The tiger-race’s gratitude and the spirit girl’s mission
The night breeze scattered the ashes that once were the enemy base.
On our way to the tiger-race village, I spotted the last two soldiers remained in the area. One of them was asleep due to magic and the other one had fainted. Thinking that it was better to make them leave, I shook the sleeping one awake.
“…Mh? Is it still night…?”
“Yeah, and all of your comrades fled without you.”
“…Eh…? W-Wait, what…?!”
He didn’t understand what was going on, and it was a pain to explain things thoroughly, so…
“Don’t worry, even your captain fled, so you won’t receive any punishment if you run too. Oh, and take that guy with you until he wakes up.”
“O-Okay… Woah! What’s with that mask?!”
“You don’t need to know. Now, go before the tiger-race seizes you.”
“W-Waaah! Help me!”
He let out a memorable scream and dashed away, bringing the fainted guy I had hit before with him. While he was running away, I cast Healing Light on both them, and hoped they didn’t fall and hurt themselves too badly.
Five prisoners were more than enough. Any more than that would be a burden for the tiger-race’s village.
Those soldiers couldn’t come back without proper equipment.
Mylarka blocked their supply route and establishing a new one would’ve taken quite the amount of time. They also had to find a way out of here now, since the mountain wasn’t a safe place at night, considering the roaming monsters and beasts, but that was their problem. If they didn’t feel that their life was at stake, they might’ve tried to attack again.
If we didn’t act right away, they would’ve probably used this mountain as a base to take advantage of the gap in the kingdom defense.
I already asked Aileen to spy on Velvechia to know exactly what they were planning, and Kirsch was helping too. Sneaking into the Vinceburg’s mansion was overall simple… but to be safe, I had ‘stuck my eyes’ on Aileen.
I had to handle something else at that moment, though.
“Let’s go to the village… Guys, are you still there?”
The tiger-race members, who were worshiping Mylarka after having witnessed the overwhelming destruction of the enemy’s base, were still prostrated at her feet… or rather, at the dragon’s, since she was still riding it.
“Can you also tell them to raise their head? I do not like how they are quivering.”
“When we fell into a trap, an angel riding a dragon descended from the sky and razed the enemy base in the blink of an eye… I, Jedah, will tell this story as long as I live and report it to our chief.”
Jedah, a male tiger-race who would usually appear fearless and intimidating, looked at us with a child-like expression. He was probably fantasizing about us.
“Ah… Masked magician, you are oh so beautiful…”
“Masked swordsman, even your abilities are incredible, and so was your magic… What might you be called?”
Ludo and his wife also looked slightly enthusiast. Being praised was unsettling, but this time I had no choice but to accept it.
“We only happened to see Riko of the tiger tribe being chased by some soldiers of Velvechia, and we heard of your situation from her. In front of such a conduct, we, the masked saviors, wanted to help. Nothing more.”
“The masked saviors… I would have never imagined that there were humans so willing to help a race they kept exploiting. We should discard our prejudices.”
Unluckily, putting us aside, in the kingdom was normal to think of werebeasts as ‘inferior beings’.
But I just couldn’t think of them like that, considering how wise were their elders and how well they grasped the basic movements of fighting. Some of them were even wonderful mercenaries.
So, how could they have been captured like that…? Velvechia must’ve taken advantage of their pyrophobia and exploited these innocent werebeasts. After everything was finished, I wanted to make them pay for their sins… I needed to think about what to do.
“Do not feel obliged toward us. Now that you are safe, go back to your village and live in peace. We will try to not make Albein bother you ever again.”
Mylarka’s words were so intrinsic of her sense of justice that I didn’t have to add anything. She didn’t join the expedition against the Demon Lord for nothing.
Jedah, who was still prostrated, raised his head.
“The tiger-race always repays its debts. We cannot help it if you have to go off somewhere quickly, but since it is already this late, we would like to at least offer you a bed to sleep in.”
He then held a begging pose, and his comrades copied him. It was super effective.
Also, we didn’t really need to get back to the capital right away…
I had already written the rune for Magic Spirit on Aileen, so that I could help her in battle and know how things were going in real time.
She planned to storm into Vinceburg’s mansion, but the plan changed when she got in touch with Kirsch, who was trying to make her ex-comrades rebel along with her.
Vinceburg’s servants held meetings outside the mansion, and currently Aileen was eavesdropping their conversation from the veranda of their inn’s room. She occasionally asked if she could break in, and I always had to tell her to wait a bit more.
If Velvechia couldn’t break in our kingdom from the mountains, they were probably going to force their way through the plains in the south.
That was the perfect battlefield for the Dark cavalry, their main force composed by high-mobility horsemen..
“Well, putting your offer aside, we made a promise with Riko, so we shall accept.”
“Yeah, but you don’t like the smell of humans, right?”
“Right, but benefactors are an exception. The elders will be surprised though, so it would be better if you could smell like us… How about…?”
“Ah, don’t worry. Riko told us she will think about it. I’m sure it would bother you if we were to ask for Ludo’s wife’s tail.”
“N-No, it wouldn’t… Both me and my wife would be proud to help our saviors.”
Her cheeks were flushed red as she was looking at us, but it didn’t look like she was against it.
Their reactions matched a human’s, and the only real difference between us were their beast traits. Their clothes were made of cloth or leather and looked quite shabby, and they also revealed a lot more skin compared to ours, but that was the best the tiger-race could produce for now. Humans would be too ashamed of dressing like that, but I guessed there were also some cultural differences that influenced their outfit choice.
My mind drifted back to the tiger-race’s proposal, and Mylarka turned to face me.
“…Do you perhaps want to rub someone else wife’s tail? Or do you want to feel how soft one is? Especially the end, it looks very soft, does it not?”
“Yeah, totally. But I wasn’t thinking that much into it… I mean, I was only wondering if it was fine to do it with Riko’s.”
“I was thinking that an adult’s tail and a child’s were different, but… Sorry, how old is Riko?”
“She’s thirteen. A full-fledged adult, given that we reach adulthood at twelve.”
“Lady Riko is the chief’s great-great-grandchild, and everyone in her generation longs to have her.”
She was what? That meant that she was part of the chief’s bloodline, right?
Her entire family was the core of their tribe, and given Riko’s relation with the chief, it couldn’t be excluded that many of their tribe fellows shared that same blood.
“…Wait a minute. Does it have a special meaning if an adult woman of your kin lets a human’s guy smell like her?”
“Well, I am sure it means that there is an interest from her side, but fear not, that does not necessarily mean that she wants to grow a family together. There is no law like that either. I doubt that Lady Riko asked you to touch her tail too, given that she is already old enough to discern certain things.”
The four women nearby Jedah, who just provided a reasonable explanation, wore a wry smile.
I cocked my head, unable of grasping the meaning of his words, and sensed the piercing glare of Mylarka, who had probably guessed it.
We found the scratched tree outside the village exactly as Riko had said.
A wild boar or some huge beast must’ve rammed into it, leaving it scarred.
Given the size of the tree and the scar, the former should’ve been several centuries old.
Jedah and the others returned to the village first and sent here Riko, who had changed her clothes and got rid of the chains that bound her wrists and ankles. Her beautiful hair was arranged differently, and its colors mixed amber and black together… Even her lips looked different, now painted of a beautiful crimson color.
Mylarka slapped her forehead and looked up at the sky.
If she was a full-fledged adult, was there a meaning behind her dressing up?
“L-Lord savior… before we start, can I ask for something…?”
Mylarka was glaring daggers at me. I heard her inner voice squeal ‘What the hell was that?!’, and even I was aware that my voice sounded miserably in high spirits… but that’s only because I was wondering what she was going to ask.
“…I want you to touch my tail. I think it’s fluffy and pleasant to the touch… Only for a little bit will be fine.”
“I-I really appreciate the thought, but how can I say it…”
“Riko, does letting someone touch your tail mean something for you?”
Riko pressed her hands on her flushing cheeks and took a few steps away before crouching.
“…Only special people can touch it. But a couple of times will be fine!”
“A-A couple of times…? Give a minute. I’m not trying to become a polygamist or something. Also, we just met, so we don’t know each other. Don’t you think that we should spend more time together and discuss it before taking this step?”
“Why on earth are you talking like you are going to marry her, you damn drunkard?!”
“I might be a drunkard, but I never go too far. I can touch Riko’s tail, but it won’t have a special meaning for me. Would this really be fine?”
I didn’t want to hurt the pure heart of a maiden that was now watching me so innocently, and that’s exactly why I wanted to be clear with her. Stating that I would have never touched it would have been worse, but maybe I was just being too self-conscious.
When Riko recomposed herself, she stood up and approached me again with a kind smile.
“You kept your promise once, so next time we see I’ll let you touch it.”
“Great. I’ll prepare for it, but I can’t promise to be your future husband.”
“…You are so refreshingly disgusting right now, but you made the correct choice. It’s better if she doesn’t expect anything.”
I paid little attention to Mylarka’s nasty remark and confirmed that touching a female’s tail really was a marriage proposal, judging by Riko’s face turning red.
She then lightly run her tail over me to hide my human smell, and I waited to see the same treatment for Mylarka.
“Raise your arms. I need to pass it there too. Don’t worry, you will smell like me.”
“I-I’m sorry… I’m ticklish…”
Mylarka took her overcoat off and raised her arms, and Riko passed her fluffy tail on the masked girl’s weak points while I watched them without the slightest hint of malice. I mean, it was simply an interaction between fellow women… still, Mylarka was glaring at me like I was a filthy worm, and I couldn’t help but avert my gaze.
That very moment, Aileen got tired of waiting and spoke to me.
“Maaan, can I break in?! C’mon! Dick, lemme do it!”
“Wait, I’ll move half of my consciousness there. Things are calm here now.”
“Nice. I could tell that from the tone of your voice. I bet Mylarka did great, but I won’t fail!”
“Girls, don’t mind me if I look absent for a while, please. Just hit me on the head and tell me what happened if something’s going on.”
“O-Oh, are you going there? Do not worry, I will take care of things here.”
“Eh? Where’s he going at this hour?”
“Nowhere. He only has to deal with something and will be less responsive for some time, nothing more.”
After I made sure that they understood, I moved my consciousness into the small spirit.
My tiny body formed from the rune on Aileen’s chest, and I flew off her dress.
“Woah! T-That was unexpected… You just appear like that?”
“Yeah, sorry for keeping you waiting. Are the others still in there?”
She nodded and stopped her breath to listen to the voices inside the room. Four men were talking in a firm tone.
“Velvechia’s army is on the move to cross the border in the western plains, and if they succeed, we must kidnap any of the princesses. I would go for Manarina, the first princess, but to inherit the prestige of a lord, even the third one would be fine.”
“Sir Lang, I find a bit risky to lay our hands on Princess Manarina on Lord Zevias’s behalf…”
“No one informed me about this. Lord Jean is a fool, but his underlings are quite outstanding. Especially Kirsch, whose beauty and loyalty are rare traits nowadays.”
“Stop, that habit of yours is showing again. Sir Lang is very fond of women, and although I can see why that girl might be alluring… she is still our comrade, you know?”
That was indeed a vulgar and disgusting speech.
Those who spread rumors regarding cute girls should just realize that it’s not cool.
The men in the room were thinking only about themselves and saw women as mere tools.
I wondered what Aileen was thinking about, but it was written all over her covered face. The blue mask she was wearing now had a different color compared to ours.
“I’ll try to go easy on them, but forgive me if my hand slips~♪”
She said in a cheerful tone while wearing her fingerless gloves.
Aileen was about to demonstrate how she earned her title. When I realized it, I felt my blood rushing into my veins, and my tiny body started to shake in excitement.