A Report on Midgard Wyrm Ecology
Several days had passed since we left Barbra.
All we’d done so far was relax. There wasn’t really much to do in the first place unless we ran into some sort of magic beast, so we’d spent our days eating, sleeping, and occasionally enjoying the salty sea breeze while getting a bit of exercise on deck.
Purification magic allowed us to keep the room clean without having to tidy up.
The meals were not only hearty, but also quite healthy. Item box-type skills allowed the sailors to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the trip. Beriberi and scurvy were both total non-concerns.
That said, depleting the ship’s resources wasn’t actually the crew’s first choice. They would much rather eat whatever they could catch. To that end, they were currently hauling up a giant net they’d thrown down for fishing purposes a bit earlier.
It wasn’t something Fran had ever seen before, so she ended up doing more than just observing them. She joined them in saying “heave, heave ho,” over and over as they raked the net in. The only difference was that she muttered it under her breath instead of shouting it.
「Gahahaha. You never seen a couple guys lug up a huge net before or somethin’?」
「Thought so. The only ships with nets that big are huge ones.」
「The only way you could haul up a net that big without a bunch of people is if you have some sort of magic item do it for you. And y’see, both those options require big ass ships.」
「’Sides, the bigger the net, the bigger the catch, and the bigger the catch, the bigger the chance you’ll attract or even catch magic beasts. Fighting them off needs manpower and space. It’s not something you could do on a small boat ‘nless you want to put yourself in danger.」
The captain’s words led me to the conclusion that it was about time for us adventurers to finally do our jobs.
「I’m pretty sure my men’ll be fine without you for now, but y’might as well keep an eye out.」
Fran got into position just in case anything happened, but nothing really did. The sailors hoisted the net onto the deck and laid out all the seafood they caught without running into any show-stopping issues.
「Those, fish, or?」
『Which ones? Are there magic beasts mixed in or something?』
「Soft and flabby thing.」
『Oh, you were asking about those? Those are goosefish.』
Goosefish were really strange looking, so it did make sense for people that didn’t know about them to assume they were magic beasts. I heard that many people outside Japan feared octopuses, but I myself found goosefish way more terrifying.
『Those are hagfish.』
『I’m pretty sure those are sea cucumbers, though they’re way bigger than any kind I know.』
The world I was currently in was a veritable fantasy world, but its fish honestly weren’t that different from the ones we had back on Earth. In fact, I felt that most of them were easier on the eye; Earth’s fish were way uglier on average.
There were too many fish jumbled together for me to identify the one Fran was trying to point out to me, so she just ended up walking over and picking it out of the pile.
The fish in question was one of the grossest looking ones I’d ever seen. I really had to commend Fran’s willingness to touch it. She’d lifted it up without even the slightest bit of hesitation.
It, the thing in Fran’s hand, looked to me like a reddish-black, softball sized, blob of flesh. One end was shaped like an intestine. It came with an alien-like mouth, one that had its sharp teeth arranged in a circular pattern. The other looked like it’d been pinched. My immediate reaction was to assume that it was some sort of deep-sea creature.
Appraising it caused me to telepathically shout in surprise.
『That thing’s apparently a midgard wyrm!』
「Midgard Wyrm? This?」
『Y-Yeah, it’s probably only that small cause it hasn’t grown up yet.』
I almost couldn’t believe that the tiny magic beast Fran was holding onto could possibly grow into the 100m long thing we’d fought before. The only way one could possibly describe the creature was to call it fantastical.
『T-There’s one over there too.』
『It’s that long thing over there.』
Fran grabbed the long, rope-like organism I was talking about with her bare hands. Its colour and texture were identical to the midgard wyrm larva Fran was holding in her other hand, but their lengths were incomparable.
The first specimen was about the size of Fran’s palm. The second was about a whole meter long. That said, they were still both definitely midgard wyrms.
「This becomes that?」
『I think so… Oh god that thing’s gross. Its unevenness only makes it all the worse.』
The longer specimen wasn’t just thin and long. It looked like a bunch of spheres stuck onto one another. The indents ran along it in an almost regular sort of pattern.
Jerome approached Fran as she continued to observe the still-wriggling midgard wyrms.
「Oh, so you managed to find a couple puny midgard wyrms.」
「At that size, I’d say they’re probably still only a few months old… Their parents might still be in the area.」
「Thought only kraken around here?」
「For the most part, yeah. There are a couple other things, just not too many of ’em.」
「Fought midgard wyrm before.」
「You mean recently?」
「Nn. Very recent. On way to Barbra.」
「Seriously? If that’s the case, then we’d best be on our toes.」
「What to do if attacked?」
「Midgard wyrms tend to react most to smell, so we should be able to outrun them if we just throw a couple barrels overboard as a decoy.」
It looked like we wouldn’t have to worry because the ship had countermeasures on hand. That said, we were still quite curious as to their ecology. Jerome actually seemed really knowledgeable about them, so we decided to have him sate our curiosity.
「This becomes that?」
「Yeah, but the stubby one you’re holding onto won’t just grow longer or anything.」
「They get longer by sticking together. You see how the longer one’s got indents all over? And you see how they’re about the same length?」
「Nn. Narrow parts.」
「That’s because that’s where two midgard wyrms are connected. The larvae bite onto each other’s butts in order to form chains. As time passes, they eventually all merge into a single creature.」
The fuck nature?
I was freaked out at first, but immediately recalled that there were similar creatures back on Earth. I wasn’t too clear on the details, but a part of me wanted to say that most were single-celled organisms and/or something along the lines of a jellyfish.
Hearing Jerome’s explanation finally led me to understand why the damned things had so many hearts. A midgard wyrm was both a single giant magic beast and an entire colony of smaller magic beasts at the same time. It was that precise trait that stopped them from being affected by Deathgaze’s instant kill ability.
「What to do?」
「They’re parasitic and not that great for the sea, so we’ll gather them up and dispose of all of them at once later. You seem to be able to pick them out, so could you lend us a bit of a hand?」
Our Appraisal and Magic Perception skills made it easy for us to sort through the pile and pull all the magic beasts it contained. The tasks’ only two downsides were that it was boring, and that it made Fran’s hands stink. That said, the stink could be cleansed, so I made a mental note telling myself that I should cast purification magic on Fran’s hands once we were done.
The screening process ended up finishing without any real hitches; today’s haul hadn’t seemed to contain any dangerous magic beasts. More importantly, it looked like tonight’s dinner was going to consist of quite a few interesting fish-based dishes.
（Want to take bath.）
『You do know we’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean here, right? That’s definitely going to be asking for too mu-wait a second. Maybe not, actually.』
Getting our hands on hot water would be a cinch since it was something we could make with magic. The only real problem was that we didn’t have a bathtub. We’d normally just make one out of earth magic, but there wasn’t any soil anywhere in sight.
They probably had wooden wash basins somewhere, but I figured we’d be able to find some sort of higher quality substitute if we looked hard enough. Asking led to the surprising answer that the ship actually had a bathtub on board.
At first, I thought that having a bath on board was a luxurious addition that we shouldn’t have expected, but soon realized that I was wrong. I should’ve known there’d be one seeing as how the ship was equipped with a whole slew of expensive magic items to begin with. In fact, it turned out that most larger ships actually did have them.
We only hadn’t really heard of other people using it because sailors didn’t like bathing. I wasn’t really surprised. Sailors were, for the most part, wild seafarers not too different from pirates. I couldn’t exactly see them sitting down and soaking in a tub. They didn’t normally bother getting the baths ready at a set time because it was just an added cost that few ever made use of.
Fran started heading over the moment they told us we were allowed to make use of it as long as we got our own hot water.
Mordred, Buphett, and several other guys had told us they also wanted to get in, so we ended up telling them it was ready once we finished with it.
Buphett had been particularly happy about being able to take a bath, and even asked us to keep taking them going forward so he could as well. Fran liked washing herself on a daily basis anyways, and I kinda liked the idea of him owing us a favour, so we ended up happily agreeing.