“Oh? Ryouma-chan, look.” [Remilie]
Remilie-san pointed with her cane, and I followed with my gaze. There, could be seen the undead approaching on land slowing down. Apparently, some of the zombies and skeletons were falling unnaturally, causing congestion or other undead to fall too.
But the cause was hard to pinpoint because those that fell were quickly trampled by those behind. However…
“Did they trip on the bullets shot earlier?” [Ryouma]
“Looks like it. Those still had some mana left even after shooting through the wraiths, right? It won’t really be a problem for our operation and might even help us out, but just how much mana did you put into those things?” [Remilie]
“I don’t know.” [Ryouma]
There were three steps to making it. First, I used Earth Magic to extract a stone of a certain size from the rock cliffs in the area. Then I had a stone slime eat the stone before having it cut off a portion of its body to define the shape and size of the bullet. Finally, I had a light slime bring the bullet into its body to coat it in light-attribute mana.
“So it wasn’t me who enchanted the bullets but the light slimes. Though I did create an example for them to copy – an explosive bullet made from Light Shot. Quantified, it should be about 10 points of mana.” [Ryouma]
“If they’re using the same amount of mana, then it should be a difference in skill. Even the same spell would produce different results depending on the skill of the caster. That should be true even when enchanting… Are slimes that good at magic?” [Remilie]
“I think they’re good at manipulating mana. It’s just my own opinion, but I believe they don’t waste anything when they’re using magic.” [Ryouma]
“Intriguing. I’d love to observe them in action once the situation has calmed down. A-Also, did you really make the bullets like that? Won’t the slime’s bodies run out?” [Remilie]
“That would be the case if it were a normal slime. It’s true that a slime’s body disappears upon death, but it’s not strange for higher variants to expel liquid or produce substance. I believe that slime bodies are made out of mana, and this mana disperses upon death, leading to the disappearance of their bodies. For example, in the case of water magic, you can use a spell to produce water, right? Similarly, in the process of evolving to a higher variant, their mana body undergoes a change that strengthens the physical aspect of their body. Or at least, that’s my theory.” [Ryouma]
“Slimes are outside my field, but if it’s the relationship between spells and mana, then that’s certainly not impossible… In the case of the stone slimes, perhaps they’re able to compensate for the cut part by absorbing the mana in the stone and healing themselves with that.” [Remilie]
“Right. They hate it too if you repeatedly cut a portion of their body without letting them eat, and if you do it forcefully, they’ll grow weaker. I’ve confirmed that for myself.” [Ryouma]
I still haven’t learned what’s happening inside the body of slimes. So strictly speaking, I might be wrong, but I believe I’m on the right track.
“Following the same concept, I had the iron slimes eat iron ores and was able to gather iron from them.” [Ryouma]
“Ryouma-sama, could that method be used to manufacture iron?” [Sebasu]
Sebasu-san asked with surprise, but there were currently a lot of obstacles to that.
“It’s certainly possible, but I don’t believe it’s practical.” [Ryouma]
“How come?” [Sebasu]
“I didn’t mention it while talking about shaping the stones, but the slimes use the feed they’re given as fuel, so the output is actually less than the input, making for poor efficiency.
As for how much of the input is lost, that’s still a subject for research, so I don’t have a clear answer, but based off the few times I’ve tried it, the extracted iron is at least 30% less than the iron in the ores. In worse cases, there’s a 50% loss.” [Ryouma]
That’s not a problem for worthless stones, but that much loss would certainly have a huge effect in commercialized iron manufacturing.
“If the burden on slimes isn’t taken into consideration, it might be possible to improve the efficiency of the output. And further research might also find a way to improve the efficiency, so the idea isn’t completely out of the question.
Also, iron varies in hardness and tenacity depending on its composition, so there are still a lot of questions surrounding the iron produced by this method, such as: What application suits it best? Is it better for manufacturing or processing? What is the amount produced? And so on and so forth; hence, it’s a long way away from being practical.” [Ryouma]
“I understand.” [Sebasu]
And personally, I think it’s fine not suppressing the amount they consume. In the case of the distillation process, the loss in production volume due to the evaporation of water and alcohol during aging is referred to as ‘the Angel’s Share’.
In that case, the loss in this method can also be referred to as ‘the Slime’s Share’. It’s indeed a loss when trying to maximize gains, but I’m more than willing to tolerate it when I think of it as the slime’s share.
There is already an existing technology to manufacture iron, and I just can’t find the enthusiasm to suppress that feeling and pursue profit. It’s certainly interesting in regards to slime research, but it’s fairly low on my priorities. Honestly, I have so many things I want to research about slimes that I can’t research everything.
I’ve had more hands since raising the goblins, but there are only so many commands I can give by myself…
“They’re coming! Shields!” [Ryouma]
Then the undead horde finally got close enough, and the grave slimes devoured them one after another. They didn’t even queue properly. They were so desperate to be devoured that they would push and shove each other before jumping straight for the grave slimes.
In the process, a stray undead got pushed out and started toward us.
“Goaah!!” [Goblin 1]
“Gigi!” [Goblin 2]
The hobgoblins at the frontmost line raised their tower shields and pushed it back. It was a scene reminiscent of old ladies crowding during a bargain sale, or no… Perhaps, a conductor pushing people into the train during rush hour would be a better description. Regardless, the undead was quickly dealt with by the spears of the hobgoblins. The situation was so safe that I had the leisure to think about something as idle as that.
Of course, there’s a chance that a higher undead variant is among that horde, so we still have to keep our guard up, but for the most part, this battle will just be us waiting patiently for it to finish.
“Will there even be a chance for us to make an appearance? The goblins’ weapons are a lot stronger than I thought.” [Reinbach]
“Ryouma-sama is focusing all of his attention on support with his vast reserves of mana. That’s a problem for any enemy, not just the undead.” [Sebasu]
“That’s true… Ryouma-chan might be the type to fight up close personally, but there’s no doubt that this is a good experience for him. It’s important to be flexible and adapt to the situation, so there’s no harm in experiencing a battle like this too.” [Remilie]
“He’ll have to work together with other adventurers, after all. The proficiency of the goblins leave a lot to be desired, however. They’re not that bad, but they should be able to do more complex movements after being trained more as a platoon. Especially, those shields. They need to stop using their arms and start using their whole body.” [Schieber]
The adults were quick to adapt and have already switched to spectator mode. While they watched over us, I and my familiars fought the undead until noon.