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Chapter 382 – The Orc’s Gods and Nostalgic Voices

The instant Quema saw Baldok, she took a step backward.

“――Wait, please wait. I’m aware that our lives were saved by you, Shuuya.” Quema appeals with a shake of her head.

However, standing next to her, Solobo pours mana into the conical hat in his hand. A small, ring-shaped snake pattern has surfaced in the iris of the one eye peeking out through his small mask.

――A Demonic Eye?

At that moment, several ink-black veins appear on the ogre face of his hat. They’re profusely pulsating like real blood veins.

Those arteries spread out across the hat’s surface like a spiderweb, and change their color. Each time they pulsate, the number of unnaturally bulging, uneven parts increases in number. The ogre face design falls apart, changing into something modeled after a head as it’d appear in legends. There are eight of those heads in total.

Nothing similar to psychic waves is being emitted from Solobo’s Demonic Eye. But, his hat seems to have a function to act as a projectile or defense tool.

“…It looks like Solobo-san is itching for a fight though?” I point at Solobo who’s preparing his hat.

I feel a strong mana from the ink black face patterns on the hat. As expected, the idea that it possesses some projectile-like abilities has become even more likely.

Mysterious light beams seem to be released from the locations where I suspect the eyes of the eight, somewhat divine heads to be…

Helme and Rollodeen don’t show any reactions hinting towards them attacking. That’s why it should be alright, but…

“…You’re wrong. It’s because you made that red magic spear appear. In the first place, I haven’t drawn Demon Sword Soebally from my back, have I?”

I guess that’s the name of the longsword that fired the mana blade.

“Sure, you didn’t. But it remains a fact that you people attacked our village.”

Hearing my words, the two fall into silence. After a short time, Quema puts some power into the look as visible through her skull mask. Solobo also has a mask, but I can predict a bit from the movements of his thick jawbone that his expression must have most likely cramped up.

Did he resolve himself to die fighting?

The two orcs…exchange a look, nod in perfect harmony, and shift their eyes towards me.

“…This is also a guidance of the Eight Gods related to the world of Lyban…Shuuya, no, Shuuya-dono… our 【Fierce God’s Squad】 officially offers its capitulation to you.”

“…I shall obey Quema-sama’s words.”

What’s that world of Lyban about? Still, it’s kinda unexpected. Both are readily offering me their allegiance.

Although they’ve been able to vividly watch the scene of the Tree King’s troops being annihilated by us, I still look like a human. In the eyes of the orcs, I should not only be hostile to them, but actually one of those eating them.

Based on their stance of wanting a talk with me, I guess they had predicted my thinking and the reason why I saved them…in such a short time span. Taking their reading of me, they found a way to survive this, I suppose.

These orcs sure aren’t dumb. They’ve got what you’d probably call “Kanshin’s forbearance” (an extreme forbearance). But I think I’ll consider it a bit.

“…Surrender, huh? I’ll think about it for a bit.”

“Got it.”

“Roger.”

Quema and Solobo respectively place their hat and bone flute on the ground. Quema also drops the spear on her back. The spear clashes against the flute. The dazzlingly shining flute bounces up, and bumps against a tree root that’s protruding out of the ground.

The recoil causes it to roll over at the feet of Rollodeen. She ― after rolling over, as if saying that no divine beast can miss such a chance, and getting up ― unleashes a hook-styled panther punch at the flute. Then she follows up with further hooks, alternating between her forepaws, but in the end she hits the flute in such a way that it gets stuck between the ground and a tree root at a spot overgrown with triangular leaves. Rollodeen chases after the flute, thrusting her head into the gap where the flute is stuck. She also inserts a paw into the narrow gap, but she can’t reach the flute either way.

After some time of trying, she begins to dig up the ground under the root using two of her tentacles. Eventually, she also adds her two forepaws to the digging effort, all in an attempt to get back the flute.

Neither Quema nor Solobo seem perturbed by these funny spectacles as typical of cats. Both seem to wait for me to speak up again.

If I was a brutal general, I’d raise a hand and loudly order, “Off with their heads,” but I won’t do anything like that for now. Anyway, if I accept them, it’s likely that not only Quiche but also Higlia would complain about it, but…whatever.

“…I have conditions for your surrender, but is that okay with you?”

“I don’t mind. I’m sure War God Gundaln would also approve.”

“I have no problem with it either. The God of Paths Selekuny should also approve. Even Tokk, who’s going to continue his fight in Lyban, should acknowledge it.”

They remind me of graciously scattering cherry tree petals. I feel a “moral beauty” from these orcs.

“In that case, I’ll accept your surrender.”

Hearing my verdict, the two kneel down and place their hands on their chests. It seems to be a pose indicating their will to surrender and pledge their allegiance.

“…This man is no normal human, as expected…maybe what I saw with <Sound Light of Ogre Illusion>…”

“Yeah, Quema-sama.”

The orcs whisper amongst each other while peeking up to me. Quema has shifted her eyes to Rollodeen, who’s playing with her flute, while muttering.

Judging by that look, I suspect Quema possesses a skill called <Sound Light of Ogre Illusion> that’s related to the flute. Going by its name, it’s maybe a skill allowing her to see the future by using the flute’s sound.

Then Quema removes her ogre mask. I stare at her head while experiencing something similar to slow motion.

The head that’s been on my mind earlier finally gets exposed to me.

“…Shuuya-dono, I judged you to be a being of Victory in the left hand, benefit in the right hand. That’s why please accept the loyalty of our 【Fierce God’s Squad】. As proof of that, this Mask of the Skull Ogre…” Quema states while lightly swaying her red hair.

I had wondered what kind of pig face would hide behind the mask, but…this is unexpected. It combines pig and human traits. But, for an orc, she’s quite beautiful.

In contrast, Solobo has a pig face with an extremely bulky outline. In all honesty, it’s pretty. His head is round and smooth. On the top of his head, he’s bound his hair into a pigtail like nomads do. An ogre skull mask lies atop the pigtail. His lips are as thick as sausages, and both ends wake the urge in me to call him “The Orc!”

He’s got conspicuous teeth, which are pointing upwards at a steep angle. They’re stabbing into the edge of his own, big nose while drawing arcs. It reminds me of the rare Indonesian babirusa from my previous life. That animal was famous for being called 『Babirusa that stares at its own death』. Don’t tell me, these tusks that grew out of his mouth aren’t going to penetrate all the way to his skull in the future, are they…? Solobo isn’t going to die to his own tusks or some bullshit like that, right?

Tusks are also growing out of Quema’s small lips, but they’re fangs looking like small accessories. They’re stylish, polished, and have a nice shape. Way different from Solobo’s.

At that moment, Helme cheerfully shouts down from the sky, “…Hihihi, I don’t understand what they’re saying, but the orcs are prostrating. Nothing less of Your Excellency’s might! The number of soldiers in the village are going to increase.”

I’m sure she must be simulating 『Helme’s Ambitions』, using an Era of Warring States in the Sea of Trees as motif, in her mind.

“…The situation is what it is, after all.”

“Nnn――”

Rollodeen now holds the flute in her muzzle. It looks like she managed to get it back in the end.

After placing the flute down at my feet, she looks up to me. Her cheeks with their whiskers are conspicuously dirty with soil. But, she’s revealing an indescribably triumphant expression.

“Nn, nya.”

After playing around to extort a praise from me, she heads over to the orcs to play with them. Soon after Puyuyu joins in as well. And lastly Helme gives instructions about some weird poses. After shaking my head lightly to hinder Helme from derailing too much, I shift my eyes to the orcs. They must have felt anxious after watching my friends do all these weird actions over and over.

“…You two, it’s okay.” I tell them frankly in an attempt to give them a peace of mind, but…

Rollodeen doesn’t stop with her antics. I don’t think that she’s trying to scare Quema and Solobo, but…she keeps increasing the speed of extending and withdrawing her tentacle bone swords that are shining silver while making squishy sounds. Gradually the wet sound transforms into a crisp sound as it occurs when clipping very quickly with a scissor.

“…Rollo, Puyuyu, they got it, so fall back.”

“N, nya.”

“Puyu~”

Rollodeen looks back at me while meowing, and then turns around nimbly, immediately returning to me. I caress her soft torso as she rubs herself against my leg. As I’m enjoying the feel of her soft fur, Puyuyu also turns around while moving its wand to its back.

With its short legs, it comes back while repeatedly crossing its legs, walking like a model.

After getting her fill of nestling, Rollodeen separates from me and heads over to a big mushroom that’s growing in a place slightly away from me. Puyuyu briskly follows Rollodeen. Just like that, both start eating the huge mushroom that has grown into an astounding size from its thick stalk…but, is Puyuyu going to be alright?

I wonder about that, but in the end Puyuyu is an inhabitant of the Sea of Trees. It should be capable of judging whether a mushroom is poisonous, so I’ll leave it to its own devices.

“…Right now he has the appearance of a black panther, but Rollodeen-dono, who earlier was a huge black beast, and…that rare Sea of Trees beastman are related to you, Shuuya-dono? Do you possibly possess the power of Beast God Lyklash-sama?” Quema asks me, apparently resisting the cute charm of the two animals.

Is Beast God Lyklash the name of an orc god?

“…She’s a familiar, or rather, I told you earlier, but Rollo is my partner. As for the Bolsheed bear cub…it merely has been living together with us these days. I’m hearing about that god’s name for the first time. But leaving that aside, there’s something else that interests me.”

“Hearing for the first time about one of the Eight Great Gods…and on top of that, having an interest in something other than the god…”

“Something that interests him?”

Even while muttering that, their eyes are respectively directed at their flute and hat.

Sure, that weapon and defensive tool also interest me, but they’re not what I’m curious about right now.

“Do you know about a dark guild called 【Skull Ogre】?” I ask them with a casual tone.

After seeing the skull ogre masks of Quema and Solobo, I simply had to ask this. I end up thinking about 【Skull Ogre】 which clashed with 【Remains of the Moon】 and my <Head Servant Leaders> in the past. Crimson Assashin, who appears to be on bad terms with Mel’s father Demonoid Zarlp, belongs to that dark guild.

Skull and ogre. It might be a coincidence, but…

“If you’re talking about the Lalarbuin’s Skull Ogre, we’ve known about them for a long time. Just as you can tell from our masks, there also exists a connection to the name of our 【Fierce God’s Squad】.

As I thought…

“Please tell me about the meaning of those masks, Lalarbuin, and how 【Fierce God’s Squad】 is related to Skull Ogre.”

“Very well. First I should talk about the Totokhun clan that has been living under the commandments of Fierce God Kisalame-sama.”

“Keep it as short as possible.”

“Ugh…I understand. In the distant past, the homeland of the Totokhun clan could be found in the underground and unexplored regions located in the hinterland of Mount Lalarbuin. It’s said they worshiped Fierce God Kisalame-sama, one of the Eight Great Gods, over there. However, groups of humans invaded that land, killed out ancestors, and stole many, many treasures, including the idol of Kisalame-sama. This is what I was told.”

I guess my prediction proves to be right. The dark guild of Lalarbuin is 【Skull Ogre】. It seems like Kazun-san also has some fateful connection to that place.

“…Stole, you say? That sounds like something adventurers would do. I’m one myself as well, though.”

Before the anti-orc war and following, underground exploration requests for Mt. Lalarbuin and so on…either way, there seems to exist an abundance of adventurer requests in that direction.

“…Is that so?”

“Are you disappointed now? To be precise, I’m no human, however.”

Quema repeatedly blinks her eyes in surprise upon my words. Solobo widens his. Pulling herself together first, Quema speaks up.

“…I’m not disappointed or anything similar. It’s a surprise that you’re no human, Shuuya-dono. Also, the humans, who were caught by us, suffered terrible fates. Men were kept as livestock, and women were impregnated…turning humans into food based on the spiral of survival makes us no different. Although it was for another reason, we did attack your village, didn’t we Shuuya-dono?”

I’ve absolutely no plans to comprehend the culture and laws of orcs, but…I can sense a deep orcish philosophy even among the orcs from the term “spiral of survival.”

“…I see. Please continue with the treasures of that god of yours.”

“As you wish. Even in the world of Lyban, Fierce God Kisalame-sama was said to like battle that uses spirit soldiers to an extent that rivaled even War God Gundaln. It’s said that all kinds of abilities are locked away in his heart, the seat of his powers.”

The name of the war god in human society is Vice, but is it the same god while just being called Gundaln by the orcs?

“For example?”

“…If you prepare the raw materials, it’ll be possible to create superb soldiers with special triangular marks on their foreheads as long as you invest a huge amount of mana while using a certain technique. It might be a sort of cursed power.”

Humans are the raw materials, aren’t they? It agrees with the stories I’ve heard about 【Skull Ogre】 from Mel.

That means…people capable of using Fierce God Kisalame’s powers exist among the leaders of 【Skull Ogre】, don’t they? Since Crimson Assashin uses blood layers, he might be different.

“…The ogre design on the masks’ surface is related to your Fierce God then? Are you saying 【Fierce God’s Squad】 is a group worshiping Fierce God Kisalame-sama?”

“Going by the name of our group, yes. We’ve known for a long time about the existence of the 【Skull Ogre】 forces, who believe in the Fierce God, in a part of Mt. Lalarbuin and other cities on the surface. We can be seen as somewhat vague since we’re not only worshiping the Fierce God, but all of the Eight Great Orc Gods.”

So Quema believes in all eight gods, huh?

“So that’s the reason why you were aware of 【Skull Ogre】, eh? Do the orcs possess bases in the underground and on the surface?”

“Yep, although most of them are located underground.”

Figures.

“Do you know any of the treasures that got stolen besides the idol?”

“If we’re talking about famous items, Kisalame’s Book of Mysteries immediately comes to mind. That’s why the orcs connected to our clan also call the humans thieves in addition to cannibals.”

Book of Mysteries? That sure sounds like a book with an interesting history. However, the orcs’ point of view Quema has mentioned…

Up until now I could only make my judgments based on the humans’ point of view, making this kind of information quite valuable.

“I can understand that.”

“And thus, when it comes to the relation to our 【Fierce God’s Squad】…”

“Why stop there?”

“Because it’ll become a long story.”

————– End of Part 1 ————–