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Renya’s group is currently in the area that is mainly ruled by the beastmen and only referred to as the Southern Continent by the humans.
However, there was a reason why this continent wasn’t called beastmen continent.
“Somehow…this place lacks uniformity, doesn’t it?” (Emil)
That’s Emil’s impression which was said half in astonishment and half in admiration.
The Southern Continent is also called the continent of mixed races. Around half of its population consists of beastmen, but the remaining half consists of quite the large variety of races. Emil’s surprised as it’s said that humans, elves, dwarves, midgets, oni and even weak demons, albeit only very few, are dwelling on this continent.
Is it because of that? Different from elves, who are building their towns by basically making use of the forests’ trees, and humans, who build their towns precisely with lumber and stones, the town here greatly diverges in its construction materials, designs and even the scope. The city had turned into something that gave off a very disorderly impression to every visitor.
There are buildings that are commonly seen in human cities, there are also buildings that look as if they’re likely inhabited by elves. Next to those there are buildings, which are quite hard to describe, with open holes and earthen mounds, where it’s unknown just how many people are living within.
In the same way there’s absolutely no sense of unity even among the walking residents.
Even if you lump all the beastmen together, they can’t be regarded as a single race due to the differences in their ears and tails. Meanwhile the sight of humans, elves, races that aren’t even half the size of a human, and, on the other hand, people that are growing horns on their foreheads and have towering heights, walking around this city made Renya wonder whether this could be called the true scenery of a fantasy world.
If it’s within such a scenery, people like Renya’s group – a group that has an elf and fairy with them – melts into the surroundings as being very ordinary.
“Those of the human continent, who were able to come here for the first time, have all made the same faces as you.”
Apparently having revealed expressions full of surprise, Kaede, who perceived that, called out to Renya while leaking a small chuckle.
Renya felt disappointed, pondering whether he might have given the impression of being a country bumpkin, but with Kaede’s guidance, saying “Please come this way,” the party starts to walk through the city.
“Us beastmen don’t reject the other races much. Although we won’t actively invite them, we won’t refuse those that come. I guess you might call that our nature. If you say it positively, we are broadminded, and if you phrase it negatively, we are an indifferent race.” (Kaede)
“I heard about it, but…even after seeing it with my own eyes, it’s still an unbelievable sight.” (Shion)
Shion, who surveyed the surroundings by looking around restlessly as though she was a hick that came to the big city for the first time, without even trying to hide the fact, says that with a half shocked tone.
Humans like Shion, who almost never leave the human continent, seem to at most catch sight of an elf in their lifetime if they’re lucky. If one’s unlucky, oni and midgets seem to be taken as races only appearing in stories.
If we are speaking of human-shaped races, aren’t there also goblins, orcs and ogres? Renya wonders, but in the eyes of the humans, those are monsters, not having the requirements to be classified as proper races.
“The king might be a beastman, but…are his surroundings also composed of several races like here?” (Mayria)
Kaede nods upon Mayria’s question.
“Given that this is the beastman country, the rulership has been taken over by one of the beastmen for many generations, but the nobles, knights and civil officials are not always beastmen.” (Kaede)
“Governing with several races…that’s very inefficient.” (Mayria)
That Mayria-like thought didn’t impress Kaede at all, and she limited it to a sudden shoulder shrugging.
“We don’t look for efficiency in politics. But then again, since almost all matters are decided by the king, it doesn’t take that much time to reach a decision either.” (Kaede)
In short, it appears to be a stance of saying “We won’t refuse you if you come here, but we don’t mind if you leave because you dislike it here.”
“Is the beastman country a unified state ruling the entire continent like the elves’ country?” (Croire)
“No way. The only ones doing that in this vast world are the elves.” (Kaede)
As if being slightly haughty, Croire throws out her chest with pride due to Kaede’s words.
Renya’s thought Though things that don’t exist can’t be pushed out was apparently shared by almost all those present. For some reason the group’s gazes focused on the area around Croire’s chest. Sensing that, Croire blushed, crossed both arms in front of her chest in a hurry and shrunk her body.
Warding off Croire’s glaring eyes with a smile that appeared around the edges of his mouth, Renya asks Kaede,
“In other words, this continent is split into several countries just like the human continent, right?” (Renya)
“It’s not several. It’s divided into four states.” (Kaede)
“There are four kings among the beastmen. They respectively bear the names 「Fang King」, 「High King」, 「Fist King」 and 「Black King」,” Kaede says.
The one who had invited Renya’s group this time seems to be 「Fang King」, the king of the clan that had the largest number of heroes born among them.
“As far as it goes, it’s not wrong to think of him as an influential king who governs half of the continent along with its mixed clans.” (Kaede)
“The remaining half is ruled by the other three?” (Renya)
“No, the Fist King is referred to as a king, but he doesn’t possess land at a scale that can be called a country. It’s at the level of him having several small settlements and people, who bear the same will as him, in one part of the continent.” (Kaede)
Normally, if it’s a group of that scale, it will result in the leader of such a group being ignored and greeted by laughter, no matter how much he calls himself a king, but the Fist King and his comrades boast an abnormal level of combat prowess. Thanks to that, there are no objections from anywhere when he calls himself king.
As for their background; no country wants to start a fight with them because of their eccentric characteristic of being a group whose doctrine preaches the supremacy of the body and doesn’t even recognize reinforcing one’s body with a tekkou and boots like Lepard’s.
In short, it’s a group sharing such a common will.
Aren’t they quite the big deal in that case, since it’s said that they boast the most prominent combat power on the continent despite that restriction? Renya ponders.
However, it didn’t look as if getting along with them would be possible.
The beastmen should finally learn just how much the exposure of skin, on top of their cute animal ears, erodes the mind of humans and whittles down their resistance, Renya feels.
“In contrast to the Fist King, the Black King rules over a fairly large area, but it’s a nation that has been formed by the beastmen who unusually admire sorcery. The name of the Black King comes from that.” Kaede explains to Renya.
Seemingly a racial trait, the beastmen’s compatibility with sorcery isn’t overly good.
Thanks to that, the Black King’s influence was never able to spread beyond a certain threshold, but his country has assembled a considerable number of beastmen that have mastered sorcery to a reasonable degree all in their own way.
“Well, if you put it nicely, those two are treading down their own paths. Putting it roughly, they are only focused on their own paths. Since they are such people, they don’t show much interest in worldly matters and thus are harmless, but…” (Kaede)
On the other side of Kaede, who continues the explanation while swinging her tail left and right, Kurz had zeroed in on a street stall that was doing business along the road.
Apparently it was a stall that allowed one to eat grilled meat sandwiched between baked batter made out of kneaded wheat flour. He was apparently lured in by the aroma of the sauce mixed together with the meat.
Since he clung to the smell with an energy that implied that he would very likely get lost if left alone, Renya approached Kurz’ back while sighing, grabbed his nape with his left hand and tore him off the stall. With his right hand he tossed silver coins on the counter with a clinking, asking the stall owner to give him what he could buy with that amount of money.
The currency circulating on the human and the beastmen continents are different, but Renya had put a considerable amount of beastmen currency, which had been used by Lepard’s group in Klinge, into his inventory in advance.
He secures one serving for himself from the owner, who started to wrap up his merchandise in a hurry, and releases Kurz after telling him to share the rest with the other members of the group if they wanted any. Then he returns to Kaede while sinking his teeth into the serving he had taken for himself.
Renya’s impression, who tries eating it, is that it’s somewhat hard.
There’s absolutely no sign that the thick batter had been allowed to expand. Although it’s freshly made, it already has a tough texture. Due to that, it’s emphasizing its firmness so much that it’s likely going to become very hard to chew once the meat, which has been placed into the cut batter, cools down.
And yet the sauce, which is permeating the batter amply, is fairly delicious, Renya judged.
Seeing as it had been allowed to properly soak into the batter, has it been repeatedly broiled in soy many times? The salty-sweet flavor that doesn’t disappear, no matter how much time passes, and moreover the stimulus of the spices directly penetrating the nose are interesting.
If there’s a problem, it’s likely how the meat’s hardness is spurred on by baking the sauce that had fully permeated the batter, Renya analyses.
“It’s a grilled Ooiwa Lizard. It’s a popular dish as the price is quite reasonable.” (Kaede)
Seemingly because they heard the word lizard Mayria and Rona, who were in the process of stretching out their hands towards the large amount of servings in Kurz’ hands, draw back in a hurry.
Emil and the elves didn’t try to extend their hands to begin with, but Shion does so without hesitation, picks up one serving and puts it in her mouth. However, she was bewildered by its hardness.
In contrast, the beastmen group, which seemingly possess a different basic biting strength compared to humans, chew on it quite easily. Lepard gulps down several servings, and Kaede, even while making sure to look refined, quickly bites off pieces off her serving without looking troubled by its toughness.
Kurz is the only exception. Although the composition of his body is unknown he spreads his mouth widely and tosses that grilled meat into it one after the other while showing an extremely delighted expression. Even though his cheeks are bulging, there’s no sign of them being full at all.
He’s swallowing without chewing, isn’t he? Renya worries.
“Kurz, chew the food properly and enjoy its taste, okay…?” (Renya)
“Twnks fewr ha ur har adise” (Kurz) (Thank you for your advice)
In front of Renya, who gave his advice, Kurz tossed the last piece into his mouth.
Speedwise, Renya just finished his own share finally. Shion and the others are still in the middle of frantically chewing through about half of their first serving.
In just that time Kurz managed to stuff 20 servings into his stomach.
That didn’t mean that he had entirely swallowed them as he was still chewing them more or less, but going by his speed, one can say that his way of eating isn’t very good for his digestion.
As his existence is based on what it is, it’s unlikely for him to lay in bed due to indigestion, Renya re-thinks and taps the head of the satisfied Kurz.
“Did you enjoy it?” (Renya)
“Yes, Margrave-sama.” (Kurz)
Once Kurz answers while smiling cheerfully, several high-pitched screams were raised from Renya’s group’s surroundings for some reason.
When he looks, the passing residents and the stall vendors had been unable to take off their eyes from Kurz’ face and he’s able to catch sight of people who seem to have become completely entranced.
“As expected of Kurz-sama. Although it’s a part of our city’s residents, he has a tight hold on their hearts.” (Kaede)
Kaede says while obviously shuddering in excitement.
Even the person herself had been one of the priestesses that had stuck closely to Kurz before coming here.
“Because I can painfully understand their feelings, I really want to offer him up so that they can enjoy him to their heart’s content, but…if things go badly, it will likely turn into an uproar, so let’s hurry up a bit?” (Kaede)
“Since that child’s adorable, it will develop into a riot if we allow him to be touched,” Kaede says.
“The beastmen’s combat power is said to rise in proportion to their excitement. In this case, the residents’ combat power will easily be capable of surpassing the soldiers’ due to them getting excited over Kurz-sama’s cuteness.” (Kaede)
I wonder whether something like that is really alright for the people bearing the job of soldiers? Renya ends up worrying although it’s a matter that concerns a foreign country.
He feels that entrusting the defense of a country to soldiers, who are liable to lose to residents that just ride on their emotions, is a very bad idea, but different from humans, it might be nothing strange for the beastmen even if something like that occurs since their abilities, whether it be as soldiers or as common people, excel in battle.
“I’m fine with hurrying, but where are we headed to?” (Renya)
Renya broke into a jog behind Kaede, who started to move at a faster pace, after signaling to his friends to follow.
With people, who noticed their hero Lepard in addition to Kurz, apparently starting to appear, the commotion in the surroundings became all the more intense.
“For the time being, to the royal palace. His Majesty the Fang King is waiting there.” (Kaede)
Hearing royal palace, Renya is on the verge of stopping his feet, but immediately realizing the overwhelming commotion forming behind them, he starts to run once again.
Renya didn’t have the courage to check the situation by turning around, but going by the volume of the audible voices, it was apparently in the process of becoming a situation where it wouldn’t be odd for things to become critical anytime soon.
If we stop our feet, we might get jumped on by the crowd.
Such thoughts kept Renya going.
It’s not like he would get jumped in particular, but even if the sturdy Lepard might be fine, Kurz would misunderstand that as aggression and it’s not unlikely that he would be forced into activating the annihilation mode of generating a thick fog after equipping his armor.
In that case, there’s plenty of possibility that a section of the city would be completely obliterated together with its residents.
In order for the situation to not turn out like that, Renya pulled Kurz, who still didn’t comprehend the situation, with his left hand while having Frau cling to his back, and increased his pace a bit.
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