Chapter 70: The Former Tarmine Kingdom
Before we arrived in Exfolia through the portal, Seiya gave me a brief explanation for the upcoming strategy.
「First, I will do an investigation of the Tarmine Kingdom. Cave Along is safe, but there is a downside of doing that… If we stay hidden in the underground we won’t be able to gather a good amount of information. It will be a bit dangerous, but we’ll have to turn into beast men and walk on the surface.」
Seiya transformed into a dog beast man because the ratio of this type was quite high. Summing up, he wouldn’t be able to stand out because of the numerous dog beast men that lurked around. He made me into a fish-man like always. Seiya became a powerful and elegant-looking Doberman. Compared to him, I was an ugly full-fledged red fish-man that resembled a goldfish. Well, at least it was a little better than the old tuna-head…It didn’t bother me as much as before, I guess.
「By the way, I incorporated a special feature on that Bunogeos doll that I left sleeping in the town of Galvano. It will say “I will kill you” if someone tries to wake him up. It’ll be fine for a while. But, I’d like to defeat the Grand Lion before they realize it is a fake. We have three or four days at most.」
After that, I made the portal appear and Seiya inserted an earth snake as usual. We finally went down the portal after securing the safety of our upcoming destination.
With the permission of the Great Goddess Isister, we arrived in a wasteland around the Tarmine Kingdom. We walked towards a Castle that we saw in the distance.
As we got closer, the whole landscape became visible. The walls of a huge Castle surrounded a town that was built within the perimeter of this military architecture. Still, those walls were collapsing, and none of that external protection made sense, not anymore.
As soon as I entered the town, I felt a very bad feeling. Perhaps this was related to the power of the evil god. From this moment on, we won’t be able to return to the God’s realm as long as we remain in the Tarmine Kingdom.
When I looked at my side, I noticed that Seiya, who turned into a dog beast man, was looking at me with sharp eyes. It meant that I “shouldn’t speak the human language from now on.” I nodded silently.
Seiya and I walked through a destroyed and dirty street. The scenery around us was in ruins, but the beast people were living in it. It seemed that these beasts were doing all sorts of businesses and trade inside of the old buildings that were previously made by humans. It was just like Galvano.
I smelled a strange and nauseating odor. When I looked over…
I almost made a sound. A charred human corpse without a head was chained from the eaves of a building. It was hung for everyone to see.
「Grilled Human. A Grilled Human please… 」
A lizard beast man was at the counter shop where the corpse was hanged at the eaves. After he ordered his food, I noticed that some dry human arms, legs and organs were arranged for him.
This was a scene from hell. The town of Galvano, which traded high-quality slaves, was a much better place than this. In Tarmine, humans were treated as complete food.
When I looked away, Seiya approached that nutrition shop.
「How much is it? 」
He must be joking, right!? Was he really going to buy a grilled human!?
I was astonished at first. But, in fact, he didn’t want to buy it. Actually, it seemed like he was gathering information about this town. While listening to the price, Seiya realized that the beast people were using the currency that was previously used by the humans in Tarmine. The conversation continued.
「Oh. Then, you guys came all the way here from Galvano. 」
「Yeah. I heard that you are allowed to eat humans on this town. But, it looks like it’s worth more than I thought it would be.」
「Humans are expensive. But, some of us can eat all they want as long as they become part of the Beast Emperor’s party.」
「The Beast Emperor’s party? 」
「It is a gathering of the special forces of His Majesty the Grand Lion. Only the strongest beast men will be able to enter. Some of us say that you’ll be promised a rich life if you join the party. You’ll be able to enter the royal palace as well. It’s rumored that you’ll get the protection of the evil god if you worship him on the temple of the royal palace.」
「Oh. So, how can I enlist to enter the Beast Emperor’s party? 」
「They do an enlistment test in the town’s square every day. You have to defeat your opponent and display your utmost strength.」
I thought that Seiya would want to go to the square immediately. Yet, he visited the shops in the street one by one.
Inside one of the shops, a bear-faced owner arranged some bizarre items such as skulls. It looked like a tool shop run by a beast man. The owner looked directly at Seiya, and raised the corners of his mouth because a new customer entered his shop.
「Hi. Do you want to buy something special? We recommend the “Amulet of the Evil God”. You’ll be able to receive a little protection if you take this with you.」
Seiya was looking with interest at the black tablet with some strange characters written on it. Eventually, he took out a sachet with money from his pocket.
「I’ll have some of that. 」
「Ehhh! I appreciate it! How many do you want? 」
I was stunned and speechless.
Se…Seiya! You mustn’t forget! These are our enemies! He’ll be suspicious if you try to buy a ridiculous amount like you always did before!
Seiya nodded when he felt my nervous look.
I was relieved! It seemed that he understood it!
「Owner. I’m sorry to ask this, but… 」
And then, Seiya spoke in an apologetic manner.
「Give me only thirty pieces. 」
No!! That was more than enough!! He probably tried his very best to reduce the amount he truly wanted to buy from this shop…But, that amount was still too much to ask for!! …Now what!? The sense of a beast man is vastly different from a human’s!! I wondered if this could turn unexpectedly fine!?
However. The bear beast man changed his expression abruptly.
「You aren’t just asking for a few pieces!! You’re asking for an absurd number!! Moreover, it’s extremely strange to say that you want “only thirty pieces”!!」
This was bad!!!!!! Even the beast man thought it was a weird request!!!!!!
The owner screamed so loud that his voice was heard outside of the shop. The beast people, who passed through on that street, stopped by the shop to see what was going on.
Ah, c’mon!! We were getting a lot of unnecessary attention!!
「If that’s the case. Then, I’ll have five pieces. 」
Although that misunderstanding generated an unwanted ruckus, Seiya bought five “Amulets of the Evil God”. We headed to a weapon shop afterwards.
As soon as we came in, a frog-headed beast man recommended us an eerie sword with a red-black blade.
「Hi, customer. This sword is special because it sucks the human life, ribbit. It is very useful to make a human become dry like a dried fish, ribbit.」
Wha…What the hell was that abnormal sword!? It won’t be of any use for us at all!! There was no need to buy such a thing…
Yet, Seiya took out the sachet with money.
「I’ll take it. 」
No!! Don’t tell me that he plans to buy it as well!! Why would he want that sort of sword!?
「Owner. I want a few, it’s really just a few and it pains me to say it like this…But, give me only five.」
「Ribbit…!? Whe…Where can I get that huge amount for you, ribbit!? Besides, I don’t think there are five identical swords out there, you know, ribbit!?」
*chatter chatter*…Once again, all the beast people that was inside of the shop and that passed through on the street looked at us to see what was happening…
I pulled Seiya’s arm and took him to a place that wasn’t crowded. I pointed to the ground silently. Seiya seemed to understand my intention. Therefore, he created earth snakes just to make sure that the surroundings were safe without the presence of beast men. After confirming that it was indeed safe for us, we went to the underground by the power of Cave Along.
In the dim light of the magical stones, I screamed directly at Seiya after the resentment accumulated inside of my body exploded.
「You’ll be suspicious if you continue to behave strangely like that!! They will find out who you really are!!」
「Don’t fret. There is no problem. 」
Seiya activated the art of change. Then, he transformed from a Doberman to a different breed, the Siberian husky. And, he also transformed me from a red-colored goldfish into a dull-colored goldfish.
「Just…Just how much can you change your appearance by using the art of change…Is it really that necessary to change it all the time!?」
I yelled when I saw that the amulet and the sword were put right at my side. They were emitting a very evil aura that was starting to make made me sick.
「I want to buy a greater variety of tools and weapons that are sold in this town. I have to do it as soon as possible. They might be useful someday.」
「That would make sense if this was a normal adventure, you know!? This is a town of beast men!! You can’t use weapons like these!! They’re creepy tools!! Besides, why don’t you bring back my original form!? We’re the underground now!! I hate the look of my disguise!!」
「It’s true that nobody can see us now. Still, you women are such a pain in the ass. 」
After I kept complaining, Seiya finally used the art of change on me. Then, my body was wrapped in a dazzling light, and I returned to my beautiful goddess’ visual. I grabbed a mirror that was hidden in the upper part of my dress and I tried to see my reflected image.
Phew! Ah…What a beautiful appearance I had compared to that ugly fish! …Yes, I was too dignified to be compared with a fish in the first place!
「By the way, Seiya. I’m sure you have a plan for the future, don’t you? 」
「Of course. I’ll have to use the secret of the Six-Hexagram if I want to defeat the Grand Lion. I’ve already prepared a simulation for that.」
Seiya began to talk indifferently, but with a serious expression on his face.
「First, I have to pass on the enlistment test to become part of the Beast Emperor’s party. After that, I will be able to invade the royal palace. Then, I will set up the Six-Hexagram that I’ve learnt from Isister around the temple, where the origin of the power from the evil god resides. And then, we have to get a part of the Grand Lion’s body to proceed with the preparation. Well, his hair might be the easiest to get. After that preparation, a “Sword Dance of Crushing the Evil” has to be performed for three hours within a radius of 500 meters away from the Grand Lion. This part has restrictions. No one can see anything of this preparation during the sword dance. Once the sword dance is over, the secret of the Six-Hexagram will be completed. And then, the Grand Lion will be weakened.」
Seiya spoke without stopping. There were so many steps to do for that huge preparation. Somehow, it all sounded a bit troublesome. Especially, the last part…
「So, the “Sword Dance of Crushing the Evil”, right? Won’t that be hard to accomplish? It would be almost impossible to prevent others from getting near the Grand Lion during that time…」
「Isister also said that that was the most difficult part of the preparation. The ritual won’t be efficient once someone sees it. And if that happens, I won’t be able to use that against the Grand Lion again. But, I have Cave Along. So, there won’t be any problem if I perform the secret of the sword dance while I hide in the underground of the royal palace.」
「I…I see! That’s right! 」
「…The problem is you. 」
Then, Seiya stared at me with cold eyes.
「If I could, I would rather choose to put you in a frozen sleep and let you be dormant for a very long time…But, Aria and Isister told me that saving Exfolia was a punishment that you shouldn’t avoid. Therefore, I hate it. I absolutely hate it how things turned out. Still, I have no choice but to take you with me.」
「I apologize for forcing you to take me along with you!! 」
When I shouted, Seiya approached me with his hand instantly.
I screamed when I thought that Seiya was about to scold me. But, nothing happened. Seiya didn’t beat me at all. Instead, something originated from the muddy wall of the dark cave and crawled over to the ground at an unstoppable speed! It passed through my legs rapidly and went inside of my own dress!
*screams even louder*
I yelled so high after I felt a horrible sensation of being touched all over the body.
「Wha…Wha…What did you do!? 」
「I hid several of powerful earth snakes in your body. You’ll just have to stand still during the enlistment test. If you do that, the earth snakes will defeat the opponent without hesitating.」
「Eh, yes…Is that so… 」
When I looked down at the upper part of my dress, I noticed that the earth snakes were moving in circles around my chest and abdomen. It was definitely creepy. Therefore, I tried to avoid seeing this repugnant scene.
「There is a possibility that you and I will be separated after the enlistment test. But, even if that happens, the earth snakes will protect you. 」
Ah, what…Did he think about my well-being just now? Seiya did care about me after all…
Just when I thought about that, my eyes hardened with frustration to the words I heard next.
「By the way, the earth snakes also serve as an extra surveillance. They have a specific command to eat your throat if you try to speak the human language after transforming into a fish-man.」
「That’s a very awful command!! You don’t have to be that extreme just to stop me from speaking!!」
Seiya proclaimed peacefully regardless of my tantrum.
「You will be secondary or even be in third place for the purpose of this plan. The Six-Hexagram is the only safe and reliable way to defeat the Grand Lion. I will give it absolute priority over everything else.」
「Hmm!! Fine!! I should be the one to say the exact same thing!! 」
「…Whom are you referring to. 」
Seiya, whose arms were folded gallantly, was overflowing with exceptional confidence. I felt slightly relieved to see Seiya’s self-assurance even though I was treated coldly as always.
…It looked like every preparation was ready. That was to be expected of Seiya. A secret action for infiltration. This man was really an outstanding hero. No other hero would have the guts to save a world like this one other than Seiya himself. It was useless to be worried about him after all…
The anxiety, which I felt in the God’s realm vanished before I knew it.
Insert Generic witty comment here.
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