“Go on. It’s fine on this occasion.”
Quema nods, causing her red forelocks to sway.
“…We’re fully aware that we are no more than a small, weak orc clan. However, we also have our pride as a clan living underneath the canopy.”
Hearing the term canopy, it reminds me of Viine’s story.
“My father Bi’Mael played a central role within our Totokhun clan as he created the 【Fierce God’s Squad】.”
“I see, your father, huh? The objective is to recover the stolen treasures?”
“Yes. One day we’re going to advance on the surface and retake our old homeland. And, if we get back the treasures…but, my great father Bi’Mael…passed away.”
“Thanks…he got broiled up in a revolt at Fort Arheaganim by the Gungh and Ayarokh clans, which came into existence through a new succession struggle in the Greater Dodon Clan…and died all too quickly. The same applies to my smart mother. But, they should have properly contributed to the battle of the gods in the world of Lyban. As a result of the loss of the egg of the Queen Ghul Dodon clan’s fifth hunter consort, the Dohle, Bulguh, and Ganreh clans, alongside the forces of the other Dodon consorts, began a civil war with the goal of expanding their respective sphere of influence over mining rights and Mad Warrior legends…and we got also dragged into it.” Quema explains with a firm attitude, but still, warring states, eh…?
Hearing about mining rights, I recall the guildmaster of the Shadow Wing Brigade, Galroh, was also mixed up in fights over Tandarl’s mining rights. I wonder whether that’s connected with the orcs’ issue through the underground goddess…
“…It sounds quite troublesome.”
“We’re a small clan, so it can’t be helped.”
The orcs are also surviving through turbulent times. Still, the queen’s egg, huh? That would mean orcs lay eggs.
Come to think of it…I feel like there were multiple organs and stomachs visible in their corpses. Well, I suppose you could also think of them as ruminants or mammals.
Rather than this, I think it’d be better to get Quema’s view on their attack on Cydale.
“…Your Totokhun clan participated in the attack on our village due to the equilibrium between the Dodon and Gungh clans, and lost, right?”
My servants and Quiche put in great efforts to repel the orcs.
“Correct. Having judged our clan, which lost all too quickly as we were unable to work as a commando unit thanks to the loss of our treasures, as weak, Hexa Ghul Gungh’s military forces abandoned us. And as result of being chased down by the Tree King’s troops… our Totokhun’s unit of the 【Fierce God’s Squad】 got completely isolated in the Sea of Trees after withdrawing…” Quema admitted with a bitter expression.
“With you two being here right now…still, abandoning your comrades is a fairly cruel act.”
Hearing the sympathy in my voice, Quema’s eyes turn into small dots, maybe because it’s unexpected or disconcerting for her.
“…Orcs pursue strength. It’s only natural to be treated like that if you lose. Hexa’s prided secret art squad apparently having been annihilated also played a role in this, I think.”
Does Quema mean the Gungh clan’s squad that had imprisoned the semi-transparent orc? It might have been a unit that employs semi-transparent orcs.
“And just when we thought that we’d meet our end here…we were saved by you, Shuuya-dono…”
The small tusks protruding out of her mouth are trembling.
“But, still, despite the honorable battle…only us two remain… For me to be left behind myself despite having announced that I’d join the world of Lyban…the netherworld…guguguaaan.”
So far Quema has remained stout-hearted, but…now she’s loudly sobbing with big tears rolling down her cheeks. She has already taken her mask off, but only now her tough facade has truly crumbled apart.
Well, I can understand where she’s coming from.
Despite having been rescued, her rescuer seems to be a hostile human who might steal her treasures and eat her…that might be a really wretched fate in her eyes.
While sympathizing with her feelings, “…There exists the proverb 「Cherish the living over the dead」. I think you know that yourself, but you should treasure the now and here.”
After nodding at my remark, Solobo speaks up, “…But, Shuuya-dono has shown up as our savior. That’s why the gods might not intend for us to “head to the world of Lyban” yet.”
“…You’re probably right. Our lamp still continues to burn.”
Solobo talks as if to supplement the sobbing Quema.
I guess I’ll also ask about their fierce god.
“Are the orcs divided into different religious groups depending on the clan?”
“…Of course.” Solobo, who’s remained calm so far, answers with a tinge of anger in his voice.
“…Solobo, restrain yourself.” Quema warns him.
Although she’s stopped crying, her eyes are still puffed up and red. Since her nose is running, I hand her a leather cloth.
“Don’t mind it. Please continue with your story.”
After blowing her nose, Quema nods at my soothing words, and further explains, “But, just as Solobo says, this is common sense for the orcs. The clan members of the Greater Dodon clan, who are kin of the queen, mostly worship the Old God Segereleou-sama of the Eight Great Orc Gods. In addition, the members of the Greater Vain clan, who possess rich ebony deposits, believe in the Tempering God Leguiey-sama. A faction worshiping God of Paths Selekuny also exists. Depending on the clan, some groups also believe in Spirit World gods like Totogu Gog-sama, Zansuyn-sama, Rivograph-sama, or King of Destruction Rashinz Lebioda-sama. There are all kinds of religious factions within each clan.”
With the Eight Great Orc Gods forming the foundation…they even worship Spirit World gods on top of that?
“There are orcs worshiping Spirit World gods in spite of the orcs having their very own gods? That doesn’t sound very coherent.”
“Not quite. The number of those believing in gods other than our Eight Great Gods are only few. Among those, most believe in Underground God Tolodo, Underground Goddess Rolga, and Underground God Keylur, who are all connected to the Prison Dimension Godolon. Some evil orcs also do trade with them. Moreover, it’s said that a group also believes in the Ancient God Go Rad, although I can’t really believe that since the orcs are at war with him. And going by the fact of orcs also living among the gnomes and dwarves, I’m sure that some of my brethren not only worship the gods of the divine domain, but also their ancestors.”
I’ve heard about Go Rad from Higlia on several occasions. She mentioned that relatively many dragonfly monsters spawn in the ancient ruins strewn across the Sea of Trees. But, for the orcs to not only believe in underground gods, but also ancient gods, wild gods, cursed gods…and even their ancestors…
Do they have freedom of religion? No, maybe it’s just that looking at the entire orc race makes the outlook too huge? It’s not really different from the humans who also have various groups believing in all kinds of gods.
As I expected, the orc society is quite complex. It doesn’t sound like they’ve got connections to evil gods, but…it’s quite possible that apostles of evil gods have joined the orcs to cause confusion in the underground in order to expand their god’s sphere of influence.
No, I suppose that wouldn’t make much sense… The 15th and 20th floors of the labyrinth in Pelneet contain entire worlds. A part of Catiza was previously the third apostle of Evil God Nicross.
If you consider the orcs’ population, they’re certainly a force to reckon with… I recall something about a goblin empire being displayed in the white room before I reincarnated.
※A huge population on the level of mankind with its brethren inhabiting many areas across the continent※
※Goblins with different appearances, shapes, and customs also exist. The huge number of goblins basically doesn’t possess any unity. Depending on the regions, some areas might be infested by continuously ongoing wars between military factions which are ruled by powerful subspecies like Goblin Lords, Goblin Kings, or Goblin Kaisers※
※In some areas the humans and demi-humans have been completely eradicated by hobgoblins or high goblins, and there exist special areas where goblins run their own goblin governments※
This is about goblins, but orcs might have their own orc governments, too.
Afterwards, I asked about the discord between the Gungh clan led by Hexa and the Totokhun clan.
“We were almost banished from Underground City Gudorn which is ruled by the Gungh clan.”
A city made by orcs for orcs, huh?
“I see. An exile would have been harsh, I’m sure. So you didn’t have a choice but to work for the Gungh clan, huh?”
“Correct. Moreover, the order for us to amass our troops was only based on the reason that we used to have our homeland on the surface. Even though quite a bit of time had already passed ever since then…but, that excuse didn’t work on the Gungh clan.”
“That’s also one of Hexa Ghul Gungh’s strengths. We were forced to participate in the attack on the village as a commando unit upon his clan’s order.”
I guess it’s only natural to choose going along with this since they wouldn’t want to be banished from the underground. Anyway, I’ll also ask about Solobo.
“I see, so that’s what happened. On another note, why is Solobo calling you Quema-sama despite being from a different clan?”
“…I’m Tokk’s childhood friend and a family member of the Greater Kaibachi clan, but in the end I’m merely a low-born orc who’s got a bit of confidence in his swordsmanship while looking up to high orcs and the legendary high orc king.”
“It’s okay. Please let me tell him.” Solobo says to Quema.
And then he continues speaking to me, “Although I’m a Kaibachi family member, orcs like me exist a dime a dozen.”
“An underground city full of thugs, eh? Are there any other underground cities with many orcs?”
“Of course. Rather, it’d be more accurate to say there are too many of them, I think. There’s so many of us that the cities from the places near Mt. Lalarbuin’s underground to the underground along the grand corridor are overrun by orcs. Naturally the underground also houses villages and towns you can’t quite call cities. …There’s a bounty of prey to be found there.”
Meaning, there’s a lot of orcs around the Great Corridor of the Pel-Heka-Line. In that light, Solobo’s explanation makes sense. The whispered part about the prey at the end probably stems from me looking like a human.
“…And in addition to the internal conflicts within the clans, the orc clans admired by me also wage wars against many other races and factions such as the armies of the independent underground cities of the dwarves and gnomes, the Sorcerer Noble forces of the dark elvish Underground City Gohlea and Underground City Da’Umezalan, the hordes of the Demonoid Empire which worships the underground gods of the 【Prison Dimension Godolon】 which came into this world through a 【Black Ring】, countless monsters such as Parasite Sharks or Arbiters…and even on the surface, there’s the military forces of the Tree King of Wonders, the ancient wolfmen, the Death Butterfly people, the vampires, demonoid apostles, and all kinds of monsters…”
I nod at Solobo’s words. I guess they’re also fighting against Amu’s Halfmalida in the underground. And the dwarf Roa, who was the first intelligent life-form I met when I came to this world. There’s also the underground city he had to leave after losing a power struggle. It was the dwarvish Langur Empire, wasn’t it? Hankay, who fought against the Great Befaritz Empire on the surface, called it the Langur Kingdom, though.
“…Against humans as well, no?”
“Yeah, they’re our main enemy on the surface. The orc clans still have some track records of the battles against the humans left. And, I’m repeating myself, but I’m an inferior orc of the lowest rank among the orcs. I’m the living proof of the saying, “Keep the peasants to feed them to the falcons.” That’s why I was never drafted for battlefields where the orc clans played an active role… But, Quema-sama’s esteemed father apparently spotted me just when I was getting rid of hoodlums who had picked a fight with my family. He told me, 『You possess a unique power. Once you release that power, you’ll obtain the Snake Eye』, and provided special aid to my family. Afterwards, my childhood friend Tokk and I were able to join the Totokhun clan, allowing us to appear on many battlefields. I continued to plentifully use the power of my Snake Eye against those hostile to Totokhun. Because of that, I was chosen as Quema-sama’s bodyguard, and that’s where I am right now.”
Snake Eye…for an instant, Goddess of Magic Poison Misea pops up in my mind. But, it’s pointless to pay attention to this now.
“…I see. So you aren’t lovers or something like that?”
“No. Tokk, who was killed by the Tree King’s troops, and I are soldiers of 【Fierce God’s Squad】.”
“Tokk Ghul Kaibachi was also outstanding as a swordsman. My father’s call to assign them as my bodyguards wasn’t mistaken.”
“Thank you very much.” Solobo happily thanks Quema.
Was Tokk Ghul Kaibachi the irregular swordsman who encountered the Burning Knights? I was quite sure that Solobo was meant here, but maybe I’m wrong.
“By the way, Shuuya-dono, you said you’re no human?”
“Indeed. I’m of a race called Lucival. I don’t know whether you’d also call it vampiric, but it’s a race you could describe as a subspecies of vampires. And Helme is a spirit.”
“Wh-!? A Spirit-sama, you say!?”
Quema and Solobo are more surprised by Helme’s existence than my race.
And then I say towards Helme, “I’ve given them a simple explanation of you being a spirit, Helme. The female orc is called Quema, and the big guy seems to be called Solobo.”
Helme bows at me while floating in the air, causing her long hair to sway, and then descends. She directs a sharp look at the two orcs.
“Well then, Quema, Solobo, you’ve surrendered, so you’re going to listen to His Excellency’s every order, right?”
I suppose the two orcs can’t understand Helme’s words.
“Helme is confirming with you guys whether you’re going to follow my orders.” I translate for her.
“…Of course. Originally we’d have likely been killed by the Tree King’s forces. I’ll vow on my life…Fierce God Kisalame-sama, no, the Eight Great Orc Gods that I shall obey your orders, Shuuya-dono!” Quema replies excitedly.
She lowers her head after placing a hand on her chest and closing one eye.
Next I shift my eyes to Solobo who’s been nodding at Quema’s reaction. Solobo widens his eyes as if trying to pop his eyeballs out of their socket.
He stares at me, seemingly angry, “――Shuuya-dono, I’ll also pledge to the God of Paths Selekuny! That I shall obey you, even when I should go to Lyban one day.”
How passionate…is he the same type as the Burning Knights?
“But, it still hasn’t been long since we’ve met…”
“That doesn’t matter! In a world where it’s an everyday occurrence to get killed for just being an orc, you didn’t abandon us, and instead saved our lives, no matter what your objectives with this might have been! We’re deeply indebted to you! And if Spirit-sama should have any complaints, I’ll readily offer my Demon Sword Soebally and the Magic Umbrella Galasassa.”
Solobo relinquishes his own cherished weapon and defensive tool…
“No, your vows are more than enough. You made your point. Well then, I’ll give you back this flute, Quema. Please pick up the spear by yourself.”
“…It’s no more than a verbal promise. Are you really fine with that?”
Quema asks something that contradicts her earlier vow. She picks up her spear and puts it on her back.
“I think you can easily imagine what’s awaiting you if you betray me, right?” I hand her the flute while warning her with my lips forming an arc-shaped smile.
“O-Of c-course.” Quema’s face cramps up.
Although she basically looks like an orc, she’s still a considerable beauty. I’m sure she must be quite popular among the orcs.
Or maybe there exist orc-specific rules for males and females, which also encompasses the Totokhun clan? Something like being unable to have sex with a woman unless you’ve got magnificent babirusa-like tusks?
“Solobo, it’s your precious umbrella, isn’t it? Pick it up. And the magic katana on your back is precious like a partner to you, isn’t it?”
“…As you command! Shuuya-dono, you have the caliber of a ruler…allow me to serve you even for Tokk’s share.” Solobo says gleefully.
However, probably because I’ve said what I said with a self-important tone, Solobo misunderstood it.
“I’m no ruler, but an adventurer. And I’m also not the one in charge of the village. We’re going back to the village now. Helme, bind them up.”
In an instant, Helme ties up Quema and Solobo with the strings of <Lapis Lazuli Flower>.
“I’m telling you in advance, but you’ll be treated prisoners of war since I’ll take you to Quiche’s village. Over there, I’ll inform the village chief Quiche that I’ll take custody of your lives.”
Hearing my explanations, the two blink repeatedly.
“…Shuuya-dono, you not being the one in charge is yet another surprise. But, we shall accept our verdict.”
“Naturally. We’ve entrusted you with our lives, so…”
Quema and Solobo immediately look somewhat uneasy.
“Don’t worry. You won’t face a military tribunal like in some kingdom. You won’t be judged either. Your lives are safe with me.”
Still, they’re quite noble. Solobo might get along better with the Burning Knights than Moga.
Anyway, now that I’ve learned a bit about the history and gods of the orcs, I think it’s about time to head back to Cydale.
At that moment, I sense several magic sources closing in on us from beyond the forest that got destroyed by Rollodeen. From the other side of the tall trees, huh?
Have the Tree King’s forces come back?
“Haa haa haa――”
“…Leader, we were saved right when a huge number of military forces of the Tree King showed up, weren’t we?”
“――Yep. Moreover, even though they ran into us, they ignored us and kept fleeing. How strange. Leaving that aside, Luciel’s magic having worked against the dragonfly monsters was…hmm? A part of the forest has been destroyed over there!”
“Ah, maybe the reason for the Tree King’s forces running away…don’t tell me…a wyvern subspecies? Or a big monster like Greater Royal Guard Ants? Leader, should I go ahead to scout?”
“Belize, please do, is what I’d like to say, but wait a moment. Professor, are you alright?”
“…I’m fine. However, Mie got slashed by the pea-green blade wielded by that dragonfly-rabbit-hybrid monster…”
“Professor, we’ve used the antidote, Zamalia’s healing pill, and the doll-shaped medicine of Phenimul Village’s prodigy on Mie-san. She’s alright now and merely sleeping.”
“I see. There’s this excessive, elegant smell, but…I’m glad to hear it, really glad…”
“Leader, the string bracelet you bought at the village is a present you couldn’t give to Shuuya-san in the end. You still have it on you, don’t you?”
“Bucchi, are you fondling Mie-san’s butt?”
“Luciel, I think it’s obvious at a glance, but I’m carrying her, so I’m naturally touching it, but…I’m not up to anything weird.”
“Hihi, Bucchi, you little pervert. But, no need to keep checking our rear while glaring so much. It’s okay. The only magic source responses I can sense lie in front of us. Other than the place where the trees have been knocked down unnaturally, I can’t feel any presence.”
“From in front, eh…?”
“Is my assistant on his back still sleeping?”
“Yes, the healing magic is working as well, so she’s deeply asleep.”
“But, if not for my carelessness…”
“…Professor, she’s safe, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Please cheer up. We’ll attempt another underground ruin exploration on the next occasion.”
“Thanks, Sarah. But, I was fully preoccupied with running away from the huge numbers of enemies, so where are we here? On top of all these fallen trees, this area is outside the range of my map…”
“I thought that I knew the Sea of Trees well, but…”
“Leader, are you saying we’re lost?”
“What’s with that look…?”
“Bucchi, how dare you look at leader with such an expression… It’d have been unthinkable for you to do that in the past!”
“True, those times when he was jealous of Shuuya-san are now a nice memory. Currently he’s even fondling Mie-san’s butt…”
“I’ve told you, that’s not it! It’s inevitable for me to touch that place!”
I can hear very familiar voices from the other side of the forest. Some of the voices I can’t identify, but there’s no way that I’d forget the other…
I began to walk automatically.