Chapter 67 – Unfair Trade (4)

Chapter 67 Unfair Trade (4)

Vikir became a Balak hero that day.

He had discovered the plague that was secretly weakening Balak’s warriors was actually a cheap narcotic that foreign merchants were secretly distributing, giving them a huge advantage in trade that they had been losing.

What’s more, he took his flaming arrows one step further and developed an oil barrel arrow strategy, making him an instant hero.

His hospitality was compounded by the fact that he had already earned favor with the tribe for solving their food shortage by hunting down an oxbear that only the bravest warriors could hunt.

Is that the reason?

“I will allow you to bathe in the Fountain of Valor.”

Chief Aquila was happy to grant Vikir’s request.

However, she wondered how she could grant her daughter’s request when she was so persistent.

With such a good cause, how could anyone say no?

Even the cranky old men who had initially objected were now looking at Vikir with smiles on their faces.


Only one of them, the shaman Ahheman, stroked his beard in disapproval.

The shaman had a history of misdiagnosing drug-addled warriors as “cursed”.

While Vikir’s work has made the Balak tribe brighter and more energetic, it has also made things quite difficult for Ahheman himself.

His position was much smaller and his voice much weaker than before.

This is why he is unable to speak out against Vikir’s decision to enter the Fountain of Valor.

Aiyen leaned in with a wide grin on his face and put his mouth to Vikir’s ear.


And then she says nothing.

Vikir frowned and turned his head.

“Do you have something to say?”


“Then why are you putting your mouth in someone else’s ear.”

“Just. I wanted to.”

Aiyen still smirked in an unintentional way.

She opened her mouth again.

“Well, while you’re at it, why don’t you say a few words?”


“I’m thinking, ahhhhhhh, that guy over there seems to be an imposter.”


“……I just have a hunch.”

Aiyen’s instincts, honed by hunting, were so sharp that he could sometimes predict outcomes without any evidence or foreshadowing.

Vikir agreed with Aiyen.

The only difference was that he was able to use his reason, not just his instincts, to spot something fishy about Ahheman.

He had described the drugs the merchants distributed as a plague, a curse that could only be cured by shamanic rituals.

In this way, he established his authority as a shaman and grew his position.

This was despite the fact that his granddaughter, Ahul, was suffering from complications from drugs.

Also, Vikir still remembered what the merchants had said so casually the last time.

“You don’t know what you’re doing! This is a sacred trade!”

“This is a sacred trade, bowed to by the God of the Forest!”

‘Even the Shaman of Balak blesses us on behalf of the God of the Forest……!

The last one cut off mid-sentence, but the sharp-eyed Vikir had already gotten a sense of what was going on.

Vikir translates the merchants’ words into native language, and Aiyen’s eyebrows shoot up in unison.

“We can’t let this bastard get away with this! I treated him like a freebie, and now he’s stuck with a foreign power……!”

“Calm down. You’re still just mad. You don’t have any hard evidence.”

“Then you’re just going to stand by and watch!”

Aiyen’s heart pounded, and Vikir spoke up after a moment of silence.

Vikir spoke in a low voice, and Aiyen’s eyes narrowed as she listened.

” ……You want me to do that?”

“Yes. If we wait a little longer, it will reveal its own tail.”

“Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a bad plan.”

Aiyen thought for a moment.

But it was not in her nature to think for long.

“I see. I suppose nothing is lost by doing as you say. Let’s just focus on what’s important right now.”

Vikir nodded at Aiyen’s words.

As she said, getting his body back on track was the most important thing right now.

* * *


Night came, and a beautiful full moon rose.

The jungle seemed to have forgotten yesterday’s bloodshed in a single day.

As the bright, round moon rose, Depht opened his mouth as if to swallow it.


A light breeze rustled the leaves.

Then, with a strange shifting of the earth’s crust, the rock cracked and hot water began to bubble up from beneath it.

The Fountain of Valor.

Blessed by Adonai, the archer god of Balak’s distant past.

It is a holy place that few of Balak’s warriors are allowed to enter.

Vikir stood alone in front of it.

In the depths of the hot, steaming waters, some sulfurous gas seems to be boiling.

In the shallows, some small animals were the first to arrive and take a dip.

They didn’t move as Vikir approached.

There seemed to be an unwritten rule that animals entering the hot springs here, regardless of their food chain, did not bare their teeth to each other.

Vikir took off all his clothes.

He closed his eyes, pushed aside the rabbits, hares, and hedgehogs that were crowding his body, and sat down.


The effect was truly eye-opening.

As I entered the hot spring water, my internal body was quickly stabilizing.

“That old shaman wasn’t fussing for nothing, I guess he wanted to come in.”

His mana became more pure, and the bones and muscles in his body settled into place.

Perhaps Baskerville had a similar effect to the River Styx flowing within it.

The Spring of the Valor is only slightly less effective than the River Styx, but the better part is that there is no age limit on its use.

The only downside is that it’s only available once or twice a year, on full moon nights.

As Vikir soaked in the hot springs, he thought about this and that.

It had been a while since he’d been here.

I wonder how Baskerville is doing without him, how the Underdog City is doing.

……Well, probably very well.

‘Though Mr. Chihuahua is probably throwing a tantrum.”

Vikir smirked and turned away.

At that moment, something completely unexpected came into view.

Something so unexpected that even the mighty Vikir was stunned.


Before he knew it, Aiyen was soaking in the hot springs beside Vikir.

She leaned forward toward Vikir, smiling broadly, not wearing a single thread of silk.

Seeing this, Vikir thought to himself.

‘Even I, who have lived through the Age of Destruction, did not sense her approach. I must learn this stealthy move.’

It would serve him well in the future.

While Vikir mulled over his strategy.


Aiyen sighed, disappointed at Vikir’s lack of response.

“Have you become such a man that the sight of a woman’s nakedness has no effect on you?”

“Don’t you go around naked all the time?”

“Not quite. There’s a difference between naked and barely covered.”

What’s the difference?

Vikir didn’t know what to say in response, so he simply turned his head back in the direction he’d come from.

Then, slipping up beside him and leaning back, Aiyen held up a flask and spoke.

“Give thanks to Adonai. He found this hot spring.”

“Adonai. I recognize him.”

“Yeah? No wonder. He was the only one who could stand toe-to-toe with the ‘Madame’. Now that you are a young Balak, you should have respect for him. And be proud to be his descendant.”

Vikir was struck by the words in two ways.

The first was that the Balaks viewed the concept of descendants not in terms of blood, but in terms of spirit.

The second was that the archer Adonai was able to take on Madame Eight-Legged.

“An archer who can fight that monster single-handedly.

How high a level does one have to be to be able to do that, which is still a long way off for the current Vikir.


Aiyen turned her head.

The tip of her clever nose was within inches of Vikir’s shoulder.

Aiyen spoke, her face flushed with alcohol.

“Those merchants.”


“I knew they were going on a rampage.”

Aiyen’s face turned even redder as he remembered bargaining for diamonds and two ears of corn.

“I had a vague idea, but it’s nice to get a good kick in the ass this time. I’m not used to getting my ass kicked. Even if you hadn’t told me, I’d have flipped it at some point.”

“I know.”

Vikir gave a small laugh.

Then Aiyen frowned.

“Don’t laugh. I knew it. It’s common knowledge that diamonds cost more than corn in the Empire.”

“How much more expensive do you think it will be?”

Vikir asked, and Aiyen rolled her eyes for a moment.

Then, she spoke, sounding slightly unconfident.

“One diamond…… is worth at least ten ears of corn, isn’t it?”


“Or twenty?”



Vikir laughed.

When he told Aiyen how much a diamond was worth in the empire, and how many ears of corn it was worth, Aiyen was horrified.

“You’re crazy,” she said, “a piece of stone is worth nothing, and corn is edible!”

“Isn’t it pretty when it glitters?”

“More sparkling than the dawn dew.”

“It’s hard, so it lasts forever.”

“If you scratch it, it breaks, if you hit it, it splits, if you set it on fire, it burns. What is eternal?”

As Aiyen spoke, even Vikir was at a loss for words.

What is it that makes the difference between civilization and barbarism?

Vikir pondered for a moment, something he didn’t usually do, on such trivial matters.



While Vikir was lost in thought, Aiyen was thinking about something else entirely.

In fact, she was going to see this through to the end tonight.

It’s a bit of an ego thing to ask someone to pick you as a mate, so I wanted to do something naturally(?) in a natural(?) place and in a natural atmosphere(?)., and just go through the motions.

‘He’s cleaned up, his reputation in the village is good, he’s not bad for a husband, and he’s going to stay there today and heal his body so that he’s good enough for his family, and then the rest will take care of itself.’

Her mother, Aquila, had given her similar advice.

So Aiyen had taken the plunge and brought her favorite drink to bathe beside Vikir.


“But doesn’t your presence halve the mystical effects of the hot springs? Why did you come in? Surely the chief said only I should come in?”

Vikir is now sitting there arguing about this.

Aiyen blurted out in disbelief.

” ……Does it matter now? A true Balak doesn’t argue about such trivialities.”

“It doesn’t matter, but I’m just asking, not arguing, but just to be sure. If you don’t want to answer, you don’t have to.”

Vikir replied with a nonchalant expression, and when he turned away again, Aiyen’s brow rose.

” ……Show me what it is to be sure?”

A moment.


There was a splash.

Aiyen jumped to his feet and snapped at Vikir.

Vikir’s expression was still nonchalant, but his pupils were dilated with a hint of surprise.

Seeing that, Aiyen grinned wickedly and climbed on top of Vikir’s body.

“You shall remain still, slave.”


“This master will take care of…….”

At that very moment.

A crackle, a crackle, a crackle!

A myriad of splashes erupted from beyond the spring.

A few shadows begin to creep through the steam.

“Wow- it’s the Master!”

“Brother Vikir!”

A group of children began to rush in from nowhere.


Aiyen looked up, dazed.

Vikir, pinned beneath her, turned her head as well.

Balak’s children had been swarming into the hot springs for some reason.

Each and every one of them was sick from the side effects of the drugs the merchants were selling.

Naked, the children scurried toward Aiyen and Vikir.

“Master, let’s play!”

Aiyen cried out.

“Hey, you two, you’re halving the mystical effects of the hot springs! Who told you to come in here!”

“the patriarch-oh!”

When the children replied in a stammering voice, Aiyen slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand.

She was being played by his mother.

Even by her mother.

“You’re talking differently. You said earlier that a true Balak doesn’t argue about such petty matters……”

Vikir pointed out with a serious face.

Aiyen sighed deeply.

The children were already playing with the rabbits, hedgehogs, and squirrels that had come in earlier.

Vikir is soaking in the hot springs, just trying to recover.

Aiyen, having given up on everything, opened his arms to Vikir.

“Welcome to officially become a member of the Balak.”

She doesn’t know what else to say.