I’m back~! Did you miss me? No…?! You just want more chapters you say?! *Sigh*… That side, I can’t guarantee the timing of my next chapter release, so enjoy while you can~
The forest’s eldest Jiba-Ruu, saying that she was able to remember the joy of living, gave me and Ai-Fa her blessing.
I was really happy about that. To say that it was the best ending is not enough. It was a great pleasure to be involved in the life of Jiba-Ruu who is also very important to Ai-Fa, I myself, was so moved that I felt my heart trembling.
However一一a few hours later, I found myself agonizing alone in the empty house.
Ai-Fa wasn’t here.
Rimi-Ruu wasn’t here either.
In the deadly silent room, covered in anger and humiliation, I writhed around.
(Dammit! What in the world, was that!)
I’m not being detained or anything. Ai-Fa and Rimi-Ruu were with Jiba-Ruu in her room and in the middle of rekindling old relations, they just asked me to take care of this house.
This is one of the houses in the village of the Ruu clan.
This house, seems to have belonged to one of Donda-Ruu’s younger brothers or nephews. Last year, he moved to another clan1 because his family members decreased and life became difficult, so this house became vacant.
And, ‘since the Fa’s house is far away, please rest in this house tonight’, I’m grateful for receiving the Ruu clan’s consideration but一一that aside, I’m not satisfied.
But, I don’t know who to direct my frustration to.
If I had to say, it’s me who is in the bad.
So I, while holding uncontrollable emotions in my heart, squirmed and struggled on the floor by myself.
A few hours earlier, in the hall of the Ruu’s main house一一
“I suppose you will be sleeping in the Ruu’s settlement today, Ai-Fa?”, Jiba-Ruu said, while slowly continuing to eat little by little.
“It’s already completely dark out. The path is dangerous at night, so please rest in a vacant house for today”
“No, that is unnecessary. I’m not someone who muntos and gizus can do anything to, Jiba-Ruu”
“Well well. You’ve certainly grown up into a fine『Giba Hunter』, but please rest for this old woman’s sake, Ai-Fa”
“Also, since you also have the role of clan head, you can’t come to such a far house very often right? This old woman doesn’t have the strength to walk all the way to the Fa house……So at least, please keep this old woman company tonight. After all, this is the first time in a few years that I’ve been able to see the face of my precious Ai-Fa……”
As expected of Ai-Fa, she couldn’t refuse the offer.
But, that in particular, wasn’t a problem. The clan head Donda-Ruu didn’t seem to show any signs of encouraging current Ai-Fa into marriage at all, so in that case, re-establishing connections with grandma Jiba-Ruu and Rimi-Ruu, I’ve been thinking about doing that too.
So, the problem wasn’t there.
The problem, arose after that.
It seems that there was apparently a custom of not standing up until everyone had finished eating, so after that, Rimi-Ruu accompanied Jiba-Ruu, while me and Ai-Fa returned to our own meals. But, in that time, the clan head Donda-Ruu continued to endlessly berate my food.
“This stuff is the foodstuff of animals” “This isn’t the food of hunters” “How dare you feed us munto feed” “My existence is being dirtied”, it was already a rain of abuse.
But well, whether it was because of repulsion towards outsiders, and his position as the clan head, this roughneck must have some kind of reason to speak ill of peeples cooking, was what I thought, I didn’t pay too much attention to that.
The crack appeared, just after I finished the last bite of my food followed by Ai-Fa.
“That’s enough! Why are you berating Asuta’s cooking to such an extent? Wasn’t Jiba-Ruu very happy!?”
Reina-Ruu, stayed silent for a little while一一
And then, put her hands on her necklace.
While removing the horns and tusks, she slowly approached me and Ai-Fa.
“Oi……” Donda-Ruu said, his two eyes filled with even more unease.
Ignoring that, Reina-Ruu dropped her knees to the ground with a petari, and offered one tusk or horn to me and Ai-Fa.
“From the Ruu clan’s Reina-Ruu, to the Fa clan’s Ai-Fa and Asuta who saved the soul of Jiba-Ruu, and gave peace to the life of the Ruu clan, I would like to bestow my heartfelt blessings”
“Ehh? Oi, are you alright, Reina-Ruu……?”
I tried secretly whispering into her ear, but Ai-Fa slightly poked me on the shoulder.
“Shut up and take it. Gifting giba horns and tusks, is a sacred act for the people of the forest. To refuse it, is akin to trampling on their dignity and pride”
Having said that, Ai-Fa said “I am honoured by Reina-Ruu’s blessing”, and received the white tusk.
I didn’t have a choice, so I too said “thanks”, and followed suit.
“Reina……You, do you intend to stain the name of the Ruu clan’s name?”
With a bottomless, heavy voice reminiscent of a harbinger of a great earthquake, Donda-Ruu whispered so.
“To give a false blessing to insult me, do you really think such a behavior is acceptable……?”
Reina-Ruu, while becoming pale with fear, still firmly looked back at her father.
“It is not a lie! Regardless of granny Jiba, I truly believe that the food that Asuta has made is wonderful. Giba meat, being this delicious, I had learned so for the first time. To eat, is to live一一what I mean is, that as like granny Jiba, I was able to strongly feel the joy of living!”
“You……are you sane?”, Donda-Ruu muttered in a low voice.
The echo of that doubtful voice, was what surprised me.
However, before the true meaning was known, Rimi-Ruu stood up with vigor while saying “Rimi too!”2.
She looked back at grandma Jiba, who nodded “It’s okay”, and then she left her side and ran up to us.
Her childish face, was of course filled with a happy smile.
“Asuta! Ai-Fa! Thank you so much for today! It was so very very delicious, so from Rimi too, a blessing!”
A third gift一一items that didn’t seem to be casual at all, were placed in me and Ai-Fa’s palms.
“That’s right~……it was worth a blessing, a wonderful meal~……”
With an unnecessarily erotic and extended voice, the eldest sister Vina-Ruu slowly stood up.
“The existence of such a ‘wonderful meal’ in this forest, this is the first time I’ve heard of it……Certainly, as a person who’s living in this forest, I can’t help but to give you my blessing~……”3
“Truly. That really is exactly it, Vina-Ruu”, the next person to stand up, was grandma Tito-Min.
“I can’t believe this! What, in the hell is this!?”
Donda-Ruu, again shouted.
However, the emotion that filled that crackling voice一一wasn’t anger, but astonishment.
“Did everyone in my family go insane? Did that shit-like food contain the poison of apas that make humans go insane after all? But, if that’s the case then everybody should be insane right!?”
While clutching onto the 5 fangs and horns, I stared fixedly at Donda-Ruu.
Donda-Ruu, seemed genuinely confused.
It was as if he was genuinely doubting his family’s sanity.
“Could it be, that the rest of you lot too, are scared because I’m yelling, and are getting a little shy? If that’s the case then don’t hold back, just act how you’d like!”
Then, looking very timid, the eldest brother’s wife Sati-Rei tried to stand up.
She looked back at her husband before raising herself entirely, and when he smiled with composure, she approached with a look of relief on her face.
“From the Ruu clan’s Sati-Rei=Ruu, to the Fa clan’s Ai-Fa and Asuta, I give my blessing. ……Thank you for the wondrous and lovely meal”
After that, when she returned to her seat, this time the one who was sitting beside her, a well-built woman raised herself.
Her hair was reddish with a hint of white, and she had clear dark brown eyes. Her bare arms and shoulders were full of flesh, (TN: The direct translation was “covered in bread and meat”.) she was a middle-aged woman who felt like a tough woman.
She was Rimi-Ruu and the others’ mother, and Donda-Ruu’s wife, Mia-Rei=Ruu.
“I don’t really get what’s wrong here you know. Isn’t it fine for good food to be good food? I too, was so impressed that I almost fell off my back”
Looking to the side at her husband who stopped moving as if he was a stone statue, she approached with a really powerful gait.
By any chance, could it be, that this was my first time hearing this woman’s voice?
Mia-Rei=Ruu, while wearing a very cheerful smile, offered us tusks and horns.
“It was delicious. For grandma Jiba too, truly thank you so much. ……Sheesh, what is our clan head being stubborn for?”
‘Mothers are strong’, it was as if her smile embodied those words.
To think that 7 of the people in this room were born out of this woman, I honestly thought it was amazing.
Anyway, that was the seventh blessing.
“Old man, those previous words were the truth right? Because I’m a man, when you hit me alone after this, forgive me alright?”4
Saying that with a still young voice, the youngest brother Rudo-Ruu stood up.
While stirring his auburn hair, he very casually approached us, and sat down roughly.
“Naa, what the heck are you? I’ve heard that there are some mysterious people in the eastern kingdom who are magicians but, it couldn’t be, that they could use magic to change giba meat like that could they?”
“It’s not magic. It’s just done by using kitchen knives……knives and fire, and some techniques”
Ai-Fa didn’t answer anything, and since it was a question for me in the first place, I answered that way for now.
“Fun” he snorted unamused, this time he looked towards Ai-Fa with his pale eyes.
“You, became a really nice girl huh? What a waste. If you were more feminine, I would have been glad to take you as my wife in place of my brother”
“Well, it was a pricelessly good meal. Honestly speaking, thinking that I’m going to be eating the same old poitan soup from tomorrow onwards nearly makes me cry, it was that delicious. You, if you’re not Ai-Fa’s husband, why don’t you get married to one of our women?”
“N, no well, the other person has the right to choose too”
“Fun. As long as it’s not that tiny Rimi, anybody else would be fine though you know”, saying only that last part in a whisper, he took off his necklace that hanged spoils not superior nor inferior even compared to Ai-Fa’s.
“It was reaaaally delicious. So, let me give you my blessing. This is the first blessing of Rudo-Ruu. Accept it gratefully”
Then the cheeky youngest brother returned to his seat, and after that only a strange silence remained.
“……Is that all?”, while stroking his beard, Donda-Ruu looked around.
“That that stuff isn’t something for humans to eat, those who feel the same as me, only number 3 huh”
“I don’t think anything of the sort. Basing everything on yourself, could you stop it?”
The third daughter Lara-Ruu spoke out a displeased voice.
Her red hair was tied at the top of her head, a cheeky girl with a face that looked a lot like her youngest brother’s.
“I thought that the grilled poitan, and the giba soup were reaaaally delicious though you know. But because the important giba was mushy and weird, I just thought that it wasn’t worth a blessing. ……Actually, it would have been fine if only granny Jiba gave her blessing. But somehow everyone, seemed to think that it was really delicious, so I passed”
“I see. Darm, how about you?”
The second son who looked sharp as a wolf, “I don’t have anything to say” refused to answer.
“Fun. Jiza, you?”
“……You don’t have to worry about it that much, clan head Donda. No matter what it looks like, no matter how it tastes, giba is giba, and poitan is poitan. No matter how ingenious you try to make it, once it enters your stomach, it’s all the same”
“Such a thing, I get it!”
The clan head’s eyes, blazed like a fire.
The eldest brother, while looking back at his father with his thread like eyes, smiled calmly.
“Was it delicious, or was it terrible, is that what you’re asking? Then, it’s just as Lara said. I was surprised that there was such a way to eat poitan, and I couldn’t feel that dirty smell of giba in the soup, but I could still strongly feel the giba’s life. ……But, that giba meat with red honey, even if I could eat such soft meat, I don’t feel like eating giba. If I ate that kind of meat everyday, I fear that my teeth would lose strength and fall out one by one”
“That一一that’s it! That’s why I, thought that stuff wasn’t something for hunters of this forest to eat!”
Something finally seemed to sink in, and the energy came back to Donda-Ruu’s face.
“These teeth of mine, are teeth to devour the gibas’ hard flesh! Just like my arms that kill giba, and my feet that run through the forest, they are one of the important survival tools of this forest! Tools, if not used will rust! What you guys made me devour, was a bad meal, that rusted my life!”
“That’s……” as I was about to argue, my arm was gently grabbed by Ai-Fa.
Her calm blue eyes, to me to “stop”.
“Of course, that is because I’m a man of this forest, a『Giba Hunter』! So……for an old person without teeth, it was most correct meal above everything else”
He said, having finally revived his irreverent smile, he looked back to that old person.
“My grandmother, the eldest Jiba. The eldest’s words were correct. If that revived the soul of the eldest, I will swallow my words gracefully. That, was not munto feed. Having lived longer than anyone else in this forest, for having saved my beloved grandmother who has worked in this forest with her body, it’s an elixir! A treasure!”
“Fuun……aren’t you being more honest than ever, clan head Donda……?”
“I’m always honest! I acknowledge what’s right as right, and judge what’s wrong as wrong! Without that resolution, what would a clan head be?”
And then, his fierce eyes, looked at me and Ai-Fa.
“Fa clan’s Ai-Fa! Her family member Asuta! You guys, have saved the Ruu clan’s eldest, Jiba-Ruu! As the clan head of the Ruu clan, I apologize for the disrespect thus far, and would like to once again offer my gratitude!”
Ai-Fa, silently nodded.
With my emotions gradually becoming clearer, I looked at Donda-Ruu’s figure.
As if his long standing doubts had been cleared, his face looked refreshed.
“You guys’ food, was poison to me! However, it was medicine for Jiba-Ruu! My soul won’t rust from only one night’s poison, so I will not fault you feeding me poison! The horns and tusks you’ve gotten, are legitimate blessings for you guys’ actions! Without feeling any guilt towards anyone, you should make them into your own flesh and blood with dignity!”