Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 1 Chapter 2

The Morning in Another World
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Deus ex-Machina


Part 1
That night, I had a dream.


It was my recollection of my participation of the farm life experience organized by the hunting hobby group.


That pot of boar stew was really delicious.


With white miso as the soup base, vegetables such as enoki mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, cabbage, carrot, burdock and yam were added in, and I couldn’t taste the rumoured boar stink at all. The meat were sliced thickly, but the texture of the boar were softer than pork, not too oily, so I could wolf it down no matter how much there was.


It was december back then, and winter break for me.


It was my first time experiencing what it was like for 「my freezing body to warm up from the inside」.


Before our meal, they taught us how to slaughter the boar.


I had only butchered chickens or ducks before this, so I was tensed and excited.


It might sound cliche, but that experience made me realize once again that 「so that’s what goes behind the preparation of animal meat as food」.


Unfortunately, the butchered meat had to be put aside for several days for it to age. And so, the meat I ate was the boar prepared by the hunter hobbyist group in advance.


Even so, it was absolutely delicious.


The farm life experience was three nights of on-site camping. On the second night, dad and Rina came to visit me.


When she saw the boar I butchered, Rina almost fainted from anemia. But when we had boar stew for dinner, she ate almost as much as I did. I couldn’t figure out whether Rina was really strong or really frail.


But there isn’t any chance to butcher boar meat in our shop.


My dad said with a laugh.


I want to eat the meat Asuta-chan prepared!


Rina laughed too.


I was probably all smiles too back then.


Was there any meaning in closing the shop for three days to participate in the farm life experience? I was doubtful in the beginning, but I really enjoyed those three days, so it was meaningful for me.


「… Hey, wake up.」


I will be butchering a deer tomorrow.


When she heard me boasting about that, Rina’s big sparkling eyes widened.


Can we eat venison? Isn’t the deer pitiful?


How could that be? You ate so much boar meat, it’s unfair to say that.


Eh? But boars are no different from pigs!


Rina puffed her cheeks angrily after saying that.


I told her that was the unfair part.


Have you looked at boars and pigs carefully before? If I have to said, I think they are cuter than deers.


Stop saying that! I won’t be able to eat pork in the future if you say that!


The meat eating culture in many other countries were hard for Japanese to accept too. I wanted to tell her about that, but she looked so pitiful so I didn’t.


「… Hey, just how long are you going to sleep. Wake up!」


So noisy.


Ah, speaking of which, the boar stew I ate back then was delicious.


The miso soup base was thick, so I wanted to try other method of cooking that could bring out the taste of the boar more clearly.


Soup stock made by cooking the bones of the boar must be incredible.


「I did ask you to stay in this house, but I have no intention of letting you laze around! Hey!」


Ara, someone was shaking my shoulders violently.


Leaving that aside for now, I probably like the unique taste of the meat.


I only had it a few times, but I like mutton a lot, and I had always like the smell of the fats on meat. I even wondered if I was a carnivore in my previous life.


It was the same for ramen, my favourite was Tonkotsu Shoyo Ramen. Naturally, a bowl of ramen that was oily wouldn’t be delicious, and I would pass on that too. But I intend to take over the family business, and I was already planning in secret to add Tonkotsu Ramen to the menu in the future.
<TL: 豚骨醤油ラーメン, pork bone soy sauce >


「Hey… Don’t get too cocky, you will get it from me.」


Right, this was the taste. Who said that Kiba beast stinks?


Hmm? No, what were Kiba beasts?


Anyway, this smells nice.


I was just feasting on pork stew, and I got hungry again.


After all, the dinner last night was horrendous.


These two words didn’t really match though.


Forget it, doesn’t matter.


Anyway, I’m hungry, so I will dig in first.
The meat felt rather tender, and stimulate my teeth and tongue comfortably. The next instant, a flash of white light exploded before my eyes.


「… Strange?」


It took some time before I understood the situation.


The fragrance of meat and spice stimulated my nasal cavity.


The morning sun light shone in through the windows.


The sensation of the rough fur rug.


Wooden walls and the ceiling where the beams were clearly visible.


Oh right, it had been one night since I came to this other world.


This wasn’t my house. But the house of a Forest’s Edge denizen, Ai Fa.


Right now, that Ai Fa had her arms crossed, and standing before me with her feet wide apart.


Her left palm was placed on her neck, her pretty face was blushing. She had drawn her knife and was pointing it at me. This was my benefactor, Ai Fa.


「Wait… Wait! My meat definitely taste bad!」


I woke up immediately, and rolled to the wall behind me.


The steel blade shone brightly as it reflected the morning sun.


Ai Fa’s right arm raised her knife high and was trembling, as if she was suppressing her agitated emotions.


「… I will kill you.」


「Why!? Why’re you doing something so dangerous this early in the morning…」


As I yelled, I felt a dull pain on the top of my head.


Hmm? Speaking of which, someone seemed to have hit me while I was dreaming.


「Ah, were you the one who hit me? How mean, what are you thinking, hitting someone who is sleeping?」


「… Ask yourself.」


Ai Fa’s cheeks were beet red from rage.


She was the same yesterday, acting all cool but angering so easily.


But on the other hand, she wasn’t someone who would have an outburst for no reason, did I do something wrong?


「Sorry, but what did I do? I was groggy from my sleep and can’t remember anything. If I did anything rude, please do forgive me.」




「… You did do something wrong.」


「Huh?」


「You tried to eat me!」


Ai Fa roared. This was the first time she spoke so loudly since we met. She raised the knife in her hand once again.


On her smooth neck she was covering moments ago —— was a set of healthy looking teeth marks.


I knock my fist downwards onto my palm as I sounded out in realization.


「I remember now, I was eating something in my dream. Because you smelled so nice, I couldn’t help biting down.」


「… I will kill you.」


「Uwah wait! I was wrong! It’s my fault! I apologize, please spare my life…!」


「Shut up!」


And so, my second day in a another world began really loudly.


My actions were lowly, but fortunately, it didn’t awaken any hidden cannibalistic tendencies within me.

Part 2
「… After you finish eating, we will set off immediately.」


Ai Fa said with an expression more unhappy than usual.


But it was natural for her to act like this, since I irked her. However, I wish she would let it go since she hit me with the handle of her knife five or six times already.


By the way, the breakfast she gave me was Kiba beast jerky.


This was another ordeal. Like dried squids snacks that goes with beer, it needed to be tore into thin strips before consumption. But it wouldn’t dissolve no matter how much you chew it, just like rubber that taste like meat.


It also had the lingering taste of animal odour, probably because its blood wasn’t drained properly.


Ai Fa leaned against the wall with a heavy aura that seemed to say 「don’t come near me」. So I stood beside the stove as I chewed on Kiba beast jerky.


I looked at the iron pot that had been washed sparkling clean and thought about yesterday’s dinner.


Dinner last night —— was horrendous.


To me, that was like some sort of torture.


No matter what, that meal is too much…


This might be the first time in my life that I said 「tastes nasty」 after eating someone’s dish. I had fallen into the vicious cycle of self loath after having misspoke.


But the subject herself —— Ai Fa didn’t seem to mine, and so I escaped unscathed.


「… There’s no distinction of food being delicious or not.」


I heard this rude remark for the third time yesterday.
For the people of Forest’s Edge, was dining just a way of obtaining nutrition?


That might be so…


That might be so, but that dish was too much.


First of all, the Kiba beast meat.


The Kiba beast meat was too tough.


And the animal stink was heavy.
Be it pork or beef, no matter how terrible the quality, they wouldn’t stink so much.


Next, because the meat was cooked very thoroughly, it wasn’t so tough to the extent of being unchewable. However, despite the surface of the meat being tender, the sinew was still inside, so it felt like half melted rubber… Simply put, the texture was terrible.


On the other hand, the fake onions had excellent texture.
I like how crisp it was.


But that was it’s only good point.


My only comment was, 「Onions aren’t suitable for hot pot after all.」


And of course, onions were very suitable for things like beef intestines pot or kimchi pot, but my family didn’t have the habit of putting in onions when we cook hot pot.


And also, the fake potato was a huge problem.


What exactly was it?


It melted completely into the soup. After throwing it into the water, it turned into a powdery cream coloured liquid that destroyed the balance of the entire dish.


The best way to describe it was 「flour that dissolves in water」.


Please imagine.


Thick stock with flour mixed into it.
Onions with crispy texture.


Lumps of soggy meat that stinked.


Flavoured solely with black pepper.


Will that taste good?


Sorry to say, but I don’t think it was nice at all.


And the most horrible thing for me was ——「This dish smelled delicious」.


The fragrance was excellent, so the freshness of the meat and fats had definitely dissipated into the white murky liquid. Complemented by spice such as black pepper, I could wolf down several bowls of rice with this smell alone.


Even so, the dish tasted horrible.


When I scooped the meat slices and soup into my mouth, the animal stink made the fragrance disappear without a trace.


That was why —— it was so tormenting.


The central nervous system controlling my appetite was stimulated by the fragrance, but the thing invading my mouth was completely the opposite of that appetizing smell. To be honest, if not for my gratitude for the food and Ai Fa, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat half a plate of it.


I ate three plates of that damn thing. Towards the end, I was battling my urge to puke.


And so, even though I ate til my stomach bulged, my brain had been nagging 「when can I eat?」 right until I fell asleep. That was probably the reason for my dream last night.


「… Why are you dazing off? It’s time to go.」


I raised my head when I heard her sarcastic tone and found Ai Fa with her cape on and her blades on her waist, ready to go.


「Ah, wait for me! What about my Santoku knife?」


「…Santoku …?」


「That knife. The one I handed over you last night.」


Ai Fa gestured towards the inside of the door with her chin in silence.


I remembered that she brought it to the door on the right, so I walked that way.


In the end, Ai Fa and I both slept in this big room, so I didn’t have the chance to visit those three rooms.


I opened the door cautiously and slowly —— A strong smell assaulted me in an instant.


Uwah… this is unbearable.


As I expected, it was the food store.


There were many gunny sack-like bags that looked heavy, and I caught a glimpse of the onion and potato like vegetable inside.


Various plants were hung on the wall, one of it had withered and turned black like seaweed, another one was lustrous green with thin long leaves, hanging in the cramped space.


Further in, a space about 2 meter square was segregated by squarish boards, which were filled to about my knee level with black powder.


The smell came from there.


It was the black pepper like spice which were sprinkled onto the meat of the Kiba beast.


Leaving whether it was fragrant or not aside, it was too stimulating. There wasn’t any windows, so the smell mixed with the air heavily. If I wasn’t careful, this would probably hurt my eyes, nose and throat membrane.


I see, so that’s how they preserve Kiba beast meat.


Despite the danger, my innate curiosity still prevailed, and I decided to observe further while blinking away tears.


The Kiba beast’s meat was probably sealed inside this pile of spice. They use pepper instead of salt to cure their meat. Since there wasn’t any freezer, they had to use this method. The climate here was similar to early summer in Japan, so meat and other food stuff would rot quickly in the open.


Hmm… Is this dried leaf the ingredient?


The wilted leaf hanging on the wall looked like seaweed that had turned black. When I touched it, the leaves fell off in crumbs.


I see. After it is dried, the leaves would become a spice like black pepper. If the europeans during the age of sail saw this, they would probably faint from joy.


As I made my bold deduction, someone behind me suddenly said: 「What in the world are you doing?」


Ai Fa was standing at the entrance of the food storage room. The morning sun illuminated her from behind, and I could only see her silhouette.


She leaned against the wall with her arms crossed before her chest. Her head was tilted slightly and she had a questioning gaze.


「The knife is here. Hurry on out, the smell will leak away.」


「Ah, sorry. A lot of things in there piqued my curiosity.」


Ai Fa rushed me out of the room, and the morning sun outside was already very strong. I was only inside the room for tens of seconds, but I felt I was turning into peppered meat.


「Uwah, my nose hurts! The smell of that spice is too strong.」


「… Are you retarded? You can’t eat that, and don’t want to anyway, what’s the point of staring at them?」


「Because it’s interesting. I did tell you that I’m a son of a chef yesterday, right?」


「… There are only chefs inside Rock city. If you want to make a living with that, then learn the rules of this world faster and leave Forest’s Edge.」


Ai Fa said unhappily and pushed the Santoku knife onto my chest.


「I don’t know anything about this world, there’s no way I can become a chef… But why did you put my kitchen knife in a room with such a strong smell?」


Although the blade won’t rust or get damaged from the smell, I was worried that the scent would linger on it.


「… That is the only room without windows. Not everyone is as despicable as Diga Tsun who breaks through windows, but the food store is the safest place.」


「I see. You really cherished it… thank you.」


Ai Fa raised her brows.


She seemed unused to accepting other people’s thanks.


「… We are wasting time. Before the sun rise to the middle of the sky, we will forage for Pico leaves and firewood. If you don’t want to be called a freeloader, then contribute a little.」


「Understood!… But before we start work, I have a request, can you hear me out, Ai Fa?」


Ai Fa showed an annoyed look.


Given how beautiful she was, this was a pity.


「Just how much trouble are you going to give me? Asuta, I didn’t know you are such a shameless man.」


「No, I want to ease your load as much as possible… Starting from tonight, can you let me cook dinner?」


Ai Fa’s face was tensed, but her expression looked bewildered after hearing what I said.


She looked really cute like this.


「What do you mean? Cooking isn’t a hassle, even a ten year old could do it.」


「Erm… So this isn’t really lessening your load huh… But I still want to try preparing the ingredients in this world with the cooking method from my world.」


Ai Fa lowered her brows doubtfully as she appraised me.


That look in her eyes was like someone watching a dog walking on two legs.


Not everyone would like her current expression, but I think she looked really cute.


「I don’t understand… Do all 『chefs』 feel the same way?」


「I’m just an apprentice chef though. But all chefs would probably feel the same.」


「… Do as you like. For me, cooking isn’t that important.」


Ai Fa walked towards the entrance after saying that.


I exhaled in relief and followed her slender figure.


My actions just now was as good as telling her directly: 「your cooking is terrible, let me do it」. I had already braced myself for her to swing her knife at me.


However, Ai Fa seemed to seriously think that the content of the meal was 「of no importance」. I felt conflicted, my emotions a mix of joy and sadness.


But this really sparks my will to challenge this.


I want to wipe away the dissatisfaction and melancholy I felt last night away.


I was sure that I could cook the Kiba beast meat and make it more delectable.


This ingredient gives off an amazing fragrance, but its horrible taste could be seen as the desecration of food.


I had not found a way to tackle the fake onions and fake potatoes, but I was certain that the potential of the Kiba beast had not been brought out yet.


As for the way to cook boar meat, I only knew the scratch of the surface. If I put them into action, just how much tastier could I improve the Kiba beast meat? Just thinking about this hyped me up and made me hungry.


On top of that...


I muttered as I peek at Ai Fa tying her shoes onto her feet.
I want her to taste the dishes I made.


As an apprentice chef, the only contribution I could make was to serve dishes that could somehow pass the mark.


Ai Fa seemed uninterested in eating, so all this might seem meaningless to her. But no matter who it was, everyone would feel happy when they taste delicious food.


This girl was always showing a displeased face, so if I could make her look a little happier, it would be considered a passing grade. Should I use this as the baseline?


I want to cook the Kiba beast’s meat, and make my benefactor happy when she eat it.


It might be a little extreme to put it this way, but I had found my goal for my life now.


When I thought about that, the clouds in my heart seemed to clear a little.


「… Speaking of which, is your leg alright?」


Ai Fa asked me offhandedly after putting on her shoes.


「Yes, I can walk fine now… Thank you for your concern.」


「Who cares about you. If you tell me 『I can’t walk anymore』 after we go into the forest, I will just leave you there.」


She spat her words out unhappily, and then added 「… so, if you feel anything wrong, don’t hold it in and tell me right away.」


Repaying this benefactor was a worthwhile effort.


After I told her 「I got it」, we walked forth into this different world where the morning sun shone brightly.


Part 3
「… The Pico leaves grow along the water inside the forest. There is a river called Lanto in the woods, and its vicinity is the best place to forage for Pico leaves. The Tsun House’s turf is upstream, so we will be heading downstream.」


「Yes captain.」


We walked along the path we took yesterday and headed into the forest.


We set off a bit late because of the various distractions, but the other houses in the settlement was still very quiet. I would see a person or two occasionally, but no one walked along this path.


「Hmmp. No one wants to enter the forest early in the morning. Everyone uses the time in the morning to settle miscellaneous tasks, such as tanning hide or chopping wood.」


「But captain, why are you heading into the forest so early in the morning?」


「… I usually won’t go into the forest so early either. But I have another mouth to feed now, so I’m worried that my firewood supply wouldn’t be enough.」


「So it’s this lowly one’s fault! Words fails to express the shame I have wrought!」


「… Speak normally or I will cut your tongue off.」


「Okay, I’m sorry.」


Ai Fa seemed displeased, so I decided to behave myself.


The scenery of this world appeared before me in the morning light for the very first time.


I couldn’t see the surroundings clearly because of the dim lights yesterday. But the scenery here was really epic.


There was a light mist in the air around Mount Morga that raised up into the clouds. The mountain range extended to its left and right, leaving me in awe of its massiveness.


Our destination was the depths of the forest.


Aside from this area that had been cleared for the settlement, everywhere else was shrouded in lush greenery.


The air was clean and fresh without any hint of smog.


The birds soared in the sky.


Everywhere I looked was filled with the grandness of nature.


It wasn’t too warm right now, so it felt comfortable to wear my long sleeved chef uniform.


I surveyed the scenery around me, and the morning dew on the trees glimmered under the bask of the morning sun.


If this was a camping trip I would be completely satisfied.


「I want to ask, what exactly are Pico leaves?」


I asked when we reached the border of the forest. Ai Fa answered annoyingly that 「it’s that thing you were so happy to see just now.」


「Eh? You mean that spice? That is a cute name.」


「… After about a month, the Pico leaves will lose their effectiveness. We need to gather enough of it before that happens. Without Pico leaves, the meat will spoil in less than two days. If you don’t want to eat rotten meat, then work hard.」


「Understood… So the vegetables we ate last night also grows in the wild and can be foraged?」


Ai Fa stepped into the dense forest as she shook the things hanging on her necklace.


「The tusk and horns of a Kiba beast is worth ten days worth of Aria and Poitan. Which means five days worth for two people… So we need to hunt one Kiba beast every five days, or our meals will be reduced to just the meat of the Kiba beast. Things are still fine for now.」


「Is that so? But with how huge this mountain is, you should be able to gather all kinds of ingredients here, right?」


「… We can’t take the resources of Mount Morga, that is a taboo.」


「Huh?」


「If we harvest the resources of Mount Morga wilfully, the famished Kiba beast will attack the farmlands in Genos’ territory. Kiba beast don’t eat herbs like Pico leaves and Lilo, and the Grikee fruit that has potent poison. That’s why they only permit the people of Forest’s Edge to harvest these plants.」


「On whose orders? The mountains and forests shouldn’t belong to anyone, correct?」


「Both Mount Morga and the forest are under the dominion of Selva, the Kingdom of the West. Eighty years ago, we the people of Forest Edge fled from the war in Southern Kingdom Jagaru to this forest… And we made a pledge with the Kingdom of the West not to wilfully harvest the resource in the mountain, and to only hunt Kiba beast. We were only granted permission to stay under these terms.」 


「This is an outrage. The mountain and forest are enormous, the Kiba beast won’t starve just from harvesting some of the resource.」


「That’s not true. Kiba beast are creatures that only lives at the foot of the mountain. Deep in the mountain lurks the giant Madarama snakes and Valb wolves which even the Kiba beasts feared. Ferocious barbarian also lives there. We people of Forest’s Edge and the Kiba beasts can only live in the relatively safety at the foot of the mountain.」


「I see…」


I could understand the rationale, but I couldn’t agree with it.


Kiba beast could only live at the foot of the mountain because of the fight for survival. But in order to protect other people’s farmland, the people of Forest’s Edge could only hunt Kiba beast… This arrangement felt really forced.


Ai Fa told me yesterday that those people mocked them as 《Kiba eaters》, which irked me a lot.


「… The people of Forest’s Edge are refugees from the Southern Kingdom after all. We turned our back on the God of the South Jackal, and offer our sword and souls to the God of the West Selva. But even so, for the citizens of Rock City, we aren’t their people, but outsiders.」


Ai Fa seemed to realize how I felt and muttered emotionlessly.


「Even for outsiders, your people have lived on this land for eight decades right? It isn’t too much to fight harder for your own rights.」


「… Just like how I refuse to seek the protection from the Tsun House, the people of Forest’s Edge don’t ask for aid from the Kingdom. Instead of tending farmlands, our characters are more suited for hunting Kiba beast.」


「I see, but to the people of Forest’s Edge, I’m a complete 『outsider』, so I don’t have any say in this problem.」


What I said seemed to have angered Ai Fa and she glared at me fiercely.


「No, I’m not refuting your way of life. But I think I definitely can’t get along with the citizens of Rock city.」


「… Hmmp. A weak man like you is more suited for Rock city, not Forest’s Edge.」


Hearing Ai Fa’s sarcastic words, I glared back. I suddenly thought about something.


「Wait, you said that the horns and tusks on one Kiba beast can be exchanged for ten days worth of food? So for a family of ten, they would need to hunt one Kiba beast — Hey hey hey, there’re five hundred people here, so that would mean 50 Kiba beasts everyday?」


Ai Fa tilted her head as if she was asking 「So what?」


Hey, this was the biggest issue.


「In this 80 years, the people of Forest’s Edge had been hunting 50 Kiba beasts every day? If you hunt them at such a rate, won’t the Kiba beast go extinct?」


「It’s impossible for the Kiba beasts to go extinct. In recent years, their numbers had been growing instead, and they had destroyed even more farmland. The Kiba beasts numbers aren’t so thin that we can wipe them out. This is a vast forest after all.」


「I see… That’s incredible.」


In that case, I believe even more firmly that the Western Kingdom had imposed a great responsibility on the people of Forest’s Edge with a cunning excuse. And the system meant the people of Forest’s Edge could only hunt Kiba beasts and not any other food, which reeks of malicious intent to me.


The people of Forest’s Edge couldn’t collect the natural resources of the forest or go into agriculture, and could only hunt Kiba beasts — The other party probably gave such an order.


If that was the truth, then it would be even more maddening for them to mock the people of Forest’s Edge as 《Kiba eaters》 behind their back.


「… And so, it is prohibited for anyone to take from the forest. Anyone who break this taboo would get their head scalped. Remember this well.」


「… Okay.」


After I said that, Ai Fa stopped and grabbed me by my chest.


「Hey, your attitude towards me is terrible. If you have any complaints, say it out clearly.」


「I’m not angry at you! I’m just unhappy about how the people in the Kingdom and that city handles things.」


Ai Fa’s eyes were like a boiling pot of Kiba beast meat, but she cooled down after hearing what I said.


「What do you mean? You are not a part of Forest’s Edge, why are you angry about this?」


「Do you even need to ask? Just thinking about their actions objectively would make my blood boil. And I’m in your care, so I will naturally think about things from your perspective.」


「… You really are a weirdo.」


Ai Fa unhanded me and strode forth again, the grass rustling under her foot steps.


「And what you said is illogical. They didn’t threaten us with force when we made these terms. I don’t like the people in the city, but we take pride and honour in keeping them safe. If we leave, then other people would need to leave their jobs to fight the Kiba beast… We have already offered our swords to the Western God Selva, when we hunt the Kiba beast, we are also contributing to the prosperity of the Kingdom.」


「Erm… I’m not born in Forest’s Edge, so I don’t really understand this feeling.」


「We live proudly in Forest’s Edge. Not only are these tusks and horns our wealth that can be used to secure food, it also represent honour. The shameless act of stripping the forest of its resources will endanger the entire Kingdom, and is also as good as trampling on the pride of the people of Forest’s Edge. Remember that.」


「I understand. The situation in the Kingdom has nothing to do with me, but in order to protect the honour of the people of Forest’s Edge, I’m willing to abide by this rule.」


Actually, I was a bit unwilling, but I could only accept it right now.


Ai Fa pulled away the branches and quickened her pace. She then turned her gaze towards me.


「……Asuta, you are a strange fellow.」


The strange thing was, Ai Fa’s unhappy expression since this morning vanished without a trace when she said that.


We walked for dozens of minutes more, and when the sun was completely up, we reached our first destination.


This was Lanto river, where the Pico leaves grow.


The river was about five metres wide. The flow was gentle since it was downstream, but it was quite deep. Sunlight shone through the branches and leaves, making the scene look majestic.


However, the banks around the river were rocky without any grass.


I didn’t know if I should continue forward and look back at Ai Fa. She was actually taking off the cape on her shoulders.


「… Before I look for the Pico leaves, I want to bathe.」


「What? Bath?」


「Is there a problem? My body is covered with the fats of the Kiba beast, and it feels uncomfortable after I sweat.」


Even though Ai Fa had regained her composure, her personality was cold as usual. She spoke to me in a crude tone, then handed the cape she took off to me.


Oh, it wasn’t light at all. On closer inspection, the insides of the cape had several small pockets filled with unknown fruits, needles and a bundle of rope. The entire weight was between two to three kilograms.


「… I will leave this in your care too.」


Ai Fa even took off her necklace of tusks and horns and handed it to me.


But dear princess, your servant’s hands were already occupied by your cape.


「Lower your head.」


Ai Fa kicked my leg.


「Don’t need to kick me, I will do so if you ask.」
I said and bent my waist slightly. Ai Fa took off her necklace with both hands and walked before me.


Ah, she was very close. Aside from that matter this morning that I couldn’t remember, this was probably the first time we were so close… As I was thinking about such pointless things, my gaze fell onto her neck naturally.


On the left of her slender neck was clear bruises in the shape of a bite mark.


I actually did something so horrible to her body.


By the way, Her Highness had a nice scent after all. And her face was so close to mine, her skin was really smooth. Her pink lips were so sexy… Was this a new type of punishment game?


Ai Fa didn’t notice my foolish thoughts and pulled away after hanging the necklace around my neck.


「Alright… The Kiba beasts are still sleeping at this time, but there might be deviants that wander around early in the morning. If you sense any Kiba beast in the forest, alert me immediately.」


「Got it. I just need to watch the forest.」


Even though I was acting casually, Ai Fa stilled looked at me with an icy stare.


「… Just to be safe, let me tell you one thing. You must not look at the naked body of an unwed woman, that’s a taboo.」


「Huh? So it’s fine if the woman is married?」


「… Only a husband may see the bare body of his wife.」


Ara, I should have kept my mouth shut. I felt Ai Fa’s eyes had turned icier.


「… Go and keep an eye on the forest.」


「… Got it.」


I looked for the largest boulder there was, and leaned on it to surveil the forest.


But she just told me that necklace was an important source of wealth and pride to the people of Forest Edge, yet she entrusted it to me so readily. She also trusted me to not peek at her, so I should feel honoured.


However, I don’t really understand the actions of this girl Ai Fa.


I thought she would be incredibly guarded, but she trusted someone like me so easily. Whenever I felt impressed by her care and compassion, she would ignore me coldly.


I think her nature was kind and gentle, but her personality was also eccentric with big mood swings.


But no matter what, she is reliable.


Just when I was thinking that…


「Yaahh!」 Ai Fa’s panicked scream broke the serenity.


Part 4
「Hey! Ai Fa, what’s wrong!?」


I got up on one knee and shouted from behind the boulder.


I can’t act rashly, maybe she just slipped. If I check on her just for that, I will be dead meat.


But Ai Fa didn’t respond.


I heard the sound of water splashing violently reverberating in the air.


「Hey! I’m coming to check on you! If you’re fine, answer me within three seconds!」


I was worried that she didn’t understand the concept of 「second」, so I kept shouting.


But she didn’t respond.


I endured the anxiety that made my heart hurt and counted to three.


「One… Two… Three!」


I stood up and looked towards the river.


There — wasn’t anyone there.


But on the bank some distance away from the river, I saw the familiar clothing and one large and small blade. And water was being splashed violently in the water over there.


I put down the cape and jumped over the boulder I was leaning against earlier and charged in.


At the same time, Ai Fa’s face appeared on the surface of the water.


Her expression was twisted from pain.


「Ai Fa!」


Ai Fa was gasping desperately for oxygen, but water flowed into her mouth mercilessly.


The river was about waist level, but Ai Fa couldn’t push herself to the surface.


「What’re you doing! Grab onto me!」


I stood at the river bank and extended my right hand.


Ai Fa struggled fiercely as she looked at me with weak eyes.


「Don’t… Come…」


Her voice was weak and hoarse.


She was drifting slowly downstream.


「Stop kidding with me! Hey! Grab my hand!」


Since it has come to this, I have no other choice.


I stepped into the water with my right feet. Steadying myself to not get washed away, I reached out to grab Ai Fa.


The moment my fingers was about to touch Ai Fa——


Something coiled up my right arm.


「Uwah!?」


At the same time, I felt a stabbing pain in my right arm, and I could clearly hear my bones creaking.


Something was grabbing onto my right arm and holding it with amazing strength.


It was about as thick as my arm and covered with dark bluish scales. This strange object was — the tail of a humongous snake.


When I realized its true identity, Ai Fa groaned painfully.


「Ugghh—」


The splashes became more violent and Ai Fa’s arms came out from the water.


Her fingers were clasped around the snake’s neck.


The head of the snake was twisted in the shape of a scythe and about the size of a rugby ball. It was snarling its teeth at Ai Fa.


So Ai Fa was wrestling with this giant python in the water.


「Damn it…!」


I endured the pain in my right arm and steadied my footing even further.


The ankle I twisted yesterday was still stinging, but it wasn’t the time to mind it right now.


Even though its monstrous strength could probably crack my bones, it worked just fine for it to grab onto me, which allowed me to drag it out of the water.


The river flow was gentle, and I could guess Ai Fa’s weight, it can be done — No, I had to drag it out even if it cost me my life.


「Ughh…!」




Using every ounce of strength in my body, I dragged that snake together with Ai Fa onto the river bank.


My right leg was out of the river. Ai Fa’s hands was still on the neck of the snake, and I reached my left arm over.


Next would be my skills in lifting weights.


Although I didn’t have any experience in weightlifting.


「… Hah!」


Using all the strength I had, I finally dragged Ai Fa’s body onto the shore.


「Ughhh…」


Ai Fa moaned weakly.


The snake had coiled several loops around Ai Fa’s naked body.


It was around Ai Fa’s breast, waist and right leg, the rest of its body was over her shoulder and on my right arm.


The thickest part of the snake was about the size of my thighs, it’s girth and length were both extraordinary.


On closer look, the dark bluish scales of the snake was covered in cracks and wounds. If not for its injuries, the snake would have already crushed Ai Fa.


「Alright! Ai Fa, don’t let go!」


I grabbed a rock nearby and smashed at its head.


The snake’s body covered in shiny scales started spasming.


「Snakes can’t feel pain」 was just a myth, it will feel pain if you hit it hard enough.


Ai Fa held the head of the snake still in the air, and I repeatedly bashed it with my rock.


After about five hits, red blood spilled out. At the same time, Ai Fa howled in pain.


The snake was also squeezing my right arm.


「Damn it! Don’t constrict! Release her!」


Even though Ai Fa was steadying the snake’s head, it was held in the air and hard to strike with full force.


In that case, I switched target to its stomach!


I aimed for the part where the snake touched the ground and bashed with all my might.


I could feel the sensation of meat being crushed under my rock.


「……!」


The snake finally relaxed its hold.


I immediately grabbed Ai Fa’s body, and kicked the fleeing snake into the river.


The snake sunk into the river with a heavy thump.


After making sure it had swam downstream, I called out to Ai Fa.


「Hey! Stay with me! Are you okay! Please don’t die on me, Ai Fa!」


I laid Ai Fa down on a rocky platform and shook her bare shoulders hard.


Ai Fa moaned weakly, then vomited a lot of water.


The blonde hair she usually tied up in a bun was now sticking to her wet face and breasts.


Ai Fa was very frail right now, unlike her usual self. Both her eyes were shut and her nails bit into the back of my hand.


「You don’t feel well? Still need to throw up the water in your system?」


I rolled the weak Ai Fa to her side and patted her back firmly. She threw up even more water.


「Ugh… A… Suta…?」


「Are you alright? I threw that motherfucking snake off this motherfucking plains! It’s fine now!」


Her blue eyes still didn’t focus as she looked my way dully.


She looked very frail.
But she was still alive.


I propped Ai Fa’s upper body up, and hugged her slender body tight with both arms.


Thinking about it after the fact, Ai Fa had just broken out of the snake’s bounds, how could I do this to her so soon? Even though I reflected on it now, I was too caught up in the moment back then.


「Great… Don’t make me worry so much…」


I was drenched immediately, but I didn’t care.


But —— Ai Fa pushed my chest away with an unexpectedly powerful brute strength.


「Unhand me… let go!」


「Ehh?」


I was shocked and loosened my hold.


At the same time, Ai Fa bumped my chest hard and I fell onto my butt.


「W-What’s the matter?」


There seemed to be a fire burning in Ai Fa’s eyes.


She grabbed the hilt of her sabre that was by her feet.


「W-What is it? What happened?」


Her drastic change scared me out of my mind. Ai Fa drew out her sabre before me.


Her face looked as weak as a sick child just a moment ago, but it was filled with killing intent now.


Did I strike a nerve with Ai Fa?


Was it because I saw her in the nude? But that was an accident.


Or was it because I hugged her unconsciously?


But… If this is so serious that she needed to kill me, I can’t do anything about it.


Too many things were happening and my mind couldn’t keep up.


But instead of watching Ai Fa die, I would rather die by her blade. Such a silly thought filled my mind.


The naked Ai Fa was down on one knee, her sabre pointed at my throat.


She was using the back of the blade instead of the sharpened edge. But with how thick the blade was, even the blunt edge of the blade would be enough to kill me.


I stared into Ai Fa’s eyes.


But — Ai Fa wasn’t looking at me.


Blue flames seemed to be burning in her eyes. She wasn’t looking at me, but the space behind me.


Gurururu… Noise that sounded like the low hum of an exhaust pipe came from an unexpectedly close distance.


There was something — behind me.


「Hah!」


A ferocious yell came from her mouth.


The sabre left a silver trail in the air.


And then, something pressed onto my body.


「… Ugghh.」


Something heavy fell from the sky suddenly.


It was hard and rough, and emitted a thick animal scent.


Ai Fa collapsed onto the ground with a sigh.


Her blue pupils glared at me as usual through her head of messy blonde hair.


「You can’t let your guard down even after making through one crisis. If not, you can’t survive in Forest’s Edge.」


She was still naked, but her tone was haughty.


But I finally understood what happened.

That heavy thing on my head and back was the huge body of a Kiba beast. It was in its dying spasms right now because Ai Fa smashed its skull in with her sabre.


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