Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 6 Chapter 3 Part 1

Night of Destruction
Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Ratorasepo
1


「… Yamiel, I brought your husband here.」


Diga Tsun knocked on the door and called out quietly.


Yamiel’s house was located on the outskirts of the Tsun clan village.


As the only source of light was the candle stand in Diga Tsun’s hand, I couldn’t tell where exactly I was. Judging the direction we headed from the Ceremonial Hall, this should be near the west.


Donda Wu was sleeping in the empty room to the south. I was getting further away from him. But I had yet to recover completely. Strength had returned to my limbs, but my sense of balance was still off. I couldn’t walk straight, and Doddo Tsun was grabbing my collar and right arm anyway.


When I thought about Ai Fa, my heart felt like it would explode. But I shouldn’t rush myself. If I were to fail here, we would be done for.


「Yes… Yes, that’s true… No, things went smoothly…」


Diga Tsun whispered standing before the closed door.


He finally looked back at me.


「Alright, the groom will finally meet the bride… Brat, treat her with tender loving care, alright?」


Doddo Tsun dragged me to the door and made me stand there.


They wanted me to meet Yamiel Tsun by myself.


In that case, I might have the chance to launch a surprise attack.


Yamiel Tsun will definitely have a knife on her waist. If I snatch the knife and take her hostage— such a dangerous move wasn’t my style, but I had to give it a shot.


As I braced myself, Diga Tsun pulled the door open, and Doddo Tsun shoved me in mercilessly.


I rolled into the house, and the door shut behind me.


The next moment—


I almost screamed.


「Asuta, I have been waiting for you… Pardon me, we might have been too rough…」


Yamiel Tsun’s voice echoed in the dim room.


I could only lay prone on the cold wooden floor, unable to answer her.


I smelled blood.


The entire house was filled with the stench of blood.


This terrifying stench formed into physical pressure and stabbed my nasal cavity.


Smell was a type of particle.


We could sense smell when the scent particles in the air stimulated the membrane of our noses.


As the blood stench in this room was too strong, it felt like rotting blood was flowing into my nasal cavity directly. It felt revolting and uncomfortable.


An urge to vomit welled up in my throat.


「What’s the matter…? Did we make you mad because we separated you from your beloved mistress in such a manner?」


As I was about to faint, these words pulled back my consciousness.


I didn’t have time to lie around here. I had to rescue Ai Fa.


I slowly raised my head.


First, a bloody leg reflected in my eyes.


Then, my field of view drifted through a midriff covered in blood, belly stained in red, arms dyed in fresh blood, breasts dripping in blood, a neck splattered with blood and finally stopped at a bloody face.


Yamiel Tsun was standing there naked with blood all over her.


「You…」


A hoarse voice came from my throat.


「What are you doing…?」


「Fufu… What am I doing…? I’m savoring the grace of the forest…」


Blood-stained hair covered Yamiel Tsun’s face as she laughed out loud.


Her bloodied face was all smiles.


A glint was shining in her usually calm dark blue eyes.


「We need more strength. Just kiba meat isn’t enough… So I bathed my entire body in the power of the forest…」


「Is this kiba blood…?」


My eyes were getting used to the dim room.


The room was illuminated with a faint candlelight.


Thanks to that I even saw something I didn’t want to see.


The dark figure of an animal was hanging behind Yamiel Tsun.


It was a giant carcass of a kiba, which was strung up onto beam on the ceiling with chains.


That was probably the kiba Mida Tsun hunted in the afternoon.


「Our ancestors injected the power of the forest into their body through this method. That is how our hunters obtained strength that exceeds that of the ferocious kiba.」


At this moment, I heard a creepy dripping sound.


Yamiel Tsun took a step towards me.


The kiba blood continued to drip onto the floor.


She probably slit the throat of the kiba to let the blood splatter down onto her.


In the dim room lit by an orange light there was a naked woman covered in dark red blood— as I was horrified by this nightmarish scene, I shouted:


「What are you doing!? Forest's Edge forbids the consumption of raw meat, correct? In that case, the fresh blood of kiba is equally dangerous! Kiba blood that has not been heated might be harmful to the body!」


「It’s fine… This ritual is necessary…」


「I have never heard of such a ritual! This ritual is dangerous, and even if it existed in the past, it must be taboo now! Wash that blood away right now!」


Yamiel Tsun looked at me with dazed eyes.


「Do you wish for the demise of the Tsun clan too? The Tsun clan needs strength… so, give your strength to us…」


Drip, drip, Yamiel Tsun kept walking my way.


A sensation I couldn’t tell whether it was anger or fear made me quiver. But even so, I stood up and faced off against Yamiel Tsun.


「I don’t understand what you are saying! Why is the Tsun clan the only one that became like this? All other denizens of Forest's Edge live with pride and righteousness— so why is the chief Tsun clan the only one that is so depraved!?」


「This… must be because the Tsun clan had taken in all the poison…」


Yamiel Tsun’s eyes looked as if she had lost her mind and shimmered with an unfamiliar light.


「As long as the Tsun clan keeps falling into the abyss, the clueless denizens of Forest's Edge can live in a pure and bright way… The Tsun clan has been protecting the denizens of Forest's Edge this way all this time…」


「I don’t know about that! Can’t you live like the others with your heads held high!?」


「… That is impossible.」


A strange light flashed in Yamiel Tsun’s eyes once more.


「We can’t turn back now… The day of destruction draws near… We can’t hide things from our kins any longer…」


「Hide things from your kins?」


「You already know, right…? After tending to the Tsun clan’s hearth, didn’t you realize? Are you that dull-witted…?」


I couldn’t answer right away.


So— things were really like that?


Was my deduction true?


「Never mind… We are facing our demise, so I want to grasp onto the last bit of hope… As long as you are here, the Tsun clan can be saved. You can earn many copper plates in one day. If you become a part of the Tsun clan, the Tsun clan will not head towards destruction…」


「That’s… too weird! Your people just need to hunt kiba properly to live a normal life, you don’t need me! The other denizens of Forest's Edge also live this way, so you can do the same!」


「… If I were the head of the Tsun clan, I might choose that path…」


The corners of Yamiel Tsun’s mouth were upturned.


But she looked as if she was about to cry.


The dark red blood was just like her tears.


「But that is impossible… The previous clan head Zattsu was a foolish man, and the current house head is more stupid… His heir Diga is even more hopeless than them… The Tsun clan is done for…」


「But—」


「Only you can save the Tsun clan.」


Yamiel Tsun walked to my side.


The unbearable blood stench and her smile that was twisted from despair chilled my heart.


「Will you marry into the clan as my husband and save the Tsun clan…? If you aren’t willing, let us die together…」


Blood-stained fingers reached for me slowly.


When the fingertips touched my face, I shook my head.


「I refuse. I decline both choices. If you wish for salvation, I’m willing to lend a hand as a member of the Fa house. I have no intention of becoming a member of the Tsun clan.」


「… I see…」


Yamiel Tsun’s wet fingers brushed across my body and pressed against the door.


「… So you won’t save us…」


「No, like I said, if you want to be saved, you need to do so by proper means—」


「It’s such a pity.」


Yamiel Tsun pulled the door open.


At the same time, someone grabbed my collar and pulled me to the ground.


「… It’s really a pity…」


Yamiel Tsun’s figure was hidden on the other side of the door.


When I last saw her bloodied face, she looked like a little girl sobbing quietly.


「I have been waiting for this. So you are doing as I wished and deciding to become Munto food?」


Doddo Tsun’s voice was hoarse from glee.


I stood up immediately.


However, I felt dizzy and supported myself by holding on to the door.


The effects of meremere leaves were still lingering in my body.


「Since you chose this path, the female hunter from the Fa house can’t escape either. When Diga is done with her, we will push the both of you to the bottom of the valley.」


I looked around in surprise.


The one holding the candle stand beside Doddo Tsun wasn’t Diga Tsun but Tay Tsun.


「… Where is Diga Tsun!」


I roared with rage on reflex.


Doddo Tsun stoned face twisted, and he laughed with mockery.


「He is enjoying himself right now. That woman has feral eyes, I don’t understand what’s so good about her.」


「Why you…」


My vision became dyed in red.


My body felt as if it was going to explode.


「… Just how rotten are you going to get…」


These words came out of my mouth unconsciously.


Doddo Tsun’s smile was gone, and he reached for the saber on his waist.


「What’s with that gaze… You want me to cut you down right here?」


「Try me if you dare!」


My hand left the door.


My heart pumped intensely in my chest.


The blood vessels in my head were on the verge of bursting.


This was the first time I hated someone so much.


If Diga Tsun really did something shameless to Ai Fa, I wouldn’t let the law hold me back.


「Get lost… Don’t block my way!」


Doddo Tsun staggered back.


He grabbed the handle of the saber and pulled it out of its scabbard.


The next instant, a dark figure came out from the shadows.


I didn’t know what was happening.


Doddo Tsun was suddenly sent flying for several meters and hit the ground. Tay Tsun lifted his sheathed saber.


「Stop it. I won’t hold back, you know?」


A familiar voice entered my ears.


A figure shorter than me was holding a stick and facing off against Tay Tsun.


「I don’t want to kill if I can help it. My Dad already cautioned me about that.」


「L-Ludo Wu!?」


I could definitely recognize him, even if it was just his back.


The youth who had yellowish-brown hair and was holding a krilee stick shrugged a little.


「Sorry Asuta, my Dad told me that I can’t interfere unless the Tsun clan people violate a taboo that can’t be excused. I could finally come here thanks to that retard drawing his blade.」


「Why… Why are you here?」


「My Dad ordered me to make a trip here. He wanted me to stay up all night and watch the Tsun clan village. I was dying of boredom since everything has been so peaceful.」


「Ludo Wu, let’s talk later.」


Another figure appeared behind Tay Tsun.


It was a youth with dark brown hair and was as small as Ludo Wu in stature and slenderly build— he was the head of a Wu clan branch house, Shin Wu.


「Men from the Tsun clan, stop your futile resistance. You can’t defeat us alone.」


Shin Wu was also holding a stick.


That was probably a krilee stick. Both of them had blades tied to their waist, but they showed no intention of drawing them.


「Tay… Tay Tsun, what are you waiting for!? Hurry up and kill them!」


Doddo Tsun laid prone to the ground and shouted hysterically.


Tay Tsun looked at him with emotionless eyes.


「Doddo Tsun, are you giving an order as a member of the Tsun clan main house?」


「Shut up! Kill them!」


Tay Tsun quietly placed the candle stand by his feet.


Seeing him reach for his saber, Ludo Wu said:


「Hey, stop it. You look strong, so even if we fight you two on one, I’m not confident I can capture you alive.」


「… In that case, kill me.」


Tay Tsun’s eyes were murky as usual. He pointed the tip of his blade at Ludo Wu’s throat.


「Tch, Dad is going to be mad at me.」


Ludo Wu muttered casually, then tossed his krilee stick aside.


He untied the machete on his waist.


It was the huge machete he bought in the Post Station Town.


He rested the sheathed machete on his right arm.


「You fools… I will turn you all into Munto fodder!」


Doddo Tsun yelled and rushed at Ludo Wu with his blade held high.


Tay Tsun slashed his saber at the same time.


This is bad— I took a step forward unconsciously.


And rammed Doddo Tsun’s back with my shoulder using all of my might.


This attack should have been trivial to a normal man from Forest’s Edge.


But Doddo Tsun was drunk right now.


And he still hadn’t recovered from Ludo Wu’s attack earlier.


In short, my ramming caused Doddo Tsun to lose his balance. We got entangled and fell to the ground.


「Damn it!」


Doddo Tsun attempted to get up.


I bit Doddo Tsun’s right arm that was holding the saber with all my might.


「Hyaahh!」


He screamed and kicked my belly.



I fell backward because of his kick.


「Damn it! I’m going to kill you! You are dead meat, foreign boy!」


Doddo Tsun held his bloodied right arm and jumped up.


At this moment, a large figure quietly emerged behind him.


「What are you doing, brat…!?」


A deep voice that was trembling with rage entered our ears.


Doddo Tsun turned his head in surprise.


A large palm slapped his face.


And the battle was over.


Doddo Tsun flew further than earlier, rolled on the ground until crashing into the wall of Yamiel Tsun’s house and then stopped.


「Asuta! Are you alright!?」


Despite the huge size of the figure, it grabbed me with nimble hands.


The candle stand which served as a source of light was quite some distance from us, but I couldn’t be wrong about the unique features of the dark figure before me. He helped me up agilely and looked so anxious that he was on the verge of tears. Who else could he be? It has to be Dan Lutim.


「Dan Lutim… Why are you in a place like this…?」


I squeezed these words out as I nursed my aching abdomen, and Dan Lutim finally smiled in relief.


「That’s my line! When I heard a commotion happening here, I rushed over and found you in a pinch… Asuta, don’t make me so worried! What are you doing in a place like this?」


「No… not now. Ludo Wu and Shin Wu are…」


「Hmm?」


Dan Lutim surveyed the surroundings with an expression of a raging demon god.


「There’s another fool here, huh! Man of the Tsun clan, if you are going to draw your blade against the Wu clan, then face me!」


The three of them had an intense battle in this short period of time. Ludo Wu and Tay Tsun were both bleeding from the head, while Shin Wu’s krilee stick was broken. He placed a hand on his chest and knelt on the ground.


「…Lutim house head, he didn’t order me to kill you.」


Tay Tsun laid down the saber in his hand.


His dead eyes looked Ludo Wu without any strength in them.


「What do you mean? What a weird old man.」


Ludo Wu wiped away the blood on his face with the back of his hand and retreated.


「Dan Lutim, help me out here! If this continues, I will have to draw my blade!」


「Ohh?」


Dan Lutim made a strange noise, then dragged me towards Ludo Wu.


After handing me over to Ludo Wu, he stood before Tay Tsun.


「What are you talking about? If you want to sheath your blade, then do it.」


「A member of the Tsun clan main house ordered me to defeat these two young ones. I’m not doing this out of my own will.」


「I see.」


Dan Lutim answered and kicked Tay Tsun’s stomach at the same time.


Tay Tsun let go of the blade in his hand and quietly collapsed onto the ground.


「What a queer dude. Isn’t there anyone normal in the Tsun clan?」


As Dan Lutim was mumbling with an annoyed face, I grabbed Ludo Wu.


「Ludo Wu! Where is Ai Fa!? Did anyone follow her!?」


「Ehh? No, only me and Shin Wu came to keep an eye on the Tsun clan. We couldn’t watch over of Ai Fa.」


「How could you do that!? Why!?」


「Your situation looked more precarious. I couldn’t draw my blade, so I wasn’t able to deal with two people at the same time.」


Ludo Wu pouted unhappily.


「I see. Sorry. Thank you for saving me… Please help me find Ai Fa now!」


At this moment, Dan Lutim interjected:


「What are you arguing about? What happened to Ai Fa?」


「Diga Tsun brought Ai Fa back home! If we don’t hurry and find her, he will…」


Compared to being kicked in the stomach, I felt a greater pain in my chest.


I was too worked up right now, as if I was going to stop breathing.


Ludo Wu leaned near my face from the side.


「Ai Fa will be fine, right? She seemed to be unconscious, but the eldest son of the Tsun clan won’t be able to lay a finger on her.」


「No, those people from the Tsun clan burned a strange herb, which sent the people in the Ceremonial Hall into a deep slumber. If the effect of the herb still lingers, Ai Fa will be in great danger!」


I felt that explaining this was also a waste of time.


Ludo Wu showed a surprised expression once again.


「I was wondering why they were holding a candle stand and acting so suspiciously. So that’s why… But you and Dan Lutim are both moving freely now, right? So Ai Fa will be fine too.」


「Well, I smelled something strange when I was sleeping, so I crawled out of the Ceremonial Hall in a hurry. I stepped on many people, but none of them woke up.」


Dan Lutim’s keen sense of smell helped him escape.


That was really lucky— but enough about that, the most important thing right now is rescuing Ai Fa.


「Please help me. Ai Fa must be somewhere in this village!」


「Okay, let’s break down the doors of all the houses…」


At this moment, a light shone in Dan Lutim’s eyes.


「Who’s there!?」


「Eek!」


A frail scream came from afar.


「Hold it right there! I won’t let you get away!」


Dan Lutim’s figure disappeared without a trace.


「Woooahh—!」


He sprinted off in a direction opposite of Yamiel Tsun’s house.


Dan Lutim was extremely fast, and despite weighing over a hundred kg, his movements were just like an athlete sprinter.


His dependable and amusing figure disappeared into the darkness at the other end, and I heard a scream.


「Let me go! I didn’t do anything! I just came to see what’s all this ruckus!」


It was a sharp hysterical scream of a girl.


She was the youngest daughter of the Tsun clan, Zwei Tsun.


Dan Lutim carried her petite body under his armpit and appeared before us.


「Zwei Tsun! Where is Diga Tsun’s house!?」


Zwei Tsun glared at me unhappily.


She then swept her gaze towards the motionless Doddo Tsun and Tay Tsun who were sitting weakly in a heap.
.
「I don’t know what’s going on… But looks like the Tsun clan is done for.」


「Hey, Zwei Tsun——」


「Don’t stare at me with such scary eyes. I’m not involved with this at all.」


Zwei Tsun pursed her lower lips.


「Diga Tsun’s house is on the other side of the main house, two houses away.」


「Okay! Asuta, let’s go!」


Dan Lutim charged with Zwei Tsun still in his arm.


I picked up the candle stand by my feet and ran after them.


「Shin Wu! Tie these two up! And don’t let the woman in that house get away!」


Ludo Wu ran beside me.


「Asuta, it will be fine. Ai Fa is a hunter. The Tsun clan are just retards who had forgotten the glory of hunters, she will never lose to them.」


Ludo Wu shouted beside me. How nice would it be if his words were true.


Ai Fa… Please be okay…!


This was probably the first time in my life that I felt so close to despair.


Even when I jumped into the raging sea of flames in my original world, I didn’t feel this way.


My heart hurted terribly.


My knees felt like they were going to crack.


Ai, Fa—


Be it gods or demons, please protect Ai Fa.


This was a once in a lifetime request.


Even if it cost me my life.


If I lose Ai Fa, I wouldn’t be able to live on.


I couldn’t bear Ai Fa experiencing something so terrible.


「… It’s that house over there.」


A wooden house that looked no different from the others appeared in the darkness.


Dan Lutim who was leading the run kicked the door, assisted by his momentum.


With a low 「Thud!」 sound, the door was flattened.


「Hmmp! It’s really sturdy!」


Dan Lutim tossed Zwei Tsun aside and lifted his leg again.


His next strike sent the door flying along with its bar.


「Ai Fa!」


I squeezed past Dan Lutim’s huge body and stepped into the room.


In front of me was an empty hall.


There wasn’t anyone here.


However, a half-opened door deeper in had faint lights shining out.


「Hey! Don’t just barge in like that!」


When I heard Ludo Wu’s voice behind me, I had already charged across the hall.


I opened that half-opened door and stepped in—


Then fell onto the floor.


「Uwah!」


Something soft was lying at the entrance.


I tripped on that thing and fell onto the floor.


The candle stand in my hand dropped too and the rug on the floor started to burn.


「… Ai Fa!」


Ai Fa was in the room.


Her limbs were tied.


She was curled up like a baby and lying on a bedding in the room.


Ai Fa laid there weakly.


「Ai Fa…」


I reached for her shoulder.


The next instant, her rope-bound hands grabbed my chest tightly.


Emotional fire burst out from her blue eyes and then calmed down.


「Asuta… You are safe…」


「Uwah!」


She then tugged my chest hard, pulling me towards her. I fell on top of her.


Her smooth cheeks ground against my face.


「I was so worried… It’s great that you are safe…」


「That’s my line…」


I sighed in relief with all of my strength.


I was saved.


I didn’t lose Ai Fa.


I didn’t need to hate the fate of this world.


I didn’t need to curse my own carelessness.


I wouldn’t lose my sense of reason.


After offering my gratitude to all the gods in this world, I held Ai Fa tightly.


「I told you she will be fine.」


Ludo Wu’s cocky voice came from behind.


「This is the eldest son of the Tsun clan, right? He seemed to have lost his consciousness comfortably.」


When I pulled Ai Fa’s body up from the bedding, I stole a glance to the floor near door.


The thing that tripped me just now was Diga Tsun’s body.


The unforgivable eldest son of the Tsun clan laid sprawled at the entrance.


「Ai Fa, was it you who did this? Your limbs were tied, and you still managed to fend him off?」


「… No matter how restricted my body was, I won’t lose to the Tsun clan… After elbowing his face, I kicked him…」


Ai Fa said with a whimsical voice, then started grinding my forehead against her cheeks.


That made me feel embarrassed. I had recovered my senses a little, and my nose percieved a familiar fragrance.


It was the scent of fruit wine.


And it obviously came from Ai Fa.


「Hey, Ai Fa, don’t move, okay?」


Ludo Wu pulled out the knife on his waist and cut the bounds on Ai Fa’s limbs.


The next instant, Ai Fa was free, and she put her arms around my neck.


「That’s wonderful… Asuta, you are safe…」


「Y-Yes, it’s wonderful… Ai Fa, are you alright? You still look sluggish.」


Ludo Wu and Dan Lutim who were blocking the entrance looked at us with a puzzled expression. Ai Fa didn’t notice their gaze as she moved her head away from my face and asked:


「What do you mean?」


Her eyes looked as sleepy as Vena Wu’s.


Her slightly pouting pink lips looked extremely sexy.


And then— I noticed that her cheeks were a little red.




「… Were you forced to drink wine?」


「Hmm…...? Now that you mentioned it… some fluid flowed into my mouth when I was sleeping… and woke me…」


「I see. So you defeated him right after getting up?」


When Ai Fa was in deep slumber, someone attempted to wake her by making her drink wine.


In the end, Diga Tsun was knocked out by Ai Fa. This was an ending that befitted this dimwitted man— As I was thinking, Ai Fa shook her head.


「No… the eldest son of the Tsun clan appeared later… I woke up after I drank something… and was confused as to why my limbs were bound… or why I was here… Then that retard showed up.」


Ai Fa clung to my neck again.


「Anyway, it’s great that you are fine… Asuta, didn’t I tell you not to leave me…?」


「Oh right, sorry. But it’s great that both of us are safe.」


Ai Fa’s unusual body contact made my heart flutter; and I quickly scanned surroundings around me.
There wasn’t any fruit wine bottle on the floor.


Did a third party other than Diga Tsun help Ai Fa from her precarious situation?


Could it be Kamyua Yost?


That man who loved pretending to be retard appeared in my mind first.


But— that didn’t feel right.


Would that man do something so half-hearted?


If he lent Ai Fa his aid, he would have undone her bounds too. Fortunately, Ai Fa’s hands were bounded in front of her, so she could fend off Diga Tsun. The one who saved Ai Fa left without waiting for Ai Fa to wake up. He probably didn’t want to show his face and decided to remain as a bystander, hence this gamble-like method of saving her was used.


In that case, could it be…...


The one who saved her was— Tay Tsun?


Tay Tsun was the one who tied up Ai Fa in the first place.


He intentionally bonded her arms in front of her, allowing her greater freedom of movement.


That man whose eyes were devoid of strength claimed that he couldn’t go against the main house, but he laid down his arms without hesitation before Dan Lutim.


Was it because he wanted to give Ai Fa a chance?


「…Asuta, we should go now.」


Dan Lutim called out to me as he stroked his brown beard.


「Go…? Go where?」


「To find Donda Wu, of course… Or rather, our future tribal chief.」


Dan Lutim showed a cheery smile.


「The Tsun clan violated many taboos this night. No matter how much the tribal chief apologizes, it won’t be enough for us to forgive the crimes committed by these retards. This might be the end of the Tsun clan.」


「… That’s true.」


Tsun clan staked everything in this gamble and lost everything.


But why… why did they pick this day to commit such a foolish act?


Why did they risk such a barbaric move for the sake of making Ai Fa and me a part of a Tsun clan?
Why would they execute such a rash and full of holes scheme?


Who was the mastermind behind this?


Did Zuro Tsun issue the orders in secret?


Did Diga Tsun and the others lose their self-control?


There were mountains of questions.


However, we had to end all this now.


「… Let’s go.」


As I was about to stand—


Ai Fa wouldn’t let me go.


「Hey, Ai Fa, we are going now. Can you walk?」


「Hmm…...? Yes, I can, but you are not permitted to leave me.」


Her soft arms hugged my body even tighter.


「No, I’m not leaving you. We are going to settle things with Tsun clan now, right?」


「Hmm…?」


Ai Fa ground my face with her cheeks again.


Ludo Wu and Dan Lutim stared at us dumbfounded.


「No, ermm, it’s not like that. She smelled that strange herb and drank some fruit wine, so she is a little tipsy.」


Even as I tried to explain, their expressions remained unchanged.


Dan Lutim turned to Ludo Wu.


「… Ludo Wu, I have a suggestion.」


「Huh? Why so sudden?」


「The Fa house isn’t a kin of the Wu clan, but they are friends of the Lutim house. When Asuta and Ai Fa holds their wedding, can we borrow the plaza in the Wu clan and let the Wu clan’s kins celebrate with them?」


「Ah〜 that should be fine. We can let anyone who wants to celebrate gather at the plaza.」


「No, I already said, that’s not it!」


The way we were right now made this rebuttal unconvincing at all, but that was the only thing I could shout.


I bowed my head and groaned as I shouted.


Would things really be settled like this?


This was all too sudden.


The plan and scheme I prepared were all for naught. Would we watch the Tsun clan head towards destruction without coming to an understanding with them?


Several ominous voices echoed in my mind.


Yamiel Tsun told me:「… If you aren’t willing, let us die together…」


Tay Tsun said:「… In that case, kill me.」


Could it be—


Some of the Tsun clan members wish strongly for the Tsun clan’s demise?


2


「Wake up, my brethren!」


Dan Lutim shouted spiritedly and splashed water inside the Ceremonial Hall.


A few of the men woke up and yelled:


「What are you doing!? Have you gone mad!?」


One of them stood up with a demon-like expression.


His palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy. His legs buckled like Mom’s spaghetti.


「Hmm? What’s going on… there’s no strength in my limbs…?」


「Isn’t that right? That’s why I woke you by splashing water!」


Dan Lutim laughed heartily.


As he kept splashing the water, shouts and screams echoed out in the Ceremonial Hall. Donda Wu let the women do the same barbaric act at the entrance to the Ceremonial Hall.


Some time had passed since Diga Tsun kidnapped me and Ai Fa. The effects of the meremere leaves were fading, and everyone regained consciousness faster than I expected, and the men from the various houses crawled out from the Ceremonial Hall.


「Those who are awake leave the Ceremonial Hall quickly! There is smoke from a poisonous foreign herb lingering here! Those who have the strength help those who had not awakened!」


Ai Fa and I stayed quietly beside the joyous Dan Lutim.


Ai Fa’s eyes had recovered eighty percent of her reason, but her steps were still unsteady, so I was supporting her right now.
「Head of the Lutim house! What are you trying to do!」


A man stumbled out of the Ceremonial Hall and grabbed Dan Lutim.


It was the head of the Zaza house.


「I’m not trying to do anything! You can ask your esteemed Tsun clan members why we are doing this!」


Dan Lutim’s face showed a fearless smile as he pointed to his feet.


Diga Tsun sat cross-legged on the ground unhappily, his arms tied behind his back with ropes.


「They used a strange foreign herb to make us fall into deep slumber and attempted to harm the Fa house members! Since you are a kin of the Tsun clan, then share this shame with them!」


「What did you say…? Eldest son of the Tsun clan, is what he said true?」


The head of the Zaza house closed in on Diga Tsun, his feral eyes burning brightly.


Diga Tsun shoulders quivered in fright, and he averted his head silently.


「We are going to question the tribal chief Zuro Tsun and will confirm if the entire Tsun clan condones such behavior! My fellow house heads, follow me and demand an answer from him!」


The shoulders of the Zaza house head trembled.


At this moment, Rau Lei whose blonde hair was all wet appeared.


「Dan Lutim! What’s with the commotion? What happened to the Tsun clan?」


「Oh, it’s the head of the Lei house. The Tsun clan is finally showing their true nature! Depending on the situation, we might need to resort to force, so snap out of it!」


Dan Lutim handed the saber by his feet to Rau Lei.


We had taken Diga Tsun’s saber.


The Tsun clan was still safekeeping all the men’s blades.


「Idiots! Are you going to draw your blade against the chief clan!?」


The head of the Zaza house roared immediately.


Dan Lutim turned to him nonchalantly.


「Anyone who breaks the rules of Forest's Edge must be punished. It’s the same even for the chief clan. If not, we can’t maintain the order at Forest's Edge… Head of the Zaza house, it’s time for you to wake up.」


「But… But why does the Tsun clan want to harm the Fa house!? There’s no reason for the Tsun clan to do that!」


「We are going there right now to demand an answer. Save your outburst for after you hear the chief clan’s explanation.」


As they spoke, the people slumbering in the Ceremonial Hall had more or less escaped.


Half of them were still half-asleep, while the other half who was clear headed heard Dan Lutim’s words— and all of them had the eyes of hunters burning with rage.


「… Looks like everyone is here.」


Donda Wu walked towards us from the other end of the darkness.


His eyes were set ablaze like a wild beast.


「You are here, Donda Wu. What happened to the second son of the Tsun clan and the others?」


「I sent Ludo to take care of them. Everyone, gather at the door of the main house.」


「I see. Let’s go.」


Dan Lutim grabbed Diga Tsun’s collar with his thick fingers.


「Damn it! Unhand me! You think you can get away with doing such a thing to the chief clan!? Zaza, Jean, what are you standing there for! Hurry up and get rid of these insolent fools!」


「Shut up, eldest son of the Tsun clan! Who do you think are the most furious ones here?」


Dan Lutim asked in a surprised tone:


「You don’t even know this? You are the first one that your kins wants to strangle right now.」


「Yiip…」


Diga Tsun shrinked into a ball.


He finally noticed the eyes of the Zaza and Jean house heads.


Of everyone present, they were the most enraged.


As things were finally coming to an end, Donda Wu and Dan Lutim were all hyped up and didn’t get mad at all.


The ones who were angry about the chief clan’s reputation being tarnished had to be the Tsun clan’s kins.


「Alright… Stand up, fellow house heads. The head of the Tsun clan had trampled over the bonds and trust within Forest's Edge. I, the head of the Wu clan Donda Wu, will now head over to the Tsun clan to question his true intentions! Everyone, judge with your own eyes whether the Tsun clan is qualified to be our tribal chief!」


Donda Wu’s roar shook the dark night.


The men squirming on the ground finally stood up wobbling.


「… Ai Fa, can you walk?」


When she heard say that, Ai Fa pouted defiantly:


「I can barely manage… Asuta, you and Dan Lutim had already recovered, so why am I the only one in such a terrible state?」


Ai Fa could stand on her own now, but she was still leaning weakly on my shoulder.


「Someone must have force-fed you fruit wine. The alcohol was effective in making you regain consciousness, but sedatives are usually not suitable to be taken together with alcohol.」


「Damn, this is unsightly.」


Ai Fa ground her head on my shoulders firmly, as if she was venting out on me.


At this moment, a tall figure appeared before us.


It was Darum Wu.


He hadn’t recovered completely, and the second son of the Lutim house was lending him a shoulder.


「What’s the matter? Here to mock me…? You don’t look much better than me today?」


Ai Fa seemed very unhappy, it was rare to see her saying something so combative.


Darum Wu didn’t speak a word, a scary emotion was burning in his eyes.


Was I mistaken? The large scar on the right side of his face seemed to stand out more than usual, putting his rage and frustration on full display.


「I heard that those who drank plenty of fruit wine will recover slower. I didn’t drink a sip, so I jumped up immediately when the water was splashed on me.」


The second son of house Lutim house mediated for them. He resembled Kaslan Lutim a lot, but he had a broader build and looked more similar to his father.


「Let’s go. I don’t know what kind of ending awaits us. But after this night, there will be a drastic change to the future of the Tsun clan.」


We headed for the Tsun clan together.


Donda Wu led the way, followed by Dan Lutim who was dragging Diga Tsun. Rau Lei and the other kins of the Wu clan walked on their flanks.


The heads of the Dom and Zaza houses were one step behind them, and the people with them were probably the kins of the Tsun clan.


The heads of the minor houses led by Sauti all followed along too.


Flames of rage and distrust burned in their eyes.


Did the Tsun clan really trample over the bonds of Forest's Edge?


Why did they act so brazenly?


Or was this all an elaborate lie woven by the Fa house and the Wu clan?


Everyone bore different thoughts.


And all of them were steaming mad.


The Tsun clan used a dubious foreign herb to make everyone fall into deep slumber. Hunters would not stand such humiliation.


Most importantly, they couldn’t permit the Tsun clan to confine the innocent and harm their lives.


「Hi Dad, you sure are slow.」


Ludo Wu and Shin Wu were already waiting in front of the Tsun main house.


The two of them and the bound Doddo Tsun and Tay Tsun appeared before us.


And also—Yamiel Tsun.


Yamiel Tsun was in a Forest's Edge attire she was wearing in the afternoon. Her hair was completely wet.


She had probably washed her body. Even from a distance, I could smell a faint rusty scent.


Yamiel Tsun wasn’t tied up, but Mama Mia Lei and the women from the Wu clan and Lutim house surrounded her tightly.


She didn’t show any expression on her face.


「Heads of the various houses, listen up!」


Donda Wu roared once again.


「Before the house head conference’s commencement, the head of the Tsun clan Zuro Tsun requested for the Fa house to caretake their hearth! As their request was too suspicious, I sent my son to watch the Tsun clan village! And the Tsun clan really committed an unforgivable crime. And so, no one can question my actions! Even if anyone does, I won’t pay it any heed!」


Donda Wu’s eyes burned brighter than anyone else, and he surveyed his tribemates standing in the dark.


「Tonight, I intend to judge whether the Tsun clan is still qualified to lead Forest's Edge! Listen carefully to what Zuro Tsun says! And after doing so, decide the future of our tribe!」


We have finally made it this far.


Zuro Tsun’s answers might lead to war between the Tsun and Wu clans.


If the Zaza house and Jean house abandoned the Tsun clan, Forest's Edge wouldn’t be embroiled in civil war— what would happen in the end?


Donda Wu called Ludo Wu over and took the sabers in his hand. They probably belonged to Tay Tsun and Doddo Tsun. He handed one of them to Dan Lutim.


The tensed Tsun clan kins glared at Donda Wu.


「If the Tsun clan doesn’t draw their blade, I swear to not draw mine! If the Tsun clan doesn’t wish for blood to be spilled, none will flow tonight!」


Donda Wu knocked the door of the main house hard.


The door was opened from the inside unexpectedly quick.


「… It’s already late in the night, may I ask what business do you have with us…?」


A female voice asked without a shred of emotion.


A beautiful lady was standing behind the door.


Despite her outstanding looks, her eyes were dead like a rotting fish.


She had brown hair and blue eyes. Her beautiful face was like a mud doll, devoid of any feelings.


Her hair was short, and she was between 25 and 30 years old. Her dressing indicated that she was married— a piece of cloth covered her body.


Zwei Tsun who was gone, just now appeared by her feet, clinging unhappily to this woman.


「Who might you be?」


Donda Wu narrowed his eyes and looked at the two of them.


「I’m the wife of the clan head Zuro, Aura Tsun… This is my daughter, the youngest of the Tsun clan, Zwei Tsun… How may I help you…?」


「I’m the head of the Wu clan Donda Wu. Can you help me relay to the head of the Tsun clan that Donda Wu wishes to meet with him?」


「I see… But he had already turned in…」


「Oh?」


Donda Wu laughed like a beast.


「Pardon me, but Zuro Tsun won’t be able to sleep soundly tonight. The eldest son, second son, eldest daughter and a man from the branch house of the Tsun clan violated the laws of Forest's Edge. The clan head must answer for the crime of his members.」


「… Ohh…」


The Tsun clan woman who called herself Aura Tsun looked at us with dead, emotionless eyes.


In the end, when her murky eyes discovered Tay Tsun who was lying on the ground— she showed some signs of wavering.


Tay Tsun’s grey hair was stained with red blood as he laid motionless. He was looking at Aura Tsun with a similar gaze.


「… I understand… Zwei, bring the clan head here…」


「Mama Aura, is that really fine?」


Zwei Tsun looked at her mother with her large eyes.


「Yes… It doesn’t matter now…」


「I understand.」


Zwei Tsun charged back home.


Moments later, Zuro Tsun finally appeared.


The youngest son Mida Tsun followed closely behind.


「Head of the Wu clan, what is happening? It’s rude to visit at such a late hour…」


There was a faint smile on Zuro Tsun’s face, like a bloated toad.


Mida Tsun who was following slowly behind squealed in a high-pitched voice:


「Hmm…? It’s Diga and Doddo… Why are they tied up…?」


「Yes… That’s even more rude…」


「Rude? Zuro Tsun, didn’t that girl already tell you about the entire thing?」


Dan Lutim asked.


「That girl」 was referring to Zwei Tsun. She seemed annoyed by Mida Tsun’s fat leg blocking the entrance and kicked him before clinging to her mother again.


The clan head Zuro Tsun.


His spouse Aura Tsun.


Youngest daughter Zwei Tsun.


Youngest son Mida Tsun.


The eldest son who was sitting cross-legged unhappily, Diga Tsun.


The second son who remained unconscious, Doddo Tsun.


And— the one standing quietly in the distance, Yamiel Tsun.


Aside from the aged former clan head, everyone from the Tsun clan main house was here.


I supported Ai Fa’s shoulder and gulped.


「The entire thing… Do you mean the matter about Diga and Yamiel proposing marriage to the head and hearth caretaker of the Fa house…?」


Despite having numerous eyes on him, Zuro Tsun remained unfazed and said:


「Diga and the others told me about the entire thing… I never imagined that they would carry out this plan during the night of the house head conference…」


「Oh? That means you condone the criminal acts of your offsprings?」


Donda Wu said with a fiercer smile, and Zuro Tsun tilted his head puzzledly.


「… Criminal acts? What do you mean by that… I don’t understand…」


「Listen carefully then. These retards used poison herbs from a foreign land on everyone in the Ceremonial Hall, making them fall into deep slumber. They then attempted to kidnap the head and hearth caretaker of the Fa house. When the hearth caretaker refused to marry into the clan, they threatened him by pulling their blades. They also bonded the limbs of the Fa house head and attempted to have their way with her… Head and hearth caretaker of the Fa house, am I right?」


Ai Fa nodded silently, and I answered:「That’s correct.」


But a smile remained on Zuro Tsun’s face.


He could still smile at a time like this. Was he fearless or apathetic? Probably the latter.


「Drawing blades, huh, sounds scary… So who committed such a lawless act…?」


「The second son of the main house, and the branch house man beside him.」


「Hmm… Doddo goes wild easily when he gets drunk…」


The corner of Zuro Tsun’s mouth raised higher.


「He cherishes his sister a lot, and probably lost his reason when his sister’s marriage proposal was rejected… I’m very sorry…」


「Zuro Tsun, do you think this matter can be resolved with just apologies? That hearth caretaker might hail from a foreign land, but he is still a member of the Fa house. My son who went to stop him suffered a head injury too. Your family didn’t just brandish their blades, they also attempted to murder a fellow denizen of Forest's Edge!」


As there weren’t any bandages, the Wu clan tied a piece of cloth around Ludo Wu’s head to cover his wound. He clicked his tongue unhappily.


「In both the Post Station Town and the Lutim house wedding, that second son of yours brandished his blade to threaten others. This time, he finally swung his saber at a tribes mate. We can’t forgive him just because you apologized.」


「Hmm… Then, do you think we should cut off his right arm as the law dictates…?」


「You think this matter can be settled with just a right arm?」


Donda Wu’s eyes finally burst into flame, and a terrifying smile appeared on his face.


「He’s right!」


A tall man forced his way through the crowd and roared angrily:


「The second son of the Tsun clan not only drew his blade, he also attempted to harm us with poison herbs! It could harm all the house heads except for the Tsun clan! One arm is too trivial a punishment for such an insidious crime!」


The one who spoke was the head of the Sauti clan, Dali Sauti.


His honest face was bright red from humiliation and rage.


Zuro Tsun— furrowed his brows a little.


「What poison herbs are you talking about… That herb made everyone in the Ceremonial Hall sleep soundly…?」


「I heard the herb was bought from a shaman that came from the eastern nation and is named meremere leaves. Your son told me proudly that he spent five white copper plates on it for just a tiny amount.」


I answered.


As I heard Diga Tsun saying that, I thought I should be the one to answer.


「Hmm… A herb that draws you into deep slumber…」


「Yes. When the herb is burned, it emits a smoke that will make you sleep, even if your stomach gets cut open.」


「I see… But it’s just a herb that makes people sleep, so it’s not really a poison herb, right?」


Zuro Tsun finally turned his gaze to his son.


Diga Tsun probably thought things were going smoothly and smiled.


「The effect of the meremere leaves is to let a person in pain sleep properly! Unless you inhale it for half a day, your soul won’t fall into eternal rest. I only used a tiny amount, it can’t be considered poison! If I didn’t know its effect, I wouldn’t let my fellow denizens of Forest's Edge smell that thing.」


「Shut up! We are not talking about that!」


Dali Sauti roared agitated.


「The point is that you used an underhanded method! Not only did you deceive us, you even abducted the members of the Fa house, proposed marriage recklessly and made an attempt at their lives when they rejected you— Forest's Edge won’t permit such lawless behavior!」


「We will not tolerate such atrocities… Diga, why did you do such a thing…?」


When he saw Dali Sauti’s ferocious attitude, Diga Tsun turned pale. After hearing what his father said, he showed his ugly smile again.


「Of course, we weren’t serious. Doddo and I were both drunk, so we said something we didn’t mean.」


「Hmm? But the second son of the Tsun clan and that old man over there did draw their blades in an attempt to kill me and Asuta. What excuses will you find for that?」


When he heard Ludo Wu’s accusation, Diga Tsun smiled even happier.


「I don’t know either, I wasn’t there. Doddo and Tay Tsun were both drunk, that’s why they did such a thing.」


「Right. When they were swinging their sabers, you attempted to have your way with Ai Fa whose limbs were bound. But it failed.」


Ludo Wu shrugged, and Dali Sauti stepped forth again.


「Eldest son of the Tsun clan! This transgression is as serious as drawing a blade! You violated the same law two years ago, and were only forgiven after you swore not to do it again!」


「I already said that this was a marriage proposal, right? You have no right to admonish me so loudly.」


「This is retarded… You drugged her with poison herb, tied up her arms and legs before attempting to have your way with her. There’s no such way of proposing in Forest's Edge!」


「… Huh? No matter how unwilling a woman is, if you bed her, she will submit to you, right?」


And of course, I took a step forward unconsciously. But Ai Fa knocked my head to stop me.


「Don’t get agitated. He can’t get away with jokes like that.」


Ai Fa quiet voice entered my ears.


Was that true?


In that case, why did Zuro Tsun and Diga Tsun looked so at ease?


Leaving the unreasonable Diga Tsun aside, even Zuro Tsun who was most concerned with protecting himself was smiling all this while, which made me uncomfortable.


「— Hey! What are you all doing!」


A sharp voice rang out at this moment.


The one who shouted was Rau Lei.


The men around us also became uneasy.


A group emerged and formed a human wall around all the house heads.


Their number was about thirty.


As it was dim outside, I could only see a group of dark figures approaching us. But in this village, the only other people here were the branch houses of the Tsun clan. From their numbers and logic, my analysis had to be true.


「Hey… Zuro Tsun, are you planning to end this with blades?」


Donda Wu grabbed the hilt of his saber.


For the first time, Zuro Tsun answered in a panicking voice:


「I-I don’t intend to do that… The commotion caused by your people surprised the branch house members, and they are just here to take a look… Head of the Wu clan, don’t be rash, alright…?」


「Hmmp, is that so?」


Donda Wu’s mouth twisted menacingly.


The Tsun clan branch house had 30 people, half of them were men. The kins of the Wu clan matched them in number, but only five were armed.


If a fight broke out, there was no telling how the Dom, Zaza, and other kins of the Tsun clan would act. Furthermore, all the women of the Wu clan were here. Nothing good would come out of resorting to violence.


Donda Wu knew this better than me and called out to Ludo Wu.


「Hey Ludo, go to the women. Do not attack preemptively.」


「Understood.」


Ludo Wu also showed the eyes of a hunter as he ran to his family’s side.


「Alright then, Zuro Tsun. How are you planning to settle this? Don’t tell me you think we will forgive you just by apologizing, right?」


「Hmm… Head of the Wu clan, do you think we should mete out punishment according to the laws of Forest's Edge…?」


A faint smile appeared on Zuro Tsun’s face again.


「Doddo and Tay Tsun drew their blade and hurt a fellow Forest's Edge denizen. Diga almost assaulted a woman. Basically, Doddo and Tay Tsun have to surrender their right arm. Diga… What should be done about Diga? In the end, the head of the Fa house’s purity wasn’t tarnished, right?」


「That’s because the head of the Fa house just happened to be mightier than that despicable man. If we follow the laws of Forest's Edge strictly, he has to be castrated.」


Donda Wu said with detest.


「That’s not all. They deceived the fellow tribemates of Forest's Edge and drugged everyone with the poison herb. How will you pay for these crimes?」


「That’s what I want to clarify with everyone. The herbs they burned are not harmful to the body, so how serious is this crime… No, are their actions even against the laws of Forest's Edge…」


「The denizens of Forest's Edge must not deceive fellow tribemates!」


「When did Diga and the rest deceive their tribemates…? Diga merely sent everyone into deep slumber in order to avoid disturbing them when he proposed marriage to the Fa house…」


Dali Sauti walked quietly towards Zuro Tsun.


Donda Wu restrained his buffed body.


「If that is so, Zuro Tsun, are you going to surrender the right arm of the second son and the branch house man, and castrate your eldest son? I don’t think your sons have the guts.」


「If we dispense out the punishment as dictated by our archaic laws, this will be the right course of actions.」


Zuro Tsun smiled menacingly.


「Head of the Wu clan, if you want to respect this ancient custom… and judge my sons, you have to do one thing first…?」


「What?」


「I hope the Wu clan, Lutim house, and Fa house can obey the rules too…」


Zuro Tsun’s obsessive eyes looked my way.


「Hearth caretaker of the Fa house… My daughter wants you to marry into the Tsun clan, right…?」


I stared at his disgusting smile.


Could it be…


A sense of suspicion started pressuring my chest.


Could this be the ace in the hole this unscrupulous man was planning?


Was he planning to resort to such a retarded and nonsensical move?


「Yamiel was conducting an ancient ritual passed down from our ancestors… a ritual to absorb the power of the kiba blood into our own strength…」


「……」


「… If that is the case, she should be naked…」


「Zuro Tsun, you little—」


Donda Wu uttered a voice as deep as the earth tremor.


「Head of the Wu clan, your son was hiding in the shadows to protect the hearth tender of the Fa house, right…? In that case, didn’t he see Yamiel through the window…?」


Zuro Tsun turned towards Dan Lutim who was beside Donda Wu.


「Head of the Lutim house… You kicked down the door of Diga’s house, and entered without permission from a house member, right…?」


「And so?」


Dan Lutim was getting angrier by the moment.


Everyone seemed to understand what Zuro Tsun was getting at.


「It is a violation of the Forest's Edge law to barge into a house without permission from the family… In that case, the ones who saw Yamiel’s naked body will have to hand over an eye, and those who stepped into Diga’s house have to hand over a toe, right…?」


「What kind of joke is this!? What about this despicable man also barged into the Fa house without invitation!?」


「Diga and I already apologized for it, and were forgiven… We don’t wish to see fellow denizens spilling blood because of these archaic rules either…」


「So that’s what this is all about.」


Donda Wu muttered.


He had a ferocious smile.


「If I want them to surrender their arms, our side will need to offer up an eye and a toe. Is that what you mean, Zuro Tsun?」


「… I don’t wish to see my fellow tribemates spilling blood for such a trivial matter…」


「Zuro Tsun, what is this nonsense!?」


Dali Sauti shouted.


「The ones who committed the crimes are members of the Tsun clan! The Wu clan, Lutim house, and Fa house were only resisting their violence! Why must they hand over an eye and a toe!」


「This is the rule of Forest's Edge… However, this is an archaic law decided by our forebears… We can be more flexible about the rules to resolve this matter…」


「I already said that is not the point! We can’t condone the despicable acts by the eldest son of the Tsun clan!」


「Despicable acts… Doddo didn’t take any lives, and Diga didn’t dishonor any woman, correct…?」


「Like what Donda Wu said, that’s because of the prowess of the Fa house and Wu clan members! If they were weak, the Tsun clan members would have committed these unforgivable acts!」


「If they really committed these crimes, they can only pay for it with their lives…」


Both sides insisted on their argument.


Dali Sauti was so enraged that he looked dumbfounded.


「Tribal chief, are you still sane…? If this is what you truly think, we can’t respect you as the tribal chief of Forest's Edge anymore.」


「Oh? Head of the Sauti clan, why is that…? Diga and Doddo are immature and can’t control their emotions well. But they didn’t murder fellow denizens or tarnish the purity of a woman. No one can know if my sons really intended to commit these crimes…?」


Zuro Tsun turned his murky eyes towards Donda Wu.


「Look, the head of the Wu clan is looking with such intense hatred in his eyes… Maybe he wishes to harm me… However, if he doesn’t swing his blade at me, he won’t need to be judged… That’s how it is…」


「You are just finding excuses for yourself! The tribal chief clan should be the model for the denizens of Forest's Edge!」


「Yes… In that case, blood will have to be spilled on both sides… Such a shame…」


Zuro Tsun didn’t show a shred of regret when he was saying that.


Maybe… This was what this man sincerely thought. Since he couldn’t resolve this matter with his glib tongue, he could only hand over his sons.


Was he attempting to trade the lives of Diga Tsun, Doddo Tsun, Tay Tsun, and Yamiel Tsun in exchange for the peace of the Tsun clan? Zuro Tsun was still smiling without any sense of danger, which made me think that way.


Suppressing the frustration in my chest, I peeked at the children of the Tsun clan.


Diga Tsun still didn’t grasp the magnitude of the situation and was still grinning.


Doddo Tsun was still knocked out.


Tay Tsun stared at the sky with his muddy eyes, lying on the ground as if he was dead.


Yamiel Tsun was still expressionless.


It was difficult for me to forgive these criminals.


There was something about Tay Tsun and Yamiel Tsun that bothered me, but that couldn’t absolve them of their crimes.


However, they were still the family of Zuro Tsun, tied to him by blood, correct?


Even if Diga Tsun and the others lost control and committed these crimes, shouldn’t Zuro Tsun work harder to cover up for them?


Compared to the lives of his family, does he value his own peace more?


Just what kind of world was reflected in the murky eyes of this man?


「…Zuro Tsun, is that your answer?」


Donda Wu took a small step forward.


At this moment, Mida Tsun who had been standing still in a daze said quietly:


「You can’t… denizens of Forest's Edge can’t hurt each other…」


He muttered as he reached for the club on his waist.


Donda Wu also moved his hands towards the hilt of the saber.


Zuro Tsun’s smile turned a little twisted as he backed away slowly.


「…Asuta, absolutely don’t leave my side.」


Ai Fa whispered. She removed her right arm from my neck and leaned forward a little.


All the men within my field of vision were getting ready for battle.


Negotiations had broken down.


Zuro Tsun wouldn’t admit his own wrongdoings. He wanted to save himself even if he had to sacrifice his own family.


Donda Wu wouldn’t permit such corrupt acts. Even if he had to shoulder the tarnished name of a traitor, even if he has to break his promise of 「not drawing his blade first」, he will kill Zuro Tsun. There was such determination in his eyes.


As Donda Wu was about to act—


I shouted after hesitating for half a second:


「Please wait! If the Tsun clan really respects the rules that have been passed down, shouldn’t you atone for a certain crime first!?」


Donda Wu was about to pull out his saber, but his shoulders shook a little.


「Asuta…?」


Ai Fa leaned in close with a puzzled face. I nodded at her and continued:


「If I remember correctly, it’s a serious crime with the punishment of scalping one’s head. You must pay for this crime before you can punish others, right?」


「You… What are you talking about…?」


The toad-like smile from his fat face was gone. I was certain that it wasn’t my imagination when I saw the fear in his expression.


My words might lead to more blood being spilled… This thought made me shiver, but I still revealed their crimes.


「If you want to refute my words, let me see the food store of the Tsun clan main house… That is my only demand.」


The next instant, I could hear maniacal laughter.


It was Yamiel Tsun.


Surrounded by the women of the Wu clan and Lutim house, Yamiel Tsun threw her head back in laughter.


「What are you saying? Why must our heads be scalped? You are slandering the chief clan!」


「T-That’s right, this is slander! You are saying nonsense just to save your own hide…」


Zuro Tsun quickly recovered, but he was hit by great shock and despair the next moment.


「We can’t stand for such humiliation! There are no grounds for such slander! If you don’t believe us, then go check the food store with your own eyes!」


「Yamiel!? Have you gone mad, what nonsense are you saying!?」


The one shouting wasn’t Zuro Tsun, but Diga Tsun.


His face was as pale as his father.


「What’s the matter? Why is the color gone from your faces? We are innocent, right?」


Yamiel Tsun’s eyes were shining as she looked towards Aura Tsun who was standing at the side like a statue.


「Aura! Zwei is fine too! Remove the bar on the food store’s door! Then we can prove our innocence!」


Zwei Tsun looked at her mother’s face doubtfully.


Aura Tsun closed her eyes, covering her murky gaze.


「Yes… Yamiel, that’s what we should do…」


「That’s right! We should do that!」


When Aura Tsun was about to turn, Zuro Tsun grabbed her slender shoulder with great force.


「Stop! What are you…... What are you trying to do!?」


「… Please let me go…」


「I can’t do that! As the clan head… I forbid you to do so!」


Zuro Tsun’s thick fingers sunk into his wife’s shoulder.


「Hyaa…」


「What are you doing!」


Aura Tsun wailed, and Zwei Tsun screamed too.


Donda Wu took a step forth.


But before he could act Mida Tsun already grabbed his father’s arm.


「You can’t… We can’t hurt our family…」


With the creaking sound of bones, Zuro Tsun screamed like a girl.


After Zuro Tsun unhanded her, Aura Tsun collapsed weakly to the ground and stared at Zwei Tsun’s face. Tears filled her eyes, and a bit of light had finally returned to her gaze.


「Zwei… Take down the bar on the food store’s door…」


「… I understand.」


Zwei Tsun disappeared at the other end of the door.


Yamiel Tsun laughed diabolically again.


「Come! Witness with your own eyes! Asuta of the Fa house, if what you said is baseless slander, we won’t forgive you with just an eye or a toe!」


「What is that woman doing? Has she gone mad?」


Dan Lutim frowned his thick brows unhappily and turned towards me.


「I don’t know what she is saying. Did you get tricked by that woman?」


「No, I don’t think so… If I was really tricked, Zuro Tsun wouldn’t panic so much.」


I turned to Donda Wu.


「Let’s head to the food store. But we need to keep an eye on the Tsun clan branch house.」


Donda Wu looked at me silently for a moment, then turned away.


Rau Lei and the other kins of the Wu clan dragged Diga Tsun and Doddo Tsun with them.


Diga Tsun was in a daze and looked lost.


Doddo Tsun was still unconscious.


As for Tay Tsun— He had shut his eyes just like Aura Tsun just now.


「Mida Tsun, can you bring Zuro Tsun with us?」


「Yes…」


When he heard what I said, his cheeks shook a little.


「What’s wrong with the food store…? We can only eat tomorrow morning…」


「Yes. We just want to check what is inside the food store.」


We went around to the back of the house.


The men who attended the house head conference, the women who tended to the hearth, members of the Tsun clan main house and branch house— a large number of people had gathered, there were over a hundred people here.


Most of them didn’t understand what was happening right now and were looking at each other quietly.


In front of us— the door of the food store was opened slowly from the inside.


Zwei Tsun still had an unhappy face. She came out from the food store and clung to her mother’s leg again.


Rau Lei lifted a candle and shone on the inside of the food store.


「This is—!」


Everyone was yelling now.


The content of the food store was just what I thought.


It was filled with colorful fruits and vegetables.


Some familiar, and others not.


The shelves full of fruits and vegetables were—


From the Morga Forest, which the Rock City had prohibited us from foraging.


「… So that’s what happened.」


Donda Wu mumbled to himself.


And then—


「Oooohhhhhh…」 Voices that sounded like chants suddenly shook the night.


「What the hell? What’s going on!?」


Dan Lutim looked around him.


This noise came from all the branch house members of the Tsun clan.


Be it men or women, young or old— they all knelt on the ground and wailed with sorrow.


「Please forgive us…」


「We violated the taboo…」


「We violated the taboo, and picked the resources from the forest…」


Aura Tsun also knelt weakly before us.


「This is the sin of the Tsun clan… But please have mercy on the branch houses… They were just following the evil orders set by the main house…」


Her pretty face was stained with tears.


All the branch house members were crying too.


Some laid prone on the ground, some grabbed their heads, others clung to the ones beside them— all of them were consumed with sorrow and cried in deep sadness.


「W-Wait! Get a hold of yourself!」


At this moment, the cry of a panicking girl sounded out, her voice was exceptionally clear.


It was Lala Wu’s panicked shouts.


A frail girl thinner than Lala Wu was clinging to her crying.


She kept shouting:「Sorry, sorry…」


She was Tulu Tsun from the Tsun clan branch house.


「How could this be… The Tsun clan actually violated such a serious taboo…」


When he heard the sounds of crying from all around him, the head of the Zaza house seemed to be in shock, and he muttered weakly with his large body trembling.


The members of the Tsun clan ate the resources from the forest. In Forest's Edge, this was one of the most serious taboos.


If they ate the flora in the forest, the famished kiba will attack the farms in the city more frequently. Hence, those who transgressed this taboo will face severe punishment—「scalping」.


No matter how hungry they were, the denizens of Forest's Edge wouldn’t steal the food growing in the forest. They will just lament their powerlessness and wither away. Kamyua Yost once commented that he had never seen such a righteous and pure tribe.


This was the pride the denizens of Forest's Edge had as hunters.


「We tarnished on the honor of the hunters… and trampled on the pride of Forest's Edge… we are sinners beyond redemption…」


Aura Tsun and the branch house members cried rivers of tears.


I could clearly see the sorrow in their teary eyes.


The regrets in their heart.


The shame that welled up from their chest.


They were all negative emotions— but all the Tsun clan members showed their emotions and weren’t just mud dolls anymore.


When the grave crimes committed by the Tsun clan came to light, the members of the Tsun clan branch houses were also liberated.


They were freed from the enormous pressure of hiding the Tsun clan’s secrets.


On the other hand, Zuro Tsun and Diga Tsun looked ash faced and were quivering.


Doddo Tsun was still knocked out on the ground.


Mida Tsun looked at his father and brother puzzledly.


Zwei Tsun accompanied her crying mother and bit on her lips.


As for Yamiel Tsun—


Flanked by Ludo Wu and Mama Mia Lei, she walked towards us.


Ai Fa tensed her body cautiously, but Yamiel Tsun stopped before us and said quietly:


「It’s all over now…」


Yamiel Tsun’s crazed self was gone. She looked at peace with complicated emotions in her eyes, making it impossible to discern if that was sorrow, anger or joy.


「Asuta… I have something to tell you.」


「What is it?」


I still couldn’t grasp the feelings of Yamiel Tsun. She showed a faint smile— and then said:


「Thank you for destroying the Tsun clan.」




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