Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 10 (4 of 5)

Chapter 4: Misgivings and Answers
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Ratorasepo

1


The next day, the 2nd of the White Month, things were hectic right from the morning.


We met with an unusual incident before heading for the Post Station Town.


After Ai Fa finished her morning chores and was loading the goods onto the wagon, she said: “Hmm… These are the footsteps of Totos.”


When Ai Fa couldn’t go to town with me, Ludo Wu would ride Lulu over to pick me up. But it was still 30 minutes before we had to set off.


“Did something happen in the Wu clan? I hope it’s nothing serious.”


When she heard what I said, Ai Fa shook her head.


“The sound is from the north. It’s not Ludo Wu.”


“North?”


There were five houses in the Forest's Edge settlement that had Totos: the Wu clan, Zaza house, Sauti clan, Fa house, and Lei house. The only one in the north was the Zaza house, and it was a man from the Zaza house who showed up riding a Totos.


“What’s the matter, something urgent?”


The Totos stopped before us, and the man dismounted from his horse— or rather, bird— and greeted Ai Fa fearlessly.


But I was still on guard. Behind the Totos was a small wagon without any roof, and two men were seated in it.


There were three of them including the driver… They were the fearsome hunters from the Zaza house, wearing capes with the head of the kiba attached to it.


“You have not set off for the Post Station Town yet, huh. Then listen to this too.”


One of the men said with a booming voice as he got off the wagon. He was the head of the Zaza house, one of the three tribal chiefs of Forest's Edge, Graff Zaza.


His face was also obscured by his kiba cape, but his buffed body that was on par with Donda Wu made it impossible to mistake who he was.


“Someone infiltrated the Zaza village last night.”


“What?”


“It happened late in the night when everyone had turned in. Only the night shift watching the prisoners noticed… They appeared near the house where the prisoners were.”


‘The prisoners’ were referring to Zuro Tsun, Diga, and Doddo. Diga and Doddo were detained again after their escape from the Dom house. But they left Zattsu Tsun of their own and warned us of the danger, and that’s why were spared the death penalty.


However, they were under strict surveillance as they worked to repair the burned building of the Dom house. At night, they were locked in the same room as Zuro Tsun. In short, they were under probation.


I asked hesitantly: “… Was Zuro Tsun abducted?”


Pyschkurewuss once voiced suspicion that the denizens of Forest's Edge let Zattsu Tsun escape intentionally. If Zuro Tsun got abducted, the denizens of Forest's Edge wouldn’t be able to clear themselves of such accusation.


But Graff Zaza showed a ferocious gaze that could rival a kiba from under his headwear: “Don’t underestimate me, Asuta of the Fa house.”


“The Jean house did let Zattsu Tsun escape before, and the Dom allowed to Tay Tsun flee. These are our mistakes, but we are not so retarded to repeat them.”


Because of these two incidents, Graff Zaza borrowed Darum Wu and the others from the Wu clan to strengthen their security. The proud tribe of the north that kept to themselves had actually sought assistance from Donda Wu; now that I thought about it, that was incredible.


Anyway, if too many people were assigned to watch over the prisoners, their hunting would be affected. The kins of the Tsun clan actually going against the Tsun clan; what an unexpected turn of events.


“The infiltrator fled without doing anything after he was discovered. Not apprehending him was a pity… But the problem is what happened after that.”


“Problem?”


“The criminal Zuro Tsun had gone insane, saying that was definitely the minion of the city people and asking us not to turn him over to the Genos city. He is asking us to scalp him if his crime deserves death.”


“W-What’s going on here?”


“… He probably got scared. He has no idea what would happen to him if he gets turned over to the city. In the end, he said in tears that he wants his soul to return to the Forest's Edge.”


Graff Zaza scratched his stubble beard as he was reminiscing about the past.


“To think we revered him as the tribal chief previously. Just mentioning the name of that incompetent man makes me grit my teeth, but he still led the tribe in the past. We have been with the Tsun clan longer than any other houses, but we didn’t realize how heavy their sins were. That was undoubtedly our fault”


“So you’ll deny Zuro Tsun’s plea to execute him, right?”


Heeding to that request was as good as turning down Pyschkurewuss’ demand directly.


A more intense fire burst out of Graff Zaza’s eyes and he roared:


“I know we can’t grant it. That’s why I’m sending an urgent report to Donda Wu and Dali Sauti. I can’t make this decision by myself.”


Was Graff Zaza thinking about conceding to Zuro Tsun’s wish?


Zuro Tsun, who was a representation of the Tsun clan’s depravity, begged to allow his soul to return to the Forest's Edge in tears… I might be moved by him. For Graff Zaza, who was his kin, his feelings must be even more complicated.


I looked Graff Zaza in the eye again and tried to see him as an individual.


A man as buff as Donda Wu… No, he was wider than Donda Wu and might be taller than him too.


Agewise… Donda Wu should be older. Brown stubby beard covered his face, and deep wrinkles could clearly be seen on the whip-like skin of his face.


… Zuro Tsun is about his age too, maybe younger.


I recalled the face of toad-like Zuro Tsun.


It was difficult to imagine Zuro Tsun and Graff Zaza looking like this since birth.


Innocent babies like Kota Wu were born into the various families in Forest's Edge. One of them became depraved, while the other turned into a seasoned hunter. These might be two extreme examples… But they were blood-related relatives, similar to the relationships between Donda Wu, Dan Lutim, Jiza Wu and Kaslan Lutim.


The kins would play together when they are young… How does it feel to be betrayed by someone like that?


When the sacrilege of the grace of the forest was discovered, the one who suggested for all members of the Tsun clan main house to be put to death was Graff Zaza.


That was the fury of being betrayed by someone he trusted and the cold-heartedness of Forest's Edge that adhered strictly to the rules… But this beast-like man was still human. Just what kind of feelings lay behind his rage? I was too young to imagine it.


“… Where are the Fou and Bemu houses? We have to call for them if the three tribal chiefs are to meet.”


Graff Zaza turned his head impatiently from me to Ai Fa.


“If you follow this road south, you will reach the Fou house. I’m not sure about the Bemu house; you can ask the head of the Fou house.”


“Alright. Sorry for intruding on you.”


He stopped right before boarding the wagon, and then turned to me and said:


“… That’s right. The women of the Dean house called for me just now.”


“Hmm, women from the Dean house?”


“Yes. It was the sister of the head of their main house, Jass Dean. She asked if they could help the Fa house to run their stall.”


That scene from two days ago appeared in my mind.


The stern Jass Dean watching over Tulu Dean with loving eyes.


“The Zaza house has yet to acknowledge the Fa house’s methods. But before we clarify whether doing so is correct, there is a need to understand the Fa house better. Can the Dean house, which is the closest of the Zaza house’s kin to the Fa house, be responsible for this… Jass Dean proposed that to me.”


“I see. So Jass Dean proposed something like that…”


“On the other hand, Dali Sauti kept asking me to try the dishes made by Asuta of the Fa house. But before doing all that, shouldn’t we work together against Pyschkurewuss first?”


Graff Zaza said very unhappily and then got onto the wagon.


“Graff Zaza, regarding Jass Dean’s request…”


“I can’t decide this for my kins alone. I need to gather the heads of all seven kin houses for a discussion. We are already busy enough, and such a troublesome matter is brought up…”


He then glared at me with his beast-like eyes:


“In short, you have the obligation to prove your correctness after causing all this mess in the Forest's Edge. Don’t let your guard down, Asuta and Ai Fa of the Fa house. Farewell…”






Ludo Wu and the others who were headed for the Post Station Town learned what Graff Zaza said from me.


After the morning rush was over, we could finally chat. Ludo Wu, who was standing beside the stall, looked displeased as he said: “Fufu. That Zuro Tsun wants to regain the honor of a denizen of Forest's Edge at the very end. Never mind… He is probably just scared of the people in the city.”


When Ai Fa didn’t follow me to the Post Station Town, Ludo Wu would stand at the frontlines like this.


“By the way, if we execute Zuro Tsun on our own, the people in the city would probably complain; Dad and the others sure have it tough.”


“Right. Just what is the goal of the people who infiltrated the Zaza village? Are they going to let Zuro Tsun flee to discredit the denizens of Forest's Edge, or to kill Zuro Tsun and silence him… It has just been a day, so Geta shouldn’t know where Zuro Tsun is. This must be the doing of Pyschkurewuss, correct?”


“It’s useless to ask me! Ah, my head is starting to hurt.”


Ludo Wu said as he scratched his head.


The night before yesterday, Uncle Dora’s farm was attacked. Yesterday, Milano Mast’s daughter was almost abducted. And finally, the Forest's Edge settlement was infiltrated yesterday. It was only natural that Ludo Wu got a headache.


Taking a step further, we were attacked by Geta three days ago. Which meant… The group of culprits went to the Post Station Town, the “Kimyusu’s Tail Inn”, and the Zaza village where Zuro Tsun was imprisoned; all these places which were guarded had been attacked.


We didn’t know what we needed to be on guard against; anyway, the policy of assigning escorts had proven to be useful. The farm that wasn’t guarded resulted in casualty too, which meant things were now worse than we initially predicted.


Out of all the motives of these criminals, we only knew about Geta’s goals. Are the rest a conspiracy by Pyschkurewuss? But why is he doing this?


That incident with Zuro Tsun could be an attempt to seal his lips. Or maybe not. As for Milano Mast and Uncle Dora, it might or might not be a case of causing trouble.


The truth was still in the dark.


“Welcome, would you like one?”


Lala Wu’s voice brought me back to reality.


When I came back to my senses, a westerner was standing opposite the griddle.


“Welcome, that will be two red copper plates.”


“Two red copper plates, huh. That’s really cheap. But why the glum face… A businessman can’t get any clients with a face like that.”


“Ah, sorry.”


I realized mid-sentence.


A middle-aged man with yellowish brown skin… This tall person with a wide figure covered in rough garments was Michael of Toran.


“W-Welcome, are you here to try my cooking?”


“Why else would I visit a stall selling food?”


Michael’s face was displeased today too.


But his round and rotten log-like face didn’t have any signs of drunkenness. His eyes were sharp and strides were steady. He was already tall, and when standing up straight, he looked completely different from the drunkard I saw yesterday.


“Here are two red copper plates. Give me one.”


He placed the copper plates onto the counter with a thud.


With mixed emotions, I prepared a portion of “Myam-roasted meat” for him.


“You are really generous with your myam. Unskilled cooks will let that strong fragrance break the balance of the taste.”


He grumbled as he bit into the grilled poitan.


His facial expression remained unchanged as he chewed the meat stubbornly without swallowing.


Another customer visited, so I had to attend to him. But Michael neither backed away nor left the stall. He finally swallowed after the other customer took his merchandise and left.


“Fufu… I thought my tongue turned weird after drinking yesterday but seems like I don’t need to retract my warning to you.”


“… Is the taste to your liking?”


In response to my question, he glared at me with his scary bloodshot eyes.


“Myam, fruit wine… and that is probably aria. You diced the aria and added it into the sauce, correct?”


“Yes, that’s right.”


“Fufu. You also added myam, fruit wine, and aria to the dishes yesterday. With the limited seasonings available in the Post Station Town, you are using them to flavor your cooking, huh.”


Michael started inspecting the “Myam-roasted meat” he just took a bite out of.


“But this fuwano tastes a little strange. I don’t mean it in a bad way, it has a refreshing texture. But there’s a faint fragrance of a gigo…”


My jaw went slack; he could actually taste the minuscule amount of gigo I added into the grilled poitan.


“Well, that’s not a fuwano, but grilled poitan. I added some gigo to improve the texture, and you are the first customer who could tell.”


“Poitan? This?”


He mumbled and then took another bite of “Myam-roasted meat”.


“Poitan, huh… I never ate this before… Is this popular in the Post Station Town right now?”


“I’m not sure. Maybe the other stalls won’t make poitan like this. I didn’t really research it.”


Michael turned silent and quickly finished his food. He then glared at me:


“Brat, where are you from? You are definitely not from Genos. Where did you learn to cook?”


“I learned it from my father in my hometown. My hometown is… It’s a long story, but I’m not from this continent.”


“From outside the continent? A migrant, huh.”


Michael stared with his eyes wide and then showed a straight face again.


“Never mind. Remember the warning I gave you yesterday. If you don’t go inside the city, that guy will not discover you.”


“Erm, but Psy—”


“Don’t say that name in town.”


Thick veins burst out from Michael’s thin forehead.


“He might not visit the Post Station Town in person, but there might be merchants and soldiers related to him nearby. Don’t stir any trouble.”


“Sorry. But that person has dealings with the denizens of Forest's Edge right now. We haven’t noticed anything yet, but he must know that I’m doing business here.”


It wasn’t mentioned the last time we spoke, but Pyschkurewuss instructed the tribal chief to “not stop the stall operations” during the Tsun clan commotion.


I could take this one step further and assume that Pyschkurewuss has been told by his informants that my business was doing well.


… Dell also said angrily that the people in the city look down on the food made from kiba. I can’t tell for certain if she meant Pyschkurewuss.


No matter what, it was the right call to turn down Dell from bringing the kiba dishes into the city.


“You don’t need to care about the evaluation in the Post Station Town. The aristocrats won’t think of cookings that can be bought with few red copper plates as real dishes. There probably isn’t anyone who thinks kiba is fit for human consumption.”


“Is that so. I don’t feel happy about some of those things, but it’s great that they aren’t interested in this.”


Michael backed away with a grunt.


“If you are unlucky enough to be marked by him, you won’t be able to make kiba dishes anymore. Don’t ever go near the city.”


Michael left in brisk steps after saying that.


After listening to our conversation quietly, Lala Wu retorted: “What’s wrong with him? What an arrogant customer.”


“He is Michael of Toran. You heard his name being mentioned when Shumimaru was bidding farewell, right?”


“Huh? The guy who can bring strength to Forest's Edge?”


Ludo Wu said in surprise.


“Isn’t he just a normal old man? I can’t imagine him getting involved with the future of Forest's Edge.”


“That’s just fortune telling, right? Only retards will believe that.”


They started chatting, but I wanted to believe.


I couldn’t imagine how Michael would be of help specifically. But he definitely wasn’t just a “normal old man”. At the very least, I couldn’t sense the taste of gigo in the grilled poitan of the “Myam-roasted meat”.


A former chef from the city, huh…


I felt a palpation in my heart.


No matter how Michael might interact with the denizens of Forest's Edge in the future, we still had work to do. We had to do our best to resolve the troublesome matters that still laid ahead of us.


2


We finished our work in the afternoon without any incidents.


The town seemed very peaceful.


I could sense that the number of patrols in town had increased a little, but there weren’t any other changes aside from that. Sales at the stall remained above average, and the customers told us “Thank you for your hard work.” from time to time. I couldn’t detect any signs of malice towards the Forest's Edge.


Maybe, instead of more people having good will towards the denizens of Forest's Edge, there were more people suspicious of the people in the city?


Only the tribal chief Tsun clan of the Forest's Edge was given special privileges, while the others lived in worse conditions than the people in the Post Station Town. This fact became widespread after the commotion caused by Tay Tsun. This resulted in the impression the townsfolk had towards the denizens of Forest's Edge softening a little and their distrust of the people in the city increasing by a bit… That was the gist of it.


Even if they were told that bandits in Forest's Edge garb had appeared, they would suspect the people in the city first and wonder what the truth actually was.


If my impression isn’t wrong, they seem to be hoping for the downfall of Pyschkurewuss, that sort of feeling… But it’s too early to celebrate.


I couldn’t feel happy about Uncle Dora’s farm getting attacked.


And those bearing good will towards the denizens of Forest's Edge were still in the minority. Most of the townsfolk were wary of the city people and, at the same time, cast persecutory gazes at the denizens of Forest's Edge.


Are the denizens of Forest's Edge really a bunch of outlaws? Isn’t this a good chance to figure this out? — I felt their subtle intent to seek out the truth.


All in all, our work finished peacefully.


On the other hand, we had made a lot of progress.


First of all, Neil from the “Cryptic Venerable Inn” chose loin meat out of the four types of kiba meat and decided to add it to his menu as grilled meat. It was prepared by slicing them thinly and then grilling them.


But that meat had to be complemented with a sauce made from pickled Chitto, fruit wine, and all sorts of herbs. I tried it, and it tasted really spicy and exotic.


“It is a far cry from Asuta’s cooking, but I will lower the price adequately, so no one will complain about it.”


The dishes I was catering for him was set at the expensive price of five red copper plates. However, the price of fresh kiba cost the same as karon, so his cooking would be priced at four red copper plates, the same as his karon dish.


“I should be able to sell ten portions a day. I plan to sell twenty portions during Asuta’s day off, can I buy the meat one day early?”


Neil and Naudiz were afraid of their customers leaving for other inns. I answered: “Of course!” without any hesitation.


On the other hand, the “Big Tree of the South Inn” had gotten fresh kiba samples yesterday.


My off day would be four days later, and Naudiz spent just one day to decide on the kiba parts he wanted. He chose the more expensive abdomen meat.


“I think this part tastes the best after charbroiling. Can you sell me ten portions for tomorrow and the day after, and 70 portions three days later?”


“Seventy portions, huh! You are really decisive!”


“If I can’t sell them all, I can preserve them with salt. At least they won’t spoil.”


Seventy portions meant 7.5 kg, which was 107.5 red copper plates.


He was probably planning to sell ten portions three days later and thirty portions each during my two rest days. He normally bought 40 portions from me, so it wasn’t much in this case… But, anyway, this was a joyous thing for me.


“Thank you for your patronage. By the way… the innkeeper of the ‘Cryptic Venerable Inn’ has also bought the more tender parts, which are more suitable for grilling. Making a stew with the thigh or shoulder meat won’t take too much time either and will be cheaper too. I wonder why both of you didn’t choose to do so.”


“I see. The innkeeper of the ‘Cryptic Venerable Inn’ probably felt that his stew can’t compete with Asuta at all. Kiba tastes great just by grilling it a little, so going this route is the obvious choice.”


I accepted what he said for now.


Kiba was suitable for making stew too, but it didn’t mean stewing it longer would make it more delicious. That was why he felt his cooking couldn’t match my “Kiba soup” and “Kiba hotpot”. The limited choice of seasonings was also a disadvantage.


If this went on, there would be plenty of thigh and shoulder meat left over in the Fa house. We needed to make stew and hamburg steak too, so there wasn’t any problem for now. But I hoped for all the parts to be sold.


Never mind, with access to Tau sauce, it wasn’t difficult for Naudiz to make a grilled dish on par with the “Cryptic Venerable Inn” anyway.


In order to rival the other inns which had foreign seasonings, the “Kimyusu’s Tail Inn” needs to strengthen themselves too.


Today in the “Kimyusu’s Tail Inn” we held a mini cooking class as I studied the karon and kimyusu meat.


Not just meat dish, I also taught him how to handle the vegetables. I taught him about the vegetables I was familiar with— how to cook aria, tino, tarapa, pula, chachi, gigo, and myam deliciously.


Slicing into pieces and cubes, as well as mincing. And the cooking method to complement these ways of cutting, in addition to the management of the fire intensity. I taught him tons of things.


However, Milano Mast was the only student today. His daughter was doing other preparation work where I couldn’t see it.


“She is really afraid of the denizens of Forest's Edge. Sigh… As the one who brought her up, I’m responsible for this.”


“Don’t say that; this isn’t your fault, Milano Mast.”


Milano Mast’s wife died young from the grief of losing her brother. The ones who killed her brother were Zattsu Tsun, Tay Tsun, and their gang. Given how much the denizens of Forest’s Edge had wronged them, it wouldn’t be strange for Milano Mast and his daughter to loathe them. But despite that, Milano Mast still didn’t break off ties with us and even allowed me to teach him to cook.


I seldom saw his daughter. We had plenty of chance to meet in the past, but she avoided us out of fear. Even so, Milano Mast let us to enter his kitchen thanks to his daughter granting her permission.


However, his daughter was mentally hurt because of the incident yesterday and didn’t appear before us. It was the fault of those damn thugs.


Shameless people colluding with the Forest's Edge, your reckoning will come!


We still didn’t know who those thugs were. And they spoke in the same way as Geta, but it should be fine since we believed what Geta said.


By the way, there wasn’t any evidence that Pyschkurewuss’ henchmen were behind this. If it wasn’t Pyschkurewuss’ doing… that meant there were still people who extremely hated the presence of Forest’s Edge’s denizens in the Post Station Town.


However, what those thugs did was still unjustified and I couldn’t stand it. Like what Milano Mast said, Geta who focused his hate directly towards the denizens of Forest's Edge was more logical.


… Killing tens of merchants and then framing my father and his comrades for the crime. How can you still show your face in the Post Station Town gleefully…? Geta’s words still lingered in my heart.


There ought to be people who would flare up against the denizens of Forest's Edge whenever they got reminded of what Zattsu Tsun did. Speaking of which, Milano Mast who overcame such misgivings and started working together with us was the special one instead.


… But there’s no use in being anxious.


A foreigner like me loved the denizens of Forest's Edge and the people of Post Station Town deeply. There must be something that I could do about this. And for the sake of that, I would do my very best.






“Geta didn’t show up today either…”


After finishing the day’s work and returning to the Wu clan village, Ludo Wu tied Lulu to a tree near the house and said:


“We need to think of a way to get that guy to meet with my Dad. Things will be a breeze after that, correct?”


“Huh, but why?”


“You see, he doesn’t seem to be like the people in town who think of all those complicated things. He looks like a hunter from a mountain somewhere and should get along well with us, correct?”


What an optimistic view.


It was just like Ludo Wu to say that… But Ludo Wu had never met Geta before; despite that, he got glared by Geta’s vengeful eyes.


Shin Wu, who was knocked down by Geta before, was helping Lala Wu and the others unload the cargo in silence.


“Oh, isn’t that Asuta? Long time no see!”


A large figure came out from the Wu clan main house. It was the head of Lutim house, Dan Lutim. We might not have met in a while, but calling it a long time was wrong.


“Ah, hello. Are you… here to take part in the meeting about Zuro Tsun?”


“Yes! The discussions are basically over, but it’s boring to go home now, so I’m playing with Kota Wu right now!”


He was easy going as usual.


Leina Wu was amused by how energetic he was and said with a smile: “Well then, Shela Wu and I will get on with our work.”


The production of the “Kiba burger” meat patty had developed a lot, and I just needed to do the final taste inspection and checking of the size. And these steps were just a formality, and I thought it wouldn’t be a problem to let them handle everything from tomorrow onwards.


That was why I decided to stay behind and chat with Dan Lutim.


“So, what are we going to do with Zuro Tsun?”


“Nothing. Pyschkurewuss wants us to hand him over to the city, but our negotiations are still in progress, so that will be put on hold… That’s what the tribal chiefs think.”


“Dan Lutim, you look a little… unhappy?”


“Not a little but a lot! That depraved Zuro Tsun had finally grown a spine like a denizen of Forest's Edge, so I think we should accede to his request!”


“Yes, but doesn’t it mean he is fearful of the people from the city? He wants to die right now, instead of being interrogated and then dying.”


To be honest, I felt the same way, but I restrained myself and said to Dan Lutim:


“But even so, normal people won’t mention scalping so easily. And he did so in the Zaza village, right? Graff Zaza might pick up his blade right on the spot.”


Dan Lutim’s face started to frown as he said:


“A man born in the Forest's Edge settlement is begging for his soul to return to the forest. Even if we ignore that, why must we let the city handle his sentencing? I still don’t understand what Donda Wu is thinking.”


“This is a problematic issue for the tribal chiefs too. The other side was asking for all the Tsun clan members in the beginning. If we are not willing to even hand Zuro Tsun over to them, they might suspect the denizens of Forest's Edge of treason…”


“We are not traitors. Is refusing strange demands a treasonous act?”


Dan Lutim was forthright in his opinions, so forthright that I was stumped.


Pyschkurewuss made this demand because he “can’t trust the denizens of Forest's Edge”. So leaving tactics and logic aside, all that’s left was Dan Lutim unfiltered opinion.


“According to the laws of Genos, foraging the grace of the Morga forest isn’t punishable by death, correct?”


“Yes, I heard about it. Normally, the rules in Forest's Edge are stricter than the laws of Genos.”


The one telling me this information was the son of the guy pouting before me.


“Speaking of which, handing Zuro Tsun over to the city is a chance for him to survive. But instead, he is asking to be scalped. I’m impressed.”


“That’s true. It is normal to think this way…”


But our opponent was the mysterious Pyschkurewuss. Zuro Tsun was wailing that “I don’t know what will happen to me”, so he must have been incredibly spooked.


And not just Zuro Tsun, Pyschkurewuss insisted that the other members of the Tsun clan should be turned over to him. His reason was that the punishment by the denizens of Forest's Edge was too lenient, so he must have had a reason to kill Zuro Tsun off.


If that was true, I could understand why Zuro Tsun was so scared…


At this moment, a question sprung up in my mind.


But, why is he so adamant on wiping out the Tsun clan?


Going by common sense, it should be related to the great felon Zattsu Tsun.


For example, there might be a secret agreement between Zattsu Tsun and Pyschkurewuss, and letting someone who knew the truth alive was detrimental to Pyschkurewuss… If that was what Genos liaison thought, Zuro Tsun might get tortured and interrogated, and Pyschkurewuss would be filled with doubt and want to seal the lips of all the main house members.


However, did that secret really exist? Even if it was so, did Zuro Tsun need to keep the secret under wraps?


Zuro Tsun had been imprisoned for twenty-odd days. During this time, the men from the Zaza house had probably pressed him about his crimes, and Zuro Tsun would have plenty of chance to confess.


Or rather… If he was that afraid of the people in the city, he should have used this chance to spill everything out while he was still in Forest's Edge. After revealing the content, it would cease to be a secret, and there wouldn’t be any need for interrogation or sealing of his lips. Since he had the resolve to be scalped, that was what he should have done.


There might be a critical secret for Pyschkurewuss, and uncovering it would endanger all denizens of Forest's Edge… Is that even possible?


In any case, I didn’t think such a secret existed.


If there was one, Pyschkurewuss wouldn’t have left Zuro Tsun alone for such a long time. We were ready to hand over Zattsu Tsun and Zuro Tsun in the first place, so if they didn’t demand all members of the Tsun clan, the negotiations wouldn’t have stalled in the first place.


And on second thought… The idea of a “secret agreement between Pyschkurewuss and Zattsu Tsun” was already far-fetched. Zattsu Tsun didn’t think he was working together with Pyschkurewuss in the first place and felt he was being exploited. Even if there was such a deal, it was unlikely that Zattsu Tsun would honor it. Zattsu Tsun was still preaching his hatred for the people of Genos right up until his death.


It was the same for Tay Tsun. It’s impossible for Zuro Tsun to be the only one to know too.


But what was the truth?


Why was Pyschkurewuss so adamant about us handing over Zuro Tsun and the members of the main house? Why was Zuro Tsun so afraid of afraid of being extradited to the city? This was making less and less sense.


But I knew one thing: we couldn’t ask Pyschkurewuss about this, but we could probe Zuro Tsun.


“… Is Donda Wu home?”


After getting a positive answer, I entered the Wu clan main house alone.


Waiting inside were the clan head, the eldest son and his spouse, and their son.


With the rowdy guest gone, it was time for the family to enjoy themselves.


Ushered in by Sati Lei Wu who was carrying Kota Wu, I apologized for my sudden visit.


“Enough with the useless talk. What do you want with me?”


I told the displeased Donda Wu about my doubts. But my explanation was too vague, and he couldn’t understand my worries.


“I don’t understand… Can’t you make it simpler?”


“Sorry about that. I don’t really get where the heart of the issue is either… Anyway, it’s about what Zuro Tsun is afraid of. Staying in the Forest's Edge will end with a death sentence too, so why should he fear the city people?”


“But someone infiltrated the Zaza village last night. He lost it when he knew that the city side has their eyes on him… Are you saying this reasoning doesn’t make sense?”


Jiza Wu responded.


He was smiling as usual, and I couldn’t tell what he was thinking at all.


“Yes, for example, if Pyschkurewuss’ goal is to seal his lips, he has no reason to be afraid as both paths lead to his death. So Zuro Tsun is scared because he feels that he will experience something worse than death if he gets captured.


“A fate worse than death …Isn’t that torture or interrogation, or something?”


“That’s what I thought in the beginning. But if there was a secret that Zuro Tsun would only spill under interrogation, he just needs to tell us before he gets handed over to the city, and then there won’t be any value in interrogating him.”


“… What other reasons might there be?”


When I heard Donda Wu’s question, I shook my head: “I don’t know.”


“Then shouldn’t we ask Zuro Tsun? Ask him what he is afraid of. Zuro Tsun has been dealing with Pyschkurewuss for the past decade as the tribal chief, correct? Zuro Tsun will know best what Pyschkurewuss is thinking about, right?”


“… Indeed. Only Zuro Tsun who has been tainted by the Rock City will understand the evil in the hearts of the rock city denizens.”


Donda Wu stroked his mane-like beard.


“You should have said that before the other tribal chiefs left. Hey… Is Ludo Wu going to use the Wu clan’s Totos?”


“That’s right; the plan is for him to escort me to the Fa house and stay until Ai Fa reaches home.”


I didn’t need to explain further because this plan was set by Donda Wu.


“Then use the other Totos. If the head of the Lei house went to the Fa house, tell him to go straight to the Zaza village and relay what we just discussed to them.”


“Huh? Rau Lei is at the Fa house?”


“Didn’t you arrange this with him? That’s what he said.”


I didn’t make any arrangement with him; was he bringing Yamiel Lei over again?


“I understand; ask them to question Zuro Tsun about what he is afraid of. I will tell Rau Lei everything when I see him.”


“Right. If the head of the Lei house doesn’t show up, tell Ludo to ride the Totos there after his guard duty ends…”


“Huh? What?”


I thought I heard a “thank you for your hard work”, but couldn’t be sure.


“Annoying; if there’s nothing else, go.”


“Okay! I’m leaving then.”


I went outside obediently.


Anyway, I have shared all my concerns with Donda Wu.


It is the darkest right under the lantern… With Zattsu Tsun gone, the one who dealt with Pyschkurewuss the most in Forest’s Edge was Zuro Tsun; we should have worked from that angle sooner.
<TL: a proverb about missing what is right under your nose>


Yamiel Lei once told me that Zattsu Tsun had given up on Zuro Tsun because of his lazy nature. That’s why we felt he had nothing to do with Pyschkurewuss’ conspiracy.


However, Zuro Tsun and Pyschkurewuss had more than ten years of dealings. He might not know anything about that conspiracy, but his experience was still invaluable.


We knew too little about Pyschkurewuss. If Pyschkurewuss had something on us, that would definitely drag us down. With a sense of satisfaction, I left the Wu clan.


But there wasn’t anyone outside the house. Gilulu and Lulu were both eating leaves. Ludo Wu and Shin Wu were probably tired of waiting and went to their elder sisters workplace.


And Dan Lutim… As I was surveying the area, I heard a loud thud.


“Hahaha! You might be big, but you still have ways to go! You will never beat Donda Wu and me like this!”


Two large figures appeared near the entrance of the village.


The one laughing loudly was, of course, Dan Lutim and lying by his feet was Mida. There were some kids running around them too.


“A contest between hunters? No… Mida, long time no see.”


I met Dan Lutim during Shumimaru’s visit, but it had really been a while since I last saw Mida.


I had been visiting the Wu clan village a lot recently but didn’t have time to catch up with the others as we were all busy with work. Mida who was on the ground groaned vaguely as he tried to push himself up.


“It’s Asuta… Mida wants to show Asuta something…”


“Huh? What is it?”


Mida trotted off around the Wu clan building.


Dan Lutim and I followed him and saw something surprising. It was a wooden building.


“Uwah, it’s already done?”


Mida had been constructing his own house under the tutelage of Shin Wu’s father, Ryada Wu.


I learned about this on Lala Wu’s birthday, the 25th of the Blue Month, and he was just cutting the lumber into shape back then. It had just been 15 days since then, and he had already finished. It was a little smaller than the Fa’s house, but it was as good as any other house.




“Oh! This is great!”


Dan Lutim started to clap.


“Amazing, you actually finished so quickly.”


“Yes… Mida is working hard for Asuta and Ai Fa’s sake…? ”


“Huh?”


“Mida’s old place will be returned to Asuta…”


Speaking of which, the only vacant house in the Wu village was now Mida’s room, so Ai Fa and I couldn’t lodge in the Wu clan.


Ai Fa wanted to stay in her own house as much as possible, and with Gilulu, there wasn’t much need for us to stay outside… But of course, I didn’t say something so crude.


“Thank you. You really worked hard; this is incredible.”


“Ryada Wu is the amazing one… Mida couldn’t do it alone…”


“That’s not true. If not for Mida’s strength, it wouldn’t be finished so quickly.”


Mida shook the fats on his cheeks.


He still couldn’t make a normal expression on his face because of the fats; yet, I could tell he was very happy.


Dan Lutim smiled cheerfully: “Yes, you aren’t half bad. I will ask you to help when Lutim house needs to build a new house. You have lost a lot of fats too. If you continue working hard, I will see you at the test of might contest again. Eat well and work hard!”


“Yes… Mida will work hard, so Mida can eat Asuta’s cooking next time…”


I probably won’t be asked to cook at every harvest festival. The culinary skills of Leina Wu and the other women of the Wu clan were improving too.


But it might be rude to say that.


“I’m looking forward to the next harvest festival. If I’m invited to cook, I will put on a good show.”


“Yes… Mida is looking forward too…?”


His pig-like eyes were sparkling.


His hands that had broken a stall in the Post Station Town in the past were building a new house in the Forest's Edge right now. Even someone not closely related to him was happy for him.


Be it Mida or Yamiel Lei… Aura and Zwei too. They had all overcome the pit before them— the pit of their and Tay Tsun’s crimes— and had moved on in their new homes.
What about Diga and Doddo? Surrounded by the fearsome men of the Dom house, they were probably regretting their crimes and weakness.


Anyway, I confirmed my resolve once again: If Donda Wu and the others couldn’t find any semblance of reason from Pyschkurewuss’ words, we wouldn’t let anyone destroy our new lifestyle here.


3


“Oh, we have been waiting for you, Asuta, Shin Wu!”


When we reached the Fa house, Rau Lei and Yamiel Lei were there waiting for us.


“Please teach Yamiel Lei to cook today! I will train with Shin Wu!”


“Unfortunately, my dad has a message for you, Rau Lei.”


Ludo Wu explained what happened on the back of Lulu, and Rau Lei puffed his cheeks unhappily.


“Why must I run this errand! Don’t you have a Totos too? Ludo Wu, why don’t you go instead!?”


“If you want to complain, tell that to my dad. But speaking of which… Darum-nii is in the Zaza village, right?”


Ludo Wu fell into deep thought.


“Darum-nii won’t be coming back so soon, so I will pay him a visit. But… don’t get too engrossed with training and neglect your sentry duties, okay? Rau Lei, you must have heard by now, someone infiltrated the Zaza house last night.”


“I understand! Ludo Wu, thank you!”


And so, Rau Lei stayed behind as a sentry and guard.


I still needed to prepare dinner and study cooking… and teach Yamiel Lei to cook.


“What should we do today? Do you have any request?”


“You think I will have requests…?”


Yamiel Lei was sexy and lazy today.


By the way, I didn’t really work together with Yamiel Lei before, and the women in the neighborhood had no plans of visiting the Fa house either.


“The women of the Lei house learned to cook from Lutim house. How much progress have they made?”


“Who knows… Anyway, they seemed to be stumped by hamburg steaks. Only Ema Min Lutim and Molun Lutim can make proper hamburg steaks.”


“They are stumped? I see.”


Most of the women in Lutim house learned to cook from the Wu clan women. So they were my disciple’s disciples, while the Lei house women were disciple’s disciple’s disciples. Leina Wu and Mama Mia Lei were excellent cooks, but as the information got passed further down the line, it was inevitable for the content to gradually degrade.


“The bigger the hamburg steak, the harder it is to grill. The Fou house and Lan house women also worked on it for a long time… Let’s change tact for now and try making meatballs.”


“Meatballs?”


“Simply put, they are mini versions of hamburg steak. It’s hard to undercook or overcook them.”


This was the inspiration I got when trying making kimyusu meatballs at the “Kimyusu’s Tail Inn”.


Be it the Forest's Edge settlement or the Post Station Town’s inn, this was a popular and low effort dish.


“First of all, the preparation work is the same as the hamburg steak. After finishing the poitan, dice the aria.”


I used the Fa house’s dinner as an example and let Yamiel Lei try making a sample dish.


After drying the poitan, she diced the aria and minced the meat. Aria wasn’t added into the kimyusu meatballs, but I would usually add them into the stronger tasting kiba.


This was a good chance, so I decided to make some meatballs without aria.


I wondered how things would be if I used gigo to make it more sticky. The poitan needed to be dried after cooking it, unless I was planning to make grilled poitan at the same time; going out of my way to use poitan to make it more sticky was a big hassle.


The option of adding aria or not, using gigo or poitan for stickiness, there were four permutations to choose from.


“Next will be adding salt, Pico leaves and myam shreds to taste. In the Fa house, we add in a bit of fruit wine.”


“What a pain; the Lei house won’t add so many seasoning in our cooking.”


The “Kiba burger” meat patty sold in the Post Station Town only had salt and Pico leaves too, since plenty of tarapa, fruit wine, and myam were added into the tarapa sauce.


I was trying to make a sauce with Tau sauce right now and also making cheese hamburg steak and teriyaki hamburg steak. I had actually put in a lot of effort into refining the taste of the meat patty. Ai Fa also said my hamburg steak tasted better than Leina Wu’s, but I felt that our cooking wasn’t too different aside from the heat control.


“The meatballs should be about this big. You don’t need to remove the air inside either.”


It was bite-size, as big as a takoyaki.


“It’s a little too early to grill the meat for dinner; let’s grill some samples first. To stop the meat from sticking to the pot, let’s fry the kiba fats first. Keep the stove at medium fire and stir the content repeatedly, until the meat turns brown. The meatballs will break apart if you use too much force, so be careful.”


After the surface turned brown, it was time to add in myam shreds, salt, Pico leaves, and fruit wine to steam it. That concluded the cooking. Adding diced aria and cheese was just my personal preference so it could be simplified.


It might be a little late to say this, but meatballs might be more suited for the Forest's Edge where people didn’t like complicated procedures.


“Well then, this one doesn’t have aria, and gigo is added to firm it up, so try it.”


“… Aren’t you eating?”


I started with: “I will be stuffed during dinner…”


… but then changed my mind mid-sentence and continued: “Please give me half.”


This meatball was melded by Yamiel Lei. I was the one who grilled it, but it would be a boost to her confidence if I acknowledged it.


“Hmm, I don’t have any complaints. It’s delicious.”


It wasn’t flattery; I was really praising her.


The texture became smoother after adding the gigo.


Not having aria as ingredient brought out the strong taste of the kiba. Those who didn’t mind the gamey taste of the kiba, which was applicable to all denizens of Forest's Edge, would prefer this taste.


Also, compared to the thin mini hamburg steak, the shape of these meatballs added more variety to the texture. It was juicy and impeccable, like a sort of pseudo hamburg steak, a dish made specifically for denizens of Forest's Edge.


What would Ai Fa say after trying this? Everyone seems happy eating it, but she is the only one with a blank face.


As I was deep in thought, I felt Yamiel Lei sighing deeply.


“What is it, is there a problem?”


“It’s nothing, I think it’s good. But… I’m worried. It is really fine for me to act so leisurely?”


She tilted her head quizzingly; her eyes stared at me through her long hair.


“I heard what happened to Zuro Tsun. The conference that happened a few days ago was inconclusive. What do the new tribal chiefs plan to do?”


“Ah, you are talking about that. What will happen, huh… But Yamiel Lei won’t be handed over to the city.”


“… Didn’t they ask for all the main house members of the Tsun clan? Then…”


“Yamiel Lei, don’t tell me that we should just hand you and Zuro Tsun over, okay?”


I said before she could, and Yamiel Lei sighed.


“You are really smart. The head of the Lei house only said that at the very end.”


“You told Rau Lei too? He definitely lost his temper.”


Rau Lei was wrestling with Shin Wu as Gilulu watched over them. I could see them, but not hear what they were saying.


Yamiel Lei turned her head to the side and flicked the hair on the left of her head.


“Not only he was furious, he even hit me. What a horrible man.”


“Well, being rash is Rau Lei’s flaw, but you are at fault for making him mad too, Yamiel Lei.”


“…”


“Even if you are saying this to protect Mida and Zwei, don’t think all will become solved by sacrificing yourself. Didn’t we tell you during the House Head Conference that such methods won’t work?”


“… But I was supposed to inherit Zattsu Tsun’s role. Aren’t the people of the city clamoring for my death?”


“I can’t understand the demands of the city people. But, Yamiel Lei, you are a precious member of our tribe.”


Yamiel Lei lowered her head a little and covered her face with her long bangs.


“Enough already… We can satisfy the people of the city just by doing this; I don’t get it.”


“That’s what I should be telling you. Please understand why Rau Lei and I are mad at you.”


After saying that, Yamiel Lei suddenly bit her thumbnail. A childish action that didn’t fit her style at all.
“Asuta, are you mad too…?”


“Instead of mad, it’s closer to being sad. Anyone will feel sad if a tribemate doesn’t value their life.”


“… You are a foreigner, not a tribemate.”


“I might be a foreigner, but I think of myself as a tribemate.”


Yamiel Lei became silent.


The atmosphere was getting heavy, so I said in a cheery tone:


“I don’t think the city people are interested in Zattsu Tsun’s heir anyway. They are still insisting the incident ten years ago was done by bandits, so they won’t pursue the Tsun clan’s part in those crimes.”


“Not pursuing, huh…” Yamiel Lei hid her expression and muttered softly: “Hmm… Is that why… Zuro Tsun is afraid that he will be handed over to the city…?”


“Huh? Yamiel Lei, do you know the reason?”


“Not really, but after hearing what you said, I thought about something.”


“I can’t think of anything at all, so I asked them to question Zuro Tsun.”


I unconsciously leaned closer to Yamiel Lei.


“Please tell me, Yamiel Lei. Why do you think the city people want Zuro Tsun?”


“… If they are not trying to prosecute him, there’s only one other reason.”


Yamiel Lei stared at me with dubious eyes from behind her long hair.
“To revive the Tsun clan.”


“Revive the Tsun clan…”


These words sent a chill into my heart.


“Other than that, what use are Zuro Tsun and the Tsun clan members to him? The city side isn’t happy with the new tribal chiefs Donda Wu and Graff Zaza, right? Then they will definitely want to install Zuro Tsun as the tribal chief and control the Forest's Edge, correct?”


I could only say… That was unexpected.


Pieces of memories and words fit together in my mind to form one conclusion.


Pyschkurewuss demanded Forest's Edge to hand over all members of the Tsun clan main house and branch house at the start. When these demands weren’t met, he only asked for the main house members.


But why?


Didn’t Pyschkurewuss say at the start that he did so in order to mete out the sentencing?


So Pyschkurewuss did this… not for the sake of sentencing the Tsun clan justly but to pardon their crimes by abusing his authority?


So he could veto from the position as a ruler that Donda Wu and the others were just making baseless accusations and that the denizens of Forest's Edge should follow the Tsun clan.


Now that I think about it …That explains why Pyschkurewuss isn’t anxious at all. If his reason for demanding for the criminals is to bury the secret, he is taking things too slow. But if he is scheming for that other reason, spending this bit of time isn’t a problem at all.


Then, his reason for demanding of the other members of the Tsun clan… was because he needed hostages to keep Zuro Tsun under his thumb, or to force Zuro Tsun to hand his position as tribal chief to his son.


The infiltrator last night wasn’t there to harm Zuro Tsun but to check whether he was still alive. Saying that the punishment by the denizens of Forest's Edge was too light was a misdirection cast by Pyschkurewuss.


And, of course, I couldn’t present any evidence for this. But this made more sense than our initially presumed Pyschkurewuss’ plan to seal Tsun clan lips.


“But… Why is he breaking Zuro Tsun’s mental state? Zuro Tsun is acting up because of the infiltrator. Since Zuro Tsun and Yamiel Lei understood the same thing, won’t that be disrupting his own plans?”


“What? It’s impossible for Zuro Tsun and me to think the same. We might be father and daughter, but we are still two individuals.”


Yamiel Lei said without any inflection and slowly crossed her arms.


“However… Maybe Zuro Tsun thinks that he won’t dare defy the city people’s demands. If he gets installed as the tribal chief, he will definitely be scorned by the denizens of Forest's Edge… And he cried when he realized that.”


Yamiel Lei’s shoulders quivered a little.


So I put my hands on them.


“It’s fine, Donda Wu will never hand Yamiel Lei over to the city. I’m certain of it after hearing what you said.”


“… But these are just my random thoughts.”


“In any case, Forest's Edge does not abandon their own.”


Even Yamiel Lei with the icy aura around her had warm blood flowing in her veins.


I rested my hands on her shoulders until her warm body finally stopped shaking.






And then, night fell.


After having meatballs for dinner, I told Ai Fa:


“Things are becoming complicated. What will happen to Zuro Tsun now?”


“Donda Wu and the others will have a hard time deciding our path to the future. What we can do is figuring out the truth.”


It was as Ai Fa said.


The decisive moment was upon us, and we had countless puzzles, questions, and speculations on our hands. We couldn’t plan the future with just these things.


“We need to protect ourselves and wait for Kamyua Yost’s return. That’s all that we can do.”


“No, there’s one more thing, right? Convincing Geta and pulling him to our side.”


“For that matter, we can only wait for him to show up. Anticipating the prey is a way of hunting too.”


“That’s a really hunter-like way of thinking.”


Speaking of which, Donda Wu seemed very passive too. That man didn’t strike easily, concealing himself and waiting for an opportunity.


I looked at Ai Fa’s profile illuminated by the dim candlelight.


We weren’t too far apart, leaning against the wall side by side and speaking softly. Our shoulders were almost touching.


“If an arrow is shot through the window, I won’t be able to protect you if we are too far apart.”


Ai Fa had been staying in this position since dinner.


She covered the window to avoid being attacked. But the night breeze felt really comfortable.


Let’s stay like this before we sleep… without needing to say it out loud, we stayed at a distance where we could feel each other’s body warmth and chatted quietly.


“… I want to go back to a peaceful life soon. At least to having no need to worry about people shooting at us through the window.”


“Hmm? What’s with you? In a bad mood?”


“No, there are just too many things giving me a headache, and if I’m not careful, I might spur the competitiveness of others… However, if I can just live a life of worrying about Ai Fa’s safe return and running my business, that will be a blissful life too.”


Ai Fa pouted as she looked out the window.


Ai Fa would normally fall into silence when she heard me say such things.


Staying silent whenever she felt uneasy;, she resembled a cat in this way.
In any case, I didn’t find it displeasing at all.


“But back to the topic, waiting for the opponent to show up isn’t easy either. What I’m more worried about are terrible things happening to the people around me.”


“Yes, but we still don’t know who is the mastermind.”


“That’s right. If Pyschkurewuss is the mastermind behind all this, isn’t his plan just repeating of history?”


“Repeating? History?”


Ai Fa tilted her head quizzingly. Her long hair brushed against her neck.


“Don’t you think so? Pyschkurewuss reinstalling Zuro Tsun as the tribal chief, and spreading malice against the denizens of Forest's Edge into the hearts of the townsfolk and disrupting my business… This is returning everything to the way it used to be.”


“If what you say is true…” Ai Fa said in a quiet voice. “Pyschkurewuss is undoubtedly an enemy of the Forest's Edge.”


“That’s right. He is definitely an enemy, and we have a reason to defeat him.”


I answered half-jokingly, and Ai Fa suddenly smiled… However, her eyes were burning with rage, and those were the eyes of a hunter.


“… He’s here.”


She grabbed the hilt of her saber.


I followed Ai Fa’s gaze in surprise and saw a pair of yellow eyes shining outside the window.


I gulped; this was akin to encountering a famished beast at night.


“Is it Geta? You want to talk to us?”


“… Come out, both of you.”


The yellow phantom light was gone.


Ai Fa stood up with her saber.


She then cast her hunter eyes towards me as I stood up.


“Asuta, don’t leave my side. Brace yourself; I will kick you back into the house if we are attacked.”


“Got it.”


We carefully exited the house.


Geta stood about 5 m from the entrance like a ghost.


He had a leopard-patterned cape, like a foreign hunter of sorts.
The pale moonlight made his figure very prominent.


“If you bear no ill will, we will welcome you. I’m the head of the Fa house, and this is my family member, Asuta.”


“We already told you a few days prior that we don’t want to be your enemy. Before you spread your hatred towards the denizens of Forest's Edge, I hope you can hear us out.”


Geta was wearing a hood, so I couldn’t see his face clearly.


But there was a beast-like glare in his yellow eyes.


However… Probably because of the moon, his body appeared smaller than before.


He was already shorter than Ludo Wu in the first place and had a slender build. I couldn’t feel any rage or intimidation from him right now. If not for the rage in his eyes, he would just be a normal kid wearing a hooded cape.


“I want to ask you something before that. How did you know where we’re staying? Asuta always rode in a wagon; you couldn’t have kept up.”


“… I followed the wagon’s track here. This is easier than tracking a beast.”


Geta answered from under his hood.


His voice was like an angry bolt of thunder in the past… But now that he was calm, it sounded like the hoarse voice of a teen whose voice was breaking.


After a short silence, Geta asked in an even deeper voice: “Is the great villain… really dead?”


“News that two villains had been executed is spreading in the Post Station Town. But these two weren’t the only ones that killed the tens of merchants. Where are the rest…?”


“I heard that the others had all died out over the past ten years. For some reason, the Tsun clan members who took part in criminal activities all died young.”


In response to Ai Fa’s calm answer, Geta’s eyes exploded in fury: “Bullshit! How can it be so coincidental for all the criminals to be dead? Are you covering for the rest of them…?”


“That isn’t so. There weren’t many who were involved with that incident a decade ago in the first place; they lured the kiba to attack the caravan. Just one man can wipe out a group of thirty by doing so.”


“What about the attack on the farms two days ago? You all are a bunch of outlaws.”


Ai Fa said incredibly calmly: “That’s definitely not true. Someone is trying to frame the denizens of Forest's Edge. I believe that there are no hunters in Forest's Edge who would dare bring shame to our honor.”


I gulped as I stood beside her, in awe of how strong and righteous she was.


Ai Fa, who didn’t usually express what she was thinking to others, made a display of how strong she was… A sense of incredibility overwhelmed me.


Geta shut his mouth tightly and glared at Ai Fa.


After a moment of silence, he finally decided to speak… and a cool breeze brushed through my hair and pushed Geta’s hood back.


“In order to take revenge against Forest's Edge, I trained relentlessly…”


His flame-like hair moved silently in the darkness.


“But with all those responsible dead… Who should I point my blade at…?”


Geta showed his face.


The face that was scowling with rage was now twisted from sadness.


However… Was this really the terrible assailant that brandished his blade at us in a rage?


His eyes were large and had almond shape with a slight droop at the corners. His nose and mouth were small, and his jaw was thin. He looked younger than 13 or 14 years old.


I couldn’t imagine this face scowling like a wounded leopard.
But now… his yellowish eyes had a melancholic light in them.


Ai Fa asked coldly: “… Geta, why are you seeking vengeance?”


Geta’s eyes became focused.


“Don’t ask me something like that. It’s for the sake of regaining the honor of my father that was framed, of course.”


“Is that so? We are also trying to reclaim our honor that had been tarnished by our former tribal chiefs.”


“…”


“Asuta told you the same thing yesterday too. Even if the Tsun clan was the one who did the crime, there must be others behind the scene too. We are battling to figure out the truth.”


“…”


“We might seem like the enemy to you. But for the sake of uncovering the truth, shouldn’t we be working together? I hope you can cooperate with us.”


Geta didn’t answer and pulled up the hood with his right hand.


His left shoulder that was covered by his grey cape could now be seen.


Geta said emotionally: “… I want to take revenge in my own way. If you have a problem with that, kill me right now. It shouldn’t be a problem for you. I’m wounded too.”


“I have no reason to kill you. I’m glad that I didn’t kill you three days ago too.”


Geta backed away wordlessly.


I called out to him quickly.


“Wait. Didn’t your mother tell you anything? Actually, our friends are searching for your mother. Her testimony might uncover the crimes of our enemy…”


“My mother… forbade me from seeking revenge. So we broke ties a year ago. That woman… had grown sullen after my father’s death.”


“A year ago… You two have been apart for so long, huh.”


“I have been living in the Marsala mountain. I went to town in order to sell a Barobaro bird I caught… And I found out about you, Asuta.” Geta said in a flat tone with his back towards us: “The denizens of Forest's Edge are actually doing business in the Post Station Town… the felon has been brought to justice, and the denizens of Forest's Edge were forgiven… I heard all that from a traveling merchant, and my mind turned blank from rage… And so, I came to Genos.”




“Is that so. I don’t think the denizens of Forest's Edge have been completely forgiven. That’s why we are working hard to build a proper relationship with the townsfolk.”


Geta didn’t answer.


His petite figure gradually faded away into the darkness.


I wanted to follow… but a quiet “Don’t come” rejected me.


Geta then disappeared before us.


“Erm, Ai Fa… Is it really fine to let him go without a word?”


“We have no other choice. He is searching for the right path. No one can stop him.”


Ai Fa stared at the direction Geta went off.


“And he has a soul similar to us. I believe he won’t become our enemy. Well then… We can only wait for him to walk the same path as us one day.”


“Is that so. Maybe…”


This was the best way for Geta to turn around to our side.


Since Ai Fa believed in Geta, I should do so too.


The enemy had finally floated to the surface. No matter what schemes Pyschkurewuss chose to employ, we wouldn’t give in.


If Pyschkurewuss had a plan to revert Forest's Edge to how it used to be… If he deemed that the situation in the past was correct… That meant he was refuting my existence and my life amongst the denizens of Forest's Edge.


There wasn’t any proof that what I was doing was correct either.


That was why I needed to face off against Pyschkurewuss with everything I had.


Ai Fa and the others acknowledged me… and I shouldn’t let them down.


“It’s getting late. Asuta, let’s turn in…”


“Right.”


We then left the windy night in the Forest's Edge and rested for the sake of tomorrow.


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