Wrapped in the refreshing morning sunlight, a huge group of slightly dirty people were restlessly gathered. They were those who listened to Bifron’s call and exited the slums.
Listening to Bifron, whose strength was recognized within the slums, and seeing his proof in the form of Torkemada’s corpse, a little less than 150 people had gathered and followed the trash-filled street, and exited the slums. Although there were a lot of men as well, almost all the women and kids had come out. They didn’t have either the power or the intention to go against the lord.
Bifron and his comrades who had been running around the slums for the whole night, were completely exhausted. But once they thought about what would happen from now on, their tension and sleepiness was blown away.
“Good morning!” (Alyssa)
Amidst the noisy conversations expressing their uneasiness, a loud cheerful greeting was heard.
As he looked over, Bifron could see a young lady walking over, waving her hands. Behind her were many men and women looking like government officials, as well as several soldiers.
“Old man, you and the rest of the people are those who exited the slums, right?” (Alyssa)
“Ah, yes.” (Bifron)
“I’m the military director in this city, Alyssa. Hifumi told me that I’ll be here to receive you. I want the men over there, the women over there, and the kids, along with their mothers, over there.” (Alyssa)
As she was giving instructions to Caim, Origa, and the other responsible people in order to quickly move along, a man stepped out from behind Bifron.
“If this is a joke, listening to a small kid like you, I’m not laughing! Don’t make fun of us just because we’re from the slums!”
It was the same man who first raised his voice in rage when Hifumi killed Torkemada.
“Eh… But…” (Alyssa)
“Considering Bifron’s face, just obediently get out of here. We don’t have any reason to get along with some kid’s play.”
Drawing closer, Alyssa hesitantly looked behind her, and saw Origa give her a nod, as she stood with her arms crossed, with a daunting pose.
“Uhh… There!” (Alyssa)
Under the pressure of Origa’s gaze, Alyssa resolved herself and swung the tobiguchi she held in her hand.
Swinging down, with her eyes relatively closed, the pointy end of the tobiguchi accurately pierced the middle of the head.
“Like that.” (Alyssa)
Standing aside Alyssa, Origa slowly talked to the frightened citizens.
“The people going against our lord Hifumi’s intentions will be dealt with. As we aren’t planning on keeping unnecessary baggage, we need to deal with it. If you understand, then quickly move as we told you to.” (Origa)
Within the ambiance not expressing either consent or refusal, even Bifron remained silent, while the men went towards their gathering place.
“Alyssa, you did that well. There’s no need to listen to what guys like him are saying.” (Origa)
“I wonder if that really was a good thing …” (Alyssa)
Origa gave a kind smile to Alyssa, who still didn’t have any self-confidence.
“Have some self-confidence. You just dealt with one of Hifumi’s enemies, after all.” (Origa)
“T-that’s right!” (Alyssa)
They brought about a peaceful atmosphere, but the people around them looked at them with fear in their gazes.
At this point, Hifumi came walking completely relaxed.
“Oh, you’ve already started talking?” (Hifumi)
“You’re slow, Lord.” (Myukare)
As Myukare, who came with Alyssa, said that, Hifumi let out a big yawn.
“I was talking with Pruflas last night and we got a bit excited, so it ended up being quite late. Don’t glare at me just because I overslept a bit.” (Hifumi)
“Hifumi, leave this to us.” (Origa)
“Yeah, I’ll leave it to you. Well then, I’ll be tidying up the rest. Alyssa, send some people to clean up around dusk.” (Hifumi)
So that’s the Lord? The residents from the slum were talking to each other. After Alyssa clapped her hands to get their attention and once again gave them directions, the remaining people quickly began to move.
“Origa, as planned, the men will help Pruflas. The women will help the staff members, and you’ll be educating the kids.” (Hifumi)
“Understood. You take care as well.” (Origa)
Lightly waving his hand towards towards Origa who was doing an elegant bow, Hifumi went towards the road to the slums.
“Hifumi, what exactly did you talk to Pruflas about?” (Alyssa)
“About new weapons and war devices.” (Hifumi)
Origa promptly replied to the question Alyssa muttered.
“Weapons to use we have to make in a hurry and planning the work for the inhabitants of the slums. It was a talk about what has to be constructed in preparation for the war.” (Origa)
We left together the first thing this morning, so why do you know this? Alyssa thought to herself. But except having a bad feeling about it, she didn’t ask anything more.
Just like what Origa for some reason knew, Hifumi had thrown a few new weapons into his dark magic storage.
While walking down the trashy street, he withdrew one of them.
It was three, 90 centimeter long iron rods, connected with chains. A so called three-section staff. Just like the chigiriki, it could be connected to become one long staff. But sadly, the mechanism in the chigiriki had quickly broken, so it was made simpler in this weapon. In order to raise the deadliness of the staff, the metal ends were sharpened.
Breathing through his nose, and squinting his eyes because of the bright sun, Hifumi entered the slums, aimlessly wandering around its dirty streets, searching for any anyone’s presence.
Suddenly, he stopped in front of an old house and kicked down the front door.
Stepping inside, he found a bearded old man lying down in the dark. The smell of alcohol filled the air.
“Ah, what’s this?”
Whether he was drunk or just half-asleep, the old man’s eyes were flickering around before Hifumi thrust the pointy end of his staff into the old man’s throat.
The old man died without making any sound.
Confirming that the staff’s pointy end didn’t break after hitting the neck bone, Hifumi was satisfied, as he went towards the next house.
As he disposed of a few more people in a similar way, making sure that the staff was easy to use, he saw a group of men gathered on the road. Upon sighting Hifumi, the men raised their weapons and started shouting.
“Did you say you were going to deal with us, brat!?”
“Swinging around that weird stick, who do you think you are!?”
They look just like some countryside delinquents, Hifumi thought, as he let out a chuckle.
“I’m the Lord. It’s fine if you don’t remember that, though.” (Hifumi)
There were 8 of them.
Hifumi rushed over to the guy who spoke first, in the middle. With a swing like he was playing golf, he drove the staff into the other guy’s crotch.
With a sound like something was crushed, the guy died in shock.
The man next to him let out a scream as he witnessed the scene.
Letting his hands go of the staff, Hifumi withdrew a jitte from his within his breast pocket. It wasn’t the cross kind, but rather the kind the policemen during the Edo period used. It was an about 30 centimeters long rod of iron, with a pointy end. As they didn’t have the right materials, there was no tassel, to Hifumi’s disappointment.
Thrusting the jitte in his right hand with an overhand grip, he intimidated the nearest guy.
“W-what will you do with such a short…”
While he was saying that, Hifumi stabbed the jitte into his kneecap, not given a chance to scream before his neck was snapped with a foot.
Hifumi deflected a sword incoming from the side with his right hand, before hitting the attacker’s chest like a hammer.
A dull vibrating sound was heard as the man dropped the sword, and feebly fell down on the ground.
Jumping towards one of the men who stepped back in fear, Hifumi thrust the jitte into his left eye, then using the handle in the left hand to send him flying with a hit to the back of the head.
“3 guys left, huh?” (Hifumi)
“W-wait a second! I was opposed to this kind of… Hiii!”
“Shut up.” (Hifumi)
Closing in on the frightened man barehanded, Hifumi snatched his arm and pulled him down on the ground with his face down, before before strongly trampling down on the back of his head, crushing it.
As the man stopped moving after having his head crushed on the hard ground, Hifumi let go of his hand and pulled out his favourite kusarigama.
“Who’s a beast?” (Hifumi)
Shifting his position, Hifumi knocked down the desperately attacking man with his leg, ignoring him as he fell. Another person hesitatingly poising with a sword attacked, clinging to Hifumi, pushing him down.
The moment he was pushed down, Hifumi used his body weight to drive the sickle into the man’s heart, ending his life.
Looking at Hifumi slowly standing up having his face dyed red with blood stains, the fallen man wasn’t able to get up any more.
Being affected by the blood-soaked sickle held by Hifumi as he slowly approached, the man was frozen in fear.
Like he was cutting grass, Hifumi slashed with the sickle, and the last person died.
Picking up the dropped weapons, Hifumi checked them all.
“Aah, it’s bent.” (Hifumi)
The jitte he had thrust through into an eye socket, piercing the cranium has some brain matter stuck to it, which he wiped off with some paper. Looking at it closely, it was slightly bent due to the impact when he struck with it.
“It really bent … It was meant as a test, but I guess stuff like this happens.” (Hifumi)
Cleaning the weapons he used, and putting them away into the storage, Hifumi was hungry, so he left the slums to find a food stall to get some food. After eating, he returned to the slums, he aimlessly walked around until dusk, disposing of another 30 or so people.
They were mostly rash young men who had confidence in their skills, but none of them managed to even wound Hifumi.
In the time he continued the stroll of slaughtering while being bathed in blood, with the exception of the already broken jitte, he also tested out the three-section staff several times. Since the basics of thrusting and also the basics of the katana’s hassou, for such things as cutting at the lower leg and shaving off, were entirely on his regular practice menu, it flowed gently and was easy to use. (T/N: hassou is a kendo stance, as far as I understand it)
Having almost finished moving through the whole area of the slum, Hifumi felt a strong thirst for blood, as he took a step to the side.
With a sound of cutting through the air, an arrow lodged into the inside of a run-down house.
Turning around, a man was preparing to shoot another arrow. He was two meters tall, holding a huge bow that he was drawing to the very limit.
Feeling happy about being ambushed, Hifumi displayed a smile as he drew his katana.
“So you’re the last one. With your huge frame, archery isn’t the only thing you’re good at, right?” (Hifumi)
The man looked at the club hanging on his waist, but without responding to the provocation, he aimed a second arrow at Hifumi.
With the katana in an underhand grip, Hifumi put the katana in front of him as he lowered his body. It was an old stance he was taught a long time ago by his master, which was used against arrows. It was the first time he used it in actual combat, however.
(It’s a stance limiting the area he can hit, then defending with the katana) (Hifumi)
Trying it out in reality, Hifumi was quite tense, so he deliberately relaxed his arm a bit.
Moving the katana on reflex, a broken arrow fell down by his feet with a dull sound.
As the man didn’t think Hifumi would be able to knock down the arrow, he opened his eyes wide, not drawing another arrow.
Hifumi used that moment to shorten the distance, and just as if making a paint stroke, he slashed at the man with the katana. The man threw down his bow and made an evasive roll.
Doing that, the man grasped the one meter long wooden club at his waist and alertly put himself into position. As far as Hifumi was concerned, this was a satisfying opponent.
“Nice, nice. You’re different from those other idiots.” (Hifumi)
“… You’re a monster.”
Facing the loudly laughing Hifumi as he quickly changed the underhand grip on the katana to an overhand one, the man made a bitter face.
“I’m just a normal person who put forth a great amount of effort.” (Hifumi)
If you asked 10 people who knew Hifumi, 15 would tell you otherwise.
The man was silent as he swung down the club, but Hifumi steadily retreated, avoiding the blow.
“And with a continuous motion!”
While the man was brandishing the club above his head, Hifumi slipped in below his stomach, and tackled the man with the shoulder, making him fall.
It made a dull sound, but the man still unsteadily stood up.
“You’re quite sturdy, aren’t you?” (Hifumi)
“You and your strange movements……”
Cracking his neck with a flushed face, the man once again readied his club.
“You were alright with the bow, but the way you’re swinging the club is dull and boring. Don’t you have anything else?” (Hifumi)
As the man approached with vehement vigor without affirming nor disagreeing, Hifumi started to get tired of him.
Hifumi then remembered something else Pruflas had prepared, and withdrew it from his storage, sprinkling it on the ground.
Stepping on the caltrops Hifumi had strewn out on the ground, with all of his might, the man couldn’t bear it and dropped the club, falling down on the ground.
“As expected, you couldn’t bear this.” (Hifumi)
Avoiding the caltrops covering the ground, Hifumi gently thrust the katana into the heart of the man, as he had fainted in agony.
“It was the first time I’ve used it, but it could be nice to use once in a while. It reduces the tension, though.” (Hifumi)
He gathered the scattered caltrops.
“… Gathering them is a pain …” (Hifumi)
After collecting all of the caltrops and returning them to his dark magic storage, he realized he could’ve just opened a hole on the ground and directly collected them into his storage, and felt a bit sad about it, as he returned to the Lord’s mansion.
Thus, the slums that had been a garbage heap in Fokalore since forever, had been emptied of inhabitants in just one day.
Because Origa and the five slave civil officials put the gathered manpower from the slum to their best use, Fokalore quickly underwent a change.
Thanks to the manpower from the slums, the rails reaching Arosel had been finished, so they started testing it by sending goods and people.
The city’s outer wall was also reinforced, and the entrances facing both royal capital, and the one facing Arosel were improved.
The women from the slums initially received a cold shoulder from the city’s residents, but as they worked hard with cleaning up the city and collecting household garbage, the inhabitants generally came to accept them.
Just being the feudal lord, Hifumi left all the decision making to the civil officials only making a rough draft for this project and occasionally confirming the progress. Alyssa also didn’t approach the governmental operations excusing herself with the words 「I don’t quite understand.」 The number provided to help out from the territorial army decreased as well as they were worked to death at combat training according to Hifumi’s and Miyukare’s instructions.
Naturally, as the style of receiving the instructions from Hifumi and assigning the work following those became established for Origa, some amongst the residents misunderstood Origa to be Hifumi’s wife. But there were also some thinking the feudal lord is a woman.
With Hifumi himself doing only the minimum of necessary document signing, his daily life basically started with finishing the morning practise and no sooner than after taking a hot bath he went missing without anyone noticing.
Today being the same, Hifumi vanished from his office going on a trip under the pretext of test running the arrival of the rail car at Arosel and eliminating the monsters along the highway on the occasion.
“Today he is absent as well?” (Caim)
The civil official slave Caim, known for his notorious “impudence” amongst the staff members, muttered without a change in his expression seeing Kasha house-sitting in Hifumi’s office.
“Caim-san, huh? I came to this room right at the moment when he departed.” (Kasha)
“Can you do me favor of detaining him a bit? It would be a great help.” (Caim)
“Don’t ask the impossible.” (Kasha)
With a face where you didn’t know whether he was laughing or crying, Caim left the office silently after looking at Kasha for a short while.
As if replacing him, Origa entered.
“Ara …” (Origa)
Origa noticing there was no one but Kasha inside the room, she tried to leave the room right away, but Kasha stopped her by calling out to her.
“Origa, if it’s Hifumi-san you want to speak with, I can hear you out.” (Kasha)
Stopping her feet, Origa fixed her eyes on Kasha.
In difference to Caim, her face showed that she suppressed something she wanted to say.
“… No. After Hifumi-sama has returned, I will tell him directly.” (Origa)
Then, Origa, who was about exit the room, once again stopped.
“Kasha, since you are a guard, even if only in name, how about doing a little bit of training? Because we can expect a large-scale battle with Vichy very soon going by the reports from the scouts, come and participate in the training to see how Alyssa has arranged the territorial army to move.” (Origa)
After spitting out in one go what she wanted to say, Origa left without delay.
“Battle, huh?” (Kasha)
There was a small magic tool within the pouch hanging on Kasha’s waist.
Although it was something simple, broken into two pieces and being separated from the other half, it was a quite expensive tool used for the purpose of communication in emergency.
According to the request she had received from Pajou, this half could be used to make Pajou aware of the situation in case Hifumi had been seriously injured or was in a critical state.
For the time being it was something with the purpose of come running in case Hifumi was in danger with the ostensible reason of being able to search for him, but in reality it was obvious that the princess and Pajou intended to assassinate Hifumi in the confusion of the battle.
But, will it be only Hifumi that will die in the situation after using this?
Kasha stared at the door through which Origa left for a long time.