Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 7 Chapter 4, Epilogue & Mid Meal Snack

Commotion in the Post Station Town


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Ratorasepo
1

「Ai Fa, don’t be so worked up.」

The next day, when we were heading to the Post Station Town, Ludo Wu said that to Ai Fa.

「You can’t just leave Asuta and play tag with Tay Tsun. If Asuta gets bitten by a Gizu and becomes sick and bedridden, he won’t be able to cook. He might even die of the infection, which will be way worse.」


Similar to yesterday, there were eight of us, four stall attendants and four escorts, heading to the Post Station Town.


As we traveled down the gentle slope, Ai Fa looked peeved and remained quiet.

「Dad and Jiza-nii didn’t complain either. They just told me to apprehend Tay Tsun when he shows up. It’s useless for him to use the fruits that attract kiba in the Post Station Town, and we can win easily with our numbers.」


And of course, we told everything that happened last night to our fellow tribe mates of Forest's Edge. The men from the Dom house even searched the forest in the night, but couldn’t find any traces of Tay Tsun.

「Anyway, don’t worry about it. We will catch him and won’t let him harm the women of Forest's Edge or hurt the residents of Post Station Town. He is alone, there is nothing to fear.」

Ludo Wu who was leading the way continued in a relaxed tone:

「If he tosses his blade aside obediently, we will let him taste Asuta’s cooking. He shouldn’t have any complaints then. I won’t care even if he wants to grumble anyway… Ai Fa, stop being so depressed.」

「… I’m not depressed.」

Ai Fa couldn’t bear it anymore and pouted.


The next instant, Rau Lei who was on the other end flanking the women reacted:

「What’s with your face? So you make such an expression too, you look just like a kid.」

Ai Fa immediately showed her cat-like face and looked at Rau Lei with dangerous eyes.

「All these expressions suit you just fine. On a closer look, you really are a beauty. If you weren’t a hunter, I would want to marry you.」

「Stop that, Rau Lei. You go too wild sometimes.」


I interjected frantically, but Rau Lei just tilted his head quizzingly.


「But why? The Lei house doesn’t have the custom of being too formal with friends. I said that because I really thought about marrying her.」

「But…」

「Don’t worry, I can’t marry a hunter. As the clan head, I have to leave behind many scions. If she wants to marry into my house, she will have to give up hunting.」

「Ai Fa didn’t say she wants to marry you anyway!」

Ludo Wu retorted with a smile, and the subject was dropped. Despite the dangerous situation, the men of Forest's Edge still took it easy. Could I put down the load in my heart after seeing their casual attitude? To be honest, I felt uneasy about this since last night.

That man… just what kind of person is Tay Tsun?
After losing his family, this branch house member of the Tsun clan moved into the Tsun clan main house.


He was Aura’s father and Zwei’s grandfather.

He served under Yamiel Lei, Diga and the others, obeyed their orders, and took care of menial chores.
And… he was the aide of the former clan head Zattsu Tsun.


I have reviewed his case file numerous times but still couldn’t get a grip on his character.


Only two things helped me analyze his personality. The first, he 「might」 have disobeyed Diga’s orders and saved Ai Fa. The second, he put down his blade without hesitation before Dan Lutim.

… He wants someone to destroy him.
Yamiel Lei’s words echoed in my mind.

Yamiel Lei felt the same way in the past.

Even so, she still chose to live on as a member of the Lei house. If Tay Tsun could ignore Zattsu Tsun, he might have forged a new life as a member of the Dom house.

But he preferred to follow Zattsu Tsun and left. Diga and Doddo fled, but Tay Tsun stayed with Zattsu Tsun. He then assisted Zattsu Tsun in committing his final crime.


Was this part of his plan to seek destruction? Did Tay Tsun choose this path, so he could witness Zattsu Tsun’s end and follow him? Was that it?

「… Halt.」

Rau Lei suddenly raised his hand and stopped the group.


The paths at the edge of the forest were filled with greenery, and these narrow paths were made to link the Post Station Town to the Forest's Edge settlement.


These dirt paths were just two to three meters wide and meandered greatly. Dense and short trees flanked the path. Visibility was poor because of the thick vegetation. But we would be able to hear the noise of the Post Station Town if we proceed a little farther.

「What’s the matter? I don’t sense any movements.」

「The woods beside us are quiet… But isn’t the city noisier than usual?」


I couldn’t hear anything. Vena Wu and the other women also tilted their head confusedly.


The hunters nodded.

「Now that you mention it, this sounds like a large group of people quarreling.」

「Did Tay Tsun fail to hide himself and get caught?」

「I will go take a look.」

The rear guard Shin Wu ran down the path. He sprinted back less than a minute later.

「A large number of Post Station Town residents are gathered at the borders of the city and the forest. Also, I noticed plenty of guards, but they showed no intentions of coming up.」

「How many are there?」

「More than ten guards and about a hundred residents.」


Just what was happening here?


The most probable situation would be Tay Tsun getting arrested, and the crowd was here just to see the show.

「We won’t be able to enter the town like this. What should we do, Asuta?」

「Hmm… Why don’t Ai Fa and I go take a look? If it is just the two of us, it won’t agitate those residents.」


Besides, if Tay Tsun really got arrested, we had to talk to him before he gets brought into Genos castle.

「That’s true. If things look bad, run back here immediately. We can then just relax and wait for them to disperse.」

「Understood.」

Ai Fa nodded.

We walked down the path Shin Wu took earlier.

After walking down the meandering road for 30 seconds, we saw the scene described by Shin Wu. As we were on higher ground, we could see the entire place.


A row of wooden houses appeared before us, and there was an empty space behind it. More than a hundred people were gathered there, and they had blockaded the end of this road.


Speaking of which, when Zattsu Tsun was on the run, two guards started standing sentry here. Their numbers had now increased to ten.

And… several Post Station Town residents were obviously arguing with the guards.

「… Looks like they haven’t caught Tay Tsun.」

「Yes. Could it be that we are the reason behind this commotion?」

That could be possible.

Since this had nothing to do with Tay Tsun, we had to think about it from this angle.

「What should we do. It’s not a good time for us to enter the town, right?」

「But we still don’t understand the situation, we can’t turn back so easily. Whether we enter the town or not, Tay Tsun will be there as promised.」

There was a stern light in Ai Fa’s eyes.

「We should speak to the guards. If they want us to go back to the settlement, there’s nothing we can do either. No matter what, we have to figure out what is going on before deciding the next step… But if that crowd attacks us, we will go back to the settlement right away.」

「Understood.」

And so, Ai Fa and I watched both sides of the road as we cautiously moved forth.

When the vegetation got less dense and they were able to see us, the chattering turned into angry shouts.

「Uwaahhh…」 The noise came like a flood.

Ai Fa stopped for a while, but when she saw the guards armed with spears forming a human wall and that the people from town showed no intention of charging us, she walked forward again.

As we got nearer, I gradually made sense of their shouts.

I could only understand two of their sentences. Some roared:「Get lost!」, and others shouted:「Don’t go back!」

「Listen up, stop that noise! Inciting a disorder in the city is a serious crime! Do you want to be exiled from Genos!」

I could finally make out what the guards were shouting.

「Stop joking with me! If you think you can exile us, give it a try!」

「The salary of you, guards, is paid by us too!」

「If you are guards, arrest the criminals!」

「Who are the criminals!? The criminals already got caught yesterday!」


A large horde tried to squeeze in front of the guards. There were also residents who stayed behind and were pushing against each other.


The pushing ones were mostly westerners and southerners. The westerners with ivory or yellowish-brown skin and the southerners with snow-white skin were all red in the face, and they grabbed onto each other’s chest and yelled. Those two weren’t the only ones at odds, some westerners were also glaring at each other.


The tall and slender dark-skinned easterners surrounded them, standing quietly in place. Their numbers were substantial too.


Some of the westerners argued with the easterners, but the easterners didn’t raise their voice or get physical with the other party, and just replied in a normal voice.

「The denizens of Forest's Edge hate the people of Genos! We can’t let those dangerous people enter Genos!」

「Don’t talk nonsense! They didn’t commit any crimes!」

「That’s right! Do the citizens of the west like to slander innocent people!?」

「Shut up! Outsiders can just shut their trap!」

「If you have a problem with this, get out of Genos!」
「Hah! You want to bar us from Genos? Then what is the reason for the existence of this Post Station Town!? If you hate foreigners so much, just build a wall!」


We stopped about 7 to 8 meters away from them.


Their emotions were boiling in this cool and refreshing morning.


「All the denizens of Forest's Edge are our enemies!」

「Are you retarded? Are you going to hunt the kiba!?」

「You are from Genos too, why are you defending them!?」

「The denizens of Forest's Edge are citizens of Genos too! We are all children of the western god Selva! Those who slander them are the unforgivable traitors!」

「Stop being so rowdy! Leave right now! Or I will arrest you all!」

「Go ahead and try!」


We didn’t need to ask what was going on. The faction supporting Forest's Edge and the faction against Forest's Edge were arguing nonstop.


All the southerners supported Forest's Edge. Most of the westerners were against Forest's Edge. However, there was a group of westerners who opposed this.

And it seemed that the crowd was growing with each passing second. The people who heard this uproar from the streets and buildings started walking over.

This commotion was getting out of hand.

I stood there in a daze, and Ai Fa had a sour face.


Should we proclaim our innocence?


Or should we turn back quietly?


No matter what we did, there was a risk that the commotion would intensify.

「… Asuta and his friends did nothing wrong! Why are you chasing them away!」


I heard the familiar voice of a girl between the shouts. That was Yumi. But I couldn’t see her.

「Enough already, let us eat our breakfast! I’m starving!」

Pops Balan shouted.

Shumimaru was probably watching this scuffle sadly with his hood pulled up.


… What should I do?
Normally, the best option would be to return to the Forest's Edge settlement.

The Genos people were forcing us to continue with our business, but if we did so under such circumstances, the relationship between the Post Station Town and us would fracture. We should retreat for now and then find a good chance to talk to the people in Genos castle in the future.


But if we didn’t make any explanation and just fled, the people supporting us would be outraged. What should we do…

「Enough already! What rights do you have to obstruct other people’s business!?」


At this moment… we heard this exceptionally loud roar that drowned out the other shouts.


That voice didn’t quiet everyone, but the first row of people right in the guards face all piped down and turned back.

「What did the denizens of Forest's Edge ever do to you!? Only those who had been harmed have the rights to complain! Everyone else can just shut up!」

「What are you saying!? Didn’t they attack the caravan yesterday?」

「They are not the assailants! The culprit has been apprehended! What else are you unhappy about!?」

Milano Mast was standing up for us.


He came out from the crowd, turned his back towards us, glared at the crowd, and roared even more loudly:

「Does the crime of one person mean the sin of an entire country!? You think there are no felons in Genos!? Are you ready to put your heads on the line for the crimes of someone else!?」

「Traitor! Those trying to shield the denizens of Forest's Edge should get out of Genos!」

「I’m not shielding anyone! I’m just lecturing the idiots who are trying to punish innocent people!」

「… Ai Fa, let’s go.」

I grabbed Ai Fa’s hand.

「We can’t let Milano Mast get targeted by the crowd. We will convince them.」

「I don’t plan to convince them.」

「Then just protect me. Maybe there will be people trying to beat me up.」

「… I will do that then.」

Ai Fa smiled fearlessly.

「Silence!」

When Ai Fa and I were about to go down the slope, a thunderous voice sliced through the heated air.


The roar was incredibly loud, and the hundred-odd people all held their breaths in surprise.

Donda Wu and Dan Lutim could probably do that. But the one who appeared before us was definitely from the Rock City.


Everyone started chattering again, but the atmosphere was completely different. The gathered crowd also parted like the Red sea in the ten commandments. Roughly ten soldiers walked slowly through this path towards us.


These soldiers were obviously on a different level from the Post Station Town guards. Their leather armor was white and elegant; they had a sheathed blade on their waist and held spears in their hands.

I had never seen anyone dressed so pompously in the Post Station Town before. They were also wearing steel helmets that covered their nose and cheeks. Their light armor had the emblem of the western kingdom on it, a short ceremonial cape and vambrace that covered their entire forearms. Some of them had leather helmets, but the joints were reinforced with steel. Their sword sheaths and boots were also decorated beautifully, and elegant warriors were an apt description for them.


The one in the middle of the group walked slowly to the front of the guards. He was exceptionally tall amongst the white and buff soldiers.

He must be the leader of the group. He had a steel helmet decorated with a plum that was like the crown of a cock. He was the only one wearing a long cape, not holding a spear, and having two swords tied to his waist. The button on his cape had a yellow stone that looked like amber. His white leather armor was adorned with elegant accessories.


「Guard captain, what is this commotion about?」
The man asked in a cold and stern voice. From the sound of his voice, the one who roared just now was him.
One of the guards blockading the road to the Forest's Edge panicked and hurried over to him.
「L-Lord Malfreed… Aren’t you the commander of the castle guards? What brings you here?」
<TL: メルフリード or Merufurīdo>


「… Guard captain, I am the one who is asking the questions.」
When he heard that, the slightly plump guard captain started shivering.
「T-The residents of the Post Station Town became fearful of the denizens of Forest's Edge after that episode yesterday. This commotion happened when they saw that the denizens of Forest's Edge were on their way to enter the town.」
While they were conversing, the residents all fell silent.
In this strangely empty space between the bustling city and the untamed forest, this group dressed in white didn’t belong to either side. They were most suited for the Rock City.
I didn’t know about the existence of the castle guards. But they were probably the true citizens of Rock City— the residents living inside the walled castle town of Genos.
「… An announcement was made two days ago, stating that the denizens of Forest's Edge won’t be barred from conducting their business in the Post Station Town. I don’t recall this announcement being canceled.」
The man known as Malfreed looked at Ai Fa and me.
As he was wearing a large helmet, I couldn’t make out his face clearly.
However, it was enough for me to realize one thing.
I glanced at Ai Fa beside me, and she frowned unhappily.

As expected… so that was the truth.
I was clenching my fists before I realized it.


Malfreed faced the guard captain again, seemingly losing his interest in us.


「So, what crimes have they transgressed?」

「N-No, they just came from Forest's Edge and had not spoken a word.」

「In that case, the residents of the Post Station Town who started this riot are the criminals. Aren’t you in charge of upholding the peace here? Why are you leaving the criminals be?」

「B-But there are too many…」

「This has nothing to do with numbers, a crime is a crime.」

The next instant, the man in white armor brandished one of his swords.

The residents from the Post Station Town screamed and backed away.


「You criminals who disturb the peace in Genos, do not resist arrest. Those who do will be executed in the name of the castle guard commander Malfreed.」

How reckless.

I grabbed Ai Fa’s arm and covered the 7 to 8 meters distance in one shot.

「Please wait! Did they commit such serious crimes? From what I could see, no one had resorted violence, right!?」

「Y-You denizens of the Forest's Edge, watch your tongue! This is the firstborn of Marquis Marstein Genos, commander of the castle guards Lord Malfreed!」

The guard captain yammered with a green face.

Marquis Marstein Genos’ firstborn… So he was the eldest son of the Genos Landlord?

Even so, I didn’t want to just submit to this humiliation. Milano Mast was standing beside the man with his sword drawn, and there was a rebellious fire in his eyes, as if he was about to lash out.

「This commotion only happened because we appeared before them suddenly! We should have entered the town when everyone has cooled down! That’s why they were so agitated, so please spare them!」

「… No matter what reasons there are, a crime is a crime. Besides, we didn’t prohibit you from entering the Post Station Town.」

Malfreed said quietly without even looking at me.


I looked at his cold profile as I desperately continued:

「I can understand it is a crime to incite a commotion in the Post Station Town. But in that case, we should bring the subject who caused this situation to arise in the first place.」

「The subject who caused this situation?」

「Yes, it’s a merchant named Zashuma, the leader of a caravan. He paraded the fearsome criminal through the Post Station Town arrogantly. Because he let the residents see that criminal who was on the verge of mental collapse, the residents felt that their peaceful lives were at risk.」


This might sound like I was grasping at straws to others.


But I didn’t care. I just wanted the subject himself to hear what I had to say. This commotion is because you neglected to care for the citizens— that was what I was implying.

「… What a cunning man.」

Malfreed sheathed his sword.
The guard captain looked surprised, but he still roared at the residents of the Post Station Town in a panic:

「Disperse right now! If you don’t, I will arrest you all!」


They might have looked unhappy, but everyone still walked slowly back to the Post Station Town.

Malfreed turned his entire body to face us.

「Denizens of Forest's Edge, a crime is a crime, and a criminal is a criminal. In Genos, be it the denizens of Forest's Edge or the residents of the Post Station Town, everyone needs to abide by the law of Genos.」

「… I think you are absolutely right.」

Malfreed looked younger than I thought and was 25 years old at most. As expected of a noble, he had a strong chin, high bridge nose, and good looks.

He had ivory skin and light-brown fringe that could be seen from his helmet…


There was an icy gleam in his eyes, like that of a reptile.

2
Our opening hours had been delayed greatly, but we still decided to open for business.
If not for the matter related to Tay Tsun, we would have definitely turned back. We should allow some time for the residents of Genos to cool down after all.


Hence, we had to apprehend Tay Tsun quickly. This was for the peace of mind of the people in Forest's Edge and the Post Station Town… Other than that, we also wanted to calm Tay Tsun down.

Tay Tsun was probably looking forward to his destruction. But I didn’t wish for him to do so. If he managed to avoid the death sentence, he might get another chance at life.


If he continued to run, his grave wounds won't heal and he would die in the forest. No matter how minute the chance, as long as there was hope, I didn’t want him to give up. This might sound hypocritical, but I really meant it.

「The westerners are cowards! I really hate them so much! Even a newborn Kimyusu is braver than them!」

Pops Balan chewed on his 『Myam-roasted meat』 angrily.

「Don’t be like that, Pops.」

It was rare seeing Arudas eat a 『Kiba burger』, and his voice sounded meek.

「Starting a commotion will only trouble Asuta. You can clearly see that from that incident earlier. Now that I think about it, I should have ignored those noisy westerners.」

「What are you talking about!? Who will take responsibility if I can’t eat a delicious lunch!? Arudas, you were shouting louder than me today too.」

「That’s why I’m reflecting on my actions. Why are we so easily angered?」

Arudas looked dejected, unlike his usual self.

「In the end, we still got to eat delicious dishes, so there wasn’t any need to quarrel in the first place. If the people from Rock City were there from the start, it wouldn’t have gotten out of hand.」

「That’s right! Normally, the people from Rock City are more timid and lazy than the Post Station Town residents, but I could give them some praises for today.」

That was how forthright the southerner’s thinking was.

However, doing things this way was similar to how the Genos castle protected the Tsun clan. I didn’t know why the people in Rock City agreed to us doing business, but the people in the Post Station Town probably viewed it as 「the denizens of Forest's Edge receive special treatment」.

「Hey, you will be providing dinner at the inn tonight, right?」

Pops stared at me.

「Yes, Naudiz hopes that I can continue,」 I answered.

「Alright then, I have no complaints… Asuta, no matter what troubles lie ahead, you can always count on the people from the south.」

「Yes, thank you.」

Of course, I couldn’t ask them for favors so easily, but I was still happy to hear such kind words.

When Pops’ entourage just left, the members of the 《Silver Vase》 came over.

「Asuta, happy, see you safe.」

Shumimaru seemed to be deep in thought.
I asked Shela Wu to prepare the 『Myam-roasted meat』 and accepted the copper plates.

「Thank you, Shumimaru. Were you there just now too?」


「Yes, but helpless, we.」


「No, this is a problem between Forest's Edge and Genos, we have to resolve this ourselves.」


「… Asuta, I think, denizens of Forest's Edge, east kingdom, suit.」


「Eh?」


「West kingdom, no appreciate, denizens of Forest's Edge. Strange, not appreciate, brethren.」


「… The denizens of Forest's Edge don’t think of the people of Genos as brethrens too. I don’t think this is a one-sided issue.」


After my reply, Shumimaru drooped his eyes weakly.


「I, incomplete, thinking. Shameful.」


「N-No, not at all! I’m very glad that you are worried about us. I really mean it.」


However, we can’t migrate to the eastern kingdom so easily. Like what Kaslan Lutim explained, if we gave up hunting kiba and left the western kingdom, we might really become their enemies. Even someone from another world like me understood how dangerous that would be.

「… Malefic star, gone. No telling, peace or downfall, future. I worry.」


「That’s right. We will do everything we can to steer our fate towards a better outcome.」


「… If peace, please, innkeeper 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》, discuss.」


After Shumimaru, there were only a few other customers.


There was less than an hour before noon. The crowd was getting denser, but everyone was avoiding us. The westerners who supported Forest's Edge also cautiously kept their distance. Maybe they were afraid that they would trigger a commotion similar to this morning.

「Asuta, sorry to keep you waiting.」


At this moment, Rii Sudora arrived.


It would be bad if she came at the same time as Tay Tsun, so I asked her to come earlier and will pay her an extra red copper plate for today.

The head of the Sudora house accompanied his wife over as usual, his gloomy eyes staring at the road.

「Somehow, the air feels really chaotic today, and the gazes from the town residents irk me too.」

「Zattsu Tsun just got caught yesterday. It will be wise not to agitate them.」

「Hmmp, you don’t need to tell me that, I don’t care about them. They are just cowards.」

I was a little saddened by his words. Some of the houses were friendly towards us and concurred with the Fa house’s business in the Post Station Town, but they had very shallow understanding of the residents of Genos.


If they could peddle kiba meat in the future, they could live a more prosperous life. That was why they concurred with me doing everything I could. However, they didn’t realize that they and the residents of Genos needed to understand each other first.

The members of the Wu clan probably didn’t realize that either. The denizens of Forest's Edge still maintained their attitude of 「It’s fine whether you like or hate us.」


As they lived with honor, they didn’t fear the eyes of others and didn’t care how others viewed them. They would just head down the path they believed in… That was the most prominent characteristic of the denizens of Forest's Edge. It was their greatest strength, as well as their biggest flaw.


I thought the simple and righteous attitude that the denizens of Forest's Edge held towards life was precious. However, when they saw something different from themselves, they didn’t interact with them actively and rejected them like something filthy. This might be the reason that led to the Tsun clan’s downfall and the souring of relations between the Forest's Edge and Genos.


That was why I felt surprised when Donda Wu proposed that everyone should redeem the crimes of the Tsun clan, instead of cutting them off. I thought that was a gospel that heralded the dawn of a new era.


To think that another commotion happened right after the Tsun clan fell into ruin. If Zattsu Tsun didn’t run away… Forget it, it’s useless to think about that.
As I was troubling over that, the Sudora house had sorted out their deployment. Rii Sudora and the youngest man stayed at the stall, while the other three hid into the woods. Their actions were similar to the past two days, but they had already discussed how they should encircle Tay Tsun were he to appear.

All the preparations were done now. No matter when Tay Tsun appeared, we would be able to react immediately.

I was worried about the residents of the Post Station Town. The crowd was sparse, but it was still much denser than the morning. Furthermore, compared to the 5 or 6 guards on duty, there were only two sentries here at the northern end of the town today.


It would be better for us if there were fewer guards, but what about the pedestrians? When Tay Tsun, the felon of Forest's Edge, would approach us disguised as a patron and get apprehended by his fellow denizens of the Forest's Edge, what would the passersby who witnessed this scene think?

Would they assume that the denizens of Forest's Edge were stirring up more trouble and feel more animosity? Would the violent action of the hunters frighten them?

Was doing this the right thing? I couldn’t tell if that was true.

「… Asuta.」

At this moment, Ai Fa called out to me softly.

I turned, and Ai Fa who was standing between the two stalls looked to the north.


I followed her gaze and held my breath in surprise. The group in white we saw this morning was coming our way from the north.

The north… where the Genos castle was located.


What’s going on, didn’t they return to the castle?
It was a squad of about ten men dressed in white, just like this morning. The commander Malfreed stood at their fore as usual. They walked solemnly on the stone-paved road and entered the Post Station Town once again.
After acknowledging the salute from the guards at the northern end of the city, they didn’t even look at us and headed to the bustling south. Malfreed’s grey eyes looked straight ahead and didn’t glance towards us.


「Are they on guard against Tay Tsun?」

Ai Fa let a young member of the Sudora house take her post and then whispered to me.


「It is rare seeing the people from Rock City loitering in the Post Station Town. Looks like things are going to get troublesome.」


「That’s right, it would be bad if they run into Tay Tsun.」


If that man with reptile-like eyes encountered Tay Tsun, he would cut him down even though they were inside the Post Station Town. Because he failed to cut that criminal down yesterday.


「… That man feels similar to the eldest son of the Wu clan.」


「Hmm? Do you think he is similar to Jiza Wu?」


「Don’t you think so? I could see his steel-like conviction that the rules are everything.」


「Hmm〜, in comparison, Jiza Wu is more approachable.」


If Jiza Wu opened his slit-like eyes wide, there might be cold eyes hidden there too… Just the thought of that made me shiver.


The firstborn of the Genos landlord and the commander of the castle guards, Malfreed…
He was known as 《Double Fangs》, Han of Dabag.

The noble of nobles disguised himself as a 《Guardian》 by covering his face with a dirty cloth. It was not funny as a joke at all.


I was probably right. His buff body, two swords, and ivory skin… Ai Fa and I also heard Han of Dabag saying 「criminal scum」 to Zattsu Tsun.


There were also those cold, grey, reptile-like eyes of his. I didn’t know what others thought, but in this Post Station Town, there couldn’t be another pair of eyes like that.


To think that even the son of the landlord is working with Kamyua… No, is it the opposite? Maybe it’s Malfreed who came up with the plan, and Kamyua is helping him… No matter which it is, this is unexpected.


Anyway, this proved that Kamyua Yost didn’t set the caravan trap alone and the people of Rock City were involved.

Where was that willful conman Kamyua Yost, and what was he doing right now?

The denizens of Forest's Edge are in a perilous situation, one false move and our relationship with Genos would fall out beyond repair. Is that Kamyua Yost’s true goal? Or he didn’t expect for the situation to turn out like this?


Would I have the chance to speak with that man who was always pretending to be retarded?


I didn’t hate him, I just wasn’t able to trust him, so I could only keep my distance away from him.


However, if Kamyua Yost was lying about his admiration for the denizens of Forest's Edge, there was no other way then being enemies.

But… If not for the trap set by Kamyua and the others, Milano Mast and Leito won’t get their justice…
I felt my head getting heavier as I thought about it more and more.

I hoped that Kamyua Yost sided with the 「Post Station Town」 and not with 「Rock City」. Even if we were on opposing sides, I hoped that I wouldn’t need to hate him.

「Asuta, there are just three 『Kiba burgers』 left, what should we do…?」

Vena Wu asked in her usual tone.

「Three left, huh, that’s unexpectedly fast. It’s almost noon, let’s make another batch.」

I asked Shela Wu and Rii Sudora to tend to the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall and then walked to the 『Kiba burger』 stall.

At the same time, Ludo Wu came out from the woods behind me.

「Huh? Ludo Wu, why…」

「He’s here.」


To everyone else, this was the only cue they needed.

Vena Wu and Lala Wu left the stall quietly and linked up with Shela Wu’s group. The four Sudora men quickly encircled the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall and the women.

Ai Fa walked to the front of the 『Kiba burger』 stall and Ludo Wu stayed at my left. Rau Lei and Shin Wu walked even further to our left.

There were still tens of minutes before high noon.

But… Tay Tsun was here.

Is that him…?
A well-built man in a brown hooded cloak approached us with a precise pacing like a robot. I couldn’t see his face as he wore his hood low like a Semu. However, I could see his dark-brown chin that was visible under his hood.
His strides were steady, showing no signs of injuries. That was why he could come in through the bustling southern road without arousing any suspicion and stand before the 『Kiba burger』 stall.
He was less than two meters from Ai Fa. Rau Lei stood on the opposite end of Ai Fa, which was to Tay Tsun’s right, while Shin Wu had flanked to Tay Tsun’s back. I took two steps back, and Ludo Wu squeezed into the opening there.
Including Ludo Wu who was standing behind the stall, they surrounded Tay Tsun from all directions. All of them held knives in their hands and could stab him by taking another step forward.
Tay Tsun raised his head and looked at me through Ludo Wu’s shoulder.
His eyes were murky like a dead fish.
「I’m a little early. There are fewer guards on sentry than I expected.」
「There are fewer guards, but the soldiers from Rock City are patrolling the town. They might come back any time soon.」


「I see… I don’t have any copper plates, can I try your cooking?」


「On one condition.」


Ludo Wu answered.


「Hand me your blades. If you do that, I will let you try Asuta’s cooking. I swear on the name of Ludo Wu, youngest son of the Wu clan main house.」


At this moment, a hysterical voice came from the north.
「Hey! What are you all doing since just now!? Don’t do anything suspicious!」

It was one of the guards standing sentry in the north.


Ai Fa kept her eyes on Tay Tsun and answered loudly:


「This is the criminal wanted by you, a member of the Tsun clan! We will hand him over to you soon, so get ready!」


「H-He is the criminal!? Don’t joke with me, that criminal got slashed in the chest, even if he lived, he won’t be able to move!」


「I don’t know either! But he is standing there right now! We want to take him alive and hand him over to Genos!」

「… I-I will get reinforcements! Don’t run away!?」


One of the guards sprinted down the southern road, the other guard stood in place, showing no intention of coming nearer.
The passersby all stopped in their tracks with fear and suspicion on their faces.
「What are you going to do? A large group of men will be coming soon. Choose your actions with the time you have left.」


After Ludo Wu said that, Tay Tsun slowly raised his arms.


Ai Fa, Rau Lei and Shin Wu watched him with hunter’s eyes.


Tay Tsun undid the button at his neck, and the cloak fell onto the ground.


At this instant… I held my breath in surprise.


Tay Tsun was wearing the garments of Forest’s Edge with beautiful swirly patterns. But there was a terrible cut from the right shoulder down to left side of his abdomen. He used Fuibaha vines to stitch up his large wound messily.

「… Your body is in a terrible state. How are you still standing?」


「I can’t die yet.」


After saying that emotionlessly, he reached for the knife on his waist.
The gazes on Tay Tsun grew sharper. Tay Tsun tossed the sheathed knife near Ai Fa’s feet, and Ai Fa swiftly kicked it to a man from the Sudora house.


Tay Tsun was unarmed now.


Ai Fa, Rau Lei, and Shin Wu took a step closer to Tay Tsun.

They didn’t need to get any closer, they were in stabbing range.


「Can I try your food now?」


「… Alright.」


I confirmed with Ludo Wu and then moved in front of the stall.


I was just a meter away from Tay Tsun, with a pot between us. If Tay Tsun were to make any moves, the four hunters would draw their knives and attack him.


With a prayer in my heart that violence wouldn’t be involved, I grabbed a piece of grilled poitan.


I piled the chopped tino and aria on top of that poitan, scooped up a meat patty and stacked it higher, poured a generous serving of tarapa sauce on it, and topped it off with another grilled poitan.


「It wasn’t much.」


The 『Kiba burger』 was passed to Ludo Wu, who then handed it to Tay Tsun.

Tay Tsun didn’t show any emotions and took a bite.


Did he understand what we were trying to do after he eats that burger?

Tay Tsun moved his mouth robotically and finished the 『Kiba burger』 quickly. During this time, the crowd gawking at us got bigger, but I still didn’t see any signs of the town or castle guards.

「Are you satisfied now?」 Ludo Wu asked. Tay Tsun replied with his eyes closed:

「I’m very satisfied. It is delicious. I finally understand why Mida Tsun is so obsessed with your cooking and why the citizens of the west are willing to pay copper plates for this.」

「If you are done, put your arms behind your back. I will tie you up and hand you over to the guards.」

「I understand. But I have to apologize to Asuta of the Fa house. I told you last time that I wanted to try your dish in order to ascertain your prowess. That is a lie.」

「Huh?」

My heart started pumping quickly.

However, Tay Tsun’s serious face broke into a gentle smile, with his eyes still closed.

「Actually, I just wanted to try your cooking one more time before I die. The dinner you prepared for the house head conference was very savory… I want to apologize for deceiving you and making you worried.」

「No, this isn’t much…」

I wanted to reply.

But I couldn’t do so.

As I was feeling a sigh of relief, the world suddenly changed.

I didn’t know what was happening.

I heard Ai Fa shouting angrily:「You felon!」, the sound of something breaking, a wail, a clash of metal, and other sorts of sound. All these noises happened simultaneously, things were happening… and when I realized it, I lost my freedom.

My vision went dark for a second, and when I recovered my vision, the scenery before me was completely different.

The one standing before me was no longer Tay Tsun with a calm and satisfied smile, but Ai Fa who was holding a knife. There were also Ludo Wu, Rau Lei, and Shin Wu. Everyone’s eyes were filled with unrestrained rage.

An iron pot, which was probably mine, had fallen beside Ludo Wu’s feet. The tarapa sauce was spilled all over the ground.

Behind the hunters were the residents of Post Station Town whose faces were twisted from fear.

Not just the westerners, there were also southerners and easterners. I even saw some of my regular patrons there. A tearful Tara was somewhere to the left of field of vision, and Uncle Dora was holding her small shoulders with a pale face.

I wanted to look at them, but I couldn’t even turn my head. Someone was gripping my throat from behind.


The powerful fingers could snap my neck in an instant. The strength was controlled just right that I wouldn’t suffocate.


And then… The voice of a man mad with rage exploded beside my ear.

「Unforgivable traitors! You brought ruin to the Tsun clan, I will give you my final vengeance!」


The hoarse voice was completely different from before, but this was definitely Tay Tsun’s voice.

3

「How can this be, why aren’t you dead!?」

Rau Lei roared in rage.

「My knife stabbed deep into your body! Are you really human?」
「Hmmp, I just ate some 『taboo leaves』. You lot don’t care about the fruits and vegetables of the forest at all, so you won’t understand what is happening.」


His hoarse voice was filled with mad glee.
Although he sounded like a completely different person, I could still tell that it was Tay Tsun.


He played us like a damn fiddle… He was a man prepared to die… No, the obsession of Tay Tsun who was dying had tricked us.


A stronger blood stench than yesterday entered my nasal cavity. I turned my eyes down and saw a nerve-wrecking pool of blood by my feet. There were four hunters here, they couldn’t have failed. Tay Tsun had definitely suffered a mortal wound.

However, Tay Tsun’s obsession exceeded common sense. He was leaning against a tree behind the stall, facing off against the four hunters. And he was clutching my throat from behind.

I didn’t know what sort of fight happened or what was happening.

I was conscious the entire time, and things somehow turned out like this. Tay Tsun must have leaped over the stall and grabbed me like a beast… At the same time, the three hunters slashed his back.

Ludo Wu was in front of me earlier, just how did Tay Tsun get by him? I could only imagine. Seeing that Ludo Wu’s knife lay broken in half on the ground and he was wielding a machete instead, I could guess what method Tay Tsun employed. When Tay Tsun jumped at me, he also flipped the pot in the stall to block Ludo Wu’s attack. Now that I thought about it, there was a loud sound of metal clashing just now. That explained why Ludo Wu’s knife was broken.

As I pondered with my half-numbed mind, Tay Tsun’s voice that was filled with the madness of hatred rang out:

「How dare you vermins defy the tribal chief Tsun clan, I will not die before I have my revenge! This brat ruined the Tsun clan, I will take him with me to hell!」

「Stop your nonsense! Your people are the ones who violated the taboo of Forest's Edge and have no rights to call yourself the tribal chief clan! Unhand Asuta this instance, villain!」

Ludo Wu shouted back, he was as furious as Rau Lei.

Tay Tsun laughed demonically when he heard that, and it reminded me of Zattsu Tsun yesterday.

「This has nothing to do with the rules of Forest's Edge or the laws of Rock City! The great Zattsu Tsun was going to bring us a new world order! You fools couldn’t understand his ambition! You can only swoon over the people of Rock City, the epitome of weakness! You made us lose the only means of making the people in Rock City submit to the Forest's Edge!」.

「I have had enough of your pointless ramblings! What new world order!? Your people are just a bunch of thieves!」

「Our goal is to seize back the wealth that was taken from us through unscrupulous means! We risked our lives to protect the farms of Genos, so we just want to take our fair share of the reward! The people of Genos imprisoned us in Forest's Edge and enjoyed all the benefits, they are the ones who are shameless!」

Was this really the voice of a man with a mortal wound? His imposing aura was on par with Donda Wu.

Furthermore, I could feel his enormous strength on my throat through his fingers. Tay Tsun didn’t use his right arm and only grabbed my throat with his left hand. If I tried to resist, he would squeeze down on my windpipe in punishment. I was too useless to do anything and could just stand there dumbly and listen to their conversation.

「Shut up! Is this the reason why you are stealing? I would rather die than do something so shameless!」

「Then die! Get rammed to death by the kiba in the woods! If the meager copper plates you get by trading in the tusks and horns are enough to move you, then waste away in the forest! This is the fate that Genos had bestowed to the denizens of Forest's Edge!」

「Why you…!」

Ludo Wu’s eyes were burning.

When I realized it, there were three other people surrounding us.

The three hunters were holding knives stained in blood. Rau Lei was enraged, Shin Wu remained expressionless, but their eyes were both burning fiercely. As for Ai Fa…

Amongst everyone present, Ai Fa’s blue eyes were burning the brightest, and her expression was filled with sorrow.

That face of hers broke through my head and pulled me back to reality.

「P-Please wait, Tay Tsun… You really think Zattsu Tsun’s thinking is correct…?」


He applied more force to my throat.

「What? Hearth caretaker of the Fa house, you don’t want me to kill you? No matter what you say, I won’t forgive your crimes! Because you and the Wu clan colluded to destroy the Tsun clan!」

「But…」

「Genos forced us to obey their unreasonable rules for eight decades! Do you know how many people starved to death in these eighty years!? Even so, we were still forbidden from eating the fruits of the forest and just kept on hunting kiba! Be it newborn babies, elderlies living out their lives in pain, or hunters wounded in their battle with the kiba, they are all the same… Even though no one was watching, we still followed this rule and starved to death! Genos is a murderer! I won’t accept this as the fate that Forest's Edge deserves!」

「I think that’s wrong too! That’s why I started my business so that I could bring a prosperous life to Forest's Edge!」


I squeezed out a replied despite the pressure on my throat.

Tay Tsun laughed out loud.
「That is too stupid! There is plenty of food in the forest, so why do we need to go about it in a roundabout way!? If we harvest the resources of the forest, we won’t even need copper plates! As the tribe that worships the forest as our god, this is the right way to live!」
「That will make the kiba destroy the farms of the west! Forest's Edge is also a part of the kingdom of the west, we have to support each other, that is the right path!」
「That's exactly why we need more strength! If no one starves to death, Forest's Edge will get stronger! If the 500 denizens of Forest's Edge increases to a 1,000, we can hunt more kiba. Then the kiba won’t attack the farms of the west no matter how much resources we forage from the forest!」
My guess was right— I realized this once again.
The fundamentals of Zattsu Tsun’s intention were the same as Ai Fa’s, Kaslan Lutim’s and mine.

He wanted the denizens of Forest's Edge to live a prosperous life.


「If that is so… Then why didn’t you hunt kiba properly for the last decade? I can’t accept you attacking travelers and stealing crops, but if the Tsun clan did their duties as hunters properly and explained to everyone in Forest's Edge the importance of gathering strength and accumulating wealth… and shared why it is necessary to forage from the forest, the tribe might agree with you all. After that, you can just communicate this to the Genos castle properly, and if we obtained the permission to harvest the resources of the forest, everyone will praise the greatness of the tribal chief Tsun clan!」


「Fools! Doing so will be submitting to Genos! We have to destroy the hypocritical life given to us by Genos!」

「Hey, shameless criminal, you have not answered Asuta’s question. Why didn’t the Tsun clan do their job as hunters properly?」

On hearing Rau Lei’s query, Tay Tsun replied:


「Kin of the Wu clan, it’s all because of your meddling. Two decades ago, your clan showed animosity towards the Tsun clan, so the Tsun clan needed a power that exceeds the Wu clan! Otherwise, the houses that fear the Wu clan won’t submit to the Tsun clan. In order to protect the people and our wealth, we had to accumulate our power quietly!」

「… Nonsense. Your people didn’t hunt properly, kept on committing theft, and spent the last decade leisurely. What did you get out of that? You only earned a few more lousy copper plates, but became lazy and lost your power and pride as hunters! 」


「That’s because of Zuro Tsun’s incompetence, so he couldn’t inherit the ambition of Zattsu Tsun! If Zattsu Tsun hadn’t fallen ill, we would already be living correctly and getting the honor of doing so!」


「Your former clan head fell ill before realizing his ambition, and your current clan head is incompetent, so blame them. In the end, all this talk of ambition is just to do whatever you wish and live a life of depravity, correct?」


Rau Lei’s ferocious face which was like that of a hunting dog looked a little surprised.


「Besides, you sound like you are making excuses for yourself. Other than you and Zattsu Tsun, no one else mentioned such lofty ambitions. So Zattsu Tsun had been keeping this to yourself, which must have been stifling.」

「You are right, in the past decade, everyone who knew about this ambition had died! Zuro Tsun, the only other person who knew about this, had also fallen from grace! The Tsun clan… is doomed!」

「In that case, you shouldn’t bear a grudge towards the Fa house and Wu clan…」

Wails and shouts came from the crowd when Rau Lei was speaking in surprise midway.

A group of soldiers in white, the castle guard of Genos had arrived.

「Vicious criminal, so you still live. How dare you drag your filthy body into Genos, you deserve nothing short of death.」

The guard commander Malfreed stood at their fore, leading ten soldiers towards us with brisk strides.

Ai Fa blocked their path.

「Hold it! What are you trying to do!」

「Isn’t that obvious? I’m going to execute the felon.」

「Fool! Can’t you see that Asuta— my family has been captured by him!? If you approach him recklessly, he will harm Asuta!」


「Of course I can see that, denizen of Forest's Edge. Don’t worry, I will cut off his head before the felon commits his crime.」

「How can you achieve that!? You underestimate the prowess of a hunter from Forest's Edge!」

Ai Fa raised her knife once again, with her back towards us.

An even colder gleam came out of Malfreed’s reptile-like eyes.

「Denizen of Forest's Edge, do you intend to raise your blade against me? That’s a serious transgression.」

「Stop kidding me! That man got slashed numerous times, and he is still laughing right there as if those are just scratches! What if he crushes Asuta’s windpipe the very moment you lop off his head!?」

Ludo Wu turned towards Malfreed too.
At this moment, Tay Tsun let loose a demonic laughter.

「Very good! Kill each other! That’s the way it should be! Forest's Edge and Genos are fated to hate each other until one side is destroyed!」

「… Tay Tsun, don’t get too cocky. What you are saying doesn’t make sense. You are only making a scene to hide your fear because you can’t accept the downfall of the Tsun clan, correct?」

Shin Wu warned him with a relatively calm voice.

Tay Tsun continued laughing.
「I have no fear in my heart! The fate of the Tsun clan is already sealed! I just want to bring this unforgivable traitor with me to my grave!」
「Even if you do that, your soul won’t rest in peace. Let go of Asuta.」
「I will let him go! But only after he is dead!」
Malfreed pulled out his blade as he listened to Tay Tsun’s laughter.
He didn’t just draw one sword. He had a silvery white sword in each hand as he looked at Ai Fa coldly.
「Make way, or I will cut you down too.」
「… I don’t wish to brandish my blade against anyone from the Genos castle. Please back off.」

Ai Fa’s voice was shaking from emotions.

The two soldiers behind Malfreed gripped their spears tightly.
As the air was boiling…
A lackluster voice shattered the tense atmosphere.
「Don’t do that, you two don’t need to be at odds.」
It was a slender figure wearing a long cloak.
The man who suddenly appeared scratched his messy blonde hair.
「… This isn’t the time for you to interfere, Kamyua Yost. Please leave.」


Malfreed answered while he stared at Ai Fa and Ludo Wu.


Kamyua Yost walked towards us and said in a calm voice:


「That’s not true, Malfreed. You and Ai Fa are both my important friends. How can I stand by idly when you are brandishing blades against each other? Don’t say something so sad.」


「Then take care of this denizen of the Forest's Edge. She has the obligation to obey the law.」


「That’s true. But I owe a favor to the denizens of Forest's Edge. I lied to them, so I have to pay back this debt.」


After saying that, Kamyua Yost stood between Ai Fa and Malfreed.


From this position, he couldn’t dodge no matter who slashed at him.
Kamyua Yost didn’t move his hands out of his cloak. He turned his back towards Ai Fa and us and faced Malfreed.

「I followed your request last time, right? Then listen to my request this time… I think this issue should be resolved by the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


After several seconds of silence… Malfreed sheathed the sword in his left hand.
Kamyua Yost thanked him, then looked at Ai Fa behind him.


「Ai Fa, the rest is up to you. Save Asuta.」


Ai Fa turned silently and walked towards us.


「Tay Tsun, I know your heart is filled with regrets, but why are you taking Asuta down with you? It doesn’t help you even if you did that… No, it will just make your family sad if you continue with your crimes.」


Ai Fa said quietly.


Tay Tsun said viciously:


「What family!? They had the Tsun family name, but they prostrated themselves to the Wu clan, so they are no kins of mine! Only Zattsu Tsun who died with regrets can call himself my brethren!」


「Is that how you really feel? Do you think your ambition is more important than your family?」

As she was saying that, Ai Fa did something strange. She opened her arms wide apart and gestured for Rau Lei and Shin Wu to back away.

After hesitating for half a second, they slowly retreated.

Ai Fa sheathed her knife, then took a few steps towards us.

「What are you doing? If you come any closer, I will crush your family member’s throat… I am on my last legs, no matter what you do, it won’t change the ending.」

「Do you hate Asuta that much? Asuta only wishes for the prosperity of Forest's Edge. In order to keep the denizens of Forest's Edge from starving to death, he is doing everything he can. Since the Tsun clan harbors the same ambition, then Asuta, the Fa house, and the Wu clan are just inheriting your will. Why don’t you think about it from this perspective?」

「You are just wagging your tail at Genos! No matter how prosperous Forest's Edge becomes, we can’t take back our former glory!」

「That’s not true! I… no, we are not swooning over Genos, we just want to coexist with them! We are not trampling over any rules or laws, we just want to renew our bonds with our brethrens who honor the same laws!」

I looked into Ai Fa’s eyes and interjected.
I couldn’t help explaining myself when I saw the sadness on Ai Fa’s face.
「You call them your brethrens? Genos oppresses us with unreasonable means and you call them your brethrens!? What a joke! Genos is the enemy! We have to make them submit to Forest's Edge!」

「I don’t think so! Ai Fa and the members of the Wu clan don’t think so either! The denizens of Forest's Edge follow the rules on their own volition. Even if they are treated unfairly, they won’t think they are being oppressed! If the Tsun clan harbored such a grudge, it must have been stirred by the Genos castle.」

Even though the people form Genos castle were listening in on us, I couldn’t avoid talking about this.

「The Wu clan, Zaza house, and Sauti clan will inherit your will. They took on the roles of tribal chiefs in the stead of the Tsun clan and will continue liaising with the Genos castle. All the denizens of Forest's Edge will shoulder the frustration of the Tsun clan together. But we won’t yield and will do everything within our powers to form a proper bond with the citizens of Genos… Could you entrust the future of Forest's Edge to us?」

「… Are you stupid?」

With intense hatred overflowing within him, Tay Tsun spat out these words:

「Who cares about the future of Forest's Edge!? I’m going to die! Zattsu Tsun is dead! With the Tsun clan in ruins, the world might as well be filled with destruction and despair! Be it Forest's Edge, this town or Rock City, just destroy them all!」

It’s useless… I grit my teeth.

My words failed to ease Tay Tsun’s hate.
「… In that case, then take my life too.」
Ai Fa suddenly said in a weak and frail voice.
While I was still astonished by that, Ai Fa took another step closer.
「Don’t come any closer, head of the Fa house. Are you trying to create an opportunity with your frivial words?」
「I’m not trying to do that. If my family gets murdered in front of my eyes, I won’t hang on to life shamelessly… If you want to kill Asuta, then kill me too.」
「What are you saying, Ai Fa!」
Ai Fa wasn’t suited for such depressing words.
No matter how much hardship she had to endure— she would never choose death— this wasn’t something that the Ai Fa I knew would do.
Ai Fa tossed the saber at her waist aside dejectedly.

She then held the knife with her left hand and handed it over hilt first.
「End my life with this knife. If possible, kill me first… I don’t want to see Asuta die.」


「Hold it! Don’t come near me! I won’t let you pull off your scheme! You are not trying to give me the knife, but are handing it to this brat, correct!?」


「What are you saying? Asuta is only as strong as a woman. Even with your grave wounds, you will get the knife faster than him.」


Ai Fa wanted to come nearer, but Tay shouted again:


「Don’t move! I can’t move my right arm! The nerves in my right shoulder got severed by you people. I can only take one person with me. If you want to die, then cut your own throat after I strangle this brat!」


「I see…」

Ai Fa mumbled.


「So you can’t move your right arm, Tay Tsun.」


The next instant, the fingers strangling my throat lost their strength.
At the same time, Ai Fa charged in and pulled me forcefully away from Tay Tsun.
After that… I heard a scream from afar. It was probably from the Post Station Town residents who had gathered in the streets.


Ai Fa fell to the ground with me in her arms.


After pressing me down, she propped up her upper body, raising the knife she had switched into her other hand without me noticing behind her.
But she could let down her guard now. Tay Tsun leaned against the tree and collapsed with blood spraying out from his throat and left elbow.


「What… just…?」


I muttered almost on reflex and slowly pushed my upper body up.
Ludo Wu’s group, Kamyua Yost, and Malfreed didn’t move at all. Despite that, Tay Tsun was still lying in a pool of blood.


Was everything just a bad dream? As such a retarded thought flashed across my mind, a small figure suddenly came out from the shade of the tree that Tay Tsun was leaning against.


「Shameless fool who has lost your honor… While you were living comfortably in the Tsun clan, how could you know the pain of watching your own children starve to death?」

It was the head of the Sudora house.

He was gloomy and smaller than anyone present. He flicked away the blood on his knife and sheathed it. He then turned to the castle guard commander dressed in white:

「I killed the felon of Forest's Edge. Is this a breach of Rock City’s laws?」

「… We have already issued a notice that he is wanted by the law, dead or alive. You won’t be charged for any crimes.」

「I see, that’s good.」

The head of the Sudora house muttered to himself. He seemed depressed and didn’t look proud or happy at all.

When Ai Fa drew Tay Tsun’s attention, he probably sneaked away from the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall, hid his presence, and carefully went around the woods behind Tay Tsun.


He then hacked Tay Tsun’s left elbow, and, after Ai Fa pulled me away, stabbed Tay Tsun’s throat with his knife.

「Head of the Fa house, I only got the chance to act because of your quick improvisation. So he really couldn’t move his right arm.」

「Thank you for saving my family. I’m very grateful.」

Ai Fa answered formally, then gripped my right hand with her left.


To me, her body warmth and strength was very precious. I stood up slowly as I felt this very fact.

I then walked towards Tay Tsun together with Ai Fa.


So there was so much blood in a person’s body… Tay Tsun laid in a shockingly large pool of blood and stared at space with a blank expression.

He didn’t show any emotions, and his eyes were murky like a dead fish.

Just what kind of face did he show when he hailed those curses dripping with hatred? I couldn’t imagine as I couldn’t see him just then.
「Tay Tsun…」

I knelt beside Tay Tsun, with no regards for the blood dirtying my feet.

His murky eyes were slowly losing their light. He looked at me weakly.

「Was it you who saved Ai Fa during the house head conference?」

Tay Tsun closed his eyes and refused to answer.

The moment before his weakly heaving chest stopped moving, he opened his eyes slowly— just like that moment when he tasted the 『Kiba burger』. He had a warm smile on his bloodstained face.

「… I have finally finished my last job…」

These were the last words of Tay Tsun, the man born to the branch house of the tribal chief clan, and toyed for 51 years by the powerful and evil tribal chief.
Epilogue

「… I’m very sorry!」


The next day— Seventeenth of the Blue month, evening.
Dinner was being prepared in the Fa house during this time. And Kamyua Yost was bowing at us deeply.

Ai Fa was sitting cross-legged with one knee propped up and had a peeved face. I checked the taste of the soup and looked at the back of his golden-brown hair.


「Like what you have already figured out, that caravan was actually a trap to bait out the Tsun clan. There were five 《Guardians》, but the other 18 men were a bunch of tough brutes who usually worked as mercenaries. This was planned entirely by the castle guard commander Malfreed.」


「Aside from the one who planned this, everything else was how I imagined. As expected, the higher-ups in Genos were trying to bring the Tsun clan to justice.」

「Erm〜, instead of the higher management in Genos, this is actually closer to the decision of Malfreed. Marquis Marstein Genos, his father, gave his implicit consent, while the Lord Pyschkurewuss was kept in the dark.」


Kamyua Yost slowly raised his head while he spoke.


「I see.」


I added another pinch of rock salt into the soup.
「So the top management of Genos is not united. By the way, seeing how the Genos castle had always ignored the Tsun clan’s crimes, they sure change their stances quickly.」


「These matters were completely under the purview of Pyschkurewuss. Because of his negligence, Malfreed, who values justice and the law heavily, decided to wield his blade to pass judgment. Marquis Genos is just watching quietly with an awkward smile.」


「So his role is to smile awkwardly. The landlord sure has it easy.」


「He has plenty on his plate after all. Since he had delegated the task to his subordinate, he can’t interfere recklessly. That’s how a person with a high standing should act.」


Kamyua Yost shrugged nonchalantly, then shirked away when he noticed Ai Fa’s icy gaze. No matter how docile he acted, he still looked suspicious.

「I’m in a difficult position too. When Malfreed asked me to help and the planning was halfway done, I became acquainted with you. After speaking with Donda Wu in the Wu clan village, I realized that the Tsun clan was the only clan in Forest's Edge that had fallen into depravity. I also learned that the denizens of Forest's Edge are really a tribe filled with honor… This filled me with unease.」

「You felt uneasy? Why?」


「When you exposed the Tsun clan’s crimes, I was worried that the gulf between Genos and Forest's Edge would grow deeper… The citizens of the Post Station Town would fear the denizens of Forest's Edge even more, and the denizens of Forest's Edge would feel further disdain towards Genos. I never imagined that the denizens of Forest's Edge would have such strong pride, which is my biggest mistake.」

It was difficult to predict that.

I wanted to know what Kamyua Yost really thought, so I didn’t butt in.

「That’s why I proposed to stop the plan! I really did! But Malfreed refused to listen, he thinks that a crime is a crime, and criminals must be brought to justice. No matter how much noise the denizens of Forest's Edge might make, he believes justice will stand by his side… He might look cool and collected, but he is actually a hot-blooded man.」

「I see. I don’t think his idea is wrong.」

That was the strange part. I could understand where they were coming from, but I just couldn’t accept his way of doing things.


Unfortunately, what Kamyua Yost said didn’t unravel the question in my heart.

「Not being wrong doesn’t mean it is right. Malfreed’s 『right answer』 is one dimensional. He is only after the logical conclusion of the 『present』. He doesn’t care about the 『past』 or the 『future』, and only considers things that make sense right now. He doesn’t think about the reasons why the crime happened or what kind of future awaits us if he brings down the hammer of justice on the criminal. He is only seeking the justice of the present… This might be an easy way of doing this, but that is dangerous.」

Kamyua Yost sat down with his cloak on, and his eyes looked distant.

「To be frank, Pyschkurewuss from Genos castle ignored the crimes of the Tsun clan. But Malfreed didn’t pursue Pyschkurewuss’ responsibility. Despite not being involved, he still interfered and played an ally of justice. Isn’t his style really troublesome? However, Malfreed’s objective is to punish the crime, he doesn’t want to announce how right he is. He is happy as long as the criminal is prosecuted.」


His obsessive compulsion with cleanliness resembled the denizens of Forest's Edge a little.

After hearing Kamyua Yost’s explanation, there were a few points I didn’t agree with.

「Please wait, why did the people from Genos castle refuse to let us stop our business temporarily? They wanted to use us as a bait to lure out Zattsu Tsun, right? In that case, it means they wanted to apprehend the criminal so much that they put the denizens of Forest's Edge and the people of Post Station Town at risk.」

「The one who refused to let you stop is Pyschkurewuss, Malfreed has no authority regarding the denizens of Forest's Edge. On the contrary, he thinks letting you run your stall is dangerous. The responsibilities of the castle guards don’t include patrolling the Post Station Town, but in order to protect your safety, he still did so.」

Kamyua Yost drooped his brows guiltily again.

「You should have realized by now, correct? I was the one who ignited the sense of justice in Malfreed’s heart. Half a year ago, after I got acquainted with him through Marquis Genos, I shared all the information I had with him. I also discussed with him how to improve the twisted relationship between Tsun clan and Pyschkurewuss— and also the relationship between Forest's Edge and Genos. In the end, we decided to appoint Zashuma— who isn’t a merchant, but a 《Guardian》— as a strategist and executed this plan. I’m the one who coerced him in the beginning, but I lack the capability to lead such a big project involving so many people. So I took a step back and became a supporter and watched things develop quietly.」

That suited his personality. I thought this man who liked pretending to be retarded befitted the role of 「observer」 the most.

「However, I felt worried after talking to you, Ai Fa, and Donda Wu. On top of that, I couldn’t tell you the truth, so my heart was filled with guilt. So when I suggested you to open a stall in the Post Station Town, I was just trying to ease my conscience.」


「Ehh?」

「If you build up the relationship between the Post Station Town and Forest's Edge, there might be a bit of hope. The fear and detest felt by the people of the Post Station Town towards the denizens of Forest's Edge will ease up a little. That’s what I was hoping for when I initially proposed for you to start a business in the Post Station Town. And of course, I have always believed that the denizens of Forest's Edge deserve a more prosperous life.」


If Kamyua Yost didn’t propose that I set up a stall… I wouldn’t have gotten to know Milano Mast, Yumi, Naudiz, Pops Balan’s entourage, and Shumimaru’s band.


The Tsun clan wouldn’t have requested for me to tend to their hearth, which led to me exposing their crimes of stealing from the forest.


And now, I couldn’t imagine what would have happened instead.
「… Kamyua, you have given us much convenience as a person from the Rock City. I can understand that. But…」

「The denizens of Forest's Edge won’t forgive a con man like me.」


Kamyua Yost scratched his thin jaw that was covered with a stubble.


「Never mind, I’m fine with that. Even if all the Forest's Edge thinks of me as a snake, my admiration and respect for you all won’t change. But it will be troubling if you don’t trust Genos. The denizens of Forest's Edge are righteous and brave, I wouldn’t want you to ditch the Morga forest and move to some other forest.」


「… Did you eavesdrop on us again?」


「I did not! So you really did discuss that? That’s troubling… The tribal chiefs met with that Pyschkurewuss a few times already, correct? Do you think that the people from Rock City seem more and more suspicious?」

I still didn’t know what kind of person Pyschkurewuss was.

Was he really involved with the incident this time?

「Can I ask you a question? You mentioned that you won’t pursue Pyschkurewuss’ part in the matter and exposing the Tsun clan’s crimes would just trouble the people around us. If that is so, why did you ignore Pyschkurewuss and formulate such a crude plan to force the Tsun clan to the preciple?」

「Hmm? If I want to expose Pyschkurewuss’ crimes, I will need to flush out his accomplice, the Tsun clan, right?」
「… What?」

I thought I heard something incredible.

Kamyua Yost scratched his head and said:

「Ah, I never mentioned this, right? I don’t have evidence, but two or three of the people hurt by the denizens of Forest's Edge were Pyschkurewuss’ political enemy. It might look like the works of bandits on the surface, but it happened over a decade ago, so I can’t find any solid evidence.」

「If that is so…」

「And the girls from farming villages abducted by the denizens of Forest's Edge got sold to slave merchants. Putting that with the caravan incident ten years ago, the denizens of Forest's Edge couldn’t have traded the loot for copper plates by themselves. It would be more natural to think that someone in Rock City is helping them.」

「If all of this is known, why wasn’t this man sentenced for his crimes?」
「Because we lack evidence. That’s why we wanted to capture the vicious criminal Zattsu Tsun alive… Regrettably, he didn’t answer our questions and just kept hailing insults our way.」
「…」

「Although he didn’t answer the questions, he confessed that he attacked the caravan of the citizens of the Post Station Town ten years ago before. Malfreed thinks this is the only evidence we can rely on to push Pyschkurewuss to the brink.」
「… So you want to expose Pyschkurewuss’ crimes next?」

「Of course. If we uncover any wrongdoing, Malfreed will swing down his sword of justice… Since the opponent is an evil aristocrat of Rock City, I can assist him without any hesitation.」
Kamyua Yost showed his Cheshire cat-like smile again.


This man… Who exactly was he?


I turned to Ai Fa and found her observing Kamyua Yost suspiciously.

「Ai Fa, what are your thoughts about him?」


「Hmm?」

「He lied to us for tens of days and caused Dali Sauti to meet with danger, don’t you want to chastise a despicable liar like him?」

「No, erm, can you wait until I’m gone before you…」


「I don’t feel that way.」


Ai Fa cut off Kamyua Yost firmly.

「I knew this man couldn’t be trusted from the start. As for the men of the Sauti clan… They fought against kiba as part of their obligation as hunters. The vicious criminals who agitated the kiba are the ones to blame.」


「Yes, but Kamyua’s posse refused the Sauti clan’s suggestion to increase the number of escorts because they wanted to apprehend the vicious criminals by themselves, right? With that in mind, he really is despicable.」


「No, erm, well…」
「However, he couldn’t have relayed the entire matter to the other party. They didn’t know what kind of house the Sauti was, and it would be terrible if the Sauti was actually in cahoots with the Tsun clan. Besides, the vicious criminal might give up on the attack if they saw a dozen hunters working as escorts… He was doing this all for the sake of apprehending the vicious criminals.」
I agreed with Ai Fa and returned my gaze back to Kamyua Yost.

「Similar to how the relationships between the people in Rock City aren’t airtight, the denizens of Forest's Edge also harbor their own thinking. No matter what, if we want to maintain our relationships, we need to be accommodating, understanding, and communicating properly with each other.」
「… Communicating? Who should communicate with whom?」



「My people with your people, Forest's Edge and Genos… Kamyua Yost, you mentioned before that you don’t mind being detested by the denizens of Forest's Edge, and Malfreed has no intentions of justifying his actions. The denizens of Forest's Edge are also apathetic towards the Post Station Town and Rock City citizens. Under such circumstances, how can we form proper bonds?」

「Hmm?」

Kamyua Yost tilted his head quizzingly.

I stared at his face and said:

「First of all, you have to give the tribal chiefs of Forest's Edge an honest account of everything that happened. After establishing a minimum level of trust between the two sides, bring Malfreed along to their meeting with Pyschkurewuss that is scheduled to happen a few days later.」

「Malfreed? Bring him to the meeting? Asuta, that will be huge! Malfreed might be grinding his blade right now as he prepares to expose Pyschkurewuss’ past crimes!」

「That might be so, but Forest's Edge already knows that your caravan was a farce and also about that incident 10 years ago. They will definitely bring it up during the meeting… If neither you nor Malfreed is present, this matter won’t make any progress.」

「What are you talking about! Asuta, do you think I have to participate in the meeting too?」

「Am I wrong…? My hometown has a saying that 『Silence is golden』, but in the face of such circumstances, silence won’t resolve any problems. Everyone needs to come to an understanding by talking it out.」


Just wanting the other side to believe you one-sidedly might result in the failure to convey your thoughts properly at times.


No matter how clumsy, sometimes, you have to say how you really feel to convey your intentions to the other party.

After watching Tay Tsun’s actions yesterday, I understood this point.

Tay Tsun was like the spokesman for Zattsu Tsun and advocated for the righteousness of the Tsun clan’s actions. But the denizens of Forest's Edge responded in anger. Not just Ai Fa, Ludo Wu, Rau Lei, Shin Wu, and me— all the denizens born and bred in Forest's Edge wanted to speak their piece to Tay Tsun.

And this resulted in the Post Station Town’s people hearing what the denizens of Forest's Edge really felt. This was the first time they learned what the denizens of Forest's Edge thought and their feelings towards life.


When Tay Tsun’s corpse was taken away and the soldiers released us from custody, Uncle Dora embraced us. He was crying a river, and so was Tara. In the beginning, I didn’t know why he was so sad. When he calmed down, Uncle Dora said to us:
I didn’t know that the denizens of Forest's Edge were living such a life…
We can’t thank you enough…


Before I met you, I always looked at the denizens of Forest's Edge with disdain, I feel so ashamed…
That was the gist of it.


The denizens of Forest's Edge would rather starve to death than pick the fruits of the forest. This truth devastated Uncle Dora. In order to protect the western farms, Genos forced the denizens of Forest's Edge to live such a life. For people like him who owns a farm in the west, this fact must have pained him.


After that, we obviously didn’t continue with our business. After preparing the food in the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》, we returned to the Forest's Edge settlement. The next day, or rather today, we entered the Post Station Town cautiously and found that the atmosphere had returned back to normal. And of course, not all westerners smiled at us, and we saw many people showing fear and doubt. But I could feel that something was different.
Unlike the what happened before that incident, this was a difficult-to-describe change— they seemed to be observing the denizens of Forest's Edge closely and trying to figure out an answer… It wasn’t normal discrimination, fear or xenophobia, they were looking at us with a different type of gaze.


Who exactly are they? They were silent, but I could feel them asking this question.

How much resolve did the denizens of Forest's Edge had to make when they hunted? The citizens of the Post Station Town finally got their answer.

What crimes did their brethrens commit that made the citizens of Post Station Town so fearful? The denizens of Forest's Edge also received their reply.


I thought the curtains had just been drawn. Could the denizens of Forest's Edge and the people in the Post Station Town really understand each other? Their personalities might be very different, but could we still be good neighbors and interact with each other? We were finally on the starting line for figuring this out.

In that case, the people from the Genos castle also had to stand at the starting point.


We could give up anytime, but I thought we should work hard towards the goal of understanding each other. And if we found out in the end that we were like oil and water, we could decide to part ways. But before that, no matter how arduous the path might be, we still had to slough on bravely… This was in order to avoid Tay Tsun’s death, who played the part of the villain until his last breath, to be in vain.
「… Asuta.」

「Hmm?」

I turned around and saw Ai Fa staring at me with serious eyes.


「When will dinner be ready? I’m hungry.」


「Ah, sorry, I just need to grill the hamburg steak.」
Ai Fa subtly raised her right hand and covered her mouth. She probably wanted to hide her smile after perceiving the term ‘hamburg steak’.

「Alright then, I should be going soon. Asuta, I will treat your advice as my homework. Sorry for intruding on your work.」

Kamyua Yost stood up gently.

I was preparing to grill the hamburg steaks and turned my head back in surprise upon hearing him say that.

「Ehh? Are you not staying for dinner? I prepared three portions.」

「What? Do you want to dine with me in such a situation?」

「I thought your visit at this hour implied this as your true goal.」

「Even the thick-skinned me isn’t that shameless…」

「Are you going back then?」

「No, I will be much obliged!」

He announced frantically and suddenly narrowed his eyes.

「Asuta, you have grown strong. You are completely different from when I first met you.」


「That’s true. After being through so much, it would be terrible if I have not grown at all.」


I looked at Kamyua Yost’s strange eyes.


「Kamyua Yost, from the very beginning, you have been an important person to us.」


「Huh? Why are you saying that all of a sudden? I’m just a nomad without fixed roots.」


「Even so, things wouldn’t have become so complicated if we had built a stronger bond. I have been keeping an adequate distance from you too. If I trusted you from the bottom of my heart… and you also did the same, there might have been fewer casualties.」


「But I trust you a lot.」


「If so, why didn’t you tell me the true purpose of the caravan? Why didn’t you tell me about the misfortune of the loved ones of Milano Mast and Leito? If you told me that, the men from the Sauti clan wouldn’t have gotten injured for nothing.」


When he heard my words, Kamyua Yost was at a loss for words, which was a rare sight.


「However, you had no other choice back then. After all, I didn’t tell you the whole information on the Tsun clan’s situation either. So we are even there, but…」

However, if we could get closer to each other and brainstorm about it, we might have been able to find a way to only bring Zattsu Tsun to task without implicating anyone else. This filled me with regret.


「… I heard that they will permit Tay Tsun’s body to be buried in Forest's Edge.」

Kamyua Yost suddenly brought up this matter.


He narrowed his drooping eyes which were filled with a clear light.
「Yes, his former family members buried him in Forest's Edge personally… What about it?」


「No, nothing. Instead of atoning him by interring him as a criminal in Rock City, this might be a better way of doing it.」

「Kamyua, if we are to build a stronger relationship of trust, we will have to share what we really think with each other. We can’t take the stand that silence is golden… Let me be frank with you, I don’t like your eyes that seem to be able to see through anything.」

Kamyua Yost looked at me with his usual gaze, then shrugged his shoulders under his cloak.

「That’s really mean, I have never learned mind reading before.」

「Anyway, the people of Forest's Edge and Genos castle need to open their hearts to each other. Can you bring Malfreed to the meeting?」

「That will be difficult, but for the sake of the friendship between Forest's Edge and Genos, I will do everything I can.」

After Kamyua Yost said that, he showed a satisfied smile.

At this moment, Ai Fa kept tugging at my sleeve, her eyes were saying:「Is the hamburg steak done yet?」

There was still a mountain of problems between Forest's Edge and Genos. With that in mind, I cooked dinner for my beloved house head and the friend of ours who liked pretending to be retarded.
Mid Meal Snack: The Hearth Caretaker of the Wu clan

「Leina-nee, why do you look so down?」


The Wu clan sisters were preparing dinner. Lala Wu who was grilling the poitan asked curiously.


Leina Wu who was cooking the kiba soup answered weakly:


「It’s nothing…」


「It’s not nothing. Did I make you mad?」


「Not at all, why must I be angry at you?」


「Well~, because you have been stealing glances at me. I thought you are unhappy about something.」


「How can that be…? I just think your skill in tending to the hearth has improved.」


Leina Wu sighed when she answered. Lala Wu raised her eyebrows a little unhappily and leaned closer.


「See, you really are feeling down. Just tell me what’s on your mind.」


「I already told you that isn’t it… I’m just a little envious of you and Vena-nee…」

「Hmm? Envious? What do you mean?」


「You get to help Asuta every day, so your skills are getting better, right? Of course, I will feel envious.」


Lala Wu stopped looking peeved, and said confusedly:

「Hmm〜? But Vena-nee and I are just helping to tend to the stall, and don’t cut the meat or vegetables. That wouldn’t improve our skills at all.」


「No, you are far better than before. You did very well during the house head conference too.」

「Really? I will be glad if that is true.」


Lala Wu showed her teeth with a smile and then reverted back to her usual expression.


「Speaking of which, Asuta is letting Shela Wu grill the meat now. Vena-nee and I will never win against her.」


「That’s true. I think she is incredible too.」


Leina Wu sighed after saying that.


「Her culinary skills must be amazing now, and I can never catch up to her now… Sigh, I want to help with Asuta’s work too…」


「… Are you saying that because you want to improve your culinary skills?」


「Huh? What do you mean?」


「I’m just wondering if you want to do this because you want to spend time together with Asuta.」


「T-That’s not it!」


Leina Wu’s face turned beet red.


「It must be nice to work together with Asuta… But compared to that, I want to improve my hearth tending skills more! It’s true, I’m not lying.」


「Don’t be so flustered. It’s more natural for you to think that anyway.」


Lala Wu piled the grilled poitan onto a plate and shrugged.


「Leina-nee, you are still the best hearth caretaker in our family, far better than me and Vena-nee. You don’t need to improve anymore, right? Didn’t Ludo always say that your cooking tastes the best?」

「That’s because he doesn’t compare me with Asuta…」

「Why are you comparing yourself with Asuta? Asuta is special, you can’t win against him.」


Leina Wu was stumped.


Lala Wu’s words surprised her too much.


「… But, you want to get better at tending to the hearth too, right? Wouldn’t it be amazing if your cooking is as good as Asuta’s?」


「Huh? Of course, I want to get better at grilling meat. But I will never win against Asuta… Leina-nee, are you troubled over this?」


Lala Wu asked bewilderedly and scratched her red hair.

「Leina-nee, you are thinking of something amazing. If I have to say… I’m envious of Shela Wu and you who already can serve up delicious meals.」


「Ehh?」

「No matter what, don’t be too depressed, it will worry the people around you. I can guarantee that your culinary skills are great.」


Lala Wu said a little angrily, then shoved a krilee stick through the empty pot.


「It’s not dark yet, so I will wash the pot. Don’t daze around and spoil the food. Everyone is looking forward to your cooking.」


After Lala Wu left the stove room, Leina Wu sighed again.


So that’s how Lala feels. Even though I’m still lacking…
Leina Wu wanted to serve even more delicious meals for everyone. If her cooking could rival that of Asuta, how blissful would that be… She had been thinking about this for dozens of days.


However, she still couldn’t go and help in the Post Station Town. All this time, Shela Wu had been improving steadily and could even tend to the stall when Asuta had to leave. Shela Wu’s hearth caretaking abilities must be better than hers. When Leina Wu thought about that, her heart became filled with deep regrets.


Shela Wu was an important kin. She was also the daughter of Donda Wu’s younger brother, a close relative of Leina Wu. As her culinary skills improved, she became more cheerful and bright. Leina Wu was happy for her, but that also filled with regret and sadness.


If Asuta could tutor her, she would definitely get a lot better. Her cooking might be on par with Asuta’s then… Was thinking like this arrogant and ungrateful?


But Leina Wu couldn’t stop this feeling.


Lala Wu was right. She did want to meet Asuta. If possible, she still wished for Asuta to become a member of the Wu clan. She hoped Asuta could become her family and to walk down the same path together. Her mind was clogged with such thoughts, which frequently resulted in insomnia.


Compared to how much she thought about Asuta… no, because of how much Leina Wu thought about Asuta, she hoped to improve further and get on the same level as Asuta. She wanted to stand on the same height as Asuta and look at the same scenery. Leina Wu probably didn’t want to be with Asuta, she wants to be Asuta.


I can’t see anything right now. I also want to do the things that Asuta can do so easily. The one I’m the most envious of is probably Asuta, not Shela Wu.

Just what kind of emotion was this?


She felt a sadness that seemed to be tightening her chest. The next instant, her heart was filled with jealousy, as if a fire was burning in her abdomen. She never realized that she was such a despicable person. Leina Wu felt like crying.


However, that was just how she was.
Everyone thought that Lala Wu’s personality was more violent and Vena Wu was more steadfast. However, the strong personality hidden inside Leina Wu was on par with them.


Does Asuta harbor such thoughts too…?
Leina Wu thought as she added firewood into the stove.


At this moment, Rimee Wu just happened to return to the stove room.


「This dish is done! Hmm? Where is Lala?」


Rimee Wu and Grandma Ditto Min Wu were roasting meat in the stove outside.

Leina Wu stirred the soup in the pot and turned her head meekly.


「Lala went to wash the pot. I’m done too, can you help me get the plates?」


「Yes, got it!」


Rimee Wu moved swiftly and placed plates onto a board according to the number of people. They just needed to bring the pot into the house and serve it to everyone.


Rimee Wu who had done her work walked towards Leina Wu.

「Hmm〜, smells nice! Did you add that ingredient called Tau Sauce?」

「Yes, Asuta said it’s well suited for soup.」

「It looks yummy! Can I try some?」


「Huh? We are having dinner soon, though?」


「But Papa and the rest are still out hunting. I’m starving and can’t wait any longer.」


Rimee Wu tugged at Leina Wu’s waistband while saying that.

Leina Wu smiled wryly and said:「Help me get a small plate.」, and Rimee Wu spun around gleefully.


Today’s kiba contained Aria, Chachi, and tino. She also seasoned the soup with salt and Tau sauce. And of course, they added generous servings of kiba meat too.


Tau Sauce was an incredible ingredient. She heard that this was a type of 「seasoning」. Tau sauce couldn’t be eaten alone, but by adding it to other ingredients, the food would become delicious, like after using some sort of magic potion.

One bottle of Tau sauce cost ten red copper plates. Ten red copper plates could buy ten fruit wines, or 40 poitan, or 50 Aria. After pleading with her parents for a long time, she finally got permission to buy this bottle of seasoning.


If Leina Wu failed in any one of her cooking, they probably wouldn’t allow her to buy Tau Sauce anymore. And so, Leina Wu carefully tasted the soup and used the Tau Sauce cherishingly. She had used it for a few days now, and her parents had yet to scold her.


「Here’s the plate! Can you add a little bit of meat and vegetables?」

Leina Wu nodded and poured the 『Kiba meat soup』 into the tiny plate.


Rimee Wu showed a big smile and then sipped the soup.


「So yummy! Leina-nee, your soup is the best!」


「It’s thanks to the Tau sauce. Anyone can cook delicious soup with this ingredient.」


「That’s not true. The meat soup you served in the past is also tastier than everyone else’s.」


Rimee Wu bit the small piece of kiba cherishingly and continued:

「Besides, Asuta also said this before, right? The taste and fragrance of the Tau sauce are strong and won’t change even if you cooked it for a long time, so it isn’t an ingredient that is easy to use. I don’t think anyone can cook such a tasty soup even if they used Tau sauce!」


「… Even so, I still can’t beat Asuta.」

Leina Wu said depressedly again.


Rimee Wu tilted her head after hearing that.


「Is that so? You and Shela Wu will be as good as Asuta one day, right? Although it is impossible for Vena-nee and Lala.」


Leina Wu was shocked and stared at the petite face of the Wu clan’s youngest daughter.


「B-But it’s Asuta, you know? Leaving me aside, even Shela Wu can’t defeat him.」


「It’s not true. You and Shela Wu are as passionate towards cooking as Asuta, correct?」


Rimee Wu smiled gently.

「Ludo once said that the prouder the hunter, the more capable he is. If one was to find joy in the life of a hunter and work with honor, they could become stronger… Shela Wu and you will definitely become hearth caretakers that can stand up to Asuta!」


Leina Wu became lost for words.


Rimee Wu leaned towards Leina Wu again.
「Rimee will work hard, so you have to work hard too, alright? Let’s become great hearth caretakers together!」


Leina Wu couldn’t find the words to answer and placed her hand on Rimee Wu’s head.


Rimee Wu’s smile was as bright as the morning sun. The troubling feelings in Leina Wu’s chest transformed into other emotions as Leina looked at her sister.


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