Good song fitting the chapter…
It has become common knowledge within Orsongrande that black pupils and black hair are Hifumi’s characteristics. On the streets it’s popular to dye the hair black.
At the same time, there is gossip, mixed with lies and truths, between nobles that he is an opponent they must never oppose (causing a Man’nen era)* (T/N: This sentence is a bit complicated for me to interpret. 万延 means Man’en era, which lasted from March 1860 through February 1861 and marks the destruction caused by a fire at Edo Castle and the assassination of Ii Naosuke. Thus it could be a historical reference. Likewise it could be the individual kanji with 万 being 10.000 and 延 being stretching/prolong, which would result in the sentence having a wording like “… there are 10.000 rumours stretching from lies to truths….”)
Thanks to that, without him being stopped by anyone at all the cities he passed and having only the best inns being prepared for him at his destinations, he was seen off, at the time he left, by the feudal lords and people in charge no matter how early it was in the morning.
Seeing these scenes, his fame among the populace was increasing with 「Earl Tohno is a hero recognised by everybody after all」.
In any case, without having to do any work, he could toss things like food into his darkness storage in large quantities enabling him to reach the last stop of the highway.
There is a fortress at the end of the highway facing towards the wastelands, where the soldiers are watching whether the beastmen are coming to attack. Although they gave Hifumi warnings to stop just in case, they didn’t attempt to unreasonably hinder him any further than that.
“No trouble is always better.” (Hifumi)
They weren’t interested in his rank overly much, but this was also very welcome and comfortable to him.
He galloped through the wastelands in high spirits.
The sun light in the wastelands is piercing. Though the air is dry it’s much hotter than being in a city? I’m not sweating that much though.
For a while he continued in the open area, where only pebbles were scattered around, but after taking a break on the second day to sleep outdoors for a bit, he caught sight of something like a simple forest and a big boulder.
Once he got there, he sporadically noticed small animals and monsters.
Advancing while slaying the monsters, swooping down on him, in his spare time, he felt an observing gaze at the place he passed through at noon.
“Well then, I wonder what kind of fellow I will get to see first?” (Hifumi)
Opening his right hand as if he wants to draw his katana right away, he stuffs his cheeks with the sandwiches specially made by Origa using his left hand.
Since she gave him a large amount just before he departed and given that there are still plenty remaining, he throws them one after the other into his mouth without care and drinks water from the flask.
Is it bothered by the crumbs falling on its mane? As the horse shakes its head, he brushes off the crumbs while laughing with a 「Sorry, sorry」.
While advancing care-freely in that manner, there are presences at both sides, left and right, on his right hand side. Those slowly shortened the distance by weaving between the many trees close-by.
There’s around 10 meter distance to the forest, where many trees are densely lined up.
Hifumi, who filled his stomach, got off the horse while being excited.
Adjusting the position of his katana at his waist, he faces towards the direction of the presences lazily and walks there slowly.
“I expressly came to this place. Let’s have some fun.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi softly muttered under his breath and silently laughed.
Although they are called wastelands, it’s not like the whole area has desolated, parched earth. There are also forest granting blessings at the level that each of the countless tribes can make a living by building settlements. Likewise there are branches of several large rivers.
Tribes like those of the tiger and lion clans often clash in skirmishes with their fellow warlike tribes, which have high individual fighting strength. Those, who can fight more or less like the dog and the bird clans, are living while defending themselves in order to not get swallowed up by these battles.
And there are also tribes, which don’t possess any special fighting strength while being in the wastelands.
Their representatives are the rabbit and sheep clans.
They live in the same group while being of different species. While travelling in order to hide from aggressive clans, they lived by obtaining the blessings of the forest.
“Nee, nee, Helen. There’s a human being. I wonder, will it be alright… ?”
The little girl, possessing dark horns, which were completely wrapped up in white, fluffy hair, talked anxiously to the little girl with rabbit ears, who is watching the situation next to her similarly hidden.
Ahead of her view she saw Hifumi walking towards the forest on the opposite side of them.
“Why are you worrying about a human? Won’t he kill us as well, if he discovers us?” (Helen)
Although she turns her reddish-brown, almond-shaped eyes and blames her, the sheep girl with her drooping eyes went “But, but” with a half-hearted expression and appeared to not take her eyes off Hifumi.
“Haa… anyway, let’s observe the situation. If there’s a corpse remaining, we might be even able to get something.”
“Don’t say such scary things…”
While they are talking, the human, visible at a distance, heads into the woods without hesitation.
“What a fool. Something like approaching the woods defencelessly. It will end with him being attacked by the monsters or the tiger clan nearby.”
“I’m somewhat scared…” (Reni)
“It’s because Reni is a coward. … They came!” (Helen)
Due to Helen’s ears, she heard small footsteps, she had heard many times before, apart from Hifumi’s footsteps.
They survived so far because they escaped at full speed once they heard those.
“That guy is already done for. It’s the footsteps of the tiger clan.” (Helen)
“Such a…” (Reni)
“Listen, be quiet. If we are found by the tiger clan as well, it won’t finish with us only getting killed.” (Helen)
Reprimanded by Helen, Reni, who held her tongue with a gulp, follows Hifumi with her eyes even while being frightened.
“If they leave the luggage and horse, it will be a great haul.” (Helen)
Even Helen, who murmured that in a small voice, motionlessly watched Hifumi’s movements.
In an instant Hifumi’s sight spotted the small reptiles, who passed under his feet.
The shadow, which jumped out of the thicket, headed towards Hifumi and came lunging in order to prey upon him.
In an instant judging that the attack’s not the degree of him having to draw his katana, Hifumi dodged the extended claw aiming at his neck, caught the wrist and used the momentum to let the attacker fall towards the ground on its back.
The enemy, on the verge of being slammed into the ground, escaped from the restraint by twisting its wrist and while quickly dodging, it stopped after having taken some distance.
“… A tiger beastman, huh?” (Hifumi)
The male tiger beastman, who wore simple clothes apparently made out of skin of other animals, grew fur, which has a characteristic pattern, on its entire body. He glared at Hifumi in absolute mortification.
“What’s up? Are you finished?” (Hifumi)
“Fuck! I thought it would be easy prey, but it became troublesome!”
Wielding his arms, possessing sharp claws left and right, he persistently aims at Hifumi’s face and throat, but none of his attacks even graze its target.
“Won’t the lot in the back assist you?” (Hifumi)
“What was that!?”
The moment he stopped his arms, the tiger is sent flying with a single kick into its belly and Hifumi told the presences, he felt in the forest, to come out.
Once he looked at the mutual presences, man and woman, apparently the same as the tiger male, came out.
“… Never did I expect to get sensed by a human.”
A woman type with a long, slender and well-proportioned body walked out silently and looked at Hifumi with her arms folded. Keeping plenty of distance and making sure to not have a tree in the back, she takes care to be able to escape at once.
In contrast, the male type was obviously irritated. Baring his fangs, he shouted at the fallen beastman.
“Oy, Gafan! What are you rolling around in front of a human. Get up and kill him!”
“I-I know!” (Gafan)
Hifumi smoothly drew his katana and held it loosely.
“Are you going to help him?” (Hifumi)
“Don’t look down on me! I dun’ need any help for a single human!” (Gafan)
Standing up, he once again brandishes his claws. Although he has raised the speed a little bit, it’s not enough to surpass Hifumi’s vision.
Avoiding them with agility, the man called Gafan got impatient and raising a roar, he came grabbing.
“What for?” (Hifumi)
While complaining, he passes under the left armpit while striking at the torso in a flash.
Gafan, who was split in top and bottom, died while looking as if he couldn’t believe it.
“Why is the second way of attack a grab? I was certain he would bite since you have your fangs. Lead your enemy around by making use of your footwork.” (Hifumi)
The two tiger beastmen, who saw Gafan’s death right before their eyes, prepared by extending their sharp claws while feeling shaken.
“Oh, you feel up to it?” (Hifumi)
“Yea, I will kill you!”
It’s the male type, who came running earlier.
No sooner than him coming in front of Hifumi, the entire upper half of his body shakes and his right hand come striking.
It was a force that would shave off the flesh, if it hit, but Hifumi, stepping into his bosom by speeding up even more, lets him go past while quickly rotating.
“Eh… ? This!”
Due to Hifumi, who approached her from the front as is, the beastwoman swung down the claws of both her hands in a panic.
At the time she was convinced of having caused many injuries in a vertical line on his face due to the perfect timing, both her arms slipped off.
The beastwoman, rolling around in pain and scattering blood, had her life ended by her neck being sliced.
“It’s not always true that they will come thrusting at the same speed.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, suddenly decelerating, only cut the downward-swung arms, but none of them was able to see through that.
The ignored beastman trembles in anger and drips blood from his tightly grasped fists.
“Do you guys have a village or town as well? Or are you living independently with a small number of people?” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi raising questions nonchalantly, the beastman, who believed to be made fun of, leaped without answering.
Hifumi lost interest in the way of him brandishing the right arm just as the ones before and muttering that he cut off the beastman’s right arm sending it flying.
Although not falling to the ground, the beastman, who pinned down the stump of his right arm, fell to his knee’s and breathed heavily.
Hifumi’s eyes, looking down on him, showed the colour of disinterest.
“P-Please wait! With your ability, you should be a good match for our boss! As I will help you…”
Without being able to finish his words, his head dropped to the ground while still flapping its mouth and with a slight delay his body collapsed as well raising a cloud of dust.
“Boss, huh?” (Hifumi)
Deciding to move in order to meet that person soon, Hifumi’s look faced in the direction of the presences watching him from the thicket on the opposite side.
The sheep beastwoman, Reni, frankly admired Hifumi’s strength, but Helen, being next to her, was drenched in sweat while her rabbit ears quivered.
“This may be dangerous! Reni, let’s escape quickly!” (Helen)
As she got up leading Reni by the hand, the human has begun to move towards their location before she became aware of it.
While suppressing the urge to act rashly, she strongly grabbed Reni’s hand while persuading herself to stay calm.
She takes care to not make any noise with her feet as much as possible.
She watches to not advance in a straight line.
She makes sure to hide their figures in the shadows of the grove of trees.
“Haa… Haa…” (Reni)
She runs while eagerly remembering the methods of movement, she learned until now.
Although she knows that Reni’s breath is going wildly, she must escape even if she has to drag her along. The tiger beastmen were killed so easily. There’s no way we can match up to him.
Diving under branches hindering their way, she firmly treads through the grass and jumps over stream-lets.
After looking in the direction, Reni was pointing at, while breathing heavily, she saw the figure of a person fiercely chasing after them.
“What! A human is catching up with us!” (Helen)
Even if it’s impossible to fight for her, she had confidence in her ability to run on foot, but even that confidence crumbled apart.
While circling around between the many trees, she lost sight of Hifumi’s figure.
“D-Did we get away… ?”
“At such time you have to earn more distance.” (Hifumi)
Hearing the voice of Hifumi, who descended in front of them from atop a tree, Helen, whose tension reached a peak, collapsed as if a thread was cut.
“Fainted, eh? Yes?” (Hifumi)
I believe there’s no particular need to be afraid of me though, in front of Hifumi, who was thinking about that, Reni blocked his way.
“P-Please don’t raise your hand against Helen!” (Reni)
Spilling tears and with her body shivering, Reni’s eyes are firmly staring at Hifumi.
Hifumi, sighing a “Good grief”, stroke Reni’s soft hair.
“I didn’t particularly chase you to fight against you. If you aren’t hostile towards me, I won’t kill you.” (Hifumi)
“But, you killed the tiger people…” (Reni)
“Ah, that’s because they started a fight with me.” (Hifumi)
“It’s my own technique I thought up in order to defend myself as weak human”, Hifumi brags.
With his air not being the same cold air like a sharp blade as until now, the sight of him happily talking overlapped with her elder brothers.
“Really… is that so?” (Reni)
“You don’t have to believe me. However, I only want you to tell me a little something. Leaving that aside, isn’t it better to do something about that person first?” (Hifumi)
Looking the way Hifumi was pointing at, Helen’s lower body part was wet and the smell of ammonia was drifting about.
She tries to carry the fainted body, but she’s helpless due to her powerlessness.
Having said that, if she went away leaving Helen as is, she might end up getting killed by monsters or other beastmen.
“It appears to be difficult. If you like, I can help you?” (Hifumi)
Reni, who displayed a delightful face upon his proposal, changed her mind once she saw Hifumi’s face.
“But, bringing a human along…” (Reni)
“If that’s case, it will be fine not going all the way. If we get close, you will probably be able to call for someone. In exchange, I will have you teach me various things about these wastelands.” (Hifumi)
Reni looked at both, Helen and Hifumi, but apparently she couldn’t come up with another good option. Spilling tears, she bowed towards Hifumi.
“Don’t be so afraid. It’s not like I want to eat you. On the contrary, here!” (Hifumi)
Hifumi passed her baked sweets, he took out from his storage, with a toss and vanished from her sight in the blink of an eye after telling her to wait so that he could get the horse.
Reni, who stared at the baked sweets, nibbled only a mouthful unable to resist the sweet fragrance. Making sounds of crunching, an involuntary smile leaks out due to the deliciousness spreading within her mouth causing her face to slacken.
“It was great. Although a human, he seems to be a good person.” (Reni)
Thanking her good fortune, she wrapped the remaining sweets in a cloth for Helen and stuffed them into her pocket.