Sorry, I underestimated Papan.
Author’s warning: There are depictions of cruelty. For those who cannot handle, please leave.
I wondered if I should have it restricted as R15.
Also, for those who aren’t good with spiders, please don’t read and do an immediate about-face!!
A single kui entered the cave.
Kuis are small, olive-brown animals with long bodies and short legs. At first glance, they may look like weasels, but the length of their tail was twice their size. Also, their nails were sharp, canines tapered, and body specialized to moving around in a forest.
Although small, they were ferocious. If you were to touch them like a pet, it’ll become a splatter-fest in more ways than one.
Such a kui entered the cave to let me know that humans were approaching.
I said, “Thanks,” stroked the kui’s neck, and ended with fluffing its tail.
This tail could be used to attack like a whip, wrap around a branch to support its body, and lure prey with the fake bait at the end.
This multipurpose tail was the pinnacle of evolution! It also had just the right amount of elasticity and high fur density for an animal native to the north!!
I could probably even walk around with it as a scarf… But since I’ll feel sorry for the animal, I won’t do it.
I treated the obedient kui for letting me pet it by giving it a piece of Giant Boa meat in one of my hands.
Aah, just as I thought. Watching animals tear into their food is soothing.
…But, it wasn’t the time for me to relax!
“Pino, Nino, please. Just as we planned…”
“I know! If we can go home, I’ll do anything!”
Oh! Good to see you’re motivated. As expected, the most effective method for a prideful girl is a backhanded compliment! But, let’s keep how exactly I deceived her a secret.
“Then, I’ll take care of this bunny.”
Just in case it might get hurt, I decided to entrust the bunny to Pino.
I anticipate that these two would be protected.
“We need to wait just a little bit more, okay?”
The furball of a bunny was enjoying my pats and twitched its nose in bliss.
After everything’s over, we should discuss if I could keep it at home as a pet.
Pino and Nino exited the cave.
Carefully and minding their back. This way of acting was also part of the plan.
A little while later, 3-4 quick goblins rushed out of the cave and after the two.
Of course, they were protected by Sol’s defensive magic.
The hobgoblin and I not only had defensive magic casted on us but a sound spell so we could hear what was happening outside.
I heard Nino’s scream. This was probably her acting.
“Nino, this way!”
Just as I had requested, the two children acted in a way that would immediately alert the goblins to their escape.
“After them!” was probably what the goblins were saying—another act.
It was at that moment.
“…There are other children…”
It was faint, but it was the voice of a human.
A little while after…
It was Papan’s voice.
“…But, the goblins will become aware of our presence.”
I wonder which of the subordinates said this.
Did they not intend to rescue these children desperately trying to make their escape?
“I don’t care.”
Papan wouldn’t abandon the children.
But, was I the only one who felt something off about him?
There was a rustling sound before the clinking and clacking sound of footsteps could be heard.
2-3 knights came out of the forest.
One of them guided Pino and Nino into the forest while the rest stood in formation to distract the goblins.
However, the goblins made a mad dash as they escaped back into the cave.
The speed of their escape was important.
When the goblins safely returned, I signaled to the hobgoblin.
He didn’t say anything but merely quickly nodded and headed outside.
After all the goblins made their way back in, I had the hobgoblin become a target so the cave entrance wouldn’t be blown to kingdom come by magic.
“I have returned those children. Humans, leave!”
“It’s rare to see a hobgoblin capable of speech.”
Papan exited the forest completely defenseless. A flaming aura surrounded his body while the tone of his voice was as cold as ice.
Scary! That’s not my Papan!
“I’ll have you return Nefertima. It’s time for children to go to bed.”
Suddenly, a giant roar echoed inside the cave.
I panicked and peeked outside.
In that mere second, my father was clad in fire and a snake-like flame was about to bite into the hobgoblin.
Yet, just a few centimeters in front of the hobgoblin, the flame snake burst.
No, was it split in half?
A burnt smell wafted through the air.
“…Nefertima! Come out!”
Papan ignored the hobgoblin’s existence and called out to the entrance of the cave.
I had never heard this blizzard-level coldness coming from this voice.
This meant that I’ve already been found out, right?
Plus, he’s super-duper angry, right?
…I raised my death flag!!
To think I would be found so soon... I’m in trouble. What should I do?
Would it be a good idea to obediently apologize and explain the situation?
—Sol, could you make my voice reach Father?
—Is it over already? How boring. …You may speak.
“Boring?” … Did you want this whole area to be turned into scorched earth?
“Father, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t know why you’re apologizing, but first show yourself and put me at ease.”
Did he calm down from blizzard-level to around a snowstorm?
But, I can’t relax yet.
“You’re not angry? You won’t use any more magic?”
“…I understand. I’m not angry, and I won’t use magic. I promise.”
Well, it should be fine since he promised. Papan wouldn’t lie to his children, and he had never broken a promise with me.
I ran out of the cave towards Papan. When I gave him a squeeze, I was squeezed back twice as tightly.
It somehow turned into a moving scene you see often, but I need to placate Papan in the meantime. It hurts, but I have to endure.
But, because I still had Sol’s magic casted on me, I clearly heard it—a chant for a spell…
—Sol! Protect the cave!!
A wall of flames appeared by the cave’s entrance. At the same time, a giant ball of flames slammed into it.
The ball of flames was swallowed by the wall of flames and was turned into particles by the impact.
I separated from Papan and moved to a spot that would shield the hobgoblin.
None of the humans here would ever attack me.
“I know. My promise was with Father. But, don’t kill the goblins here!”
My promise was with my father. The rest of his subordinates weren’t involved. I knew they’re not involved, but read the mood! This was an important scene!
“Why are you protecting these goblins?”
“That’s because these children have been used by humans!”
I was finally able to explain the situation to Papan. The hobgoblin also provided bits and pieces to form a satisfactory explanation.
At this time, Papan wasn’t my father but the Prime Minister of the Gashe Kingdom handling a job.
Did that mean I managed to avoid my death flag for the time being?
When I asked Papan how he knew I was involved, he said that even if they were children, it was strange that they would decide to run away when the goblins were at home. If anyone was going to run away, their chances would be the better if they did so around noon when the goblins would be out hunting.
When he used a slicing spell, a strong defensive spell had been casted over the hobgoblin, so he knew that it had to be Sol’s magic.
Ugh, was I too overly optimistic?
Afterward, we became friends with the goblins, and they absolutely swore to not harm any of the humans here.
Yet, when will the subordinates ever relax from their combat-ready state?
Take a break! I’m starting to feel tired too, you know. Don’t keep standing outside and talking; return to the village or come into the cave.
When I proposed this to Papan, he said that moving through the forest now would be dangerous so they’ll spend the night in the cave.
Rather than saying that we received their trust, it was more like we could do whatever no matter how many goblins gather.
Well, whatever. I asked Sol to extinguish the wall of flames.
“Pino, Nino, are you hurt anywhere?
Even though these two helped out, I had to explain the situation to them since it ended halfway through.
The cries of a bird echoed nearby.
Nox! This cry was to notify me of danger.
Was a nocturnal, carnivorous animal approaching?
When I looked up at the direction of Nox’s cries, eight balls glowing blue were floating there.
The hobgoblin rushed over to me.
It seemed that the hobgoblin knew what it was.
—Sol, bring out a bunch of fire the size of torches!
—Acknowledged. Did something happen?
—I don’t know, but there’s something here!
Three balls of fire appeared and surrounded me like will-o’-wisps.
The figure that was illuminated by these lights was...a spider.
Okay, calm down, me. I wanted to retort, “How did this stupidly huge spider come this close without a sound?!”, but let’s leave that aside.
Or, was it really a spider? I mean, its exoskeleton was much sturdier than any of the spiders I knew. If I had to say, it seemed more like a crab.
Furthermore, I could make out a patchy pattern of white and green on it. Was this camouflage?
Ohoh. Was this what was known as a frozen spider?
I sensed a strong “hunger” and “impatience” coming from this frozen spider.
I knew it was hungry, but what was making it impatient?
I wanted to ask it, but it was in the middle of a standoff with the hobgoblin, so now didn’t seem like the time.
Right, to the frozen spider, a meal was right in front of it.
It was a serious showdown: Eat or Be Eaten.
It couldn’t be helped, but I’ll take this chance while the hobgoblin was drawing its attention away to avoid detection and make my escape to Papan.
The frozen spider raised its front right leg high into the air in an attempt to skewer the hobgoblin. Its front legs were sharp and tapered, so was it a claw?
The hobgoblin quickly jumped over two meters out of the way to dodge it. That was some jumping power! But, I quickly swallowed back that retort.
The hobgoblin threw his fist from on top of the Frozen Spider’s head.
Like the sound of eggs being dropped, one of the Frozen Spider’s eyes was crushed.
Possibly because of anger, the frozen spider’s fangs clattered, and this impact caused a liquid I believed to be poison to drip.
Just when the hobgoblin made a clean landing and flung the blood off his fist, the frozen spider tensed its eight legs and jumped.
Of course, its target was the hobgoblin.
It landed with a thud, and I unconsciously gulped.
If he had lost here, Papan would’ve burned both parties without any change in his complexion.
That was to ensure the survival of us humans. With a difference in strength, it was just another struggle to live.
I knew. I might not agree with it now, but I did understand. It didn’t matter if the hobgoblin or the frozen spider won; we humans would be the true winners at the end.
A strange sound was heard. Since the frozen spider is a spider, it wasn’t a cry.
Following that, something snapping apart could be heard.
The frozen spider clattered its fangs together in distress.
What exactly was happening? Well, all I knew was that the Hobgoblin wasn’t killed yet.
Sol’s defensive magic didn’t only work against spells; it was also effective against physical attacks.
Ah, so that’s how it is.
The frozen spider’s intention was finally conveyed to me.
Her “impatience” was because of her children.
I didn’t know the biology behind it, but the frozen spider was carrying her children inside her.
Would they be incubated inside her like a parasite until they reached a certain size?
Even though she must eat plenty of food for the sake of her children, she couldn’t catch any prey and gradually became weak.
What she used to be able to catch was out of her reach now.
Well, yeah. A large influx of goblins entered this land. It might have even created a huge effect on the ecosystem.
Thinking that way, she was just another victim.
Although I couldn’t see what the hobgoblin was doing, the life in the frozen spider’s eyes steadily disappeared.
The chattering sound of her fangs could no longer be heard.
Finally, the body of the frozen spider fell to the ground.
The hobgoblin emerged from below the body.
Hmph. Should I retort on his brute strength? Rather, you’re not at a hobgoblin’s level, right? Or was this the default in this world?
I noticed the hobgoblin flip over the frozen spider’s body and prepare to do something.
He forcibly ripped the joint connecting the thorax to the abdomen and began to eat her insides.
The hobgoblin was completely covered in blood, and large amounts of blood spilled around him.
Although people say that mothers are strong, this weakened one didn’t win.
I approached the corpse of the Frozen Spider and stroked her chest.
I didn’t care that my hand was now covered in blood.
Although I didn’t like God, I requested this of him.
I prayed that if she were to go to the world after death or if she were to be reborn, she would get to live a peaceful life with her children.
…How ironic. I killed her. For my own ego.
At that time, the frozen spider’s stomach moved. No, rather than moved, I should say that it swelled.
I stared at it and saw a small spider come out from her stomach.
Maybe it ripped the mother’s stomach and crawled out, or…wait, no, that’s pretty frightening already!
I prepared myself for more to come out, but it was just that one.
Hm? Wasn’t it strange for just one?
Spiders usually lay a ton of eggs, right?
In the past when I used to live by myself, a spider had incubated her eggs in my room. Oh, how dreadful of an experience that was!
Seeing the 1mm-sized child spiders shuffle, scurry, and dangle from threads all over the place, I immediately had goosebumps and sprayed the whole area with pesticide!
As I had a staring contest with the child spider, Nox came to my side, sensing the danger was gone.
When Nox noticed the child spider, she squawked and spread her wings in a threat.
As if scared, the child spider raised both of its foremost legs and moved left to the right.
I recalled that spiders, when threatened, would raise their front legs to make themselves look bigger in an attempt to threaten others.
Was it trying to threaten Nox…? Rather than a threat, it looked more like a dance.
Its movements were humorous and kind of cute. Nice, Nox! Do it more!
Although I had frightful experiences with spiders, to think that the day would come when I would think that one was cute...
I’ll ask to take this child home!
Papan gently placed his hand on my shoulder.
Did he think I was depressed?
While part of me was still sad, I’ve been quite soothed by this child spider!
“I’m fine! No matter what situation we’re in, it’s the strong that live. I can’t change the rules of the world to the way I want.”
Seeing how well I did, Papan squeezed me tightly.
But, my heart said that if there was a life I could say, I would.
I could’ve saved her, but I didn’t. I was scared.
If I did save her, I would take all the responsibility. But, I didn’t have the confidence to do all of it. I hated the small, useless me. I want to be stronger. I want to be someone who could let any living creature regardless of species to live in their proper environment; I want to be someone who could do it despite any opposition.
Just as the hobgoblin said that he wanted to be needed by the forest, I wanted all living things to be needed by nature.
I’ll get stronger! That’s why, please forgive me for now.
I cried out my heart inside Papan’s arms. I haven’t cried like this since I was a baby.
Everyone around us, Nox, and even the hobgoblin were worried and asked about me. Thank you for not being taken aback.
…Huh? Um, Mr. Hobgoblin? Isn’t there something strange about you?
I rubbed my eyes to see clearly through my teary vision.
Papan silently stopped me and handed me a handkerchief, so I unabashedly wiped my tears and blew my nose. I also didn’t forget to wipe the blood off my hands.
Refreshed, I looked over at the hobgoblin once more.
A strange, sparkling effect surrounded him, and on top of that, a flame-like aura wrapped around his body.
Papan, what’s happenin’?
The aura grew stronger and I couldn’t see the hobgoblin anymore.
Along with a completed sound effect, the sparkling effect and aura dissipated to reveal a completely different creature. …Rather than a creature, it looked closer to a human.
Its form was completely that of a human and more specifically, a macho one. A green tattoo was on its ivory-white skin, and its ears were slightly pointed. It looked quite flashy with its blue hair and red eyes. Two black horns sprouted from the top of its head.
…Whom might you be?
Papan muttered of disbelief.
Seeing that it was of disbelief, does that mean that even Papan didn’t know?
“…It’s the hobgoblin?”
“Ah. What happened?”
No, that’s what I want to ask!
The hobgoblin himself didn’t seem like he knew what was happening either.
When in such a troubling situation, rely on Sol!
—S~O~L!! It looks like the Hobgoblin evolved(?)!
—You’re saying that a higher species of the goblin, the hobgoblin has further evolved?
—Yeah, he looks like a human now! …But with horns.
—Horns? …Could it be one of those ‘demons’ that live in the continent of Wadjite?
The continent of Wadjite was located southwest of the continent of Rashia. I believe its size was roughly half of Rashia.
Hm, if you imagine Rashia to be Eurasia back on Earth, then Wadjite would be like Africa.
“Demon,” right? Well, “demons” were a thing in Japan, but they weren’t this flashy. They were just red, blue, or green with black, right? And if they weren’t black, they would be gold with the color of one of the four elements.
—I actually want to see it.
—…I don’t think it’s wide enough here for Sol to land.
—Is that so? Then, how about that village you stayed at yesterday?
The village was also puny, but I wonder if there was a space where Sol could land.
—It should be fine!
—Then, tomorrow, we shall congregate again after all this time.
Sol occasionally used archaic language, so there were times when I couldn’t convert them properly.
‘Congregate’… ‘Congo’… No, that’s not right…
Ah, ‘meet,’ right! We’re going to meet up!
“So, Sol said that it might be a species known as a ‘demon’ from the continent of Wadjite.”
Ooh, Papan, nice reaction!
“And that he’ll come see me.”
Ah, right, right. I forgot to mention something important.
“Father, give him something to wear.”
The former hobgoblin was completely butt-naked. I was at a loss of where to look.
Papan finally realized, quickly snatched a subordinate’s long coat, and gave it to the former hobgoblin.
I felt a little bad for the subordinate.
Watching the former hobgoblin timidly put on the long coat was charming… Oh no, my gut’ll burst from laughter.
I mean, he looked like some crazy exhibitionist like this!
Properly close the front, okay? You can’t pop ‘em off by mistake, alright? You’ll be arrested for public indecency, understand?
Well, with this former hobgoblin’s physical beauty, there might be a lot of ladies who would worship him though.
I was no longer able to watch the hobgoblin struggle with his buttons, so I lent a hand.
Plus, I hadn’t told him something important yet.
“Thanks for saving me~!”
I also gave a tight squeeze as a bonus. Hm, because he doesn’t have fur or scales since he’s close to a human now, so it’s kind of dull.
Yes, yes. A man’s jealousy is unbecoming, you know, Papan.
Okay, time to really go to sleep now!
Ah! Pino was already sleeping!!
Whoa, I was impressed that he could fall asleep in all this racket. Nino, you’re also amazed, right?
Whether its self-centeredness or boldness, children like this would become big shots in the future.
Eh! This little one too?!
You’re still playing at this dancing game? Like playing it that much?
Sheesh. Nox, that child spider isn’t an enemy, okay?
Yes, yes. Good girl, good girl. Thanks for bringing Papan and the others here.
Delighted by all the pats I gave her, Nox sat on my shoulder.
Why does this child have such a smug face…gosh.
“What will you do? Do you want to come back with us? Or do you want to remain in this forest with your mother?”
Now that I thought about it, this child spider was black. I highly doubt that its father was of another species, so does that mean that it’ll change colors when it matures?
Still, green patches on a white background stood out a lot. Black still shouted “spider” in my opinion.
The child spider swayed its body, hesitant. Are you conflicted?
Then, it resolved itself, jumped up on my arm, and shuffled up.
Yup, it was tiny and cute.
It looked like the child spider decided its spot on the opposite shoulder from Nox.
I stroked the slightly concave part of its back so I wouldn’t hit its eyes.
It really did feel like a bug—solid like a rhinoceros beetle’s horn.
But, I still had to be careful not to crush it.
What should I name it?
My eyes wandered about in my indecision but stopped on the Frozen Spider’s corpse.
Aah. Let’s do that. My favorite word and an important feeling.
“Your name will be ‘Gratia.’ This was the word I wanted to give to your wonderful mother for making me stronger and protecting you. Gratia means gratitude.”
Although the name was a bit feminine, was it still fine despite not knowing its gender?
“Nice to meet you, Gratia!”
I stroked its back again when a white pattern appeared on Gratia’s head, or maybe was it between its eyes?
Did I end up doing something again? I probably did…
Well, whatever. I’ll know when I ask Sol tomorrow.
More importantly, I’m hungry so I’ll go steal some personal rations from Papan.
Author’s note: Thank you for all your work, those who are doing their jobs in the snow!
For me, I’m glad that the weather doesn’t have much of an effect during my working hours. Those working night-shifts have my condolences m(_ _)m
During break, I was making snowmen and having snowball fights with my coworkers next to the people putting chains on their car tires. (lol)
Now then, another pet has joined Nema. And a spider of all things... I’m sure all of you are deforming it into something cute in your head, right?
Also, Father! I wanted to make you look cool but couldn’t. I apologize (prostrates)
TL’s note: Although Foxaholic had already translated about half of the chapter, I decided to translate the whole chapter since there were many questionable parts in their translation. (They translated "spider" as "fox" at one point.) At first, I was a bit worried when I heard that Nema speaks childish and with a lisp, but it wasn't too hard to understand her. Did she finally learn to speak properly?