Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 6 Chapter 3 Part 2 & Mid-Meal Snack

Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Ratorasepo

3


The chaotic night was over.


「Hmm〜」


I crawled out of the Ceremonial Hall and stretched my arms as the morning light made me squint my eyes.


「… What an unbelievable night.」


Ai Fa followed me in leaving the Ceremonial Hall and stood beside me with a deadpan expression.


「That’s right, everything was too outrageous and unreal. What will happen to Forest's Edge now?」


「Who knows… Never mind, it can’t be worse than now. Our duty is to avoid letting Forest's Edge become more corrupted.」


The effect of the meremere leaves was gone, and Ai Fa’s face was filled with energy, as she flicked her long hair behind her.


As we were talking, the other house heads also came out. To make way for them, we decided to take a stroll nearby.


The emergency house head conference that spanned the entire night was now over.






Through the interrogation of all the house heads, we obtained a deeper understanding of the Tsun clan’s crimes.


First off, the Tsun clan had started stealing food from the forest more than a decade ago.


Zuro Tsun inherited the position of tribal chief only ten years ago. Therefore, these atrocious acts were started and handed down from the previous tribal chief, Zattsu Tsun.


They only hunted kiba for their meat and foraged the fruits and vegetables they needed from the forest. They used the prize money and the tusks and horns to trade for daily necessities, fruit wine, and rock salt— as well as the entertainment expenses for the Tsun clan main house.


They threatened the branch houses to keep this secret, and if words were to get out, everyone in the Tsun clan would get scalped. Which meant, the main house forced the branch houses to be their accomplices. During this decade or so, they had stripped the branch houses of their pride and dignity as a denizen in Forest's Edge.


That might be the reason why the people in the Tsun clan village tended to die young. Their lives were more stable and prosperous than the other houses, but members of their village would grow weak and die for unknown reasons.


「Perhaps our lives were too stable, so we couldn’t find the reason to live…」


Aura Tsun said.


People who married into the village were especially susceptible to that. Aside from Aura Tsun, the previous wives of the clan head Zuro Tsun were from the Zaza and Jean houses.


In addition, those who couldn’t adapt to such a unique environment tended to pass away early too. Because their members were short-lived, the Tsun clan was slowly running short of numbers. Hence, they strictly prohibited any Tsun clan members from marrying into other kin houses.


If the branch house members stayed in the village, they would be forced by peer pressure to hide the secret. So it was only natural for them to stop any Tsun clan member who knew this secret from leaving the village.


However, such a move would be too unnatural. Forest's Edge placed a lot of emphasis on blood relations, and since no kin houses took in a member of the Tsun clan through marriage, their unhappiness about this situation would slowly build up. That was why Yamiel Tsun said—「We can’t deceive our kins any longer…」.


Why did the Tsun clan attempt to pull the Fa house members into their clan?


The Tsun clan wanted to use the copper plates I earned to buy aria and poitan and create an environment where they could survive without stealing from the forest.


They could then let their horrible secret disappear.
「What the hell!? That’s too retarded! You all just need to hunt kiba properly!」


Many of the house heads, including Dan Lutim were furious.


The main house members of the Tsun clan who had a taste of depravity— or rather, the head of the Tsun clan Zuro Tsun— didn’t even consider the option of hunting again.


Besides, even if they wanted to hunt kiba, the vicinity around the Tsun clan village couldn’t attract kiba anymore.


It was inevitable. They foraged the forest’s fruits and vegetables, which was the food of the kiba, every day, so of course the kiba wouldn’t want to stay in such a barren place.


This was also the reason why the number of kiba had been increasing for the past few years.


The Tsun clan didn’t hunt properly, resulting in the number of kiba increasing. The resources in the forest were also stolen by them, so the kiba migrated to other zones— this led to the increase in the burden of the other houses.


No matter what, the situation kept deteriorating. As there weren’t any kiba around the Tsun clan village, even if the branch house members wished to ignore the main house’s orders and pick up hunting again, they couldn’t do so. In the Tsun clan village, meat was more scarce than vegetables since they could only hunt the minimal number of kiba.


From another perspective, the dwindling number of kiba resulted in the gradual increase of small animals like lizards and snakes, which the branch house members often ate. The main house members would buy Kimyusu or Karon meat to fill their stomachs.


「By the way, did you really need to pick the day of the house head conference to assault the Fa house members? If you were planning to abduct them by force, you didn’t need to invite them to the Tsun clan village, and could just attack the Fa house directly, correct?」


Dali Sauti asked.


Since the Tsun clan possessed the secret weapon, the meremere leaves, they could carry out such a barbaric act. If Ai Fa and I both fell into deep slumber, they could cut the wooden bars on the windows, and gain access easily.


Yamiel Tsun answered this question.


Simply put— because the Ceremonial Hall was designed to be half underground and the entrances weren’t locked, they just had to quietly place the burning meremere leaves at the entrance to knock everyone out. Normal houses would bar their windows, so it wouldn’t be easy to get the smoke into the room.


That was true. If they fanned the smoke in from outside the window as if they were grilling saury, Ai Fa would notice.


「… I still think your actions are too foolish. You actually tried such a vicious stunt with all the house heads present during the house head conference, did you really think it would work? I might not be qualified to say that since I was sound asleep at that time, but this wasn’t a scheme a normal person would come up with.」


「That’s right… But I heard that the head of the Fa house is very strong, so Diga and Doddo are probably no match for her. So instead of attacking the Fa house, we thought this method has a better chance of success.」


Yamiel Tsun answered calmly. Dali Sauti stared at her with rage in his eyes.


「Eldest daughter of the Tsun clan, let me confirm again. Zuro Tsun was the one who suggested making the Fa house members join the Tsun clan, both you and your two brothers agreed to this and came up with a plan to do so?」


「Yes, it’s as you say.」


「Even though the Tsun clan’s eldest son, second son and branch family member Tay Tsun are the ones who committed the crimes, you are as guilty as they are.」


「I know that very well, you don’t need to keep reminding me.」


Yamiel Tsun’s expression seemed overly peaceful.


「Please wait.」


I wanted to speak up.


At this moment, Ai Fa grabbed my arm.


「Stop. Now isn’t the time for us to speak.」


The Tsun clan’s method was too unrefined.


That made me think of something. Maybe Yamiel Tsun wanted the plan to fail— what she wished for wasn’t the prosperity of the Tsun clan, but its demise.


Yamiel Tsun was the one who invited me to partake in the house head conference.


She came up with this plan first and received approval from the clan head Zuro Tsun later.


No matter what, there were more cons than pros in choosing the night of the house head conference to commit these crimes.


The food store was barred, but it contained an astonishing secret. I didn’t think that normal people would let the members from another house near such a place. Yamiel Tsun once asked me:「After tending to the Tsun clan’s hearth, didn’t you realize anything at all?」


Yamiel Tsun might have wanted to overcome this obstacle with her family and continue to live like they always had.


However, she wished more strongly for the end of the Tsun clan’s history of corruption.


「I can guess what you’re thinking, but don’t say it… No matter what you say, it won’t lessen the crimes of that eldest daughter. It might make the other house heads even madder.」


After Ai Fa whispered that to me, I asked in a quiet voice:


「But why?」


「Even if your speculations are right, the eldest daughter of the Tsun clan still betrayed Forest's Edge. And you might add another crime of 『betraying and deceiving blood-related family』… Asuta, in Forest's Edge, betraying and harming one’s family is the greatest taboo.」


I couldn’t refute her.


Hence, in order to expose the crimes of the whole Tsun clan, she intentionally brought in people from the outside— and invited the Fa house and Wu clan to the Tsun clan.


As I was pondering over that, the house head conference continued in all seriousness.


All the house heads needed to reach a conclusion quickly for one issue.


The punishment of the Tsun clan members.


「Tsun clan has lost the right to lead the tribe!」


No one opposed Dali Sauti’s declaration.


However, how should the Tsun clan members atone for their crimes?


Fortunately, no one wanted to prosecute the branch house members for their part. Even the Zaza and Jean houses that emphasized on traditions so much didn’t do so.


So, who should be responsible then?


Everyone’s opinion at this point was divided.


We should follow the rules and scalp the heads of all the Tsun clan main house members—


If we go by the books, then the branch house members will need to be purged too —


In that case, just punishing the clan head Zuro Tsun will do—


But he only inherited the sins of the previous clan head—


The previous clan head Zattsu Tsun is old and ravaged by illness, he doesn’t have much time left—


No, if we do that—


「Sigh, this is so noisy! We can’t reach a conclusion even if we continue this discussion!」


Dan Lutim was finally at his limits.


He stared at me with his large eyes.


「Asuta, what do you think?」


「Ehh? Me?」


「Yes. You revealed the crimes of the Tsun clan, so you should be chairing this meeting, right?」


He wasn’t making any sense.


However, I was grateful for the opportunity to speak. I did have something on my mind.


「I think— the important thing is to moving forward.」


「Moving forward?」


「Yes. We shouldn’t punish the Tsun clan main house in the heat of the moment, the important thing is that the denizens of Forest's Edge need to proceed in the right direction— we need to make arrangements for that.」


「You are just like Kaslan Lutim, always using such difficult words. Can you make it simpler?」


「Pardon me. Specifically, we have lost our tribal chief clan. Instead of deciding on the punishment of the Tsun clan, we should discuss how we should maintain our relationship with Genos in the future.」


Dan Lutim and the other house heads all looked surprised.


They never thought I would mention Genos at a time like this.
「I still don’t understand. Rock City isn’t important to us, and we don’t want the prize money either. I think that this will be a good chance for Forest's Edge to cut off ties with the castle, that will be even better.」


「We can’t do that.『Do not pick the resources of the forest』 is a rule set by Genos. The Tsun clan’s action is like trampling over the trust and bonds between Forest's Edge and Genos… In the first place, the denizens of Forest's Edge only received permission to stay here after agreeing to this rule.」


The house heads started debating among themselves.


「Genos thinks the denizens of Forest's Edge are indispensable. It took us eight decades to build up such a position. If we leave this land, it will be a huge blow to the prosperity of Genos. Therefore, I think we should continue to interact with Genos in a proper manner.」


「Hmm… Well… After hearing you say that, I think you are right…」


Dan Lutim still looked confused. After all, aside from the Tsun clan, no other denizens of Forest's Edge had any interaction with the people of the Genos castle.


In order to share my worries with the other denizens, I threw out a bomb hidden in my heart.


「What I’m about to say is just my speculation. Maybe— the people in Genos castle already knew about the Tsun clan breaking the rules, and they condone them in doing so.」


「What!? What is going on!?」


「Ai Fa and I met a person who is acquainted with the lord of Genos. That person was very worried about the Tsun clan’s depraved behavior and had warned the landlord several times. Even if the landlord didn’t know about the Tsun clan stealing from the forest, he must know that the Tsun clan isn’t doing their job as hunters properly and is living a depraved life.」


This sparked more discussion amongst the house heads.


Although this was like kicking a dog when it’s down— I still needed to say this.


「I have already confirmed that even if the Tsun clan misbehaves in the Post Station Town, the Genos castle will still turn a blind eye to them. I also heard that the denizens of Forest's Edge won’t be prosecuted no matter what crimes they commit. The Tsun clan didn’t become this depraved because of the prize money alone. The special treatment from Genos also contributed to this, correct?」


I turned my gaze to the Tsun clan main house members at the lower seats.


Aside from the previous clan head Zattsu Tsun, all seven of them were here.


Zuro Tsun was lifeless like a corpse.


Diga Tsun was trembling with fear.


Doddo Tsun had finally woken up and was sullen like a dying dog.


Mida Tsun didn’t know what was happening.


Yamiel Tsun was expressionless as she stared at the floor.


Aura Tsun kept her back straight and stared into space with moist eyes.


Zwei Tsun had a sulky face as she held her mother’s arm.


Tay Tsun might be from the branch house, but he was brought here since he violated a taboo. He sat at the very end with his eyes closed.


「I have no intentions of covering for the Tsun clan. But the reasons for them becoming depraved are the prize money and the way they interacted with the lord of Genos. If we interact with Genos in the wrong manner, even the denizens of Forest's Edge will become depraved.」


「Asuta, it sounds like you are disparaging the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


Dali Sauti said. He wasn’t angry, but his tone was tense.


I turned and asked him:


「Is that so? The Tsun clan used to be a powerful family that led Forest's Edge, correct? Over eight decades, the poison accumulated over time and led to the downfall of the Tsun clan. That’s because only the Tsun clan had interactions with the people from the castle— since I’m getting excessive wealth and interacting with the people in town, this will affect me too.」


「Yes…」


「Wealth can be medicine, but it can also become poison. We already discussed this during dinner. Who will replace the Tsun clan and lead Forest's Edge in their stead? What should we do with the prize money? How should we interact with Genos? All these matters are as important as the punishment of the Tsun clan, right?」


「You are correct. However, only the Wu clan can match the Tsun clan right now. Now that the Tsun clan had fallen— what should we do?」


Dali Sauti looked at Donda Wu probingly.


Donda Wu showed a fearless smile.


「How long are you guys planning to nag instead of sleeping? A strong clan will step up to lead Forest's Edge. Weak houses are powerless to rule Forest's Edge. This is an obvious fact.」


「So the Wu clan will officially run for the position of the tribal chief?」


「Hah! I already knew that the Tsun clan will be destroyed one day. It’s only a matter of time before we walk this path.」


Donda Wu stood up slowly. He scanned the surroundings with hunter’s eyes.


「I am speaking in my capacity as the head of the Wu clan to all fellow house heads of Forest's Edge. The Wu clan has six kin houses and numbers over a hundred people. There are no other clans more powerful than us in Forest's Edge… Anyone disagrees with me?」


No one sounded any objection.


A fearless smile appeared on Donda Wu’s lips.


「On the other hand, the Tsun clan has seven kin houses and over a hundred people. Excluding the Tsun clan that committed grave atrocities, there are around 70 left… Who will lead you now? The Zaza house? Or the Dom house?」


「We can’t decide yet. Right now, the Zaza, Jean and Dom house will work together to lead our kins.」


The head of the Zaza house answered quietly with flickering flames of regret in his eyes.


「I see.」


Donda Wu looked towards Dali Sauti.


「Next will be the Sauti clan. How many blood-related kins do you have?」


「The Sauti clan has five kin houses. There are about 60 of us, far less than the Wu clan.」


「Hmm. But even so, your scale isn’t much different from the northern houses that had lost the Tsun clan.」


Donda Wu said with satisfaction, and the flame in his eyes got even more intense.


「In that case, I propose that the Wu clan, Sauti clan, as well as one of the northern houses, for example, Zaza, lead the denizens of Forest's Edge who had lost their tribal chief.」


「What did you say!?」


The head of house Zaza yelled.


「Head of the Wu clan, are you suggesting for the Wu clan, Sauti clan and us to become the tribal chiefs? What do you mean!?」


「It means literally what you heard. The Wu clan might be powerful, but Forest's Edge is a wide and narrow strip of land, it’s impossible for one clan to control the entire Forest's Edge. Since there are influential clans in the southern and northern ends, we should make use of their strengths.」


「But if we do that…」


「The three clans will rule the Forest's Edge together. Be it interacting with Genos or the dissemination of the prize money, the three clan heads will share the load. We will turn this into our medicine and not poison. If you have a better idea, then let’s hear it. I’m posing this question not only to the Zaza and Sauti but also the heads of all the houses.」


Donda Wu strong eyes surveyed all the house heads once again.


「If another clan that can rival the Wu or Sauti clan is to rise up, I will agree to let him take on the position of tribal chief. If only one person rules the Forest's Edge, our future will be cut off if that person becomes corrupted. The Tsun clan is the best example of this.」


Zuro Tsun didn’t show any reaction.


The previous clan head passed on his twisted ways to this tribal chief of the Forest's Edge, leading him to depravity. Zuro Tsun was crestfallen and hung his head low.


「Those who concur stand up! Those who oppose remain seated and state your views!」


The kins of the Wu clan stood up swiftly.


The heads of the minor houses also got up one after another. Ai Fa and I also stood up.


The northern and southern houses mulled over it slowly.


After hearing Donda Wu suddenly naming them as tribal chief, they were probably surprised and troubled.


Even so, Dali Sauti still stood up— finally, the heads of Zaza and Dom houses also got up.


Everyone agreed to Donda Wu’s proposal unanimously.


Donda Wu nodded seriously.


「The head of the Wu clan Donda Wu solemnly swears that he will not abandon the honor of Forest's Edge and will work together with Sauti and Zaza to pave the right way forward for the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


「… The head of the Sauti clan Dali Sauti vows to be a pillar of Forest's Edge.」


The kins of the Tsun clan stood to the side dejectedly. After a while the head of the Zaza house muttered softly:


「We will elect the head of our kins in the near future. I swear that no matter who becomes our leader, he will not bring shame to the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


「How laid back. The first thing you all need to do is to elect the leader of your kins.」


Donda Wu curled the corners of his mouth and laughed, and the head of house Zaza immediately replied:「Shut up!」


「Alright then, aside from the Sauti clan and the representative from house Zaza, everyone can sit easy… We still have one thing that needs to be dealt with on this night.」


Heeding his instructions, we all sat down.


Donda Wu controlled the entire situation.


「How should we deal with the Tsun clan? The three of us have to state our own views, and then ask for the opinions of the other house heads.」


Donda Wu’s words made the atmosphere tense.


「I think… we should sentence the Tsun clan members who committed crimes on this night, as well as the clan head Zuro Tsun.」


Dali Sauti replied immediately:


「The eldest son Diga Tsun, the second son Doddo Tsun, the eldest daughter Yamiel Tsun and Tay Tsun from the branch house. Including Zuro Tsun, these five are guilty beyond any doubt.」


「Hmmm, in that case, Zuro Tsun will take responsibility alone for the matter of the Tsun clan stealing from the forest… And so, how do you plan to deal with the eldest daughter of the Tsun clan who didn’t draw her blade?」


「Regarding that… It’s hard to decide, but since the eldest daughter is the one who instigated the eldest son and the rest, I think she should receive the same punishment.」


Which means that her right arm would be chopped off just like Doddo Tsun and Tay Tsun?


A bitter taste spread in my mouth.


What the head of the Zaza house said next was even more cruel:


「I think all the members of the main house should be punished. It is a serious crime to steal from the forest, and they even forced the branch houses to do the same. I think all of them should be scalped.」


「I see. But are the women from the main house capable of forcing the branch houses? We forgave the branch house members, but, isn’t that unfair, ending the lives of the main house women?」


「Yes… I already considered that… The branch house members should receive the same punishment. But the main house will redeem the sins of the branch houses with their blood instead.」


So they are sentencing even the young Zwei Tsun to death?


These might be the customs of the cruel and righteous Forest's Edge, but I couldn’t stand for that.


「… Can I say something?」


At this moment Yamiel Tsun spoke.


Numerous murderous gaze looked her way.


「It seems that you all don’t know anything, so let me tell you… The former head of the Tsun clan Zattsu Tsun is the true reason behind the corruption of the Tsun clan.」


The murderous aura of the house heads gradually increased.


But Yamiel maintained her cool demeanor and spoke plainly:


「Zattsu Tsun is like a venom. If you spend time with him, your soul will gradually become corrupt. Before he fell sick from illness ten-odd years ago, he was the head of the Tsun clan and corrupted the souls of the main house members.」


「Hah! I was wondering what you will say, so you want to push all the blame to the bedridden Zattsu Tsun, how deplorable!」


The head of the Zaza house roared angrily.


Yamiel Tsun remained calm and stole a glance his way:


「I won’t push all the sin to that man. What I want to say is that some of us have not been poisoned by him yet… Aura Tsun married into the main house a dozen years ago, and Zwei Tsun was born right then. Mida Tsun is missing a part of his soul… Zattsu Tsun didn’t corrupt their souls, so they should receive the same punishment as the branch house members.」


Yamiel Tsun remained seated, but bowed her head low with her forehead touching the ground.


「Hence, since you are forgiving the branch house members, I hope you can show mercy to these three… Only the souls of the rest of us are rotten.」


「What are you saying!? That’s too strange!」


Zwei Tsun wasn’t tied up as she was still young, and she kept jumping like a spring-loaded doll.


Ludo Wu who was supposed to watch them blocked her way, and grabbed the Zwei Tsun’s collar.


「Hey brat, don’t move.」


「Shut up! Yamiel worries about the Tsun clan’s future the most! Why must she die!」


「This is the only way for the Tsun clan to redeem ourselves.」


Yamiel Tsun raised her head with a faint smile.


「I was born earlier than Diga and Doddo. That’s why I’m contaminated by more of Zattsu Tsun’s venom than them. My soul is already rotten beyond salvation.」


「This has nothing to do we the timing of our birth! Yamiel, you… you are our family!」


Tears sprung out from Zwei Tsun’s big eyes.


With Ludo Wu still grabbing her collar, she glared at her father and brothers.


「You are always the ones to commit crimes! Yamiel is only like this because you are so weak! What is so scary about our bedridden grandpa!? Why didn’t you use the precious copper plates properly!」


Zuro Tsun and the others had no words to defend themselves.


Even though they were facing their imminent demise, they still couldn’t accept reality and could only hang their head low in silence.


All the house heads were a little startled as they looked at each other.


After a brief moment, the head of the Zaza house finally said:


「It’s difficult for us to mete out punishment based on the severity of the crimes. In that case, it is only appropriate for us to punish all the main house and branch house members.」


「That would be too rash. We can’t take the lives of 40 people so lightly… Donda Wu, what are your thoughts about this?」


When he heard Dali Sauti’s question, Donda Wu turned silent for a while.


He then swept his gaze over all the Tsun clan members, and said in a heavy tone:


「… I had been interrogating the Tsun clan for their crimes since a decade ago. My father did the same two decades ago. But the kins of the Tsun clan, Zaza and Jean houses, kept defending the Tsun clan and ignored our advice… If not for their meddling, my father would have lopped off Zattsu Tsun’s head twenty years ago.」


The head of the Zaza house bit his lips in regret.


「I have nothing to say about that now… But what has that got to do with this matter?」


「It is difficult for the Tsun clan to redeem themselves. Especially the despicable eldest and second son. However, who are the ones that allowed the tribal chief clan to fall into such depravity? Be it the Zaza clan defending them, the Wu clan failing to prosecute them— or the minor houses being too powerless to do anything about this, we are all responsible, correct?」


Donda Wu’s eyes burned with quiet passion for the first time.


「Aside from the former clan head Zattsu Tsun and the current clan head Zuro Tsun, I want to give a chance to the rest of the Tsun clan.」


「A chance?」


「Yes. The last chance to live properly as a denizen of Forest's Edge… Assuming they have the resolve to do so.」






We sat in a spot where we could see the Ceremonial Hall and chatted mindlessly as we staved off the urge to sleep.


「I might be wrong about Donda Wu. I thought he was inflexible and stubborn, just like the head of the Zaza house.」


As for the conclusion made by Donda Wu:


The Wu clan and powerful houses such as the Zaza will take in the members of the Tsun clan’s main house and treat them as family.


And of course, it wasn’t a simple matter of letting them marry in. They had to discard their Tsun family name, break off ties with their family, and start to work from the lowest rung of the household.


The members of the Tsun clan who were deemed as reformed would receive the family name of the house they were assigned to.


If they weren’t acknowledged, they wouldn’t even have the chance to leave behind offsprings, and could only wait for their death.


Despite the harsh conditions set by Donda Wu, this was an unprecedented route to redemption in Forest's Edge.


Not just the Zaza and Sauti house, all the house heads couldn’t hide their complicated feelings. In the end, they accepted Donda Wu’s proposal.


「Donda Wu isn’t a person who placed too much emphasis on rules and customs. In fact, he is the type who will do all he can to match his feelings with the rules.」


Ai Fa narrowed her eyes as if she felt the sun was too bright as she answered. Or maybe she was just getting drowsy.


「But after such a huge uproar in Forest's Edge, it’s really surprising how it was all resolved without bloodshed.」


「That’s right, it’s a load off my mind.」


It had not been decided where each of the Tsun clan members were to head. The Dom house already decided to take in the dangerous pair, Diga Tsun and Doddo Tsun. Amongst the northern houses, the Dom house was exceptionally fierce and strong, so these two would definitely participate in hunting as part of the Dom house.


「This isn’t different from a death sentence for those retards.」


I had no answer after hearing Ludo Wu’s quiet words. However, this was much better than being scalped or cutting off their right arms.


I was so agitated that I wanted to kill them last night, but now that Ai Fa was safe, I didn’t wish for them to die.


However, I sincerely hoped that I would never see them again.


「Which house will Mida Tsun and Yamiel Tsun join? Only houses that are powerful enough can take them in.」


「Who knows, maybe they will join the Wu clan?」


「Huh?」


I turned my head in a puzzled way when I heard Ai Fa’s unhappy voice. She was looking at me coldly with narrowed eyes.


「… Asuta, just how many naked bodies of girls do you want to see?」


「Ehh? That’s what you are concerned about!? There’s nothing good about bloodied naked bodies!」


「So it will be good if there is no blood?」


「That’s not what I mean! What if other people hear you!? You are the only one I have seen naked!」


She elbowed my temple.


At this moment, a bulky figure approached us.


「What are you doing? I think I heard something about nakedness?」


「That hurts… No, it’s nothing. What’s the matter, Dali Sauti?」


「No, I’m just taking a break. There’re piles of things for me to do before I can return to the Sauti village.」


Indeed, there were many tasks.


Deciding where the Tsun clan main house members would go.


Choosing what to do about the branch house members.


Taking care of the food store filled with fruits and vegetables from the forest.


Inspecting the condition of the forest that had been ravaged.


And — the sentencing of Zattsu Tsun and Zuro Tsun.


「We won’t punish them right away. We will need to figure out how Zuro Tsun communicated with Genos. As for Zattsu Tsun— no matter what happens, he only has a few months left.」


「I see…」


The denizens of Forest's Edge stripped the Tsun clan of their authority as tribal chief, and the three clans had taken over this position.


How would Genos react after learning this?


The new tribal chiefs were different from the Tsun clan by being proud denizens of Forest's Edge. Could they maintain this correct relationship with the authorities of Genos?


They had new challenges awaiting them too.


「Regarding that thing I mentioned, I will be counting on you.」


「Okay. The people in Rock city went as far as to twist the laws to cover up for the denizens of Forest's Edge, how retarded. Just thinking about the way the people in the Post Station Town had been looking at us leaves a bad taste in my mouth.」


Dali Sauti hit his palm with his fist.


「Assaulting travelers, abducting women and robbing crops— did the Tsun clan really commit these crimes?」


「I’m not sure. The branch house members were probably powerless to commit such atrocities. The main house members are now restricted, so if such rumors don’t appear in the future, that means these all were the doings of the Tsun clan.」


「If the rumors are true, then the punishment of the eldest and second son will be too light… Never mind, becoming a Dom house member is already a heavy sentence.」


Just how harsh was the Dom house?


They were quieter than the Zaza and Jean houses, and the kiba skull worn by the Dom house head was also exceptionally scary.


「As for the branch house member Tay Tsun, I will suggest letting the Dom house take him in too.」


「Ehh? Really?」


「Yes. Since he had no other family, he was living with the main house. In that case, we should treat him in the same way as the main house members… I heard he is the father of Aura Tsun, the wife of the clan head.」


I was dumbstruck.


That meant Tay Tsun was the father-in-law of Zuro Tsun and grandfather to Zwei Tsun.


The main house members were actually ordering someone like that around.


Even after everything had ended, I still felt as if I was staring into the abyss.


「… Even so, it is a kind of bliss for him that he can hunt again at the tail end of his life. The eldest and second son never had the pride of being a hunter before. But Tay Tsun must have lived as a hunter in the past.」


That’s right. He was already older than 50 and probably devoted himself to hunting kiba during his youth.


But the Tsun clan robbed his glory as a hunter from him— what a tragedy.


What kind of feelings did he harbor as he followed the instructions of Diga Tsun and the others? Before his eyes turned dead, what kind of person was he?


I felt a pain in my chest as I thought about all that.


「Donda Wu must have considered that when he announced his wish to give those guys a final chance. It’s vexing, but the leadership of the Zaza house head and me couldn’t match that of Donda Wu.」


Dali Sauti turned.


「To avoid making the same mistake and repeating this tragedy, we have to show a correct path for the denizens of Forest's Edge… Asuta and Ai Fa of the Fa house, let us meet again.」


「Alright, see you.」


I bade farewell to him, but Ai Fa remained silent.


Speaking of which, she had been quiet since just now. As I was about to turn my head, Ai Fa’s head bumped onto my right shoulder.


She seemed to have dozed off while Dali Sauti was talking with me.


Never mind, it couldn’t be helped. She only slept for two or three hours last night. Adding the commotion that happened after that, everyone was exhausted.


Despite that, we still need to finish our own jobs.


Starting tomorrow, we will continue opening shop in the Post Station Town.


I still needed to prepare the ingredients later.


My body wouldn’t be able to take it if I didn’t rest properly. With that in mind, I leaned onto Ai Fa and closed my heavy eyelids.
Mid-meal Snack - Silver Vase


A caravan galloped through the wilderness, heading into the west from the east.


The group had five carriages, with two Totos pulling each one. Dark-skinned people of the Eastern Kingdom Semu sat on the driver seats of these carriages, with their hands on the reins.


They were members of the 《Silver Vase》 merchant group.


The young band leader Shumimaru Jiz Sadumutino sat in the cargo compartment of the first carriage and watched the scenery outside the window quietly.


The sun was about to set.


Light from the evening sun was red, illuminating the uninhabited border’s barren lands.


The dried grounds were cracked and the vegetation was withered. The grace of nature couldn’t be expected here. If one continued to go south, an even more barren and hot desert zone awaited them. This was unclaimed barren land, and even the greedy people from rock cities had abandoned this place.


The caravan’s carriages traversed along sand filled paths that couldn’t really be called roads. People unfamiliar with the place would trip the Totos over stones that jut out of the ground or run the carriage into rocks and be stranded immediately.


But they were experienced travelers.


The 《Silver Vase》 would make an annual trek across this dangerous path and head for the western kingdom Selva.


There were basically two routes leading from Semu to Selva. One was through the borders of the northern kingdom Mahildra, the other was through the free barren lands through the south.


The northern route was well-paved, but bandits roamed there. Threats from humans were infrequent on the southern path, but nature itself was the biggest enemy. Both routes were similar in terms of danger, but ever since the 《Silver Vase》 was founded generations ago, this caravan has learned to compete with nature instead of bandits.


However, these barren lands weren’t completely devoid of bandits either.


It had been a long time since they last experienced that themselves.


「Shumimaru.」


The youth on the driver’s seat held onto the reins and said to him.


「Yes.」


Shumimaru leaned out.


Several dark figures with their backs to the half-sunken disk of flame were approaching them.


It was a group of bandits mounted on Totos.


There were about ten of them, and a few of them were wielding silver colored sabers.


As they came from the direction the 《Silver Vase》 was heading towards, Shumimaru’s group couldn’t escape. Besides, the Totos couldn’t shake off these bandits with its heavy load. Shumimaru pondered for a moment and instructed his comrades to stop the carriages.


「Ohh? You guys are sensible merchants. If you stay there obediently, we won’t take your lives.」


The bandits spread out and surrounded the five carriages.


A man with an incredibly bulky figure trotted away with a saber in hand.


He was a citizen of the west with curly brown hair.


He wore a coat that was a little dirty, had a sash around his waist, and hung a pouch and bottle from his leather belt. His Totos was controlled nimbly, suggesting that he might be ex-mercenary.


Shumimaru stood up from the side of the driver’s seat, facing the man who appeared to be the boss of the bandits.


「You, north, from?」


「What? Do we look like Mahildra people? Do you people interact with that barbaric race?」


「I not, mean that. I know, you westerner. I want ask, you come, from north area.」


「What a weird fellow! Never mind, since you can speak the language of the west, you are probably a higher class of Semu!」


That man laughed, and despicable laughter of flattery came from the surroundings.


Shumimaru looked at them expressionlessly.


「You, skin red. So, I think, you just reach south. Westerner born south, skin yellow.」


「So what? Are you stalling for time? The guards won’t come to this forsaken land, it’s useless to drag for time, you know?」


「This zone, few bandits, attack Semu. We ten, you ten. Bandits normal, avoid us.」


「… Huh? What are you saying?」


「Need five, one Semu, to attack. Us, you, 50, need.」


「Uwah!」


At the moment Shumimaru declared that fact, the bandit boss suddenly fell over backward.


He collapsed just like that, and the Totos that lost its owner tilted its long neck in quizzically.


「B-Boss? What happened!?」


「What the hell did you do!?」


The rest of the bandits swung their weapons around.


Shumimaru remained unmoved and slowly continued:


「Semu, unarmed, are not.」


Three men fell from their Totos, as if they were competing who would fall faster.


Shumimaru’s companions were attacking with some type of blow dart.


The tip of the dart was covered with Banagiuzu, which had an anesthetic effect.


「Left 6. You, robbery, give up?」


Shumimaru asked quietly.


「All of you knock out, danger. If no rescue, night in borders, might die.」


Yet another man fell.


The remaining 5 guys shouted in a panic:


「T-They are shamans from Semu!」


「We will be cursed if we go near them!」


The easterners were proficient in using medicine and poison herbs, so the westerners and southerners feared them, and thought they were shaman or magicians. This group of westerners finally remembered such rumors.
「I kill, don’t wish. If robbery, give up, comrade take and leave.」


The remaining bandits looked as if they were about to flee, so Shumimaru told them that.


After being poisoned with Banagiuzu, they wouldn’t be able to move for half a day or so. If left alone, the five who fell would spend the night here defenseless.


「Hope, you live properly. Your god, your life, will protect.」


The pale-faced man started tending to their fallen comrades while staying wary of Shumimaru’s group.


They grabbed the reins of the riderless Totos and fled to the north.


「We go.」


On Shumimaru’s orders, the five carriages set off again.


His young companion turned to Shumimaru with his hands still on the reins:


「Westerners, many bandits. No live properly, why they?」


In order to learn the western language quickly, the members of 《Silver Vase》 refrained from speaking in their mother tongue as much as possible.


「They probably, job no find. So by robbing, make living.」


「West Kingdom, east kingdom, bigger than. But job, no find?」


「Yes, so always, they, for land, fight.」


Since ancient times, the Western Kingdom of Selva had been warring with the Northern Kingdom Mahildra for territory.


The Eastern Kingdom Semu and Southern Kingdom Jaguar still couldn’t build a cordial relationship. Shumimaru’s group lived in a plain far from the borders, so they weren’t too concerned with this fact. But these two nations were currently at war.


「… Time wasted. Hurry, go.」


They advanced towards the sun that was sinking towards the horizon and kept galloping in the wilderness.


They still had to journey for five days before they could reach the entrance to the Western Kingdom Selva— the border city Genos.






Shortly after the caravan repelled the bandits, dusk slowly shrouded the vicinity. The merchant group saw the light of a campfire in the darkness.


It was a huge bonfire. Although they would run into other travelers in this barren lands sometimes, a bonfire of this scale was unusual.


「What is that? A caravan from the west?」


Shumimaru didn’t answer his comrade’s question and stared into the darkness.


A large group of almost twenty people was preparing dinner.


「Please slow. Avoid, them, agitate.」


Shumimaru had doubts in his mind.


A short moment later, his doubts were proven right.


A man standing beside the bonfire lashed out in anger when he saw Shumimaru’s group:


「You group of easterners there, what are you doing in our village!」


That man had brown hair, green eyes, reddish-white skin and a stout build.


They were citizens of the southern country Jaguar.


When hearing the voice of that man, many figures gathered in the darkness, with spears taller than their height in hand.


「We,the caravan 《Silver Vase》, we, west city, Genos, going.」


This area was unregulated by nations. Citizens from any country could come and go without following the laws of any nations. Hence, when people from hostile nations like the Semu and Jaguar run into each other, it could become very dangerous.


Besides, there were a hundred-odd Jaguar people here. If a commotion arosed between the two sides, Shumimaru’s group wouldn’t be able to handle it with poison darts like before.


「You are a caravan? Hah! You travel through such problematic borders for the sake of business. I’m impressed by how far your greed drives you!」


The man who hollered in the beginning made no effort to hide his malice.


「This is our village! We will not let any easterners do as they please here! Go ask your black faced god, and decide if you will leave at once, or fight with us till the very end!」


「We, fight, not intend. We, just, go west, want.」


「Then stay away from our village! If you step within the bonfire, I will treat it as an invasion!」


Since this area was not under any country’s jurisdiction, they couldn’t threaten Shumimaru with that reason.


However, the people of Jaguar tended to be hot-blooded, and Shumimaru wasn’t willing to engage in foolish arguments with them. He stirred the Totos towards the north instead.


They made a large detour around the circular bonfire and headed westward. The men from Jaguar held on their spears and watched every move of Shumimaru’s group.


「Shumimaru, center of circle, several houses.」


His comrade muttered under his breath.


「Didn’t realize, here, erect village. Half a year, we pass this road, no village.」


「Yes, probably, this half year, built.」


「Why? Jaguar land, south of desert, further. This place, danger. Bandits, venom bugs, man-eating lizards… And barren land.」


「Yes. But here, water source. With time, can farm.」


As there was water around here, Shumimaru wanted to camp here.


「They, old place, exiled. So this place, new home.」


「Then our journey, arduous.」


Once they put up a wall, the Semu people would have a more difficult time traversing this region.


However, Shumimaru wasn’t too worried about it.


「Dangerous, if no wall, be erect. But impossible, not so strong, they be. We just, detour, need.」


It was extremely difficult to build a village with just one hundred-odd people. Shumimaru thought it was impossible for them to build a wall for their village. They would need the blessings of their gods just to make it through the day.


They must have chosen such a life because of some incident. Maybe the war between the east and the south caused them to lose their homes. With that in mind, maybe it was the will of Semu for Shumimaru’s group to meet them.


「We go far, no see bonfire, then stop. Then, at ease, both sides.」


They moved quietly with lit torches. As the place was barren, there wasn’t any place to hide. After the Totos ran for a while longer, the bonfire from the village was no longer visible.


「Around here. We camp.」


Shumimaru’s group stopped after reaching the shade of a boulder that jutted out like the lower jaw of a beast.


They untied the Totos, hammered steel pins into the ground, then tied ropes to these pins. The five carriages surrounded the campsite, and they built a fire in the middle. The ten members of the caravan did their assigned tasks and set up camp swiftly.


「We, no replenish water. Less water, use.」


After hearing what Shumimaru said, the companions in charge of dinner nodded.


They were scheduled to reach the next water source tomorrow afternoon. If they ran into any mishaps, their lives would be threatened. So it was the right call for Shumimaru to reduce water usage.


After putting rocks at the four corners of the campfire, they placed a giant pot on it.


They added an adequate amount of water and put three types of ingredients in.


Which were Gyama jerky, dried aria, and Minzu beans.


Gyama was a beast that dwelled in the Semu region.


Aria was a nutritious vegetable, grown not just in Semu, but Selva and Jaguar too.


Minzu was a bean grown in the grass plains of Semu.


People from Selva and Jaguar treated cereals such as fuwano and poitan as their staple food, but the main staple in the central region of Semu was Minzu beans. To avoid spoilage, the Minzu beans would be grilled. When someone wanted to eat them, the beans were to be added to boiling water, and doing this returned the Minzu beans back to their tender state. When Semu people camped outdoors, they would often cook this food with Chitto to make them spicy.


「Shumimaru, please enjoy.」


After the dinner was done and served onto plates, the first plate was offered to the band leader Shumimaru.


Shumimaru sat on a cushion and received the plate with thanks. He then scooped up the soup with his spoon.


It was a spicy bowl of soup, and the crushed Chitto fruit dyed the entire thing red.


The saltiness of the Gyama jerky gave the soup flavor. As they added less water today, the taste was heavier than usual.


After taking a bite of jerky, the strong taste of saltiness spread in his mouth.


When his tongue was tired, he would moisten his mouth with Gyama kumis in place of water.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumis>


After a hard day of work, he could feel all sort of nutrients being absorbed into his exhausted body.


As the soup ingredients were all food that was focused on preservation, this soup wasn’t delicious. The meat was as tough as roots, and fresh aria and Minzu beans would obviously be better than dried ones. If his body wasn’t craving for nutrients, he wouldn’t be able to eat this food.


『I hope the day we reach Genos will come sooner.』


Someone suddenly said that to him in their mother tongue.


It was the youngest member of the band. He had just joined the 《Silver Vase》 and still couldn’t speak in western.


『It’s tiring to eat such food for an entire month. I’m an easterner, but I’m starting to miss Kimyusu meat and Mamalia fruit wine.』


『Yes, I feel the same.』


After Shumimaru answered in mother tongue, the youth leaned forward.


『Although Genos is a prosperous city, the dishes sold in the shops are really crude. Do the restaurants in the castle town sell higher-grade food?』


『I don’t know. I had never dined in the castle town before.』


『The Post Station Town and castle town in Genos are like two different worlds. I don’t mind lodging in the Post Station Town, but can we buy some light meals in the castle town—』


『Hey.』


At this moment, another companion admonished him.


It was the vice band leader, Ladazjid Gi Nafasiaal.


『It’s fine to think whatever you like, but you are showing too many emotions. Be careful.』


『Really? I thought I’m already very careful.』


The youth slapped his own face with his palms.


Ladazjid shook his head quietly.


『Your face is expressionless, but you revealed your emotions through your words. Semu is always watching you.』


Easterners thought that showing one’s emotion was a shameful act.


The youth straightened his back and sat properly.


『We are going to Selva to obtain wealth. We need to bring the copper plates we earned back to Semu. Please avoid splurging. Dining in the castle town is not acceptable either.』


『Yes, I understand… But the food sold in the Post Station Town all taste so bland. They have a wide selection of meat and vegetables, but it feels as if something is missing.』


『The westerners are different from the easterners, they don’t use many spices in their food, and just add salt for seasoning. Of course, you will think their food tastes bland.』


Ladazjid raised the plate in his hand up high.


『Even if the food in the Post Station Town tastes bland, it will still be better than dried aria and Minzu soup. If you think their food is tasteless, you can add some Chitto fruit yourself.』


『You are right.』


The youth expressed his agreement.


Even they found the accumulated fatigue from their journey hard to bear. After setting off from Semu, they had to ride on Totos every day and could only reach Genos after two months.


After the first month passed, they could only travel in barren places that were sparsely populated. Hence, they couldn’t procure new stocks of food and could only eat the dry rations they brought along.


However, their tough journey should reach its end in another five days.


After reaching their first destination - Genos, they could travel between the cities, without need to camp outdoors. They would spend a few months touring the western lands and peddle the merchandise they brought from their homeland. That was how the 《Silver Vase》 led by Shumimaru lived.


One year later, they would return to their home nation, Semu.


The time they spent journeying was many folds that of the time spent in their home nation.


Many easterners of Semu lived such nomadic lives, especially the people from the plains. Many of them travelled alone or in groups to Selva or Mahildra, but not in caravans like Shumimaru’s company. These Semu people wouldn’t stay in one place and would keep drifting. Such a lifestyle did fit the people of the grass plains.


What kind of people will I meet during this journey?


Shumimaru thought to himself as he placed the empty plate back on the tray.


His comrades had also finished the humble rations before them.


『Alright then, let us rest. Those keeping watch, pay more attention to the east. Those Jaguar people might attack us.』


The band members spent this night peacefully, just like every other night before.






Four days later—


One day before reaching Genos, the barren landscape finally changed.


「Now we see, Morga Mountain.」


The companion holding the reins said with faint emotions in his voice.


At the edge of the west was a vast dark-green forest.


That was the secret realm with many legends and where no man roamed, the Morga Mountain.


Morga Mountain belonged to the western kingdom of Selva in name. But the citizens of Selva were forbidden from entering it. Ferocious beasts like Barb wolves, Madarama snakes and barbarians dwelled in the mountains. Legends said that if they tried to clear this mountain, the entire city would be destroyed.


The only exception was the human settlement in the forest at the foot of the mountain.


They were the denizens of Forest's Edge… This tribe abandoned Jaguar and converted to the western god Selva. They were the 『Untamed people』— the hunters of Forest's Edge.


The denizens of Forest's Edge were filled with mysteries too.


They were said to be the mixed blood of Semu and Jaguar in ancient times, but that was a baseless legend. They once dwelled in the nameless 『dark jungle』 of Jaguar and cut themselves off from the outside world. Back then, they hunted the vicious man-eating apes and travelled in the jungles while wearing the hides of those apes, a barbaric race of unknown origin.


Four scores ago, the flames of war spread to the 『dark jungle』 and they lost their homes.


They were unwilling to stay in Jaguar as frontiersmen, so their entire tribe migrated to the foot of the Morga Mountain. They willingly changed the god they worshiped and moved to the land in the west.


The denizens of Forest's Edge didn’t seem to consider themselves as part of the four nations. Their god was the forest. Hence, they had no qualms in deserting the southern gods and adopting the western one.


The people feared the denizens of Forest's Edge.


And the denizens of Forest's Edge were indeed fearsome.


They lived at the foot of the Morga Mountain and hunted kiba, which was seen as a sign of disaster in the past. They showed their terrifying prowess to the people in the city.


They ate kiba meat and peddled kiba tusks, horns, and pelt in exchange for provisions. The people from the city actually believed that the denizens of Forest's Edge absorbed the powers of the ferocious kiba and made themselves more violent and strong.


The members of the 《Silver Vase》 could now see the legend-filled Morga Mountain appear in the west.


The Genos city lay to the west of Morga Mountain.


They just needed another day and a half to traverse the southern edge of the mountains, and they would finally reach civilized lands for the first time in a month.


「Please be careful, keep guard up.」


「Yes.」


As they followed the unpaved road forward, their surroundings gradually turned into yellowish rocky grounds. It wasn’t clear if this was just their imagination, but the air also seemed more humid.


The Totos had run for half a day, and the sun was starting to set when the majestic view of the Morga Mountain appeared before them.


And now, we just needed to have a good rest, set off on the Totos the next morning, and we would reach Genos before dusk tomorrow - Shumimaru thought as he signaled for the other carriages to stop.


At this moment, one of 《Silver Vase》 members jumped off a carriage and walked towards Shumimaru.


「Shumimaru, stars shifted.」


He was the oldest member of the caravan and had been a part of the 《Silver Vase》 since the time of Shumimaru’s father.


He was an excellent astrologer.


「Stars, where, move ?」


「Red stars of calamity, block our way. Disaster beckons tonight.」


The astrologer raised his right arm as he muttered quietly.


He pointed his bony finger towards the dark forest.


「Disaster from north, strike. Famished fangs, crimson rage, danger.」


「Famished fangs… kiba, attack?」


It was said that the hungry kiba would often leave the forest and attack the farms in Genos. Even the brave hunters of Forest's Edge couldn’t eradicate all the kiba inside the vast forest at the foot of the mountain.


But they had never heard of kiba attacking travelers. Compared to meat, kiba preferred fruits and vegetables. It was also their nature to shun humans.


「Don’t know. But Morga Mountain is north, danger.」


Shumimaru’s caravan was on their way through the south of the Morga Mountain, so the dense forest was naturally to their north. Since this place was treacherous, they could only choose either to strive forth or retreat.


「I see. Go south, farm village. Danger there?」


「Danger. No refuge in south.」


The entire world was basking in the setting sun.


Be it advance or retreat, night would fall during their travel. Although they were proficient in driving Totos, it was still too dangerous to force march in the night.


「Understand, we—」


Before Shumimaru could finish, a terrifying howl came from the north.


It was a low howl of a beast from afar.


The same howl echoed from other directions, as if they were answering each other.


The howl was fierce, as if they were the cheers of evil gods that had been liberated after being sealed for centuries.


「Kiba howling. I heard this, twenty years ago.」


With those words, that comrade returned to his carriage.


They had no time to hesitate. Shumimaru instructed his companions to continue their advance.


At this instant, an ugly beast charged out from the shadows of the boulders to the north.


「Pew!」


His comrade quickly shot a poisoned dart. The beast let out a muffled grunt and collapsed on the rocks.


It had a round body, slender legs, large diamond-shaped ears and a flat snort— short light yellow fur covered its ugly body. It was about the size of a human child.


It wasn’t a kiba, but Munto that preyed on rotten meat.


Munto would forage for rotten meat in the forest and was one of the dangerous beasts that dwelled in the foot of the Morga Mountain.


Did the kiba’s howl spooked the Munto and sent them running from the forest?


As he was wondering about that, about half a dozen figures leaped out from the boulders. Their crimson eyes shone as they stood opposite the setting sun.


『Advance!』


Shumimaru shouted as he snatched the whip from his companions and hit the Totos’ waist.


Munto normally feasted on rotten meat and only attacked the living when they were famished. In a sense, they were as dangerous as kiba. As the Munto’s legs were not as developed as kiba’s, they couldn’t sprint like them. Even a Totos laden with cargo could shake them off.


「Totos driver, switch. Prepare fire.」


Shumimaru took the reins from his comrade who asked:


「Prepare fire?」


「Yes, fire. Put up, two torches. Totos will keep going, until danger gone.」


『The sun is setting soon.』


His companion was too tense to speak in western and spoke in his mother tongue as he retreated to the carriage.


「So, torches, we need. Tell others.」


If the astrologer of 《Silver Vase》 was right, they were in danger until reaching the west side of the Morga Mountain. Instead of setting up camp and worrying about attacks from kiba and Munto, it was safer to continue traveling on their Totos.


Such situations will happen on a journey.


Shumimaru’s group had experienced something even more terrible in the past. Hence, when he swung his whip at the Totos, his heart was filled with hope, not despair.




The next morning… In the end, Shumimaru’s group traversed the southern end of the Morga Mountain the entire night.


They entered the territory of Genos after passing through the foot of the Morga Mountain and reached the stone-paved road. This wide road built from stone meandered through the world from north to south.


To their left were the bountiful farmlands, and to the right was the Morga Mountain’s range. They looked up at the majestic mountains and proceeded north, and rows of wooden buildings appeared on both sides of the road. This was the Genos city’s Post Station Town.


The sun rose slowly, and the Post Station Town welcomed Shumimaru’s group just like during their previous visit


「Everyone, safe? 」


Shumimaru got off the driver’s seat at the entrance of the city, then turned towards his comrades. One companion got off each of the four carriages, and all of them were clearly exhausted, but calm. One especially tall member— the vice band leader Ladazjid asked:


「We reach, early half day. What do?」


「For inn, head. When prepare ready, shop tomorrow, open . Today rest.」


The Post Station Town forbade Totos from running within its boundaries. Shumimaru and the rest stepped inside Genos with their reins in hand.


There was still some time before noon, and people on the streets were sparse. But few inns were already open. Women with baskets of dirty laundry and men doing door-to-door sales could be seen too.


The peaceful scene before them made the previous night’s panic feel like a dream.


Genos was very far from the enemy nation Mahildra. Hence, life in this city was prosperous and they never had any large-scale conflicts. There were even strong-looking guards protecting this city. Genos was one of the richest city in the region, so defense against banditry was a major concern.


The outskirts of the Post Station Town and the farming village nearby weren’t covered by walls but were patrolled by guards around the clock. Although Genos was the border city furthest from the western capital, it was an important trading hub.


This placed used to be shunned.


Two centuries ago, this zone was still part of the unclaimed territory. Back then, there were just a few hundred westerners planting aria and poitan in their farms and barely scraping through.


However, there was a large river flowing from the Morga Mountain hidden here. When the locals discovered its existence, frontiersmen from other regions were despatched here. And before long, the Genos city was founded.


After that, the road in this area became paved, and a large swath of farmlands was developed to the north and south of the Genos city, which drew in people from everywhere. A hundred-odd years later, this giant city that didn’t feel like it belonged to the borders was built.


Another hundred years later, Genos became a crucial trading hub.
And now, many merchants from Semu and Jaguar visited this place, making this city even more prosperous and lively. As the Semu and Jaguar people were forbidden from causing any trouble within the western realm, this city became one of the places where citizens from both nations could cohabit peacefully.


Hence, Shumimaru liked Genos.


Shumimaru’s group came from the grass plains where people didn’t compete with each other, so they felt at ease in this place.


Even when Shumimaru’s group from the east walked on the streets, no one would cast strange gazes upon them. Even when encountering Jaguar people, their interaction wouldn’t escalate past an unfriendly glare.


「Shumimaru.」


Someone diagonally behind him called out.


He turned and found Ladazjid looking another way.


Following his gaze, Shumimaru saw three figures coming out from the alley to the east.


They were three women with brown hair and light dark skin. Clothes with swirly patterns covered their soft bodies, and all three wore translucent shawls. They were women from the Forest's Edge.


The older one was leading two younger girls.


These denizens from the Morga Mountain had quiet and determined expressions. There was nothing unusual with their appearance, but there was an almost feral air about them.


The people in town weren’t bothered by Shumimaru’s group, but they were visibly tense when they saw the three women. Compared to foreigners like Shumimaru, the denizens of Forest's Edge residing in the west looked more out-of-place, be it the hunters or the women.


The Forest's Edge women went off to the north briskly.


Probably, they were here to buy ingredients from the food stalls. Genos prohibited the denizens of Forest's Edge from plucking fruits and vegetables from the forest, so they had to make frequent trips to the Post Station Town and trade in tusks, horns, and hides for food.


However, Shumimaru’s group didn’t make any effort to avoid the denizens of Forest's Edge.


The westerners treated the denizens of Forest's Edge as unfathomable aliens, while the southerners thought of them as traitors who abandoned the southern god. But the easterners had no reason to avoid the denizens of Forest's Edge. The easterners treated the grass plains, mountain ranges, and the sky as gods, so they weren’t surprised to see the denizens of Forest's Edge revere the forest as a god.


In order to continue doing business in Genos, I shouldn’t approach them lightly.


Shumimaru thought to himself as he headed down an alley leading to the west.


He continued based on his memories and saw a familiar signboard.


The 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 was an inn that wasn’t too large, and Shumimaru’s group lodged there periodically.


「Boss, long time never see.」


「Ah, it’s the guests from the 《Silver Vase》… So it is already the season for you to visit.」


The innkeeper made a gesture with his fingers, which was the way Semu people greeted each other. The innkeeper’s name was Neil, and he was a strange man. Despite being a westerner, he was passionate about the culture of the east.


「There would be ten guests this time too, correct? How long will you be staying?」


「We, until blue month end, stay. Vacant rooms, any?」


「A large group just left this morning, I will prepare two large rooms for you.」


「Thank you. Cargo, put here?」


「Yes, this way please.」


Ushered by Neil, they left the inn and moved to the back of the building. There was a large warehouse which was locked. It wasn’t large for an inn, but for the 《Silver Vase》 ladened with luggage, this was a convenient store.


Shumimaru let the Totos pull the five carriages into the warehouse, then turned to his comrades.


『Before we rest, we need to prepare for the shop opening tomorrow. Ladazjid, apply for a sales permit in the marketplace, and check if the entry pass into the castle town is still valid.』


For the sake of the 《Silver Vase》 members who were still unfamiliar with western tongue, Shumimaru instructed in their mother tongue:


『Deposit the Totos into the stables on the way there. Five people will accompany Ladazjid, the other three will sort the merchandise with me.』


『Understood.』


Ladazjid’s group of six brought the ten Totos out of the warehouse.


Shumimaru and three others stayed behind to sort the wares they would be peddling in the castle town and the Post Station Town.


Five carriages full of merchandise was a huge amount. The goods were already sorted according to carriages, but they still needed to spend some effort to tidy up the wares. Their stamina was at their limits.


「Shumimaru, kitchen knife, castle town?」


「Yes. We, Semu knife, in Post Station Town, no sell.」


Semu steel was precious, and the knife was expensive. Even though life in Genos was prosperous, there was an enormous gulf between the Post Station Town and castle town. It was the same for accessories, they would sell the silver adornments in the castle town and peddle the horns of Gyama and stone accessories in the Post Station Town.


It’s almost done…


A moment later, Shumimaru exited the warehouse after finishing the categorization with his companions. They closed the heavy doors and locked it with a pad.


No one would think that the goods to be sold in the castle town would be stored in a warehouse within the Post Station Town. But they were still worried about thieves and set a trap with poison herbs. If anyone were to touch the wares without permission, they would be poisoned by Banagiuzu and sleep for half a day.


Shumimaru was satisfied with his work and returned to the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》.


The innkeeper was already back on the counter, and he intentionally kept a poker face as he nodded at the Semu men.


「Thank you for your hard work. Are you heading to your room to rest?」


「Yes. But before rest, business first.」


Shumimaru made a gesture, and a comrade placed a large bundle on the counter.


Neil smiled, but realized it and showed a poker face. He seemed to practice the Semu way of concealing one’s emotion in real life too.


「I promised, castle noble, sell much food. So this is few, sorry.」


「Not at all, this amount is good enough.」


Inside the bundle was Semu ingredients such as Chitto fruit.


And now, Shumimaru’s group could taste Semu-styled dinner in the inn too.


Although the quality and quantity weren’t satisfactory, Neil was still very pleased. After all, such expensive spices and foodstuff wouldn’t sell in the Post Station Town.


The Post Station Town had a wide selection of meat and vegetables, so the citizens didn’t really crave delicious food. Compared to the other cities, the food culture was plentiful enough. But easterners preferred stronger seasoning and were a little unhappy with the plain taste of the food in Genos.


However, they brought this merchandise all the way from Semu and had no intentions of lowering the price. The Jaguar merchants felt the same way too. So both parties would sell all the expensive ingredients in the castle town.


The residents of the Post Station Town live a prosperous life. No other city in the border region could afford for the normal citizenry to eat Karon and Kimyusu as they wished… And the nobles living beyond these rock walls are living a luxurious life that the residents of the Post Station Town can’t even imagine.


According to the laws, the residents of the Post Station Town couldn’t step into the castle town. Hence, they didn’t know how lavished the life of the nobles was due to the resident’s effort.


On the other hand, after Shumimaru got acquainted with a Genos noble by chance, he obtained an entry pass that granted him access to the castle town. It was the most basic of entry passes, so he could only enter the castle town during the day and couldn’t spend the night there. However, he had a good grasp about the life within the rock walls.


It’s impossible for a Semu city to have such incredible disparity in wealth. Furthermore, the denizens of Forest's Edge that the people in the city fear as barbarians are also living here. It will be hard to find another city as abnormal in the west.


Shumimaru liked Genos. Therefore, the strange atmosphere and customs in this city worried him.


This city was a little twisted.


Would it be corrected? Could this city provide equality to everyone in their pursuit of happiness? His heart was filled with such worries.


I’m just a foreigner, there’s no point in thinking about such things…


When Shumimaru’s train of thought reached this point, someone opened the door of the inn strongly.


He turned and saw the six comrades who went out to the city standing at the entrance.


『What’s the matter? Your movements are too unrefined.』


When he saw his young companion standing before him, Shumimaru admonished him in their mother tongue.


『I beg your pardon.』


The youth apologized, then approached Shumimaru.


His face was calm, but his eyes showed the light of excitement.


Ladazjid and the others appeared shaken too.


『Is something wrong? Could it be… The entry pass is invalid?』


《Silver Vase》 possessed an entry pass issued in the name of a noble. If that noble lost his standing, the pass would be invalidated.


『There are no problems with the entry pass.』


The youth shook his head.


『In that case, why is Ladazjid also so flustered? This is not like you at all.』


『I looked flustered? I’m ashamed.』


It was a very subtle change, so the westerners definitely couldn’t tell the difference. But Shumimaru was their comrade, so they couldn’t hide it from him. Their expressions were calm, but they were obviously flustered.


『To be honest, we ate a surprising dish.』


The youth said.


『I never imagined that I would taste such food in the Post Station Town of Genos.』


『Did you try the dish from a food stall? I’m looking forward to that. I’m so exhausted from last night that I still can’t eat anything now.』


Shumimaru answered in a little surprised tone, and the youth shook his head again.


『Do try it tomorrow. It is an incredible dish. And they used kiba meat as an ingredient.』


『Kiba meat? Only denizens of the Forest's Edge will eat that, correct?』


『Yes. The stall owners are from the Forest's Edge… However, one of them is a westerner in Forest's Edge garment.』


That made Shumimaru dumbfounded.


A westerner in Forest's Edge clothings made food from kiba meat and was selling it in a stall inside Genos— that was unbelievable.


『… If what you say is true, I will want to try it.』


『Yes, please do. You can then understand our surprise.』


Shumimaru watched his companions in silence and felt a stir in his chest.


Maybe Shumimaru felt that way because either the god of the east or west was sending a premonition of the revolution that was coming.


Volume 6 End

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