I like the title…
Hifumi, who walks holding the reins matching the two beastgirls that can’t follow the pace after all, leaves the forest and advances into the blazing sun of the wastelands.
“So, what are you going to do once you reach the human country?” (Helen)
Helen looks up at Hifumi, who’s a head taller than her.
“First I will have a look. After looking? I will crush it? Well, I will decide it at that time.” (Hifumi)
“Crush it, you say…” (Helen)
Watching Helen’s stunned expression, Reni continued her words with a wry smile,
“Hifumi-san, you came from a human country in the other direction, right? Aren’t you afraid to travel the wastelands by yourself?” (Reni)
“Correct, I’m not afraid.” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi replying nonchalantly, Helen shakes her ears and leaks a snort through her nose.
“Unlike with the tigers, how did it work out with the wolves? As it seems that they come attacking in groups, isn’t it impossible for a single person to oppose them?” (Helen)
“If it’s wolf beastmen, I killed several tens of them. Sneakily following me without even striking up a conversation, several of them came plunging at me. Rolling on the ground after having their noses systematically beaten, I stepped on their necks and broke them.” (Hifumi)
“Aren’t these fellows able to speak human language?” Hifumi says seemingly pouting.
“How amazing.” (Reni)
“Though I don’t think that’s the issue here…” (Helen)
Compared to advancing through the wastelands, where it’s survival of the fittest, they welcome the evening of that day in a relaxed mood.
With Hifumi taking out several dishes from within his storage, the three of them eat their dinner in a circle. Their dessert is that red fruit.
Apparently it is called by the name “Bodan.” Many beastmen like to eat it, but since it can’t be found anywhere but at places with clear water, they apparently treat it as a feast once they stumble upon it occasionally.
Currently those are casually being piled up in front of the girls.
“They are delicious, after all.” (Reni)
Reni laughs delightfully, but the area around her mouth is bright red with fruit juice.
“Eat them in a bit more refined manner. You are a glutton.” (Helen)
Even as Helen says so, she spills a smile due to having bodan after a long time.
“From tomorrow on we will pass through the areas of the bear and leopard tribes, however… stay docile, okay? I’d like you to excuse us from getting involved in your fights.” (Helen)
Once her stomach bulged, Helen called out to Hifumi.
The wastelands, which are in-between the human countries, have the areas of the strong tribes at the outer edges, fairly close to the locations where humans live on both sides of the wastelands, and the centre of the wastelands, which are inhabited by the weaker tribes.
At the edges there are many forests and rivers. But, although there is also the reason of the nature being abundant in the east and west controlled by the strong beastmen, there is likewise the reason that the weaker tribes avoid human habitations, because in case humans discover one of them there are cases of them being caught as slaves.
“Up to this point there are still many tribes, like us, who don’t like to fight, but tomorrow we will enter a dangerous area.” (Helen)
“I see. Well, then it’s fine with you guiding just that far. Once you tell me the direction to head for afterwards, I will go by myself.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi consented easily with her.
Even though Helen showed a facial expression that it was only natural, Reni had a lonely look.
“Then tomorrow will be goodbye?” (Reni)
“I will have to pass through the wastelands on my way back anyway. We might meet again if you have good luck.” (Hifumi)
“Humph. Before that, do your best to not get killed by the bears and leopards.” (Helen)
“In the first place”, Helen continued,
“I wonder why a human like you wants to crush a human country? You are a weirdo.” (Helen)
“A reason, huh? Let me see…” (Hifumi)
Pondering about it for a while, Hifumi shook his head.
“To put it simply, since I have the principle that it’s just normal to crush an enemy, that’s the way it is.” (Hifumi)
“Enemy? Isn’t it only natural for humans to fight back, if they are attacked?” (Reni)
“No, it’s different from that.” (Hifumi)
He quickly denies Reni’s words.
“After getting attacked is too late. There’s plenty reason to kill them, if they appear as if they want to attack.” (Hifumi)
“Isn’t that slightly… excessive?”
“Don’t say such foolishness. You might get killed without the time to counter-attack after getting attacked. It’s important to decide whether to kill or not as fast as possible.” (Hifumi)
“You are the same”, Hifumi points at Helen.
“I am?” (Helen)
“Don’t you have the habit of judging in an instant whether you should run away once you determined a sound you heard? If you were just a little bit late in your judgement, that would lead to your death.” (Hifumi)
“Uhh… certainly.” (Helen)
“Because I have the power to fight, I kill without fleeing. That’s the only difference there is.” (Hifumi)
In the time while Hifumi was talking to Helen, Reni brooded over something, but suddenly lifting her head, she stared at Hifumi.
“Strength to fight is necessary after all?” (Reni)
“Not really?” (Hifumi)
The two girls stare blankly due to Hifumi saying this forthrightly.
“If you want to fight, you train and use your head, though you might have to put in great and desperate efforts to kill. I don’t particularly believe that everyone in this world should possess military power.” (Hifumi)
“However, you say to kill if it’s an enemy…”
“It’s only me who does this. For a fellow, who knows they can’t fight or has no interest in fighting, it is the height of idiocy to oppose someone they can’t win against. If you feel like making an enemy out of someone and fight them, you probably shouldn’t complain about getting killed either.” (Hifumi)
With these words Hifumi lies down on the spread-out cloth.
Before anyone noticing, even the horse had entered a pose of sleeping.
“… If that’s the case, you wouldn’t complain, if you someone were to kill you, either?” (Reni)
Hifumi answered Reni’s words, she told as a tease, without turning his sight towards her.
“Of course. Above it being the giving and taking of life, it’s just natural for me to always think that it’s fine even if I die any time.” (Hifumi)
“Go sleep quickly as we will walk tomorrow, too”, Hifumi shut his eyes.
Reni and Helen, who looked at each other, were confused about the strange ways of human thinking.
The reason it was called “Knight Country” was that this nation, Swordland, originated from a knight order, which became alienated from Orsongrande and had immigrated.
At the time of founding the nation it was a poor village, but by building a sturdy bulwark, the commoners, who followed the knights, began to gradually get familiar with hunting and farming. It took a century for it to establish the system of a nation.
Above all, with the knight order from the time of founding possessing considerable might, far from being able to equally compete with the beastmen, they completely repelled the beastmen, who came to attack, on countless occasions.
The person with the highest position among the knights becomes king and each of the other knights supports the king as nobles. That’s the shape of the governmental system.
Although it might be called a nation, it is nothing more but a single, large city. With the centre of the city being surrounded by high walls, the circumference had agricultural land spreading out.
The knights, with their great might, captured beastmen at the time they saw them, had them obey and chose to employ them as labour force. The commoners, who originally likewise engaged in the mortifying manual labour of reclaiming the wastelands, were comforted in their hearts by watching the beastmen doing more dangerous work than themselves and being discarded after abusing them without even giving them proper food.
And even now the system of catching and enslaving beastmen still exists.
“Tsk. Ain’t there anythin’ but brats?”
Spurring on his horse, the man spit out while his armour made clinking sounds.
The soldiers, who are in the vicinity, are cautious of their surroundings wearing plain leather armours and spears.
“It’s still better than returning without results, but at this rate it will effect my records.”
There was a two-horse cart pulling a load-carrying tray without cover at the place the man turned his sight to.
On top of the load-carrying tray an iron-made cage is placed. Within there are two small, completely exhausted beastmen. It’s the older brother and younger sister, who met Hifumi.
“Andrus-sama, there are no beastmen in the surroundings.”
Due to the soldier asking whether they should move on, the man called Andrus decided to split away from the city a bit further.
Since there’s the possibility of strong beastmen appearing, to the degree that they wouldn’t be able to deal with them, if they separated from the city too far, they have to be careful in their movements.
The knights from the time of founding the nation apparently fought with the bear and tiger beastmen, but Andrus believes this to be a tale. For the knights, who are currently in Swordland, it’s doubtful whether they could equally fight 1-on-1 against beastmen, who are strong in combat.
It’s the young tigerboy raising a moan as he wakes up within the cage.
“Th-This place is…”
“Did ya snap outta it? If ya stay obedient, ya will be able ta keep living in a far nicer place than yer animal dwelling. Ya will even be able ta eat da good stuff.” (Andrus)
“Therefore, be nice”, Andrus intended to coerce him with his gaze, but the tigerboy began to shout to let him out of the cage.
“Tsk. He became annoyin’. Oi.” (Andrus)
Calling a single soldier, he ordered him to thrust the sword at the still not conscious tigergirl.
As the soldier did it without a single shred of hesitation, the tigerboy shut his mouth.
“If ya ain’t quiet, I will kill dat female brat over there and not ya. She will be simply stabbed from outside.” (Andrus)
“Shut yer trap, if ya get it”, Andrus says over his shoulders and returns his gaze towards the direction of their travel. Thereupon he discovered a single bearchild sleeping visibly hidden in the shades of the trees ahead.
“Oh, whatcha great omen. Though it’s a brat once again, da quota had been reached.” (Andrus)
By the order of Andrus, who felt like having already caught it, the soldiers slowly and quietly approach the bearchild.
The instant a soldier, who turned his spearhead towards the bearchild, advanced to a distance where he could touch it after a few steps,
“It’s the humans! Run awaaaaay!”
The tigerboy within the cage shouted with all his strength.
“Ya shitty bastard!”
Although Andrus raised his voice in anger, the bearchild, who had already lifted its head after waking up, has been surprised in noticing the humans, who had approached right next to it.
“Tsk. Surround it quickly! I don’ even mind, if it has a few injuries here n’ there.” (Andrus)
The bearchild was a girl, who had cute, rotund eyes and small, round ears. Even if her hands and legs had wounds, there will be demand for a beargirl with such a nice appearance.
“It will be well worth the time”, before the eyes of Andrus, who mumbled that, a single soldier, who tried to shorten the distance by running fast upon his order, was abruptly blown away.
“What is it!?”
In front of the panicking solders’ eyes a gigantic bear with a height of above 3 m stood in the way in order to protect the beargirl.
Having grown tough-looking fur, it possesses thick, sharp claws on the powerful, fat fingers on both paws. It is trembling in rage baring its fangs.
“Human trash! I won’t permit you targeting my daughter!”
Closing in on a soldier with a nimbleness that doesn’t fit its large build, everything above the soldier’s neck was gone with an explosive sound once it waved its right paw.
In addition to beating the soldiers, who approached closer, to death, the bearman catches the thrust-out spear with his teeth and hits a soldier’s belly with a kick.
At the time the soldier, who vomited out his intestines with spasms, collapsed, the bearman came in front of Andrus.
Andrus, quickly drawing his sword, jumped off the horse.
Although the bearman’s claws fail to seize Andrus, the horse’s flank is torn up and it raises a shriek.
Taking a distance by rolling on the ground, the bearman had already approached immediately before his eyes when he lifted his head.
He protects himself against the downward-swung arms with his sword.
Even though he managed to stop them somehow, a pain travels through his left arm due to the impact and it broke. Andrus knew that by instinct.
At the moment the bearman raised his arms overhead once more, Andrus swings his sword sweeping sideways with only his right hand.
Grazing the chest of the bearman, he inflicts a shallow wound, but without minding he evades the swung arms by scurrying.
He was cut deeply at a part of his face that failed to avoid it, however Andrus hasn’t the leeway to worry about that right now.
The sword of Andrus, who finished getting up in a sorry mess, inflicted yet another wound at the flank of the bearman.
But, Andrus’ hard struggle ended at that point.
The bearman, who took an evasive stance by bending back, severely kicked the nether region of Andrus with his right foot as is.
The large paws of his foot smash Andrus’ crotch and sink further into him.
Falling to the ground with such a pain that he can’t even leak a voice, the bearman quickly crushed Andrus underfoot and thus he died.
“Dad, are you alright?”
Once the beargirl rushed over seeing it all from the beginning to the end while being scared, the bearman showed a gentle smile making his expression of rage from before a lie.
“Yea, of course. You have no injuries, Olra?”
“I’m fine. I noticed them before they could hurt me since that kid called out to me.” (Olra)
“Which reminds me, I was made aware of the situation by that voice as well.”
The bearman, who approached the cage, grabbed the iron grid and burst it open with all his strength.
“It was a courageous act. Thanks to it, my daughter was saved. You have my thanks.”
The bearman, calling himself Salgu, pulled out the tigerboy from the cage and helped out with the unconscious tigergirl by gently carrying her.
Watching the battle, the tigerboy, who was dumbfounded until he was saved, resolves himself and speaks.
“Will I also be able to become as strong as mister?”
It was a letter for Imeraria, who is the new Queen and very busy with the daily governmental affairs, reporting the schedule of the royal capital’s visit delivered by Fokalore.
Although a noble has the liberty of leaving and entering a territory, there is an unwritten rule to send a notice before entering the capital, albeit that was completely ignored by Hifumi. It’s for the sake of showing that a noble, who entered the capital, has no ulterior motive, even if there are also cases of them being summoned by the king.
“From Fokalore? Just who the heck is coming here?” (Imeraria)
Not only the nobles but even the commoners knew very well about Hifumi having left for a long journey towards the wastelands to fight by himself against the beastmen, who opposed mankind for a long time. It has become a commonly repeated topic among the townspeople as the start of a new legend.
“It appears to be Earl Tohno’s wife, who is coming for a visit of the royal capital.” (Adol)
Prime Minister Adol, who read the documents, calmly replied to Imeraria’s question.
“Apparently she is hoping for an audience with you, Your Majesty. Moreover she is even requesting my presence.” (Adol)
“Origa-san, is it…? However, just what kind of business does she have with us?” (Imeraria)
“Well, the notice doesn’t explain that far.” (Adol)
Imeraria cocked her head in puzzlement for a while, but considering it inevitable, she issued instructions in order to prepare the arrangements.
“Is it fine?” (Adol)
“She is Hifumi-sama’s wife. It’s impossible to ignore her. Besides, it’s probably better to directly confirm whether her aim is for her own purposes or upon Hifumi-sama’s instruction.” (Imeraria)
“I see”, Adol nodded and left the office.
“Really, he is a person who causes worries no matter whether he is here or not… I wonder where in the wastelands he is currently rampaging about.” (Imeraria)
Although it wasn’t by all means, she wasn’t able to imagine him dying a dog’s death in the wastelands. And, simultaneously with Hifumi’s face, she recalled Origa’s face at the time they met quite a while ago when she was still a slave.
“… What is she really aiming for?” (Imeraria)
If possible, Imeraria was earnestly hoping to lead a quiet life at least for the period Hifumi wasn’t there.