Chapter 28: The departure
It had been drizzling since morning.
I did not not know if there were seasons in this world, but it was a bit cold.
Today was the day we left this town and turned to Leonidas.
And now, in front of me, there was a creature that looked a lot like a horse.
Although it's size was double than that of a normal horse, it had a pair of thick twisted horns on its head.
Its whole body was black, and its eyes were dyed deep crimson.
It was a high-ranking demon beast called arvis that powerful beastmen like Gail-san and Douglas-san seemed to use as a means of transportation.
At first glance it looked terrifying, but it seemed that it was well tamed, looking nostalgic as it rubbed its nose against Gail-san.
That's right, apparently, the three horses in front of me were Gail-san, Douglas-san and Glen-san's favourite horses, respectively.
Douglas-san's arvis, named Rex, was the largest and had the most prominent horns.
After Rex, the next with the largest physique was Gail-san's horse, Noah, who had one horn broken from the middle.
Finally, the one with the smallest physique and horns was Glen-san's horse, Mintia.
Somehow, Mintia had a very charming face.
Incidentally, it seemed that Mintz-san beat Glen-san with all his might in his first attempt to name Mintia Mintz.1
“Is it okay if I approach and touch them?” [Chika]
While saying so, I got close to the three arvis.
I was supposed to get a two-seater ride just with one of them, but I wanted to greet each of them.
“Hm, I don't know.
These guys are very proud, only being fond of the people they recognise as their masters— Hey! No way!?” [Gail]3
As I approached, all three of them came towards me and rubbed my face.4
Their tails span around happily, and I was licked in the face by the three of them.
“Is Chika's cuteness mesmerising the demon beasts? Other than me, it's the first time I see Noah being fond of a person like that.” [Gail]
“My Mintia is kind of friendly, but considering it's the first time seeing each other that is amazing.” [Glen]
“Well, my Rex, who is prouder than others, has already recognized you, so it's okay.
Chika, I think he will be happy to give you a ride on his back anytime.
Rather, there might be a fight.” [Doug]
I was very happy to be liked by animals, but I was a little scared because I felt that the three of them were staring at me while snorting somewhat roughly.
“Noah-kun, Rex-kun, Mintia-kun, I will be riding on your back, please take care of me.” [Chika]
The three arvis neighed in response.
That is fine, but are Noah and Mintia females?” [Chika]
When Gail-san informed me, I learned for the first time that creatures, except people, had females in this world.2
Well, considering the reproductive system of people, who used temples, that would be difficult for wild animals without having males and females.
Then, it was decided that I would ride with Gail-san first.
I could not get on alone, so I had Gail-san pick me up, and when I was on horseback I clung to his back frantically.
“Chika, tell me immediately when you get tired.
Instead of that position you can come to the front and sleep embracing me, okay?” [Gail]2
“Yes! Thank you!” [Chika]
I had never ridden a horse in Japan, so I was excited to have my first experience riding a horse and I wanted to taste it for a while.
“Okay, everyone, take care.
Glen, don't cause trouble.
And Chika-kun, forget about being tolerant, please.
If there is anything at all just tell immediately to any of the three, understood?” [Mintz]
“Thank you, Mintz-san! And Paris too, I am much obliged.
We will meet again at Leonidas!” [Chika]
“Yeah, as soon as things here settle down I'll go with Mintz.
See you over there.
Be careful of the branch manager and assistant Gail.” [Paris]
Both of them waved with a smile.
“Then, both of you, sorry, we are entrusting the rest to you.” [Doug]
“Sorry, we'll borrow Glen.” [Gail]
“Miintz! Don't overdo iit! Take care of yourseelf!” [Glen]
As expected, Glen-san's voice was loud.
We saw them off and we left the community of Cattleton.
That the route from Cattleton to Leonidas through the Helenia forest was a three-to-four-day journey.
I was told that although the main road is well maintained, since it took a big detour around the forest, it seemed to need twice as much in terms of schedule, and choosing the route that goes through the forest implied that the schedule was shortened.
My clothes were not particular travelling clothes, but rather I wore my usual clothes, such as comfortable leather boots that were easy to walk, and a coat with wind and cold protection that concealed my head completely.
The other three, unlike their usual clothes, wore leather breastplates and knee pads which seemed to fit in the body and were easy to move on, boots to firmly protect the feet, and fluttering cloaks on their backs.
Also, they wore rain gear over that.
Each one carried their own weapon.
Gail-san had a wide sword on his waist that would be as long as I was standing.
Originally, it seemed to be carried on the back, but since I was clinging there now, he moved it to his waist.
Douglas-san had a sword on both sides of his waist, but unlike Gail-san's, they were quite small and thin in length and thickness.
One was the size of a common sword and, was the other one a dagger? It had a quite short blade.
Glen-san carried a bow and a quiver on his back, and he seemed to have many knives in the belt around his waist.
I got nervous when I thought that there might be a situation where they use them, but on the other hand, I also had an awkward feeling of wanting to see the two of them fight.
However, I felt a little down when I thought about them fighting, taking the lives of living things, even if they were demon beasts.
After leaving the city and traveling for a while, we deviated from the main road and entered a condensed forest.
“Chika, we are entering the forest now and the road will get a little worse, so tell me immediately when you get tired.” [Gail]
I was shaking on Noah's back, and when I tried to speak I almost bit my tongue because of the vibrations, so I nodded desperately instead.
I was clinging to Gail-san's waist with my hands, but it was thick and I was frantically grabbing the sides of his flanks with my hands.
This might be more difficult than I expected…
It was incredible that the other three were able to ride their arvis while talking about future routes and camping spots.
Had it been about an hour? As we continued to travel, my hands gradually lost strength, and I began to feel a dull pain around my buttocks.
Still, it was too early, and I held out to not raise a sound yet, but Gail-san suddenly stopped Noah.
He saddled me on his lap, so I was sitting face-to-face, embracing his chest and abdomen.
“Chika, didn't I tell you not to overdo it?” [Gail]
When I looked up at Gail-san, there was a gentle look, but his voice when saying that was reproachful.
It seemed that he found out that I was holding out.
“I am sorry, I thought it would be okay if it was for a little longer.” [Chika]
“There's a long way to go, Chika, if you are in this position you should be alright without making an effort.” [Gail]
Gail-san held the reins with one hand and put the other hand around my waist to firmly support me.
I could feel Gail-san's body temperature and throbbing heartbeat from our bodies' close contact.
However, when I calmly analysed my posture, I felt a bit shameful when I thought that this was the same posture as the Dakko-chan doll's (*).
“Thank you, then I will take you at your word and depend on you.” [Chika]
Certainly, there was still a long way to go ahead of us, so rather than exhausting myself now, I would try to save energy and lean myself on Gail-san.
“Gail, you bastard…
You don't say, you didn't hand Chika over from the beginning because you calculated that much! Damn it, this is the first time I've been outwitted!” [Doug]1
“Now, now, branch manager, don't be so grumpy.
There is a long way to go, so you can take turns, isn't that right?” [Glen]
Glen-san soothed Douglas-san, who was really angry.
“The rain is still pouring so we'll go as far as we can and camp early for today.
I'm worried about Chika's health.” [Gail]
Gail-san made light of Douglas-san's protest and hurried Noah again.
When I looked up at Gail-san, who holded the reins with his usual fearless face, and he smiled and dropped a light a kiss on my forehead.
After all, I felt that Gail-san's character had been damaged.5
Was this what Douglas-san was telling me to be ready for?
Afterwards, after a few light breaks, by the time the sun set, we seemed to have progressed about a third of the path, and we decided to camp at a slightly open place in the forest.
Most of the way I clung shamefully to Gail-san while dreaming half-asleep.
Incidentally, every time we took a break, the three arvis came close, bent their legs to lie down beside me and rested there, giving me signals to stroke them with their eyes.2
Then I quietly followed, leaning on a part of the arvis' stomachs, and they made a happy face when they were stroked.
When seeing the arvis in such a state, the three men were surprised again.
When we arrived at the camping spot, the three of them very skilfully set up a tent-like thing.
I started a fire and decided to make a simple dinner with the ingredients I brought.
It seemed that Gail-san and the others would procure the ingredients from the current area after tomorrow, but for the first day at least, I had already prepared a few dishes and ingredients before leaving the house.
Most of the things I carried on my backpack were seasonings, ingredients and cookware.
First, I prepared the rice balls that I made at home before the departure.
The ingredients were pieces of something similar to shigureni beef and salmon sprinkled with a good deal of salt and grilled.
To be honest, I was not confident that the amount would satisfy the three of them, but they would have to endure it.
Fortunately, there was nori (although its colour was light brown, but after tasting it, it was definitely nori), so I wrapped the whole rice balls tightly with it so that the surface would not dry out.
I also prepared two varieties of tamagoyaki that are delicious even when they are cold, salty ones made with dashi and sweet ones with plenty of sugar.
Therefore, here I would just prepare the soup, and though I thought about various things, at the end I could not prepare most of them, and since I wanted to increase the satisfaction with the soup, I chose a hearty pork soup.
I arranged the ingredients for pork soup before the departure, so I poured a pork-like daikon, sweet potatoes, carrots, satoimo, gobō, lots of mushrooms (all of them being something similar to the actual ones…) into the pot on the fire, and stir-fried the ingredients together with oil.
When it was cooked to a certain degree, I added water and stewed it.
I threw in the appropriate seasoning and lastly I melted the miso, so the pork soup was complete.
When I turned my eyes to the three with the food in my hands, they were already prepared for battle with sparks flying from their eyes…
“I am sorry to have kept you waiting, and I apologize for not being able to prepare as much as usual, but please have it.” [Chika]
“Chika, what is this light brown round thing?” [Gail]
“That is a rice ball.
I put cooked rice garnished with some ingredients inside and clutched it with the hands, then wrapped it all.” [Chika]
“Is this yellow one an egg? It seems different from an omelette.” [Doug]
“Yes, it is called tamagoyaki.
The way to make it is the same as an omelette, but there are two types: sweet ones and the ones seasoned with a dashi.
If you like it, please let me know, I will use it as a future reference.” [Chika]
“This soup looks delicious with so many ingredients!” [Glen]
“Ah Glen-san, the main seasoning of that soup is a slightly unusual fish reed, so if it does not suit your taste do not overdo it please.” [Chika]
“Hmm, it seems delicious from the smell, so I think it's okay.” [Glen]
I put my hands together while muttering “Itadakimasu”, and reached my hand out to a rice ball.
In the meantime, even when I thought they did not have to in such a hurry…
the three of them still ate the food like there was no tomorrow.
Considering time was running out, I had thickened the onigiris' saltiness and seasoned the ingredients fairly strong by eye, but they were just fine.
These should suit their tastes.
“The thing that seems like minced meat inside this rice ball has a stronger flavour than the sukiyaki from last time and goes well with rice…
Is this another kind of fish? The saltiness is exquisite, and this also goes well with rice, Chika, it's really delicious.” [Gail]
“The tamagoyaki is also delicious, unlike an omelette, it's kinda simple, but in general it's delicious.
I don't know which one is my favourite.” [Doug]
“Branch manager, Assistant Gail! You have to try this soup! It's kind of amazing.” [Glen]
At Glen-san's request, the two started eating the pork soup.
The next moment, in what I believed it was just the blink of an eye, they started to eat all at once, and just like that their bowls became empty.
“Chika, I'm sorry, but can I have another helping?” [Gail]
“Chika, another bowl, please.” [Doug]
They presented the bowls almost at the same time and I hurried to serve them seconds.
Next to that, Glen-san also seemed to hurry to eat pork soup as if he were to lose.
The sight I recently saw every day unfolded in front of my eyes again.
Beasts who, without saying a word, finished the dishes in front of them one after another…
As for me, I would have liked to eat slowly while having a little more conversation, but I did not think could hope for that for the moment.
At last, around the time when the dishes were mostly finished, the two went back to speaking.
“This pork soup is wonderful, Chika, and although the miso soup is also delicious, I'm grateful for the strong flavour soaked in this soup and that it was full of ingredients.” [Gail]
“Until now, I thought that it was difficult to eat and fill my stomach with vegetables, but eating Chika's dishes has changed that perception, so I'm gonna get vegetables too.” [Doug]
You two ate everything again and I wasn't able to eat as much…” [Glen]
“Oh, Glen-san, if you would like, would you eat mine? I'm already full.” [Chika]
“Eh? Chika-kun, is it okay?” [Glen]
“Yes, I generally eat little by nature.” [Chika]
When I said that, I handed my bowl to Glen-san, and my two partners turned a murderous look at him.
Still, I wondered if they were self-aware about overeating, but I did not say anything beyond that.2
“Mmm, delicious! Can you teach Mintz about this too?” [Glen]
“Yes! Gladly.” [Chika]
After finishing the meal and tidying up, Gail-san and Douglas-san decided to go out to patrol the surroundings and get water.
Actually, Glen-san suggested to go by himself, but it seemed that weak demon beasts will not approach if the smell of powerful beastmen like the two of them is scattered around.
“Glen, we entrust Chika to you.” [Doug]
“Chika, you were tired today, right? You can go to sleep before us, okay?” [Gail]
After saying that, they sandwiched Glen-san between them and grabbed each of his shoulders tightly, whispering something close to his ears from both sides.
Glen-san did the salute I had seen before.
“Be careful, please.” [Chika]
I saw them off waving a hand lightly and they disappeared into the forest.
I went back to the tent with Glen-san, and we both prepared to sleep.
I felt a bit cold with just a thin blanket and my body was trembling.
“Huh? Chika-kun, do you happen to be cold?” [Glen]
“Ah, just a little, it is getting colder around here.” [Chika]
Since we entered the forest, I felt like it had been getting colder and colder.
“I'm sorry, just this blanket is enough for us, but it is a bit tough on you, isn't it, Chika-kun?” [Glen]
Glen-san thought for a bit, and he seemed to come up with something as he slapped his clenched fist against his palm.
Then, he started to slowly take off what he was wearing, and in the blink of an eye he took his underwear off and became naked.13
As I guessed, Glen-san's body was not as muscular as my partners', but still, it had firm, lean muscles and was very beautiful.
No, no, I was not thinking about that, and as I stared blankly at that scene, Glen-san smiled with a friendly fierce face as his sharp canines peeked out from his mouth.
At the next moment, Glen-san's body shined for an instant, then it transformed, and when the light dimmed down, a very large wolf with silvery fur that covered its body appeared.
(*) This a Dakko-chan doll xD
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