What a great and catchy tune…
With a posture of being placed upside-down on the horse’s back, Helen dimly came to her senses while being carried with a slow swaying.
Watching the ground pass by in front of her with her rabbit ears shaking with a *piko piko*, she is waking up gradually.
“E… Eh?” (Helen)
Was it because I was the whole time in the same position? Her stomach hurts from being hit by the saddle.
As she raised her head and looked aside, she saw a human male and Reni walking side-by-side on the other side of the horse neighing with a *bururu*. She fell off the horse being taken aback.
“Ah! You woke up, Helen!” (Reni)
Being embraced by Reni, who came rushing over with a bright smile, Helen glared at Hifumi.
“Where are you planning to take us!?” (Helen)
“Don’t know. I’m only following that person.” (Hifumi)
Looking at Hifumi, who answered readily and pointed at Reni, Helen turned her head towards Reni.
“Hifumi-san’s story is true. He accepted transporting the fainted you, Helen.” (Reni)
“It’s my name. Putting that aside, you can go back home now that you recovered your consciousness. Well then, with this it’s the end.” (Hifumi)
“Yes. Thank you very much until here.” (Reni)
Reni bowed very deeply. Helen, not understanding the circumstances, was at least cautious in regards to Hifumi.
“I heard plenty of stories on the way here”, Hifumi handed over several baked sweets to Reni and jumped on the horse.
“Ah, while we are at it, please tell me two more things.” (Hifumi)
“What are they?” (Reni)
“Do you know the location of the village of the tiger fellows, who attacked me some time ago?” (Hifumi)
Reni and Helen looked at each other due to Hifumi’s question.
“H-Hey, you! Don’t get too cocky over winning against two or three. Although it’s called village, aren’t there several tens of tiger beastmen over there as well? Although you are already strange with just crossing through the wastelands by yourself, do you plan to go to your death!?” (Helen)
Hifumi is nonchalantly listening to Helen rattling on and on.
“That’s right. To be precise, the point is that I’m searching for a fellow, who looks like they can kill me.” (Hifumi)
Helen became speechless due to Hifumi’s words.
However, Reni takes a step forward.
“I know where it is.” (Reni)
“From the place those three appeared at, always head north-east. It’s close to a large spring.” (Reni)
Seeing Hifumi nodding with a “I see”, Reni laughed delightfully.
“Why did you tell him?” (Helen)
“Hifumi-san is probably a lot, lot stronger than the tiger people. Papa said it. Really strong people are very gentle.” (Reni)
“Therefore, Hifumi-san, who kindly gives me such tasty sweets, should be strong enough to not lose against anyone.” Watching the innocently smiling Reni, Helen dropped her shoulders.
“It can’t be helped, I guess… You, escape to this place, if you get injured. Since we are always gathering fruits and medical herbs in this area, we will at least treat you injuries as thanks.” (Helen)
“Well now, thanks for that. I have another question though.” (Hifumi)
“What is it?” Reni tilted her head to the side.
“Isn’t there anything delicious to eat you can only find in these wastelands?” (Hifumi)
Is that guy on some kind of sightseeing tour? Helen wasn’t even able to voice it out in sheer astonishment.
Straddling the horse and exiting the woods, Hifumi is heading in the direction he was told by Reni.
He passes the signs left by the tiger beastmen. The deed of animals? Having a third of their corpses quickly devoured, the corpses were exposed cruelly.
“Hmm, I see. It’s nice and easy that our destination is the same.” (Hifumi)
While tapping on the katana at his waist with his fingertips, he rides on the horse in a good mood.
The “delicious thing” Reni told him about is a fruit growing on a tree characteristically growing large ivy’s entangled with each other. It’s flavour can’t be called sweet but it’s refreshing with a single bite.
Not just Reni, even Helen, who listened next to her, had strings of drool hanging from her mouth, thus it was likely the truth.
However, for the last few years the surroundings of the spring, where that tree grows en masse, is occupied by the tiger beastmen. The sheep and rabbit beastmen, who particularly looked forward to those among the blessings of the forest, felt dejected.
As it is just the right occasion, let’s try to make the topic of conversation eating that fruit after I meet the tigers. Hifumi disregarded Helen, who tried to stop him.
Entering the woods, the sun began to sink when he progressed for a while. As the horse started to show signs of exhaustion, Hifumi, who discovered a conspicuously large tree, decided to intentionally pass one night without sleeping here.
Once he dismounted the horse and tied the reins to a suitable tree, he gave it fodder and water, stuffed his own cheeks with around three baked sweets and drank some water himself.
These baked sweets were in fact handmade by Caim. He is a man, who has an oddly high level of femininity with his forte being cooking and cleaning, but he seems to vent stress by making pastry. If he works together with people, who don’t go forward according to the prescribed regulations in everything, he will build up stress. Apparently he produces large amounts of pastry by accurately calculating the necessary amount. Hifumi heard that from the other civil officials.
If one enters the office and there’s a sweet fragrance drifting about, Caim is tense since it’s a sign of him being displeased.
Once Hifumi, who believed it to be perfect for snacking, requested of him to make a few as take-away share, Caim prepared an amount where you could wonder whether he was planning to stock up some shop. It’s to the degree, that it doesn’t feel like they would decrease, even if Hifumi were to go around and distribute them.
“This thing is the bed, eh?” (Hifumi)
He lies down on a spread out blanket. The pillow is a root, which was protruding from the ground in the right way. Although he tries to roll around a bit, it’s just right since it’s also dangerous to be sound asleep.
While touching the katana with his left hand, Hifumi calmly closed his eyes.
It was truly by coincidence that the cat beastman, Jaredo, caught sight of Hifumi’s figure.
It’s unusual for a human to be in the wastelands and even more so in an area, which is separated this far from human habitations. Not to mention that it was the first time for one of them being alone.
At the beginning it was genuine curiosity, but while secretly following him, he stuck out his tongue wondering whether it’s not connected to some way to get rich quickly. That was because of his natural greed. (T/N: And here I thought… “Curiosity killed the cat”…)
Although it is called greed, beastmen, who are procuring their food for living by hunting animal opponents and plants, at most wanted to simply eat delicious things or to produce clothes out of solid hides. Something like currency naturally doesn’t exist here.
However, Jaredo had the strange habit of collecting rare things since his birth. His plain home, to which he doesn’t return often, is filled with things like tools, of which he doesn’t know the way of using stolen from corpses, and things dropped by humans, to a degree that there’s no space to place one’s feet indoor.
(It’s the first time I have seen the weapon, that human possesses.) (Jaredo)
While tagging along out of curiosity, Jaredo’s look was obviously drawn to the katana. He decided to take it while the human is sleeping.
And now that chance finally came.
Within the woods, where the veil of darkness descended, it is pitch dark due to even the sky being covered by clouds. Even for Jaredo, who has night-sight, it is only at a level of him being able to see somehow.
(Don’t wake up, if you value your life.) (Jaredo)
Jaredo’s fighting strength as beastman is low, but he has confidence that he can exceed in speed and strength, if his opponent is a human. Besides, he belongs to a minority among beastman, as he isn’t opposed to using weapons.
Even now he is tightly grasping a knife, which has been created by sharpening a bone, for the time he runs into resistance. He is certain that he will carry and use it, if he can obtain the weapon the human has.
But there might be unexpected injuries, if the human struggles desperately. Therefore he chose to take and steal it secretly.
Jaredo, who approached slowly and quietly, changed his position and looked around restlessly with his eyes wide open. He was cautious whether there would be other humans or beastmen hidden in the vicinity.
(This area is close to the settlement of the tiger beastmen after all. It will become troublesome, if they find me.) (Jaredo)
At the moment he quietly extended his hand towards the katana, he accidentally saw the face of the human, being next to his feet.
Their eyes met.
It was early morning when a cat beastman came taking refugee in the tiger beastmen settlement while swaying with his right elbow dangling having his entire body covered in injuries all over.
“H-el-p m…” (Jaredo)
It cannot be helped that confusion sprang forth by the way the cat beastman Jaredo clung and frantically begged the first male tiger beastman he found.
Even if there is interaction between cat beastmen and tiger beastmen, that doesn’t mean they will particularly help each other either. Rather, the tigers despise cats and there are situations, where they will kidnap if it’s a female and torture to death if it’s a male upon meeting each other.
“What’s up? Someone gave this fellow a beating?”
Believing the injuries of Jaredo being caused by his mates, he called out to his tiger beastmen mates, who were in the vicinity, but all of them answered that they didn’t know.
“Ain’t that Gafan’s group’s work? They haven’ come back since yesterday.”
Once one of his mates said that, the tiger beastman kicked Jaredo, who drew close, away.
“Hiii… i-it’s different! A human is… a human is…” (Jaredo)
As Jaredo, who ranted and raved on in confusion, there’s no tiger taking him serious and they laugh at him with “a strange guy came in the morning.”
“There ain’t no way for a human to come this deep into the wastelands.”
“That’s not true either though.”
Hifumi, who made an appearance by pushing his way through the thicket with a rustling, took a breath and said “I finally got here, huh?”
Looking at the figure of Hifumi, who is carefully picking up the weeds clinging to his his hakama and throwing it away, Jaredo screamed.
“A human has really appeared.”
“However, it’s a bad place he came to. This place is our, the tiger beastmen’s, territory. It’s been a while since a plaything came along. Don’t die too quickly.”
All of the male tiger beastmen, who are gathering in groups, are muscular and they are twice as big as Hifumi.
On top of there also being females in considerable numbers, they apparently are thirsting to fight as well. Having arms, which are long and slender, their sharp claws, which can’t be compared to the male ruffians from before, are visible.
Even so, Hifumi, without feeling worried, slowly walks towards Jaredo.
Jaredo, whose voice is already unable to do anything else but tremble, fell on his backside while retreating, but Hifumi caught up to him in the blink of an eye.
“You forgot something.” (Hifumi)
With the sound of hard things clashing against each other, he stabbed the knife, made out of bone, into Jaredo’s crown of the head.
Jaredo convulsed for a short while with his eyes rolling back, but before long he died.
“So, that’s that.” (Hifumi)
Confirming the death of Jaredo, Hifumi called out to the tiger beastman close-by.
“Where’s the spring? Aren’t there tasty fruits close to it?” (Hifumi)
“Didn’t you listen? The place of the spring.” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi’s behaviour being similar to that of a fool, the tiger beastmen quickly surrounded Hifumi.
“Oh, aren’t you fairly nimble? Was it Gafan? You are a lot faster than him.” (Hifumi)
As Hifumi asked them “Please last a bit longer than those guys”, the beastmen became more and more enraged.
As they attacked by swinging their claws downwards, Hifumi hit the wrist with a fist, formed out of the joints of middle finger and index finger.
Hifumi, who extended his hand to the defenceless face once the beastman drew back his arm, which was hit with pinpoint attack causing a sense of pain, grabbed the hair of the head and chin.
“See, it’s easy to grab it.” (Hifumi)
While he was laughing, the sound of pulling out the fur and breaking their bones resounded. Then he twisted the beastman’s neck and broke it.
Without even leaking a voice, the beastman dies and crumbles down.
“A-A h-human has…”
Due to taking human opponents lightly as being weak, and even more so as their mate was killed barehanded, the beastmen were surprised.
“In what way?” (Hifumi)
The beastman leaped at him while roaring. Throwing the counterweight of the kusarigama, it entangled their feet and they were pulled down sideways.
The beastman, who was severely knocked into their flank, fainted in agony, was drawn close in no time and had its throat sliced open with the sickle.
“Move once you think a bit more.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi is disgusted and a section of the beastmen wall stirs.
“Somehow it doesn’t seem like you are a normal human.”
With the beastmen making a path, a male, who had an even bigger physique than the other beastmen, came walking towards Hifumi through the open spot.
“You are this place’s boss?” (Hifumi)
“That’s right. Looks like you did as you please since morning.”
After the tiger boss looked at the three corpses, he threatened Hifumi by baring its fangs.
“What’s so fun about showing your teeth? Rather than that, although you say you are the person in charge, you have no education.” (Hifumi)
“Education, you say?”
“Humph”, the boss snorts.
“You humans and us are different. We kill if we consider them an enemy. Something like expressly talking it out…”
“That’s not the case.”
Interrupting his speech, Hifumi folded his arms and his mouth curved into a へ.
“There’s no unfairness or damnation in fighting. You say you immediately kill, if it’s an enemy. That’s fine. That’s truly great.” (Hifumi)
“But”, Hifumi points at the corpse of a beastman.
“Why are you unable to do anything but cutting with your claws!? Are those fangs a decoration!? Won’t you easily break something hard by biting it!? If you are tigers, you have to lead your enemies by the nose by moving around! Aren’t you just slow-footed dimwits!?” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi suddenly bursting in anger, the tiger beastmen can’t do anything but being dumbfounded.
“I came to the wastelands wondering whether there are fellows slightly stronger than humans. And once I look at the results, there were tigers, I can only remember as idiots, a thieving cat and a sheep and rabbit, which are unrelated to fighting! Are you looking down on me!?” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi saying all he has to say, the tiger boss’ eyebrows trembled and he roared.
“The likes of humans don’t bark!”
Hifumi is attacked by a strike that can’t be compared in speed to the other beastmen.
He let it go past by barely lowering his head, but several strands of his forehead bangs were ripped away.
Due to the situation of Hifumi raising his voice, the boss grinned broadly and laughed.
“Somehow you dodged it, eh? But the next will…”
“Aren’t you able to do it, if you try!?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who showed a sparkling smile, stows the kusarigama away and retrieves the katana.
In the presence of the boss, who ended up hardening due to the unforeseen reaction, Hifumi drew his katana.
Inhaling his breath through the nose, he slowly exhales it out of his mouth.
“Alright! Shall we begin then!?” (Hifumi)