VOLUME 2: CHAPTER 104 - MAN-EATING TIGER I
Class King; Ruler
Possessed Skills Ruler of the Demon Children of Chaos; Defiant Soul; World Devouring Howl; Sword Mastery A-; Dominator; King's Soul; Ruler's Wisdom III; Household of the Gods; One-Eyed Snake's Evil Eye; The King's Dance at the Edge of Death; Magic Manipulation; Soul of the Berserk King; Third Impact (The Third Chant); Instinct; Blessing of the Underworld Goddess
Divine Protection Goddess of the Underworld (Altesia)
Attributes Darkness; Death
Subordinate Beasts High Kobold Hasu (Lv77); Gastra (Lv20); Cynthia (Lv20); Orc King (Bui) (Lv82)
Abnormal Status Blessing of the One-Eyed Snake; Protection of the Twin-Headed Snake
"You want me to defeat the Man-Eating TigerOlspiegel?"
Nikea nodded. Her eyes weren't lying. They were calm and unwavering.
Looks like she's serious.
"It's not literally a tiger. The term 'Man-Eating Tiger' is a sort of inside term among us."
Why did they have to go out of their way to call it that? I recall Selena mentioning that the demihumans had a habit of likening fallen demihumans to animals. If so, then this man-eating tiger must be 'fallen' in some way. Meaning, it must be a living organism of some sort.
"Very well," I said.
Gi Za spoke to me in hushed voices from behind. "Are you sure it's wise to accept so quickly?"
"It's fine," I said back, "we have to show our strength anyway."
An unexpected but fortunate turn of events. Honestly, I was uneasy trading only the fishes from the basement. With this we'll be able to show our might while at the same time trading our services.
"Thank you very much," Nikea said with strained breath, then she looked at me with a challenging gaze. "The term 'Man-Eating Tiger' is an alias of sort. Its true name is Gurfia."
When Nikea uttered that name her two escorts gulped.
Looks like this piece of info will prove quite valuable.
"He was a young but powerful member of the Man-Horse TribeCentaur. Unfortunately, just some time ago, a massacre had caused him to lose his sanity."
"Why is an araneae such as yourself so privy to the matters of the centaur?"
Nikea gulped. For a moment she glanced at Selena.
"...Despite all of us being descendants of the crystal we do not interact with each other. That... changed recently."
Oh? The demihumans are trying to work together? What valuable information, and how fortunate too. If I was any slower, they might have succeeded and created their own country.
I think I know why she glanced at Selena. I smiled as I thought of the reason. She probably can't lie in front of her. It seems bringing Selena was a good idea after all.
"As a test to see if we could truly work together, Gurfia went with the other young ones to live in a single village, but..." Nikea said.
"The village was destroyed," I concluded for her.
Nikea nodded. She seems to be telling the truth. When you put her story and Shumea's together, it seems likely that it was that rapier-user who did it. Shumea's former master who used Selena's power to move about in the forest. I won't thank him, but it seems his actions have had unexpected consequences.
"Gurfia managed to hold on to his life, but he ate the flesh of another descendant of the crystal."
When Nikea said that Selena screamed and Shumea held her.
"In exchange for gaining power, he lost his reason. To this day he lurks the forest, unable to forget the taste of his fellow demihuman's blood."
Nikea was biting her lips by the time she finished speaking.
"And the demihuman union you put up has left this man-eating tiger alone?"
"...The union or rather the promised cooperation between us isn't actually functioning. Most of its proponents participated in that village, so there hasn't been much progress at all."
I see. That's not bad for me. Since they still haven't solidified their union, there should still be room for me to interfere.
"Very well. But before we begin, I would like to make a contract with you."
"...I shall rid you of this man-eating tiger of yours, but in exchange, I would like for you to trade with us. I would also like you to invite my subordinates to your village."
"...As you wish. The day you defeat the man-eating tiger, we araneae shall do as you ask, this I swear."
I added the condition of sending my subordinates to her village as a precaution. Her village will be my foothold to the west.
I also need to prepare for the possibility of the araneae betraying me.
Nikea might have sworn these things before me, but that doesn't mean the rest of her tribe would accept me. Not to mention, I even have a human and an elf with me. I don't know exactly what they think of them, but I at least know they hate the humans.
"There are a few things I'd like to know before we go."
Nikea filled me in the details, and then we left to subjugate the man-eating tiger.
Along the way I started thinking about the blood of the demihumans. The reason Selena went wild was also because she was made to drink it. If so, then it should stand to reason that the blood of the demihumans is able to bring out someone's latent power when ingested by certain races.
"Shumea, are there any rumors among humans regarding demihuman blood?"
"Hmm? I don't think so. That bastard, Gene, just happened to have a hobby of hurting others, so..."
Gene seems to be the name of that rapier-using man.
He forcefully made Selena drink demihuman blood.
I glanced at Selena whose countenance had paled.
Selena seemed to understand the intentions behind my question, she said, "According to knowledge passed down among us elves, when demihuman blood is consumed in scant amounts, it can act as a stimulant. That's the reason why the humans persecuted them before."
She held Shumea tightly as she spoke.
"Do you want some, Your Majesty?" The assassin, Gi Ji, asked.
"No, it's about that demihuman-eater that Nikea mentioned," I said back.
"You think it'll be useful to us?" The shaman, Gi Za, asked.
"That's one part of it. It might awake some unknown power within us after all." I looked sharply up ahead as I wryly smiled. "The issue is how strong that demihuman-eater is. Is his power merely due to losing his sanity, ridding him othe limits that once shackled him? Or is the power he wields now something completely different. That's what I'm wondering about."
The former isn't a problem. He would be no different from the mad shishi, Gi Zu. But the latter is different. A power like that encroaches on the unknown.
I should change the topic though. It won't do to have the goblins thinking the wrong way when it seems like we could work together with the demihumans.
"...Are you going to kill them if their blood can make you stronger?" Selena fearfully asked.
I clicked my tongue at the back of my head. "No, it would be a waste to throw away their cordiality. If we can avoid needless conflict, that would be best."
Selena heaved a sigh of relief.
I added a warning. "But there will be no mercy for traitors. If the blood of traitors prove useful, then we'll take every drop of it."
"You can't," Selena said.
"Remember, Selena. We are not peerless in the forest. I refuse a future where the humans can do with me however they please. I am the king of the demonic children of chaosgoblins. I kneel to none. If there is anyone who stands in my way, be they demihuman, beasts, or elves, I will use all of my power to destroy them."
Until now she has seen my gentler side. Seeing this other face of mine seemed to be a great shock to her, as it made her look down on the ground, her countenance even paler.
"...To clarify, I don't particularly hate the humans, Shumea. You don't have to glare."
"I'm not glaring or anything, Boss," Shumea said. "I was just thinking how you don't act like a goblin."
Shumea patted Selena's head, who was currently sniffing.
I certainly don't act like a goblin, do I?
"Your Highness, someone is following us. Should we leave him be?" The assassin, Gi Ji, asked.
I looked to Selena for confirmation. She was still pale, but she nodded her head. "...Our pursuers seems to be araneae. They seem to be only following us."
The gaze Selena looked at me with seemed to be puzzled.
I don't actually know everything, you know.
"Traitors, or perhaps mere observers," Gi Za said.
"Unforgivable. Shall we drive them away?" The ferocious Gi Ba said.
"No, I want information. Let's catch them instead."
I ordered the assassin Gi Ji and the ferocious Gi Ba to set up a trap for our pursuers instead, then we continued along our way with Selena in the lead. Halfway through we split off from Gi Za's group and proceeded along as if nothing was amiss.
Selena was always keeping tabs on our pursuers, so our pace was quite slow. The pursuers never approached us, and our distance remained the same.
Gradually, we neared the location where the trap was set.
"...The trap seems to have been triggered. I heard a scream," Selena said.
"Good!" I exclaimed, though at the back of my head, I was puzzled.
We went back the way we came at full speed. Selena and Shumea wouldn't be able to keep up with my pace, so I left them with Gi Za.
They seemed to know where we were all the time. How did they end up falling for the trap?
Well, I'll find out soon.
"...What are you bastards planning!?" One of the araneae demihumans asked.
"That's what we should be asking you. Why are you following us?" Gi Ji calmly asked.
After the demihumans fell into the pitfall, Gi Ba and his three-man cell took out their weapons and pointed them at the demihumans.
The araneae demihumans were all men.
"We were making sure you wouldn't tell the humans about our village!" The demihuman said.
"In other words, you can't trust us despite your oath," I said.
"You're asking us to believe in some filthy goblins!? You bastards are like the mice of this forest."
Apparently, he doesn't realize that insulting us was the same thing as insulting themselves who fell for our trap. Are the demihumans muscle-brains too after all?
As I was thinking that to myself, Gi Za who had finally caught up had apparently heard our earlier exchange.
"Your Majesty, would you mind if I put to test their earlier words just now?" Gi Za asked.
A human-like face and a ferocious smile as he looked at the trapped demihumans. Just what kind of mad scientist are you supposed to be?
I agree though, these demihumans don't really look like the type to fess up. That lie just now wasn't very believable either.
I took one of the four long swords sheathed by my waist.
The others seemed to have notice what I was about to do, as Selena suddenly looked like she was about to cry, while the other goblins were expectant.
Suddenly, Nikea came running with two other demihumans.
"Goblin King, please wait!"
Nikea wore a frantic look as she approached me.
Gi Za was about to stop her, but I ordered him to stand back, then I spoke. "What's the matter? I was just about to punish these men for their betrayal."
My threatening posture was a bit exaggerated, but it was plenty threatening.
"I know I'm being impolite, but please hold your hand for just a moment," Nikea said as she bowed her head so low as to touch the ground.
I sheathed my sword. "Well, alright. I'll at least hear you out."
With a glance, I ordered Gi Ba's group to put away their weapons. The two araneae demihumans were left in the hole, however.
"Thank you. Your Majesty, I take responsibility for this incident. Please punish me," Nikea said.
"Chief..." Said one of the demihumans who came with her, while the other one called out her name, "Master Nikea."
The two demihumans still trapped in the hole were speechless as they watched Nikea. It seems she's actually quite loved in their village. In that case, there's no point in harming her. If they value her so, it might be better to use her as a hostage instead.
If I can pin her down, the person responsible for their entire village, then it might become easier to bring the demihumans under my rule.
"So, what exactly was this whole thing about? We would like an explanation," Gi Za said in my place while I was quietly thinking.
Well, alright. The demihumans have an inclination of putting a lid over unpleasant things. If I take a stance where I'm not willing to have a change of heart unless they properly explain, we'll be able to exert our superiority wordlessly, and at the same time, make it appear that I'm really angry.
I made sure to wrinkle my face with a frown to appear even more menacing.
Gi Za's really useful. Though I think he might just be really salty over the possibility of not being able to taste demihuman blood.
"...Those people are fledglings of the monocrystal. They chased after you because of my inability to properly explain. There is no other reason. Please..."
Monocrystal? Considering she said fledgling of the monocrystal, I suppose it's just a term pertaining to their age. I wasn't sure though, so I asked her about it. Because of that the situation took an unexpected turn.
One of the demihumans trapped in the hole finally couldn't stand seeing their chief with her head bowed to the ground.
"Chief, you don't really have to go that far..."
But the moment he said that, Nikea suddenly erupted. "What you unfilial fools tainted was none other than the pride of the descendants of the crystals! We exchanged oaths with these people! If word gets out that we were unable to keep our word - an oath we made just a while ago no less - we will forever be branded as a people without honor! You have shamed our proud tribe!"
Her voice held within it a pressure equal that of my own howl.
All voices went silent as even the very air seemed to rip at her wrathful voice.
Tl Note: This is the fourth regular chapter for the week. By the way, I forgot to mention this, but the reason they're called descendants of the crystal is because they were made out of a crystal or crystals. I think the legend chapter has it translated as either ore or minerals, but Household of Crystals rolls of the tongue a bit better than Household of Ores or Household of Minerals, so I changed it.