Maybe that one…?
What Reni and Helen snugly put on their heads were the hoods, attached to the mantles, which were used many times by Origa and Kasha to avoid the eyes of guards. Given that he had thrown those into the darkness storage, he passed those to the troublesome two, who would also make a racket in the surroundings, and had them wear those.
“Well then, next.”
Currently, for the sake of entering the gate into Swordland, where Hifumi’s group has arrived at, they have slipped among the people lining up to enter there.
On top of being an independent nation, which faced the wastelands, the chattering was cut off within the protective walls. Hifumi wondered whether it was a city with little traffic, but there are places for hunting and farming other than the city. Apparently the number of common people coming and going isn’t usually this small.
Be that as it may, if you compare it to Fokalore, which has had a tremendous increase in population, it’s insignificant. With it mostly being people entering and leaving everyday, the probability of them being acquaintances of the guards doing the inspections seems to be extremely high. There’s only few people showing something like identification papers.
“Next… you? You may pass.”
“Yes. Thanks as always.”
Due to them saying such, the queue is rapidly shrinking.
“Next is… a face I haven’t seen yet. Also, your two companions, remove your headgear and show your faces.”
As he was told by the soldier, Hifumi quickly pulled down the hoods of the hesitating Reni and Helen.
“Don’t get flustered. My slaves are no danger. There’s likely something else you have to do rather than being surprised.” (Hifumi)
Being told that high-handedly, the solder reflexively confirms the name in a businesslike manner and records it down. Thereupon, apparently realizing what he has been doing, the soldier’s face became bright red and he continued to question Hifumi.
“As there doesn’t seem to be a record of you leaving this city, where did you come from? What’s your objective?”
“It’s because I’m from Orsongrande, on the other side of the wastelands. My objective is to merely go on a pleasure trip.” (Hifumi)
“You say, you came out of the wastelands? Didn’t you get caught by beastmen over there!? You are amazingly talented or had great luck.”
Due to the soldier looking at them with a scrutinizing look, Reni cast down her eyes and Helen clenched her fists, but they endured it without leaking a single word.
Seeing their state, Hifumi decided to have a slight better opinion of those two.
“They are my assets. Don’t stare at them too much. So, is it already fine to pass as well?” (Hifumi)
“Ah, sorry. Carry this permit. The admission tax is 5 silver coins, but… do you have those?”
On the desk the soldier, who was facing him with a doubtful look, has been placing his elbow, Hifumi casually piled up around 10 gold cons.
The design of the gold coins is different from the one in Swordland, but their size is one size larger. Even the portrait, which had been thoroughly engraved into it, is detailed and beautiful.
Hifumi sighed with a “Good grief”, as the soldier had his breath taken away and was unable to take his eyes off the gold coins.
“It’s the money of the country over there, but money is money. Because I don’t need any attraction, hurry up and let us through.” (Hifumi)
The bearman Salgu returned to their nesting place within the woods being accompanied by the tigerboy’s group.
It was the first time the boy’s group learned of it, but bear beastmen don’t form packs. Apparently they are basically living by themselves or, at most, with their families.
Although there is mingling with their fellow members of the same race, they are told that it almost never happens for them to live together.
“Accordingly, the bear beastmen cherish their family ties. If a child loses its parents prematurely due to something happening, the other adults will look after it and raise it as well.” (Salgu)
Tearing off a fruit, that was growing at a high place, Salgu equally split it with Olra, who is his daughter, and the boy and his younger sister.
“Let’s hear your name. You are the lifesaver of my precious daughter after all.” (Salgu)
“Something like benefactor… I’m Malfas (T/N: >> Marufasu <<) and my younger sister is Riedel (T/N: >> Ri~deru <<).” (Malfas)
Once her elder brother gave her name, the younger sister quickly, in a bouncing way, bowed her head.
Salgu smiled gently and placed his paw on the head of Malfas.
“Malfas, there’s no necessity to force yourself to talk politely.” (Salgu)
“But, you saved us, although we are even from a different race…” (Malfas)
“Let me see. Malfas did the same as well. In order to save my daughter, albeit her being of a different race, you put your life at risk and raised your voice.” (Salgu)
“We are of equal status in this regard”, Salgu’s large paw stroke Malfas’ head roughing his hair up.
“Please eat without restraint. Since there are recently few beastman living in this area due to being cautious of humans, lots of fish and fruits can be gathered.” (Salgu)
Presenting a fish while smiling broadly, Salgu himself made short work of the fish, who is more than 50 centimetres long, with his large jaw.
“Are there this many humans coming?” (Riedel)
When Riedel asked while chewing on the fruit, Salgu shook his head.
“I’m sorry to say. Even just yesterday, it looks like they caught a leopard beastman, who lived nearby.” (Salgu)
Since he didn’t see his figure since morning, he visited the nesting place of a leopard beastman acquaintance and discovered traces of blood close-by, he says.
“He was quite the strong fellow, but against human opponents, who surround one with large numbers holding weapons, it’s a harsh situation after all…” (Salgu)
“However, didn’t you win against human opponents, Salgu-san!?” (Malfas)
As Malfas shouts, Salgu laughs.
“That’s right. I believe myself to be quite strong. But you know, likewise it’s a miracle because the large number of people. No matter how big a beastman might be, they will be defeated, if they get swarmed by large quantities of poisonous insects.” (Salgu)
“You will likely understand once you saw a guy, who was attacked by bees and ants”, being told that, Malfas and Riedel cast their eyes down with pale faces.
“Papa, don’t talk about such things during lunch. Look, haven’t the two of them lost their appetite because of this?” (Olra)
“Ah, sorry for that.” (Salgu)
Due to the appearance of the huge bearman being scolded by his daughter, Malfas just ended up laughing.
“E-Excuse me.” (Malfas)
“No, it’s always better to laugh like that. Especially a man has to show laughter at a time, he has no leeway.” (Salgu)
“What kind of self-important thing are you saying?” (Olra)
Proceeding with the meal in this gentle mood, Riedel was taken by Olra and fell asleep.
Lighting a fire, the man and the boy quietly talked with each other while watching the fire burst open with crackling sounds.
“As a matter of fact, there’s something I want to request of you.” (Salgu)
Choosing a place, where their talking voice couldn’t be heard by Olra’s group, whose bed was slightly further away, Salgu quietly said,
“Yes, I want you guys to go even further into the centre of the wastelands together with Olra. Leaving the area, where there are humans and dangerous beastmen, to a place of harmless folks like rabbit beastmen or something like that.” (Salgu)
“What will you do, Salgu-san?” (Malfas)
“I will go to the human country.” (Salgu)
Malfas gasped due to Salgu’s immediate reply.
“I know since I’ve been living in this area for a long time. The abnormality, which doesn’t abate, of beastmen being taken along. It seems those humans turn the beastmen into slaves. Since I saw beastmen, who were tied together, many times, there’s likely no doubt about that.” (Salgu)
“However, aren’t too many beastmen being kidnapped?” is the question that pestered Salgu since some time.
“Resolving myself, I went and hid myself to see the area, where the humans are.” (Salgu)
For the interval of a person’s breath, the words of Salgu, who talks with seriousness in his eyes, cease.
“Close to the fields made by the humans, the corpses of beastmen were thrown away in a pile. It was a large quantity, to the extent of forming a small mountain. That’s not a graveyard or anything like that. They have been literally thrown away.” (Salgu)
Within Salgu’s eyes flames of rage are burning.
“Each and every of the corpses were new. There were also corpses of rabbits, sheep, tigers and bears. … Many of them had their fur torn off as well.” (Salgu)
“Such a…” (Malfas)
“Although one might say it’s other beastmen, I wouldn’t be able to endure it, if I saw them suffering such a fate. Before long I have been considering to free as many beastmen as possible by going to the human country. Therefore…” (Salgu)
“That’s too rash! If you went to such a place filled with great numbers of humans, you will be killed!” (Malfas)
“Calm down, you will wake up the girls.” (Salgu)
Malfas restrained his voice quickly, but even so continues to stop Salgu with a small voice, but Salgu ends up warding it off by laughter.
“I thought she is a child, but you saw that my daughter also has already reached the point of being at least able to harvest things to eat by herself. Though she experienced something dangerous by chance today, she likely won’t encounter dangerous looks to that extent, if it’s in the central part of the wastelands.” (Salgu)
“My daughter, despite looking like that, her strength is fairly powerful”, Salgu laughed.
“Malfas. You are a kind tigerman, therefore, won’t you go together with her, if it’s fine with you? It looks like she gets along with your younger sister-san as well. … Even other beastmen, if she reaches the point of being able to talk together with them without minding their races, it will be fine.” (Salgu)
“By some chance, if it’s the beastmen I freed myself, she might get along with them”, Salgu muttered.
“It’s an unbelievable story similar to a dream, but if you like, I want you cooperate with me”, Salgu bowed.
“I will go with you as well.” (Malfas)
“That’s not allowed. There are still some things you should do since you are young, Malfas. Finding a girl and making children. Become a father and protect your children… you can’t become like me.” (Salgu)
That was the first time Malfas saw the tears of an adult.
Even such powerful person has a time when they cry? is what he was dumbfounded about for a short while, but Malfas decided to accept Salgu’s request.
“… Understood. But I have two requests.” (Malfas)
“Got it. Let’s hear them.” (Salgu)
The open fire made a small sound. The ashes, fluttering in the air, drop under the feet of Malfas.
“Please explain your reason to Olra, Salgu-san. Without lies and deceptions, just the truth of the matter.” (Malfas)
“That is…” (Salgu)
“My parents were killed by a human without me noticing. Before I realized anything, we had lost our parents. Probably, even if we had been at that place, our parents would have been killed. Besides, there were a lot of adults there as well, but none of them survived.” (Malfas)
He looks directly at Salgu.
“Your parents dying, before you realized it, is painful. Please, at least, have her brace for it. And, in order to transform her worries into pointless anxiety, please come back without fail. Until then we will go to a place, which is slightly away, but we will wait there for you.” (Malfas)
Looking into each other’s eyes, they sense each other’s intention.
Salgu laughed with a “Pfft” and tossed a twig into the open fire.
“I give up. it appears that you have been an adult all along, Malfas. Understood. I will tell my daughter tomorrow. And I will promise her to survive and come back without fail.” (Salgu)
“Therefore”, Salgu bowed once more.
“I leave my daughter to you.” (Salgu)
What Reni and Helen saw after passing through the gate was the main road of the city with many people going back and forth.
The road, which continues from the entrance of the city straight to the castle, has various kinds of shops lined up left and right of the broad path.
Both of them raised their voices similarly, but Reni was deeply moved by the state of the city with its imposing buildings and goods. For Helen it was words just leaving her mouth remembering he sense of discomfort due to there being a large number of humans.
“Don’t stand still. Hurry up and move.”
The two chase after Hifumi, who began to walk, in a panic. They lined up at both his sides.
“Where do we go?”
“We don’t have any money of this country. We will make money by selling my own property.” (Hifumi)
“Money, is it? Humans exchange items for money, right?”
“What a strange story, right? To exchange something you can’t eat with items that aren’t even clothes. Isn’t that a loss?”
Hifumi, abandoning the beastgirls, who begin to chat severally, walks quickly.
Given that Hifumi’s appearance was still, as ever, a dark blue dougi and a black hakama, the city’s people look at him with strange eyes, but even above that, their looks gather on the beastmen, he leads.
Beastmen slaves aren’t unusual, but walking without them having chains pinning them down as burden and moreover, because of their good complexion, the people are apparently considering him to raise them by expending money.
“… There are plenty of beastmen.”
“All of them are bound by chains. There are many with injuries as well, but…”
Helen had gradually lost her will to look at the vicinity.
Being yelled at by a middle-aged man, a dogboy is beaten. A bearman, who is paraded about as guard tool of a noble. Stuffed into a cage, a rabbitwoman, with a price tag attached, was exposed as if it’s some exhibition.
While watching those, a feeling of being unable to bear it formed in Helen. If she makes a single mistake, she will end up like that as well.
“Reni, let’s go home after all.” (Helen)
“That’s no good.” (Reni)
Reni said while properly looking at her surroundings.
“Helen. I believe humans are amazing after all. Beastmen might be certainly above humans in such things as strength or running speed, but… they are building this many houses and are taking, creating, eating so many various things.” (Reni)
Reni looked at Helen.
To Helen, her face, which appeared to be that of someone else somehow, was shaking with tension and astonishment.
“Disgusting things can be seen as well, but if you observe it properly, there will be things we can do. If the humans increased rapidly, we would have no place to run someday.” (Reni)
As Helen talks with a look similar to running away from Reni, her eyes met the rabbit beastman, who’s the same as her, in the cage.
In the hollow, widely-opened eyes there isn’t any trace of any kind of emotions.
She thinks it might have still been better if she had raised her voice with a “Help!”, Helen felt sick at heart.
“Something, something we can do… and then we can save them, I hope.”
“I don’t understand.”
“But, you want to believe that the things possible to do won’t increase, right?”
While listening to such conversation, Hifumi revised his own plan within his head. Reviewing the adjusted, fixed plan, he turned his look at the two beastmen so that they wouldn’t notice and laughed quietly.
After walking for around 15 minutes, Hifumi entered the second-hand shop, he heard about from the guard.
“Please buy this.”
As soon as he enters the shop, he heads for the place of shopkeeper-like old man, sitting at the counter, in a straight line and places down a magic tool, he took out.
The shopkeeper was taken aback for a moment, however with that being something he got used to, he holds the tool wondering whether it’s the boy of a noble, who was troubled by money, from somewhere.
“What’s this? It looks like a magic tool, but…”
“It’s lighting. Look.” (Hifumi)
Once Hifumi held out his hand over a part of the magic tool, it began to give off a faint light.
“T-That’s surprising! I won’t get my hands on something like a light magic tool quickly! Hey, where did you get such thing?”
“Omit the yapping and buy it. Will you take others?” (Hifumi)
The shopkeeper, bringing a bag from the shop’s back, piled up gold coins on the counter.
“How about 10 gold coins?”
“How long will I be able to stay in an inn of the city with this?” (Hifumi)
Due to Hifumi’s question, the shopkeeper wondered why such thing?, but it will likewise be troublesome, if he gets and angry and takes it to someone else. In Swordland, that has almost no exchange with foreign countries, magic tools are high-class items, even if they are second-hand.
“The market price around here is 5 silver coins for staying overnight without meals. For a high-class inn, close to the castle, it will take 20 silver coins.”
“You will be able to stay 50 nights in a simple inn.”
“I guess that’s fine.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi seizes the gold coins on top of the counter and, pretending to stuff it into his wallet, he stores them away in his darkness storage.
“So, where are those expensive lodgings?” (Hifumi)