Beyond the cave full of glowing moss, where the light of the fire god’s body shone brilliantly up in the sky, the former slave, Yoshu’s, eyes were blinded by the great light.
He implored the goblin walking ahead of him, Gi Go Amatsuki, to stop, but the goblin waved him off.
“It’s fine,” the goblin said.
Seeing the goblin walk unguarded, Yoshu followed after him as he thought of a plan in case things turned for the worst.
“Lord Gi Go!”
A great horde of beasts was accompanying a goblin that looked to be a noble class.
From what Yoshu recalled, this goblin was none other than Mr. Gi Gi.
Beasts of all sorts frolicked about around him.
Yoshu asked if it was safe, and Gi Go told him it was with a glance.
“Normally, people would be a bit more surprised, but…” Yoshu said.
When Yoshu got a closer look, he noticed that there were some monkey-like animals mixed with the horde who would either feed the young or scratch each others backs. It was a peaceful scene; at least, as long as he did not look through those lenses called prejudice that humans had of beasts.
Gi Go received something from Gi Gi, then they bid each other farewell.
Yoshu wasn’t close to Gi Gi, so he quickly followed after Gi Go.
“You sure are close,” Yoshu remarked as they followed a distinct beast trail up to the north, most probably a trail left by Gi Gi’s beast horde.
“Our relationship is actually one where we’re one misstep away from killing each other,” Gi Go said.
“Didn’t look like that to me…” Yoshu said.
“…Before I met the king a kind of beast known as ‘gray wolf’ wreaked havoc on my turf,” Gi Go said.
Yoshu and the goblin walked while paying attention to their surroundings.
“Half the horde had been done in and we couldn’t hunt. We were left with only two choices: either starve to death or eat each other. But then the king came.”
Gi Go’s voice was heavy. Was that regret weighing upon him or something else? Yoshu did not know.
“Hungry and weak, I was mercilessly beaten by Gi Gi and Gi Gu. I didn’t even have the opportunity to stand before the king,” Gi Go said.
“It was vexing, wasn’t it?” Yoshu asked.
“…Perhaps,” Gi Go said.
As they continued along their path, their feet began to make slushing sounds.
“Since that day I’ve been keeping something locked up within me. That something was with me even on that day I gave Gi Gi food as proof of our friendship…”
Gi Go continued talking, but as he did, Yoshu was more and more surprised.
The sword is my way of life.
Yoshu had always believed Gi Go to be completely devoted to the sword.
But now… It seemed that this goblin was actually mor
e human than he ever imagined.
The atmosphere along the way was so heavy that Yoshu even stopped feeling his legs as he walked.
Perhaps this was the reason why Gi Go was taken by the Sword God’s madness.
“A swamp,” Gi Go said as he looked down.
In the dimly lit forest that remained dim despite the body of the fire god shining from the sky was a swamp abundant with strange water plants.
It didn’t seem they would be able to cross.
“Shall we go around?” Yoshu suggested.
There was more than one path to the north.
After leaving the forest, the northern mountains of the snow god that blocked the heavens came to view.
The body of the fire god had yet to set, but they were making camp already. The dark of the night was irrelevant to goblins, but to a human like Yoshu, it was a difficult time to work. Normally, the twin red moon sisters would light the dark sky during the black of the night god, but unfortunately, the clouds today veiled their light.
Gradually, the god of the night and his household’s goddesses began to stretch their wings.
Yoshu looked hatefully at the oppressive clouds that covered the sky.
It seemed like it might rain, so they decided to make camp at the border of the forest and the plains. Yoshu would always put up a cloth between the trees to protect themselves from the watch of the night birds, but today, he added another layer.
After setting up the tent, Yoshu gathered some aged branches and lit them up.
It wasn’t easy because of all the vegetation growing, but Yoshu made sure to pick a camping site that was slightly sloped. After all, it would be horrible if it flooded and they were swept away while they were sleeping.
“This should do,” Yoshu said as he finished making camp.
In the same moment – almost as if Gi Go was waiting – Gi Go came out of the thickets with two big eyes in hand.
The pattern of a giant eye drawn on the birds’ feathers looked menacing as it seemed to look straight at Yoshu, but he ignored it and spoke to Gi Go.
“Looks like you caught a lot today,” Yoshu said.
“There seems to be a lot in these parts,” Gi Go said.
Yoshu took the prey from Gi Go and strangled them.
After killing the beasts, Yoshu started gutting them. He had already gotten used to the whole process, so much so that his hands moved even without thinking.
After lopping off the heads of the big eyes and draining their blood, Yoshu started plucking their feathers and removing the internal organs.
The big eyes stored poison within them, and any human that ingested it would be out with a high fever for a few days. The goblins and the orcs had a natural resistance to it, however.
To adventurers the biggest reason for gutting these big eyes was to get the monster crystal that sometimes crystallized within.
Of the beasts that had monster crystals inside of them, the big eyes were relatively weaker, making them a prime choice for adventurers.
Of course, the amount of magic crystals inside them was also less, making the rewards smaller, but to the adventurers who were struggling to get by, the big eyes were an indispensable source of income.
“I’m not an adventurer though…” Yoshu muttered.
Yoshu wiped the monster crystal clean and stored it in his bag. He couldn’t just leave it on the ground as it might attract other beasts.
He ran his knife along the bones, cutting off the meat of the beast, then he took a sharpened rod, pierced the meat with it, and cooked it over fire.
The fragrant scent of meat being cooked was accompanied by the sound of fat bursting.
The sight of a little fat falling into the flames as the meat was cooked greatly whet Yoshu’s appetite.
As a finishing touch, Yoshu took the rock salt he got from the village a few days ago and shaved it with a knife, then he sprinkled some on the meat.
“I’ll have one,” Gi Go said as he excitedly bit into the meat. Sounds of juice slushing resounded as the juice of the meat filled Gi Go’s mouth. Some of it even spilled onto the ground.
“Delicious,” Gi Go said.
“I’m glad you like it,” Yoshu said, smiling a little, then he started eating.
Contrast the crunchy exterior, the meat inside was soft and his teeth was easily able to tear it apart.
“Yep, it’s good alright,” Yoshu said as he nodded with satisfaction.
It’s often said that people will naturally smile when eating good food. It seems that was true indeed, even for goblins.
After eating Yoshu started teaching Gi Go how to sing. He had promised him some time ago, but it was too dangerous in the dungeon, so he had postponed it until now.
“What kind of songs do you like? Songs for battle, perhaps?” Yoshu asked.
There were all sorts of songs. There were songs that spoke of one’s homeland, ones that spoke of the seasons, ones that spoke of love, or extolled bravery or even spoke of war.
It was a rare sight to see Gi Go ponder on something, but when he finally opened his mouth, he asked Yoshu to teach him a song that thought back to one’s home.
“That’s unexpected,” Yoshu remarked.
“Really? I’m always fighting, so I can say I know war, but a place to go back to? There’s only one such place now… So, if there is a song that talks about home, I’d like to know it,” Gi Go explained.
“A place to go back to, huh?” Yoshu said.
Did he have that? Yoshu wondered.
Closing his eyes, he saw the image of his older sister appear.
Yoshu wryly smiled at that.
I’m alright, sis. I’m doing a lot better than expected.
Yoshu wrly smiled at his worrying sister, then he cleared his throat and began to sing.
“Can you remember the old lands? O winds of the vast sky, take these feelings with you. I wonder if the water flowing in the rivers came from the rain in the old lands. Mother mountain, snowy mountain, misty mountains of the north.
(Kyanmarordo rinbaru habekasutoria vesjinichi ukeru habeireria kyanrashiruudo chiukeinrei. Dinarashir, yuuguranshiru, iryunoshisurashiru.)”
Gi Go quietly listened as Yoshu sang.
“When I turn around I see the path back home. Friends of a strange land, won’t you scatter my ashes on the mountains of my homeland, where I can no longer return? In that land whose air I breathed growing up. In that land whose rain I cried under and whose snow I kicked and ran. Mother mountain, snowy mountain, misty mountains of the north.
(hadomerieddo kyanroroodo rao ishuneyuuga. Ragiirakyanmibadia. Nonmuukyandou. Katouraragiirun, uauwa, yuguerin. Dinarashiru, yuuguranshiru, iryunoshisurashiru.)”
Though goblins couldn’t cry, the mournful melody left its mark on Gi Go’s heart.
“…A good song,” Gi Go remarked.
“Yes, a good song indeed,” Yoshu agreed.
Yoshu wryly smiled as he sat before the flames thinking of his sister.