Nothing new to say today except that this chapter was way too long and hard to translate… Enjoy the chapter~
“……Pico leaves, grow in the forest near water. The best place to collect them is around the Lant River1, but because upstream is the territory of the Sun clan and their related clans, we’ll head downstream”
Following the path that we took last night in reverse, we headed towards the forest.
The fuss I made somewhat delayed our departure, but the other houses in the village were quiet. Although we could see the figure of another person occasionally flickering by, no one tried to come out into the street.
“Fu-n. No one would be in the mood to head into the forest right after getting out of bed. Tanning furs and cutting firewood, they spend their mornings doing such miscellaneous things”
“And yet, isn’t Captain-dono going to the forest early in the morning?”
“……because I suddenly got a new freeloader, I don’t have a good stockpile of firewood. Usually I don’t go into the forest this early in the morning”
“It was the low ranking minister’s fault! I’m making a really sweaty face!”
“Stop talking like that right this instant, or I’ll cut off your tongue”
“I understand. I’m sorry”
Ai-Fa is still in a slightly good mood, so I decided to concentrate on walking for a while.
In front of me, the first morning scene I saw in this world was unfolding.
Yesterday it was too dark so I didn’t know, but it was quite a pretty spectacular view.
In the mist filled sky, Mount Morga swelled up. It made me wonder if it was such a big mountain, its peak extending from left to right.2
The destination is, deep inside the forest.
Except for the area that was carved out in order to create the village, everything was covered in lush greenery.
It was the wilderness as far as the eye could see.
The air was crisp and clear, there was no smell of exhaust gas.
In the sky, birds flew about.
The temperature had not yet risen very high. Wearing my long-sleeved cooking clothes felt just right.
I glanced around me, and saw that morning dew shined on the shrubs and bushes.
If this was a camp or something, I’m sure I would feel satisfied too.
“Hey. Come to think of it, pico leaves, what the heck are they?”
I asked when we approached the forest’s edge. Ai-Fa looked annoyed and said “the one earlier that you were so happy about that you shed tears, that one”.
“Eh? Is that the spice? That’s a pretty lovely name”
“……Pico leaves, lose their effects after about one month, so you need to secure a sufficient stockpile of them before then. Without pico leaves, meat and such would rot before 2 days pass. If you don’t want to eat rotten meat, then work hard”
“Got it. ……The vegetables that you gave me last night, are you harvesting what grows naturally too?”
“Aria and poitan, are actually traded for from a guy in the inn town”
While stepping into the bushes of the forest, Ai-Fa shook her necklace with a sharashara.
“With one Giba horn or tusk, you can get 10 days worth of arias and poitans. If it’s eaten by two people, then it’s 5 days worth. ……In other words, I have to kill Giba at least 1 time every 5 days, otherwise I can’t get anything to eat other than Giba meat, is what I’m trying to say. So right now, I can somewhat afford it”
“Fu-n? But, since there’s such a big mountain, shouldn’t you be able to procure as much food as you want here?”
“……to take away Mount Morga’s blessings, is a taboo”
“Ravaging Mount Morga’s blessings, would cause hungry Giba to raid the Jenos territory’s fields. For the people of the forest, herbs such as pico and lilo (リーロ), and the highly toxic grigi fruit, only plants that aren’t edible for Giba are allowed to be harvested”
“Not allowed, by whom? Mountains and forests, originally don’t belong to anyone right?”
“Morga’s mountains, forest, everything, are the territory of the western kingdom Selva. Us people of the forest, escaped from the ravages of war 80 about years ago, and moved our homeland from the southern kingdom of Jagal (ジャガル) to this forest. ……And so the people of the forest, under the promise of hunting Giba earnestly, without ruining the mountains, are allowed by the western kingdom to live here”
“What’s with that? Either way, because it’s such a stupidly big mountain, I don’t think that taking a few of the blessings would cause the Giba to starve”
“That’s not true. Giba, are a species that can only live at the foot of mountains. Deep in the mountains, live the Great Madarama Snake (マダラマの大蛇) and the Valve Wolf (ヴァルブの狼) which the Giba fear, besides that there are also vicious savage’s living there. Us people of the forest as well as Giba, can only live at the forest edge at the foot of the mountain”
I understood, but I can’t agree.
A race of survival resulted, in Giba being chased to the foot of the mountain. That can’t be helped, but to protect fields, the people of the forest can only hunt Giba, what I mean is, somehow, isn’t that a terribly poor deal?
The people of the forest being despised as “Giba Eaters”, as well as yesterday’s words, stuck strongly in my heart.
“The people of the forest, are just a foreign bloodline that flowed in from the southern kingdom after all. Abandoning the southern god Jagal, and devoting our soul and swords to the western god Selva. Still to the inhabitants of the Stone Capital, we’re probably not countrymen but simply strangers”
As if she had anticipated my feelings, Ai-Fa muttered that with an emotionless voice.
“Even as strangers, you’ve been living on this land for about 80 years now right? If you tried to claim a few more rights, I don’t think the hammer wouldn’t hit”3
“Just as I’m not seeking protection from the Sun clan or the Ruu clan, the people of the forest don’t seek protection from the kingdom. For us, rather than plowing fields, hunting Giba feels more comfortable”
“I see. Well, as an “outsider”, compared to the people of the forest, I guess it’s not a problem that is meant for me”4
The way I said it made me nervous, as Ai-Fa glared at me.
“No, I’m not denying your way of life. Though, I don’t really think I’d agree with the residents of the Stone Capital too much either”
“……fu-n. For a man as raw and pale as you, the Stone Capital is a much more appropriate place than the forest’s edge”
Looking back at the face of Ai-Fa saying mean things, I was suddenly struck by a thought.
“Wait a second. Earlier, to get 10 meals worth of food for one person, you said that you need 1 Giba horn of tusk right? That means, for a family of 10, you need to hunt 1 Giba everyday一一Oi oi, so if the people of the forest are of group of 500 people in total, then in one day you’d need to hunt 50 Gibas no?”
What about it, Ai-Fa seems to say as she tilts her head.
What about it not, oi.
“The people of the forest, for 80 years, you mean that everyday you’ve been hunting as many as 50 Giba? With such overhunting, how come the Giba aren’t extinct yet?”
“How could Giba go extinct? Rather the number has increased in the last few years, and I’ve heard that the damage to the fields has been increasing. The number of Giba is not small enough for us to hunt them all, and the forest, is huge”
“Haa……that’s another, incredible story”
Then even more, pushing such a big job onto the people of the forest feels like a sloppy move on the kingdom’s part. Also, there’s the system of not being able to get any other food without hunting Giba, somehow it feels evil.
About harvesting the blessings of the forest, and not being allowed to cultivate fields, and, hunting Giba,一一essentially, I think I get the story.
Behind the scenes, if they despise the people of the forest as “Giba Eaters”, then there’s no story to tell.5
“……That’s why, if you ravage the forest’s blessings, it breaks a taboo for everyone. And if you break a taboo, your head will be scalped. Just make sure to beat that into your head”
“……I get it”
Ai-Fa’s legs stopped suddenly, and grabbed my chest with her fingertips.
“Oi. What’s with that attitude you’ve been having from earlier? If you have any complaints, you should say it clearly”
“Like I said, I’m not mad at you! I just don’t like how the kingdom and Stone Capital are acting!”
Ai-Fa’s eyes which had looked like a boiling Giba nabe (shishinabe), cooled down.
“What’s with that? You who isn’t one of the forest people, why would you be angry about such a thing?”
“Why, because, if you think objectively, it’s annoying no matter how you look at it. Besides, I’m in the care of Ai-Fa of the people of the forest, so wouldn’t it be natural to get an emotional attachment with that side?”
“……You’re a strange man, you”
Her hand let go of my chest, and then she started walking over the undergrowth with a zakuzaku again.
“Moreover, what you were saying was wrong. We aren’t being threatened into following the promise by a sword. We don’t like the people of the city, but we still have the pride and self-esteem of protecting their peace of mind. If we leave this land, then someone else would have to abandon their job to fight against the Giba. ……We who dedicated our swords to the western god Selva, hunt Giba in order to take part in the prosperity of the Kingdom”
“Un……well this strange feeling, since I wasn’t born in the forest I don’t really understand it”
“We, live in the forest with pride. These fangs and horns, are a source of food, as well as a symbol of our pride. So, by ravaging the forest’s blessings, and consequently doing harm to the Kingdom, remember that that is a shameless act that would be trampling on the pride of the people of the forest”
“I got it. I don’t care about what’s good for the Kingdom, but if it’s for the pride of the people of the forest, then I feel better about keeping my word”
I forcibly, half convinced myself for now.
Squeezing past the branches and leaves, while moving at a faster pace, Ai-Fa sent me a glance.
“……You really are a strange man, Asuta”
Strangely enough, as Ai-Fa murmured that, the grumpy look in her eyes that she had from this morning seemed to have disappeared cleanly.
We continued to walk for a couple tens of minutes, and when the Sun fully revealed itself, we arrived at our first destination.
The place that pico leaves inhabit, the riverside of Lant.
The width of the river is about 5 meters. Because it’s downstream, the current doesn’t seem to be very fast, but it seems to be quite deep. The clear water reflected the sunlight that shone through the trees, it’s a majestic view.
However, the surrounding area around the river was lined with rugged rocks and terrain, there was no grass nor anything that was like grass.
I wondered if we were going further than here, and as I looked back at Ai-Fa, she was for some reason starting to take off the fur mantle worn over her shoulders.
“……before we look for pico leaves, I need running water”
“Ha? Running water?”
“What is it? Sweating while covered in Giba fat is unpleasant”
It seems that her mood has recovered completely, originally the default was blunt Ai-Fa.
Such an Ai-Fa while saying that in an extremely pushy tone of voice, handed me the mantle that she had just taken off.
Oh, this is quite heavy. If you look closely there are many small pockets sewn on the lining, unknown nuts6, iron needles, and a bunch of leather straps squeezed in them. The total weight, might be 2, 3, kilograms.
“……Incidentally, I’ll leave this as well”, Ai-Fa said as she removed even her tusk and horn necklace, and gave it to me.
However, both of your servant’s hands are occupied by the leather mantle, princess.
“Lower your head” she said, kicking me in the leg.
I’ll lower it even without a kick, and then I bent down a little. Spreading the necklace with both hands, Ai-Fa approached me from the front.
Ah, she’s close. If you exclude the morning incident that I can’t remember, then this is the closest distance yet. ……And, thinking about something else, even if I didn’t want to, my eyes moved towards my companion’s neck.
On the left side of that slender neck, a bluish purple bite mark remains clearly.
Aah, what a merciless assault I did, I.
I mean, princess’ fragrance is as expected delicious enough to die. And, her face is close. Her skin is beautiful. Her cherry coloured lips are sexy.
……is this a new punishment game or something?
Unaware of such foolish thoughts, Ai-Fa put her necklace around my neck, and promptly stepped aside.
“Yoshi. ……The Giba should still be asleep at this time, but some varieties wander around in the morning. If you feel the presence of a Giba from the forest, call out immediately”
“Understood. So I just have to keep an eye on the forest?”
I thought I was acting normal, but Ai-Fa was somehow staring at my face with a very cold look.
“……In case you were wondering, to see an unmarried woman’s naked body, is a taboo”
“Ok. Is a married woman allowed?”
“……The only one who’s allowed to see their wife naked, is their husband”
Aah, I shouldn’t have said anything nonsensical. I have a feeling that Ai-Fa’s eyes have just become 20 percent colder.
I looked for the biggest rock around, and decided to lean back on it and monitor the state of the forest.
But well, as one of the people of the forest, she entrusted me with the necklace which had just been explained as their source of food and pride itself. She trusted that I would be able to do a toothless tortoise act7, and for that I’m very honored.
However, what is it? The principle of action of this girl called Ai-Fa, I still can’t grasp it.
I think that she’s more on alert than the average person, yet she can easily trust a person like me. Immediately after I became impressed by how caring she was, she would coldy shun me out.
Basically I think she has a good and gentle temperament, but there is no denying the fact that her range of emotions is wide.
(But regardless, she’s a trustworthy companion)
Like that, when I thought.
“Ahh!”, the scream of Ai-Fa who lost restraint, shattered the silence of the riverside.
1. If you want to suggest a better name, go ahead: ラント
2. Not sure how to TL
3. As in I don’t think the judge’s hammer wouldn’t strike down/it’ wouldn’t be impossible.
4. Not sure how to TL (森辺の民とは比べ物にならないぐらい『余所者』の俺なんかが口をはさめる問題ではないのかもしれないな)
5. Not sure how to TL (その裏で、森辺の民を《ギバ喰い》などと蔑んでいるというのなら、もうお話にもならないではないか)
6. The food kind.
7. Tried searching it up, still don’t know what it’s trying to say but I took it as “even though I’m a defective protector (tortoise)”