Chapter 3 : Haulia was Shameless as Expected
Humans and demi-humans were walking together inside the [Haltina Sea of Trees].
Having seen that, the tiger-tailed demi-humans glared at Kam and his tribe as though they were traitors. They readied their double-edged sword and took a threatening stance. Tens of demi-humans surrounded them, filling the air with dense killing intent.
“W-we are…” (Kam)
Kam, drenched in cold-sweat, looked for an excuse. But before he could finish his thought, the tiger-tailed demi-humans caught sight of Shia.
“Isn’t that, that white-haired Rabbitman? … Bastards, so you’re the Haulia tribe! A disgrace to the entire demi-human race! For years, you’ve deceived us to raise a taboo existence, and now you have brought humans here! Treason! I won’t hear any more excuses! Everyone will be executed on the spot! Everyone, advan-!?”
When the tiger-tailed demi-human commanded an attack, Hajime’s arm flickered. A gunshot resonated as a flash grazed his cheek, devastating the trees behind him as the flash disappeared into the distance.
The tiger-like demi-human that was grazed froze in place, unable to understand what had injured him. If his ears were located at the side of his head like a human’s, it surely would have been blown off by that shot. The tiger-tailed demi-humans were stunned by the explosive sound and attack so fast that they are unable to react.
“… I can fire that attack tens of times in succession. I also know the exact location of all your fighters. You’ve already entered my kill-zone.” (Hajime)
Hajime’s voice covered the grounds as an extraordinary pressure descended. It was a result of Hajime’s skill called [Pressure], which applied physical pressure on the enemy.
“Wh,what…? No chant…” (???)
The tiger-tailed demi-human stuttered unintentionally after being shot by an invisible attack that required no chant as Hajime threatened the safety of his comrades. As he had threatened, Hajime easily drew Schlagen and aimed into the forest. He paled, as he knew that his subordinates were hiding in that precise direction. A sense of unease entered his mind.
“I won’t show any mercy to anyone who obstructs my way. Until the Haulia tribe has fulfilled their promise to me, their lives are under my protection. Don’t even think that you can lay your hands on even one of them.” (Hajime)
Aside from his [Pressure] skill, Hajime began to emit his killing intent. The tiger-tailed demi-humans, who were known as thick-headed warmongers, were drenched in cold sweat. They started to panic while their leader desperately tried to keep his calm.
This must be a joke! Ho- how could a human be this strong! He must be a monster!
As the tiger-tailed demi-human leader tried to regain his composure, Hajime continued as he reloaded Donner and Schlagen.
“If you retreat now, I won’t give chase. If you’re willing to remove yourself from my path, I have no reason to eliminate you. Now choose. Will you pointlessly become my enemy and be annihilated, or will you quietly go home?” (Hajime)
The commander of the tiger-tailed demi-humans was convinced that the moment he antagonized Hajime, that flash would be aimed at their heads instead. If that happened, there would be no chance for them to survive.
The tiger-tailed demi-human was Faea Belgaen’s Second Guardsman’s captain. His duty was to guard Faea Belgaen, and it was his pride to protect his brethren from intruders and demonic beasts. Therefore, the decision between retreating from this confrontation or laying his and his subordinates’ lives down weighed upon his shoulders.
“… Before I decide, I want to know one thing.” (???)
The tiger-tailed demi-human desperately remarked. Hajime urged him to speak.
“… What is your purpose here?” (???)
A straightforward question. However, depending on Hajime’s answer, he would determine whether or not the consequences of opposing Hajime outweighed the consequences of their retreat. For the tiger-tailed demi-human, it was impossible for him to allow anyone who would try to hurt the citizens of Faea Belgaen. He glared at Hajime with unyielding eyes.
“The depth of the [Haltina Sea of Trees]. I want to go beneath the [Great Tree].” (Hajime)
“Underneath the [Great Tree], you say? For what purpose?” (???)
The tiger-tailed demi-human thought that his purpose was to enslave demi-humans, but when he heard his purpose was the sacred [Great Tree], he was perplexed. The [Great Tree] for humans should’ve been just one of many places inside the [Haltina Sea of Trees].
“Under the [Great Tree] might be where the true entrance to one of the [Seven Great Dungeons] resides. I am traveling with Yue to conquer the [Seven Great Dungeons]. That is why we employed the Haulia as our guide towards the [Great Tree].” (Hajime)
“The real dungeon? Just what are you trying to say? The [Haltina Sea of Trees] is one of the [Seven Great Dungeons]. A dungeon where no one except demi-humans can advance without getting lost.” (???)
“Well, that would be strange.” (Hajime)
“… Why?” (???)
The tiger-like demi-humans dubiously asked Hajime.
“For one of the [Great Dungeons], the demonic beasts here are too weak.” (Hajime)
“That’s right. For a [Great Dungeon]’s demonic beasts to be so weak would be tantamount to blasphemy. At the very least, the demonic beasts should be on the level of the [Orcus Great Dungeon]’s Abyss. Also…” (Hajime)
“What is it?” (???)
“The [Great Dungeons] are a place of trial that the Liberators left behind. A dungeon where only demi-humans can progress, you say? That can’t be called a trial. That’s why it’s weird for the [Haltina Sea of Trees] to be a [Great Dungeon].” (Hajime)
The tiger-tailed demi-human was unable to hide his confusion after hearing Hajime’s response. The [Haltina Sea of Trees]’ demonic beasts’ were too weak? The [Orcus Great Dungeon] has an Abyss? The Liberators created the dungeons as trials? These were all unknown to him. If it was anyone else, he would have called “nonsense” on them.
But, Hajime had made these claims in this situation. Capable of completely overwhelming them, Hajime had no reason to lie in his eyes. Plus, his words were strangely convincing. If his true objective truly was the [Great Tree] and not the enslavement of demi-humans or Faea Belgaen, rather than meaninglessly throwing away his subordinates’ life, it would be better to allow Hajime to visit the [Great Tree].
The tiger-tailed demi-human had decided. But, he couldn’t just allow Hajime to wander around freely. This matter was in his hands, so he proposed to Hajime-
“… If you are not planning to harm my country and brethren, I can allow you to pass. There is no meaning in fighting you when your aim isn’t to endanger my people after all.” (???)
Having heard his words, a commotion broke out in the surrounding demi-humans. He had decided to overlook the human intruder!
“However, I need to consult the First Guardsman’s captain. I also must report to my superiors. The Elders might know something about your story. Until I receive word to allow your safe passage, I must have you stay here.” (???)
Drenched in cold-sweat after his demands, the tiger-tailed demi-human stared at Hajime. Hajime was considering his next move.
This was probably the limit for the tiger-tailed demi-human. Hajime had heard that the demi-humans would punish any intruder that dared step foot within their territory. Even now, they must want to punish Hajime and his party for their intrusion. However, the tiger-tailed demi-human knew that his subordinates’ lives would be lost in all certainty if he engaged Hajime. To avoid that fate, he had made that proposal so that he would be able to monitor Hajime while allowing his superiors to make the decision.
Hajime was a little impressed by his rational judgment under pressure. After considering his options of advancing after antagonizing the nation of Faea Belgaen or wait for safe passage, Hajime chose the latter option. If the [Great Tree] wasn’t the entrance to a [Great Dungeon], Hajime would need to continue searching for it. If they needed to continue searching for the true entrance after arriving at the [Great Tree], it would be more convenient to have permission from Faea Belgaen to do so. The risk of Faea Belgaen becoming hostile while he searched would always be present, but Hajime could accept such a risk. It would just become troublesome to search for the entrance while eliminating his pursuers.
“…I accept. But, you must make a report without changing even a single word, okay?” (Hajime)
“Of course. Zam! You heard it! Report his words to the elders!” (???)
“Yes, sir!” (Zam)
Under the tiger-tailed demi-human’s command, one of the shadows disappeared. After confirming Zam’s departure, Hajime returned Donner and Schlagen to their holsters while releasing [Pressure]. The atmosphere lightened. The tiger-like demi-humans, who previously looked at Hajime with fear, started to relax. Some of them even entertained the thought of attacking now that Hajime was unarmed. Hajime noticed, and fearlessly laughed.
“Between your attack and mine, whose do you think will hit first?” (Hajime)
“… Well, don’t make any sudden movements. We can’t help but be sensitive to your movements.” (???)
“I know~.” (Hajime)
Even though they were still surrounded, Kam and his tribe were finally able to sigh in relief. However, they could feel a severe and evil gaze directed at Hajime from behind them.
Yue had tried to take care of Hajime after the tension relieved. Shia, seeing Yue acting intimate with Hajime, was unable to endure their pink atmosphere. Shia jumped towards Hajime crying “Me too~!”, to which Hajime could only reveal a forced smile. Inside enemy territory, they had suddenly begun to flirt. Hajime could feel the mens’ envious glares piercing him.
After an hour, Yue was head-locking Shia while Shia gasped, “Give! I give~!”, when footsteps were heard, gradually becoming clearer.
Tension began to build again. Shia was crouching over in pain, pouting.
From the fog, several new figures appeared. An elderly man that was standing in the middle of the crowd drew their attention. His beautifully flowing blonde hair complimented his blue eyes that shone with great wisdom. His body was thin, as though a slight breeze was all it took to make him fall over. Wrinkles lined his dignified appearance, but his age only accentuated his beauty. Above all, his ears were long and pointy. He was from the Forest tribe, a so-called Elf.
Hajime was able to instantly guess that the man standing before him was an Elder.
“Fumu, are you that human? What is your name?” (Elder)
“Hajime. Nagumo Hajime. And you?” (Hajime)
The surrounding demi-humans frowned upon hearing Hajime’s informality with their Elder, resentment brewing in their hearts. With one hand, the Elder calmed them and introduced himself.
“I am Ulfric Heipyst. One of the Elders of Faea Belgaen. I have heard your request; however, before that, I must ask you a favor. Where did find out about the [Liberators]?” (Ulfric)
“Hm? From the Abyss in the [Orcus Great Dungeon]. It was one of the [Liberators]’ hideout, Oscar Orcus’ to be exact”
Without any hesitation, Hajime answered Ulfric who was intrigued by the topic of the [Liberators]. Ulfric was secretly astonished by Hajime’s response. The reason was that the title of [Liberator] and Oscar Orcus’ name was only known by a handful of the Elders.
“Fumu, from the Abyss… I haven’t heard Oscar Orcus’ name for a long time. Can you prove what you have said?” (Ulfric)
Ulfric asked Hajime that question because there was a possibility that the information was leaked by the upper echelons of Faea Belgaen. Hajime revealed a difficult expression. If he proved that he knew of this information based upon his level of strength, that would be too unbelievable. Yue, tilting her head, gave Hajime a suggestion.
“… Hajime, what about a magic stone from Orcus’ Abode?” (Yue)
“Ah! That’s right! If it’s that…” (Hajime)
He clasped his hand, and a magic stone with quality unobtainable on the surface emerged from the [Treasure Warehouse]. He then passed it to Ulfric.
“Th-this is…! A magic stone with such purity, never before have I seen such an object!” (???)
Even though Ulfric hid his surprise, the demi-human next to him unintentionally remarked his surprise.
“Now look at this. It was once a ring that Orcus used.” (Hajime)
As he was talking, he showed him Orcus’ ring. Seeing the carved symbol on the ring, Ulfric eyes flew wide opened. He slowed his breath to control his flying emotions.
“Indeed, you have certainly reached Oscar Orcus’ hideout. Although I now have many more questions pertaining to your tale, I shall permit you safe passage within Faea Belgaen’s lands. The Haulia as well.” (Ulfric)
The surrounding demi-humans were surprised at Ulfric’s words, including the Haulia tribe. Led by the tiger-tailed demi-humans, the guardsmen began protesting. It was only natural, however, for the demi-humans to protest. A human had been invited into Faea Belgaen after all.
“They must be treated as guests. They are qualified for such treatment. You have heard your Elder’s words, now perform your duties.” (Ulfric)
Ulfric calmed the surroundings with a stern look. However, Hajime was the one who began to protest now.
“Wait one moment. Why the hell have you decided on my agenda? My goal is the [Great Tree], I have no interest in Faea Belgaen. If you have no other questions, then I’ll be making my way to the Great Tree now.” (Hajime)
“… That is impossible currently.” (Ulfric)
“What did you say?” (Hajime)
Hajime believed that Ulfric was going to interfere, however, he immediately continued-
“The fog around the [Great Tree] is especially thick at this time, even demi-humans would get lost on their way. However, the fog follows a cycle, becoming thinner during certain times. The next chance will be in 10 days. I had believed that all demi-humans would know of this cycle…” (Ulfric)
Ulfric looked at Hajime as though he was an idiot. However, Hajime felt Ulfric’s gaze directed to someone behind him. Hajime finally understood what had been said and now glared at Kam. Speaking of Kam-
“… Ah!” (Kam)
Hajime appeared gargantuan as he glared at Kam.
“… Kam, do you have something to say… ?” (Hajime)
“Ah! We-well, what can I say? … Lo-look, a lot has happened, right? I just forgot about it… I’ve only been there once when I was a child, so I was not aware of the cycle…!” (Kam)
Kam, flustered, began searching for an excuse. Unable to take Hajime and Yue’s intimidating gaze, he found a scapegoat.
“… Shia! The others too! Why didn’t you tell me?! You know about the cycle, right?!” (Kam)
“What?! Father, you’ve misplaced your anger! I was… because father was so confident, I thought that time must have been near, you know…? … In other words, it’s father’s fault~!” (Shia)
“Th-that’s right! Even we thought, ‘Huh? Isn’t that weird?’ But Chief seemed so confident about it. We thought that we were wrong…” (Rabbitman 1)
“Chief, it was because you were so excited about such a random thing…” (Rabbitman 2)
Kam, looking to drag his tribe down with him, watched as his tribe averted his gaze, casually pushing the responsibility onto him.
“Yo- you lot! Is this how a family acts! Th-th-th-that’s it! Joint responsibility! We were all responsible for this! Hajime-dono, please punish all of us for our mistake!” (Kam)
“Ah! How dirty! Father is dirty~! Because it’s scary being punished alone, you dragged us into it~!” (Shia)
“Chief! Please don’t involve us!” (Rabbitman 2)
“Idiot! You’ve seen how Hajime-dono is. I will not be punished alone!” (Kam)
“Yo-you! How can you call yourself a chief!” (Rabbitman 3)
The Rabbitman tribe was known to have the greatest affection for each other among demi-humans, but just where did that affection go? As expected of Shia’s family, they were all shameless rabbits.
Hajime, about to burst a blood vessel, muttered a word.
“… … Yue.” (Hajime)
Yue stepped forward with her right hand raised, expression hidden. Noticing Yue’s menacing figure, the Haulia tribe’s expression cramped.
“Wa! Please wait, Yue-san! If you want to punish someone, just give it to father!” (Shia)
“Hahaha! We’ll always be together!” (Kam)
“The hell with together!” (Rabbitman 4)
“Yue-dono, please only hit the chief!” (Rabbitman 5)
“It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault, the one at fault was the chief!” (Rabbitman 1)
As chaos overtook the Haulia tribe, Yue only muttered.
“…[Storm Emperor]!” (Yue)
“ “ “Aaaaaaaagh~!!!” “ “ (Haulia tribe)
As those rabbit-ears flew into the sky, their screams permeated throughout the [Haltina Sea of Trees]. Even though their brethren were attacked, Ulfric and the surrounding demi-humans weren’t mad at all. In fact, they looked at the sky with amusement. From their expressions, it seemed the Haulia tribe’s shamelessness was widely known.