Chapter 04 – Beast Cage
Hiiro and his travelling companions, Arnold and Muir, were on their way towards the border city 【Surge】. Along the way they decided to stop at 【Wondo】for the night.
The atmosphere in Wondo was a bit strange. The town looked as if a typhoon had just passed by. All the buildings were destroyed and the villagers were standing around muttering to each other. Arnold went to ask one of the villagers what had happened.
“A beastman went wild around here.” When he heard those words, Arnold’s shoulders began to quiver.
Arnold: “He-hey, why’d the beastman go wild?”
Arnold attempted to gain more information while trying to remain calm.
Villager: “It seems that the beastman was an adventurer and would drop by 【Wondo】every now and then. Today as well, the beastman came to our village. Then suddenly three big wagons entered the village.”
Arnold’s face began to grow pale as soon as he heard the word, wagon.
Arnold: “Wh-what kind of people came out of that wagon?”
Villager: “Ah, now that I think of it, they were wearing some weird clothes.”
Arnold’s face grew paler and paler as he listened to the story the villager told. Hiiro and Muir weren’t aware of Arnold’s condition as they had been standing a bit further away.
“I, I see…” Arnold replied with some effort.
Villager: “Those guys told the beastman to obediently obey while they detained him. Of course, the beastman refused them and that was when they attacked him.”
After that there was a battle between the guys who came out of the wagon and the beastman. Being an adventurer as well as a beastman with high physical abilities, he was strong so the battle grew increasingly violent.
By looking at the state of this village, it was obvious how violent the battle had been. The roof of the houses had been blown off, the well was destroyed and the fields were damaged. It really did look like a typhoon had just passed by.
Villager: “It’s quite annoying, no, not because of the beastman. Of course, the beastman who fought inside of this village is also at fault. But, the ones most at fault are the ones who forced the strong beastman to fight.”
The villager became angry every time he remembered how their village was destroyed. From what the villager was saying, it was clear to Arnold that those guys had done something unreasonable.
Arnold: “What… Happened to that beastman?”
“Ah… Well, yeah. It’s hard to say…” The villager hesitantly said.
Arnold: “Was he kidnapped?”
The answer to that question was the completely opposite of what Arnold had thought.
Villager: “… No, he’s still here.”
“Re-really?! That’s great!” Arnold said earnestly. Arnold was delighted that for whatever reason the beastman had not been kidnapped and was still in this village. There was no way for Arnold, who was a beastman himself, to be happy about another beastman getting kidnapped.
Arnold: “Ah, can I meet him?”
By all means, Arnold wanted to exchange information with the beastman. The villager’s face dimmed upon Arnold’s words.
Villager: “… Yes, well you can meet him.”
Arnold was concerned about the tone that the villager had used and frowned.
Arnold: “Th-then I would like to meet him.”
Villager: “… It’s over here.”
The villager reluctantly led Arnold to the beastman.
“Hey, I’m going out for a bit so go wait at the inn!” Arnold called out.
Hiiro gently shrugged his shoulders and left to go to the inn. However Muir unsteadily ran towards Arnold.
Arnold: “Hey Muir. You go with Hiiro…”
The two followed after the villager.
Arnold was astonished at the sight in front of him and he went stiff.
“This is… Him.” The villager pointed to the beastman’s grave.
Arnold: “Th-this is…”
Villager: “He’s already at a place beyond our control.”
Muir hadn’t heard the story earlier so she didn’t understand the situation. But judging from Arnold’s mood she understood that a sad event had occurred.
Muir: “… Uncle?”
Arnold: “… Muir.”
Arnold looked at Muir painfully. Seeing Arnold close to tears, Muir felt like she had lost her foothold and she started to feel anxious.
“He didn’t feel much pain when he passed away. He might have even been happy.” The villager said indifferently, as if it had been someone else’s problem. No, it had been someone else’s problem but for some reason Arnold didn’t want to hear those words coming from a human’s mouth right now.
(Damn… It’s so irritating! Something like this has happened before, hasn’t it!?)
The villagers weren’t at fault. He knew who was at fault. Even so the only one who understood the feelings of the beastman, who laid here, was Arnold who was a beastman himself.
Arnold stared at the poorly made grave, made a cross sign with some wooden sticks and placed it onto the ground.
(How can they do such horrible things…? Like that time with me… And like that time with this girl…)
Arnold placed a hand on Muir’s head and clenched his jaw. Muir felt his hands slightly shaking on top of her head. She gently grabbed onto his clothes and moved closer to him.
Muir’s feelings had reached Arnold and he slightly unclenched his jaw.
Arnold: “Thank you.”
Arnold affectionately patted Muir’s head and feeling good, she closed her eyes.
*Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip*
It started to rain. Arnold looked up at the sky and then returned his gaze back onto the grave.
(It was unreasonable, right…? It must have been frustrating, right…? This rain must be you crying.)
Arnold gently touched the wooden stick that he had placed down as if it could break at any minute.
(I can’t say that I’ll get revenge, but rest peacefully.)
Seeing Arnold with both his hands grasped together, Muir also did the same. After he had finished, Arnold slowly turned to face the villager.
“Hey, can I ask you something?”
“What is it?”
“The guys who came to this village on the wagon, what are they called?”
“Ah, I’m sure they were called…”
Arnold had already knew what the villager would say so he had prepared himself. But Muir who didn’t suspect a thing, had a startled expression.
“They were called, 《Beast Cage》!”
Hiiro Okamura was relaxing on the bed at the inn when Arnold and Muir finally returned. They both had serious looks on their faces but it seemed like they didn’t want to talk about what was bothering them so Hiiro didn’t ask.
Since it was raining he couldn’t go outside. So he borrowed a book from the inn and was currently reading it. The room had been completely silent for a long time. And suddenly…
“Aaarrrrrrgggggh!” Arnold shouted as if he was broken. Muir was surprised by the yell. Hiiro was also surprised and reflexively dropped his book.
Arnold: “Argh, enough! There’s nothing I can do by sitting around being gloomy! Or should I say, this isn’t like me! Muir, Hiiro! Let’s go eat!”
Arnold was worried about something but he couldn’t sit around feeling hesitant about it. So he yelled loudly to cheer himself up.
“I don’t care about that, don’t yell so suddenly. I was just about to call the doctor and tell him that you’d gone mad.”
Arnold: “Your hateful mouth sounds so refreshing right now.”
Arnold: “Shut up! Anyway, let’s go eat! Hey, Muir!”
“Um, ah, yes!” Muir replied cheerfully. She was also depressed but seeing how Arnold’s spirits had lifted, she couldn’t remain depressed forever.
“That’s fine, but is there even a restaurant in this village?”
Arnold: “There is if you look, right? If there isn’t, we can just ask the inn to whip something up!”
“It’s not even dinner time yet?”
Arnold: “If you pay, they’ll do it!”
“… Will you be paying, Old Man?”
Arnold: “No, nope, pay for yourself! Ah, no, I was the one who invited you. It can’t be helped, today’s my treat!”
“Then I’ll go.” Hiiro put his book to one side.
Arnold: “Wh-what a self-interested guy.”
“I’ll take whatever’s given to me. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t.”
Arnold: “Haha, that’s so like you.”
According to the innkeeper there was one restaurant in this village so the three of them headed there.
It was a small restaurant but the food was fairly delicious. The restaurant served good portioned dishes even though it was very cheap.
Muir was happy so she stuffed her mouth with food. Hiiro thought that for someone with such a small body like Muir, she sure ate a lot. Arnold also ate a lot. It seems that beastman are gluttons. Hiiro gained a bit of knowledge from seeing a new side of the two.
The three of them returned to the inn feeling satisfied and confirmed their future destination.
“So we’re heading towards the border?”
Arnold: “Yeah, you’re also heading there right, HIiro? That’s why we’re travelling together after all.”
Muir silently listened to their conversation.
“Are we heading there right away?”
Arnold: “Mhm ~ I’m not in too much of a hurry. But there is something troublesome I’m concerned about.”
Even though Arnold had whispered the word, “troublesome” Muir had heard it. She knew that Hiiro had heard it too. But she didn’t bring it up because Hiiro hadn’t said anything.
(Does Uncle not trust Hiiro…?) Muir thought. If it was important, then Arnold would bring it up so Muir kept silent.
Arnold: “Well, let’s continue at the usual pace. If something comes up, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“Well, aren’t you optimistic?”
Arnold: “My principle is to always take it easy.”
“But when it comes to that Chibi?”
Arnold: “I’ll do whatever it takes!”
“Oh… Uncle.” Muir said in shock but she looked happy.
“Idiot Parent, Pervert, Brute, Lolicon?”
Arnold: “That’s too long! Stop it with the idiot parent! And we already agreed that I’m not a lolicon!”
“A-ah, you’re mean, Hiiro-san! I’m not a little girl!” Muir said angrily while puffing out her cheeks. But her words didn’t reach Hiiro.
“Well, you don’t look twelve.”
Muir had a complex about her body growth and couldn’t refute Hiiro’s words; so she held a pillow in both heads and groaned into it.
Arnold: “Oho! You were really cute just now, Muir!”
Muir: “Eh, ah, um-umm, was I really…cute?”
Muir was embarrassed by Arnold’s words and glanced at Hiiro.
Muir dropped her shoulders and collapsed, seeing that Hiiro was yawning and not paying attention to her at all.
(Muu~ I don’t understand.)
Muir couldn’t understand why she cared so much about Hiiro’s attitude. She became a little sullen that Hiiro wasn’t interested in her at all.
The next day, they set out on their journey again under the clear weather.
Before leaving the village, they searched for a guild to exchange their monster materials but they didn’t find any. Apparently this village didn’t have a guild.
The bag was filled to the brim with monster materials and Hiiro wondered what was inside. Usually, one would trade the monster materials for money at the guild but when there were none, it was done at shops.
“We’re not short on money, right? Why don’t you just throw it away?”
Arnold: “Hey Hiiro, I can’t do something so wasteful! These are mostly 《Frog Bee Needles》, they’re more expensive than you think.”
Arnold lifted the bag and showed it to Hiiro. Since Hiiro wasn’t obsessed with money, he didn’t think he needed to earn more than necessary. Arnold’s next words change Hiiro’s mind.
Arnold: “Well, if we have money, we can buy the rare food ingredients and books that you love so much.”
Hiiro started frantically looking around for a store to sell the materials after hearing Arnold’s words.
Arnold: “… What’s wrong, Hiiro?”
“What’re you loitering around for? Go find someone to exchange that with!”
Arnold: “… Okay?”
Hiiro ignored Arnold, who was staring at him blankly and entered the store.
Muir: “… Let’s go, Uncle.”
He reluctantly nodded to Muir and entered the store. There was a large man inside arguing with the store owner.
“What do you mean you don’t sell it here?”
“Even if you say that, Sir. If I don’t have it, I can’t sell it to you.”
“But, this is a general store, right? You should carry things like 《Frog Bee Needles》.”
The man visited the store in search of something. He had his head down and was disheartened when he found out that the store didn’t sell what he wanted. Muir who had heard the story spoke in a small voice,
“Un-uncle, if it’s 《Frog Bee Needles》then… We have some?”
The man who seemed to have sharp ears, heard what Muir had said and rudely appeared in front of her.
“Is that true, Miss?!”
Muir: “Mm, Ah, umm… Auuu…”
It was natural for Muir to be frightened as the man was a skinhead and had a very grim face. Arnold stood in front of Muir and glared at the man.
“Oh? I’m sorry about getting over-excited just now.”
The man immediately apologized after seeing how frightened Muir had become so Arnold stopped glaring at him.
Arnold: “Well, that’s fine. You said you wanted 《Frog Bee Needles》, right?”
It was lucky that the man had met them, since they had the materials. It seems that the man wanted the materials no matter what.
His daughter seems to have been bitten by a poisonous bug and he could heal her with the needles. Arnold wasn’t heartless enough to remain silent after hearing such a story.
The man handed Arnold the money and was very pleased. Hiiro was glad that the man also brought the other materials as a thank you.
“Thank you! Now my wife and daughter will be happy!”
“Well, that’s good.”
“Oh, I’m Raab! Let’s drink together next time we meet!” The man said before running somewhere at full speed. Hiiro looked at the back of the running man and thought,
(He’s just like a typhoon. That skinhead…)
Hiiro and the others watched the man and since they were able to exchange the materials for money, they had nothing else to say.
Hiiro had been adventuring with Arnold for several days but since they were running out of provisions, they decided to stop at the nearby town, 【Palestos】.
As soon as they entered the town, Arnold began looking around restlessly as if he was looking for something.
“They’re not here…” Arnold muttered and stroked his chest in relief.
“What’re you doing?”
“Ah, no, it’s nothing.” Arnold said with a fake smile. Muir was also looking around restlessly, there was something that only the two of them knew. Hiiro didn’t particularly want to hear any more so he didn’t ask any other questions.
A few wagons passed by. They walked towards the plaza and the wagons that had passed them earlier were parked there.
White-robed men came out in succession from the wagon. The residents of the town stared dubiously at the wagon, wondering what was going on.
Hiiro was acting the same. Hiiro suddenly saw that Arnold and Muir had turned pale and he was about to inquire about the reason when he heard Arnold muttering to himself.
Arnold: “… Why even at a place like this…”
Arnold grinded his teeth in frustrated. Muir also huddled towards Arnold as if to hide herself. Fortunately, many people were gathered around the plaza so Arnold’s prediction seemed to pass but…
Arnold: “Hey, Hiiro. Let’s get out of here right-.”
“Don’t move!” While Arnold was whispering in Hiiro’s ear, one of the men wearing the white robes shouted. The man wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular, he was talking to everyone that was gathered at the plaza.
White-robe: “Starting from now, anyone who moves will be searched first.”
Hiiro knitted his eyebrows together looking displeased at the arrogant man. Hiiro thought about doing something regarding the situation but Arnold lightly tugged his clothes.
Arnold: “Hiiro. Don’t move.”
While thinking about why he should listen to such orders, Hiiro saw that Arnold’s face had paled so he knew the order had a reason behind it.
Arnold and Muir seemed to be frightened of something.
Hiiro tried to ask Arnold the question lingering in his mind since it was uncomfortable to leave it unanswered.
White-robe: “There is a 『Beastman』in this town! We came all this way to catch it!”
Hiiro grasped the situation from those words. He could understand from the ambience that these guys were disreputable. Hiiro understood from experience that these guys hated 『Beastman』.
That was why Arnold and Muir were hiding themselves so that their identities wouldn’t get exposed. The other party seemed convinced that there was a 『Beastman』in this town.
(Did they already find out about Muir and the Old Man…?)
Hiiro thought the smart thing to do was to run away from this place rather than hide. But Arnold and Muir weren’t moving.
He couldn’t do anything about the two since they were frightened so he looked at the white-robed men once again. On the back of the white robes was a drawing of a wolf-like silhouette with an X mark hashed over it.
(A wolf with an X? No… I see. It’s not a wolf, it’s 『Beastman』with an X.)
The wolf silhouette represented the 『Beastman』and the X on top of that meant that the group didn’t recognize the existence of beastman.
The white-robed men started to look around for beastman. Hiiro looked to his side to see Arnold sweating from his forehead and Muir clinging to Arnold with her eyes tightly shut.
He calmly looked at the wagon and paid attention to the things that were stacked at the back.
(Are those… Books?)
There were five or six books there in varying sizes. The books must be old as they looked as if they had been used quite a bit. For the book-loving Hiiro, it was something that he would like to read through.
It was unbelievable that an ordinary person like Hiiro could use such magic but he stopped at nothing to fulfil his desire.
He could lightly investigate the book covers using『Inspect 視』; this character allowed him to see far away as if looking through a telescope.
Hiiro swallowed his saliva when he saw what was written on the books.
『Gourmet’s Travelling Journal ~ How to Walk Through the Continent ~ ①』
Hiiro’s body trembled. He had to read that book by any means possible. Since ① was written on the book cover, he also looked over the other books and just like he had thought, there was a sequel. Furthermore he also saw a book called 『Magic Structure』in the pile and he was intrigued.
Hiiro glanced at the last book but he was only able to read some of the title since one of the white-robed men moved and stood in front of the book.
(… I can’t check the title like this. I really want to know what it is.)
Hiiro couldn’t make any bad moves so he pondered over how he could read the title but he couldn’t come up with an answer.