Chapter 02: A Decoy and a Magic Brush
In the 『Throne Room』of the【Human Country・Victorias】seven days before Hiiro Okamura arrived at the border town, 【Surge】. The four Heroes who were summoned by the royal family had an audience with the King, Rudolph van Strauss Alcraiam.
“Eh? You want us to go to the border security?”
Rudolph gave the four Heroes a mission. A ferocious monster had been sighted close to the security of the border so he wanted them to go and confirm this.
He asked Taishi Aoyama, the only male amongst the Heroes, to go and confirm this and also if possible, Rudolph also ordered them to subjugate it.
“Yes. The border is close to the beast kingdom and the ocean so ferocious monsters rarely appear there. Most do not tread on the human world at all, but I do believe that this is a good opportunity. I also want you to go and explore the human world.”
The four were ecstatic upon hearing Rudolph’s words because they had done many quests before but this was the first time they had received a mission that required them to travel a long distance.
Therefore they were happy when they thought that they could go sightseeing.
“Captain Vale is on another mission so he won’t be accompanying you. Well, I don’t think anything will happen but if you do receive any new information you can contact him through your magic tool. I want you to head there right away. Rest assured, I will prepare the fastest carriage for you.”
“Yes, sir! We get to do some sightseeing and also level on the way there so we’re killing two birds with one stone!”
Taishi promptly said happily and Rudolph smiled.
“I will also take care of your travelling expenses so I want you to take this opportunity to broaden your horizon.”
The four happily replied to the generous Rudolph.
A day had passed since Hiiro and co had met the strange painter, Tenny. From then Arnold and Muir had become pretty close to Tenny because they were all beastman.
However Hiiro still felt dubious over Tenny’s behaviour and couldn’t trust him. Both Winka and Winger didn’t feel any ill intent from him. Therefore Hiiro remained vigilant but didn’t hound him.
Right now they were having breakfast at the Guild but the adventurers who came to the Guild were all gossiping.
The rumour was that a ferocious monster had appeared near the check point. Upon hearing further information, Hiiro found out that many monsters appeared near the check point because of the environment it was in.
People had observed giant monsters crawling out of the ocean to rest on land and bird-like monsters flying from the beast kingdom resting on the top of the check point.
Someone had also observed a monster like that this time as well, so that meant that everyone was on their guard. If they left it alone then most the time, it ended without incident.
“It’s hard for the security guards too ~.”
Arnold threw bread into his mouth and talked as if it was someone else’s problem. At that time he asked Hiiro about what was on his mind.
“Oh yeah, did you think about how you’d cross the border, Hiiro?”
“Ah, it’s easy if I use magic.”
“Ah ~. Yeah, yeah. You’re probably right.”
Arnold said with a bit of sarcasm but Hiiro didn’t care and continued eating. However Tenny was concerned about their conversation and asked Arnold:
“Magic? Does Hiiro-kun not have a 《Visa》?”
“He doesn’t. Well, but I think Hiiro would be able to pass through the border with his magic.”
Tenny’s eyes narrowed at that moment but no one noticed. Tenny’s eyes immediately returned to normal and he turned towards Hiiro.
“Eh, I want so see Hiiro-kun’s magic ~.”
“I don’t intend to show it to you for free.”
“Ahaha, I knew it ~. That’s too bad ~.”
Tenny often laughed and Hiiro felt that his smile was suspicious. After that they spent their time idly and when they finished their meal, Hiiro and co finally talked about heading towards the border.
“What will you do now, Tenny?”
“Mhm ~, well ~. There’s still somethin’ I want to paint so I won’t be crossing the border with you. But I can see you off.”
Arnold said to Tenny who was smiling refreshingly, “As expected of beastman bonds!” and he patted Tenny on the back. Tenny smiled wryly as he received Arnold’s pats. Then adventurers once again came to the Guild.
“Hey, did you hear? Those guys came again.”
“I saw it. There were three carriages from 《Beast Cage》.”
The adventurer’s words pricked at everyone’s hearts, especially Arnold and Muir. Arnold had a terrible look on his face as he approached one of the adventurers, put a hand on his shoulders and turned him around.
“H-hey, wait a minute!”
“Uoah!? What’s with you?!”
“Be-《Beast Cage》is here? Where?!”
“Eh? Well, they’re at the border. Who the hell are you?”
Arnold dropped his shoulders, crestfallen while muttering, “Dammit……” The adventurer who thought he was suspicious, swept Arnold’s hand off his shoulder and quickly left in a bad mood.
“《Beast Cage》, huh…? They come here sometimes.”
Hiiro asked Tenny in return.
“Yup. This check point is on the border of the beast kingdom. In short, to return to the beast kingdom, they have to go through this place.”
“In other words, it’s the most suitable place for them to catch a lot of beastman.”
《Beast Cage》, the organisation that loathed beastman, could easily capture as many beastman as they wanted if they went as far as the checkpoint. The beastman were like insects flocking towards a tree smeared in nectar. Mankind benefitted, no, 《Beast Cage》benefitted from making use of the captured beastman.
(Well, it’s only natural that would happen but Old Man seems to be quite shocked.)
It was no use, Arnold and Muir were both traumatised by 《Beast Cage》. That’s why they were shocked that those guys would appear when they were just about to escape to safety.
“Don’t you have any opinions on this?”
“Mhm… Wi will just defeat them if they get in the way…”
Arnold also heard those words and his shoulders twitched.
“Th-that’s right. It always works out somehow. And also…”
Arnold faced Muir. She was anxiously looking at Arnold.
“I’m not by myself. Muir, Wi and Hiiro are with me.”
Muir nodded, receiving strength from Arnold’s words.
“However, it doesn’t change the fact that it’ll be tough to cross the bridge.”
“H-hey you, Hiiro, I finally felt up to it.”
“Anyway, let’s check the situation first.”
Arnold got fired up and hit his cheeks with his hands.
“Alright! Let’s go!”
Tenny slowly raised his hand while everyone was showing their determination.
“U-um, is it alright if I go too?”
“Eh? It’s dangerous if you’re seen, you know? You’re also a beastman so they’ll catch you too.”
“It’s okay! Even if I look like this I’m good at avoiding fights!”
Tenny gave a thumbs up. He was travelling alone and on top of that he was a beastman so he should know how to survive in this world.
“Ummm.” Arnold said with a grim expression and then, “Fine. But if it gets dangerous then run away by yourself.”
“That’s right, Tenny-san! Please prioritise your life!”
“Mhm… What they said.”
“Arnold-san, Muir-chan, Wi-chan… You’re all good people.”
In Hiiro’s eyes, Tenny looked apologetic.
(Looks like he’s up to something. Well… He doesn’t seem like a bad guy.)
Hiiro still couldn’t let his guard down but he knew that Tenny had a likeable personality.
“Alright! First, let’s head to the border!”
Everyone nodded at Arnold’s words and Hiiro and his party headed to a place where they could see the checkpoint.
The name of the bridge connecting the human world and the beast kingdom. A large wall was built at the entrance of the bridge and in the middle of that wall was a gigantic door.
A large number of soldiers dispatched from the 【Human Country・Victorias】, were standing guard on both sides on the wall.
This was the border and also an entrance into the important human world so security had always been carefully taken care of. If something out of place happened then it was reported to the Guild in 【Victorias】at once.
If the Guild Master determined that the matter needed investigating then the information would also be reported to the country, from there it would be decided whether the army would be dispatched or if they would make use of adventurers. Since the people guarding the border were from the army, they usually dispatched the army.
If it became evident that the matter had nothing to do with the checkpoint then they would leave it to the adventurers.
Three carriages arrived in front of the big door on the human world side.
The soldiers on guard were concerned about the carriages and remained vigilant. Men wearing white robes appeared from the carriages.
Amongst them a person who didn’t have a normal aura approached the soldiers.
“You’re 《Beast Cage》, aren’t you?! What did you come here for!? Don’t tell me you intend to enter the beast kingdom!?”
A soldier tightened his hold on his spear and quickly said.
“Hmph. A mere border guard shouldn’t talk such rubbish.”
The soldier armed his spear at the man’s way of talking.
“Do you really think we would want to enter such filthy lands? That doesn’t even pass as a joke.”
“Guh… Then what did you come here for?!”
The soldier’s question was only natural. This is the border and there were only guards here. They didn’t intend to cross the bridge and the reason why they came in groups was still unknown.
“An enquiry. Have you seen a brat in red robes with a beastman man and child pass through here? Ah, 《Moonlight》should also be with them.”
“… Hah? What’s that?”
“Just answer my question. Have they been here or not?”
The soldier faced the other soldiers and they all frowned. The man knew from their expressions that the people he was looking for had yet to arrive and broke out in a smile.
“Kukuku. So I’m ahead of them then. I received information that they were heading here, probably to cross the border. I won’t let them, I’ll bring a blood bath upon them.”
The man’s face distorted into a cruel expression. The soldiers shivered and stepped away.
“Wh-who the heck are you…?”
“A-ah, it’s him. The commander of 《Beast Cage》Folse Wagner.”
The soldiers shared information with each other.
As the soldier had said, the man in front of them was Folse Wagner. The person who had fought with Hiiro earlier and fell prey to his 《Word Magic》.
After that, he repeatedly raged about how he was going to kill Hiiro and co. His trademarks were: his sharp eyes that looked like a hitman’s, his black eyepatch on his right eye and his samurai topknot.
Folse laughed amusingly thinking that he could kill Hiiro and co here.
The soldiers were perplexed trying to think of a way to deal with Folse and he glared at them.
“Don’t get in my way of capturing them.”
“Wh-what?! I’ll have you know that people filed grievances against you 《Beast Cage》a month ago!”
“You are giving us trouble by attempting to hunt down beastman here!”
“What? You’re humans, aren’t you? I can’t let that slide. We only want to exterminate the filthy beastman.”
“Ev-even if they’re beastman, we still cannot allow you to capture innocent people if you don’t have the kingdom’s consent to do so! We’ve sent you plenty of notices! Why do you keep ignoring them?!”
“Shut up you damned soldier.”
The soldiers who received Folse’s death glare stepped back. However, the people from the rear of the soldiers sensed an uncommon aura and headed to regroup with the soldiers talking to Folse.
“Hoh, you dare defy us 《Beast Cage》?”
“W-we of the national armed forces are securing this border! Would you dare defy your kingdom, 《Beast Cage》?!”
It was an explosive situation. Sparks were flying between the men in white robe and the soldiers.