Chapter 233: Marks of a Manticore

The traveler is a woman who paid a visit to our village. She has sustained injuries from what appears to be an attack by a magic beast… and she said she needs to be detoxified. Therefore, we were gathering medicinal herbs to make ingredients for an antidote.

Hibi conveyed as much to me using Telepathize. While listening to her talk, the uneasiness that had already sprouted inside of me had gradually begun to grow.

It’s not what I think it is… is it? But at the same time, there ain’t sufficient evidence to the contrary. It would also adequately explain all the parts of the story that were makin’ me feel suspicious. Isn’t there somethin’ here that looks like it could help me more conclusively and immediately narrow this down? As I was mulling it over, it hit me.

Where the traveler had sustained an injury—what part was it? I recited in my head while looking at Hibi’s face and asked her as such.

What… part? The abdomen… lower abdomen. Considering she was attacked by a magic beast, her wound was fortunately shallow. Even so, it’s still a wound…

My suspicions were all but confirmed. I’m almost certain that traveler is… the manticore. From the sounds of it, the manticore slipped into the Litōvear Tribe’s village by way of Humanization after it took a bite from my Poison Fang and escaped. What utter audacity for it to disguise itself as a traveler to receive medical attention from a village when it got injured right after it went ahead and mercilessly devoured those children from said village.

If I let this be, the tribe’s gonna be screwed. I’m certain that the manticore plans to go back to eating children when its injuries are completely healed.

I looked in the direction of where Wight was at. Sorry, Wight. It’s lookin’ like it’s gonna end up takin’ a little bit more time for me to come back than expected. I’ll do whatever it takes to take care of your home village, so just hold on tight for me for a bit longer.

Upon seeing my eye movements, Barong tilted his head, seemingly in wonder. He probably thought that I picked up on a monster’s presence or something.

When I turned my head back around and faced Hibi again, I saw that her eyes were still closed and her face was now in a slightly frustrated scowl. Whoops, that was close. I shook my head slightly to weasel my way out of the situation.

With Wight as they currently are, nothing good would come out of the Litōvear Tribe discovering them right now. Since Hibi’s readin’ my mind with Telepathize, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that she could make a rough outline of what I was thinkin’ about dependin’ on the circumstances. I would like to believe that there’s no way for her to pick out what I’m thinkin’, apart from what I’m strongly recitin’ in my head, but since I can’t personally use the skill, I have no way of knowin’ the extent of the skill’s reach, so I’d better stay on my toes for now and be careful. It sure is convenient, but it might be best to avoid havin’ the shrine maiden use Telepathize unless absolutely necessary.

Seems like it’ll be faster to ask the two tribespeople here to be my guide in order to quickly go to the Litōvear Tribe’s village and then quickly return back here. I crouched down until I was lying on the ground and then gestured for the two of them to ride on my back, following it up by lowering my head to the ground.

Lead the way.
While Hibi slowly and calmly walked up to me, Barong instead stood stock still, stuck his spear into the ground, and leaned his head forward with his eyes closed.

I wonder if there’s perhaps some kinda custom or somethin’ where no one but the shrine maiden is allowed to get on the dragon god? I’ve been gettin’ all these ideas about the previous dragon god’s preference for women spawnin’ in my head. Yeah, just the thought that they were materialistic makes feelings of kinship begin to well up inside of me. But if that’s the case, then I wonder if it would be best to follow the customs and leave Barong behind?

“Barong, the medicinal herbs, if you would.”

“Ma’am! I swear I shall find the means to manage this task without any outside help!”

Aha, so they’re dividing their duties? Hm, but I didn’t notice so much as a hint that they had been discussing it, which means, yep, the most valid theory is that the only one who’s been able to ride Ryujin-sama from the get-go is the shrine maiden.

But I wonder about Barong’s ability to hunt abysses by himself… Any sign of where an abyss is can just up and vanish without a trace and they can’t be tracked by sight alone. Because I don’t really want to take a gander at any abysses, I haven’t bothered checking, but they probably have skills to those ends.

I pondered as I wiped the viscous dehydrated piss-colored liquid that was stuck to my forepaw on the ground.

When Barong was fighting the abyss just now, Hibi was shouting something the entire time. I had been thinking that the things she was saying were incantations of some sort, but it’s more likely that she was directing Barong on his next moves. After the abyss had up and vanished, Hibi raised her voice even more, shouting even louder. Maybe she has Presence Sense or a skill akin to it.

If Barong’s lacking the support, wouldn’t it make it likely that he would become the hunted and fall victim to an abyss catching him off guard? As far as I could tell, it looked like Barong was only able to narrowly get the upper hand against the abyss thanks to Hibi’s support.

If possible, I just want this medicinal herb gathering thing to be postponed until after we do this. If it is what I think it is, then the medicinal herbs aren’t going to be necessary. Besides, provided that they give me instructions, I’m pretty confident that I’d be able to gather those medicinal herbs up in a jiffy. It’s just that before then I’d like to go ahead and take a moment to take Wight and the treant back to the shrine…

But Presence Sense on top of Telepathize? The Litōvear Tribe’s shrine maidens are outstanding by any standards. It’s no surprise then that a big, burly man is bowing his head to one. I wonder if I could get Wight to acquire those skills too? It would be quite convenient if that ends up being the case…


“Oofawgh–! Ryujin-sama?! What are— What are you—”

Partner, who hadn’t acted up the entire time, had suddenly picked Barong up using her mouth, leaving Barong’s feet, now in the air, flailing up and down powerlessly.

Huh? Wai–Wait a minute, what the hell ya doin’ girl?

Partner placed Barong on my back and looked at me with a face that had run out of patience, as if to say, “This’ll do, right?”

Uh, would it be too much to ask that you be more civil about it…? Like, what, you tryna scare someone half to death? Oh, and by the way, you left some tooth marks on Barong. Now, they’re not bleedin’, but it’s still kinda… not-good, y’know?

Y’know why? Because we’re a monster, remember? Even if we don’t believe our actions to be anythin’ more than trivial, from a human’s perspective, every move we make is terrifyin’. Tell me, were you not scarin’ the crap outta Barong just now? If we’re not lucky, this is gonna have some lingerin’ effects. Startin’ next time, if somethin’ like…

“It’s– It’s Ryujin-sama’s tooth marks… Hibi! Hibi-sama! Please look at me, Hibi-sama! Over here– This— Look! Please look!”

Barong inclined his head and had spotted the indentations that Partner had made to the side of his torso—himself overjoyed with his face flushed red. He was a half naked man. He was raving. He was making a fuss. He was contorting his body. All in an effort to show off to the girl sitting in front of him the sides of his torso. It was hard to put into words. In fact, it was even harder to do that with it happening right in front of me. Or rather right on my back.

…This guy’s turnin’ out to be a real weirdo, huh? I’m startin’ to get kind of a sinking feeling about goin’ to the Litōvear Tribe’s village now. The tribespeople probably won’t all be like Barong, right? I’m gonna be in trouble if they tell me to give them flippin’ tooth marks. I’m just gonna do my best to pretend like I don’t know what they’re sayin’.


Just like me, Partner was very evidently put off with her face so scrunched up in a cringe that I could plainly read the expression she was making. She then drew her neck forward and taught, very bluntly keeping her distance from Barong.

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