Chapter 7 : Haulia’s Sudden Change
“Ehehe, uhehehe, kufufufu~”
Having been allowed to accompany them, Shia was happy. With both hands on her cheeks, a loose expression on her face, and that strange laughter she started letting out while twisting her body, it was a shameless appearance. So shameless that her previous seriousness, when confronting Hajime seemed like a lie.
“… … Gross”
Is what Yue muttered because she couldn’t stand it anymore. Shia’s excellent rabbit ears caught that mutter.
“… … Wa-, who is gross! Why would you call me gross? It’s just that I was so happy that it can’t be helped. After all, isn’t this my first time seeing Hajime’s dere side? Didn’t you also see it? His previous expression. Suddenly my chest became ‘kyun'(tightened)~. with this the time when he becomes hopelessly in love with me isn’t that far off~”
Shia was elated and became more caught up in it. Having seen that Shia, Hajime and Yue muttered together in disgust.
“”… … Annoying rabbit””
“W-wa-!? What’s with that, calling me annoying rabbit! Please call me by my name already~, we are travel companions~. Don’t tell me, it’s not like you’re unwilling want to call me by name from the very beginning, right? Right?”
“Why did you become silent? Wait, please don’t look away~. Come on, it’s Shia, Shi-a. Repeat after me, Shi-a”
While Shia desperately tried to make them call her by name, Hajime and Yue only narrowed their eyes and started to discuss their future plans. Then Shia clung to them with teary eyes and said, “Don’t ignore me~, I don’t want to be left out~”. Even after becoming a travel companion, they treated her just as harshly as before.
While someone was making a racket (Shia), several Haulia tribe members appeared from the fog, they returned after clearing Hajime’s challenge; to subdue demonic beasts and return with proof in their hands. When you look closely, one of them was Kam.
Shia was smiling wide, this being the first time she’d seen her family in days. The last time she’d seen them was when she was explaining her feelings to them, before her training started. Even though it was only ten days, every day, it was deadly training. Extraordinary concentrated training at that. Because of that, for Shia, it felt like they hadn’t met each other for months.
Immediately, Shia started talking to her father, Kam. There was a lot to tell. However, right before she said anything, Shia swallowed her words. She noticed a strange atmosphere surrounding Kam and the others.
Kam who saw Shia only revealed a slight smile, immediately his gaze returned to Hajime. And…
“Boss. About the demonic beasts, have we hunted them on time?”
“Bo-boss? Fa-father? Somehow your tone… … rather, your atmosphere was…”
Because of her father’s speech and behaviour, Shia’s puzzled voice could be heard. However, she was ignored while , rustling, Kam and the others pulled out claws of the demonic beasts that could be considered high ranked in the Sea of Trees.
“… … I thought I said one was enough…”
The training graduation challenge by Hajime was to hunt a high ranking demonic beast for each team. However, there were enough parts her for ten demonic beasts. Against Hajime’s question, Kam and the others answered with fearless smiles.
“Yes, that’s what you’ve ordered, right? While we were doing that, its companions came out… … because they impudently turned their killing intent towards us, we just politely welcomed it. Right? Everyone?”
“That’s right, Boss. Those guys were too impudent for demonic beasts”
“We completely defeated them. Without missing even one, right?”
“Even though they were noisy… … their barking voices were good, fufu”
“Well it was good to serve as a warning…”
“Well, we already chopped them to pieces, wasn’t that enough?”
It was a parade of disturbing remarks. All of them, there was no trace of their original peaceful and gentle RabbitMan tribe demeanor. They reported the results of their dangerous combat to Hajime with fearless smiles and glaring eyes.
Stunned, the Shia watching this could only utter a single word,
“… … Who?”
* * *
“Wh-what happened!? Hajime-san! What on earth happened to father and the others!?”
“C-calm down! N-nothing happened… … it was the result of training…”
“Nono, what happened to make them like this!? Aren’t they completely different people?! Wait, please don’t look away! Look at me!”
“… … it’s not like there are any big differences, right?”
“Are your eyes knotholes (ornaments)! Please look at them. A while ago they were charmed just by staring at their knives! Ah, just now, someone called their knife Julia! Normally, isn’t that scary?”
Shia’s angry voice filled with frustration echoed in the Sea of Trees. What on earth had happened? That was what Kam and the others thought while exchanging glances between Hajime and Shia, with confused expressions. They exchanged glances for a while until the other members of the Haulia tribe came back, all of them were… … that is to say… … they look wild. Not only the adult males but also the females, children and even the elderly.
Shia pointed at her family that completely changed, while approaching Hajime with tremendous momentum to urge him for an explanation. Hajime awkwardly averted his gaze while being interrogated by Shia.
Maybe she judged she wouldn’t be able to make any progress, so Shia changed her target to Kam and the others.
“Father! Everyone! What on earth has happened!? It’s as if you’re different people!? From before, you’ve only been saying frightening things… … please come back to your senses!”
Kam who was clung onto by Shia, started to loosen his glaring expression and reverted to his gentle expression. That made Shia a little relieved.
“What are you saying, Shia? We are sane/okay. It’s just that we have awoken to the truth of this world. It’s all thanks to Boss”
“T-the truth? What was that?”
Having a bad feeling about it, Shia asked while her cheeks twitched, and Kam smiled while confidently declaring.
“90% of this world’s problems can be solved with violence”
“It was a different person after all?! My gentle father was already dead~, uwaa~n”
Because of the shock, Shia ran and disappeared into the Sea of Trees while crying. However, before she got into the fog, a small shadow immediately appeared before her and she fell on her butt while “hauu” letting out a miserable voice.
That small shadow was able to keep its balance without falling, then it stretched out its hand towards Shia.
“Th-thank you very much”
“Well, think nothing of it, Shia big sis(anego). It was the natural thing for a man”
“B-big sis (A-anego)?”
What appeared from the fog was a boy from the Haulia tribe that could still be called a child. On his shoulder was a big crossbow while two knives and a slingshot-like weapon were attached to his waist. It was a boy who often displays a nihilistic smile. Shia who was never called “anego” until now looked up, in front of her was the boy that usually called her “Shia-oneechan” so she was puzzled by it.
With Shia staring at him with a skeptical gaze, the boy pit-pat walked up in front of Hajime then he gloriously saluted him.
“Boss! I am sorry to come back empty-handed! There is something that I must report! Permission to speak!”
“O-ou? What is it?”
At boy’s veteran soldier-like atmosphere, even though it’s too late, Hajime thought Shia was right, and that it was a little too much. And then he stuttered a little. The boy continued his report without a care.
“Affirmative! Problem found while pursuing demonic beasts, I discovered a group of fully-armed Bearman tribe. The place was on the route to the Great Tree. Perhaps they thought to ambush us!”
“A~, they’ve come as expected. Although I thought they’d come immediately… … I see, they wanted to crush us in front of our goal huh. It was a somewhat good demeanor. … … then?”
“Affirmative! If it’s okay, how about leaving those guys to us, Haulia!”
“We~ll. How about it, Kam? Do you have anything to say?”
Having heard that, Kam was shaken, and since it was something he wished for he began to grin with a fearless smile then nodded.
“By all means, leave it to us. Our power, we wanted to know… … how far our power has come, compared to them. Wha~t, it’s not like we will show anything disgraceful.”
Having heard their chief’s words, the surrounding Haulia tribe, all of them, showed belligerent expressions. The number of people who called their weapons by name with increasing admiration could be felt. Shia’s expression was dyed with despair.
“… … Can you do it?”
The one who cheerfully answered Hajime’s last confirmation was the boy. Hajime once again closed his eyes then breathed deeply and ‘Ka’ opened his eyes wide.
“Hear me! Everyone from Haulia tribe! Every one of you brave and resolute warriors! Today, you’re graduated from being shitty maggots! You are no longer the worthless existence to be weeded out! Crush unjustness with power, hold down those hostilities with wisdom! O strongest warriors! Teach those bears “bleep” for inciting our resentment by bringing us to our current situation! Those guys are nothing but redundant stepping stones! They are only “bleep”! Build mountains with their corpses, and rivers with their blood, as proof! The proof of your rebirth! The proof to everyone in the Sea of Trees, to show that the Haulia tribe is reborn!”
“””””””””” Sir, yes, Sir!!””””””””””
“Answer me! Everyone! The greatest and strongest warriors! What is it that you wish for!”
“””””””””” Kill them!! Kill them! Kill them!!””””””””””
“What is your specialty!”
“””””””””” Kill!! Kill!! Kill!!””””””””””
“If there are enemies what will you do!”
“””””””””” Kill them all!! Kill them all!! Kill them all!!””””””””””
“That’s right! Kill them all! You can do it! Take the right to live with your own hands!”
“””””””””” Aye, aye, Sir!!””””””””””
“That’s the spirit! Everyone of the Haulia tribe! I only have one order! Search & destroy! Go!!”
“Uwaa~n, all the members of my family are dead after all~”
Under Hajime’s command, the Haulia tribe members’ fierceness returned and they disappeared into the fog. The tribe which was once gentle, peaceful, and above all weak at fighting… … where have they gone? That was the only thing she could say. Having seen her family completely change once more, while collapsing Shia’s vain cry echoed in the Sea of Trees. As expected, because she couldn’t stand it anymore, Yue patted and stroked Shia’s head to comfort her.
When the boy beside Shia, who ‘hic”hic’ ‘sob”sob’ cried, tried to go, he was called to a stop by Shia.
“Pal-kun! Please wait! L-look, don’t you see a beautiful flower-san over here? Even if you don’t go… … how about you wait here with onee-chan? Okay? How about it?
Apparently, she seems to be trying to at least bring this little boy back to his former self. She pointed at the beautifully blossoming flowers while desperately trying to persuade him. The reason she used a flower was because this boy loved flowers so much that he even said “Flower-sa~n” before.
The flower boy named Pal who was called out to stop by Shia, only ‘yare yare daze’ shook his head and shrugged his shoulders while sighing “Fuu~”. It looked like the overreactions used by the Europeans and Americans.
“Anego, please don’t open up my old wound. I’ve already gotten rid of my past. The weak mind that enjoyed the beauty of flowers is no more”
By the way, this boy called Pal is 11 years old this year.
“O-old wound? Get rid of your past? Wait, I don’t understand, but do you mean you don’t like flowers anymore?”
“Yes, I have thrown away those feelings along with my past”
“That, even though you loved them so much…”
“Fuh, it was just a mistake of youth”
I repeat, Pal-kun is 11 years old this year.
“More importantly, anego”
“W-what is it?”
Having seen the changes in the boy who had sometimes picked flowers and dearly called out “Shia-oneechan! Shia-oneechan!”, Shia’s consciousness started to escape reality. She was barely able to reply to Pal’s words. However, it became the signal for her to further her pursuit (of escapism).
“I’ve also thrown away my weak name along with the past. Now my name is Baltoferd. From now on please call me “Baltoferd of Certain Death””
“Who was that!? Where did that Baltoferd come from!? Rather, what’s with certain death!?”
“Oh, sorry. My comrades are waiting so it’s my time to go. Well then!”
“A, hey! What do you mean by “well then!”! Even now, our talk is still eh, fast! Wait! Please wait~”
Just like a woman that was left behind by her lover, Shia collapsed while her hand tried to reach the other side of the fog. No one answered her, this girl’s family, all of them fiercely went to the battlefield. Shia who was gakkuri drooped, once again hic hic cried. The family that this girl once knew was no more. It was truly a pitiful sight.
Shia’s appearance was seen by Yue who wore a subtle expression because she couldn’t say anything to her. Hajime who felt it was somewhat awkward let his gaze wander. Yue’s gaze turned to Hajime then bluntly muttered.
“… … as expected of Hajime, to be able to calmly accomplish something no one can”
“Well, like I said before where did you get that material…”
“… … to be able to use that dark magic, brainwash… … amazing”
“… … honestly, I think it was a little too much. Even though there’s neither reflection nor regret”
For a while, in the place left behind by the Haulia tribe, Shia’s crying voice and subtle atmosphere hung in the air.