Tomoe seems to have fallen in thought.
The one watching this state of hers with nervousness and standing stiff was the adventurer that was picked up by her and began a new journey in his life, Lime Latte.
Her skills are above the clouds and beyond, she is also his direct superior; it really does make him realize his own weakness.
For Lime whose life and death rights are being held by Tomoe, her silence was quite the scary thing.
Even if 80% of those times is her choosing the order she will be watching her period dramas and thinking about famous scenes.
For good or for bad, this time’s silence fell into the 20%. It is a matter that relates to Tsige and Lime.
“…On second thought, we really should bring that wood and lacquerware craftsman girl once.” (Tomoe)
An all too sudden mutter.
But Lime maintained silence.
The reason is because those words were not directed at him, and because he didn’t know much of the details at all.
Him understanding that this isn’t the time to speak out was his best effort to show consideration in his own way with the short association he has had with them currently.
“I will tell Waka later…and in the off chance he discovers it, we will just deal with it then…but if that’s the case, bringing along her little sister as well might omit some of the hassle.” (Tomoe)
Ominous details were mixed in it, but Lime maintained silence.
‘Silence is golden’, is apparently the words of the superior of his superior, the young representative of the Kuzunoha Company.
From Lime’s perspective, he is an even more unknown existence than Tomoe, and the person that controls Tomoe and Mio.
He already resolved himself to put his all in this workplace, but, even so, he wanted to be spared from a position where he is stuck between Makoto and Tomoe.
“We have to increase the amount of spies or we won’t be able to do much… Maybe aiming for three birds with one stone would be the best. What do you think, Lime?” (Tomoe)
“Increasing the number of comrades is welcomed, but just bringing along anyone would be…” (Lime)
“But if Sis sees potential in them, I would say it would depend on the way they are trained. Even someone like me is somehow staying alive after all.” (Lime)
Lime would at times be kidnapped into Asora or the inside of the wasteland, even without prior notice, and be trained in a slightly harsher way compared to Toa and the others.
In terms of individual strength, if we exclude the Kuzunoha Company, he is still the strongest in Tsige. Or rather, he is practically sprinting ahead.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been blessed with any opportunities to confirm this, and the current situation is that Lime himself thinks he is in a slump.
And thus, there was a self-deprecating tone in him.
Having a gaze directed at him that’s different from the usual, Lime asks the reason for that.
“…No, I was just thinking that I might even be able to get 4 birds or 5 birds-ja.” (Tomoe)
“Live in the Kuzunoha Company’s store at Tsige for the following few days. A certain pair of sisters will come check some goods called lacquer ware. Until then, you can learn about the work in the store and rest.” (Tomoe)
“Rest your body and mind at ease.” (Tomoe)
The words that were overflowing with kindness from his superior were making Lime’s worries escalate further.
“…U-Uhm, just what in the world is awaiting me?” (Lime)
“The ‘yes’ comes first, right?” (Tomoe)
A smile without equal appeared on Tomoe’s face.
‘Oh shit, I messed up’, regret permeated the heart of Lime.
“I am truly sorry! I will rest in body and mind while devoting myself to the service of the company!!” (Lime)
“Good. Don’t worry. It might become a slightly harsh field trip in society though. We are simply placing a bit of safety nets.” (Tomoe)
“Slightly harsh, you say.” (Lime)
The many trainings until now flash inside his head.
And so, he confirms it. That the roughest one will be coming.
“Umu. Fate is an interesting cloth. Rejoice, Lime. If things go well, you might get subordinates. If that happens, even in the huge Tsige, we might be able to get minute information as long as we narrow the target.” (Tomoe)
“It may be kind of downtown, but arm yourself and be on standby. Fufufufu, I feel a good wind.” (Tomoe)
“Don’t go crazy, okay?” (Tomoe)
“?! Yes!” (Lime)
Not a ‘don’t die’ or ‘don’t run away’, but ‘don’t go crazy’.
The feeling of a trial like never before was making Lime sweat a waterfall.
<TLN: A slight warning that in this part there’s a lot of event jumping and it might be hard to keep up. It was hell to translate…>
Being proud for being the strongest Forest Oni is already a thing of the past.
Mondo has had most of those sense of values destroyed as he continued growing in Asora.
Through the TM Boot Camp, he broke out from a number of shells and powered up, but…
“What in the world is that?” (Mondo)
Within that camp, Mondo felt an emotion that a Forest Oni at the very basis shouldn’t hold. No, it wasn’t only Mondo.
Even Aqua and Eris, and of course, all the Forest Onis that came to Asora.
They were sure that they felt the exact same thing.
That emotion that should be far away from people like the Forest Onis that manage the forest and control the plants.
Fear towards plants.
For example; in the face of a giant tree that has lived several thousands of years, many races regardless of size would feel fear, respect, and amazement.
But Forest Onis would feel pride in it, and they would simply reconfirm the greatness of their own race.
Because they would think that with their longevity and their traditions, it would have simply been the result of their correct management of the forest.
Seeing a tree they managed get to that point, they would think that they should properly continue on.
There’s not a shred of fear in it at all.
Even if they were to see a precious medicinal plant, fruit tree, or flower, they wouldn’t show much of a different reaction.
They wouldn’t, but…
The first shock was the yellow fruit called banana.
‘The greatest delicacy in the universe’, Mondo also agreed with that evaluation.
There’s many delicacies in Asora aside from that.
But there was no other food that could fulfill their appetite, sexual desire, and sleep desire all at the same time (※This is solely the opinion of the Forest Onis).
By the way, Makoto was wondering about their abnormal love for bananas and asked for their opinions, and when they answered him with that, he was visibly shocked.
All the other races had a bitter smile.
The Forest Onis were sure that they had given out a clear and to the point answer, so they were puzzled by this response.
“Moreover, we alone couldn’t tell at all how to increase their numbers or raise them.” (Mondo)
The bananas found in Asora have no different types.
In the eyes of Makoto, it is as if a variation that had been tinkered with like crazy was for some reason growing in the wild.
For Makoto, this situation was weird from the get-go.
Even if they were to grow them from the F1 breed, they wouldn’t be able to get the same thing. There’s a whole lot of greenery in the modern era that is hard to make.
In the end, a number of the techniques Makoto had in his memories were tested out, and the current situation is that they are using the grafting that has the highest success rate to bear fruit.
How about planting them just like that, is what Makoto said and just stabbed a ripe banana on the ground, and for some reason, it worked.
And no one aside from Makoto succeeded in doing it that way.
It might have been at that time when fear towards Makoto had been born in the Forest Onis, is what Mondo thinks.
“It seems like it will be resolved at least, so it is something to be happy about though. That’s…the Tree Garden. Someone went ‘Kyaa!’ when seeing it.”
What Mondo was looking at was an expansive black forest.
What he called the Tree Garden refers to a certain area after entering the forest and going into it for a while.
The black forest and its surroundings had an unbelievable amount of lush vegetation.
Tomoe had told Mondo to bring a number of companions to once again visit this area.
It isn’t an exploration, she called it a visit.
At the time when Mondo went to the Tree Garden for the first time after the boot camp was over for the day, he without doubt felt fear towards the giant trees there.
Even though he thought inside his head that this is impossible, there was still fear deep in his heart that he couldn’t get rid of.
“It was a sight that would make my head go crazy.”
Trees that had different leaves and fruits for each branch; Trees that had vegetables and root crops growing from it; trees that had many types of fruits, and leaves wrapped around their branches.
It was clearly an abnormal sight.
They were all clearly giant trees.
What did Tomoe, Mio, and Makoto think about it the first time they came here?
Now that Mondo thought clearly about it, he didn’t have the leisure to ponder about this.
It may not be as impactful as the giant trees, but aside from the abnormal giant tree army in the Tree Forest, there’s also a variety of trees spread at the radius of it.
Persimmon trees, medlar trees, apple trees…
If it is to these extent, it is mostly on the level of ‘I have never seen these fruit trees’ and would have his interest piqued.
Strawberry trees, watermelon trees, cabbage trees, radish trees…
But it was around here that Mondo tilted his head.
‘Are these things supposed to grow on trees?’, is what he asked himself.
That’s right, the Tree Forest had a variety of plants existing through trees.
Of course, there’s bananas as well.
A diverse variety of bananas were growing from a big tree that would require several adults surrounding it to finally be able to wrap their arms around the whole trunk of it.
What is common sense, what is knowledge?
Mondo was aware that his brain was overloading as he observed the Tree Forest, and then, that night…
The Forest Onis were wiped out by the plants of the Tree Forest.
Tomoe told them it was okay to just stay a night there.
When they were told this, they thought that it has been a while since they got an easy mission.
There was a lot of food, and the presence of mamonos was low. It was simply a forest with a lot of surprising vegetation.
They had continuous harsh days in the boot camp, but if it is this much, is what they thought as they slightly felt relieved, even if on guard, and it couldn’t be helped that they felt this way.
“Who would think that the plants would be animals? That’s impossible.”
The trees that were docile when they were together with Makoto and the others…the moment evening passed, and only the Forest Onis remained, they showed their true colors.
The plants in the whole area turned into veritable animals.
In other words, they moved.
The cabbage that was drooping opened up in an instant, fired in all directions, and with a sharpness akin to a blade, it cut the Forest Onis.
The carrots were shot straightforwardly and stabbed them.
The pumpkins and watermelons that were being shot from somewhere were just like weighty iron balls, breaking weapons, and even bones along with it.
The ivies around their feet had regeneration and speed that even a child would be able to tell and it took their freedom, constricting their bodies.
The moment they thought a sweet and gentle scent like that of an exquisite perfume stroked their nose, they were hit by a surprise attack from the plants, and yet, there was a violent desire to not move away from this place, wishing for more of this scent.
Mondo somehow managed to endure it, but many of the Forest Onis stopped resisting, and ended up proceeding further into the forest invited by that scent.
A different scent again, this time it was thickly sweet like sugar candy, and the moment they were aware of it, their strength had been sapped out, and strong drowsiness hit them as if their consciousness was being forcefully pulled out of them.
Within this space where his brethren were falling one after the other, Mondo was enduring by injuring himself and casting status effect healing magic.
But in regards to their fighting force, it was already crumbling to pieces, and could be judged as a wipe out in terms of a unit.
Sniping, slashing, restriction, aromas that were acting like magic.
What dealt the last blow to Mondo was the last scent.
But this one wasn’t sweet.
A powerful type of smell.
The moment his brain registered it, the eyes of Mondo rolled back and he lost his consciousness.
No matter how much they resist, a Forest Oni has to breathe.
Different from the other attacks that were somehow repelled by the barriers and armor, the scent was something they couldn’t block at all, so this result couldn’t be helped.
Everyone was saved the next morning, but for a few days, the Forest Onis had fear towards plants edged in their heart.
In a sense, their identity trait that is their superiority towards plants had been thoroughly destroyed, and at the same time, they were made to understand the clear difference they had towards the tops of Asora who are able to order those plants to a certain extent.
“Since then, entering that place has been prohibited, but…it is no good, we have no choice but to admit it. There’s no doubt I felt fear and reverence towards the trees there. Frightening, exciting… I don’t know how to explain this feeling.”
He felt like an elf.
Mondo was thinking ‘isn’t this regression?’.
But if we were to say his own abilities have regressed, that would be a no. Rather, all his abilities including Tree Punishment have gotten stronger.
It is not evolution, or regression, it is adapting to Asora.
This is the best formula.
“Hm? They have come, huh.”
Mondo saw the mist and guessed that the person he was waiting for arrived.
He lowered one knee and welcomed his superior.
One of the top threes of Asora, wearing her usual weird attire, Tomoe.
‘Well, all three wear weird attires though’, is what he retorted in his heart, but kept it to himself. It is one of the results of the bootcamp.
“Hm, did you wait?” (Tomoe)
“No, I simply came here too soon.” (Mondo)
Mondo raises his head and answers.
His lessons for polite speech are still in progress, so Tomoe didn’t reproach him in those areas just yet.
“Are those your companions?” (Mondo)
The only one Mondo has seen before is the hyuman, Lime, who he has passed many trials and tribulations together with.
The remaining two seem to be hyumans as well, but these ones, he hasn’t seen before.
They are so weak he could tell at a glance.
It is not the ‘I don’t understand’ like the time with Makoto, they were clearly weak.
The Forest Onis who have survived the bootcamp wouldn’t even need 20 seconds to dispose of them. Mondo was sure about that.
“Umu, you already know Lime. The remaining two are our cooperators (tentative), Carol and Keema-ja.” (Tomoe)
“Tentative in parenthesis, huh. Aah, uhm, I am the Forest Oni, Mondo, under the service of the Kuzunoha Company.” (Mondo)
‘Is the parenthesis something you have to voice out?’ is what Mondo thought as he lightly lowered his head and introduced himself.
He simply greeted Lime by meeting eyes with him.
“Uhm, the hyuman, Carol. I work with wood.” (Carol)
“A hyuman as well, Keema. Working as a waitress in a restaurant.” (Keema)
Maybe because he introduced himself with his race, Forest Oni, Carol and Keema also add hyuman to their self-introductions.
There was a strange nuance to the part when he said he serves under the company, which Keema was confused about, but didn’t pursue it.
Because she had tasted a rare experience that is teleportation just now.
She was in the middle of looking around everywhere most likely in order to confirm her surroundings.
Of course, she doesn’t have an inkling of a suspicion that she has been brought to Asora which is practically a parallel world.
“Woodwork? Oi, could it be—goh?!” (Mondo)
“What’s with you using ‘Oi’ towards a guest?” (Tomoe)
The fist of Tomoe slams onto the crown of Mondo’s head.
Mondo, who had reached the same conjecture as Eris, was angered, but the pain brought by that hit drove that anger away.
“Wow, I couldn’t see it at all…” (Keema)
Keema was dumbfounded.
“By the way, Tomoe-sama, is this in the vicinity of Kuzunoha Company’s workshop?” (Carol)
The one who had a fidgety tone was the sister Carol.
Beren had shown her the trial product of the lacquer ware in the Kuzunoha Company, and she immediately took interest in that something that had changed into black and cinnabar.
‘If you are interested, how about showing you our place for a bit’ is the invitation Tomoe gave to her, and it isn’t hard to imagine what answer the craftsman-idiot mode Carol answered with.
Her little sister Keema had gotten caught in the teleportation spell, and was teleported somewhere in the Kuzunoha Company’s area.
“Now now, don’t be so hasty, Carol. There’s something I would like to show you at least once first. Order is important in everything.” (Tomoe)
“Uhm…I may be repeating myself here but…is it okay for me to be here?” (Keema)
Keema asks a question to this matter that seemed like it had nothing to do with her.
“Of course. As a little sister, you are interested in the work of your older sister, right? That’s what I heard from Beren, you know.” (Tomoe)
“Well, yeah…” (Keema)
It is true that she was worried about what they might do if she were to leave her sister alone.
But for some reason, Keema had a feeling.
That it might be a bad idea in a variety of ways to be deeply involved with the Kuzunoha Company.
“Also, you said your name is Keema, right? You have quite the well-trained movements for a waitress.” (Tomoe)
Keema had cold sweat run down her back wondering if her work as an assassin had been seen through.
“You may be a mere useless apprentice thief in a place like this deep in the wasteland, but you are young. Experiencing a variety of things will serve you well, you know.” (Tomoe)
“Umu, don’t mind it.” (Tomoe)
Being evaluated as ‘useless’ and ‘mere apprentice’ made the heart of Keema shake, but she understands the difference in strength between her and Tomoe.
She didn’t show it in her face and simply thanked her.
Also, she got a piece of information, which is big.
It seems like they are deep in the wasteland.
She can’t tell which base it is, but it is clear that if they were to lower the mood of Tomoe, they won’t be able to return alive.
The sense of smell of Keema was working properly. She didn’t mistake her decision.
“Now then, let’s have the woodworker girl see it. The trees that we are having a hard time dealing with.” (Tomoe)
“Tomoe-sama, it may be presumptuous of me but…” (Mondo)
“What is it, Mondo?” (Tomoe)
“Are you seriously thinking of letting those two enter the Tree Garden?” (Mondo)
“I don’t think they will come out okay at all. It is embarrassing to say, but it is a place where I am not sure I can even protect myself.” (Mondo)
“There’s something I thought of after I had a bit of a talk with Waka. Try and see, is what it is called. I will be protecting these sisters, so there’s no need to worry-ja. Of course, I will protect you and Lime as well, so be at ease.” (Tomoe)
“I will protect you, but be sure to stay on guard and arm yourself to your best, Mondo. That goes for you too, Lime.” (Tomoe)
Saying this, Tomoe begins to walk ahead with the sisters in tow with a leisure as if they were going out for a walk.
‘So it is finally beginning’, is what Lime and Mondo thought as their voices overlapped.
The group stepped onwards into the forest that even mamonos don’t approach.
There’s vegetables growing from trees, fruits that they had never seen before, fruits that were not in season and were releasing a sweet distinct scent each.
The sisters were also shocked by this abnormal sight.
Lime and Mondo were desperately fighting off those same fruits and vegetables that were attacking them as if that were their greeting.
The powerless sisters were for some reason not hit with any danger, so they were able to purely be surprised by this unexplored location.
“Oi oi, Mondo, what’s going on here?! You are the rulers of plants, right?!” (Lime)
“There’s exceptions for everything! Your feet! The ivies below your feet are attacking!” (Mondo)
“Uooh?! I have heard nothing about plant mamonos that can move this much!” (Lime)
“Yeah, me neither! Be careful of the smell too, Lime. If you breathe with your guard down, it will take you down in one hit!” (Mondo)
“Of course I will breathe! I would die otherwise! Damn it, is it like poisonous gas? Unbelievable!” (Lime)
‘We are envoys of the Lord-ja, we are coming in~’, are the words Tomoe used as the group entered the dark forest.
The only ones attacked until they arrived at the giant trees were Lime and Mondo.
“You damn women-loving and man-hating plants!” (Lime)
The conclusion of Lime, who thought there was some sort of law here, was that this forest was sexist.
Sadly to say, his composure had long been gone.
“The trees here have no such indecent feelings! Tomoe-sama must have told them to play with us to an extent where it doesn’t kill us…probably!” (Mondo)
“Hahahaha! Even if it is Sis Tomoe, there’s no way she can talk with trees! Not even a specialist like you can!” (Lime)
If it is Tomoe, she might be able to speak with trees.
Trees that aim only at men because they hate them.
Both opinions were pretty out there.
They were at their wit’s end.
“Uhm, Tomoe-sama.” (Carol)
“What-ja, Carol?” (Tomoe)
“There’s a sweet scent. What is it? It is a really mysterious scent that bothers me a lot…” (Carol)
“No, that’s not what you should be bothered by, Onee-chan! You should have something to say about these plant nightmares that these two are doing their utmost best and are about to be crushed by, right?! There’s of course a sweet scent with all the fruits here and there!” (Keema)
Keema looks at Carol wondering if her sister had been hit with some sort of mental attack already.
This abnormal situation where plants were attacking like animals, this abnormal situation where Tomoe and them alone were the ones who were not being attacked.
Nothing is impossible at the depths of the wasteland.
That’s the common sense of the adventurers in Tsige.
But the reaction of her elder sister is clearly weird.
“No, it is not the scent of fruits, but a different kind of sweetness… Like sugar candy…” (Carol)
“No way, why are you turning into a craftsman-idiot in this situation?!” (Keema)
“Fumu, looks like it is safe to say that my guess was correct. You are as strange as Makoto-ja na.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe nods several times and mutters in deep thought.
(No no no no! There’s no way we can feel safe in this situation just because we are not the attack targets, right?! Also, saying weird stuff like a sweet scent. Lime was supposed to have retired, and yet, he has become a lot stronger than before, and he is still struggling here. Moreover, that Forest Oni demi-human called Mondo, he is as strong as Lime. What is this, a nightmare? If that’s the case, this is a nice time to wake up!) (Keema)
Keema was aware that her face was cramping.
There’s no way she could stay calm.
Tomoe had evaluated her as a ‘mere apprentice thief’, but she was sure that, if she were to lose the protection of Tomoe and got attacked by those plants, she would die without being able to do anything.
“Carol, can you tell where this scent is coming from?” (Tomoe)
“Yes, for some reason.” (Carol)
“Then, let’s try going there.” (Tomoe)
“Is it okay? I don’t know the reason why, but I actually feel like it is calling us…” (Carol)
“It is okay, it is okay. Hey, Keema, you come too. Don’t worry, you won’t be attacked…probably.” (Tomoe)
“You said ‘probably’ just now, didn’t you?! I will go! I will go at once, so please protect me properly, okay?!” (Keema)
On the other hand, Lime and Mondo were desperately fighting off the fierce attacks as they followed after Tomoe.
That’s right, they are somehow surviving.
This fact and the conversation of before were bothering Mondo.
“Sugar candy scent? That’s strange. That scent should bring about a powerful drowsiness that you cannot go against. Also, there’s still no scent attack.” (Mondo)
“Stop talking about weird stuff like scent attacks or whatever! We are chasing after Sis! If we lose sight of her, it will be the worst!” (Lime)
“Could it be that she really spoke to the trees here? No, she didn’t show signs of that before either. Or are you telling me they can communicate telepathically or something?” (Mondo)
“Mondo! This is not a situation where we can be saved by you thinking! Move your body, don’t do both!!” (Lime)
“If that’s the case, those words? The ‘envoys of the Lord’? Lord? In other words, that guy? He did something…?” (Mondo)
Lime was blasting on full towards Mondo who had dulled his movements as the both of them desperately chased after Tomoe and the others.
After not that long of a distance, Carol who was at the front stopped her feet, and looked up towards one tree.
Lime saw Carol who was looking up at the tree, and Tomoe who was watching over this with a satisfied expression.
It seems like things have gone according to the plan of his superior, is what Lime thought even through this dangerous situation.
“I think this tree is the source of the scent.” (Carol)
“Umu, it is most likely correct-ja na. A sweet scent like that of sugar candy, right?” (Tomoe)
“Yes, it is wafting out even now.” (Carol)
“Waka said it smelled like cotton candy. I see, it is this tree, huh.” (Tomoe)
“I was wondering if something like that could be formed between a tree and a person though. There was a need to gather facts. Now then, should this be called a pact, or divine protection? From what I see, it would be the latter-ja ga.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe was looking at the individual and was reminded of a Superior Dragon that does something similar as she speculated.
Her thoughts were correct.
“Carol, that tree is the wood used when making lacquer ware. It is fit when making containers, and it is called a Katsura Tree <Japanese Judas Tree>.” (Tomoe)
“Katsura Tree…” (Carol)
“There’s other trees that have this kind of affinity, but the one that suits you the most is most likely that Katsura Tree.” (Tomoe)
“Suits me, you say.” (Carol)
“There should be no loss in doing so. Try touching the trunk.” (Tomoe)
As if controlled by the words of Tomoe, Carol takes a step forward towards the Katsura Tree and touches it with her hand.
Her body quivered for a moment, and her little sister reflexively tried to go to where she is, but Tomoe stopped her.
Carol had been touching the trunk with her fingers, but eventually she placed her whole palm on it, and as if the Katsura Tree was welcoming her, the golden leaves that one could mistake for gold shook.
Tomoe felt that something was circulating between the Katsura Tree and Carol, Carol and the Katsura Tree.
And then, the smile of Tomoe deepened further.
It was a face as if saying ‘this is it’.
“So you will allow me to use you. Yes, I will do my best. I will show you technique that is befitting you.” (Carol)
It must have been waiting for the resolve of Carol.
After waiting for her to finish speaking, one branch as thick as the waist of Carol fell.
Looking at the size of the tree, it isn’t that big of a deal, but it is quite the size.
“I see, it is trying to say that you should learn how to work by using that wood.” (Tomoe)
“I personally think that you should better your ability in Tsige, and leave the unpainted wood to the Kuzunoha Company though. Will you accept that?” (Tomoe)
“Of course. As long as I can be brought back here when the chance arrives, I have no issues.” (Carol)
Carol for some reason answered without any hesitation.
“I don’t mind. I wish you can work together with us, the Kuzunoha Company, as a woodworker and a cooperator in that city.” (Tomoe)
“I don’t mind that either.” (Carol)
“Wa, Onee-chan?!” (Keema)
“…I have never had my ability and existence be this acknowledged before. As the person given the divine protection of this tree, I won’t spare any cooperation towards the Kuzunoha Company.” (Carol)
“Tomoe-sama! What did you do to my sister?!” (Keema)
Keema must have thought the change of her sister was some sort of brainwashing, and directs hostility and criticism towards Tomoe.
“Calm down, little sister. It is a simple and natural thing-ja. You two who were orphans and were raised in a facility were unfortunately taken in by a person who had an underground face. You were taught techniques that would serve in the underground business.” (Tomoe)
(Why does she know…?!) (Keema)
“The elder sister became a crafter and the little sister became a waitress, and it seems you are working well. However, it seems like in the underground business, you were several times better than your older sister.” (Tomoe)
“You may not have any doubts or dissatisfaction in your current situation, but your sister has gone as far as to think about making a livelihood as a crafter.” (Tomoe)
“I have not heard anything about that from my sister. Not a single word!” (Keema)
“She can’t just say it so easily. But your master, and the man that adopted you two, are getting tired of the underground business. Your elder sister sympathized with that man’s surface face and actions, and you instead felt comfortable in the underground part. That’s how it is.” (Tomoe)
“Tomoe…just how much do you know…” (Keema)
Revealing hidden information that only a select few know one after the other and explaining it, Keema felt chills. She can tell that there’s a heavy difference in battle power here.
But in terms of information gathering, in terms of information network, they shouldn’t be losing to the Kuzunoha Company -or at least that’s how it is supposed to be. And yet, here we are.
It doesn’t look like she is bluffing or baiting her.
Tomoe was talking in a way that’s telling her that she clearly knows about Keema and Carol’s background until now.
She couldn’t tell at all what’s the reason and the technique used.
Keema noticed -not with her head, but with her soul and instincts- that she isn’t someone that she can do anything about.
“Now then, how much do you know? Do you want to know…just how you two became orphans?” (Tomoe)
Does she know?
No, it might not be strange for this woman to know.
Even the details about their birth till the time when they were thrown into an orphanage.
Her body felt cold.
It was as if her body was freezing at an accelerated rate from the inside.
Keema couldn’t say a word towards the question of Tomoe.
“Well, fine. What it means is that, the elder sister that wanted to live in the sun was aware of her own lack of ability. And for her, the confidence that she obtained here and this experience have become an irreplaceable treasure.” (Tomoe)
“Umu. As a woodworker, no, it would be more accurate to say crafter, huh. Confidence that the result of continuing to walk that path, will eventually lead her into becoming an outstanding person-ja. Thus, Carol has set her path of life. That’s all there’s to it. Well, I set it in a variety of ways so that it turned that way though.” (Tomoe)
Preparations that were done with the know of her whole memories and desires.
It is certainly different from brainwashing through magic, and charm, but it might not be that different in the sense that it is cheating.
“…Don’t joke around. My big sister and I will be working on the underground side of Tsige from here on too.” (Keema)
“Carol won’t take anymore assassination jobs. She might lend you a hand for your sake, but if she were to do those underground jobs with that mindset of hers, you as the little sister who is fit for that area…should at least know what happens to people like that eventually, right? Just stop it.” (Tomoe)
“Why are you stealing my sister from me? I won’t acknowledge something like this. Never…” (Keema)
A dangerous and dark feeling was about to take over in her eyes.
Without noticing the fundamental misunderstanding she is having.
It is not like Tomoe is trying to tear apart the sisters. Rather, if her sister -even if hyuman- managed to do well with the trees of Asora, she would try to do her all to bring her little sister in too, even if that’s just in passing.
That’s right, in other words, it is currently happening.
“You are against it?” (Tomoe)
“I won’t forgive it, no matter who it is.” (Keema)
“I see, I see! If you come to us as well, that problem is solved then!” (Tomoe)
“I will one day for sure—eh?” (Keema)
The dark emotions were temporarily stopped.
“In the first place, the foundation that is the Rembrandt’s place has put a half-stop to it and has ordered a standby, so if you were to accept a request on your own volition even if it is a small fry adventurer and kill them in the wasteland, you will one day be erased by that buttler. The future is pitch-black, ja know.” (Tomoe)
She even knows about her recent stress reliever.
Keema’s face warps. It was one-sided, no cards to play.
“You are truly lucky, Keema. Thanks to your connection with your elder sister who seems to be communicating with the Katsura Tree and nodding, your life will be turned around!” (Tomoe)
“Be deeply grateful for the fact that Waka had gotten an eye on your sister as a woodworker,and by your own name.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe who had suddenly begun laughing was continuing the conversation on her own.
But what does she mean by being grateful for her name? Keema unconsciously asked back.
“That’s right! Waka said that your name is apparently pretty spicy and delicious, you know?” (Tomoe)
Makoto and Keema are not acquainted.
It is just that when Makoto was checking the regular reports and heard the word Keema, Makoto associated it with curry.
There was no ill-will.
The dark feelings…dispersed.
“It could be fine to just have someone from Asora do it, but because it is a pretty deep path, it is a matter that I would like to do a lot of preparations as possible, you see.” (Tomoe)
Keema already didn’t know where this conversation will roll or where it will advance to.
Yet, this conversation involves what will be her life itself.
Moreover, it isn’t something that they can struggle against on their own. It had the stench of her being told an already settled matter.
(What is it they want to make me, who has a spicy and delicious-sounding name, do in this deep path that requires a lot of preparation? I have absolutely no idea at all!!) (Keema)
“Keema, you will continue working as a waitress as you have until now, and I will have you become the subordinate of Lime and our second spy. If you want to see blood, I will let you get some.” (Tomoe)
“Eh? It is unexpectedly normal sounding. Or more like, it sounds as if they are good terms.” (Keema)
‘For a person that has their life in their hands, that is’, is what Keema thought and ended up speaking out loud accidentally.
“Also, I will have you do your hardest in recreating curry from today on.” (Tomoe)
“Curry rice-ja!” (Tomoe)
Being told the name of something she has never heard of before, Keema couldn’t do anything.
“Uhm, I don’t know about that though.” (Keema)
“It is food-ja. I will teach you about the taste later. No worries, you are hyumans, so your tastes should be similar, and if you try it several times, your head and tongue should be able to link properly.” (Tomoe)
“Wait, that sounds a bit scary.” (Keema)
“If you can recreate it, Waka will definitely be happy. No need to worry about the rice part. I am counting on you for the curry part, Keema Curry. I mean, Keema.” (Tomoe)
“Ah, I don’t wan—agh! Gugh!” (Keema)
“It is okay. I will etch the taste inside your head for sure. As a waitress, you should have a decent understanding of cooking, right? Fufufu, hahahahaha!!” (Tomoe)
She is wrong.
It is true that waitresses have a decent amount of cooking knowledge, but they in foundation don’t have the ability to take a recipe by their taste alone.
Moreover, it is a completely unknown taste. It is in the plane of a perfect chef.
“I-I-I-I’m d-d-d-d-d-dying.” (Keema)
The laughing of Tomoe and the weak screams of Keema reverberate in the forest.
A heavy thing falling sounded close to Tomoe.
Two of them.
What was once Lime and Mondo.
It seems like their hard struggle ended poorly and they couldn’t manage.
Lime was able to somewhat understand the results of his training, but it doesn’t look like it went as far as strengthening his heart.
Also, teaching Mondo with actual experience about the special traits of the trees as well as how special of a being Makoto is in Asora only managed to reach a middle point.
“…Fumu, aiming at everything with one rock was way too much, huh. You fail. Mondo and Lime have to be retrained, huh.” (Tomoe)
In any case…
At that day, the destiny of a certain elder sister and little sister were changed in Asora.
From that day on, the sister was being called the katsura destined, and the little sister not only worked as a waitress, but also began to train as a cook.
For some mysterious reason, both sisters began to progress in leaps and bounds in their strength as adventurers, and gained a name for themselves as a peculiar duo who mostly aim for plant materials.
The elder sister who, even though is a woodworker, awakened to a powerful unique sleeping ability; and the little sister who has no rival in Tsige when it comes to knowledge of spices.
The long path of the sisters that will one day bring about lacquer ware and curry in Tsige had begun in this way.
“Suddenly pushing myself to work with the katsura wood, and bringing out the lacquer ware that I put my all in out to the world was my biggest mistake. To think the lacquerware made of the Katsura Tree from the Kuzunoha-san’s place would show such an effect… Lime-san and Mondo-san scolded me a whole lot.”
Are the words of the elder sister.
“Every single damn one telling me I am a genius as if it is so easy. Just how much pain do you think I passed in order to reach the curry that would go well with rice? I began from the point of not knowing what was curry to begin with, you know. Everything was on the inverse! After cooperating with the Kuzunoha Company, I finally…finally managed to finish my first one, and then, Mio-san who appeared out of nowhere gulped it down in one bite. Just how much time did it take to recreate that miracle once more… Uuuh, no good, just trying to remember is making a lot of things come rushing back!!”
Are the words of the little sister.
Now then, in the end, the one who gained the most out of this one matter was Tomoe, but it is actually not only that.
Some time after the events, Makoto discovered the matter about the many things she perpetrated with Lime, the fact that she kidnapped the sisters -even if for a short period of time- into Asora, and that they put a step into lacquerware and curry.
The number one wild horse had been sealed temporarily, and according to the person herself, she received a horrible punishment.