiera was smiling gleefully.

Irene’s healing skills were renowned in Tiera’s hometown of Lanapacea. They worked admirably on the small monster of unknown origin too, as evidenced by how calmly it slept.

“You’re all better now? That’s it? Don’t surprise mommy like that anymore, okay?”

“But mommy, it was hurt!”

“You should have called mommy first, then. This is probably a wolf or a similar monster. Even if it’s small, it’s very dangerous. Sometimes they attack anyone that comes closer.”

Irene talked slowly, to make sure Tiera understood.

“Next time, call mommy or daddy first. If you don’t, no snacks for a week. Am I clear?”

“Whaat? You’re turrible…!”

Tiera didn’t try to hide her dissatisfaction. It might be too light a punishment, but it was difficult to teach a child how dangerous monsters could be. Especially in this case: the wounded monster was a child as well. It looked small and lovely. Even if it was said to be dangerous, it wasn’t very convincing.

“Am-I-clear?”

“Y-yes!”

Irene’s smile gained intimidation and Tiera nodded while backing away. She knew well that she shouldn’t oppose her mother when she was like this.

“Good kid. Lyla prepared the snack, so go and have some. I’ll watch over the puppy.”

“Okay!!”

“No running! That kid is always in a rush…”

Irene looked at her daughter run off in search of snacks and sighed.

“I’m here, Growlie!”

A few days after Tiera picked up the monster pup, “Growlie,” as she called it, was completely recovered and became her playtime partner. They looked just like a little girl playing with her puppy. No one would think that Growlie was a monster after seeing how affectionate it was with Tiera.

“Nothing new yet?”

“The elders say they have never seen anything of the sort, not even the Tamers had a clue. Some of them tried to tame it, but they all failed.”

Crissot and a subordinate talked while looking at the smiling Tiera. They were looking down at the square where she was playing from the 2nd floor of the residence, so she could not hear their conversation.

“A monster that cannot be tamed…might it because of level difference?”

Some monsters had levels superior to people even from a young age. That could be a reason why taming failed.

“No, its level is only 10. I doubt that is the cause.”

The subordinate added that, looking at the monster puppy playing with Tiera, it did not look like it had any outstanding abilities. Tiera’s physical abilities were about the same as a normal child: she could not keep up with a monster, even a young one, when running around or playing tag.

“That wolf puppy is special, then.”

Crissot looked at the puppy with a stern expression. It was clearly not a normal beast, but a monster. Its identity, however, was still unknown.

“To think that not even a level V 【Analyze】 works…”

“Tomorrow we will have lady Acheame perform 【Analyze】 secretly. If even that doesn’t work, we don’t know what else to do.”

The bearer of the highest level Analyze in Lanapacea would observe the monster puppy. If the monster’s name was revealed, they would also know how dangerous it was. 

If it was the puppy of a species Crissot and the others could not handle, in the worst case they would have to kill it. Even if it had grown attached to Tiera, it was always a wild monster. No one knew when it could bare its fangs towards Tiera. They were letting them play now just because Irene casted several defensive skills on Tiera.

Crissot and the others knew that it did not possess clear hostility or ill will, since it crossed the barrier, but it did not mean that it was absolutely innocuous.

“I hope it turns out it’s just a rare monster.”

“Exactly.”

They didn’t want to cloud Tiera’s innocent smile. Crissot and the others were more concerned about that than the monster’s identity.

𑁋

“So this is the monster little Tiera picked up?”

The next day, the lady called Acheame, the only elf in Lanapacea with Analyze VIII, visited the residence. She was born before the Dusk of Majesty and was the oldest member of the Lapanacea village. Other than her long ears, she looked just like an elderly human.

Since she knew the heads of all clans since they were children, she also knew about many embarrassing episodes of their past. She was a woman to be feared, in more ways than one.

“Yep, he’s Growlie!”

“My my, what a lovely name…it’s not under a contract, it seems.”

Acheame looked at the puppy Tiera was holding and whispered to herself from her bed.

She had already been informed that Tiera supposedly heard the puppy’s voice, so she suspected that it could have formed a partnership contract. It would explain why the other elves could not tame it.

“You said you heard its voice, right? What did it say?”

Many things could change based on that. Acheame looked intently at Tiera.

“Um, it said, someone help me.”

“It asked for help, I see…It didn’t call your name, did it now?”

“Right.”

Tiera nodded and Acheame looked at the puppy again. Her eyesight was poor because of her age, but maybe to counterbalance it, her analyze skills only improved. She could thus see the puppy’s name.

“It’s all recovered now, I see. No need to worry.”

“Really? Yay!!”

Crissot told Tiera to bring the puppy to Acheame to make sure its wounds were really recovered. Tiera, overjoyed, was dancing around with the puppy in her arms, but it did not bark, howl or squirm. Its eyes, however, kept looking at Acheame.

“I must speak with lady Acheame. Tiera, and Irene go back first.”

“Okay! Lady Acheame, thank you!”

“You’re very welcome, come visit again.”

The gleeful Tiera and Irene exited the room, leaving Crissot and Acheame alone.

“Could you learn anything?”

“Easy now. You are the Lucent clan’s head. Stay calm and listen, even if you’re worried about your pretty daughter..”

Crissot spoke as soon as the door closed, so Acheame urged him to settle down.

“E-even if you say so…”

“As restless as usual, aren’t you. Listen well then, that’s not a normal monster. It’s the child of a divine beast.”

“A divine beast…?”

Some considered them messengers of the gods, while others regarded them as deities themselves.

“Its name is Gruefago. As far as I know, it’s harmless unless provoked. But the fact that a wounded puppy entered the village gives me a bad feeling. Even divine beast parents don’t abandon their children. Either the parent died or it got lost and ended up here.”

“The barrier has no effect on divine beasts?”

“Divine beasts are special, my boy. Unless they attack or are hostile, they can pass through it. It was probably attracted by Tiera this time.”

Acheame closed her eyes and talked. Some divine beasts had the role of preserving the world’s balance. Tiera’s priestess talents could have attracted the wounded Gruefago.

“Should we leave them be? If it grows, won’t it become too strong for us to handle?”

“It surely will. Before the Dusk of Majesty, many powerful warriors were beaten by divine beasts. In that era, there were incredible people who even made a sport of hunting down divine beasts, but such warriors are no more. Even before that little one grows, if the parents misunderstand and think it was kidnapped, the damage and casualties would be enormous… we are always near the World Tree, however. Even the parents would hesitate a bit. Besides, many divine beasts have intellect superior to our species. I doubt they would attack all of a sudden.”

“If they have a reason to, however…”

It was not under anyone’s control. If someone attacked it, out of fear, the retaliation could be tragic. As a clan head, Crissot had to consider this possibility. Divine beasts were even capable of causing natural catastrophes at times.

“….could we possibly make it become a guardian beast for priestesses?”

Crissot turned silent for a few moments, then spoke again.

A priestess protected by a divine beast. For someone who knew how important priestesses were, there was no better reassurance. In this world, there were many monsters that people could not handle. Dangers were few in the village, but still not zero.

“What nonsense are you spouting? It’s impossible if you can’t form a contract. The royals wouldn’t keep quiet either. They have elves like me, born before the Dusk of Majesty. If they learn that an uncontracted divine beast is roaming freely in the village, the relationship between the royal house and the caretaker clans will go to the pits. They’re going to send an extermination platoon, with Mythology-grade weapons to boot.”

Acheame rejected Crissot’s proposal outright. Few of those born after the Dusk of Majesty knew personally how powerful divine beasts were. Some of the royals did, however. Elves lived long lives, so some of them knew how to kill divine beasts and had the necessary equipment. Their strength was far above the warrior chiefs of the Lucent or other clans.

“I’m sorry for Tiera, but the only way is to let it go out, I’m afraid.”

“I suppose that is the only way…will it work out, however? Tiera is still young, so her memories of the divine beast will be hazy at best, but I fear it won’t be so easy for the divine beast itself…”

Very few people, Tiera included, knew about the divine beast. If she forgot, there was no risk of rumors spreading. If no one knew about the divine beast, there was no risk of anyone fearing it or trying to use it.

Mental manipulation skills were considered taboo, but Acheame could at most confuse a child’s recent memories, and it only worked with very small children. She could modify their perception to remember things only vaguely. It was a skill that only Acheame, born before the Dusk of Majesty, had; very few knew about it.

The problem was if it could work on the Gruefago puppy. It would be perfect if it forgot about Tiera and Lanapacea, but if it didn’t it might come back. While it was a puppy, they could force it out again, but once it grew up it would be harder to hide it and it would definitely create a commotion. It might also see the elves that keep throwing it out as enemies.

“All we can do is talk with it. That divine beast puppy understands our language, you know. It doesn’t go off on its own or hurt anyone, right? It learned from your conversations that it shouldn’t. It was studying me the whole time it was here too. It looks small, but it is still a divine beast. You better not think it’s some puppy. Well, thanks to that, it’s possible to talk with it.”

Acheame talked, with her years of experience as basis, to the worried Crissot. She said that if it was possible to forget, that would be the best, though.

The wolf puppy was attached to Tiera, but Acheame’s ability could make her forget. If the puppy had human-like intellect, it would understand that she forgot about it.

“I suppose it’s better to act quickly. You should talk with it without Tiera around—oh well, this is a surprise. You were listening.”

“You were listening…?….Oh gods.”

Crissot turned after Acheame talked. From the door left slightly ajar, the divine beast Gruefago, who should have left with Tiera, entered the room.

“Apologies. If you have to resent someone, resent me.”

The wolf puppy stared at Acheame in the same way as when Tiera carried it out, growled faintly, then left again. Crissot and Acheame could hear Tiera’s voice calling for its name.

“Did it…understand?” 

“Yes, it’s really smart. It probably understood it couldn’t stay here too long.”

Acheame felt that its growl was tinged with sadness. Even so, they couldn’t let it stay there. The age when people and divine beasts could coexist based only on a relationship of trust was long gone.

𑁋

Thus it was decided to release the wolf puppy into the wild. A certain problem arose, however.

“No!!”

“Tiera, we aren’t doing this because we’re mean. It’s for his sake too.”

“I said noo!!!”

Obviously, Tiera was vehemently against it. 

Maybe because of their longevity, elves did not produce many children. Because of this, Tiera had very few peers of the same age. On top of that, she was the only daughter of a World Tree caretaker clan. She also had the potential to be a priestess, reducing even more the number of children her age who spoke to her normally.

Only the child of the caretaker clan Luderia and children of families of relatively high rank did. Even so, they couldn’t just play together easily. For Tiera, the presence of the wolf puppy, which would always play with her, was extremely important.

As Acheame said, the puppy was very intelligent: it would quickly understand once it was told what could be done and what couldn’t. It never protested when it was bathed, its fur was fluffy and clean. Lyla and the other servant elves often saw Tiera take her afternoon naps using the puppy as a pillow. 

That’s how close they were. She would never simply accept being separated. It was natural that she would whine and complain.

“Growlie didn’t do anything bad! I’m taking good care of him!!”

Tiera protested, her eyes brimming with tears. It was true that she took care of the puppy’s feed and baths and even cleaned the bucket used for its excretions without being prompted to. She didn’t just play with it: she took proper care of it, as much as a child could.

“That’s…daddy knows that, but…”

Attracted by a pet’s cuteness, children sometimes proclaimed they would take care of it to keep it, but would do so only for a few times. Elves were no different: taking care of living creatures was difficult for a child. Tiera, however, never complained.

Irene had healed the puppy, but Tiera took care of everything else by herself, asking Lyla for advice when needed. That’s how invested she was.

We’ll be together forever. That’s what her childlike mind probably thought.

“No…I don’t wanna…”

Tiera started crying and Crissot did not know what to say anymore.

Both Tiera and the wolf puppy had committed no mistakes. This was all caused by adults worrying about “if” something happened.

There was the option of acting without saying anything to Tiera. She probably would not have cried in that case. The adults, however, were not as cruel as to do such a thing.

“You don’t want to say goodbye?”

Tiera continued standing in front of the wolf puppy, even while crying. Acheame approached her, using her walking stick as support.

“….no.”

“But you know, my dear, this puppy has parents too. They want to see him soon, I’m sure.”

A wolf puppy wounded, all on his own. Parents that did not come to look for it. Acheame, Crissot and the other adults did have an idea about what happened to them. Even so, they used the “parents” as an excuse.

“You wouldn’t be happy if you couldn’t see Crissot and Irene anymore, would you?”

“….no.”

She probably thought about the puppy, in her own way. Tiera wiped her tears, turned around and hugged the sitting puppy tightly. The puppy laid its head on her shoulders, as if to absorb her warmth. After a while, the little girl and the little wolf moved away from each other at the same time, as if they agreed on the timing.

“….bye bye.”

Tiera waved a little hand and said goodbye. Her eyes welled once again with tears, which slowly started streaming down her cheeks. The puppy wolf too howled a goodbye and turned its back to Tiera. It disappeared into the forest, without turning around even once.

The Gruefago left Lanapacea and Tiera, for the sake of the village, was conditioned to forget about it, leaving only fragments of memories in her heart.

The fated reunion of the girl and the wolf would come many years later.

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