It seems like Rossa realized that the homemade smoked meat sold at the inn’s store for adventurers ran out and just happened to go deal with that matter now. Because of that, he ended up coming out of the forest later than expected.
“My bad… If I stayed the adult boroa wouldn't have run away, but I’m glad that you’re safe. Let’s go find the next one…”
“Actually, it’s right over there.”
Ruth pointed out the collapsed boroa to Rossa, who had mistakenly thought that it escaped. Rossa glanced at the boroa laying on its side and then looked at it once more with a bewildered expression. He then awkwardly moved while gazing back at Ruth who was standing next to him.
“...Could it be that this huge boroa...you were the one who took it down, Ruth?”
“Isn’t that obvious? Who else is there to kill it? More importantly, let’s hurry and drain the blood, Dad.”
Ruth and Rossa took the beast to the nearest wide river to drain the blood and take out the internal organs. Rossa also did the same to the wolfkars he was holding and they decided to return home for the day since they wouldn’t be able to bring any other prey back if they had continued hunting anyway.
Crouching next to Ruth, who was washing the blood off his face and hands, Rossa was being vigilant of their vicinity and mumbling to Ruth in a more timid voice than usual.
“Sorry, Ruth. It seems like I misunderstood you.”
“Um… you always go hunting with Alec, right?”
Ruth went hunting with his father and older brother in the beginning, but after a while, Alec invited Ruth to go hunt with him and just like that, they would go just the two of them from there on. Certainly, they have not gone hunting with anyone else for all those years.
(Truthfully, it might’ve been better to have a few more people, but… Alec hates that…)
When Alec is hunting with Ruth, he hates having other people around them. As Alec used to say “they’ll only drag us down” and that is probably due to how relationships with other people get more bothersome as the numbers increase.
Even though Alec was a heroic figure in the village, Ruth also knew that as much as there were some males who worshiped Alec, there were also some who found him unpleasant. That’s why Ruth never thought about insisting on increasing the number of people to go hunting with them. Above anything else, the most important reason is to avoid any disharmony between them.
“Well, yeah. But, even though it was only the two of us, the amount we brought back should’ve been enough…”
“Mm-hmm, I’m grateful to you guys for that. The butcher’s shop is also overjoyed and it’s been many years since anyone has died from starvation in the winter. But… um… I mean you only go out hunting with Alec and back when you were 14, I saw that you couldn’t even move from being scared out of your wits when you found a boroa for the first time… I thought that surely… um…”
Ruth already somewhat guessed what Rossa had wanted to say from his mumbling and guilty expression. He wanted to forget that old memory. Due to the memories of his previous life, he was surprised at the gigantic size of the boroa compared to a regular wild boar.
“By any chance… Dad, did you think I was leeching off on Alec?”
“I didn’t think of it to that extent. I already knew that you’re way stronger than Clark just by observation. It’s just that… I thought that while Alec was hunting, maybe you were on standby or something… “
Rossa spoke in a small voice that didn’t match someone of his size, but Ruth clearly heard what he had said. It seems like Rossa thought that Ruth was able to do the manual labor, but didn’t do any hunting. Ruth felt a bit dejected from being thought of like that by his father and he ended up giving him a glare.
“... Dad, you’re horrible. I properly hunt too.”
“Wah--Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! I completely believe you after seeing the boroa today! Your hunting is even better than Clark’s! You’re my pride and joy! For real!”
Ruth shook his head and told Rossa, who was frantically apologizing and desperately trying to make it up to Ruth with compliments, while saying “as long as you understand, then it’s fine”; but, deep down, Ruth let out a sigh.
(As expected, he also had that impression, huh…)
All the villagers would always make a strange face when Alec and Ruth return back with the beasts they hunted. Ruth wasn’t mistaken when he felt the villagers were looking at him with disdain. In other words, people thought that Ruth was shamelessly leeching off on Alec’s achievements for himself.
(Well, If one compares Alec, who’s the almighty hero figure in the village, and me, who is even called "lady’s man" by the kids …that would be the natural train of thought. Plus, it’s always only the two of us when we go out, so no one else knows about how we hunt too.)
In reality, both of them properly alternate between their roles during hunting. Because they were hunting partners, there are times where Ruth does the diversions and Alec does the finishing blow, but they also switch it up too. They move relatively on equal footing.
Moreover, even though Alec has an overwhelming amount of strength and magical power, Ruth’s hearing is better. He’s sensitive to other’s presence, and because there are preys that are naturally hard to notice, Ruth is more skilled in hunting smaller beasts.
“Oh, right! R-Ruth, have you heard about this year’s demon subjugation?”
Rossa was nervous noticing Ruth’s silence and purposefully changed the topic of the conversation. While giving him a forced smile, Ruth responded back in his usual tone of voice.
Even though Rossa has a body large enough to resemble a bear, he’s weak to his wife and similarly weak to Ruth who looks exactly like her. That’s why Ruth thought that he shouldn’t worry about what just happened too much.
“Yeah, after Alec went to ‘study’ in the royal capital, I talked with Father about how risky it is with Alec gone, but… looks like that’s already been dealt with.”
In regards to Alec setting off for his journey, the villagers were told, “He has been summoned to study in the royal capital as his abilities are highly valued by distinguished nobles.” Ruth doesn’t understand why they would hide the fact that Alec is a hero, but perhaps it’s because of the village chief’s concerns that there shouldn’t be too many people aware of Alec being a hero demanded by the world. Although one might say that, that sly old fox --the village chief, even went as far as to try to lock up Alec and send him off to the royal capital that way. Whether he’s truly doing this in consideration for the villagers is something Ruth doesn’t know either.
Either way, the villagers were convinced with that reason and a month has already passed since then. By the way, the way people count the days is about the same as Ruth’s previous world: there are roughly 30 days per month. But, rather than counting what day of the month it is, people get a sense of time flowing through how the mountains are changing.
However, problems have been popping up one after another in the past month that Alec has been away from the village. The ‘demon subjugation’ that Rossa mentioned earlier is also one of the problems.
(Alec… had an important role in the village after all… )
Every year, slightly before fall turns to winter, demons gather up from the opposite side of the mountain to cross over and come to this village. Ruth doesn’t know the demon’s motives, but the most plausible explanation is that they come here in search of food (including humans). The average numbers are around 20 but when it comes down to it, it can become close to 40. Every year, it’s the man's duty to use various methods to chase the demons out of their village. In the past, people would even die during this event , but thanks to Alec’s help in recent years, there hasn’t even been any major casualties.
However, Alec isn’t here this year. Everyone expected that it would turn into a pandemonium.
“Dealt with? How so?”
“Alec was worried and sent some nobles a proposal. He told them that it’s likely that the village is going to suffer huge damage from the demons, so he would like them to dispatch men over to the village.”
“Huh, Alec did something like that…”
Somehow, Alec already arranged various preparations ahead of time in regard to the matters he left behind in the village. It’s very much something Alec would do. It seems like Rossa and the previous village chief had sent a petition to the royal capital with a request for them to send over soldiers when they were younger, but they never ended up dispatching any because they thought it was unnecessary to worry for such a small village.
By the way, the difference between beasts and demons is whether they can use magic. Demi-humans differ from them depending on whether mutual understanding and communication are possible.
“They’ll be coming here sometime tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? So that’s why we went hunting today.”
“That’s right. Ahh~ the inn is going to be ridiculously busy this year; those guys sent from the royal capital are going to be staying at our inn until everything ends after all. Ruth, I reckon that we won't even have time to rest.”
Rossa gave Ruth a thumbs up with a confident expression and Ruth did the same and replied wholeheartedly. Because of his bear-like face, he might seem like he has no interest in business, but Rossa surprisingly gets fired up when managing the inn. He especially loves filling up the hotel register with guests.
(Come to think of it, Alec also wrote about the demon subjugation in his letter…. I should go back to reread it.)
Ruth thought that perhaps he should get Alec’s letter from his drawer and try to read it over again later.
MARY: Heya! Thanks for waiting & buy the LN to support the author! As per usual, let me know if you see any mistakes.
My editor will be really busy for all of October and most of November so the chapters until then won't be as polished but I'll do my best! I'm about to hit midterm season for my classes so I might not be as on time but I still deeply appreciate you guys for being so patient ;_; !!
In other news, I really want to see Alec again already T_T I hope he shows up soon... but until then, we'll have to keep waiting. See you guys in the next update! ^_^)/