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Short Story [Unit Story]
[017] Sylvan Horned Beast, Damainaru
Race High Beast

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The following text is an excerpt from a notebook discovered in the Lettia Great Canyon in Northern Stoicheia.

Planet Cray, Chakrabarthi Divine Era 5015
6/11, 17:32
I am C.K. Sakatt, a Zoology fellow at the Great Nature University.
Today I can finally confirm that I have reached the hitherto uncharted Lettia Great Canyon. I shall endeavor to record any significant findings here in this journal.
As a resident in the nation of Stoicheia, and to use the academic classification system, I belong to the Canidae family, which itself belongs to the carnivora order of the class Mammalia. This information is relevant to my current research.

6/13, 06:11
It has been two days since I arrived in Lettia Great Canyon.
So far, I have been exploring by foot and have already found countless entirely new species in this remarkable forest. The air is so refreshing here. My lineage has always been known for having a keen sense of smell, and I have been relishing in the sweet scents on the wind, in the water, and even in the earth.
One working theory I currently have is that the ruler of this forest, the Sylvan Horned Beast King Magnolia, will not grant access to anyone it deems unworthy. Of course, as an academic who has come here to study the flora and fauna I have no malicious intentions, and it seems that so far at lesssast I have not incurred the wrath of the great protector of this forest.

6/14, 11:43
The Lettia Great Canyon is home to a special kind of creature known as the Sylvan Horned Beast.
Over the last three days I have encountered and observed a number of these Sylvan Horned Beasts.
They have generally been well behaved, and I have had none of the usual troubles that I encounter when out on field work. I have choked a little on some of the local pollen, but that’s to be expected. As the name suggests, Sylvan Horned Beasts have great horns that almost resemble some kind of tree. Some even seem to be growing actual plants on their bodies.

6/15, Midnight… I think
Whether it’s just broken or it’s a particular effect of this place I don’t know, but my watch has stopped working, so I don’t know what time it is.
The observation (some may call it “play time”) of the Sylvan Horned Beasts has continued.
Besides this small journal, I now have many more sketches and notes to document my studies.
For this expedition I chose to forgo the usual modern trappings like cameras and lights, and it appears that this was the right decision. It seems to have been a big factor in the Sylvan Horned Beast King Magnolia granting me its blessings, but I do miss the lights when it gets dark. Even though they have no ill will towards me, I am still in the wild after all, and I could still become their prey any moment.

6/21, day
It has been 10 days now since I arrived here. I feel better than I have in years. I was a little worried about rations, but I’ve been able to get by with the nuts and mushrooms I’ve gathered and the small creatures I’ve managed to hunt.
However, the time is fast approaching when I must make a decision. I still haven’t made any progress at all on my main objective here. That is because the basic tenets of life as a researcher–that is to say self-discipline and hard work–are hard to maintain in a place like this forest.
My mind is clearer than it ever has been cloistered away in the lab, but I remained calm. I feel myself drawn into the forest, almost as if I want to stay here forever.

Same day, night
Something truly remarkable has just happened, so I am writing it down here so that I won’t forget it.
I had just finished packing my bags for my upcoming expedition before heading to bed and was lying on the grass reading my research notes.
I looked up and saw… it.
I suppose if I had to compare it to a more common animal it most closely resembled a fox. It differed from your typical fox in its fluffy tail that spread out behind it, and the single tree-like horn on its head was proof that it was one of the Horned Beasts. What really caught my attention though was its fur, which was a striking black-on-white with vivid shades of blue and green interwoven into it–it seemed to almost have a purple aura surrounding it. I now hypothesize that this may well be the magical beast known as Damainaru, which is rare even in this forest. However, at the time all I could think was how beautiful this creature was.
There was another reason why I was so overwhelmed with emotion: I had come to this nigh impossible to reach forest specifically to research the still mysterious Sylvan Horned Beasts known as Damainaru.

I quickly returned to my senses, as I saw anger rise in the creature’s eyes as it slowly stepped into my camp with a menacing snarl on its lips.
Damainaru was thought of as a mighty predator that prowled the forest. I, a fragile bipedal canine, would stand no chance against its four lithe and powerful limbs, its sharp fangs, and terrifying claws.
I silently accepted my fate. From the moment I stepped into this forest, which as I have discovered is selective in who it lets in–and especially after seeing such abundant life here living in peace–I have been overwhelmed by the experience of seeing the ecology of the Lettia Great Canyon up close. And feeling as though I was now a part of the ecology, it only felt natural that I would become food for this great lord of the forest.
I closed my eyes before Damainaru, and raised my head to face the skies while waiting for the inevitable to come. I felt its hot breath and soft fur rush past me. This was followed by a howl and the sound of swaying grass and trees and the thud of a body hitting the ground.
The sound of an intense struggle came from behind me. I opened my eyes, turned around and saw Damainaru locked in combat with what looked like a giant serpent. Though still in shock I slowly started to put the pieces together. Damainaru wasn’t after me, it had appeared in my camp to attack the giant serpent.

The battle between Damainaru and the serpent came to an end. Damainaru had taken hold of the serpent’s head with its first bite, and despite the serpent’s coiling and restricting it kept hold until the serpent eventually stopped moving.
Damainaru looked toward me and dropped the now dead serpent onto the dark ground with a thud.
“Thank you, Sylvan Horned Beast Damainaru.”
I bowed deeply to the Sylvan Horned Beast, then started building a grand bonfire in honor of the gift it had given, which was to be our dinner.

6/22, early morning
Morning. Damainaru is still sleeping beside me, or should I say it is wrapped around me like a luxurious comforter. I don’t want to move lest I wake it, so for now the best I can do is move my pen to write this entry.

I am pleased to report that in the short time I have spent with the creature, I have learned the following about Damainaru:
・Damainaru is a carnivore, but doesn’t attack people.
・I would classify it as a quadruped from the caniformia suborder of the mammalian order of carnivora.
・It is highly intelligent, and is able to communicate with me.
・Even though it can speak, it is unusually taciturn and will seldom speak, even to those it trusts.
・It is nocturnal.
・It avoids loud noises.
・As I had predicted, it appears to be a magical creature. I shall need more time with it if I am to learn any more about it.
・It seems to have a deep aversion toward any worked metal, and will not show itself to anyone with weaponry or any kind of machinery.
・It appears to be highly loyal to the Sylvan Horned Beast King Magnolia, and appears to use its power to protect the forest.
・Once it is accustomed to you it is friendly and quite amiable.

I’ve made my mind up.
I won’t go back. Now that I have formed such a deep bond with this exceptional Sylvan Horned Beast Damainaru, I will not return until I know that it is safe.
I shall leave this journal and a package containing my other research notes at a rendezvous point I had previously arranged with an assistant.

So long, civilization, and my beloved world of academia. Farewell.
Until next we meet.
I am C.K. Sakatt, and from this day forth I am a resident of the Lettia Great Canyon.

The End

* All units have been converted to those used on Earth *


<<Notes about Terminology>>
Time and Dates on Planet Cray
Planet Cray is a planet that revolves around a star known as “Taiyo.”*1
The residents of Planet Cray have 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, and 24 hours per day, much like our own planet (though obviously they used different terms to refer to each subdivision), but a year in the Chakrabarthi Divine Era calendar only lasts 360 days. The year is separated into 12 months of 30 days, with leap days added to keep the dates in sync with the seasons. Like Earth, Planet Cray has four seasons, expressed most strongly in the temperate zone, and each region has developed its own festivals.
Some people sort the days in groups of 10, but this is mainly a remnant in the more traditional agricultural communities. The standard notation for dates is “1/17,” where the first number represents the month, and the second number is the day. Weekends and holidays vary from region to region.

*1 The term “Taiyo” here is used to refer to the star at the center of the solar system in which Planet Cray belongs. It is a G-type main sequence star, not unlike our own.


Story: 金子良馬
Supervising Editor: 中村聡