Chapter 62 – The Protagonist of Hunting (2)

The hunt ended with a feast.

That night, the whole event ended with the selection of about a hundred kilograms of the finest parts of Oxbear meat.

The men of Balak chose the best of the meat and hung it on a tall tree quite a distance from the village.

When Vikir looked confused, Aiyen explained.

“It’s a sacrifice to Madame Eight Legs.”

Vikir nodded slightly.

He had met Madame Eight-Legged once before, in the darkness of the jungle.

An unspeakable beast. A creature of untold horror that no man could survive.

The barbarians of Balak seemed to use parts of their dead prey, or the bodies of their prisoners of war, as sacrifices, nailed to high trees.

Surprisingly, no creatures were interested in the meat the Balak men hung from the tree.

Hyenas, eagles, and even the odd insect were not attracted to the meat.

They didn’t dare touch it because they knew who it belonged to.

“I wonder if the warriors of Baskerville and Morg were also sacrificed to Madame Eight-Legged once upon a time?

It seemed likely, given the non-cannibalistic culture of the Balak.

* * *

The next day at dawn.

Vikir awoke early and padded out of his tent.

Along the way, he saw a group of drunken Balak warriors sleeping in the early morning dew.

Vikir was careful not to step on them, and soon he was walking toward the outskirts of town.

His body was healing faster with each passing day.

And he would need more food if he wanted to recover faster.

The meat, blood, and entrails of the oxbear were not enough, so Vikir traveled to the outskirts of the village to find food for himself.

As a slave, he didn’t expect to be allowed to leave the village, but the guards at the entrance were surprisingly willing to let him go.

“What are you, a slave, wandering around all by yourself because you did well in the hunt?”

The sentry, Ahun, frowned at Vikir’s arrogance, but didn’t restrain him.

“You don’t think you’re scared of the jungle just because you’ve killed a dying bear, Kek, get out and die.”

Ahun waved him off and Vikir walked out into the jungle, pacing.

After a while, Vikir reached the tall tree where he had hung his offering last night.


Vikir’s eyes widened slightly.

Sure enough, the hundred kilograms of meat that he had hung on the high tree was gone.

The disappearance of the meat meant that its owner had come and gone, even though the wild animals, flying beasts, and insects that roamed nearby had not dared to approach it.

The area was filled with white, dried slime and charred, dead grass.

“……That’s a nasty demon.”

Vikir turned away from the spot and headed for a stream a short distance away.

A river of muddy water.

There was no boundary between water and ground.

Only overgrown vines and thorny leaves marked the river’s boundaries.

Vikir climbed a high branch and stretched out his line.

He pulled out the longest, toughest strand of Oxbear’s fur and used it as a fishing line.

At the end of it was a hook carved from the oxbear’s scavenged bones.

Vikir bit the tip of his finger lightly to draw blood and sprinkled it into the river.

The reaction was immediate.

Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling……

Judging by the bubbling bubbles on the surface of the tan water, it had worked.

Vikir threaded a frog that had been wandering nearby onto a fishing hook and cast it into the center of the foam.

The bite was immediate.

… Tsk!

A fish with teeth as sharp as saw blades snapped off the line.

<Piranha Natteri>.

Danger rating (single individual) : D

Danger rating (group) : A

Size : 30cm

Found in: Ridge 6, Black and Red Mountains

-Travels in herds of at least a few thousand individuals.

When alone, they are cowardly and shy, but in a group, they will charge at even the largest of enemies.

They are sensitive to the smell of blood and will swarm in deep pools in rivers, and when they catch the scent of their prey, they will swarm away, leaving only the bones behind.

The frog used as bait was torn to shreds, but the oxbear’s fur and bones were intact, as were the line and hook.

A fish with a black body and a red belly.

As soon as Vikir caught it, he threaded it onto a spiky branch.

The next bait was a small piece of flesh from the fish he had just caught.

The Nateri are even more eager now that they are using meat from their own kind as bait.

One, two, three, four…… fish kept coming.

Some were over 70 centimeters long, with black or white bodies and red eyes.

“They’re supposed to be hard to catch.”

Vikir muttered as he looked down at the natteri, their gills pierced by long reeds.

They were originally sensitive only to human blood and the flesh of their kind.

Human blood, especially if it has been imbued with some degree of mana, is a favorite.

The hunters of Balak don’t seem to realize this, so Vikir simply stacks up the food in silence.

Vikir then roasted the nateri over a low fire of fallen leaves and sticks.

He ate some, smoked some, and used them to make fish balls.

By the time he’d caught the freshwater crabs and zaras that crawled along the banks of the river and stocked up on food, the morning sun had risen.


As I returned to the village with a sack full of food made of leaves, I saw a strange sight.

In the center of town, in front of Chief Aquila’s barracks, there was a long line of people.

“What was that?”

Vikir scratched his head.

There were at least thirty people lined up in front of the chieftain’s barracks.

Unusually, all thirty were young women.

“Is this some kind of ceremony?”

To get to the barracks, I have to pass by this line anyway.

Unaware of Vikir’s approach from behind, the young women chatter amongst themselves.

“I’ve been in line since the crack of dawn, thank God I’m in the front of the line.”

“I actually spent the night here!”

“Too bad. I should have gotten up a little earlier.”

Vikir listened, wondering what was going on.

There was something off about their conversation.

“Given your performance at yesterday’s hunting festival, you’re probably going to get off scot-free, right?”

“Then surely you’ll take a woman in the village as a saxi?”

“I’ll talk to the chief and make sure I’m the first to apply.”

“I saw you cutting up the meat yesterday, and it was so hearty.”

“You must be strong enough to hunt down an oxbear.”

“What a handsome thing.”

Vikir shuffled away.


An instinctive warning goes through me before I can fully comprehend what’s going on.

Vikir is just about to turn away.

“These are real!”

I hear a shrill cry.

Thirty or so women back away, furious.

Where their gazes were directed, Aiyen stood, his eyes glowing.

She was carrying three freshly killed roe deer.

She threw them to the ground and announced to the women of the village.

“‘What nonsense,’ she said to the women, ‘I fed you yesterday to the point of decoction, and now you’re trying to steal from me at the last minute!'”

Then one of the women mustered up the courage to speak up.

“Then use it first (?) and then hand it over!”

“Shut up, you’re talking to a kid who’s not even a slave anymore!”

“Monopolies are vile!”

“If you’re so unjust, go out there with a noose and get him!”

“I’ve been out many times and there’s never been a kid like that!”

“How far have you been out?”

“The borders of the empire!”

“You could go out to hell and back and find him!”

Aiyen exclaimed, pulling his dagger from his inner thigh.

Then the women in the line slipped backward.

Even the bravest of Balak’s women are afraid of Aiyen, the hunting leader.

No wonder, since quarrels with her go beyond hair-pulling and nail-clawing.

Watching the women slink away, Aiyen snorted hard.

“Sh*t. At this rate, someone’s going to pick it up while I’m waiting for them to recover. I can’t trust a bitch like Sagal. I need to get her well soon so she can give me an excuse………”

She turned away, muttering something to herself.

Aiyen and Vikir’s gazes met.

Vikir, who had been unintentionally hiding behind the tent, panicked.

He hadn’t done anything wrong, but he had been seen.

But it was Aiyen who was more flustered than Vikir.

“……. Look, did you see that?”


“Hmmm. No.”



An awkward silence fell between them.

Finally, Aiyen scratched her neck and strode over.

She’s nearly a foot taller than Vikir.

Aiyen stepped closer and looked down at Vikir.

When she opened her mouth, he could smell the sweet scent of tree berries mingled with her warm breath.

“Last night, Mother called a meeting of the Elders.”


“Among the many items on the agenda was your story.”

From what she’d told me before, it was traditionally reserved for those who caught and submitted the largest game in the hunting system to be freed from slavery.

But now, it seems, the reward is more than just a piece of cotton cloth.

“Listen, you can ask my mother for something. As an honorable hunter of yesterday’s slaughter.”

Aiyen turned to Vikir.

“She will probably try to match you with a mate.”

An outsider, a bonded slave.

The only way to keep such a useful person in the tribe is to know who they will be paired with.

“……I wonder if that’s why those women were lined up all morning.”

Vikir sighed softly.

Meanwhile, Aiyen narrowed her eyes and asked in a low voice.

“You. Do you have a mate in mind in this tribe?”

…… There can’t be.

His body is broken, and he’s adrift in the middle of enemy territory, and he’s been fighting dangerous creatures all this time.

As Vikir shook his head emphatically, Aiyen’s expression became subtle.

It was a mixture of anger and helplessness, of relief and misgivings.

… Tuck!

Aiyen threw his arms around Vikir’s shoulders.

Her momentum was strong, but she gently lowered her hands when they reached Vikir’s shoulders.

Aiyen leaned close to Vikir’s ear and spoke in a low voice.

“Later, when my mother calls for you, I will decide what you will ask of her.”

Her eyes sparkled.

“What shall I ask for……”

She looked as if she was planning some sort of trick.