Chapter~ Nearly thought I wouldn’t be able to get it out on time today (Saturday, well, where I am anyways), but I pulled through with guts~! That aside, I completely forgot to put the credits last chapter…Anyways, enjoy~
“……Are you going to the Ruu clan, Asuta”
“Tomorrow morning, I’ll come again” saying that with a bow, Rimi-Ruu went back home.
“You can answer then” “Tonight, I’ll try to persuade my family” was what she left behind.
Once the used tableware and cooking utensils were put away inside the large metal pot, there was no more work to be done. Normally, we’d talk together for a short while, and then we would go to sleep but一一Ai-Fa had been for a long time, making a silent face devoid of expression.
I, have to learn the common sense of this other world.
That’s why, even for a moment before going to bed, Ai-Fa would talk about the oaths and taboos in the forest, or anecdotes about kingdoms and gods, about the inn town in Jenos that I’ve yet to have seen and so on, she told me a lot of different stories, but today she didn’t try to talk about anything.
And then, finally she said, those opening words.
Sitting down against the wall, her eyes remained facing towards the darkness outside the window, not looking at me.
The kamado’s fire had gone out, in the darkness where the only reliable light source was a candle’s flame, I stared at that strangely cold looking side profile, and quietly answered.
“I want to go一一is what I think”
To the oldest member of the Ruu clan Jiba-Ruu, I want you to bless her with the meal you made一一an offer from Rimi-Ruu who was so desperate, but when I asked, it wasn’t that complicated.
Jiba-Ruu, an old woman of almost 85 years of age, has lost most of her teeth in old age, and has become unable to eat solid food.
Currently, she’s had a diet of only finely chopped giba meat and vegetables poured into a broth, and it seems that that amount is decreasing day by day.
(……Even if I pour this muddy water-like thing into my mouth and survive, there wouldn’t be any point……)
While saying things like this, I heard that she seems to shed tears everyday.
It wasn’t but a few years ago that she was living in good health, but she’s been weakened all the way to her heart.
Rimi-Ruu’s heartache that she was loved as the youngest daughter, I wonder what it was like.
When I think of that sentiment, I want to go, is what I think.
“But, you wouldn’t agree would you, Ai-Fa?”
When I asked, Ai-Fa as expected replied with an emotionless voice.
“……It is the Sun clan that reigns over as the head of the people of the forest, but the Ruu clan is not inferior in terms of the number of families. And, there is a feud between the two predecessors of both clans”
“About 20 years ago, a woman who was decided to marry into the Ruu’s main family, was kidnapped by people from the Sun clan. The men from Ruu rode into the Sun’s house with their swords, but the Sun clan’s previous head, this woman is a sinner who tried to commit adultery with a man from another house before getting married, so we punished the sinner according to law, saying that, he threw back her corpse”
“Probably, before being humiliated, the woman probably committed suicide. However, because there was no proof of that, the men of Ruu had no choice but to sheath their swords while spitting out curses. ……If Sun and Ruu fight, it would be a major conflict that would divide the forest in two, and they would both have no choice but to perish. Still if the Sun clan had not returned the woman, the Ruu clan would have probably taken up their swords. But you can’t pick up a sword for a dead person. Then the two clans cut off their relations, and even now the feud remains unresolved, that’s why”
“That’s a disgustingly bad story. What is the Sun clan, a gathering of good-for-nothings?”
“Well now. Well at least the clan head’s bloodline doesn’t seem to produce good men”
With the same expression, and the same tone, Ai-Fa murmured quietly.
“So, 2 years ago, when a conflict arose between me and Diga-Sun, from the Ruu clan’s head Donda-Ruu, I was offered to marry into the main Ruu family”
“That way the people of the Sun clan wouldn’t be able to touch me, and if they did reach out, that’s when the Sun clan would be destroyed, Donda-Ruu was laughing. ……So I refused that offer, and also broke off relations with the Ruu clan”
“Aah……not wanting to be the source of conflict, that’s what you meant”
“Without the help of the Ruu clan, I will not succumb to Diga-Sun. I, should have no relations with either clan”
“I see. I get it. So, me being indebted to you, and supporting the Ruu clan, from your point of view is not a happy thing”
I, sigh deeply.
Then, Ai-Fa turned her head face away, and twisted her mouth as if she was scorning something.
That, was a way of smiling unlike Ai-Fa.
“However, you still want to help Rimi-Ruu, don’t you? That’s the kind of man you are, Asuta”
“Un? ……Well, that’s true. That Rimi-Ruu kid seems like a good girl, and I have the desire to remind the old lady of the joys of eating”
“It would be so. Then, do what you like”
“It’s simple. If you want to save Rimi-Ruu and Jiba-Ruu, you just have to cut the connection between me and you. And this time, you just need to take care of the Ruu clan. ……It’s not that difficult is it?”
“What’s with that? I can’t be like a promiscuous woman and casually change partners like that”
Unable to read Ai-Fa’s true feelings, I shrugged my shoulders.
“I’m not that worried about it. Sorry, but the offer from Rimi-Ruu will have to be declined”
“No matter how cute the child, my relationship with Rimi-Ruu is one where we just met face to face, and granny (TN: baba-sama) is another person whose face I don’t even know. ……You might think me as a cold person, but to make your position worse, is something I can’t support”
With great momentum, Ai-Fa turned around.
Her face, was frozen in extreme surprise.
She’s getting more and more unlike Ai-Fa, while thinking that, I dared not to not be serious and make a silly face.
“Why, that’s because more than the people that I’ve just met or strangers, you are more important. ……Don’t make me say something so embarrassing, idiot”
“What is it? The Ruu clan being involved with me, is bad right?”
“……Even if only temporarily you became a member of the Fa clan and saved a person from the Ruu clan, in the name of repaying that debt, Donda-Ruu may bring up the subject of marriage once again. And then, if again that offer is turned down一一this time, as if their clan’s name was smeared with mud, their anger will be turned towards me”
“He’s a seriously troublesome old man huh. ……By the way wasn’t there an attractive gentleman in the main Ruu family? That was, that Rimi-Ruu’s older brother right?”
I asked her, half jealous, and half curious, but “I have decided to live as a [Giba Hunter]” I only received those curt words.
“Weaving grass as a woman, tanning fur, just a life of waiting for the men to return, doesn’t fit my nature. I, as a [Giba Hunter], live in the forest, and die in the forest. When I lost my father, I decided so”
“Fuun. You have a beautiful face, it’s a waste”
Even such ridiculous words were given no reaction.
The only thing was that, Ai-Fa’s eyes, due to some unidentified passion, flickered like a swaying demon flame.1
“Anyway, you don’t have to worry. I’ll decline the offer from Rimi-Ruu, and it’ll be the same as usual. I don’t think that the Ruu clan would resent me because I declined Rimi-Ruu’s offer”
Rimi-Ruu, “Dad will be persuaded by Rimi-Ruu!” was what she said.
In other words, this time’s offer was only Rimi-Ruu’s personal wish, even if she talked to her family, asking a suspicious stranger like me for help would be objected to, is my prediction.
“……Why? If you cut ties with me, you could behave as you’d like no? If so, shouldn’t you do what you want? Rather than being near an isolated person like me, it’s better to rely on the Ruu clan, it should be a very desirable path for you”
“That would be completely, undesirable. To part with you who has taken care of me so much in this way, and to roll in with strangers, even just thinking about it makes me sick. ……Naa, you, haven’t you been acting weird since a while ago? What in the world, do you want me to do?”
Ai-Fa, didn’t try to answer.
So, I stood up, and decided to sit cross-legged in front of Ai-Fa.
The fire of passion in Ai-Fa’s eyes continued to sway, as her face looked downward.
“Ai-Fa. My existence is nothing more than a burden for you, so I want you to get out of this house at once一一if that’s what you say, then I think I’d have no choice but to do so. That’s not what you’re trying to say is it? If that was what you meant, then isn’t it just a matter of saying it clearly?”
“I don’t get it, so tell me your thoughts clearly. Your words, I will follow. In the way you want most, I will act”
Ai-Fa slowly raised her face, and looked directly at me.
Her blue eyes were still filled with a passionate flame一一
Ai-Fa eyes, were slightly wet.
“……My father Giru-Fa died, 2 years ago now”
Her cherry coloured lips, quietly pieced together the words.
“Until then, I had also been very close to Rimi-Ruu. I hadn’t interacted with the Ruu clan, but with Jiba-Ruu who loved Rimi-Ruu, I had also met many times since I was little”
Despite that the tears that wet her eyes stirred my heart, I could do nothing but answer in that way.
Ai-Fa, frowned slightly bitterly.
“With the Ruu clan, I don’t want any relations. But, if Rimi-Ruu and Jiba-Ruu are sad……I too am sad”
“If that’s the case……me cutting ties with you, and helping Rimi-Ruu from a position where I have no connection to you, is the most desirable path for you?”
The moment I said that, she grabbed me by the chest.
Her blue fiery eyes, gazed at me as if to bite into me.
The tears that had accumulated in those eyes, slid down her smooth cheeks without any sound.
“I……” she said, her voice slightly trembling.
Why, don’t you get it?
Once you cut ties with me, you’ll be able to help Rimi-Ruu and the others.
If you don’t want to be involved with the Ruu clan, but still want to help Rimi-Ruu and the others from the shadows, that’s the only way.
Ai-Fa’s fingertips, were tightly gripping my chest.
As if, if she let go of her hand, she would be afraid that I would disappear at that moment.
“I see” I said, placing my hand on Ai-Fa’s shoulder.
Her bare shoulder, smooth skin, conveyed a hot body temperature一一and, it conveyed a faint trembling.
I instinctively, pulled in that shoulder tightly.
Ai-Fa’s slender body, fell against my chest without any resistance.
“If you don’t know, then it can’t be helped. Well, even I, don’t know what the most correct path is”
The Ai-Fa that I loved very much’s scent2, softly tickled my nostrils.
While that scent filled my heart, I quietly spoke to her.
“But, when it comes to the most desirable path for me, I know it clearly. ……If you don’t show me the path I should take, then I’ll choose the path I want for myself you know?”
“I, want to help Rimi-Ruu. However, I don’t want to leave you. So I, as the freeloader of Ai-Fa’s house, fair and square, will help Rimi-Ruu and her grandmother who are very important to Ai-Fa”
Saying that, to Ai-Fa’s complexly shaped tied up golden hair, I lightly patted it with a ponpon.
“It’s a feud between the Sun and Ruu clans, so why would you care about such a thing? Why for such a stupid conflict between relatives, would you have to abandon an important person? The important matter about the forest village’s fate, you should leave it to your responsible fathers. To kill your own feelings for something like that, is wrong”
“Rimi-Ruu and them, let’s help them. I don’t care what Rimi-Ruu’s dad says. If he pulls up marriage-this marriage-that again, then I’ll tell him to bring a man who looks better than a giba!”
Ai-Fa, didn’t answer with anything.
But her fingertips never tried to let go of my chest, her tears continuing to wet my T-shirt.
- Can also mean will-o’-the-wisp, but demon flame is shorter and sounds cooler, so I kept it.
- This sentence could either be “My beloved Ai-Fa” as in his Ai-Fa, or it could be what it is now. I went with the latter because MC didn’t seem like the kind of person to straight up say that his benefactor is his possession.