Chapter 108 – The Journey Takes Us Along [Part-2]
A rocky natural hot spring deep in the mountains with steam rising from it.
Although it is said to be a ‘hidden hot spring’, the road was well maintained up to the halfway point.
As a result, when I thought that the hot spring could actually be a famous location, I ran towards it at breakneck speed.
I travelled all day, and it was almost sunset when I reached the mountainous area that was present just before the town I was going to visit.
I only had to cross these mountains to reach the town and inspect the new branch, so I decided to stay a few hours and enjoy the hot spring until morning.
“It’s supposed to be a natural hot spring, but it has a dressing room…”
And it also has separate changing rooms for men and women.
“Hiccup. I can’t believe kids are coming to a place like this. I’ll give you a discount compared to adults.”
A very snarky, smelly man is the manager of this place…..
“….Um, I heard this place was free.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is my hot spring. If you want in, you gotta pay. I’ll take a nice piece of your wallet. Heh heh, hiccup, heh.”
Well, he doesn’t seem like he owns this place…
But…. there’s a slight chance it’s real, and…. just because he looks like a bandit doesn’t mean he couldn’t be using this place as fertilizer for his savings account….
“….is this okay?”
I paid for it.
This was why I tended to take the appearance of an eight year old when I travelled.
Because if a corrupt person saw a kid with money, he/she would try to take it away from them.
I’d then be justified to beat them up, and take their money, and even make them wash my back.
“Oh, boy. I’m sure the old lady will be here too. Don’t get the bath dirty.”
“….what are you standing there for? Get the f*ck inside.”
….Damn, looks like he was indeed just a hard-working, bandit-like man.
The changing room was a simple wooden plank enclosure in front of the hot spring, but it was well built.
It was better than nothing.
Ordinary travelers would have taken their wallets and clothes with them to watch out for theft, but I could sense any thief’s presence, so I greeted the bath naked.
Suddenly, there was an explosion of mana at the manager’s desk.
“….What could have happened?”
Immediately, the presence of what seemed to be another guest appeared in one of the dressing rooms.
“….Well, I’m already naked, so I’ll leave it alone.”
The manager seemed not to be dead either, and he was running away like a hare.
So I put the washcloth on my head and headed for the hot spring.
“Good evening….. hmm?”
Just then, a woman came out of the dressing room, so I looked at her to say hello…..
“A kid? ….Did you come here all alone, into the mountains?”
There stood the spunky…. Hildegard.
She was the sharp-eyed chairman of the Scarlett Chamber of Commerce, famous for being both adorable and frightening as hell.
She seemed to be the only one there, maybe on a trip or something.
No matter what, she’s got a great body, but she wasn’t wrapped in a towel or anything…. Huh?
A sudden floating sensation.
“….what are you doing?”
“A child like you could dirty the bath. I have no choice but to wash you. I’ve brought the soap.”
Suddenly he was picked up and taken to the edge of the hot spring.
“I don’t want to hear about manners and hygiene when you’re fine being in the nude. Don’t you have any shame?” I muttered.
“Hmph, I’m not ashamed of being seen by a child. Or do you….. feel weird sensations?”
She said this in a teasing way, like she’s testing me.
It’s been bugging me since a while ago, that the atmosphere… was totally different from when he had met her last time.
That time she tried to kill me right from the start…..
“What’s your name?”
“I’m the Demon King…. Ouch–“
She sat me on a rock and smacked me on the head.
“…..makes me sick. Don’t call yourself that nauseating thing. You’ll lower your intelligence.”
“What do you mean?!“
What do you mean that I’ll become an idiot just by saying my own title?!
“Tell me your real name.”
I was about to say ‘Chrono’, but I stopped myself, cautious about exposing myself after her outburst.
“Kokuto, not bad. What are you doing here?“
“You’re washing my head without my permission…”
“Answer me quickly.”
“I have some work… in the town nearby.”
Hildegard’s hands stopped for a moment after she began to wash my head naturally, letting the hot water flow over me.
She seemed to be used to washing kids’ hair.
“…..Well, that’s good. Just as well. You should be thankful for the good fortune of me passing by.”
“What do– bu-bu-bu-bu-”
Hildegard poured hot water on me without warning, interrupting my dialogue, and threw me into the…. hot spring.
“Wait there quietly. Don’t run away. There’s no point in running away.”
“That’s what robbers tell their hostages…..”
And then Hildegard washed her shiny black hair and clear body, still as shapely and smooth as ever, and for some reason we ended up soaking in the hot spring together.
The manager made the bathtub and bucks, or at least provided them for us.
….Personally, I feel he should rather become a craftsman who made bathtubs or something, than go this far for getting fees from the hot spring.
“Whew…. this hot water hits just right…. You know…? The town down the road was built with the culture brought by the first Sword Saint, and it’s very unique. I heard it’s a good place to visit.“
“Yes, I’m going to kill a certain woman in the city.”
Hildegard, who had been quietly soaking in the bath, answered without a second thought.
“That’s a big deal, I’ll have to make sure I don’t get caught up in it. Phew….”
I’ve never heard someone make such a straightforward and open declaration of murder before.
“Definitely. No grace this time. Or else…..”
“Or else what?”
“….it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it, kid.”
“You’re just a little girl, you could be called a kid, too.”
“I like the way you talk to me, even when I’m in front of you. I will make you my servant.”
“Well, upon consideration, I don’t think I’ll become your servant.” I replied.
When the night was deep and the area had quieted down, we cooked meat and tsukune (1) on skewers over the fire. Slowly over a long fire, for two people.
Well, the journey must go on, and we decided to go on together until we reached the town.
I tried a skewer with vegetables like leeks and peppers from the previous town and meat from the wild rabbit I hunted while Hildegard was getting herself ready.
“Looks delicious…. Mmmm… it’s starting to smell good. I can’t wait.”
I looked at Hildegard, who was standing with her arms folded, watching me with me a frown for some reason.
“…… I don’t want that green.”
“The vegetable…… Oh, do they make you sick if you eat them?”
It might be an allergic reaction. She looked really uncomfortable.
“Oh, I knew it. I’m sorry, but I can make a dish without the vegetables…”
“I get so angry when I eat it.”
“That’s just you being picky!!“
My exclamation echoed through the forest at night. She was just a vegetable hater.
“No, no, try it anyway! You’ll get addicted to the bitterness of the vegetables and the flavor of the meat.“
I was even thinking of eating grilled meat with raw vegetables.
“Hmph, no. Even that’s….. better than those greens.”
Hildegard points to the base of a nearby tree. It was a poisonous mushroom, red and purple, looking quite intimidating.
“…… What? Can you even eat that?”
“I’ll probably never eat it again.”
She didn’t care if it’s poisonous, and still tried it…..
“That things tells you that if you touch it, it’s going to screw you over, but let’s try it….. Mmmm.”
And shockingly, it’s…. true, it was edible. I’ll put it on a skewer and grill it too.
“Wow….. How unexpected… I’ll do it, Hilde. I’ll make you a skewer of just the meat in honor of your determination.”
In deference to your survival knowledge that surpasses mine, I’ll postpone trying to make you overcome your dislike of vegetables.
I nibbled into a juicy, hot piece of meat on a bed of veggies.
The fresh vegetables made a crispy sound, and with each bite, the juiciness of the meat combined with the bitterness of the vegetables became more and more delicious.
“….delicious. The combination of meat and vegetables is wonderful….. doesn’t the sound of these vegetables make you want to eat them?”
“No. I don’t even want to see them. I just want the meat.”
Hildegarde was enjoying the barbeque-style meat skewers.
I didn’t really understand why people didn’t like vegetables. They taste so good!
And after we finished the hearty meal of vegetables, mushrooms and juicy meat, I began my daily workout.
I sharpen my spirit and mind in the dark silence of the forest amidst the crackles of the bonfire.
Hildegard called out to me while I was in the middle of the magical exercise called meditation.
“What are you doing?”
“Right now, I’m training in my own magical technique, while consuming mana to increase its total amount.”
“I don’t understand. It looks like you’re just sitting here sleeping.”
“I guess you’re right in a way, but the truth is, I’m in the middle of serious stuff right now. I’m going to….. practice with my sword after I practice with my mana for a while, but Hildegard doesn’t have to worry about it and can go to sleep. I’ll do it quietly.”
They were sitting next to each other on a fallen tree, but it was late enough for her to lie down and rest.
“Sleep on that stuff till the morning. I’ll kill the beasts that come for you. Children need to sleep at night to grow up.“
“Oh, don’t worry. it won’t affect me, I’m quite flexible in that area. Besides, I practice in the morning too, so that’s a whole different story.“
“……What are you doing this time?”
“I can’t have a proper conversation with you when you say things I don’t understand. I’ve got too much free time on my hands, so I’m going to tie your hair up.”
I told her she could go to bed, but she began playing with my hair while I meditated.
“Hilde is like that, isn’t she? She’s pretty to begin with, but she’s very particular about her appearance, her hair, her clothes…”
“Appearance is important. Remember that. If you are better than them in appearance, you are at least one step ahead of them. In other words, you already have an advantage when you meet them.”
Even though she was currently travelling, Hildegard was dressed in a pretty, elegant outfit that allowed her to move easily but did not detract from her attractiveness, and she wore her hair in neat twin tails after her bath.
Perhaps she saw her lovely appearance as a weapon.
“…..It’s true that when a king or someone wears fine clothes, it makes you feel that he or she is a great person. Normal people would naturally feel that the king is in a higher position than they are.“
“That’s what I mean….. Unfortunately, this is the best you can do.”
She felt that the small string tying the top of my head were the best results my meditating-self could achieve.
“….I don’t think you can get the advantage I’m talking about, with your pineapple-like hair…”
“…you’re not cut out for it. But live strong.“
“You want me to live like this?” I exclaimed.
Does she really think I’ll accept entering the town with this outfit?
After we talked all night, the sun rose……
After sword practice, we took a bath in the morning, and I was made to have the pineapple hairstyle again. We crossed the mountain and reached the city gate together.
“Look, there’s a gatekeeper at the gate. What a nuisance.” Hildegard muttered.
Of course there is. This is a tourist place. There’s got to be a gatekeeper to keep weirdos like you out.
“How do we get in? Give me an idea.“
“We could just say hello and go in.”
I peeked out from behind the grass that was away from the gate, where I was having a suspicious conversation with Hildegard, to see what the problem was.
“They’re awaiting my arrival. If I go there directly, I will be discovered. You have to get me into the town somehow, in secret.”
“You’re trying to kill people here, aren’t you? I can’t help you kill someone….”
Did she just call me an idiot for making a valid point?
She’s more unreasonable than the Demon King, this girl….
“I’m not asking you to assist in the murder. I’m just asking you to help me go into the city.”
“And I’m saying I can’t help sneak a murderer into town.”
“It can’t be helped then. We’ll wait until nightfall and use the secret passageway.”
“There’s a way in? When will be entering it, in exact?”
This girl, Hildegard, she’s acting more like a tsukkomi (2) than Princess Erika…
And, she wants me to come along with her through the passageway.
I wonder if this girl really is the famously harsh Hildegard.
I caught a fish from a nearby riverbank, roasted it again on a skewer, and asked her about what was going on while eating the rice balls I cooked with her.
“….Hmm, nothing much. It’s just that, there’s a target in town with four henchmen. They’re in the way, so I’m going to take them all out, that’s all.”
“Goodness, you want to kill all five of them…?”
I shouldn’t have asked.
She ate the rice balls I shared with her and casually declared a series of murders like a serial killer.
Even I, someone who only had the body of a child but the mind of a Demon King, was astonished.
“How could you tell about such a terrible plan to a child?”
I removed the rice present on her cheeks.
“….they’ve been occupying this town by force in my absence. I could kill them all together, but I don’t want my store damaged. So I’m going to assassinate them one by one.”
“Are they bad guys?”
“Bad? No, they’re only….. harmful.”
Hildegard’s eyes sharpened.
She currently resembled the same merciless Hildegard I had seen before.
I guess I’d better keep an eye on her for a while.
She’s a bit dangerous, but I’ll try to convince her if she doesn’t seem to be a complete villain.
By the way, Gerald mentioned (3) something about an organization called the ‘Obscure Ghosts’ being dangerous, so that was worrisome too.
“….Hmm. Depends on who you’re dealing with, but if they’re bad guys, I won’t stop you. I’d rather……..” I muttered.
With a steely look in her eyes, she picked a grain of rice from my cheek.
A silent rice grain war broke out.
If you take care of a person, you had an advantage over them, since, well, you are in fact taking care of them.
Hildegard has been acting like a big sister since yesterday, but as the older one…. or even as a Demon King, I couldn’t afford to be taken care of.
Wait….? Demon Kings do tend to be taken care of, or atleast served…. well, I don’t care about the details.
While eating silently, I looked for a chance to catch Hildegard leaving a grain of rice on her cheek.
Angry voices leaked from the large mansion.
The austere atmosphere the mansion and gardens, built according to the architectural methods of the far eastern countries once loved by the [Sword Saint], Jube, had been overshadowed.
Blood and scars, unkempt pines and ponds.
“….wanna come in?”
“Oh, man. I’ll be your errand boy or whatever! I’m looking forward to working with you!“
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
During the famous fight festival that took place at all hours of the day, a young man who was proud of his fighting prowess came to the gate to ask to be admitted to the school.
His fists were wet with sweat as he faced a man who had a sword scar stretch over one of his eyes, a skinny head, and countless burns on his skin.
“….you know what this place is like?”
A large, muscular man of two meters bursts through the shoji (4), and blasted away.
“That guy is the messenger of this place.”
The young man looked at the huge, muscular man, who fell on top of the stone lantern and shattered it, with astonishment.
The [Obscure Ghosts].
A group of outcasts who claimed to be martial artists and whose only requirement for admission was to embrace the motto, ‘no defeat, no fear, no risk, and no excommunication except death.’
“What are you going to do? If you go through the gate, we’ll welcome you as family too. You’re going to be….. his junior.”
He points with his chin at the big man who was still lying on the ground, bleeding.
No one seemed to be going up to help him.
It was because of the motto they followed.
The young man was not only speechless, but also cowered subconsciously, unable to run away.
“If you’re not sure, don’t do it. We’re not all that free either–“
“Well, this is the place, isn’t it?”
A tall….. man with a strange haircut, which looked like it was popping out of his head, shouted.
“…..Damn, there’s a lot of them today. What a pain in the ass.” The man with the scar over one of his eyes muttered.
“Oh, don’t be so rude. Anyway, I’ll be doing my own thing, and won’t let you take any extra trouble, will I?“ The man with the weird haircut replied.
“Oh? What are you talking about? ….Oh, are you him, by any chance? The big guy who’s been beating up all the skills people around here lately?“
The head of the man who had a scar over his eye flickered.
“….I don’t get what you mean. You bugs aren’t worth a beating, are you?”
The man with the weird haircut killed the eye scar man with a single slash. The weird haircut man stared coldly at the head that landed near his feet, ignoring the frightened young man who had fallen onto his buttocks.
The man leapt onto the roof of the house with extraordinary strength.
Then he clenched his gloved fist……
“Well, as the chosen wing bearer, I don’t have time to give to the worms crawling on the ground. A single blow will be enough to finish you all off, won’t it?”
He twisted his body so much that it felt like it was about to snap, and pulled his fist back.
As he continued to apply more force and mana, his fist, strained to its limit, began to vibrate ever so slightly.
“I’d say I’m at about 50%, that’s about right….. –Good-bye.”
“…..hmm? You’re still here, brother?”
The man approached the young man who had a pale face.
“Well~ …..that’s good, isn’t it? You’re the head of this place from today. Why don’t you build….. it again?”
“See you then.”
He patted the stunned young man on the shoulder, turned his back on the…. horribly destroyed mansion, and left.
The mansion that had been the scene of angry, passionate voices earlier was now gone, crumbling away as if it were being dismantled by the vibrations transmitted from the fist that had struck it.
The force of the blow had reached the ground, creating several cracks arching through the ground.
It didn’t seem real.
Evidence of that was the wings that the man with the strange haircut flapped as he unleashed his fist, wings that created a pressure that almost caused the young man to faint.
“….I’ll just take over my family’s ranch.”
Sorry for the delay! This part was a bit complicated to translate, and it’s also over 3k words long. And with this, Chapter 108 is over~
(3) In Chapter 104, it was pointed out that it wasn’t so discernible about who was talking what in the last few dialogues or so. Well— tada! The author didn’t mention it in that chapter, but they did mention now that it was in fact Gerald who had conversed with Chrono in the end of Chapter 104. So, I edit that small bit back in Chapter 104.