|Author: Firehead||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Hands of Vecna||English Source: Hands of Vecna|
|Editor(s): TpstT, Keii|
The demihuman village was located a few kilometers southwest of Tyrfing.
There was no doubt that Tyrfing was their capital city, but it was no place for non-combatants to live during wartime. Therefore, until the war ended, each race would continue to live in the villages that existed prior to the founding of Tyrfing. The centaurs, bugkin, and plantkin lived in this vast forest, away from prying human eyes.
Suzuki was parked a kilometer away from the forest as Sei and the others prepared to enter the forest. They were heading into the territory of the demihumans, who naturally would not have a good impression of humans. If Sei and the others were to approach brazenly, they would unnecessarily make the demihumans more cautious.
Since Ruphas, Libra, and the others already assumed that there would be a battle, they boldly made a frontal assault like a bunch of fools without using stealth or maneuvers. However, Sei’s purpose here was only for investigation. Furthermore, they were not muscle-brains like Ruphas. Therefore, they had to make the appropriate preparations and the means to do so came from Castor.
“Everyone, we’ll now be going to the village on foot. Before that, I want you all to drink this.”
Castor retrieved several small bottles, distributed them to everyone, and explained the effects.
“There is a kind of Water-attribute arcane magic known as Illusion, which can disguise one’s appearance. It’s not a high-level magic, so some of you may already know of it. This magic potion has a similar effect, as it changes the drinker’s appearance for about three hours.”
“Uh, is it alright to have this? It sounds like a really expensive magic potion…Or rather, most of the potions that have effects like arcane magic are lost legacies of the past. There are only a few of them left…”
“Ah, don’t worry. It’s certainly valuable in this era, but it’s not so for us. Don’t hesitate to use it.”
Apparently, items with arcane magic effects were considerably valuable in this world. Based on Sei’s knowledge, such items were the most basic items in any RPG. Even so, he hadn’t seen any of them in his trip so far.
No, actually, there was one. It was Virgo’s sword. Until now, he had believed her sword to be nothing more than a really good sword, but it seemed to be an amazing masterpiece. Well, if one thought about it, she was with Ruphas. Based on Suzuki’s orders, it was obvious how overprotective Ruphas was when it came to Virgo. In that case, she would have been given a powerful weapon as well. Thinking thus, Sei simply accepted it.
While Cruz was muttering and staring at the potion, Jean and Gants swallowed the contents without hesitation. Then, the female knight and the tiger also drank the potion. After a slight hesitation, Sei swallowed the contents in one gulp. Virgo also hardened her resolve to drink it.
Immediately, the changes were remarkable. Firstly, Sei grew horns on his forehead and his skin turned red. Of course, it didn’t actually change since it was just an illusion. He basically looked like an oni. For the time being, he decided to ask Castor about this appearance.
“Uh, Castor-san. What is this?”
“Oh, it’s a kind of monster known as an ogre. It’s said that their ancestors were humans since they look similar to humans, but the details are not well understood. They are classified as monsters instead of humanoids because they are somewhat aggressive, but they are creatures that one could converse with.”
As Sei thought about such monsters, a change came over Virgo. Her change was minor as only the wings on her back changed into those of a white butterfly.
“The potion drank by Virgo would change the drinker into a butterfly-type half-bugkin. Well, since no human would have children with a bugkin, it’s more of an endangered species than a rare species. However, as it wouldn’t be able to fit into human society, it won’t be strange for one to come to a demihuman village.”
After hearing Castor’s explanation, Sei was once again surprised by the racial diversity of this world. How should he say this? It’s amazing how finely classified each species could be. Of course, there were many different species of organisms on Earth as well. This led him to start wondering which world had more of them.
Anyway, when he heard that the potion could change one’s appearance to a non-human form, he was subconsciously put off, but it seemed careful considerations were made in regard to their final appearances. Both Sei and Virgo did not change much. In fact, it was a little like cosplay. With that thought in mind, he turned to look at the others.
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“Oh—. This is a big deal. I can’t tell that it’s an illusion no matter how I look or touch it.”
“It feels a bit weird. My lower body appears to be a horse, but I can still only sense my two legs.”
“I think this is a little bit…”
Gants was covered in an armor-like exoskeleton similar to that of a rhinoceros beetle. A horn was growing out of his head. On the other hand, Jean retained his upper body, but his lower body had become a horse like a centaur. Both of their new forms were so strangely suited to them that it almost made him laugh.
Meanwhile, Kaineko had completely become a cat. It seemed he would be a domesticated monster rather than a disguised demihuman. Then, Sei turned his gaze towards Friedrich…and he was stunned.
His tiger features remained, but stag horns sprouted from his head and his lower body was now that of a horse. Furthermore, black moth wings grew from his back. What was this hybrid form?
“Ah, I’m sorry. I made a mistake. That’s a party game item that combines the features of a bugkin, centaur, and moth.”
“…What should we do with that creature?”
“…What should we do?”
For the time being, they could cover him up with a cloth like what Ruphas did. If only the wings were shown, he could pass as a comrade of demihumans. Sei finally glanced at the female knight and immediately turned away.
The female knight had been transformed into a kind of demihuman known as arachne. Her upper body was the same, but her lower body was now that of a spider. That was fine in and of itself, but her original appearance now made her look like a gorilla-spider hybrid.
Finally, Cruz was transformed into a bipedal grasshopper monstrous humanoid. Although a grasshopper humanoid reminded Sei of a certain Japanese pop culture hero, it didn’t look very cool. This was because it was just an ordinary grasshopper. It wasn’t one that was designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Instead, it was basically like a real grasshopper.
“What is it, Sei? You look disappointed.”
“N—No, it’s nothing.”
It seemed to be impossible to ride a motorcycle or deliver a grasshopper kick with that form. Sei turned his eyes away in disappointment.
He then thought about how to approach Ruphas concerning the golden apple. He didn’t mention it when they were in Draupnir because of the impression he would give to the other party. If he had asked for a golden apple on their first meeting, it would seem like he was approaching them with that goal in mind right from the start. At least, that would be what he would have thought if he was in Ruphas’ position.
No, that was indeed the goal, but there were other priorities as well. First of all, peaceful cooperation with Ruphas was the most important. It would be really bad if he was looked upon with suspicion. That was why Sei didn’t freely speak about the apples.
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Consider this. If someone approached another person to say that he wanted to make peace and then asked for the apples on the same day, it would be unnatural no matter how one looked at it. Anyone would think that such a person was prioritizing his own greed.
Moreover, Ruphas had been betrayed by her comrades in the past. That was why Sei thought that he ought to be more careful. He certainly wanted to be strong. As long as he lived in this world, he needed power to protect the people who were close to him. Even so, he mustn’t lose sight of the most important thing in his desire for power.
Let’s talk about the apples later…For now, we should start by accomplishing this goal and gaining her trust.
He didn’t know this yet. Leaving the old Ruphas aside, the current Ruphas was airheaded and gullible enough that if he had asked for the apples, she would have thoughtlessly replied, “Okay…”
As Sei’s party approached the demihuman village, several bugkin guards appeared. These demihumans had faces like bees and were carrying spears. If they had the faces of wasps, they would have been monsters. But even the faces of bees could not be considered cute if one were to look closely. Of course, it would be scary if it grew to the size of a human, but it was still better than having the fierce face of wasps.
They looked at Sei’s party suspiciously, but when Castor told them that they were demihumans seeking a place to live, they believed it. Currently, the most suspicious person here was Castor. As someone of the fairy race, he was most certainly not human, but he looked exactly like a human. As a result, it took some effort to acquire their trust.
“Now, let’s start by looking for the centaur village. There must be a reason why Sagittarius is cooperating with Leon.”
Nobody rejected Castor’s words. Everyone in Sei’s party nodded and walked on.
This forest was the communal space for the demihumans. Since there were many different races, there were also many different cultures. In other words, it was natural to think that there were divisions to some extent.
It was the same with the insects on Earth. While there might be many kinds of animals and insects living in the same forest, there wouldn’t be ants inside a beehive. Their sizes might be different, but it should still be the same in this regard. In other words, there should be a centaur village somewhere in this forest. In that case, finding the village would be the first step to accomplishing their goal.
“Even if you say to look for it, how exactly should we do it?”
“Well, first of all, let’s look for the village and ask for directions.”
“Um, about that…We don’t have to look for the village. We could just ask the beekin at the entrance.”
“I see. That’s a good idea. I was careless.”
Looking at Castor who was merrily laughing as he backtracked to the previous path, Sei had a bad feeling about something. He made a mistake when distributing the potions earlier. Now, he was advancing without noticing things that he should have noticed right away…Speaking of which, when they first met, he was wandering wounded through the forest even though he had recovery potions on him.
…Could it be that this person was a muddlehead despite his appearance?
Sei really thought so. Nobody answered his question. But if someone were to do so, it would be an affirmative. For example, there was actually a considerable period of time between Castor’s defeat by the Demon King and his encounter with Sei. As for what he was doing during that time, it was nothing special. He was simply lost.
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Castor was a rare individual among the Twelve Stars since he had both sound judgment and common sense. However, he was somewhat—how should one say this?—a bit of a dork. To put it in a good way, he was big-hearted. To put it in a bad way, he tended to overlook the details.
“Okay. Let’s ask the beekin at the entrance for directions and then find the centaur village.”
While looking at Castor who said that as if he had never made such a mistake in the first place, Sei thought such things in his head.
The Tyrannical Twelve Stars—This was a collection of monsters which followed Ruphas Mafahl and transcended human knowledge. Each one of them had the power to match that of an entire country. Since a long time ago, they were regarded as walking disasters and embodiments of terror.
That was what he had heard, but what was actually the truth?
At least, Virgo, who was next to him, did not have that kind of image. Despite his giant form, Aries was usually quiet. And Castor was like a good-natured but dorky elder brother.
Maybe they’re not so terrifying after all?
What he had heard was completely different from what they had encountered in reality. Thinking about the difference in image, Sei realized that his fear of the Twelve Stars was slightly reduced.