“With such long talks, I’ve become hungry.” (Hifumi)
Listening to Hifumi grumbling “In the end I missed out on eating something at the castle”, Vepar pointed in the direction of the bustling city.
“Over there’s a delicious restaurant. Since you can get there private rooms which are intended for people like me, who are earning adequate money, we will be able to eat some food at ease there. My stomach’s empty as well. Let me treat you!” (Vepar)
“Well, then I will take you up on that.” (Hifumi)
At the restaurant he entered after following Vepar’s lead they were shown into a big private room located furthest inside as she was well known or rather as could be expected.
Vepar, who sat down right next to Hifumi in a casual manner even though there are ten seats in the private room, confirmed whether there was anything he didn’t like and quickly ordered several dishes he had never heard of.
“Is this kind of order fine with you, I wonder?” (Vepar)
“Even if I hear about the details and portions, I won’t know them anyway.” (Vepar)
“Well, I guess that’s true as well. It’s fine for you to get a second serving if it’s not enough.” (Vepar)
Once the waiter left the room, Vepar turned her look at Hifumi who is next to her.
“Why did you think of getting the humans involved in the fight between demons and elves?” (Vepar)
“It’s something else.” (Hifumi)
“Getting the humans involved isn’t my aim. Getting all of the races dragged into it is my goal. My target is to drag this entire world into wars.” (Hifumi)
As water was carried in before the meals, he is able to moisten his mouth lightly.
“This world’s people should clash with each other far more desperately. They should give and take lives far more earnestly. That’s what I believe. Thus I’m moving in order to make that happen.” (Hifumi)
Once Hifumi’s words ended, silence protruded the private room for a while.
“T-That means, you want to destroy this world?” (Vepar)
Hifumi returned a smile in response to Vepar who asked that timidly.
“That’s not it either. Wars will make everybody get “serious.” For the sake of fighting. For the sake of surviving. For the sake of regaining. Revenge and self-preservation, ambitions and restoration… there are many aspects, but probably everyone will become serious about it. Only that will allow this world to advance.” (Hifumi)
“It’s not like I’m saying it, but… weren’t you told that your head’s messed up?” (Vepar)
“Not really.” (Hifumi)
With the sound of knocking resounding, the waiter enters the room and lines up one dish after the other.
The waiter cuts up a lump of meat, which was covered by some sauce and has steam rising from it, with a swoosh and places the slices in front of Hifumi and Vepar. Something which was roasted with salad and some paste product gets lined up on top of the table making it cramped.
“Ooh, it looks quite appetizing.” (Hifumi)
Picking up a knife and fork, Hifumi immediately stuffed his cheeks with meat.
The taste of the sweet and sour sauce and the deeply flavoured oil mixes and spreads within his mouth. The meat was tough but Hifumi stuffed it into his mouth with gusto without minding that.
“It’s a wonderful manner of eating.” (Vepar)
While saying that, Vepar also eats small-cut pieces of meat enjoying its deliciousness.
“It’s a nice restaurant. The taste and the quantity are satisfactory.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi called out to the waiter who brought drinks once they had eaten around half of the dishes on top of the table.
“Eh? T-Thank you very much.”
The waiter was surprised for an instant due to being addressed by a human, but even while being bewildered, he returned his gratitude to the compliment which was given with a thin smile.
“You are unrelated to demons and humans after all. With only talks like spreading wars, I wondered whether you would be hated by humans, but…” (Vepar)
“For humans and demons it’s probably only natural to have a favourable impression of a guy if he puts in earnest efforts into his own role.” (Hifumi)
He wipes his mouth in one go with the clothes which were provided in a stack.
“I like fellows who put in great effort into improving somehow, unrelated whether they are my enemies or allies. The folks in my territory and my wife are putting in great efforts to improve the society in the country and not just in the territory.” (Hifumi)
“Oh, you are married. I wonder whether it’s fine to have dinner in such place then?” (Vepar)
Hifumi looked with serious eyes at Vepar due to her teasing words.
“They stir the world. I only give instructions without moving myself. Besides, it’s not necessary for me to yield the fun parts to someone else like that.” (Hifumi)
He drank up the pseudo-coffee.
“If I were the one to move, there would be too many fellows who would scheme unnecessary things. Just like that child king.” (Hifumi)
“… Agathion-sama is called the smartest king within the successive generations? The matter of dealing with the elven forest had been decided for a long time, this late in the game… no way, is it possible that you will do something?” (Vepar)
Hifumi sneers at Vepar who says “Impossible, you talked in such friendly way with him.”
“The ones called statesmen fuss over “titles.” If they have those, the people will follow them… is what they are believing. If it’s for a just cause, they will be called resolute and not running wild albeit they are doing something daring.” (Hifumi)
“A just cause?” (Vepar)
“For example, since there was evidence that the humans and elves were collaborating and trying to destroy the demon race, he will make a move in order to avenge the long-lasting grudge, or such.” (Hifumi)
“If the barrier falls, he will sell it as outcome of his own efforts and explain it as first step of him destroying the humans and elves”, Hifumi explains.
“Evidence, you say…” (Vepar)
“If there’s a corpse of a human in the demon’s city which should be isolated, that’ll be plenty, I think?” (Hifumi)
Even Vepar grasps that Hifumi is the candidate for that corpse.
Since even demons, who are strong at disguising themselves, return to their original forms once they die, there will be plenty persuasive power if it’s an obvious corpse.
The corpse candidate laughs.
“Well, I wonder what that smart king or whatever will do?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi’s glance asks Vepar And what will you do at that time?
Although there are fluctuations due to things like marriages and such in the unit, where women who are good at magic play a central role, led by Vepar, it’s a group of the best demonic magicians with around 100 members in it.
With the adjoining combat-orientated unit led by Beleth being centred around men, the antagonism triggered by their bipolar dispositions has been continuing from long before Vepar was inaugurated as captain.
However, being sick of that sweltering structure, Vepar basically made sure to not oppose Beleth and his subordinates. She is always leaking to the surroundings that it’s bothersome to do so.
Vepar’s working place is close to the city’s outer wall. Beleth’ working place is in the completely opposite direction with the castle being between them.
Vepar, who was chased out after she tried to have a deep talk with Hifumi in the same room once she led him to the inn, quietly sat at her own desk after having reported to the castle.
“Just when I pondered whether you are doing your work properly for a change… you have abandoned processing the documents. What are you worried about?”
The one who called out to her had approximately the same stature as Vepar, but compared to Vepar’s voluptuous body, she was a young woman with a slender build. On top of her vividly green one piece she is wearing a grey mantle with a hood attached.
Her indigo blue, sleepy eyes are staring indifferently at Vepar who is prostrating on the desk.
“Please do you work seriously once in a while. With most of the documents carrying my signature recently, there are rumours swirling around that there had been a change in commanding officers.”
“Bennia, take my place if you want to. It’s not like I particularly like such tiresome title.” (Vepar)
“Since you were recommended, put in some effort to show deference to those people who referred you.” (Bennia)
The woman called Bennia flatly retorted to Vepar who is looking at her bitterly.
“… What will you do if there’s battle between fellow comrades within this city, Bennia?” (Vepar)
“What are you talking about all of a sudden? Do you plan to cause a rebellion?” (Bennia)
“Just tell me.” (Vepar)
Bennia felt something due to Vepar having a serious look, unlike before. She clears her throat once.
“Although you lack sincerity, you won’t do something mistaken, Captain, is what I believe. If you side with either party, me and the other unit members will follow you, Captain.” (Bennia)
“… That is, even if you will have to kill you own comrades?” (Vepar)
“There will be plenty of reason to do so, I believe.” (Bennia)
“Even so, it’s a very unsettling question”, Bennia knitted her eyebrows.
“Please tell me what you are planning to do.” (Bennia)
“There’s a human in this city, but… stories appeared that Agathion-sama might use him as sacrifice for the war.” (Vepar)
With a sigh blended in Vepar talked about the situation at the time she reported to the castle.
Hearing that story, Bennia tilts her head to the side.
“It’s strange. For that king-sama to talk about something vague like “might” and not an order.” (Bennia)
The order always descends from the top. Even if he consults with someone, at the most the decision changes in around two to three aspects with the other party being Phegor. That was the impression which all of the demons’ soldier held of their king.
Of course none of them think that it’s wrong.
“It looks like he wanted to see my reaction. Totally out of character my back ended up sweating.” (Vepar)
“Why such… no way, did you fall in love with that human?” (Bennia)
“Mm~ … though I didn’t intend to. I won’t deny that I was charmed by him. However, that’s not the reason.” (Vepar)
Drinking the coffee made by Bennia, Vepar exhales a hot breath.
“The human… he is called Hifumi. It looks like his attitude doesn’t differ towards demons and humans, you know. Though it’s not like I have seen it actually in front of my eyes. But he says that the demons, elves, humans and beastmen should fight for their lives to improve this world. Good grief, it’s crazy, isn’t it?” (Vepar)
While her talking became gradually rapid, Vepar giggled.
Even Bennia can’t tell from her expression whether it was tinged with amazement or anxiety.
“You want to betray the king for such a madman, you say?” (Bennia)
“It’s not that I want to betray him. However, I believe that it’s a mistake to simply kill him. Though I think that we can’t avoid fighting with the elves, I wondered whether it isn’t possible to get along with him and the people under his influence without having to fight them.” (Vepar)
“War depends on the people furthering it, but something like the possibility of war eventually becoming a way to decrease the enemies is just stupid”, Vepar shook her head.
“Did you tell the king that?” (Bennia)
“There’s no way I can say that to him.” (Vepar)
At the time she reported to the king, his aide, Phegor, was standing next to him. He glared at Vepar who tried to open her mouth regarding the king’s suggestion.
“I’m not afraid of demotions and getting fired. However, if I was recognised as enemy of the king by Phegor, it wouldn’t end with me simply loosing my life.” (Vepar)
“There might be no other choice but get along with and approach Hifumi indirectly. It seems that Beleth sees him as his enemy as well. I will try to do my best by myself. If I can avoid unnecessary fighting, the number of deaths will decrease.” (Vepar)
Bennia bowed her head due to Vepar standing up and telling her that she is going home.
“Please order us as you like without holding back. We are the king’s retainers, but the words that we will follow your judgement are no lies, captain.” (Bennia)
“I see. Thanks.” (Vepar)
Of course Vepar doesn’t know about her expression hidden within the mantle’s hood at the time she said “Good Night” and left.
And also not about Bennia heading towards the castle afterwards.
Zanga’s journey was far more lively and successful than she assumed at first.
Not just Puuse and Shiku, people like those who were usually close to Zanga and those who were good at magic and who engaged in the maintenance of the barrier; many people are advancing through the forest in a line. They have already left the forest which is next to the elves’ village. The elves were very excited by the things like the horizon and the wastelands which entered their visions once the trees became sparse.
Zanga is making steady progress although she is supported by her wand.
Puuse, who is burdened with large luggages, places her hand on Zanga’s back and suddenly turned her voice at Zanga.
“I get that we have to leave the forest, but where do you plan to go?” (Puuse)
“Ah, which reminds me, at the time of talking about that you weren’t there due to the preparations.” (Zanga)
“Sorry”, Zanga talked while recalling the details she told the villagers.
“I thought of trying to go to “that city where beastmen and humans work together” I was told by that human, no, by Hifumi. If they were able to make a city like that, they might let in elves as well, right?” (Zanga)
Puuse inclined her head to the side due to Zanga laughing with a “Hya hya.”
“Will it go that easily?” (Puuse)
“If it’s about that, I have the necessary measure.” (Zanga)
Zanga took out something from the back of the mantle she wore.
“… A letter, is it?” (Puuse)
“Well, it looks like a letter of introduction, I guess. It seems that Hifumi-san changed the structure of that city. I guess you can’t call it definite, but don’t you think that a little bit of hope has appeared?” (Zanga)
“I-I guess so… oh?” (Puuse)
Since Puuse had truly difficulty to deal with Hifumi, she became worried instead when she was told that it was a city changed by him.
That Puuse discovered someone being there on the road ahead. She gives quick instructions to her comrades behind her with hand signals.
According to the arrangements, all of them slowly came to a halt with simple hand gestures.
“What happened?” (Zanga)
“It looks like someone is ahead in front of the road. It’s around 3 people.” (Puuse)
“I will go make sure”, leaving the heavy luggages behind, Puuse slowly approaches the figures.
At the moment she got close enough to identify them, she sees two of them standing up and discussing something. The other one stays sitting.
“You are, humans! … Aren’t you? You are somehow different…”
Realizing that it’s beastmen looking this way with their heads tilted to the side, Puuse faltered for just a moment, but once she became aware that all three of them are children, she became concerned in reverse.
“We are elves. You are, tiger beastmen and a bear beastman.” (Puuse)
“Elves, it’s the first time…” (Olra)
The beargirl, who is dumbfounded, was Olra, the daughter of Salgu who was killed by Hifumi, but she still doesn’t know that her father had already been killed.
“I’m the elf, Puuse. All of us are on a journey. So, what are you doing at such place with just you children?” (Puuse)
“Ah, I’m called Malfas. Riedel… my younger sister has been injured…” (Malfas)
Puuse turns her look at the other tigergirl.
The girl, she thought to be sitting, was apparently cut roughly by something around the area of her knee. Having been given only simple treatment by just wrapping it with a blood-soaked cloth, her eyes were filled with tears due to the pain.
“How terrible! Wait a moment.” (Puuse)
Once Puuse rushed over to her, she squatted next to her and matched her eyesight with Riedel.
“Hello… onee-san, who are you?” (Riedel)
“I will introduce myself properly afterwards. Stay still for now.” (Puuse)
After a short chant, the mana, which was poured down along Puuse’s hands which she held over the wound, is tinged with a heat which got gradually warm and Riedel’s wound closes up little by little.
While Riedel was getting excited with sparkling eyes forgetting about the pain, the wound finished closing up completely.
“With this, it’ll be alright. Since the recovery doesn’t go as far as recovering the lost blood, take it easy.” (Puuse)
“Onee-san, thank you!” (Riedel)
Following Riedel, Malfas and Olra thanked her as well.
“You guys, you are travelling together although you are from different tribes, eh?” (Puuse)
“We want to rescue Olra’s father. Although he has gone to the humans’ city, he hasn’t returned yet…” (Malfas)
“We were in the middle of travelling as we said that we would meet up with him.” (Olra)
“I see… Ah, perhaps your father might be at our destination.” (Puuse)
Puuse remembered the story she heard from Zanga.
“What destination is it?”
“I was told that it is a city where humans and beastmen leave peacefully together. We are en route heading there.” (Puuse)
“That’s how it was. If that’s the case, do you want to go together with us?” (Zanga)
Due to the invitation by Zanga who came close-by to check the situation unnoticed, the beastchildren faced her.
After a short discussion, the three of them bow their heads together.
“Honestly, we got lost as we don’t know the way. Please take care of us.” (Malfas)
When Malfas said so, Zanga nodded.
“Sure thing, no problem. Although it’s not the influence of a certain somebody, it’s irrelevant whether you are elves or beastmen. Children are to be protected by adults.” (Zanga)
Like this, the children of the beastmen race decided to head towards Swordland led by the elves.