Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 8 Chapter 1

Gilulu the Totos
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Ratorasepo


Editor: Sorry in advance that this chapter might be slightly more rough on eyes. Didn’t have much time to edit thoroughly since was busy with real life stuff.
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1


After a series of incidents concluded with Tay Tsun’s death, four days have passed. On the 20th of the Blue month, two women visited the Fa house.


「Is Asuta or Ai Fa home? We are Ema Min Lutim of the Lutim house and Rimee Wu of the Wu clan.」


I had finished my work in the Post Station Town and returned home when I heard them. I was preparing the ingredients for tomorrow’s business with a knife in hand. Rii Sudora went home directly today, and the women in the neighborhood didn’t come to learn cooking from me, so I was home alone.


「Yes, please wait a moment.」


I placed the knife and aria back on the chopping board and stood up quickly.


It was rare seeing Ema Min Lutim and Rimee Wu together, and they didn’t make me feel wary. So I opened the door leading outside without a second thought… and fell onto the ground with a 「Uwah〜」


「Asuta, are you alright?」


「Ahaha, Asuta is so uncool!」


I could hear Ema Min Lutim’s worried voice and the innocent laughter of Rimee Wu. A large thing was between the two of them, blocking the entrance.


It was a Totos Moa, which could be frequently found in the Post Station Town.


「W-W-What is this? Why is there a Totos in Forest's Edge?」


「It’s a long story. This Totos was caught in the forest by the men from the Sauti clan.」


Ema Min Lutim had a face of guilt and apologized to me as I remained seated on the ground with her head low.


「I should have warned you earlier. I didn’t know you would be so shocked… Pardon me.」


「I-It’s fine. I’m sorry for showing such a pitiful sight.」


I apologized too, but anyone would be surprised to find such a huge thing appearing suddenly at the entrance.


Moa Totos was a type of large bird, and was twice the size of an ostrich, reaching heights of 3 m or so.


Even though the appearance of the Totos looked just like an ostrich, they were covered with brown feathers. Their bodies were oval, and their neck looked like a Loch Ness monster. Their powerful legs were each supported firmly by three talons on the ground. The Totos were much larger than an ostrich and had an amazing presence. It had to weigh more than 200 kg.


I would see Totos in the Post Station Town every day, but encountering such a huge creature from close up still filled me with awe. A kick from its powerful clawed feet would definitely be lethal.


But Ema Min Lutim let the gigantic Moa stand beside her nonchalantly. There was a rein on the Totos’ neck and beak, and Ema Min Lutim’s supple fingers were holding the other end of it.


「It’s amazing, right? This is a Totos! It’s the first time Rimee is touching one!」


Rimee Wu slowly hugged the right thigh of the Totos and then ground the brown feathers with her cheeks. After seeing her do that, I cried in a panic: 「R-Rimee Wu! That’s dangerous!」


「It’s fine. Totos is a docile animal. If we don’t hurt it, it won’t attack humans.」


Ema Min Lutim was showing her usual smile.


It had been about ten days since I last saw her, and she was warm, gentle, and beautiful as before. Her brown hair was cut in a bold short style, seldom found in amongst the denizens of Forest's Edge. Her firm and tender body was covered in a large piece of cloth, a sign that she was married. She was the young spouse of my irreplaceable good friend Kaslan Lutim.


On the other hand, Rimee Wu was energetic as usual. She had an innocent smile on her face as she shook her red hair that seemed fluffier than the Totos’ feathers. She was wearing a children’s attire that resembled a western style dress that covered just one shoulder. Her body was so petite that she might be smaller than a Totos’ leg.


「… So, what is all this about? Why are you bringing the Totos that the Sauti clan found to the Fa house? My imagination is too lacking to understand how did you arrive at this decision.」


「Yes. Five days ago, when the people from the city visited Forest's Edge, they let a few Totos run loose in the forest. We think this is one of the Totos that survived. The men from the Sauti clan caught this Totos during their hunt and weren’t sure what to do with it. So they sent it to the Lutim house village.」


I see, Kamyua Yost’s posse that disguised themselves as a caravan set up with ten-odd Totos and only returned with two, so the rest must have escaped into the woods. That would explain why a lost Totos they found in the forest was wearing reins.


However, there was something I still didn’t understand.


Why did the Sauti clan ask the Lutim house to take care of the Totos?


「The Sauti clan was planning to learn bloodletting and butchering techniques from the Lutim house. But this matter was postponed because of all the troubles that happened after the house head conference. Dali Sauti finally came to our village today personally.」


「I see, Dali Sauti has recovered enough to walk.」


「That’s right. In order to prepare for the meeting with Genos and the nobles, he needs to discuss with Donda Wu ahead of time. He intends to lodge at the Lutim house to fulfill his promise too.」


Regarding our business in the Post Station Town, the Sauti clan remained cautiously neutral. But they were very eager to learn how to cook delicious meals. Hence, they asked the Lutim house to impart the bloodletting and butchering techniques to them. As for why the Sauti clan asked the Lutim house instead of the Wu clan? Maybe they were concerned about both of them being tribal chief clans. Or maybe Dali Sauti got along really well with Kaslan Lutim. I didn’t know the details.


After all, both the Wu clan and Lutim house were quite a far distance from the Sauti clan. The Sauti were situated at the southern end of Forest's Edge, and walking to the Wu clan would take them two hours. That was why when Kaslan Lutim proposed that the villages that were further away should send their men to lodge at the village they were learning from, and the teaching village would send their men over in exchange, everyone accepted this plan. This would allow the number of hunters in both villages to remain the same, and it was an efficient way to learn bloodletting and butchering.


「We wanted to seek Donda Wu’s judgment on the matter of the Totos, and since the Lutim house’s men were about to enter the forest, I visited the Wu clan village instead…」


「Papa Donda shouted angrily: 『How would I know?』, that’s really mean. Ema Min Lutim didn’t do anything wrong.」


Donda Wu must be feeling frustrated nowadays. His meeting with the nobles of Genos would happen in a few days.


They were scheduled to meet on the 23rd of the Blue month, but yesterday the date was postponed to the 30th. The participants weren’t just the three tribal chiefs of Forest's Edge and Pyschkurewuss, the castle guard commander Malfreed and the 《Guardian》 Kamyua Yost would also be taking part. Kamyua Yost agreed to our proposal and made the arrangements.


According to Kamyua Yost, Pyschkurewuss not only turned a blind eye to the Tsun clan’s transgression of the law, he even assisted them. In order to prove this, Malfreed deceived the denizens of Forest's Edge and laid a trap for Zattsu Tsun and the others.


If Pyschkurewuss was really that much of a villain, there wasn’t any reason for the Forest's Edge and Malfreed to become enemies. We should work together against the corrupt Pyschkurewuss instead— I suggested this to Kamyua Yost who was assisting Malfreed.


In order for both sides to work together, Kamyua Yost and the three tribal chiefs held a meeting. A few days ago, he informed me that he told the truth to the three tribal chiefs, so the denizens of Forest's Edge finally know that the enemy wasn’t the landlord of Genos, but his representative, Pyschkurewuss.


The tribal chiefs were furious that Malfreed and Kamyua Yost deceived them, but they suppressed their anger. Things wouldn’t turn for the better if we don’t defeat Pyschkurewuss. Pyschkurewuss was still insisting that 「the denizens of Forest's Edge should hand over all members of the entire Tsun clan」.


The vicious criminals Zattsu Tsun and Tay Tsun were already dead. So why was Pyschkurewuss still insisting that we had to deliver them the Tsun clan members? We weren’t sure of his reasons, but we couldn’t accept his demands. The former tribal chief Zuro Tsun was still waiting for his sentencing in accordance with the laws of Forest's Edge, Diga and Doddo were treated like half-prisoners because of their jailbreak. The other members of the Tsun clan were working hard to live their lives properly.


We need to check of what Malfreed’s group said is true. If it’s true, we will need to think of a way to expose Pyschkurewuss’ past misdeeds, or we wouldn’t be able to reach an understanding with the people of Genos.


In other words, when the three tribal chiefs meet with Pyschkurewuss, they would bear the future of Forest's Edge on their shoulders. Hence, it wouldn’t be strange for Donda Wu to be so agitated. He couldn’t spare the effort to care about a lost Totos.


And so, I finally got the gist of the entire matter.


I only had one question left.


「… So why did you bring the Totos to the Fa house?」


I asked Rimee Wu, and the young Forest's Edge girl shook her head.


「I don’t know.」


「You don’t know, huh… So why did you come here?」


「Rimee doesn’t have any more chores, so I came along with Ema Min Lutim. Besides, Rimee hasn’t seen Ai Fa for a long time…! Hey, so why did Papa Donda ask you to bring the Totos to the Fa house?」


Under the gaze of Rimee Wu’s bright eyes, Ema Min Lutim started stuttering.


「Well… Erm… Donda Wu told me… After plucking off its feathers, the meat can be eaten. He said that the hearth caretaker of the Fa house will be overjoyed to take on this task.」


「Huh? He wants us to eat this Totos?」


I raised my head and looked at the subject’s long and thick neck.


The Totos’ head was high up in the sky and it tilted it a little.


Its enormous body made its head look really small, but its face was still about the size of a human. Its beak that bent downwards slightly seemed frighteningly huge, but its face looked surprisingly humorous. It had large eyes that were completely black, possessed thin lashes, and looked drowsy like a camel or a giraffe.


「Well, I did butcher a small bird before, but this thing is too big, it will be difficult… From its size alone, it should be larger than a kiba.」


I shifted my gaze down the Totos. Rimee Wu was clinging on the Totos again.


She was staring at Ema Min Lutim just now, and she moved her gaze towards me, tears shining in her blue eyes.


「… Do you want to eat this Totos?」


「Huh?」


「Asuta, do you want to eat this Totos?」


She was on the verge of tears.


I turned towards the speechless Ema Min Lutim, who asked me with a sorrowful face: 「What should we do?」


This was the so-called dietary education. They had no qualms about eating kiba, so it was illogical to think the Totos was pitiful…! But I had no rights to discuss this with her anyway.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shokuiku>


「Ehh〜 It belongs to the people in the city in the first place, so it isn’t appropriate to just eat it. I will contact Kamyua Yost during the Post Station Town’s visit tomorrow and ask him to take in the Totos.」


「That’s true, we should do that.」


Ema Min Lutim sighed, as if a heavy load had been taken off her heart.


But, Rimee Wu was still teary.


「… Do you want to return the Totos to the city?」


「Huh? We can’t raise it in Forest's Edge, correct? Look how big it is, just feeding it will be very costly.」


「That’s right. Without the permission of the tribal chief, we can’t bring beasts from outside into the Forest's Edge.」


When she heard what Ema Min Lutim and I said, Rimee Wu’s tears finally fell.


Ema Min Lutim and I looked at each other and sighed deeply.






The next day, 21st of the Blue month.


「Huh? A Totos appeared in Forest's Edge? How unusual!」


A bit before noon, I saw Kamyua Yost visiting the stall and discussed yesterday’s issue with him immediately.


「Totos won’t starve in the forest. Their running speed on even ground is faster than kiba’s, so it’s no surprise for a couple of Totos to survive… Asuta, what kind of food are you planning to make from the Totos?」


「No, no, I can’t handle something that big. Besides, the denizens of Forest's Edge aren’t interested in Totos’ meat. I will ask someone to bring it to town tomorrow morning, can you take it in?」


「Hmm〜, I will be happy to help if it is troubling you. But a Totos in Forest's Edge… Isn’t it boring to just return it to town?」


Kamyua Yost smiled cheerfully.


Even though this man was always smiling, I still needed to pay more attention when he was grinning like this.


「Boring is fine, it would be a problem if the Totos ate the grace of the forest. I want to return it to town as soon as possible.」


「Totos will only eat leaves from tall trees. It can eat any leaves that aren’t too tough, and it would never eat bugs or fruits; so it can coexist with kiba.」


「What’s the point of them coexisting?」


「Let me put this another way. The Totos can coexist with the denizens of Forest's Edge, correct?」


I didn’t get what he was trying to say.


I looked at his long and thin face with dubious eyes, and his smile broadened.


「Well, Totos are convenient, you know? Their meat and eggs are delicious, but civilization wouldn’t be so advanced if not for the Totos. They are strong, fast, and docile and rarely lose control. We can use them to tow cargo or as mounts. We just need to tie it to a tree, and it will feed itself. Their lifespan is as long as a human’s. Since ancient times, the Totos had been the friends of humanity.」




「You are correct…」


「Well then, let me ask you something. Asuta, how much time does it take to travel from the Sauti clan at the southern edge of Forest's Edge to the Zaza house in the northern end?」


He changed the topic abruptly.


I answered cautiously:


「I heard that if they set off at dawn, they will reach about noon.」


It took about six hours to move from the south end to the north end of Forest's Edge.


「I see. If you learn to ride a Totos, the time would be shortened to a third of that time, or maybe even a quarter. If you learn to make them sprint, you can save even more time.」


「I see…」


「I think it’s wonderful for the three clans to take on the role of tribal chiefs at the same time. Letting the two powerful clans at the northern and southern edge act as tribal chiefs in order to watch over every corner of Forest's Edge is a great idea too… However, the Sauti clan and Zaza house tribal chiefs are too far apart, and a one way trip between them would take half a day. Isn’t that too tedious? If there is an emergency, it will take quite a bit of effort just to arrange for the tribal chiefs to meet.」


He was right. In order to communicate frequently with Donda Wu, Dali Sauti was now lodging in Lutim house, which wasn’t far from the Wu clan.


It would take about two hours to travel from the Wu clan to the Sauti clan and four hours from the Wu clan to the Zaza house. That was the time needed to travel from the Wu clan, which was situated in the center of Forest's Edge, to the north and south ends of the settlement.


「What I’m about to say is just my own opinion. I think how developed a civilization is, depends on how fast information is transferred. Humans developed an incredible civilization just by partnering with Totos. If not for the Totos, it will be hard for the four major kingdoms to liaise with each other. If the denizens of Forest's Edge want to obtain more power and prosperity, you can try harnessing the power of the Totos.」


「Can we learn how to ride a Totos so easily? Besides, I find it hard to imagine Totos running around in Forest's Edge.」


「Normal people will need to spend quite a bit of time before they can ride a Totos. However, the denizens of Forest's Edge can definitely do so easily. With a bit of training, they can definitely master it in a few days.」


Kamyua Yost still had a smile on his face.


「I still need to tell you one other thing. Asuta, there’s no evidence that those are the Totos brought by us into Forest's Edge.」


「Huh?」


「We were prepared for all the Totos to get wiped out from the start. To save the trouble, we didn’t brand them. Totos that aren’t branded don’t belong to anyone. Even if they have reins, you can just treat them as wild Totos. Hence, you have no obligation to return that Totos to us. With that in mind, you might want to consider how you want to deal with that Totos.」


「But, erm…」


「During the day, you can just tie it to a tree outside. Let it into the house in the night. You don’t need to care too much for it normally, so it’s no trouble at all. If you think it is troublesome, you can just slaughter it. Unless it's injured or too old to work, the people in the city won’t think of eating them. That’s how important a source of labor the Totos are. Just think that you are being conned and try living with it?」


「… You deceived us for tens of days before, and you still dare to say that now…」


「I already apologized plenty of times for the previous incident!」


With the half-eaten 『Kiba burger』 in hand, Kamyua Yost spread out his arms exaggeratedly. He looked really ostentatious.


「I know, I will think about it carefully. But if my house head or tribal chief objects, I won’t defy them, so don’t put too much hope in this.」


「I see, I see. Well, once they learn how convenient the Totos are, they won’t object to this. Then the denizens of Forest's Edge will obtain even more strength.」


I stared at his pretending to be retarded smile again.


「I don’t think this is likely, but did you predict this might happen and abandoned the Totos in the forest?」


「Ehh? You think too highly of me. The Morga forest is dominated by the kiba, of course I will assume that the Totos will die in such a harsh environment.」


Kamyua Yost showed an untrustworthy expression and a Cheshire cat-like smile.

2


「Welcome home, house head.」


After finishing my work in the Post Station Town for the day, I returned home to work on preparing for the next day. And now, Ai Fa returned alone with a 60 kg kiba.


Ai Fa finally resumed her hunting job yesterday. It had been twenty days since her right shoulder got dislocated. Ai Fa still had a serious expression on her face, but there was a gleam of satisfaction in her eyes now.


After hearing me greet her, Ai Fa narrowed her eyes suspiciously when she turned her head and was about to return the greeting.


I was at the stove behind the house frying the aria I needed to use for tomorrow. The women in the neighborhood were here to observe my work, which was a common sight. However, the sharp Ai Fa immediately noticed the two intruders hidden amongst the women.


They were Rimee Wu and Leito.


「Uwah, amazing! Ai Fa, did you catch that by yourself? And you just recovered too, you are too good!」


Ai Fa probably didn’t mind Rimee Wu’s, who was all smiles, staying here. After all, if Rimee Wu didn’t have any chores, she would want to come to the Fa house to play.


The problem was the boy smiling quietly beside Rimee Wu. Even though Forest's Edge didn’t have any rules that forbid westerners from entering the Forest's Edge settlement, this was still rather rare.


「You said you are the disciple of Kamyua Yost, correct? What are you doing here?」


「I’m here to explain how to ride a Totos.」


Ai Fa shut her mouth, hung the kiba’s gigantic body onto a branch some distance away from the stove, and walked to me with a ferocious look.


「Asuta, can you explain what’s going on here?」


「Yes, I will explain it to you now.」


After scooping up the aria into a plate, I relayed my conversation with Kamyua Yost to Ai Fa.


「… That’s how it is. House head, please tell me what your thoughts on this are.」


「Why did you let a westerner enter the Forest's Edge before consulting me?」


「No, I wanted to get your permission first…」


「Pardon me, Kamyua forced Asuta to take me with him. Kamyua has a lot of work on hand, so I will teach everyone how to ride a Totos.」


After the demise of Zattsu Tsun who was responsible for his parents’ death, Leito was still the same as ever. Or at least, there wasn’t any obvious change.


This smart ten-years-old boy had light brown hair and eyes. Ai Fa glared at the boy’s cheerful face and then turned towards me:


「That man who likes pretending to be retarded has made peace with the tribal chiefs, but this is a different matter. Didn’t Donda Wu instruct us to eat that Totos?」


That Totos was tied to a tree even further away than the kiba and was eating the leaves on the branches leisurely.


「Since we found a better way than eating it, I want to propose it to the tribal chiefs. If Donda Wu remains unmoved after hearing my proposal, I will follow his instructions… However, Donda Wu just wanted to push this troublesome matter to the Fa house in the first place, so we don’t really need to do as he says.」


Ai Fa fell silent with a stern face.


She was furious with Donda Wu’s brute way of doing things yesterday too and grumbled: 「This beast looks like it might taste nasty, who will want to eat that?」


After that, Rimee, who had been listening to us quietly, walked over and tugged at the cloth on Ai Fa’s waist:


「… Ai Fa, do you want to eat this Totos?」


And so, Ai Fa gave in.


A single tear speaks more than a thousand words… I didn’t know if such a proverb existed, but Ai Fa couldn’t continue to object while facing the teary Rimee Wu.


「… So what do you want to do?」


After Rimee Wu stopped sobbing, Ai Fa glared at me with a hellish expression.


「I want to check how much work is needed to ride a Totos. No matter how convenient a Totos is, the denizens of Forest's Edge can’t waste too much effort on unnecessary work.」


「… Who will ride it?」


「I want to try.」 「No.」


「Then, let Rimee try!」 「No.」


Even Rimee Wu was caught in Ai Fa’s refusal.


With a sigh, Ai Fa ruffled her blonde hair in resignment.


「… I understand. I will do it.」


Facing Ai Fa who was getting less happy with each passing moment, Leito said with a smile:
「This Totos seems really docile and probably won’t shake you off. If we don’t do anything violent, there won’t be any danger.」


And so, we stopped our work for now and held a Totos riding trial.


Leito held the reins of the Totos, and everyone gathered at the entrance of the house. The six women taking a break from their work looked happily at each other and followed us. They were Rii Sudora, Jass Dean, Tulu Dean, and women from the Fou and Von houses whom I couldn’t recall the names of.


「Aside from sleeping or laying eggs, Totos almost never squats down. If you force it to squat, it will spoil its mood. Normally, we will mount onto its back while it is standing.」


After reaching the road before the house, Leito started to explain.


「The mounting position is between the center and rear of the Totos’ back. When stopping suddenly, take care not to grab its neck when you are leaning forward. That might spook the Totos and make it go on a rampage… Erm, is there anything that can be used as a step ladder?」


「There’s no need for that.」


With that, Ai Fa placed her hands on the back of the Totos and then leaped onto it nimbly.


The Totos was three meters tall, with its neck accounting for half its height, but its body was still 150 cm tall, which was about the height of a person. But Ai Fa could jump onto its back so easily, a testament of the amazing physical prowess of a hunter from Forest's Edge.


「Uwah!」


Rimee Wu cheered, and the other women also started chattering. The way Ai Fa looked with her head and chest held high on the Totos impressed me so much that I didn’t even feel jealous.


「Please squeeze the Totos a little with your knees. Don’t use too much force or it will be painful for it.」


Ai Fa moved her slender legs a little.


The Totos didn’t move at all.


「The Totos was stationary earlier because I was holding its reins. But it keeps standing still now because you are clamping its body. I will let go of the reins now, please don’t relax the force in your legs.」


Leito slowly let go of the reins.


Both the Totos and Ai Fa didn’t move.


「Next, please hold the reins and pull both ends tight. The length of both sides needs to be equal.」


Leito handed the reins to Ai Fa who was mounted on a horse… no, mounted on a bird.


Ai Fa followed the instructions quietly, and Leito checked the angle and tautness of the reins from both sides.


「There’s no problem, don’t use too much force in your arms, and bend your elbows adequately… It seems that I don’t need to nag to you about all that. It’s a bit late to ask this, but is this your first time riding a Totos?」


「Of course. There’s no way a denizen of Forest's Edge will ride this thing.」


「I asked because your posture is too perfect. Well then, please keep your back straight after the Totos starts walking… If you want to stop the Totos, assume your current posture. We will let the Totos walk later; when you are getting ready to stop, pull the reins towards yourself and clamp the body of the Totos tightly. It’s dangerous to stop suddenly; please be gentle and avoid startling the Totos.」


「Yes.」


「Alright then, let’s make it walk forward. Please relax the strength in your legs and then pull the reins down. It will then start walking.」


「Uwah!」


Rimee Wu shouted again.


Totos opened its strides obediently and kept advancing steadily.


But it was twice as fast as a person because of its long legs. We chased after it quickly, and the Totos stopped five meters away.


「Yes, it stopped obediently.」


「It did. Alright then, let me teach you how to change directions. Even if you hold the reins loosely, the Totos will still walk along the road. However, if you want to head to the left or right, you can pull the reins in that directions and change the way that the Totos’ neck is facing. There’s no need to pull too hard, please avoid startling the Totos.」


The Totos started moving again.


I couldn’t see Ai Fa’s arms from my position. But the Totos veered about 50 degrees every three meters, resembling a Z-shape path.


「Hah〜, the Totos is really obedient.」


I sighed, and Leito smiled awkwardly:


「Yes, it’s performing a little too well. Ai Fa, if you move the reins smoothly, I think you can go in the opposite direction. You want to give it a try?」


As Leito was saying that, the Totos turned around after moving in a large circle.


It then continued to zig-zag until it reached the house entrance where it set off from and stopped. Its movement was smooth and accurate as a machine.


「Amazing, amazing! That’s so nice, Rimee wants to try!」


「… This is no different from walking by myself. Why do I need to train like this? Besides, I have never seen anyone ride a Totos in town.」


「It’s dangerous to run wildly on a Totos in town, so that is prohibited. But everyone will ride on Totos to travel between cities… Well then, let’s make it run a little.」


To make a Totos sprint, you just had to kick its leg.


「Don’t make it dash right away. Wait for it to open its strides and then slowly kick it. If you increase the strength of your kicks, its speed will increase further.」


「Hmmp.」


Ai Fa grunted disinterestedly and made the Totos walk.


We didn’t follow and stayed by the roadside. The roads in Forest's Edge were only 5 meters wide, which was half that of stone-paved roads.


The figure of Ai Fa and the Totos went further away as its pace increased.


When the speed was so fast that it was starting to worry observers like us, they made an arc in the path and disappeared.


Less than ten seconds later, they appeared from the shadow of the woods again and sprinted quickly towards us.


The Totos’ speed should be around 50 km/h. From what I knew, that was as fast as a motorcycle


The Totos’ powerful legs struck the ground, and Ai Fa lowered her stance like a jockey. When she passed us by, her cape was fluttering in the air… The Totos then gradually slowed down, turned its head around quickly, and walked towards us in large strides.


「A… Amazing! Ai Fa is so cool!」


Rimee Wu cheered again.


Excited squeals drowned out her voice.


I turned back in shock and found the younger four of the six women cheering with sparkly eyes just like Rimee Wu.


By the way, the spouse of the Sudora house head, Rii Sudora, was one of the four younger ones. Unlike her usual elegant self, she was holding the hands of a girl beside her and showing a face like a girl in love, which was a rare sight.


The two older women were Jass Dean and a middle-aged woman from the Fou house. They also sighed in awe.


「Incredible. Everything is done perfectly, I have nothing more to teach.」


Leito stood amongst the crowd with a wry smile.


「As the saying goes: 『Fall off the back of the Totos ten times, and you can be a masterful Totos rider.』 But you can ride the Totos so nimbly without even falling once. To be honest, not even the people in the city are as skilled as you. The hunters in Forest's Edge are really impressive.」


「… Learning tricks like this is nothing to be proud of.」


Ai Fa kept a straight face as she got down from the Totos nimbly.


Leito let out an 「Ah.」, but Ai Fa grabbed the reins tightly at the same time, so the Totos remained immobile.


Leito smiled awkwardly again and shrugged magnanimously.


「What do you think? A lot of time can be saved when the denizens move between the two ends of Forest's Edge, correct? Furthermore, this proves that the hunters of Forest's Edge can ride a Totos easily. Do you understand why Kamyua said that: 『Aside from eating it, there is a more efficient way of using it.』?」


「Yes…」


Ai Fa still looked troubled.


I glanced at her and probed: 「Can I try?」


「No.」 「Give it up!」 「It’s better that you don’t.」


I received three replies the very next instant.


「What if you get injured because of this?」


「That’s right, it’s dangerous if you fall.」


「If you are interested, just practice a little every day.」


They coordinated their replies perfectly.


「I see. I understand what everyone thinks of my physical capabilities. But do all of you really think I will fall off a Totos?」


They responded with silence.


And it was really unbearable during times like this.


「… I understand. Then let me start by practicing every day. Please.」


「Why are you so adamant about this? There’s no point in you learning to ride a Totos, right?」


「Seeing how good Ai Fa feels when you are riding a Totos will obviously pique my interest.」


「…」


「Right? Ai Fa, you felt really good, correct?」


「…」


「Huh? Did I say something wrong?」


「Shut up!」


It was rare seeing her kick me.


「The tribal chief has not agreed to take this Totos in yet! We can’t act recklessly before they permit it!」


「That hurts. Why are you so angry…? But if the tribal chiefs are still uninterested in the Totos after hearing our suggestions, I want to keep it in the Fa house. The tribal chief wants us to eat it anyway, so they won’t have any complaints whatever we do with it.」


「What? Why would you want to take this thing in?」


「Kamyua is right, it is really convenient. If we buy a wagon, transporting ingredients and crockeries will be a piece of cake. It should be able to pull a wagon easily.」


When she heard me saying that, Ai Fa finally started considering it.


「I see… So it can be used in such a way too.」


「That’s right. The path we usually take has a suspension bridge, so we will make a detour now. And I remember the wagons in the city can transport both cargo and people. Isn’t that right, Leito?」


「Indeed, normal wagons are pulled by two Totos, but if you spend some time searching, you can also find small wagons that can be pulled by one. You won’t need to worry about falling off a Totos then.」


Ai Fa started considering it seriously.


「Huh!?」


Rimee Wu gasped loudly.


When I heard the hint of happiness in her gasp, I felt a little uneasy. I turned to find an incredible scene. Two women from the Forest's Edge were pulling three mounts, no, three Totos with them as they approached from the south.


Ema Min Lutim was holding the reins of two Totos, while Molun Lutim held the third. With the pair of huge followers behind her, Ema Min Lutim walked towards us quietly and bowed apologetically:


「I’m sorry, the men of the Sauti clan found more Totos in the woods…」


「Uwah〜!」


Rimee Wu cheered excitedly, I let out a deep sigh, and Ai Fa scowled her brows angrily.


The Totos were unaware of the emotions of the people and started chewing on the leaves at the edge of the forest.

3


In the end, Forest's Edge decided to take in these four Totos.


There weren’t any major issues. Anyway, after witnessing the Wu clan’s forceful pushing of the four Totos to the Fa house, Ai Fa was enraged. She went to the Wu clan village to demonstrate the convenience of the Totos personally, which was warmly received by one of the three tribal chiefs, Dali Sauti.


「It will be much easier to head to the northern villages! Not just that, the denizens in the northern and southern ends of the settlement can now easily head into the Post Station Town in Genos to make procurements.」


After inquiring about it, I learned that the villages to the north and south ends of the settlement would only head to the Post Station Town to buy things for banquets and celebrations.


The reason was simple, it was too far.


The Forest's Edge settlement was a long and narrow place that stretched from the north to the south. For the Wu clan and Fa house situated in the center, the Post Station Town was just an hour’s journey away. But for the Zaza house and Sauti clan, it was a four-hour trip.


Hence, they purchased aria and poitan directly from the farmers that were closer to them. If they needed to procure rock salt or fruit wine, they would pay in advance to the farmers along with a small commission and buy them in large quantities to store in their homes.


When Dali Sauti heard that the Totos could traverse the two ends of Forest's Edge in 90 minutes, it must have sounded very attractive. During all this time, the house heads who were scattered far apart within the settlement could only gather once a year for the house head conference… After the incident with the Tsun clan, we couldn’t do so anymore. Like what Kamyua Yost said, it was important for the tribal chiefs to communicate frequently, which would affect the future of Forest's Edge greatly.


「We were the ones who found these Totos, but we didn’t notice their capabilities, what a disgrace. Forest's Edge needs the Totos. The head of the Zaza house will definitely agree with me.」


I learned about this from Ai Fa. Dali Sauti was sincerely awed by the prowess of the Totos. Ai Fa grumbled that despite Dali Sauti acting all cool and composed, his eyes were sparkling just like Rimee Wu.


「… We are in Kamyua Yost’s debt now, which irks me. Tell him that I will pay for the Totos.」


Ai Fa asked me to convey her message to him.


And of course, Kamyua Yost turned down the offer.


「The Forest's Edge will be holding a meeting with Genos in the near future. I hope you can accept the Totos and forget all owed debts and favors. But if the meeting doesn’t end peacefully, you can just give me some copper plates or return the Totos to me.」


The denizens of Forest's Edge seemed to prefer such crude suggestion.


And so, Dali Sauti personally rode to the northern village on a Totos and got Graff Zaza to agree to this. The four Totos were welcomed to the settlement by the denizens of Forest's Edge.


The decision was made in just four days, which was incredibly fast for the conservative denizens of Forest's Edge.


Since two of the tribal chiefs gave their consent, Donda Wu didn’t make any protest. I didn’t know how much effect Rimee Wu’s pleading had on him.


By the way, the three tribal chiefs and the Fa house were each given a Totos.


As the Fa house was financially capable of purchasing a Totos ourselves, we would like to entrust all four Totos to the tribal chiefs if possible. But everyone thought that the Fa house made a big contribution to Forest's Edge by uncovering the convenience of the Totos, so the first Totos found by the Sauti clan was left with the Fa house.


「I will look around for a place to buy wagons tomorrow.」


On the 23rd of the Blue month, we accepted Kamyua Yost’s suggestion and officially recognized the Totos as the possession of Forest's Edge. I reported this to Ai Fa on that very night.


After having dinner, I worked hard on preparing the ingredients for tomorrow, and Ai Fa sat some distance away from me at the entrance.


The Totos was lying beside Ai Fa. It bent its large legs and stretched its long neck onto the ground. Munto and Gizu would wander around the settlement at night, so we had to let the Totos in when it got dark.


「I see.」


Ai Fa muttered softly as she looked down at the Totos’ sleeping face.


「Never mind, we don’t have other places to spend the copper plates anyway, this works out just fine. We can be liberated from our daily heavy labors now, which is a good deal.」


This was the 26th day since I started my business in the Post Station Town. The Fa house’s wealth was now over 3,000 copper plates. That would just be three silver plates, but it was an incredible amount of wealth for Forest's Edge.


「Do what you want… But don’t be reckless before you complete your training.」


「Alright. The road leading into the Post Station Town is narrow and hilly anyway. I will practice on a flat road first.」


「Yes.」


「Erm… Are you angry?」


Seeing that Ai Fa was a little slow in her reactions, I asked her worriedly. Ai Fa tilted her head puzzlingly and asked:


「Why would I be angry? It’s good that the tribal chiefs didn’t object. I’m just afraid of the relationship between Forest's Edge and Genos deteriorating further.」


Ai Fa looked really cheerful when she rode the Totos. She had a happy expression when she galloped on a Totos, and now, she showed a calm face as she watched the Totos sleep.


Besides, the Totos were a good match for the denizens of Forest's Edge. If not for that, the Totos wouldn’t be accepted so easily into the Forest's Edge, since they weren’t so receptive to other cultures. Anyway, Ai Fa looked really cool on the back of a Totos and didn’t seem out of place at all.


We didn’t know where the denizens of Forest's Edge originated from, but their ancestors might have galloped around the plains on Totos before they settled down in the forest. Such a thought occurred to me because of how natural Ai Fa looked when she was riding a Totos. I felt really happy seeing Ai Fa looking at the sleeping face of the animal.




「Well then, what name are we going to pick for it?」


「Name? The Totos is just the Totos.」


「But there are four Totos in Forest's Edge. If we don’t name it, there might be times when we confuse it for another?」


「Are you going to treat it like a person and name it?」


Ai Fa turned to me in surprise.


I taste-tested the tarapa sauce and tilted my head quizzingly:


「Why are you so surprised? Since we will be living together, that means it will be a part of our family. It’s easier for us to grow attached if it has a name, and we can become of one body and soul.」


「Soul…」


Ai Fa looked at the Totos’ sleeping face again.


「So beasts have a soul too. When I pulled at its reins and kicked its abdomen, it did move more docilely than a human.」


「Yes, that’s why people call them the friends of humanity.」


「It might be easier for me to get along with them, compared to other people.」


「The way you put that sounds wrong.」


「I even thought about putting reins on you too.」


「I’m a human, you can just tell me with words!」


「… Totos sure are incredible creatures.」


Even though Ai Fa said many inappropriate things, she was showing a thoughtful expression right now.


The sauce in the pot was finally done. I covered it with a lid, put out the fire, washed my hands and then walked to Ai Fa.


「So, what about its name? I don’t know which name is suitable, I hope you can name it.」


Ai Fa was quiet for a moment and then said quietly:


「Gilla.」


「Gilla, huh, that’s a nice name.」


I felt surprised as I answered.


I recalled that Ai Fa’s father who passed away two years ago was named Gill Fa.


「… Is that named after your father?」


「Yes. If I have a boy, he hoped that I could name him this.」


I sat down quietly beside Ai Fa.


「But when I decided to live on as a hunter, I couldn’t become a mother. That’s why I want to give it this name… What do you think?」


I closed my eyes and sought the answer I could accept in my heart.


It wasn’t difficult, and I found my answer immediately.


「In that case, I think you should give it another name. There are no guarantees in this world, maybe you will want to have a child in the future, Ai Fa.」


She might beat me up— I already steeled myself for that.


However, Ai Fa just said quietly:


「I see. Then call it Gilulu. Gilulu Fa sounds nice, right? I can’t give it our family name though. Never mind, let’s leave it at that.」


「…」


「You are not happy about that?」


Ai Fa slowly turned and faced me.


I looked into her clear blue eyes and replied:


「No… I think that is a great name, it sounds cute and suits it well.」


「Is that so?」


Ai Fa said and smiled happily.


And so, the Fa house welcomed a new housemate named Gilulu.


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