Even while having his hatred towards Hifumi flaring up once again, the tiger beastman Malfas, who was persuaded by Gengu, returned to the beginning of the wastelands after being led by a soldier of Fokalore.
“Thank you very much ~ssu. On top of accompanying us until here, even souvenirs…” (Gengu)
A bundle with daily necessities and foodstuff given to him as souvenirs from Orsongrande is tied on the back of Gengu who bowed his head to the soldier of Fokalore.
Even the back of the gloomily silent Malfas next to him had a large baggage affixed to it.
“Don’t mind it. By nature we don’t know what Lord-sama is thinking. It’s a little apology because he acts like a bad person though he is a good-natured fellow.”
“Please take care of Viine-san and Puuse-san.” (Gengu)
“Yeah, Viine-san has probably arrived in Fokalore by now. Since she will be warmly welcomed if it’s our guys, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. If it’s Puuse-san, won’t she be popular anywhere, seeing that elves are strong at magic and that she is such a beauty to boot?”
“Then I’m relieved”, Gengu laughs alongside the soldier of Fokalore and pulls Malfas’ clothes.
“Ah, well then we will head out now ~ssu.” (Gengu)
“Well then, stay healthy. Come visit once again if you ever feel like it.”
“We will definitely come back one day ~ssu.” (Gengu)
Gengu lowered his head to the soldier of Fokalore who bid him farewell while waving his hand strongly and began to walk.
Malfas walks at a slightly quicker pace in front of Gengu.
After walking for around two hours, the environment completely changes into that of forests and wastelands with no traces of a human city visible.
Even though he sees the forests and wasteland which should be dear to him, after leaving the human city, Gengu can’t settle down his mind in all honesty. From now on we will continue to travel for some time while sleeping outdoors. Thinking about that, his footsteps become heavy.
“I guess I got completely used to the human city as well. Do we have to go to a place with as many ponds as possible ~ssu? Even if we do meet unexpectedly with the demons again… mmh?” (Gengu)
Gengu moves his ears with a twitch. What they picked up is a great number of footsteps.
“Malfas! A great number of footsteps is approaching! We have to hide!” (Gengu)
While saying that, Gengu grabbed Malfas hand and hid in the shade of a nearby rock.
He also lowers the baggage from his back for the sake of being able to escape without any burden when push comes to shove.
“Aren’t those beastmen moving in a group?” (Malfas)
“They are too slow-footed for that to be the case. There’s also the clanking sounds of armours. In all probability, it’s the demons.” (Gengu)
“We won’t fight? If it’s beastmen…” (Malfas)
Malfas breaks off and keeps silent after receiving Gengu’s stare.
“Malfas… if you speak any further, I will leave you behind here.” (Gengu)
The footsteps are still far away and they seem to be exhausted. Even for demons, the footsteps are too slow and too disconnected.
Gengu sat down and leaned against the rock.
“Why did the beastmen live inside the forest scattered all over? Malfas, did you never consider that?” (Gengu)
“T-That’s because they settled according to their tribes…” (Malfas)
“No, it’s different.” (Gengu)
Thrusting a hand in his luggage, he took our a sandwich with plenty of meat put in-between.
Splitting that into two pieces, he handed one piece to Malfas and bit into the other one.
“Tigers and wolves… us and you, even those of the same tribe split up into several settlements. Putting it the other way, even humans and elves lived together, not to speak of the dispersed beastmen in the slums.” (Gengu)
Malfas also bites into the sandwich and enjoys the taste of the meat which was blended with a fragrant sauce. Suddenly he remembers that he never ate food, that was prepared like this, when he lived in the forest. He stares at the sandwich with complicated feelings.
“In the end it’s just as you said before, fight if you see another tribe and be simply satisfied with surviving from day to day. And that’s why the beastmen never progressed. … In reality I should have thought about that a lot more during my time in the slums. Seeing the humans’ cities… or rather, Hifumi-san’s city, I was forced to realize the real meaning for the first time.” (Gengu)
“However, since beastmen are strong, they can live in the wastelands. We even repelled the humans…” (Malfas)
Gengu laughed scornfully with a “Humph” at Malfas objection.
“Until now, that is. There’s nothing that never changes. Beastmen slaves decreased in number and we learned how to create a city and live in it. We also comprehended that it’s possible to live together with other races. Of course there are bad things. The demons, the lot that became free; there’s no doubt that they hate the elves. Even the humans learned various ways of fighting after being taught by Hifumi-san. We were taught as well, but if you ask me whether we are able to use that knowledge skilfully, I guess there’s still a long way to go for that to happen.” (Gengu)
He shows the remaining sandwich and swings it around.
“For us there are very likely many things that we haven’t learned yet and if we did, are unable to do. Being able to make delicious food is one of them…” (Gengu)
He tosses the remaining sandwich in his mouth and drinks some water from his flask.
“Probably the guys, who have been living in separate settlements until now, have been crushed by the demons or killed by the humans. Trying to enable the beastmen to use traps and group combat or having them take lessons in magic from the elves shows that Reni-san probably understands that not only the humans of Swordland are our enemies… Do you know why I decided to follow Reni-san?” (Gengu)
Malfas shook his head.
For an instant he wondered whether Gengu lost to Reni. That’s after all the most simple and basic means of deciding the relationship between fellow beastmen. However, the abilities between a sheep beastman and a wolf beastman are fundamentally too different.
Gengu held up his hand with its sharp claws and furrowed his brows.
“Beastmen are proud of their speed and strength, and thus there are only guys who think that everything can be decided by that. If there’s a guy who’s stronger than me, I either run away or succumb to them. Only those two options.” (Gengu)
“However, Reni and Helen are different”, Gengu remembers the time when he met those two for the first time.
“Reni-san lowered the amount of enemies by increasing her friends. Turning them into allies, she tried to create an even better livelihood. She showed us a method to get benefits by making friends without fighting.” (Gengu)
“… That is, wasn’t she taught that by that man?” (Malfas)
“You idiot. Don’t you use your head properly?” (Gengu)
Drinking one more sip of water, he puts the flask back into the bundle of luggages.
“I don’t think that a person who advances everything by using fighting strength to the degree of Hifumi-san exists. Whether it’s humans or beastmen, he will kill them if they become his enemies and he will use them as bait if they are his allies. What makes Reni-san amazing is that she only used the good parts of what she was taught by such guy. That ain’t normal. In a good meaning.” (Gengu)
Even Gengu thinks that Viine’s reaction towards Hifumi as female beastman is more befitting than Reni’s. Thinking that she wants his children if he’s a strong male is a natural response for a female beastman. It’s her instinct telling her that it’s necessary to leave behind descendants.
“Once we return to the slums, try to look a bit more precisely at the things Reni-san does. And, maybe with what feelings the surroundings get in contact with Reni-san, I guess. Surviving and fighting one’s enemy aren’t necessarily the same thing. I think you know that.” (Gengu)
He quietly looked in the direction of the approaching sound from within the shade of the rock.
A group of demons is walking through the wastelands while scuttling.
A single one-armed demon, who was the only one on a mount, was advancing in the lead. Apparently for the sake of closing the arm’s injury, many bandages were tightly wrapped around his chest.
His expression is a mixture of pain and rage.
All of the soldiers had tired expressions. They were silent while having postures looking as if they were being crushed by heavy baggages.
“… The humans repelled even the demon soldiers… eh?” (Gengu)
The things which he had to tell Reni increased.
Just how much blood will flow from now on in the wastelands? Pondering about that sickening future even if it’s just a prediction, Gengu growled while baring his fangs.
“Being appointed to Earl Tohno, I’m glad to see you in good health…” (Hifumi)
“Such a greetings is good. It also means that you remember my face.” (Phyrinion)
The former female knight Phyrinion, who’s the messenger that brought the handwritten letter of the queen, gave up on Hifumi, who completely ignores the customs of nobles as usual, with a smile.
“Besides, I thought that you stopped being a knight after getting married, but I guess you are still serving the country.” (Hifumi)
“To be precise, as the family status of my household is higher than that of my husband Vaiya’s, it took the shape of him being adopted into my family, that has only a daughter, as son-in-law. With me managing the territory, my husband has kept serving as knight.” (Phyrinion)
Phyrinion’s territory, the Viscount Amazelt territory, is in-between the capital and Fokalore, in a place midway separated from the highway. Having a vast, fertile soil, it’s a famous place for being a wheat producing area from before Orsongrande became a nation.
“I see. So, why did you come here as representative of the feudal lord?” (Hifumi)
“One reason is gratitude. The things I was made to study here have been very helpful for my territory. At that time it was very difficult, but if I think back on it now, I had the privilege of indulging in a good experience.” (Phyrinion)
Phyrinion, who stopped being a knight, doesn’t wear a squad’s uniform but a dress. Lightly pinching its hem, she bows.
What she said are her true feelings. It was hard to carry out the territory’s census from the scratch, but once she finished its collation, she discovered the fraud and collusive relationships of the employed civil officials and the fief’s population’s livelihood became a bit easier as well.
Given that the pointless expenses vanished, she was able to get some financial surplus. I will be able to lead a perfectly comfortable life even after my parent’s retirement, she felt relieved.
“The other one is me bringing a letter from Her Majesty the Queen…” (Phyrinion)
“From Imeraria?” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi holding out his hand while saying “Please show it to me,” Phyrinion placed the letter in his stretched out left hand while wondering formality and such is really meaningless in front of a strong person, eh?
Although it was Hifumi’s office where she was shown in, it’s originally inadequate for a feudal lord as place to receive guests. Normally there should be a room for audiences, but Phyrinion also knows that it had been shut down and turned into a rest area for the staff members.
She looks at Hifumi scanning through the letter while thinking about such things. His characteristic black hair and eyes. His attire that was different from any other country. The single-edged sword which gave birth to his nickname “Knight of the Slender Sword.”
Going by the parts she sees while being silent, he’s a younger boy with a somewhat piercing look.
However, in fact he killed many people inside and outside the country and even killed the king in Orsongrande with his own hands. Or rather, he killed the king in the beginning when he made his appearance in history.
(I wonder, why was such person added as noble of this country…?) (Phyrinion)
It seemed like Vaiya didn’t know the full details, but from the documents of the Third Knight Order he belonged to and going by Imeraria’s decrees, it had been a plan to win over Hifumi, who obtained flashy achievements after he apparently came in contact with the wrong target, so that he wouldn’t be taken by another country.
Whether that was successful or not; the conclusion of that hasn’t become apparent yet.
Suddenly Hifumi’s gaze seizes Phyrinion.
“She has written a drawn-out, forced reason, but in short she tells me to come to the capital.” (Hifumi)
Throwing the letter on the desk, Hifumi grabbed a cup and drank the tea in it.
“It might be about your activities in Horant? I don’t know the details, but there might be some kind of reward?” (Phyrinion)
“No chance.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi easily rejected Phyrinion’s assumption.
“In Horant, Imeraria and Nelgal just frantically cleaned up the mess caused by an idiot. I passed my time by rampaging around after getting angry. In the first place, she would have probably written it, if that was the case.” (Hifumi)
According to Hifumi’s prediction, the most likely reason is that she wants information about the demons and beastmen. Although she shouldn’t be aware that he has already gone to attack the demons.
“She might be troubled over her treatment of the elf Puuse. ” (Phyrinion)
“That one is a honour student-chan, so that will hardly be the case.” (Hifumi)
“What’s that about?” (Phyrinion)
“It’s something private”, Hifumi shook the hand with the glove on it.
“That hand… did it get injured?” (Phyrinion)
Even though she believes that to be improbable, Phyrinion still asks.
“Ah, this is the result of me cutting it off myself. It’s no big deal.” (Hifumi)
“So, what will you do with me who received this?” (Hifumi)
Phyrinion fixed her posture which fell apart due to her getting surprised and glossed it over with the expression of a lady, but even if she changed her make-up, she still had some masculine traces of her time as knight remaining.
“As it’s written. Please go to the capital and meet with Her Majesty the Queen. You will be probably told the full details over there.” (Phyrinion)
“Good grief, even though I just came back… so, will you serve as my escort on the trip, Phyrinion?” (Hifumi)
“You jest… I will return to my territory. Before that, I’d like you to allow me to stay in the Tohno Earldom for a while. Do I have your permission?” (Phyrinion)
“Do as you like. Do you want to study something again?” (Hifumi)
“No, I planned to learn about Vichy’s movements… and in addition to that, about the movements of the demons I heard about on the way here.” (Phyrinion)
Hifumi reacted disinterestedly, but in his mind he praised her. He highly regards those gathering intelligence, and on top of that properly grasping the place where the important movements happen.
It will be great if a lot more of such people appear. Once that happens, this world’s battles will become even more complex and unpredictable.
“If it’s about that, it’s best to go to the border city Rhone. A temporary public office has been set up there. You probably know Miyukare and Paryu. If you listen to their story, you will probably find out various things. About the demons as well. Doelgar is there as well, but that one is a guy people won’t understand even if they understand the matter at hand. If it’s about hearing the story, Paryu would be the best.” (Hifumi)
“It might as well be fine for you to go together with the relief soldiers”, due to Hifumi calling Caim, Phyrinion couldn’t calm down as she felt like she was entrapped in some snare.
“I will, right… depart in around three days.” (Hifumi)
“I appreciate your efforts on delivering the letter”, tapping Phyrinion’s shoulder, Hifumi informed Caim, who finally arrived, about his task and quickly left the room.