Chapter 163 – Fragile


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Letting the remnants of the defeated demon army pass, Gengu and Malfas traverse the wastelands while keeping a distance so that they don’t catch up with them. Gengu wondered whether they will deviate towards another direction sooner or later, but, no matter how much time passes, they follow the same path.

“What’s this about? Are those guys possibly heading towards the slums…?” (Gengu)

They don’t have an aura as if they are about to head into battle from now on, however it’s not entirely impossible that they changed their target to the beastmen living in the slums after having lost to the humans.

“Gengu-san…” (Malfas)

Looking at Malfas who watches him uneasily, Gengu decides to change their planned route towards advancing through the forests as much as possible.
I’m afraid of the possibility of being attacked by other beastmen, but if it’s just running away, we will manage somehow.

“We will enter the forest. It might get difficult, but we haven’t any other choice but to hurry in order to inform Reni.” (Gengu)

“Got it.” (Malfas)

Closing in on the demon group a bit, he confirmed that they are definitely heading in the direction of Swordland. The two of them got off the path quietly and went into the forest.
Once they have entered a depth where Gengu judges that they aren’t visible by the demons, they advance at a quick pace.

“Hifumi is currently in the human cities. As you could see from him following us, that person travels quickly as well. He won’t hesitate to go towards a battlefield. If he sees the demons coming to attack, he will likely repel them quickly… maybe those demons were actually repelled by Hifumi.” (Gengu)

Listening to Gengu’s talk, Malfas fell into silence.
Malfas somehow manages to accompany Gengu who is fast on his feet as should be expected of a wolf beastman. After listening to Gengu’s predictions, Malfas, who pondered about it while running to an extent that it’s more than enough, opened his mouth as he is following Gengu,

“Do the demons still intend to fight against the humans?” (Malfas)

“If I ponder about what they are planning… I’ve no idea. They might have learned their lesson this time. Likewise they might attack once again after having finished their preparations. Or…” (Gengu)

The worst possibility of Gengu’s predictions is that they could come to the conclusion to bolster their insufficient numbers, compared to the humans, by having the beastmen obey to them as subordinates. If the destination of the of the demon soldiers we saw just now is Swordland as expected, and if they are planning to attack that place, their target will likely be the beastmen living in that city.

“Unfortunately my head can’t process things so far ahead. Since I’ve always left the thinking part to others, there’s no other option but to spend our time on preparing as much as possible so that we are able to fight.” (Gengu)

“Reni-san and the others don’t have any intention to fight with anyone, I think?” (Malfas)

Gengu snorted due to Malfas’ remark.

“There are parts where I want to say… ‘not like I would know’, but there’s one thing that’s definite.” (Gengu)

Gengu stops and looks at Malfas’ face.

“Reni-san won’t emotionally choose an option that seems like it’ll expose her comrades to danger. If there’s nothing she has to protect by all means or no way to definitely win, she won’t drag her comrades into an unreasonable battle, I’m sure.” (Gengu)

At the time when Gengu became a slave, the leader of the village had decided to fight. As a result of that, half of his friends had been pointlessly killed and the remaining survivors had all been turned into slaves. Though he had just recently heard of it, but half of his friends that had been turned into slaves have already died.
If their leader was someone capable of making decisions like Reni, he might have at least considered to retreat temporarily to reorganize.
No, if we had been a group that decided its leader by judging their accomplishments and not just a savage group that settles on a leader simply going by their strength…
After half-heartedly getting to know Reni’s methods, this popped up in Gengu’s head many times, but, as it’s something that can’t be helped even if he broods over it now after such long time, he pushed back those thoughts inside his memories.

“Anyway, for now we have to hurry to return to the slums… Hide!” (Gengu)

He grabs the luggage Malfas is carrying and forcibly pulls it behind a tree.
After telling Malfas to conceal himself, Gengu silently checked their front from within the shade of the tree. It looked as if several figures of people moved about.

“I don’t know what kind of beastmen live around here, but I pray that they are a gentle lot…” (Gengu)

He watches fixedly for several seconds. Gengu felt relieved when he saw the ears of a rabbit atop a distant thicket. If it’s a rabbit beastman, they probably won’t come attacking us all of a sudden. If it’s a human, it’s quite unlikely for them to have brought along a rabbit beastman that has no combat strength despite having entered a forest in the wastelands area.

“Stand up, Malfas. It’s a rabbit-san.” (Gengu)

Gengu quickly picked up his dropped luggage and, once Malfas had also fixed all the luggage that had been thrown into disarray due to him lying down, they approached the rabbit ears.
The face that appeared after roughly pushing its way through the grass with a rustling was that of Helen. Leading several beastmen, she draws nears to in front of Gengu at a fast pace.

“… Gengu-san?” (Helen)

“Helen-san!? What are you doing in this place!?” (Gengu)

“That’s my line. Haven’t you gone to meet Hifumi-san? Did you get lost?” (Helen)

Gengu burst out in laughter due to Helen’s joke, but Malfas had a bitter expression.

“Your numbers have decreased as well… What did actually happen?” (Helen)

“It’s a long story ~ssu”, Gengu explained as simple as possible that Viine and Puuse remained in the human country and about Malfas’ relationship with Hifumi.
Hearing that, Helen looks curious and says 「Puuse-san, too, eh…?」 Since Helen knows that Puuse herself only went there with the intention of accompanying Viine, she never expected her to actually stay behind, too.

“I just went on patrol to check the surrounding area and to search for food, but you are just right in time.” (Helen)

“In what way?” (Gengu)

“That is, you know…” (Helen)

After Helen mumbled under hear breath as if it was difficult to say while fiddling with one of her long ears with her fingers, she said “I have to tell you, don’t I?” and continued,

“Since the demons came to attack us, we abandoned the slums with everyone and entered the forest. And so we built a simple village ahead of here.” (Helen)

It took a bit time until Gengu understood what Helen had told him. That’s because he didn’t actually expect Reni to completely realize the evacuation he had pondered about until some time ago.

“So, a little problem has cropped up…” (Helen)

“It’s about them not wanting to return to the forest after all, isn’t it?” (Gengu)

Helen shakes her head at Gengu’s question.
Even her ears that are slowly shaking looked somewhat dejected.

“We ended up splitting into a group, which accepted Reni’s opinion of letting the strife go past inside the forest, and one that wants to take back the slums by mounting a counter-attack.” (Helen)

At that moment Malfas came to one decision, but none of those present noticed that.

☺☻☺

On the travel of Hifumi towards the capital, his only attendant was his wife, Origa, which was also a result of her great efforts towards that effect.
Everyone knows that there was no need for an escort to begin with, and many people were also aware that Hifumi could use storage magic.
Therefore there wasn’t a single person that considered it odd for the two of them mounting a horse each and leaving the city without using a carriage.
The setting-off that hadn’t been particularly announced was only seen off by Caim, Viine and Alyssa at the mansion. The citizens, seeing the two of them wearing lightweight equipment, let them pass by while probably thinking that they were just going for a walk.
Of course they weren’t stopped at the time they left the city of Fokalore. While being warmly showered with the looks of the soldiers, the feudal lord couple passed through the gate while slowly swaying on their horses.

“Have a good trip!”

“Please take care!”

Hifumi replied to the voices of the soldiers with a light wave of his left hand and even Origa quietly waved her hands.
Two horses leisurely advanced on the highway below a slightly cloudy sky.
Since the merchants and, of course, the soldiers patrolling the highway in the vicinity of Fokalore know Hifumi’s face, they greet him or salute to him upon sight. That’s probably because the story that he isn’t as moody as other nobles has sunk into the people’s mind.
A while passed since he had been summoned to this world, but Hifumi has no intention to return to something as worthless as a class system. It will be troublesome if there’s no money. And I know that war costs money. If there’s money, people can operate based on their grasp of gains and losses.
If it’s the first generation that obtained that social status, it’s probably fine as it shows the value of that person, he thinks. But if you talk about social status that was handed over due to succession, there’s no value to it above “it’s a system for the sake of not allowing chaos to spread in the social structure”, if one evaluates it as favourably as possible.
That’s why I have no hesitation to abandon my social status of Earl, seeing that Alyssa accepted it reliably.
Although it was out of convenience, I feel like conflict won’t come around to my place, if I end up in a strange position that employs others. It was an irritating feeling.
Even if there’s resentment and jealousy, those won’t be able to approach me as long as I have a certain social standing. If the opportunities to expose myself to enemies decreases, won’t the chances to kill others vanish in accordance? Aren’t there possibly some people who gave up on their revenge because their opponent is a noble while I was staying in the feudal lord’s mansion?
If I consider it like that, I feel like it’s something far too wasteful after finally having come to a different world.

“It would probably be great if I could simple-mindedly kill without having to ponder about unnecessary things.” (Hifumi)

However, in the end it’s quite likely for that to become a repetitive, empty and simple work just like spending time on mowing grass. Even now I remember the dismay at the time I learned of the battles of this country after meeting Origa.

『Are there by chance only people who can’t fight decently in this world?』

I killed knights, kings, adventurers and monsters.
All of them were people where you couldn’t even call it a fight.
I asked Origa afterwards, but it seems that the adventurer I cut into two halves in the guild belonged to a reasonably strong category. Even the adventurer I killed in Arosel was called the top adventurer in that area. I should enforce my plan to spread fighting after all, he ascertained his own way of thinking.

“Once I do so, it will soon enter the final stages of the plan depending on what Imeraria and the demons are planning to do, won’t it?” (Hifumi)

Those were words he had only murmured for some reason or another, but Origa tightly grasped the reins with her shoulders trembling.

“Hifumi-sama…” (Origa)

“What’s up?” (Hifumi)

Origa produced a smile due to Hifumi answering her in his usual way.

“Can we drop by a village famous for its hot baths along the way since we are in no hurry? I’m certain that they will have delicious food as well.” (Origa)

“Yeah, that’s a nice idea. Let’s do that since various developments will likely become apparent by moving slowly. Or rather, I will leave the path to the royal capital to you, Origa. Please make a short visit at any place you want to go to.” (Hifumi)

Suddenly being assigned an important task, Origa stiffened while staring in wonder.

“Really, my travels until now weren’t calm and went this way and that way in my pursuit of the battlefield. Since it’s a long-awaited occasion, let’s proceed while eating delicious stuff and enjoying some proper sightseeing. You were busy as well, Origa, weren’t you? I think this way of handling things is fine once in a while. After all I don’t know whether there will be such opportunity after this.” (Hifumi)

“Y-Yes.” (Origa)

Origa spilled tears before realizing it while eagerly recalling inside her head where there are sightseeing spots and famous local products along the highway towards the capital and at places slightly away from it.
Hifumi’s kindness ended up being perceived as apology towards her by Origa.
His objective is peace down a long, long road. In reality he continues to move without the time to rest due to battles and duties. In the end the word peaceful is nowhere to be found among the objectives of Hifumi.
Having accepted that, and on top of that, having decided to stay at his side despite that, she hasn’t the slightest intention to complain about it. And although that’s the case, doesn’t Hifumi still feel a slight indebtedness towards Origa for having involved her in his plans?
The back of Hifumi, who is slightly ahead, is no different from usual.
On the day I was bought as slave, at the time when he rampaged around with Vichy as opponent, in the battle with Horant and even at the time he spent actively as feudal lord after obtaining territory; his back always advances straight ahead without any hesitation.

“Dear.” (Origa)

Bringing her horse close, Origa lined up next to him and gently placed her hand on the left hand of Hifumi that was covered by a glove.
Origa heard how the other side of that thin monster skin became as it is now during a pillow talk the other day.
Hifumi will die sooner or later, too. He himself said so as well. There were also situations where he got injured. In reality, the contents of that glove aren’t flesh anymore.

“I heard that there’s interesting food in the city we will reach by the end of the day. Very likely it’s a city you never visited even once, but apparently the vegetables are heartily enveloped by meat and then grilled while using special herbs. I believe that it will suit your taste, dear.” (Origa)

“That sounds great. I got hungry by just hearing you talk about it. Let’s lodge in that city today.” (Hifumi)

“Yes, let’s do that.” (Origa)

Because I’m a sly woman, I will learn about the person called Hifumi and have him learn about me to the extent that no one will be able to catch up. And I will have Hifumi understand as well: No matter what he does or what he plans to do, there’s someone that will always stay close to him.
I will have him accept me as spouse in the truest meaning, in order to hear the words of his heart.
It will happen in time, before the end.

 


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