“You’re a hindrance.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi sent Shiku, who clung to his waist, flying with a kick.
Without a single glance at Shiku who’s rolling on the ground, Hifumi who held the kusarigama, began to advance again.
His stride is slow but powerful releasing a pressure of it being unstoppable by anyone.
“If it is Darkness magic…”
“Don’t falter! Shower him with spells and arrows!”
At the same time as the voice resounded, stones, wind blades and even compressed water currents are aimed at Hifumi.
“Uuh-oh. Those are intense.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi avoids the spells, which come flying, as if performing a light dance.
The elves can’t conceal their irritation due to Hifumi moving left and right and brandishing his kusarigama while being surrounded by 10 of them in a semicircle.
“Match your timings with your companions!”
“Too slow!” (Hifumi)
What Hifumi threw wasn’t the counterweight but the sickle part.
The sickle deeply pierces into the nape of an elf’s neck getting only stopped by the collarbone.
The elf, who widely opened his eyes in shock, without time to pull it out, was dragged towards Hifumi.
“Yo-to*” (Hifumi) (T/N: Exclamation for pulling/reeling in something. No idea for an equivalent in English)
While pulling out the sickle with a light yell of encouragement, he tears the neck.
The elf whose limbs were flapping about, dies having his entire body shredded by wind magic while getting used as shield.
Hifumi threw the body, which lost its strength, at another elf.
Next, spells with arrows mixed in-between come flying at Hifumi who plunges towards the clamouring elves.
Hifumi who was directly assaulted by spells and arrows being hammered out without a single break, is naturally unable to dodge all of them. The cuts on his cheeks and arms are slowly increasing.
However, Hifumi is laughing.
“Yes, that’s right, good! Resist me desperately! Aim for my life! For the sake of protecting your own lives! For the sake of protecting someone else’s life!” (Hifumi)
Closing in upon a single elf as if sliding upon scattered sand with a *thud*, he drives his fist which tightly grasped the counterweight, into the elf’s face with all his power.
Throwing the grasped counterweight over his shoulders, he crushed the face of another elf as well.
“Fufu… fufufufu…” (Hifumi)
Wiping his cheek with a finger, he feels hot blood wetting his fingertip.
“Imagine the instance of your deaths and you will be definitely able to savour the actual feeling of being alive. To begin with…” (Hifumi)
Storing away the kusarigama, Hifumi draws the katana at his waist.
The light of the sun slightly peeked through the gaps between the trees and faintly shone onto the katana.
“At the time you avert your eyes from death, you guys likely won’t die in a decent way.” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi laughing while dyeing the elbows of both his arms with the blood of the elves and himself, the elves shuddered to the degree of even forgetting to release their spells.
Hifumi turned the point of his katana towards the remaining elves.
“Did you decide to surrender and accept your own deaths? Killing wooden dolls is boring as well though.” (Hifumi)
While enjoying the tingling feeling originating from the pain of his wounds, he takes a stance with the katana being carried on his left shoulder.
“Don’t screw around!”
There are 7 elves remaining. An elf who concluded that it was plenty to overwhelm him, shouted.
Once again a volley of spells is fired.
Even for Hifumi it’s impossible to avoid all the fast bullets which are invoked far quicker than any spell used by humans, and thus he gives up on that.
Lowering his stance, Hifumi who moves forward as if sliding, doesn’t decrease his speed even while getting struck in the stomach by stones and cut at the shoulders.
“How lukewarm!” (Hifumi)
Using the momentum of running through, he bisects the elf who gave directions, with a slash diagonally from the shoulder.
With a short scream the elf’s body split in two parts and dropped to the ground.
He’s already covered in wounds all over, but his expression is cheerful.
“Is that human… invincible…?”
Hifumi pouted due to the words muttered by someone.
“How rude. I will be at a loss with something like invincibility. Battles make my heart tremble since I might die.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi who took a stance of holding the pommel against the left side of his hips, approaches the next elf in one bound and kills them with the force of a thrust similar to shooting it out.
Pulling out the katana, he closed in on another elf while receiving a barrage of countless pebbles, made with Earth magic, with his back and chopped off the elf’s head while turning around.
“4 left, huh?” (Hifumi)
Swinging the katana, he clears away the blood on it.
“Don’t you have any other magic? Please show me some more.” (Hifumi)
What one of the elves released was a fire arrow.
Hifumi perceived the other eves’ surprise in a corner of his sight.
Being people who live within the forest, they mostly don’t use fire magic, or rather, they probably can’t use it.
“That’s good.” (Hifumi)
He deliberately evades the fire arrow at the last second.
The scorching heat of the arrow chars his right side and the dougi turns black.
“He survived inevitable death. It’s such a feeling, right?” (Hifumi)
The katana which Hifumi thrust out, pierces the chest of the elf and its point stabs through the elf’s back.
The elf’s hoarse voice is blended with blood. The katana slides out at the moment the elf collapsed.
The blood, which is dripping from the point, falls to the ground.
“3 more to go.” (Hifumi)
His murmur is small. However, all of their ear’s have surely heard it as death sentence.
Before the attack on Hifumi there was movement at the house of the leader Zanga.
“I’m going to intrude.”
The one who came entering with a brief comment as warning for form’s sake before dawn was a man called Laboras (T/N: >> Raborasu <<) who unifies the men of the village.
He was quite different from the image of an elf. With a tall and muscled body build, he was a giant who’s good at handling knives, however, contrary to his appearance, he was also good at using magic.
“What is it Laboras? It’s quite sudden, you know.” (Zanga)
“Who of us is sudden?” (Laboras)
Laboras who sat down opposite of Zanga with the sunken hearth between them with an air of familiarity, emitted a dangerous aura from his entire body.
“I heard you allowed a human to enter this village.” (Laboras)
“Indeed, I did. Or rather, it might be better to say that I had him come here.” (Zanga)
“… I want you to tell me why you did such thing.” (Laboras)
“It’s something personal.” (Zanga)
Zanga throws a twig into the sunken hearth as the fire grew weak.
“It’s something that has nothing to do with you.” (Zanga)
“What do you need a human for? Moreover, is it something that requires to give him shelter to the point of lending him the village’s vacant house?” (Laboras)
Laboras’ voice gradually becomes lower.
“… What’s making you so frantic?” (Zanga)
“I’m… not.” (Laboras)
Laboras put strength into his fingers, which are grabbing his own knees.
“I intend to respect you as our leader. I believe that you are keeping the villagers together well. If it’s your words, there are many who will listen to them, too. But…” (Laboras)
Laboras, who paused, raised his right hand and two male elves who seized Puuse’s both arms, came entering from outside.
“If you broke a law, I don’t intend to forgive that.” (Laboras)
Puuse was apparently hit badly a dozen times, her left cheek was swollen and large drops of tears ran down from both her eyes. Seizing both her arms is in order to make sure that she doesn’t heal herself with magic.
“Puuse…! You, what are you thinking to raise your hand at your own brethren!?” (Zanga)
“I don’t call someone who has violated the laws, a brethren.” (Laboras)
Once released by the hands of the men, Puuse walked unsteadily and crumbled down on her knees next to Zanga.
“Puuse, are you alright?” (Zanga)
“I-I’m very sorry, Zanga-sama…” (Puuse)
As Zanga wondered what she was apologizing about, Laboras raised his voice which was blurred by his rage.
“We found the corpses of the people who left to greet the human together with Puuse.” (Laboras)
Hearing the situation from Shiku who woke up, Laboras investigated close to the barrier on the wastelands’ side. There he discovered the corpses of his brethren who were devoured by wild animals.
“That’s probably the result of them attempting to treat him violently while ignoring my instructions. I believe that to be regrettable, but isn’t that fine as you can say that they acted against the law?” (Zanga)
“If the opponent isn’t a human, that is.” (Laboras)
Laboras opened his eyes widely and glared at Zanga.
“That alone isn’t the issue.” (Laboras)
Summoning Puuse as the person who’s aware of the circumstances, Laboras had her explain the situation. What he then heard from Puuse is,
“Shiku heard vague talking voices. Breaking the law, they started a conversation with a brethren heading towards death and of all things killed him before he could welcome a gentle death! I called Puuse for the sake of asking her about that!” (Laboras)
Beating Puuse who didn’t reveal the matter in question out of fright, Laboras forcibly extracted the information out of her.
“… Leader Zanga. The human, you invited, killed our brethren and even broke an important law of this village. Do you really think that even this will be finished with ‘it’s a personal matter’?” (Laboras)
Laboras removed his gaze from Zanga who pursed her mouth, and glared at Puuse who has broken down crying.
“At least Puuse has committed the crime of having dishonoured the death of her brethren. In accordance to the laws of the village, this person should be banished into the forest.” (Laboras)
“… She likely only happened to be present at the incident caused by the human by chance. Isn’t that a bit too much?” (Zanga)
While placing her right hand on Puuse’s back, Zanga lined up words in Puuse’s defense.
However, Laboras was unable to agree to either of them.
“It’s regrettable, but I have no intention to listen to your words. Tomorrow morning I will explain the circumstances to the villagers and that will likely result in you being removed as leader. … Soothing the villagers by showing them the human’s corpse, it will probably be also necessary to demonstrate the strictness of the laws by banishing Puuse.” (Laboras)
“You, do you plan to kill that human?” (Zanga)
“Of course. That being a foreign body, it’s a disaster. There’s nothing else left but disposing of it quickly.” (Laboras)
“I wonder, if you will be able to.” (Zanga)
“Even the people moving under my leadership understand the importance of the laws. For that reason they have also agreed to get rid of the human.” (Laboras)
As Laboras’ words revealed his confidence, Zanga answered with a sarcastic smile.
“That’s not what I mean. I’ve asked you whether you can win against that human with the village’s men.” (Zanga)
“Are you telling me that we are falling behind against a single human?” (Laboras)
“T guess the lot who went to greet him, died because they fell behind.” (Zanga)
For a short while the room was wrapped in silence, however Laboras suddenly stood up.
“Anyway, in the morning we will carry out Puuse’s banishment and your dismissal upon the consensus of the villagers. Until then both of you aren’t allowed to leave this house either.” (Laboras)
Leaving he two men who brought Puuse, behind as guards, Laboras went away.
“… As usual, he immediately escapes once he gets defeated by arguments, that guy.” (Zanga)
“Look, I will wipe away your tears. Since you have such a cute face, isn’t it a waste to mess it up with tears?” (Zanga)
She grabs one sheet of cloth off the pile nearby and gently wipes Puuse’s face.
“By now I have no interest in the status of something like leader but unexpectedly I ended up getting Puuse and that human involved…” (Zanga)
“I’m really sorry”, Zanga gently brushed Puuse with her still movable right hand.
Shiku, who pricked up his ears in front of Zanga’s house, learned of Puuse being banished and ran in panic to Hifumi’s place to request his assistance.
It was himself who told Laboras the truth, but by no means did his thinking reach the conclusion of even Puuse having to take the blame. Even if he talks to someone from the village, they likely won’t forgive Puuse, once Laboras tells them that she broke the law.
If it’s a human who possesses that much strength, he might be able to rescue Puuse and take her to somewhere safe, he judged.
He was scared of meeting that dreadful human. He wasn’t able to suppress the trembling of his knees as he recalled Hifumi’s smile at the time he killed Shiku’s brethren, however no other good idea came to his mind. He doesn’t believe that he can win against the men who remained as guards, if it’s only himself.
And, Shiku who sought his assistance, and the assassins who were sent by Laboras, arrived at the hut where Hifumi is staying in, at the same time.
And now, Shiku who once again ended up fainting, came to his senses at last.
“… Huh?” (Shiku)
In the visual field, he saw in his absent-minded state, heaven and earth were upside down.
“Agh, ooouuch…” (Shiku)
As the current situation was inverted, he apparently fainted being hit by a trunk of a tree.
Twisting his body in a squirming motion, Shiku who finally returned to a sitting posture, recalled the situation before he lost his consciousness.
“T-That human is….!?” (Shiku)
In front of his eyes there’s the completely broken hut. On the opposite of that there are several corpses being scattered about.
“Uubuh… Ueeeh…” (Shiku)
Shiku who ended up looking directly at something sticking out from a corpse, which had its body cut in two, threw up until his stomach became empty.
Pulling himself together, he searched for the figure of Hifumi in order to not look at the corpse, but he saw the back of someone doing something while crouching down while being in fact surrounded by those corpses.
The strange attire which had a beautiful deep blue colour, was riddled with holes all over and was dyed by some deep red stains.
“W-What are you doing?” (Shiku)
Resolving himself and getting close, Shiku notices that Hifumi is holding an arm of someone and his white face becomes blue.
“… The reason why you elves get assimilated and turn into arbour is this after all.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi who cut a corpse’s finger into two, thrust his finger in front of Shiku after running it across the cross-section.
A white sticky something is clinging to Hifumi’s fingertip.
“What’s… this…?” (Shiku)
“Don’t know. What I understood from examining some of the people who were cut apart is only that it’s little-by-little accumulating at the ends of the fingers and feet.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi built a hypothesis upon the autopsies up until this point, but he believed in it with almost no doubt.
“There’s something in your food, your drinks or possibly in the air drifting through this forest, however it probably quickens the transformation by accumulating within the body. Since the way of dying is by the mucus arriving at the head, it piles up in the body starting with the limbs and at the time of your death’s it even enters the head. No, it accumulates there.” (Hifumi)
As result of transforming from the tips of the limbs and having the head encroached last, the body changes while the senses are still clear. It’s a viciousness as if it is for the sake of causing complete dread.
“Th-Then, the people, who turn into arbour and are absorbed by the forest, will…” (Shiku)
“Their bodies’ functions will slowly cease and they will die. It’s probably quite painful.” (Hifumi)
“Such a…” (Shiku)
Shiku who dropped his shoulders as it was 180° different from the custom which formed a belief that it was a nice thing, finally remembered Puuse’s and Zanga’s situation.
Quickly raising his face, Shiku faced Hifumi and exclaimed,
“Help! At this rate Puuse-neechan will get banished!” (Shiku)
Hifumi who scrubbed both his hands which touched the corpses with a paper, grabbed a corpse which lost both hands and feet, and tossed it into the broken house.
“I’m not particularly interested.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi easily refused Shiku’s teary request.